Telesales Is a Vital Part of BTB Marketing

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With customer acquisition costs escalating, many companies rely more on their inside telesales groups to solicit their customer base. In most cases, this group is responsible for maintaining a relationship with 80 percent of a company's customers. This reduces the need for a sizable number of sales representatives required to visit clients regularly.

With an adequate infrastructure, solid management and effective marketing, an outbound department can grow customer accounts. But for inside telesales to complement business-to-business marketing, it needs to be recognized as an integral component of the operation and supported by frequent demand-generation programs to maintain momentum.

Telesales must receive customized messaging from marketing. A reason is needed to call customers and the same outbound message can't be used repeatedly. The message should change quarterly at least. And it's more dynamic than other media, capable of gathering more accurate, timely feedback than any reply card or online tracking vehicle such as a microsite.

Inside telesales serves an even greater function within BTB marketing. It can pilot programs for execution. Within hours, telesales can test various offers, scripts and messages. And if you ask for expertise and input, the inside telesales group will provide fundamental market feedback above and beyond the testing sphere.

The benefits of an inside telesales group that is familiar with marketing objectives, programs and directives can be measured in sales, customer satisfaction, loyalty and adoption rates. Without its support and collaboration, marketing operates under suboptimal conditions.

No telesales representative can reach his or her entire assigned customer base effectively on a regular basis. And you don't want the reps to try, either. Instead, have them focus on the top 20 percent of their accounts and leave the rest to relationship marketing, which should be viewed as a separate function of the marketing department.

Inbound customer calls must be fueled by frequent marketing activities designed to elicit a response and demand. Demand generation can be accomplished via several media, but always should include the same fundamental elements. For maximum effectiveness, demand-generation objectives should change monthly.

Consider the following measurable objectives that have been successful:

· Sell newer product to 20 percent of the customers within 60 days of announcing its availability.

· Identify a specific customer segment and target it for the sale of add-on services.

· Expand the number of contacts per account in order to qualify and prospect.

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