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Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm currently in the middle of a campaign with one of my associates that reminds me how tough telemarketing can be at times.

It also underlines my view that you need different types of telemarketers for different campaigns (which is also one of the advantages our associate model).

Just like different sports, I think that there are different styles of campaigns that demand a different approach and temperament of telemarketer.

Using the analogy of cycling, since I've been following the Tour de France recently, in one camp you have the "sprinters".

These are people are best to deliver power over short distances, much like a short, very targeted telemarketing campaign. Think here about niche campaigns with a small list of targeted contacts that require a specialist touch.

Great sprinters, from a telemarketing perspective, are specialists with deep domain expertise. This enables them to maximise results over a short distance (which means a small list). It's all about power; they're typically referred to as "heavy hitters".

We've got a number of associates that fit into this bracket. Typically, though, they're not that good at longer campaigns which require more stamina to complete.

For that, you need an endurance expert.

These telemarketers are the ones that legends are written about. Calling into functions such as IT, HR & Marketing has become a herculean task.

Most of these people have put in place systems and protocols to stop you getting through. It's an often hostile environment that requires a think skin and determination to keep going. Dial rates of 120+ a day are not uncommon, and expect to only actually pitch less than 10 decision makers a day.

Attributes of telemarketers in this category include perseverance and a dogged determination to keep going. They know their numbers and watch metrics such as dial and pitch rates since they know that if they speak to enough people they will deliver.

Again, we have some excellent associates who are endurance specialists. They are a rare breed are are the real deal when it comes to old school cold calling.

So, as ever, it's all about horses for courses, as they say.

If you have a niche proposition with a small target universe, invest in a heavy-hitter who can make every call count. Just don't expect them to put in days on the phone or bother about how many dials they did.

If you have a more generic offering, possible targeting SME's or the mid-market, then you are going to need someone who can crank out the calls and keep going when others give up.

Occasionally, you can get people who can do both. Jonathan Vaughters, team manager of Garmin (in the Tour de France), says: "In athletics, you can turn a miler into a marathon runner, but you can't do it the other way round."

I'd agree with that in telemarketing too.

A heavy-hitter, which the right attitude, can pound the phones like the best of them. However, in my experience, the traditional endurance telemarketers struggles with the short campaign as their style often relies on a high % of blow-outs before they strike.

With small campaigns you just don't have that luxury.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 10:05 am |  0 comments  | Links to this post  

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I read a recent article featured on DemandGen Report, Four Keys to Converting Stalled Leads into Closed Sales During A Downturn, which looks at approaches you can take to recycle "dead" leads and convert more of those stalled deals.

As Dave Green says in his article, "the slowdown in the economy has created longer selling cycles and smaller deal sizes", which is something I certainly agree with.

Dave suggests that one way to recycle those dead or stalled deals is to run a professional telemarketing campaign to understand what the problem is. This could be done as a market research project and the resulting information can be used to offer incentives that address the problems of delay.

This is an excellent way of re-engaging with leads that the sales team have lost traction with. In my experience, sales will too easily write off deals which, with a different approach, can be possibly brought back to life.

Telemarketing can be used either to re-engage or, at the very least, further qualify whether the opportunity can indeed be salvaged.

I also like Dave's comment that "no matter how sophisticated the automated nurturing process is, there is no substitute for human interaction."

It's good to hear that coming from a well respected demand generation guru.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 1:38 pm |  0 comments  | Links to this post  

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Monday, July 06, 2009

If you're thinking of running a lead generation campaign, telemarketing is still an effective B2B marketing tactic to consider.

Obviously it's not the only lead generation tactic and, if you read the marketing press, you'd think that everyone had dropped telemarketing lead generation in favour of "social media" or "twitter". But, when it comes to ROI, telemarketing is still a solid direct marketing tactic for lead generation.

So, when is it best to use telemarketing for lead generation?

Here are 3 situations which make telemarketing an ideal tactic for lead generation:

1) In early stage markets - if you're selling new technology, or are in an early stage market, then you can guarantee that your prospects are not looking for you. That's not to say they're not looking for solutions to their particular problem, it's just that they don't yet know your product or service exists.

In these circumstances, you need to educate the market. A telemarketing lead generation campaign is ideal for this situation as it is all about starting a dialogue.

2) Against established competitors - unlike above, here there's an established market with existing "players". Very often these competitors are the "usual suspects" that prospects turn to when they are looking for RFP's or solutions.

In this situation, you need to break in and get their attention otherwise they'll simply continue with the people they know. Again, using telemarketing as a means of opening a dialogue is ideal.

You should note that each of the above examples needs a slightly different approach and objective. A campaign to build awareness for your business against incumbent competitors will be different to one where you are educating the market.

3) Targeting a "wish-list" - a third way to consider whether telemarketing is a suitable lead generation tactic is when you have a highly targeted "wish-list" of companies. Typically this implies a small list of businesses, less than 200 companies for example.

Why is this a good fit with telemarketing?

Well, if you know that your proposition is ideal for a very small target market (perhaps based on a number of firmographics such as turnover, ownership, etc) then you need to make sure that you maximise every possible opportunity available.

Essentially, you can't afford to sit back and wait for them to come to you.

In all three examples there's a common theme: control. Telemarketing is all about pushing out into the market and taking control of the lead generation process.

As I said at the beginning of this post, telemarketing is not fashionable at this time. Read the press and you'd believe that marketing today is only about "permission-based", "online" and "social media".

Google may be great, but if you're selling something that your audience is not looking for (yet) then all the adwords budget in the world will not deliver the leads you need.

Likewise, if you want to break into a competitive market with established, better resourced incumbents then you need to engage before the buying process starts.

In the right circumstances, telemarketing still remains an effective lead generation tactic.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 2:09 pm |  0 comments  | Links to this post  

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