“Cold calling is dead,” they say, “the telephone is outmoded and social media has taken over” – THINK AGAIN.
In some ways, there is some support to each of those claims. Pure cold calling is possibly less effective than it used to be with the increasing use of voicemail, opt-outs, and layers in organisations that means it’s harder to reach decision-makers to engage a conversation. These days, a more intelligent blended approach to calling is required. Equally, the younger generation is perhaps less reliant on the telephone as a means of communication. They were born with a mobile phone to their ears and an iPad in their hand. What’s more, everyone is on Facebook and, professionally, we’re all on LinkedIn.
So, does the telephone still have a role to play in building a b2b pipeline? Since 2007, Virtual Sales Team, a leading telemarketing agency based in Northampton attributes customer success and their ongoing loyalty as evidence that it still plays a strong role. Below are 10 ways that you can use telemarketing to grow your business.
1. Telemarketing Lead Generation
This is kind of obvious but it is the solution that is most usually used where companies want to grow their business. Generally, it starts with the desire to sell products or services into a defined target market. The more accurate the targeting, the more likely the campaign is to succeed. The same goes for the marketing list. Usually, in these circumstances, the leads are cold and the prospects are not expecting a call. However, appointment setting exercises such as these can deliver extremely good ROI. When calling the Marketing Director of Sainsburys with a proposition to which they respond favourably. And, that this results in a sale and long-term relationship that delivers a six-figure contract. How much telemarketing might be appropriate to set against such an opportunity? If it took six months and 10% of the revenue for year 1, would it be worthwhile?
2. Telemarketing to Follow-up Inbound Leads
Inbound enquiry management is crucial for both success and great customer experience. Not following up inbound leads quickly means they may be wasted and the squanders the money you spent on the activities that drove those leads to you.
Most other methods of marketing are passive. In other words, you have to wait for a response. Some are hopefully quite quick (such as PPC / Adwords where they might make an enquiry or you track who visits based on a web tracking tool) but most involve you spending a sum of money and waiting (hoping) for a response. Social media can’t really compete here. Waiting on the hope that, by virtue of the number of connections/followers, those individuals will share your content and your customers will find it and call you. The fact is that it is a slow and unpredictable approach. You must wait for them to come to you.
With telemarketing it’s different. You are being proactive and you keep being so until you have an outcome. And, it’s totally measurable.
What is different about Virtual Sales Team is how we use telemarketing in conjunction with other channels. How well do you follow up event leads? And how quickly, before they move on? And what about inquiries generated by online marketing? How fast are these followed up during a busy week at work? Likewise, web tools can identify the companies visiting your website. How do you target the right individuals without a call to find out who it is? And, what about LinkedIn? If you’ve requested or made a connection and messaged them and they don’t respond, what do you do? Do you just drop it or might you make a phone call to follow-up the connection recognising that they may be busy?
The key is that telemarketing can amplify and build trust to maximise investment into other channels that would be wasted if someone doesn’t pick up the phone.
3. Telemarketing to Lapsed Customers
Virtual Sales Team regularly carried out lapsed customer campaigns for clients, taking a large list of the customers who had no human engagement for 12+ months. Internal resources are usually restrictive and however, we find value in these lists for you. Achieving significant new orders and leads for the business is common and it also offers customer care temperature checks that reduced the defection to competitors. Usually the bigger the company the more value is sitting in these lists, especially amongst lower-value clients who feel unloved. Telemarketing is used very effectively to not only generate sales pipelines but to unearth valuable market research information as to the status of those customers and reasons for reduced business in recent times.
4. Telemarketing for Cross-Sell
Time is the biggest limit for most of us. Internal sales and customer service staff are usually busy dealing with what’s in their inbox. Necessity means that they have to deal with key and larger accounts and those that shout louder get heard. However, we so commonly hear “I didn’t know you did that” from our client’s customers. Especially true if they’ve been buying the same things for a long time. A customer care call can identify new opportunities for cross-selling within the current client base.
5. Telemarketing for New Product Launches
Similar to cross-sell, when you have a new launch and need to alert your customers alongside prospects. Of course, you can use email them but how many customers or prospects actually ever respond? For higher value sales, a face to face sales appointment is generally necessary, and recipients rarely pick up the phone to ask for a sales visit! Telemarketing creates momentum as a proactive service to generate sales.
6. Telemarketing for Online Demos
We often hear prospects put off by hard-nosed sales calls that try to squeeze a face to face appointment for a salesperson. A lower risk commitment for a prospect is a web demo. Telemarketing can be used effectively to run short web demos or to run prospects through a web page designed to generate a call to action.
7. Telemarketing for Research or Customer Care
It’s amazing the opportunities that these kinds of calls can elicit if managed correctly. A well-placed service or customer satisfaction research call can stimulate needs that would have otherwise not come out due to how busy customers can be. Calls such as these also promote a positive image of your company and brand that go well beyond the specific call. And, it’s well documented that satisfied customers can be tempted away by offers whereas delighted customers remain loyal.
8. Telemarketing for Data-Building & Cleaning
Most marketing campaigns fail to deliver a full return on investment due to poor targeting. And poor targeting often comes from inaccurate data to start with. A planned sales push needs the data you’re using to be accurate. One of the most effective ways to do this is to call the companies to establish that you have the correct individuals and that they actually look after your area of interest since their job title may be misleading. You can use the phone in conjunction with LinkedIn and other sources. This is especially important if the value of the sale is high and you’re spending money for example on an expensive direct mail piece. Most data brokers will only say that their data is accurate to within 6 months. In reality, 12 months is more likely as data erodes 30% year on year. In most sectors, jobs change regularly and it, therefore, makes good business sense to work on your data before you kick-off.
9. Telemarketing for Soft Lead Generation
Soft lead generation is perhaps less well-known than its big brother cold-calling. This is a way of determining if a prospect meets your criteria and has an interest in talking further. This is accomplished by tightly scripting an approach and asking 4 or 5 relevant profiling questions before asking a final question such as “Would you like to hear further from our one of my colleagues regarding …….?” We have used this for many campaigns with great success since it is more of a soft-sell on the back of profiling rather than an overt sales approach.