It’s easy to dislike telemarketing. We don’t like getting calls at home, so why would B2B marketers want to use telemarketing with their audience?
Because it may just be the most effective marketing tool you can use—as long as it’s used correctly.
The challenge is that the B2B marketers who use telemarketing use it as a one-time activity to support a program. They may get acceptable results, but they miss out on achieving a greater return on their investment and building a bigger leads pipeline. Those who think of telemarketing as a long-term activity, built on a solid database marketing approach, are the ones who reap the greatest rewards.
Let’s first look at what B2B telemarketing is not.
1. It’s not a deal closer. A good B2B telemarketer uncovers an opportunity and hands it off to a salesperson to continue the conversation.
2. It’s not cost-effective for small-ticket item sales. Your costs per opportunity can be $350 to $600 or more, so it’s most cost-effective for large deals.
3. It’s not easy. Many in-house initiatives fail (for numerous reasons) or companies use telemarketing services not geared toward a B2B audience.
B2B telemarketing is best suited for:
1. Lead generation: Identify prospects and opportunities.
2. Appointment setting: Set a meeting to facilitate action.
3. Follow-up: Use as a follow-up to other marketing efforts to determine the responder’s intent.
4. Lead nurturing: Stay in touch with interested prospects because while they may not be buying now, they likely will down the road.
5. List cleaning: Contact lists get dated quickly; determine if your targets are still the same contacts before launching a campaign.
6. Database building: Set yourself up for long-term success by building a contact database you can continually market to.
7. Channel nurturing: Improve relationships and partner sales effectiveness.
8. Event support: Generate traffic for events or webcasts.
9. Message/offer testing: Test messages or offers before rolling out to a wider audience.
B2B marketers typically use telemarketing for lead generation. That’s where companies can see the biggest return—and that’s when marketers fall in love with it.
To experience that love fully, though, you must create a lead generation program that commits to long-term success. It needs to be built on a database, have tightly defined criteria, have hot opportunity handoff and issue escalation processes, and use a trained team. Not a scripted team, but a team that is trained in the subject matter, program goals, and customer pain points.
With those in place, you can launch a program that produces opportunities, creates a marketing database, and gathers valuable business intelligence.
Create opportunities: When utilized to target high-value accounts, telemarketing represents a highly effective method to penetrate organizations and determine who within has a need for or cares about your solution. If this isn’t happening, there are bigger issues at play, ranging from wrong message and wrong audience to bad list. With telemarketing, you know immediately which messages resonate and which are dead on arrival. Then you can do something about it the same day. That leads to a stronger return, and what’s not to love about that?
Create a database for marketing success: Often, companies will discard a name because that contact is not an immediate opportunity. After paying to identify that person as someone with an interest—even a small interest—why not nurture that contact until they become an opportunity? There’s value in that contact, so market to them again. We’ve seen lukewarm/cool prospects eventually turn into hot opportunities—at an up to 50% conversion rate.
Business intelligence: When a telemarketer talks to a prospect, there is an exchange of information. We train our team to capture those details. When you look through the call reports, it’s amazing what you can learn about your audience’s disposition regarding a product or solution or what a prospect is really looking for to solve a business challenge.
So, is it worth the time and expense? Looking at telemarketing from a cost-per-lead measure may be an eye-opener for many. Cost for the function will be high compared to email marketing, but the returns tend to be significantly higher. Add in the long-term value of a contact, and the cost per lead and conversion to sales become even more attractive.
If you’re interested in deploying new tactics to grow your pipeline, why not consider a well-developed, B2B-focused telemarketing campaign targeted toward the best-suited efforts mentioned above? Try something you hate and see how you will love it.
JD Biros is partner and creative director at Sudden Impact Marketing. He can be reached at [email protected].