For the past five days we have been discussing the use of the phone to support marketing in a B2B sales setting. We have covered functions like using the phone to promote marketing initiatives, using the phone to pre-qualify inbound leads before they go to sales and using the phone as a tool to proactively prospect for new sales opportunities. Today we’ll tackle the issue of outsourcing. Should you build these capabilities in-house, or hire an outside vendor to deliver them for you?
Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. The right decision is going to be different for all organizations. Obviously there are cost issues to consider. It isn’t just the salary involved in hiring, the overhead for giving your team a place to sit, phones to call from or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to track their activity. Depending on who you ask, you will hear that either the cost to outsource is less than the cost to build and manage a team in-house... or that the cost to outsource is more. In the end, you need to crunch the numbers and decide for yourself.
A few things to keep in mind, and to consider in your business case, when contemplating the In-House vs. Outsourcing Decision:
- Is this your core-competency?
- Do you have a clear sense of what it is going to take to get a telemarketing team up and running?
- Do you have management resources that are experienced in telemarketing?
- Do your management resources have time to dedicate to ramping-up and maintaining a team of the size that you need in order to be successful?
- Will your labor market support the acquisition of quality resources at a rate of pay that makes sense for your budget? Hiring the wrong people can be costly.
- Which is more important to you - Flexibility or Immersion?
- Do you need a team that can ramp-up/down each time you have an event that you need to promote?
- Is your inbound lead flow consistent throughout the year or is it more sporadic or seasonal?
- Do you like the idea of using tele-prospecting or inside sales as a training ground for the next iteration of account managers and/or field sales executives?
- Do you have the processes, metrics, and infrastructure to monitor and measure the activity and the results?
- Will you be able to hold the responsible teams accountable for the program?
- Have you modified the employment agreements and compensation plans such that the individual performance is tied to, and rewarded for, achieving corporate and revenue goals?
- Do you know what the appropriate margins, or cost per lead, should be?
- Do you have the incremental budget available to you so that you can fill the gaps in your infrastructure?
At the end of the day, I can’t tell you how to use telemarketing for your business, or how to manage it. Only you can decide. What we can tell you is that it’s still a very effective tool, albeit sometimes misunderstood, as this recent blog post attests to. Hopefully, we have given you some insights that will help you on your path. Thanks for reading.
My Lead Agency regularly produces Best Practices blog posts, often spanning multiple days, or even a week. This week, we're building off a previous blog we crafted last week, asking "Is telemarketing misunderstood?". We hope you enjoy Part 1 and invite you to return for parts 2 thru 5, as we release one segment per weekday.
OK - First, lets define telemarketing. For the purpose of this post, I am specifically referring to the use of the telephone for business to business lead generation. Not B2C, not inside sales; real B2B sales, and B2B marketing, that utilizes the phone as the message vehicle. Inside sales is sales, it isn’t telemarketing and, well, B2C telemarketing (or telesales) is dead... if it isn’t, it should be. Does anybody actually switch phone companies because of a telemarketing call?
So - B2B telemarketing. Used to be you’d buy a list from a broker, hire a couple of guys, write a script and hammer the list to pressure people to set an appointment with a sales rep, maybe schedule a demo, whatever. Then sales follows up with the leads, attends the meeting or demo... Or in most cases they try to for a couple of weeks before giving up and moving on to something else. When they do end up connecting with a lead it usually turns out not to be a real opportunity. Sales becomes frustrated with marketing; money and time are wasted. We already know what gives B2C telemarketing a bad name, but this scenario right here is what gives B2B telemarketing a bad name.
Well then, if we can't just throw a person on the phone and expect results, then what can we use telemarketing for? The way I see it, telemarketing in a B2B environment should deliver on 1 or more of 3 specific functions which require quite a lot of thought and planning and at least two very different skill-sets:
1) To support other marketing and lead generation efforts by helping to create and cleanse lists, gather market intelligence and to promote marketing initiatives like webinars, email, online and trade-show marketing;
2) To follow-up and qualify leads that are generated through other marketing activities in order to qualify them before they are sent to sales;
3) To proactively uncover sales opportunities via tele-prospecting, making more outbound calls (and therefore covering the market more efficiently) than sales reps who have quotas, proposals, meetings and customers taking up a huge chunk of their time. Why is this more efficient than quota-carrying reps? It’s simple. Once the rep finds a deal, they stop prospecting and transition to closing. While that’s a good thing, it doesn’t continue the requirement to always be filling the sales funnel with prospects.
Join me for the rest of the week as we discuss these telemarketing functions and explain why it ain’t just “Sell, sell, sell...”
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!