Companies that sell B2B products and/or services often utilise telemarketing as one of their primary tools for lead generation. Equally, there are a few reasons why some companies choose not to select telemarketing as an option for their B2B lead generation.
In this article, we look at the pros and cons of using this method of business development to generate B2B sales leads.
Not every method of marketing works. And, not every channel is right for every situation. If prospective customers arrive in droves without the need for proactive business development, that’s great. But, it rarely works that way, and some form of active marketing is usually needed. So, why would organisations decide to omit telemarketing as a route to market?
Value of Sale versus ROI
This form of outreach is more resource-heavy than most other forms of business development, aside from perhaps recruiting field sales professionals that are tasked with closing business. As a consequence, to support the relatively high initial outlay, the value of sale needs to provide sufficient opportunity to achieve a positive ROI over time. If the gestation period between contact and sale is long, coupled with a low value of sale, telesales, or telemarketing, is probably not the best route to choose.
Changing Buyer Preferences:
In recent years, there has been a shift towards digital channels. B2B buyers increasingly conduct their research online, engaging with content marketing, and reaching out to companies on their own terms. As a consequence, companies are adapting their lead generation strategies to align with these changing preferences. Since cost per lead and cost per conversion have risen, due to the difficulty to reach and convert the right buyers, there has been a natural shift towards more remote selling.
Time and Resource Constraints:
Telemarketing requires dedicated staff and resources, and a not insignificant amount of planning. It probably requires more management than other forms of marketing. Companies may find it more efficient, therefore, to allocate their resources towards other, more arms length, lead generation methods. These include content marketing, social media, pay-per-click advertising, sponsored LinkedIn ads, search engine optimisation, and email marketing. These alternative methods take time to build and tend to generate leads that require further qualification. However, these business development options can potentially generate leads at scale and require less immediate human interaction.
Scalability and Reach:
While telemarketing can be effective for one-to-one interactions, it is not as scalable as other digital marketing strategies. Companies aiming to reach a larger audience, increase brand awareness, and/or expand their market presence might prefer methods that can generate leads in higher volumes. That’s where pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing, may come in.
Compliance and Regulatory Factors:
Most marketing disciplines are subject to legislation of some sort. Telemarketing is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018. Other countries in Europe have equivalent legislation. And, beyond Europe there are other regulations in place in most developed markets. This restricts the ability of organisations to call those that have opted out, or registered their number on a do not call list.
Companies need to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. This can add a layer of complexity, cost and risk, and slow down positive outcomes.
Evolving Sales Processes:
B2B sales processes have evolved, and companies are increasingly focusing on relationship-building, consultative selling, Account-Based Marketing (ABM), and personalised interactions. While telemarketing can play a key role in lead nurturing, companies may find that combining it with other sales techniques, such as email outreach or in-person meetings, can yield better results than solely using a scattergun approach to target a large list by telephone.
Perceived High Cost:
Perceived cost, not least compared to some digital measures, is a significant factor when considering the up-front cost of telemarketing for B2B lead generation. In-house staff costs including National Insurance, pension costs, sick pay, management time, and the provision of equipment all add up. If you’re considering using an external agency, they need to make their margin. So, compared to the relatively light costs for email marketing, content marketing and LinkedIn outreach, the up-front cost may be perceived as high for what could be a slow payback timeframe, especially for large ticket items.
No method of marketing is guaranteed to work, and costs for other channels can stack up quickly. While telemarketing does require an investment in resources, it is essential to consider the potential return on investment (ROI).
When telemarketing is executed effectively, the benefits can be significant. These include identification of immediate, sales-ready, qualified leads, building a pipeline of future sales opportunities, and developing customer loyalty. The benefits can, therefore, outweigh the initial investment. Businesses must, therefore, assess the perceived cost in relation to the potential advantages, and align it with their overall marketing budget and goals.
Personalisation Adds Value for Customers
Telemarketing can still be a valuable lead generation tool in the B2B space, particularly for high-touch industries or complex products and/or services that require direct communication. Telemarketing enhances personalised communication, and direct engagement plays a crucial role in building trust and securing business wins. Whilst email newsletters, and periodic emails can play a role in nurturing, nothing beats a more personalised approach for encouraging those prospects that are wavering to cross the finish line.
Amplifying the Impact of Other Channels
Most successful companies adopt a multi-channel approach to business development. This combines telemarketing with other strategies to diversify their lead generation efforts and reach their target audience effectively. Following up events by phone is essential to ensure that sales opportunities don’t go cold. Leads that come through to a landing page from social media need fast, and deeper qualification. Email click-throughs, and opens, need follow-up. LinkedIn connections can benefit from taking the conversation offline.
It’s not Just Cold that Matters
There is an erroneous perception that telemarketing is all about cold calling. In reality, that’s only one aspect. It makes sense to make warm calls as opposed to cold ones. Many organisations have lapsed or lapsing customers. Companies also have large customer databases that have not been contacted for some time, leaving them open to competition offers. Typically, these are the lower tier customers, but that could still provide excellent opportunities for revenue development. With in-house resources occupied with dealing with higher spending clients, a customer care call can work wonders for revenue generation. Regular check-ins, upselling opportunities, and cross-selling efforts can all be conducted.
You can’t Relationship-Build Remotely in the Same Way
Whilst email nurturing tools allow some degree of proactive ongoing outreach, it’s not the same as a person-to-person interaction. Telemarketing provides a unique opportunity to establish and embed personal connections with potential prospects and customers. Through effective communication skills and active listening, telemarketers can build rapport, address concerns, and tailor their approach to individual needs. Building strong customer relationships increases customer retention, encourages repeat business, and promotes positive word-of-mouth referrals.
A call facilitates real-time conversations, enabling marketers to qualify leads more efficiently. By engaging in dialogue, organisations can gather valuable information about prospects’ needs, pain points, and budget constraints. This data helps prioritise leads, ensuring that sales efforts are focused on the most promising opportunities. This simply cannot be accomplished in other ways.
The Advantages of Immediacy
With most channels, feedback is slow, and may never arrive. When a caller speaks directly to a prospect or customer, this provides instant feedback that can be valuable for refining marketing strategies. Direct conversations with prospects reveal insights into their perceptions, objections, and preferences. This feedback can guide marketing messaging, product positioning, and the overall sales approach, leading to more effective lead generation efforts.
Market Research and Insights
Following on from the point above, telemarketing can serve as a valuable market research tool. Beyond lead generation, conversations with prospects can uncover market trends, competitive intelligence, and customer preferences. These insights can inform product development, marketing campaigns, and overall business strategy.
The Ability to Adapt
Telemarketing allows for quick adjustments and flexibility in sales approaches. Marketers can tailor their messaging, overcome objections, and address concerns in real-time, increasing the chances of converting leads into customers. This adaptability enables marketers to pivot strategies and capture emerging opportunities effectively.
Every channel has its pros and cons. Every marketer must decide what fits best when considering its target market, and its proposition. It’s usually sensible, where practical, to strike a balance and combine lead generation strategies to optimise results. Integrated marketing campaigns that encompass digital channels, content marketing, and targeted advertising can complement telemarketing efforts, maximising the reach and impact of lead generation activities.