Telemarketing tells the story for BancIntelligence

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After developing an automated solution for banks' financial and market analysis -- a process traditionally performed by onsite advisers -- BancIntelligence faced an even tougher challenge: how to market the solution to bank executives.

The Atlanta-based company tried direct mail and e-mail but discovered there were limitations to both. Direct mail "is so costly for a small company," marketing manager Eddie Hunter said, adding that BancIntelligence's efforts in this area did not produce enough leads. E-mail, on the other hand, worked as a lead generator, he said, but only so much can be explained in an e-mail.

"Because we were so unique and there is no direct competition still, people are not able to conceptualize who we are and what we do," Mr. Hunter said.

Frustrated with other direct marketing tactics, the company hit upon the idea of holding one-on-one Web conferences to demonstrate the BancIntelligence technology. Initially, the program was handled in-house. But as it grew, BancIntelligence contracted with telemarketing firm TeleNet Marketing, Bogart, GA, to make the initial contact and schedule the conferences.

"What really works for us is getting in front of these people through a cold-calling campaign," Mr. Hunter said.

When the program with TeleNet began in early 2005, calls went to one-branch banks that had few prospects for growth, and close rates for the campaign were on the low end.

"What we need are banks that are looking for growth from a profitability and a franchise perspective," Mr. Hunter said.

What the BancIntelligence solution does exactly is offer an online, automated advisory session from a financial and market analysis perspective, providing information on return on equity, profitability and where the opportunities exist for a specific bank's branches. The Web conferences are personalized using that bank's data.

In 2006, BancIntelligence combed the list of 8,500 banks nationwide and gave TeleNet a list of banks with five branches or more that were looking to grow. Another change BancIntelligence made this year was to ask TeleNet to focus on signing up more than one executive from the same bank for each Web conference.

"Our solution goes from the financial side to the retail side," Mr. Hunter said. "Normally, it is going to be a group decision, so it is very good to get in front of that group from the beginning."

These changes have improved results. Currently, TeleNet schedules an average of 30 Web conferences monthly, with about 85 percent of those being carried out and 25.45 percent resulting in a sale for BancIntelligence.

The script used by TeleNet focuses on growth issues from a profitability and franchise perspective. However, the script changes during certain times of the year. For example, most banks are focused on strategic planning from September to November.

"That is a great time for us to get in front of prospects," Mr. Hunter said.

In December, BancIntelligence will shift gears again and ask TeleNet to focus on even larger institutional and regional banks with 10-plus branches.

"The pace of growth will slow but revenues will increase as we start focusing on larger institutions," he said.

Messaging and strategy also will change.

"The larger the institution, the more touches you have to have and the more complex the process," Mr. Hunter said, noting that this is where TeleNet's experience with finding the right people will come into play.

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