03 June 2011 Category: Blog
Contrary to what most B2B telemarketing agencies will tell you, there are many organisations that shouldn’t consider outsourcing their work. Plenty of businesses deliver great telemarketing results in-house, generating sales ready, high quality leads and appointments for their sales teams to follow up and convert into new business.
Their arrangements can take the form of anything from a single caller - maybe a budding salesperson or a semi-retired expert using their unmatched knowledge to produce great opportunities, to large teams of dedicated agents delivering hundreds of leads and appointments each month.
If this is the position you’re in, and you have the management, technology, infrastructure and processes in place to provide consistent, high quality and legally compliant telemarketing, then there’s little to be gained by outsourcing.
However, the vast majority of businesses are not this fortunate. Most battle away, trying to use telemarketing in house, but deliver poor lead generation results from what should be a highly effective route to market. For marketers who recognise this scenario there are many compelling reasons to engage with a specialist agency, some more obvious than others…
Focus and call rates
Asking a marketing assistant, your field sales team or other staff with spare capacity to “pick up the phones” can seem like a good way to maximise the effectiveness of your workforce. Although this approach will keep your staff busy it might not necessarily deliver the results you’d hoped for. Experience suggests that even with the best intentions, most people carrying out telemarketing as one element of their role will find ways of avoiding it - perhaps making only around four or five calls an hour. Sometimes even dedicated in-house telemarketers will deliver similar numbers. Often low dial rates are justified by the need to have quality conversations, or review every prospect’s website before picking up the phone, lines of reasoning which agencies will view as entirely spurious.
In contrast, the absolute focus of specialist agency staff will deliver around 18-20 high quality calls per hour, sometimes more. This performance and expectation gap is usually neither the individual nor the manager’s fault; agencies have an unfair advantage - the culture and dynamic that comes with large teams of competing agents, 100% dedicated to outbound calling.
Telemarketing is a channel that needs constant management attention if it is to deliver its best. Callers need ongoing training, supervision, coaching and feedback based on call listening. Unless you have a dedicated and capable in house manager who is focussed full time on getting the best out of your telemarketing, you’d probably get better results from tapping into the experience that a telemarketing agency offers. Good agencies have a track record stretching back over years of making hundreds of campaigns work and should be able to use their expertise to drive your telemarketing without tying up your in house management resources.
Choice of callers
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Telemarketing outcomes are affected by tone of voice, approach, familiarity with the subject matter and so many other subtle variables that it’s often hard even for agencies to identify in advance which of their trained agents will be the best performers on a given campaign. However, the advantage that an agency should have is a sizeable pool of trained callers, who can be quickly trialled to identify the very best. The pain, time and expense of finding the strongest agents when working in-house can be enormous. For an agency, trialling callers is just a scheduling issue and the worries of recruiting, training, coaching (and of “performance management”…) are taken away from you.
Telemarketing agencies of a reasonable size can easily accommodate tactical changes in campaign needs, ramping up and scaling back team sizes in a matter of days, holding back on lead generation strategies, even pausing calling to allow changes in data, messaging or approach to be made. This kind of flexibility is difficult and expensive to provide using an in-house team. For a busy agency with multiple campaigns, it can usually be provided at no additional cost as callers are simply reallocated from one client to another.
Infrastructure and technology
There are two key technological foundations for good quality telemarketing, the calling platform and a call recording system. In-house teams sometimes don’t have access to one or both of these critical pieces of infrastructure, leading to a greatly reduced volume and quality of results.
Telemarketing agencies have calling platforms which are optimised for telemarketing and rarely call using the bloated CRM system (or even Excel lists) that in-house teams are often lumbered with. These stripped down systems will drive up call rates, provide instant, live reporting and will also carry a minimal training overhead so the agency can focus on coaching soft skills instead of system use.
A good quality agency will also have systems in place to record and archive every call made – often running into millions each year. Recordings are crucial to the success of any telemarketing campaign and should be shared with the sales team to encourage follow up. They should be reviewed and used for agent coaching and training. They are also the definitive record of what’s been said by both parties when quality or lead qualification questions arise.
Although the idea of carrying out telemarketing in house might seem attractive, the reality is that many organisations lack the ability to deliver strong results. If you are confident that you have the people, processes and systems to deliver consistent, legally compliant, high performance work, then do your telemarketing in-house.
If you are not, then outsourcing to specialists gives you the chance to tap into extensive knowledge and experienced agent teams that can only be built through years of experience. Working with experts also gives you the chance to access the best equipment and data management resources available; meaning every short, medium and long term sales opportunity is maximised.