If like Ned Flanders you had been woken up in the middle of the night by Homer's auto-dialler then I'd understand if you told me “I hate telemarketing”, “Telemarketing doesn’t work”, “No one responds to telemarketing” or “I don’t want to do telemarketing”?
I’ve heard plenty such remarks during my 18 years of designing, developing and delivering B2B telemarketing campaigns for technology vendors.
That’s unfortunate. Because, done right, telemarketing can be your most effective marketing tool for generating insights and qualified and clear opportunities.
I understand why so many people dislike telemarketing. That’s because it is the easiest form of outbound marketing to do badly.
So if outbound telemarketing can be so effective, what accounts for its negative reputation?
Scratch beneath the surface and you will probably find this arises when expectations are mismatched, processes are not aligned and execution is poor.
With a better approach, however, it really is a marketing tool like no other.
Telemarketing gives you the chance to generate clear, trackable results while maintaining a finger on the pulse of your audience and allowing you to tweak your approach in real time.
What it shouldn't be
The key to doing it well is to move away from the traditional view of telemarketing – you know, that image of a chicken-coop-like room full of people wearing headsets and using auto-diallers to make 400-500 calls a day. That couldn’t be further from the model I’m recommending.
Telemarketing offers a real opportunity to get to know, understand and engage a client’s audience.
It gives you time on each call to really understand the person you are speaking with, rather than simply seeing them as a prospect to sell to.
You can ask your audience what they really think. What their challenges are. What their needs are.
The approach we take
Take the emphasis away from the number of calls an operator makes and focus on building relationships with your target audience. You want to understand their needs, gather their thoughts and perceptions, and drive commitment to whatever the next steps are going to be.
To do this, you need a strong team in place. With good support, you can instill the quality-versus-quantity message into your calling teams and promote core skills such as active listening and how to build rapport.
If you’re planning a new telemarketing campaign, consider the following steps for success:
- Target your operators by outcomes, not calls.
- Track conversation times, not number of dials.
- Practice active listening. Ideally, operators should aim to do no more than 25% of the talking. If they’re talking too much, chances are they aren’t listening actively enough.
- Build relationships. Don’t "Sell, sell, sell".
- Be realistic, both in terms of deliverables and audience reach.
- Align your expectations and define your outcomes.
- Break down barriers – empower your operators to speak with clients and the people following up their work.
When done properly
I've already written about how useful telemarketing is for when marketing to the technical audience , profiling sales leads and nurturing relationships with channel partners, because it suits those jobs so well.
When done properly telemarketing can be that extra touch that unlocks the potential from the top of the funnel leads and build relationships to minimise fall out along the pipeline. If it will help you reach your audience in a manner that they're receptive to there's no reason to hate it.
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Want to find out if telemarketing will fit in your marketing strategy?
Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org , let's look at what you're trying to achieve and if TM is right for this.