The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Member Blog: Is your telemarketing joined-up?

By David Wright - BSA Marketing

Let me start my saying, BSA Marketing is NOT a telemarketing company! We used to be, many years ago so have a wealth of experience of B2B telemarketing. I regularly talk to SME business owners who are using telemarketing today but see it as no more than a source of sales leads. This is often how it is sold by the telemarketing company, but it can be so much more. By making sure your telemarketing is joined-up you can open up many more opportunities.

First a statement:

Telemarketing is a communication tool.

Note: A tool, not THE tool.

It can be expensive to implement and, in my view, should only really be considered and used as part of a joined-up marketing approach.

Good telemarketing is based on a pre-qualified target list then monitored and managed while the calls are being made. All as part of a joined-up plan - yet too often it isn't quite like this in practice....

Pre-qualified list

A client using a telemarketing company can be faced with a fundamental difference of position:

The telemarketing company has a team of telemarketers who are earning revenue while they are making calls. Switching clients and briefing on new projects all takes time, and costs the company money while the telemarketers aren't active. To this end it is preferable to have a large list for the telemarketers to work on. Better this (for the agency!) than a smaller, albeit well qualified, list that the telemarketers can work through more quickly and then be looking for a new project!

The client is after results. A pre-qualified list will be smaller but the outcomes will be more frequent and the list will take less telemarketer time to work through - so less cost! More leads at lower cost - can't be bad!

The solution: Because BSA has a team of experienced, specialist freelancers, we don't have a hungry telemarketing machine that we need to keep fed, we can work with our clients to use telemarketing selectively and efficiently

List pre-qualification - an example:

We recently worked on a project where we were targeting a range of specific industrial product manufacturers. Initial research directories and list brokers resulted in a list of some 500 records. Not a bad business to business targeted telemarketing list, but could we improve it? We then:

Limited the list to companies within around 100 miles of our client (we could go back to the others later)

Scanned through the list to exclude obvious wholesalers, retailers, service providers and other non-manufacturers

OK, this process took a bit of time but the end result was that the list reduced from around 500 to just under 200 - reducing the potential telemarketing cost/time by up to 60%

Also, because the listings we excluded were less relevant to our client, we excluded few, if any, targets that might have resulted in a positive outcome - and we could still go back to them in future - nothing lost.

Getting the most from the calls

Telemarketing is easy to monitor. You are normally paying a day rate for your telemarketing staff. Telephone costs are consistent (and really quite modest these days) so your return on investment depends entirely on what you get out of this applied effort.

No matter what many telemarketers tell you, it really isn't all about how many calls they make! It isn't just about working hard, it's about working clever. I have touched on this before but it is important:

If the telemarketer is looking to make appointments, that's fine, but get them to qualify the list while they are at it. Someone who is not ready for an appointment today may be a good prospect for the future so check out just how much authority/influence they have and how relevant your product/service is to them. Check their contact details and email address.

If the telemarketer is checking and updating a database, make sure they are asking 'qualifying questions' where possible and if they happen to be talking with a key influencer, ask if they have any current interest - what is there to lose?

In either case, use the information from the calls to build a qualified database of YOUR market. You can then use this database to keep in touch with people by mail, email, social media etc - all less costly than more telemarketing and any of which can be great sources of enquiries.

Keeping in touch
Email - With email you can track who is opening your emails and clicking on links - suggesting possible interest - which could be a great basis for some more, targeted phone calls to generate enquiries and opportunities - like I said, joined-up.

LinkedIn - Once qualified, tracking a contact down on LinkedIn is fairly straight forward, and you would be surprised how many people actually use it in their day to day working lives. Once you have that connection, they will be kept updated by everything you post on the platform, continually re-enforcing your message, making it more likely that you will be on the list of people to call when they nave a requirement.

Other Social Media - Dependent on your market, other social media may also have a role to play in the process of keeping in touch. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook (or Pinterest & instagram if you have a visual product) are also great ways of engaging with target markets, further re-enforcing your brand and message.

Website - In ALL cases don't forget, one of the first things that anyone interested in what you offer will do is visit your website - so make sure it says what you want it to say. Make sure you are proud of it.

Your sales team (OK, maybe that is just you!) does the selling. Marketing is about looking for people to sell to; communicating your proposition to your target market and qualifying opportunities. It is a step by step process. Different communications using different media (both online and offline) have different impact and by using them in a joined-up marketing process you will have maximum control and the best opportunity to get most benefit from each step of the way.

There is no doubt that, used correctly, telemarketing can play a vital role in the process, but by focusing on the long term potential as well as the short term opportunities can significantly improve its effectiveness.

...and finally, back to our example:

The Results

Because the list was pre-qualified, there was typically a good 'fit' between the target contacts and our clients' services. This made it easier to speak with relevant individuals and have meaningful conversations.

Key numbers:

Over 70% of the companies on the target list were contacted.
Over 10% of contacts interested in a short term follow-up
74% of contacts happy to 'keep in touch' going forward.

A very positive outcome all round!

So all that's required now is to keep in touch, build relationships & awareness and make the most of the opportunities as they arise.....but that's another story...

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