Are you running a telemarketing campaign and it’s not delivering the results you were expecting or promised?
Are you about to embark on a campaign and want to make sure you get good, qualified leads?
I’ve met plenty of organisations in the tech sector who have been disappointed with the results of telemarketing campaigns – whether those have been managed by or on behalf of technology vendors or initiated and funded themselves.
Before we get onto the actions you can take to maximise the success of a campaign, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the person we are targeting – the Technical Decision Maker. Think about how their role has changed over the years – from just managing a network (whether that’s a WAN or LAN with a bit of WIFI) to almost EVERYTHING that’s critical to the running of an organisation (the network, security, collaboration, full coverage WIFI, data storage, cloud, back-up, business transformation, AI, the list goes on).
No wonder they don’t have the time to pick up the telephone – and imagine how many solutions vendors, resellers and services companies are trying to contact them ‘to find out’ what projects they’ve got on or are planning!
All of which makes the task of telemarketing that much harder.
So, what have been the most common complaints?
“The project started off well but then we started to receive poorly qualified leads.”
“The leads seemed promising, but no project materialised.”
“We had a difference of opinion on what constituted a ‘lead’ so the relationship turned sour.”
“The end-user did not show-up for the scheduled call – I kept chasing but could then never get in touch.”
Clearly, issues are nearly always around the quality of the ‘lead’ sent over. But there are so many more variables that effect the success or failure of a campaign.
Despite this, we believe telemarketing remains an important marketing tactic that you can use as part of a broader marketing plan.
Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can maximise outcomes from your telemarketing campaigns.
Before you engage
1. Do your due diligence when choosing a telemarketing agency
a. How many ‘big’ clients do they have. Are you a small fish in a big pond? I’ve seen many agencies become a victim of their own success. The moment they’re recommended to a large technology vendor, all their resources very quickly get sucked into those campaigns. And that means the quality of service received by their ‘smaller’ clients takes a hit.
b. Ask how the agency incentivise their telemarketers. This is important as it dramatically effects the qualification process. Andrew Smart, Managing Director at Virtual Sales Team (VST) has first-hand experience of this, he said –
“Callers with aggressive sales targets who are rewarded on the volume of appointments they book have an understandable tendency to push as many leads through as possible. In this situation they’re not focused on the end result, which should be to create a fully qualified, perfectly timed and highly relevant sales opportunity for the clients’ business.
I firmly believe you’ll get the best results when the salesperson earns their commission based on the success of the initial client meeting not on just booking an appointment. The focus then naturally shifts from quality not quantity”.
c. How much experience have they had calling out on your solution or service? The more the better, because conversations will flow more naturally – avoiding the script – and opportunities are less likely to be missed.
d. Ask yourself honestly; Would you want them to ‘represent’ your business?
2. Do you have a rapport with the agency? Do you trust them? They should become part of your team – albeit virtual – and hopefully develop a long-term relationship.
The ‘set-up’ process
One of the most thorough processes I have come across is that by Virtual Sales Team – so I’m listing their steps as a good example of what you should expect – and added some of my own in for good measure.
1. Be prepared to complete a thorough questionnaire before you start. This sets out the parameters of the campaign so it’s critical you take the time to do this properly. It will help the agency really understand what makes you tick, your brand values, who your targeting and why, why would an organisation want to work with you – your USPs, why your solutions address their challenges, what existing customers do you have and can they be referenced.
As Andrew Smart, Managing Director at Virtual Sales Team explains: “We want to understand our client’s business, how they engage with their customers and how the product or solution addresses a challenge they have. Think about who else in the organisation benefits from your solution or influences the decision making and target them first. For example, if your product or service offers a solution that results in significant cost savings for the business, then maybe the Finance Director would be a good place to start. They are probably not getting so many ‘cold calls’ so maybe more likely to answer the phone and engage in a conversation. This would apply to other LOB managers.”
2. A training presentation is built using this information and the ‘client’ is asked to present it back to the VST account team – ideally face-to-face. This is an important stage. Not only should you meet the people representing you it also ensures everyone understands the proposition and can ask you questions.
3. Outline what constitutes a qualified lead. What are you expecting back from the agency? Are you being realistic? We all know that ‘people buy from people’ so it’s not likely you’ll get a PO following an initial call – so having ‘the lead must have a project and be ready to buy now’ would be a very challenging ‘criteria’. Be open and expect to have to nurture the client for a while – you may well get a small order to begin with, but as trust builds larger projects should materialise.
Execution and feedback
It takes time for a campaign to run. We know from a marketing perspective that it can take up to ten ‘touch points’ with a cold prospect before we get a bite. The telemarketing agency will need to schedule in times to call and call again before they get in touch.
Feedback and ongoing communication between you and the agency is crucial. Discuss leads as these come in and discuss what works or doesn’t work for you. Refine as you go along – but do not panic and change the brief too early in the campaign if you’re not seeing the results. Instead, allow the telemarketing agency to try out the proposition for a while and then refine if it’s not resonating. An experienced telemarketer will know what direction to ‘take the call’ and ask relevant questions. Importantly they must be good listeners – there is nothing worse than hearing a call where the telemarketer is bombarding prospects with questions and almost forcing them to agree to a call or meeting – these rarely have a successful outcome.
Close the loop – feedback
Once you’ve had the prospect call or meeting, remember to give the agency feedback – How did it go? Was there potential? Was is a disaster?
Andrew and the team at Virtual Sales Team addressed the importance of feedback by rolling out their My VST app in 2017. He explained “Any telemarketing or lead generation agency worth their salt will be keen to ensure that their clients achieve their campaign objectives and maximise ROI. It’s great to be confident about the quality of results but if something needs to be changed it’s important for the agency firstly to actually be aware and then be open to making the required changes”
Feedback is a crucial part of the process that creates the best possible campaign results.
If you are about to embark on a campaign and want some advise or helping managing it please do get in touch.
About the author:
Sere Davoudi, Director at Sprint Marketing Consultancy has spent over 25 years marketing within the technology sector – working for global vendors such as IBM, Sema Group Telecoms and Cisco. Over the last decade she has helped many small to medium sized businesses realise their business growth plans with effective and diverse marketing tactics.
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Andrew Smart, Managing Director