When you think of the telemarketing industry across the last 10 years, similarly to a wide number of industries, the majority of true change and innovation has taken place over the past 2 and a half years. The pandemic accelerated change to our ways of working, technology, workplace culture and even service expectations, with some businesses and industries inevitably adapting better than others.

We recently held a Q&A style discussion with three senior members of the VST team to discuss the matter, to help give an insight into the industry from those who live and breathe it. Below are some of the takeaway points and key quotes outlined by Louise Howson (Managing Director), Andrew Smart (Founder of VST and now Solutions Director) and Paul Porter (Head of Delivery) throughout the hour-long discussion.

Quality of Data and Services

“I think people are again starting to appreciate the quality of data. Especially since GDPR came into effect in 2018, Brexit and the pandemic soon seemed to knock it off of people’s radar. 

With business returning to pre-pandemic levels for many businesses, data and GDPR is firmly back on the agenda. For us, it means we are getting more enquiries from customers wanting us to build their own bespoke lists for them. They want to avoid any potential data breaches, and we can help them do that.” – Andrew Smart.

Then building on this rediscovered importance of quality data, Louise Howson (MD) expressed how businesses, now more so than ever, expect quality across the board. Of course we will go out to the market on behalf of our customers, and try to purchase lists from data houses, but many of our customers want highly bespoke and targeted lists – which can be quite niche. In this case, we build them from scratch using our team of desktop researchers and telephone qualifiers.

“When talking to clients pre-pandemic and post-pandemic, I think people have really tightened up on the quality of service they’re expecting. Playing into the data perspective, it’s no longer ‘the spray and pray’ type sales approach of the 90’s. It doesn’t matter what size business you’re dealing with, budget is really tight and I think that’s what a lot of businesses were forced to focus on during the pandemic as budgets and resource were cut. 

Businesses really have to look at their internal processes and really drill down into return on investment, for every pound of sales or marketing spend – internal or external.” Louise Howson

It’s clear that businesses want to understand the return on investment (ROI) driven on any marketing spend they make. At VST, we continually focus on a number of KPIs for each campaign to demonstrate value, efficiency and ROI to our clients. For example;

  • What was the cost to obtain the lead?
  • How much is the actual opportunity costing to close?
  • What is the win rate?
  • What’s the value of the pipeline?
  • What it takes to create consistency of sales?
  • Are certain verticals more valuable than others? (vs speed of close for example).
  • What data source is more successful?
  • What level of decision-maker is most effective?
  • Do seasonal trends come in to play?

“This (referring to the ROI transparency and quality driven approach) isn’t just within our industry, it’s all industries. But, in my opinion, advertising and marketing agencies in particular really need to work hard to proactively report ROI to their clients to gain trust and keep the business.” Andrew Smart

Maturity of all Marketing Services

As a result of clients expecting hot, not just warm leads, marketing services have had to adapt and be able to deliver to their clients refined expectations.  

“Now, more than ever, clients are demanding fully BANT qualified leads, because sales teams are smaller and don’t always have the time to court multiple prospects on a face-to-face basis like they used to, as this is very expensive. We now do more of the nurturing for them, but only present the meeting once the prospect is ready to engage, this may initially be on Microsoft Teams or via Zoom (again for efficiency). But we are finding that more and more people are ready to meet face-to-face again, because that’s how stronger relationships are more likely to be built.

And it’s not just the pandemic that’s forced this change, it’s the wider economy at the moment. Stemming from Brexit, then COVID-19, and now the current economic climate, cost of living crisis and fuel increases. People are scrutinising all of their business costs and personal expenses” – Louise Howson

With Paul Porter (Head of Delivery) adding “clients want maximum ‘bang for the buck’, whichever channel that they use.”.

And Andrew Smart summarising the point in saying: “I think what’s happening is a maturity of all marketing services, showing return on investment for every campaign. ROI has to be justified, whichever way you are spending your marketing budget.”.

Future-proof Marketing agencies must be ‘Data-driven’

The importance and power of data was perhaps the most common theme throughout this Q&A. That’s why at VST, we put data at the centre of everything we do.

“Data drives our daily and strategic agenda, all of our decision making is now based on fact, and most importantly, this data driven rationale transfers into the strategy of our client campaigns. That’s why we are delivering live ROI dashboards to our clients 24/7. So if you weren’t ahead of the game pre-pandemic, you’re playing catchup now.” – Andrew Smart

To discuss our data driven approach and live ROI dashboards, feel free to get in touch today. We have a proven track record working across numerous industries and sectors.

Digital Transformation agendas and Remote Working

“In 2019 most companies had a digital transformation project on the agenda, but were struggling to find the time to deliver this. The pandemic forced this agenda through the need to create financial efficiencies, but also the flexibility to accommodate hybrid working due to the lockdown. 

For example, companies were running out of supplies and lacking IT infrastructure with everyone shifting to remote working. Fortunately for us, we had the ability to work remotely and had furnished the whole business with new laptops and a new hosted telephony system the month before the pandemic hit!” – Andrew Smart

Of course it’s important to have the right technology to meet these home working demands. But as important as having this is also having the framework and processes in place to effectively manage those staff members working remotely. This can take a few attempts to get right.

“Now the challenge is trying to get people back into the office. We moved from a fully remote setup back to 75% home to office split, whereas now we’re pushing to go back to 50/50 because you still need office presence, especially to help onboard new employees. 

It helps set the culture of the business, to build relationships, to receive the osmosis of working within your business to understand how the business actually operates.” – Andrew Smart

Given the acceleration of change, it is also important that your company culture and those core values are kept in tact. That’s why at VST, even if we’re hiring fully remote members of staff, we will go and visit them – as we did in Belfast and Glasgow earlier this year.

“We want to immerse our new employees into the VST culture, our processes and our qualities, ensuring they’re prepared to hit the ground running.” – Paul Porter

COVID accelerating changes across Telemarketing and wider industries

When closing the discussion Andrew Smart (Solutions Director) worked in summarising the themes throughout the Q&A perfectly.

“I think as much COVID disrupted business and was really challenging for many companies, ourselves included, it’s driven much needed digital transformation and accelerated the work life balance discussion to a workable reality.

Hybrid working is now standard procedure for many businesses, which I believe as painful as it has been for many of us, the majority of us will look back and all agree that the change was needed and is a positive move for our businesses and industry in general.

I think it’s created maturity across all industries, not just ours. Shaping how things are going to be for the next five, ten and five-teen years, and that can only be a good thing.” – Andrew Smart

Want to collaborate or join our Q&A’s?

If you wish to participate in a future Q&A with the VST team, we’re open to collaboration. Be sure to contact us on LinkedIn or via our contact form here.

And be sure to connect with those involved in the Q&A on LinkedIn: