Suzanne Ravelle turned her back on a career in law to set up her own telemarketing business. Now she has written the first practical guide to telemarketing from home to help others who are thinking about going down the same route, a route she says has given her the perfect work life balance to bring up her daughter Rosie.
Suzanne had worked in the legal world for many years, but wanted a change so she left her job and had a few months off. When she started looking around for work again, it was just after 9/11. “I could not get equivalent work to what I had done before,” she says. “I was overqualified and they were freezing budgets.”
She had always wanted to get into marketing and had left law before and got some experience as a temp working on the millennium bug. She had also been offered a lucrative football contract, but her old boss at the law firm asked her to come back and she returned. “I went back, but the same old issues came up,” she says.
Her experience was in traffic accident claims and consumer and contract work, but she had been a project manager which had given her experience in auditing, client care and managing an office merger. It was not what she wanted, however, so she decided to set up on her own and give telemarketing a go.
In her ebook she defines it as “a catch-all phrase for a variety of forms of marketing carried out by speaking to people over the phone”. She says: “The term “telemarketing” is often interchangeable with the term “telesales” and can mean one and the same thing.”
She states: “I was used to speaking to people in work and a lot of it is common sense. Plus I have always believed you can do what you want to do.”
She sat down and did a spider diagram which functioned as a business plan. She admits to being a bit shaky the first day, but after a couple of hours she got her first appointment. She got her second one the second day and that resulted in her first client. “I was very nervous. I was abysmal with my first appointment. I couldn’t even talk properly, but it was a good learning ground,” she says.
By the end of her first month she had earned £1,000 as her own boss and had four clients who she was doing one day a week for each.
Although she found her feet quite quickly, she says the work is hard and you have to be fairly good at thinking on your feet as you will be dealing with clients from all different backgrounds. You may also need to be good at explaining the benefits of telemarketing to potential clients who may never have dreamt of using it.
She says not all telemarketing is everyone’s cup of tea, for instance, some people love data cleansing – where you check that all the details you have about each contact or data record is correct – and others find it very boring, she says.
However, there are many different types of telemarketing, ranging from business to business to business to consumer, and the work that you might be asked to do can vary from lead generation [passing on information to your client about individuals who meet specified criteria and have expressed an interest in receiving further information or a follow up call from your client or their representative] to tele-recruiting [phoning individuals to see if they would like to attend seminars, exhibitions or market research events such as forums or focus groups or written questionnaires]. Suzanne tends to specialise in legal work because of her background.
One advantage of setting up your own telemarketing business from home is that it is easier to balance work and family life, she says. She set up her business before she had her daughter Rosie who is two and a half. “Since I had her I don’t think there is anyway I would have been able to work in a normal job. I feel I have done a full day’s work by the time I get her to nursery,” she says. She works from home now, but has not always done so. “It means I can be sitting at work in my joggers and can spruce myself up in the lunch hour if I have to,” she states.
She initially had a childminder come to her home to look after Rosie three days a week, but now she goes to nursery and Suzanne, who now has people working for her, works four days a week. “For me it’s the perfect work life balance,” she says, adding that she does some admin work in the evenings. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact the thought of working for someone else fills me with dread,” she says. “I like the fact that I generate my own work and do it under my own steam and that it fits around Rosie.”
She wrote her e-book, Telemarketing From Home: The Essential Guide For The Home-Based Telemarketer, to spread the word about telemarketing as a home-based employment option. To promote it she was writing a regular blog which got a lot of readers, but had to stop it because it was too exhausting.
She says she would have benefited from having the book when she started out. It spells out everything from what telemarketing is to how to set up your own business, how to work from home and how to find clients. “People don’t like to give away how they set up their business,” she says. “Many people make mistakes. I know I have.” For instance, she never used to ask people if she would be calling potential clients in the UK or abroad, which makes a big difference to her phone bill. Sometimes she has agreed to feedback rates on questionnaires she has done which are impossible to meet and have caused her a lot of stress.
“You have to learn what to ask clients when you take on work. I have learnt as I have gone along. The book helps people starting out fresh to bypass some of those mistakes,” she says.
When asked about the difficulties of setting up your own business in a time of economic uncertainty, she says that no jobs are guaranteed and that “the best company to work for is yourself”. However, she realises that not all people have the motivation to work for themselves or the willingness to take risks. “For me I thought what have I got to lose. I had my computer and I could look up companies in Yell. I had my phone. It was easy and cheap to get started. I didn’t set up my website until I was established. It didn’t cost anything to have a go. By writing this book I just want to help people in a similar position and give them options.”
For more information on Suzanne’s ebook, click here.