PointClear Gets CenterBeam on Right Calling Path

After shifting its focus to a new market, information technology services firm CenterBeam found it had to change its marketing services provider to turn prospects into qualified sales leads.

Though the company was founded and began providing outsourced IT services in 1999 to small organizations, the firm entered its current market serving midsize organizations about two years ago and brought on a new marketing services provider at that time, a CenterBeam executive said.

“We spent the first year with one provider and saw some early successes but the wheels fell off the bus after that,” said Kirstin Burke, director of marketing at CenterBeam Inc., San Jose, CA.

Being in the technology market, much of CenterBeam's marketing for lead generation is telemarketing-based with support in channels such as direct mail and e-mail.

“The scale and cost of the services we sell require a conversation,” she said.

However, the first firm CenterBeam worked with seemed concerned more about hitting numbers than properly training and motivating employees.

“When you hear these people on the phone and you can hear a stress level, these people are on the phone with high-level executives at these companies who would sense that right away and either hang up or say that they would meet with us just to get off the phone,” Burke said. “That is not a lead, and we lost a lot of confidence in our field.”

Burke knew she needed to switch providers, yet she also knew that telemarketing would have to remain CenterBeam's key channel.

“I am someone who is probably your largest telemarketing skeptic in the world and I hated knowing that I needed to do it, but I knew that in our market it was probably the most effective strategy to generate leads,” Burke said.

Finding the right partner led Burke to PointClear a little more than a year ago.

“The way that they got our business was the same process they use on behalf of their clients, which is a multi-touch strategy of six to eight contacts including phone calls and e-mail,” she said. “It's part of their philosophy that says if you stay top of mind with people, then at some point when growth or change happens, you will be high on their list.”

The first thing PointClear did for CenterBeam was reduce its target universe through modeling and analysis, which is unusual in business to business, said Dan McDade, CEO of PointClear LLC, Norcross, GA, who spent years on the business-to-consumer side of the industry.

“This is a lot more complicated than consumer offers simply because there aren't great lists,” he said. “Our clients typically use the compilations like a Dunn & Bradstreet and Computer Intelligence from Harte-Hanks as well as some controlled-circulation publications.”

PointClear also does call downs into the lists to ensure the people are still there and to verify the information before a representative calls.

“PointClear is a real extension of our company,” she said. “Instead of just developing a script, they developed almost a bible. If you listened to a recording you would think the reps worked for CenterBeam for years. They spend a lot of time making sure that they are carrying that brand torch for us.”

Calls are followed up with e-mail and direct mail.

So far, Burke is pleased with the results.

“Because we kind of went through this business shift a couple of years ago, it's kind of hard for me to compare before and after, but what I can tell you from a lead generation standpoint is that in the first half of this year our PointClear results netted out to 25 percent of our new customers, which equals 55 percent of our closed business,” Burke said. “They brought in a lot of money.”

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