MasterCard Calls on LeadMasters to Boost Bank Sales

MasterCard is crediting close cooperation with its outsourcing partner, LeadMasters, for the success of a teleservices campaign aimed at expanding its business with its small bank members.

The campaign, dubbed Relationship Plus, targeted 400 banks that had a profitable but low-volume business with MasterCard. The goal was to market MasterCard promotional programs with national retailers and event sponsorships to the banks, which in turn offer the programs to consumers.

In November, contacts at the targeted banks received a direct mail letter signed by Ruth Ann Marshall, MasterCard president, North America region. Seven days later, the LeadMasters team of four telephone agents, a sales manager and a project manager followed up the letters with telephone calls.

During the following six months, LeadMasters agents offered 180 promotional programs to the 400 targeted MasterCard member banks. The banks' participation in the programs increased eightfold in that period.

The result was a 9 percent increase in sales from those banks in the six months after the program began. The effort is continuing as MasterCard tries to strengthen its relationships with member banks.

MasterCard, Purchase, NY, declined to disclose the amount of interest income generated by the campaign for it and its member banks. The company plans to begin a second phase of the campaign in 2002, possibly broadening its target market.

To achieve these results, LeadMasters and MasterCard resolved to work as one on the campaign. The LeadMasters team was part of the campaign design and planning and was invited to MasterCard planning sessions and other functions. Joe Panaro, MasterCard senior vice president of business development, said the companies engaged in team-building activities to strengthen the relationship.

LeadMasters agents also had a hot line to MasterCard account executives in St. Louis so that when a problem with a customer arose that they could not solve, they could seek a solution directly from MasterCard.

MasterCard selected LeadMasters, Stamford, CT, from eight teleservices firms with experience in financial marketing. Previously, LeadMasters' specialty was in appointment setting, as the company has set more than 15,000 appointments for more than 100 marketers since 1993.

Before the campaign, MasterCard interviewed 100 member banks to determine their customer satisfaction levels as well as which factors were most influential in creating customer loyalty. Among the banks' concerns was a desire to have a single point of contact with MasterCard.

No script was used, as LeadMasters instead took a conversational approach to its calls to the banks. Beta testing began in September, with LeadMasters calling 100 of the banks that MasterCard designated as having the highest potential for business growth, as determined from information gathered in earlier research calls.

LeadMasters agents were armed with a cornucopia of data about the banks, such as the location and number of their branches, gross volume of business with MasterCard products and average revenue per cardholder. The information helped agents bring the right offers to the right banks, but it also meant more homework for the agents.

“It required a lot of training with the LeadMasters people,” Panaro said. “We needed to teach them the key metrics of the business.”

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