DSC Tech Library
Telemarketing Related Information
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The following is an article relating to the telemarketing industry including products and services in our business areas.
IN DEPTH: Telemarketing
Despite bad rap, telemarketing is a vital business operation
Nobody knows telemarketing's bad image better than Judy Rhodes.
After all, she's the owner of Pinpoint Marketing LLC, a business-to-business telemarketing firm in Santa Clara.
"It used to be when people would ask me what I would do, I'd say, `I run a telemarketing company, but we're not the people who call you at home during dinner.' You could just see shadows pass across their face," says Ms. Rhodes. "Now I say we do high-tech business development."
In its true sense, telemarketing has become a growing profession, functioning better than the stereotype would suggest. As telemarketing gets incorporated into a company's sales force, the practice has moved from calling someone's home to making calls during business hours, selling products to other businesses.
The distinction between these two types of telemarketing is that one is business-to-consumer and the other is business-to-business.
Business-to-consumer, the most familiar type of telemarketing, comes in two forms: outbound and inbound. Outbound telemarketing means placing a call to residents, asking them to try a product or service. Inbound telemarketing is when a potential customer is encouraged to call a company to purchase a product or service, as in the Ginsu knife TV advertisements.
In business-to-business telemarketing, a telemarketer searches for potential companies and the right people with whom to initiate a sales call. The actual legwork is done by an inside sales or field sales representative.
"Over the years, in the high-tech industry, companies started hiring lower-level people to make the basic call to a business to find out the key basic information that's used for qualification. Usually it's to understand a company's business before they actually send a salesperson out.
"The logic was you use a lower-cost resource to do a lower-level function," says Barry Ross, co-founder of Ross & Ross International, a high-technology sales and marketing firm in Foster City.
"What happens very often in business-to-consumer is you don't put the training in place, the marketing people don't provide quite the information they really need and quite the coaching and quite the management," Mr. Ross says. "So what ends up happening is the people tend to be less effective and, as a result of that, people are annoyed."
This is not to say that all business-to-business telemarketers are well-trained or that all business-to-consumer telemarketers are not. Volume telemarketing, which makes untargeted calls to businesses, can be poorly handled.
"Volume [callers] are not much better than the people who call you at home during dinner. They're untrained. They're scripted. They're not very educated," says Ms. Rhodes.
For Pinpoint's telemarketers, Ms. Rhodes provides initial training in telephone-conversation techniques, product reviews, and meetings with a client's account manager for the specific product. New telemarketers observe the more experienced ones work and start out working on one account before handling multiple accounts.
"Our training, first and foremost, is to help us do a good job," explains Ms. Rhodes. "And then secondarily, it's to counter the negative perceptions."
Mr. Ross points to an important factor that makes telemarketing successful: "If you're calling someone that has a very specific targeted need that you're calling about, people want to talk to you -- or they'll be receptive at least."
John Nye, general manager in Northern California for Trendwest Resorts Inc., looks for that sort of success in the telemarketers his company uses. Trendwest, based in Redmond, Wash., sells vacation-resort ownership via timeshares.
"We want our customers, whether they are customers by phone or in person, to leave feeling good about the experience of their contact," says Mr. Nye.
Trendwest has training programs for its in-house telemarketers and evaluates these programs used by companies it outsources to. Also, Trendwest questions each of its customers as to its experience with the telemarketers, investigating all complaints.
In-house telemarketers, Mr. Nye says, gives a company more control over the operation. Outsourced telemarketers, he says, can be less expensive.
A telemarketing representative can make $28,000 a year, plus commissions, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Sales representatives can earn $47,075 yearly, according to an Abbott, Langer & Associates Inc. 1999 survey.
Aaron Malchow covers general assignments for the Business Journal.