The Value in Telemarketing

I have met a number of people recently who have asked us to work on a commission only basis. Some clients have asked for a remuneration solely based on their conversion to actual business. This whole approach concerns me.

Let’s look at the realities of b2b marketing and especially in the world we live in today.
Service marketing isn’t getting any easier. Commoditisation is the norm and differentiation is difficult to prove. Companies’ marketing communication talks the talk but do they walk the walk? Hence, buyers find it difficult to decipher truth from fiction. Buyers are also increasingly time poor and pressured. They have pressure from their shareholders, their parent company, their boss, clients, staff and so on. So, at point of impact, marketing has a tough job to do. Couple this with the fact that b2b data is well-known to be far short of 100% in terms of accuracy and you have a recipe for disaster if decisions on audience and message definition aren’t well planned.

So what’s my point? It is hard to ‘guarantee’ success in any arena. This is especially so when talking about services that are undifferentiated. It’s harder still in competitive markets and more so in the credit crunch. So why is it that companies will still either ‘happily’ or ‘resignedly’ pay for advertisements that are reactive (i.e. you have to wait for response), for direct mail (much of which ends up in the bin), for websites (that often don’t drive traffic) and PR (that doesn’t either reach the target audience or doesn’t drive response)? Yet when it comes to a proactive route to market where a qualified telemarketer actually picks up the phone to a defined prospect and has a conversation, suddenly clients want to only pay by results. Why is that the case?

The reality of telemarketing is that the cost is in the time taken to reach a decision-maker. That’s also where the skill resides especially where a client doesn’t know which market to aim at and hasn’t got a USP. Picture this. It can be the case that only 15% of all calls actually reach your decision-maker. That’s not least because data is inaccurate to start with. Once you do get through, the people you want to talk to are then usually shielded by gatekeeper PA’s, voicemail and so on. Therefore, once you reach them, you’d better have something compelling to say. But the reality is sadly different. Most b2b propositions aren’t defined or compelling. It isn’t enough to be great at what you do or to have fantastic clients or credentials. That’s not least because your prospect probably already has an incumbent supplier that does exactly what you do. So you really need to give prospects a reason to believe you, to see you and to engage with you.

So what’s my point? Well first, in order to be effective telemarketing needs to have a clear message or as we prefer to call it ‘a Trojan Horse’ i.e. something that gets under the radar of your prospects. Something compelling. A robust call to action. Not a me too.

Second. Consider why they should see you and why they should see you now as opposed to some undefined time in the future (which means never!).

Third. Get the list right and make sure it’s accurate.

And finally, payment by results for telemarketing is a valid request and is definitely the way forward. However, to make it work, it has to be a two-way process. As mentioned above, it must rely on an accurate data which in most cases means an exercise to clean the data before commencement to identify the exact decision-maker required.

It must respect and reflect the fact that most services aren’t differentiated and therefore do not entice the prospective client. It must recognise that it takes time to get past voicemail and rottweiler PA’s who shield decision-makers from undifferentiated commoditised propositions.

It must also recognise the fact that decision-makers are time poor and fatigued by marketing overload from every conceivable channel. It must consider the time investment by the telemarketer who deserves support, input, encouragement and payment for what is after all a thankless task. In many cases, 90% of people will say no once you do pin them down. It takes persistence and skill to convince the person on the other end of the phone to take some positive action as a result of the call. And it has to recognise that, for a whole host of reasons, you may not be able to convert a new business appointment to business quickly or even at all.

Telemarketing is a very direct, effective and possibly the most proactive method of lead generation and marketing in the b2b sector. I’m not saying it is the only method. Indeed it is crucial that it’s part of an integrated strategy and that you consider multiple routes to market. However, if done professionally it can position your brand favourably and generate immediate leads that often do not result in a pitch situation with multiple suppliers. The reason for this is that a call can often unearth a need. If you can prove that you can do the job, you can often get in before your competition.

So when you consider how you are going to fund your next telemarketing campaign, please consider all of the factors that lead to successful outbound calling and don’t simply view it as the telemarketer’s job to prove that they’re good by working on a ‘payment by results’ basis. After all, when was the last time you were paid like that for your services?

If you’d like to discuss the strategy for your next outbound telemarketing campaign or any other marketing challenge, please contact us on 0845 658 8192 or email us using the form on this site

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