We chronically underestimate the value of the telephone. Having skilled outbound telemarketers is a critical tool for growing any B2B business.
The first step is to find yourself a B2B outbound call center who understands not only how to use the phone but how large organizations work and how to get inside them for maximum effect. In most cases teams with this experience can outperform traditional inside sales guys because they have veteran players, are better organized, disciplined and trained and are highly motivated because they are rewarded strictly on performance. Plus they will commit to service level agreements (SLAs).
Essentially they promise to deliver based on a fixed scope of work at an agreed price. They don’t get paid unless they deliver so they don’t make these deals lightly. And they have the professional chops, the tools to measure and monitor activity and the sense of pride to usually over-deliver against the plan.
In many cases, my clients have no benchmarks to measure outside calling specialists against inside guys. They usually can’t tell me how many dials, calls and successful outcomes their inside guys do each day, week or month. They rarely can wield their teams against a new or different target quickly and too often there are turf wars and politics that cloud the relationship between phone-based teams and field sales or marketing teams.
So consider two recent successes to illustrate the value and utility of a seasoned outbound calling team.
Fast Market Insight. One client is repositioning a significant division. We are working on crafting a new positioning and toward a value proposition aimed at a specific, narrow swath of the market. Before we commit significant time, effort and cash to the new concepts or a new campaign we want to test them against likely buyers; Vice Presidents and Directors at Fortune 1000 companies, to see if our big ideas will fly with the people they’re aimed at.
We compiled a list of 1000 companies and target titles based on a profile of who might be a best prospect. We purchased lists against those names, fully expecting 30-45% of the names to be wrong, and wrote a 6 question survey to test our messages. Then we set Stan and his people to work. We asked and they promised to get 100 completed interviews in 20 business days without revealing who was asking or why.
Fast forward 20 days. 100 interviews are complete; the data is collected, analyzed and displayed in snappy charts and graphs. We got our answers and are actively revising our go-to-market story based on the feedback. Every respondent fit the profile, every respondent worked for a firm that is fully capable of being a real prospect. We now have the benefit of what our true market is thinking, real-time intelligence, without telegraphing our moves. Add to that updated lists and contact information plus a performance benchmark should we decide to do a blind survey again.
Generate Leads Quickly. A second client has a product that works particularly well in manufacturing companies. Unfortunately this product isn’t their main offering or their best seller and doesn’t command the resources or the sales staff that it’s more productive cousins enjoy.
Enter the five member calling team. After briefing them on the product, the target market and the competitive set, we compiled a list of target companies and titles and asked them to get us 50 one-hour sales appointments in 30 days. We carefully defined criteria for qualification, which was reinforced in the call guides we wrote and we gave them access to our Salesforce.com application so they could do all the scheduling and all the data work and account updating as they made the calls.
At the end of 30 days we booked 56 appointments with exactly the kind of companies we asked for. We had updated and accurate records for 1000 target companies as well as a lot of useful information about how people reacted to our brand, our product and our competitors. The performance of the outside team, who had 10 hours of orientation and training on the product and the brand, was 5 times better than our inside sales guys, all of whom have been with the firm more than two years, during the same time period. And that’s just based on appointments since we don’t actually know how many dials, calls or records the inside guys handled each day.
A telephone in the right hands is a power business development instrument. Used properly it gives you reach, insight and access at predictable speeds. There is nothing in the B2B marketing arsenal as powerful.