Wednesday May 8, 2013

Telemarketing Simplified

Phone

I know, telemarketing is an easy channel to hate – I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of those calls, too. Hate it all you want, but the fact remains that when it comes to B2B lead generation, telemarketing continues to be an extremely powerful tool for a lot of companies.

If you’re considering using telemarketing for your business, there are about two million and three resources for your callers with tips about how to avoid rejection, maneuver past gatekeepers, use “interest-creating opening statements” to hook your decision-makers and so on.

I won’t add to that pile here. Instead, I’d rather take a step back and consider how to plan for a telemarketing campaign that’s built on a foundation of sound strategy and ROI-based objectives right from the beginning. It’s a demanding, resource-intensive channel; by entering with the right framework, you can make sure those resources aren’t going to waste.

Set the Right Goals

A client recently told me about a frustrating telemarketing experience, and I’m going to guess that some of you will be able to relate. After enlisting the help of an outsourced telesales firm to target a pool of businesses, he started getting meetings. Lots of meetings. Most of them a big waste of his time.

What happened? As it turned out, the outsourced firm was incentivizing its telemarketers to simply set as many meetings as possible; that was their ultimate goal. Meetings are great if you get them with the right people. Using the raw quantity of meetings as the final measure of success for a telemarketing campaign? Not a good strategy.

I'm not arguing that you shouldn't have a goal for leads; you should. That said, everyone involved needs to have a clear definition of a qualified lead and the understanding that setting appointments with these quality prospects is more important than generating a raw number of leads. 

As with any channel, telemarketing should be approached and assessed in terms of ROI. As you plan, you should determine how much a qualified lead is worth in order to calculate an acceptable cost per lead. Your goals for leads may evolve as the campaign progresses and you have a more concrete close rate, but starting with a measurable benchmark that the telemarketers can work with is a critical step to avoiding the frustration this client encountered.

Use a Calendar

Here are some questions you don’t want to find yourself asking about your telemarketing campaign:

 “Where are we with this?”

“Weren’t we supposed to have something like X number of leads by this point?”

“Shouldn’t we go over results one of these days?”

Along with setting up goals and expectations, the planning stage of telemarketing should include setting up a concrete timeline. Ideally, you will have a shared calendar with the telemarketing manager. This calendar should include the following items by month:

  • Launch date
  • Top priorities
  • Milestones
  • Scheduled meetings and reports
  • Any other elements you’d like to be aware of

By scheduling these items before launch, you can refer to the calendar at any time to stay appraised of how things should be progressing and use this to hold the team accountable.

Be Flexible

Right after talking about the importance of sticking to an ROI-based framework and following a detailed calendar, it might seem contradictory to turn around and talk about flexibility – but the two are not mutually exclusive.

Yes, you should be rigid about setting goals and expectations, assessing results and following a schedule. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that a telemarketing campaign is hard to predict and that, if executed properly, it’s going to evolve and build momentum as it goes.  What you have in your mind as the perfect pitch might need to be tweaked based on the responses of the prospect. What you happen to think is a reasonable call-to-lead ratio might not be reasonable in the first few months once hard data starts coming in. You shouldn’t budge on measuring results based on ROI, but you should have enough flexibility to adapt to realities of the campaign.


Do you have any telemarketing success (or horror) stories? What decisions in the planning stages helped or hurt? Let us know about them in the comments!

Charlie Nadler
Simple Machines Marketing

Written by Charlie Nadler | Tags: telemarketing

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