13 April 2015 Category: How to Guides
With the arrival of social and digital channels, the sales funnel has evolved. We now understand the value of social media in nurturing relationships, engaging and interacting with a community of individuals on a huge scale. The Buyersphere Report 2015, however, found that 50% of B2B buyers surveyed did not use social media, a statistic that had changed little since the same report in 2013. Whilst digital can engage on a broader scale, there is clearly a limit to the number of B2B buyers it can reach.
In a B2B scenario, with longer lead times, higher value outcomes and complex decision making units, moving a prospect from awareness to sale requires a depth of relationship and level of trust, which is easier to achieve through human contact. It is this that makes telemarketing such a powerful B2B channel. Telemarketing can be applied at every stage of the B2B sales funnel and can adapt to each individual and their requirements, be it Business Leaders initiating the requirement at the start of the process, IT contacts involved during the evaluation phase in the middle, or Finance contacts involved in the later stages.
Here are 10 ways telemarketing can help optimise your sales funnel
1. Data and Insight
The starting point for every effective campaign is a good quality list. Telemarketing can cleanse and enhance existing data, append job titles and Decision Maker names and capture email addresses. Clean and accurate data with the right target profile not only ensures you reach the right people more quickly without wasted time and effort, it also enables you to profile and segment the data to inform your campaign strategy and then target prospects accurately with a relevant offer.
Market research over the phone, either as the prime function of a call or a secondary benefit, can provide valuable customer insight to help progress sales opportunities.
- Information gathered can support account development, organisation and market mapping to improve sales strategy.
- With additional understanding of the customer’s situation and requirements, sales is better placed to progress leads received. In addition, call recordings give direct access to conversations and a much deeper understanding of the opportunity.
- Customer feedback gained during a call on areas such as product perception, satisfaction levels, or brand awareness can help in developing product and brand strategy.
Telemarketing can be applied at any stage of the pipeline and can fulfil multiple objectives. From cold calls and simple transactional calls, to complex compliance calls, it can add value at every stage for a wide range of objectives, either low or high volume calls, short or long term projects:
- Cleansing and profiling data
- Market research and insight
- Capturing email opt-ins
- Lead and opportunity creation from cold call data or warm prospects
- Lead and opportunity conversion
- Appointment setting
- Event Promotion
- Inbound call handling
- Transactional calls
- Post-sales customer satisfaction calls.
3. Flexibility and Agility
Telemarketing activity can be ramped up or down, depending on your requirements, to ensure a continuous, steady flow of leads to the sales pipeline. If other activity brings in unforeseen volumes of enquiries, Telemarketing can be slowed to ensure that the sales team is not swamped and leads and opportunities do not go stale for lack of resource.
In addition, if a sudden need arises, for example to generate leads for a particular geographical sales territory, or a particular industry, calls can be easily re-directed to focus on the area of most need at any point in time.
Telemarketing is a very persuasive medium and, unlike email, it is hard to ignore a phone call. The level of engagement and quality of interaction provides potential, with the right brief and preparation, to take cold data right through to a well-qualified, sales-ready lead in a single call. As conversations happen in real-time, it is possible to quickly build an understanding of customer needs and achieve higher value outcomes such as appointments or commitment to attend events.
Good telemarketers can quickly understand and react to customer input and exploit new opportunities immediately. By using unscripted, intelligent conversations, telemarketers can build knowledge and understanding of customer pain points and tailor their response. Open questions, solution selling techniques and two-way communication ensure leads are better qualified when they reach sales and have a greater propensity to convert.
5. Human Interaction
It can be argued that high quality human interaction is the best way to gain trust and build the level of rapport and mutual understanding that is typically needed for high value, complex B2B sales. Multiple individuals with differing characteristics, varying requirements and perspectives need to be engaged at each stage of the buying cycle. The one to one nature of the communication means agents can match content to roles and interests much more effectively than in broadcast media.
The human aspect and real-time nature of conversation allows the caller to tailor the message and proposition they present to the interests of each individual, at that particular stage. Two-way, verbal communication enables you to better convey your message and better understand the customer perspective, not only through their words, but also tone of voice and inflection. With multiple conversations with different individuals over a period it is possible to build a picture of the interrelationships within the decision making unit and the organisation itself.
6. Secondary and Long Term Benefits
Whilst lead generation or appointment setting might be the primary objective of a call, telemarketing can give you the opportunity to secure additional value from secondary outcomes
- Database updates
- Decision maker names added to your database.
- Email addresses and opt-ins captured.
- Contract review dates recorded.
- Product Feedback
- Organisation and market mapping
With focus on gaining maximum value from a call, telemarketing can not only bring immediate opportunities to fruition but also nurture longer term opportunities and feed your future pipeline ensuring a continuous flow of leads.
7. The Sum of the Parts - Integration and Alignment
The gap, which often exists between sales and marketing teams and activities, can restrict the effectiveness of the sales/marketing process. By converting marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads and integrating with other activities Telemarketing can bridge that gap and help align those teams and functions, making the sales and marketing process more efficient.
Telemarketing also provides a flexible resource, which can act as an extended part of the team - strengthening internal resource at busy times or supporting short term projects when new recruitment may not be cost-effective. The versatility of telemarketing and its ability to add value at all stages of the sales cycle allows the in-house sales team to focus on closing sales in the latter stages of the funnel. Proactive campaign management through an outsourced solution can also alleviate pressure on the in-house management team.
Telemarketing is direct, transparent and highly measurable so that campaign performance can be understood, refined and optimised to achieve the right goals and a good return on investment. KPI metrics including dial rate, decision maker contact rate, lead stage, and conversion rates enable you to see easily what is working and what isn’t and make your sales process more efficient. The measurable nature of telemarketing means that different approaches and propositions can be tried and quickly adapted to improve any approach.
The level of engagement provided through verbal communication allows immediate feedback from prospects and understanding of their buying mode. This level of clarity ensures that time is not wasted on poor quality prospects, and stronger prospects can be prioritised and moved more quickly through the funnel.
The opportunity to build rapport over the phone creates a more relaxed medium where customers may be more open than in a written communication or a less private environment such as social media. Emotion can also be better conveyed by verbal communication so a customer’s level of dissatisfaction or delight are fully appreciated and understood.
9. Specialist Skills and Systems
The particular skills of experienced telemarketers – tenacity in getting past gatekeepers and objection handling - mean they can potentially take a lead further than an in-house team. Also, if you are targeting a different customer type, or a different sector, a telemarketing agent may, due to broader campaign experience, be more comfortable when prospecting new business areas.
In addition, specialist IT systems enable agents to progress to a specific outcome more efficiently, whilst capturing valuable insight and information. A standard CRM may not support that fluidity or provide the specialist reporting, which can help identify and prioritise real opportunities. Successful campaigns not only need a consolidated effort with up to 20 calls per hour, every hour in the day, but prospects also need to be spoken to multiple times over several weeks in order to secure high value B2B outcomes. A bespoke IT system enables this complexity of calls to be managed efficiently to ensure the best outcomes without data burnout.
10. Brand Awareness
Whilst this may not be the primary objective, a well-briefed telemarketing campaign can help increase your brand awareness. Telemarketing agents briefed on your company and brand values can adapt their style and language accordingly. They can communicate those values and convey your brand personality during the call. Telemarketing is easily integrated with other activities and when your communications are aligned with a consistent message and brand experience for the customer, the overall impact is enhanced.
In addition, the level of feedback gained through verbal communication can help identify issues and address customer dissatisfaction, avoiding negative impact on customer retention and brand loyalty. Market insight, competitor and brand intelligence gathered through a sizeable volume of calls can provide valuable input into your overall brand strategy.