Telemarketing! Teleprospecting! Telesales! Oi! I've heard every spin possible used to describe it. I know vendors who swear by it, and I know vendors who despise it. It seems to have a dirty connotation. I'm not sure why. I wonder if it's a generational thing. Some of my non-Gen-Y clients (you should read that as "older") always revert to Telemarketing as a first response to dwindling sales pipelines, whereas the Gen-Y clients typically refuse to even consider it.
Take, for example, the recently published 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report from MarketingSherpa. For context, the primary research of this report came from "the collective wisdom of 935 B2B marketers". I think that makes it fairly credible, eh?! In this report, one of the things it addresses is where are the investments being made in inbound tactics. Overall, Telemarketing investments, as a percentage of overall allocated Marketing budgets, are being increased in by 32%, whereas 54% are making no change and 13% are actually reducing investment. The only other tactics with smaller allocations of increased investment, or larger reductions in investment, are Direct Mail, Tradeshows, and Print Advertising; all of which are very much old-school tactics.
That says to me that the Marketing faithful have lost the faith in Telemarketing.
Yet, if I look at it a different way, I could spin the numbers to say that 86% of marketers are either maintaining or growing their Telemarketing investment. That sounds rather impressive, doesn't it?
Now, let's turn the page on the report and look at another chart which reports the "effectiveness of B2B marketing tactics". While the report measures and categorizes the breakdown by Very Effective, Somewhat Effective, or Not Effective, I'm going to keep this simple and look at the Very Effective numbers.
Telemarketing is deemed by 35% of the survey respondents as Very Effective. It's only beaten by, SEO (36%), Email (40%), Webinars (43%) and Website (50%). I wouldn't argue with that ranking.
What's more interesting is what ranks lower on the Very Effective results in the chart: Public Relations (31%), Tradeshows (25%), Paid Search (23%), Direct Mail (22%), Social Media (16%), and Print Advertising (10%).
That's right. Social Media ranks that low.
So what does this tell me? It tells me that Telemarketing still works, and that people still rely on it, and that if you have a bias against using it you should reconsider it.
For those of you who have been burned by Telemarketing, it may have been that you used a bad outsourced provider of these services, or perhaps your in-house team wasn't properly managed, or trained, or equipped, or staffed to be successful. In other words, it may not be the tactic itself that didn't work out for you, but how the tactic was implemented.
In my experience, the number one reason why Telemarketing has a bad reputation is because B2B companies use it without any other tactics. In other words, they do not implement and execute integrated campaigns involving all of the above listed tactics. Can you relate? I know that when a vendor sends me a series of relevant nurturing emails, followed by a webinar invite, or perhaps a compelling blog post reference, and then calls me directly, I am far more receptive to the call because I feel like I have some familiarity with them and I know they could potentially help me. Has that been your experience?
As the new year continues to roll out, let me ask you this about your Marketing plan and budget: will Telemarketing be part of the mix?
Stay tuned! Next week we'll be highlighting the very issue of telesales with a series of blog posts describing how you can make this tactic work for you!
We've all been there; the end of the quarter/year push to close business. It's done at all costs. We have to hit our numbers. The shareholders / investors / owners / management team committed that we would. And, often, we succeed at hitting those targets. It's exciting and exhausting and reason to celebrate. We go home and sleep the sleep of the contented. Until the next day. When we go back to work. And we look at the quota for the next month / quarter / year, and we realize that our sales pipeline is thin. We don't have enough new business sales leads to make our numbers. And then we panic.
Alright, already. It doesn't need to be this way. We can fix this dilemma. And it won't even be that hard, if you don't mind putting in a little bit of work, and you approach the problem strategically. Why strategically? Because usually, in our panic, we react to the problem in a method that's not optimal. Can you relate to the sales directive to start making as many calls as possible? We call everyone that's in our CRM system. We don't necessarily have anything new to say but we're dialing for dollars. At the same time, Marketing starts pumping out press releases about nothing in particular. I think you know how this story goes; the sales calls have low connection rates, and the voice mails we leave are rarely returned, and the CRM data quality is poor resulting in 1 out of 2 calls being answered by "Jim doesn't work here anymore", and the press release doesn't generate a single expression of interest (except for other vendors calling to congratulate you and ask if you need their services). Can you relate? Clearly this approach is not very strategic.
Let's break the cycle and do this right. After all, it's a new year. It's time for new approaches.
Follow these simple steps and you'll soon be sunning yourself at the President's Club rewards trip because of your sales accomplishments.
- Clean your data: make a concerted effort to have everyone involved physically call all of your contacts in your CRM system and simply review the contact information for accuracy. While you're there, ask them if anyone else should also be included. Ask them if email is their preferred method of communication or would they also like to be engaged via Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. Send them something to thank them for their time, such as a white paper or a Starbucks card. They'll remember you because of it. If you don't have the time or resources then outsource this job. This is the most critical thing you can do to increase your success in lead generation. By cleaning your data, you not only start talking to the right people, you also ensure your email bounce rate is relatively low. Nothing raises flags with the spam reporting services like high bounce rates. If they decide you're spamming, none of your corporate communications will get through. That's bad. Generally speaking, if you don't do this step, don't bother doing the rest of the steps. It's that critical.
- Grow your opt-in lists: Stop buying, or renting, lists. Instead, grow your own. Every person in the organization should ask a prospect or customer to opt-in to corporate communications whenever they talk with them; whether it be someone in Sales, or Marketing, or Support, or Management. No exceptions. Run events, such as webinars, with marquee partners and leverage their opt-in lists to grow your own. Partners are a great source of new contacts which you may not normally have access, or exposure, to. The conversion rate for opted-in recipients is significantly higher. Similarly, the likelihood of these recipients pressing the "spam" button on emails you send is substantially smaller then purchased, or rented, lists.
- Identify your target audience and key messages: Stop being generic with your message. Stop spewing every possible buzz word, or pain point, in the hope that something you say will stick with the recipient and they'll want to talk further. That's simply called "spray and pray". It doesn't work. Instead, understand your audience, or audiences, and then create messaging specific to them. Essentially, you're segmenting your efforts. If you're not sure what the message is for each audience, do something crazy like asking them. It's amazing what they'll tell you. Once you know the key bullets you're going to speak to, ensure that everyone on the team only speaks to those points. No varying from the message. I love it when a sales rep, or an executive, says "I know what to say. I'm good with the clients. Just let me do my thing." The truth is that inconsistency throughout the organization kills deals.
- Create supporting and compelling content for your audience: Once you start talking to your audience, whether it's phone, email, social media, trade shows, or even just your website, you'll need something to engage them to talk further. That something is called content. It could be collateral, or white papers, or videos, or blog posts, or case studies, or even podcasts. The fact is, if you don't have content then you don't have any reason to continue the conversation. The trick to content is reusability. Take for example a webinar. If you host a webinar, you can archive it for future use. You can then turn it into a podcast. You could also record the transcript and make a paper out of it. You can highlight key quotes for promotional purposes. You can create a press release highlighting the key points. All of this content is now available to Sales and Marketing for consumption by your target audience. Work smart, not hard, when it comes to content creation. What's great about content is that you can also post it via social media, or in blogs. All of this content gets cross-referenced by the search engines. Suddenly, you're generating inbound traffic to your site from people seeking answers to their problems, and Google is the source of the introduction. God bless Google.
- Engage them in a discussion using integrated marketing campaigns: Stop making phone calls. Well, actually, don't stop. Instead, make phone calls as part of an overall, integrated, outbound campaign. Try a series of emails, with content, followed by an invite to a webinar, preceded by a phone call to encourage attendance to the webinar. Then, after the webinar, call each registrant back to thank them for their time, ask them what they liked or disliked about the webinar, and attempt to understand how this feedback applies to their situation. I can guarantee you that if the feedback was "I didn't get what I was hoping to get out of the webinar", that means they have a problem and they need help. That's the start of a Sales Opportunity. Phone calls on their own are easy to ignore but an ongoing, consistent, dialog, using multiple outbound channels, will result in trust and thought leadership. When the prospect finally has a need for your services, they'll call you first.
Alright, so while I indicated that this would be 5 easy steps, I never suggested that this blog post would be short. Thanks for reading this far. If you want, we can help you out. Give us a shout. As usual, any advice we give is free, as is our time. We love talking about this stuff. Care to connect via Twitter? Perhaps you should opt-in to our community discussion? And did I mention the great content we have on this site? Have a great day restocking those new business leads cupboards.
I read a very interesting article over the weekend in the online edition of the Ottawa Citizen. The article was discussing the results of an anthropologist's study of how email, texting, and Facebook have changed the breakup ritual for university students. The study is called "The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media" and it's published by Cornell University Press. It's a fascinating and revealing insight into how students use social media to research people they have interest in, or how they communicate (AKA flirt) with people they may like, and how they break up with people once a relationship ends.
Personally, what I found the most intriguing, is how students read into the most subtle of changes (i.e. - a status update, an update to a list of interests or hobbies, a picture posted online) and attempt to extrapolate what is being implied (even if nothing is being implied) and then act based on the assumption that their extrapolation is correct. I was exhausted just reading the article and could only be grateful that I was happily married and didn't have social media influencing my dating experiences when I was a student.
Of particular interest to Marketers was how the study revealed social media was applied differently based on the nature of the relationship. Quoting from the article "Relationships evolve in a series of stages involving different types of technology. Contact on Facebook indicates casual interest followed by texting, which is more personal. Going from texting to phoning indicated even more seriousness." Doesn't that sound to you like a lead generation campaign? Add email to the front of that flow and you've got an impersonal impression all the way to a very personal impression. The trick is, when do you know when the right time is to move from one stage to another? Well, it seems, there really is no standard set of rules.
Again, quoting from the article, "Even more interesting to Gershon as an anthropologist was that while the students believed that there were right and wrong ways to do things, they couldn’t agree on what was right or wrong. One student, for example, asserted that when a couple breaks up the dumpee gets to make the Facebook announcement — and added that everyone in her sorority thought so, too. Others argued that both parties should tell their friends in person or over the phone before they made the breakup 'Facebook official.' Or that the honours went to whoever could get to their Facebook page first.'People were clear on the rules. Just not the same rules,' says Gershon, an author and assistant professor at Indiana University."
What we do know is that people engage using different mediums. You need to have content that serves them using the medium they prefer. We also know that once people engage, they keep on going back to that medium to move the relationship along. All of this points to the needs, as a Marketer, to introduce the idea of marketing automation; you can add lead scoring, and lead nurturing, relative to prospect behaviors. In other words, if they like emails, then the lead nurture can keep on emailing them. If they like phone calls, then the lead nurture can keep on calling them. Further, the engagement level, and the associated score, tells you if what you're doing is working or if you need to try a different form of engagement.
Looking at it another way, as a marketer, or as an anthropologist, you'd better have great lists and the ability to segment them sufficiently to reach them in a manner, and with a message, that sends the right engagement signals.
If not, you might find yourself un-friended faster than you can spell Breakup 2.0.
We've been busy here at My Lead Agency getting this site launched prior to the typical September back-to-school/work mentality kicks in, which will result in the usual rush of new business. It's nice to be working on our own site, for a change, rather than a customer's site. It certainly makes the faster decision making! However, even though it's our own site, we do suffer somewhat from the Cobbler's Kids syndrome where we are still fitting in the edits and updates in between other deliverables. I'm sure it's not unlike your daily routine; you're so busy doing the daily grind that you rarely get time to do the stuff you know you really need to do such as creating new content, working on ensuring your online presence is found by others, or better analyzing your prospect segments and building out campaigns to better target them. It's tough.
One thing that we've found entertaining is listening to what we have to say when we're shooting our videos for this site. You have to understand, we're always giving advice to our clients. That's why they engage us. However, when you sit down and create video after video after video, in a concentrated fashion, you start to hear some common advice, strategies, and themes. In fact, you question whether your own personal advice isn't perhaps a bit of a broken record. Of course, it's not; it simply is proof that the basics need to be continually followed regardless of where you are, or what you're doing, when attempting to create new leads to grow your business.
So what do we hear ourselves continually saying? Pretty much the following:
- Content is King. You need lots of it. You need to never stop making it.
- Content is multi-channel. In other words, each recipient of your content will have a preferred method of hearing it and it's up to you to ensure you've provided it in that medium. This could include video, podcasts, whitepapers, blogs, etc. People fit you into their schedule based on the medium that is the most convenient to them.
- You have to constantly be speaking to the pains people have, and then providing them solutions to their problem. Everything needs to be benefit-driven. Don't speak to the technology. Speak to the human aspect of everything we do.
- You need to segment your audience; understand where they are in the sales funnel.
- You need to create a series of campaigns, for each segment, relative to the segments pains or objections.
- You're always trying to build a relationship with your prospects and clients. That means you want a two-way conversation. It's not just about them hearing what you have to say.
- You're always trying to build trust with your prospects. You do this through sound advice and unbiased feedback.
- You want to be constantly building your thought leadership. Get others to share your content. Be active in the communities, and using the mediums (i.e. Twitter), that your community frequents.
- You want to work smart - not hard. You do this through the use of Marketing Automation and Inbound Marketing and other enabling technologies.
- You want to invest in guerrilla tactics. Don't fall back on spending lots of money and expecting large returns. You have to use patience and understand that it's going to take more impressions then you ever expected to engage your prospects. You don't get an ROI on a one-time email or direct mail.
Anyways, that's most of what we kept hearing ourselves say over and over again. If you don't watch one of our videos, or listen to a single podcast, then you'll have got the essence of what we say simply by reading this post.
Thanks for stopping by and giving this a read. Feel free to share or tweet about it. We'd be grateful. Drop back soon.