DSC Tech Library
Telemarketing Related Information
Organizations looking for outbound and inbound telemarketing services can outsource their IVR and voice broadcasting projects at our affordable telemarketing center. As designers of Interactive Voice Response IVR systems and Voice Broadcasting software, Database Systems Corp. (DSC) is uniquely positioned to manage your outsourcing programs saving your company both time and money. Because our products are created in-house, we can deliver comprehensive telemarketing services quickly -- providing you with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Plus you will find our inbound and outbound telemarketing outsourcing services to be quite affordable.
The following is an article relating to the telemarketing industry including products and services in our business areas.
Telemarketing - What Can It Offer You?
Article printed in Channel Business, January 2000)
It's a marketing conundrum that
the telephone offers the most direct method of getting through to
potential customers, but also has the greatest capacity to irritate
them. And with the volume of telemarketing increasing year upon
year, it stands to reason that your own telemarketing campaign must
be highly targeted and professional to get results. Failure in one
or both of these areas can result in wasted resources and damaged
business reputations. So where and how can business to business
telemarketing actually work for you?
What Is Telemarketing?
While telemarketing tends to be
most strongly associated with thick skinned individuals hammering
their way through a list in search of sales leads, it is actually
a very broad term that applies to a multiplicity of both inbound
and outbound telephone marketing. The oft quoted growth in telemarketing
(40 per cent in 1998/9 in the UK and now worth around £1. 8 billion
according to the Direct Marketing Association) is due largely to
the huge increase in the number of call centres handling high volume
inbound and outbound business/consumer calls. This work includes
for example, handling responses to an advertising campaign, or calling
existing customers to offer additional services. Generally a differing
set of skills are required for inbound and outbound telemarketing,
but this article concentrates on the latter, which tends to involve
a wider range of selling skills.
Business To Business Telemarketing:
Where Can It Work?
Telemarketing can form an integral
part of a sales and marketing campaign, either as a tool for gathering
the data that will be the foundation for your direct marketing approaches,
as a follow up to other forms of direct marketing, or as an up-front
weapon for identifying your best sales prospects. The most common
functions of business to business outbound telemarketing include:
Improving marketing data:
at a basic level this may include gathering the contact details
of decision makers and their usage of products and services relevant
to your market, but further probing can deliver more in-depth information
- perhaps on distribution channels for example.
Telecleaning your existing
data: it's your data, but is it a valuable asset? Only if it's
clean and accurate. A professional team of telemarketers can ensure
that your data doesn't embarrass you or let you down.
Lead generation: using
a team of dedicated telemarketers to do this tough, up-front work
can make more cost-effective use of your often highly paid field
sales or telesales executives by allowing them to focus on closing
sales rather than chasing prospects.
Event planning: if you're
investing money in marketing events - perhaps a seminar to introduce
your company to likely sales prospects in your target market, or
presenting a new product or service to potential customers - telemarketing
is an effective way to ensure the right people turn up in the right
numbers. This method is often used as a follow up to a targeted
Direct mail follow up:
telephone follow up to mailings is proven to increase returns, by
between three and seven times as much in some cases.
Point of sale promotion:
for those distributing products through multiple channels, regular
contact with distributors or resellers has numerous benefits. It
can ensure that they are familiar with your products and have the
right marketing materials to sell them successfully, but can also
achieve the difficult goal of keeping your product/service at the
forefront of their minds.
Company profiling: this
offers the opportunity to go beyond the type of superficial prospect
data held by most businesses and gain a full understanding of how
potential customers operate. Information on aspects such as their
decision making processes and who they currently purchase from enables
much better tailoring of sales and marketing approaches.
Customer contact: while
all of the above functions are relevant to existing and potential
customers, there is scope for more creative uses of telemarketing
that have particular relevance to previous/existing customers. For
example: you've set up a new website - so call your customers to
introduce them to this new way of doing business with them. Or if
you change location or company name - as well as writing to your
customers, call them - and perhaps take the opportunity to pass
on new product information and/or a special offer.
But Does It Work?
Some people are sceptical of the
cost effectiveness of certain types of telemarketing, and many marketers
feel it is most appropriate to dealings with existing customers.
But those who close their minds to wider opportunities risk missing
out. Steve Massie, Marketing Manager of Desktop Engineering is clear
about its overall value: 'Done properly, telemarketing will give
you better quality market information than any other source. The
whole point about telemarketing is that it allows you to talk to
people on a one to one basis and gather information of a depth and
accuracy you might not otherwise be able to get.' But Steve
feels too many squander these opportunities: 'The problem is
that most people don't do it properly. They don't target enough
and misuse the technique which only ends up annoying people.'
Wijnand Mes, Marketing Manager
for IBM Software Group UK, is also unimpressed by the overall standard
of telemarketing calls he receives: 'Most are of poor quality
by inexperienced individuals. I think telemarketing works best when
supported by a personalised direct mailing as part of an integrated
marketing communications process.'
So what makes for a successful
telemarketing campaign? Of course the pioneers of telemarketing
operated in less sophisticated markets and were able to throw together
programmes of pretty much any sort to catch people's attention;they
did not need the highly developed skills that today's telemarketers
must have to extract valuable information from call weary prospects.
Getting a good return from your
telemarketing investment will require:
Planning: you need to consider
your budget, your objectives for the volume/quality of data you
want, and your in-house resources, in terms of manpower, skills
and equipment, compared to the cost of using an outside agency.
Telemarketing rarely stands on its own; you need to establish how
it integrates with your other sales and marketing activities.
Accurate data: as with
all direct marketing methods, accurate data is the essential foundation
for success. Naturally, successful targeting rests on speaking to
the right decision makers - getting data that includes this information
may cost more but the outcomes are consistently more profitable.
A good script: an effective
telemarketing script is actually not a script at all but a guide
for the discussion that steers the listener in the direction you
want him/her to go. It must be tailored to the target audience,
must grab the attention of the listener within a few seconds of
the conversation, and must be highly interactive; long presentations
of information can be frustrating for the listener who is then less
likely to focus on the issue being presented. The guide/script should
be refined in the early stages of a campaign according to quality
of responses received.
no matter how well targeted the call is, nor how well thought out
the script, a wooden and inflexible caller will not deliver the
goods. To achieve the desired outcomes the telemarketer must have
a good knowledge of the company and product/service they represent,
be able to talk intelligently around the structure of the script
without getting side tracked, absorb all the negative responses,
and talk persuasively to people at all levels.
Wijnand Mes identifies another
factor: 'It's important during the planning of all stages of
the process to involve the people - sales team, business development
managers and so on - who will follow up on the end product of the
telemarketing activity. They have the clearest view of the type
of information required to produce positive outcomes.'
Increasingly larger companies are
recognising the value of developing in-house telemarketing teams.
However, most businesses lack the resources to conduct a reasonably
sized project in a practical time scale, for example say, contacting
a thousand companies on their purchasing intentions for a particular
CAD software within two weeks. All too often telemarketing is carried
out with stretched and sometimes inappropriate resources, such as
using highly paid sales staff to gather leads, or a harassed secretary
to cram in as many calls as possible in between other duties.
It can seem a big step to trust another company
to act as your surrogate telemarketers. For David Silsby, Sales
& Marketing Manager of Premier Computing Corporation, it's a
step made easier if he's sure they really know his business:
'You have to build a close relationship with the company and be
sure they have a good knowledge of your target market, and that
they are able to devote sufficient resources to developing an in
depth understanding of your products and services. I'd put the importance
of a good relationship with the telemarketing company right up there
with the key success factors for a telemarketing campaign'.
If you are considering bringing
in an external agency to conduct the work, here are three points
to bear in mind:
a) Find a company with experience
of working in your industry and who shows an understanding of your
target market as well your products and services. You'll have to
be satisfied that they have staff with the right skills and knowledge
and accurate data to ensure the credibility of your company is not
b) Make sure you clarify the objectives
of the campaign with them and that these are included in their full
proposal of how they will conduct the work.
c) Don't commit yourself to a full
project to gather a specified number of leads or contact a certain
number of companies; even for an agency that knows your market well
it's very hard to predict a percentage of successful outcomes. Agree
a pilot period to evaluate the project and refine - or shelve it
- as necessary.
IBM Software Group UK
conducted a multi-stage telemarketing project with the Business
Advantage Group Plc to improve their go-to-market strategy and increase
their success in working with independent software developers as
part of the IBM Software Investment Initiative (SII). Firstly in
depth profiles of software developers were gathered to provide accurate
information on potential partners. At the second stage the SII value
proposition was discussed with the selected group of software developers
and appointments made with the IBM Business Development Managers.
The project delivered
the required number of qualified appointments (counted as those
businesses with which IBM continued negotiations after the initial
visit). Early signs are that Business Development Managers have
been able to be more effective with their selling time, with the
time taken to reach contract stage cut by at least a third in some
The Legal Angle
Poor practice abounds in the telemarketing
field, with the worst examples found in calls from businesses to
the public. The new European regulations that came into force on
1 May 1999 allow 'individuals' to opt out from receiving direct
sales or marketing calls by registering with the Telephone Preference
Service. Although business to business telemarketing is largely
unaffected by this legislation, the term 'individuals' includes
sole traders and (except in Scotland) partnerships as well as consumers.
However, any business can opt out from receiving direct marketing
faxes by registering with The Fax Preference Service, or by notifying
the company concerned.
A Future For Business To Business
Can telemarketing continue to work
if the volume of calls continues to rise? Wijnand Mes feels there
are problems caused by a more general information overload: 'We
are approaching market information saturation point. Individuals
are receiving messages from so many different sources that it becomes
impossible to digest the information. I think this is already having
an impact on response rates'. Steve Massie feels that telemarketers
must move with the times: 'They may need to be more imaginative
in future to get past the fatigue recipients feel at getting so
many calls. Traditional techniques are wearing a bit thin'.
It's not only a case of telemarketers
having to develop new approaches. With the growth of Internet and
e-commerce usage new types of telemarketing will start to grow.
The biggest change will probably come in the handling of inbound
requests for first-stage information on goods and services. Customers
will expect to be able to receive such information at the push of
a button on a keyboard or mobile phone. The more complex functions
of outbound business to business telemarketing will still require
a more personal touch, requiring telemarketers to have a detailed
knowledge of the business, products and services they are representing.
Growth areas will be linked to the new technologies, such as tours
of company web sites - personal, responsive and tailored to the
individual. Such 'high touch' services will become increasingly
in demand; the emphasis will change from the quantity to the quality
of staff. Businesses using external agencies will expect telemarketers
to become surrogates for them.
Of course no matter how well planned
and executed your telemarketing campaign, human nature plays its
part; the effects of traffic jams and towering in-trays can block
the most skilled approaches. But get the right people offering the
right product in the right way - and the outcomes could surpass