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How I learned to love B2B telemarketing

By JD Biros

Partner/Creative Director

Full disclosure: I work for a marketing agency that has a telemarketing team. But as creative director, I seldom work with that group.


My admiration for telemarketing is borne out of being a witness to its effect. And what I’ve concluded is this: telemarketing remains one of the most effective B2B marketing tools...as long as it’s used right.


And therein lies the secret. The best way to use telemarketing in B2B is not as a one-time activity, but as a long-term program, built on a solid database marketing approach.

Maybe I should start with explaining what B2B telemarketing is not.
  1. Not a deal closer. It uncovers an opportunity that gets handed off to a salesperson.
  2. Not cost-effective for everything. It has a higher cost per lead than B2C telemarketing, making it more appropriate for larger cost items or projects.
  3. Not easy. Many in-house initiatives fail or companies hire B2C telemarketers, which seldom works out.

Now, here's where I've seen B2B telemarketing work well:
  1. Lead generation – identify opportunities
  2. Appointment setting – set a meeting with a rep
  3. Follow-up – determine a responder’s intent
  4. Lead nurturing – stay in touch with interested prospects who may be likely buyers later
  5. List cleaning – determine if targets are still the same contacts before launching a campaign
  6. Database building – build a contact database you can continually market to
  7. Channel nurturing – improve partner relationships, onboarding, and training
  8. Event support – generate traffic for events or webcasts

How to ensure repeatable wins

When combined, all of the activities above create a comprehensive program that can produce higher returns and long-term success. Such a program, though, needs to be built on a database, have tightly defined lead criteria, include hot-opportunity handoff and issue escalation processes, and use a team trained in the subject matter, program goals, and customer pain points.

With those in place, you’re ready to produce numerous opportunities, create a marketing database, and gather valuable business intelligence.

Produce opportunities (and fix things) – Telemarketing is highly effective for penetrating organizations and determining who has a need for your solution. If this isn’t happening, you might have bigger issues, such as wrong message or the wrong audience. With telemarketing, you can almost instantly identify which messages resonate and which are off basis—and then fix them right away.

Build a better marketing database – Unfortunately, companies discard names because the contacts are not an immediate opportunity. However, there is still value in that contact, so market to them again. We’ve seen lukewarm/cool prospects eventually turn into hot opportunities—at an up to 50% conversion rate.

Business intelligence – During a call, there is an exchange of information. We capture those details and it’s amazing what you’ll find in them. Field-level customer intelligence, their disposition to your solution, what else they might be looking for, what their problem actually is, and more.

While I don’t know as much about telemarketing as others in our company, it’s the success of these programs that earn my respect.

Instant. Insightful. Measurable. Revenue impacting. All the attributes you need for marketing programs that continue to see increased scrutiny by executives regarding ROI.