Jim Burch, director of customer communications at Toshiba, discusses how the company used telemar-keting and a three-part direct mail campaign to drivesales for its Infinix-i cardiovascular X-ray system.
Q: What was the strategy behind your campaign for the Infinix-i?
A: We used telemarketing to identify qualified prospects and direct mail to connect our sale force with those prospects. The product has a lengthy sales process, so establishing a relationship is critical.
Q: Is it a challenge to sell such expensive equipment?
A: It is pricey for hospitals, but it’s used to save people’s lives. We are here to help improve the quality of healthcare. That requires a high level of trust and honesty in a relationship between the organization providing the equipment and the people who will use it. Our marketing programs are designed to be low-key and full of content that is of value to the customers. We want to honor the seriousness of the topic.
Q: How did you use telemarketing to narrow down prospects?
A: We looked at the hospital bases that use these products and where they were in the purchasing cycle. We were interested in hospitals that were buying in an 18-month window or were interested in refurbishing in the next 18 months. We then targeted a list of 245 facilities and mailed to three individuals within each facility: CEOs or presidents, the director of the service line in the hospital and the manager of the lab.
Q: Why did you use a three-part direct mail campaign?
A: Each mail piece addressed a specific topic and created some reason for the sales force to call on them. Toshiba does not have the largest market share, so the first mailing showed off our high customer satisfaction rating. The next mailing communicated that well-respected physicians use our equipment and like it. The third reinforced customer satisfaction and set the groundwork for the sales force to go in and talk to the institution. We had a staggered start across the country. As we finished a telemarketing campaign in a territory, we would mail every two weeks.
Q: What were the final results from the campaign?
A: We anticipate about 16 orders to come out of the campaign, which is worth $16 million in sales. Even though we haven’t reached the end of the purchasing cycle, this line exceeded its sales figures for the last fiscal year.