We recently hosted a webinar with two B2B telemarketing pros: Kerry Cunningham, senior research director with SiriusDecisions, and Kelly Olson, our in-house strategic telemarketing expert. As always, our attendees presented us with some terrific questions, and we thought we’d share them with you to give you more food for thought when it comes to using B2B telemarketing for demand generation.
Q. What are some other areas, beyond the examples you gave in the webinar, where you would encourage B2B companies to implement telemarketing?
A. Kelly Olson: I have two: On the ABM side, if you’re asking “Where do we begin?” start by looking at the contacts you have in your database. If you know who you want to reach out to, telemarketing is a very successful tool in ABM-related, appointment-setting campaigns. Use telemarketing as part of a multi-touch program that might have a combination of email, direct mail and telemarketing to reach your target accounts’ contacts and to work on actively setting appointments with sales folks, so that you have an opportunity to get in the door and talk more details about your business.
The second use case that I think is worth thinking about is: Are there areas of your business where your salespeople might be less inclined to spend time? I know for a lot of our clients —especially those who have commissioned reps — their reps tend to focus on the highest-value opportunities. There might be other opportunities where they’re selling products with a smaller margin or in lower quantities. If you consider using inbound or outbound telequalification to target those people with telemarketing agents, then you could really expand an area of business that your sales reps may be neglecting.
Q. Is it important to have strong relationships between the field or the sales channel teams and the B2B telemarketing teams?
A. Kerry Cunningham: It can be. What we often see is, if the telemarketing teams are in-house and reporting to Sales, the expectation is they’re going to develop a really good relationship with Sales, so a specific process may seem unnecessary. But what we’ve found over the years is that the most important thing you can do is put a really good process in place. Make sure you have a process to follow up on leads effectively, that you have a game plan when you’re prospecting into accounts, that you have clear reporting visibility, and that you have service-level agreements that govern the follow-up so that it’s clear who’s going to do what next.
If you do those things, your sales people will like what they’re getting from the marketing function, and it won’t matter whether the telemarketing team is sitting inside your shop or sitting at a third party. What your salespeople want are results. If they’re getting results, that relationship will come. The relationship does not cause the results, though, so it doesn’t work the other way around. The results will produce a good relationship, but a good relationship will not necessarily produce good results.
Q. When you’re following up with people after an event, like a webinar, how quickly do you need to follow up? Will you see a big difference between older contacts and newer ones?
A. Kelly Olson: We’ve looked back at event contacts as far back as six months, and we expected greater variability between the two. But surprisingly, our results were rather consistent between the older opportunities and the newer. We are still able to get really great feedback on the actual event from contacts six months post-event.
One caveat is that we had more opportunities in terms of qualified leads with the respondents that we followed up with right after an event was over. If you want to start thinking about telemarketing to event attendees, do consider pulling in some older event contacts as a part of your follow-up process, but definitely establish a practice for having telemarketing follow up in a timely way on an ongoing basis.
Q. Isn’t teleprospecting (outbound cold calling) harder than telequalification (following up on inbound)?
A. Kerry Cunningham: That is a common assumption. Teleprospecting is harder in some respects. It’s harder to reach people, and you don’t talk to as many people as you do if you’re following up on marketing-generated leads. What makes them equivalent in our eyes is that our expectations for what a telequalification rep is going to produce are substantially higher. Per period of time, that telequalification rep needs to make more calls, they need to have more conversations, and their conversion rate needs to be much higher. The skill level required to do that is just as high as the skill level required to produce from a teleprospecting outbound cold-calling perspective.
Remember, when you have inbound leads, you’ve already made an investment to produce them. You need to optimize your output from that investment, so we don’t like to see unskilled people or new people to the organization put on the telequalification function. You want highly skilled, highly motivated people there to optimize the output from your investment.
Great insights from Kerry and Kelly. If you’re ready to start powering up your demand generation efforts with B2B telemarketing, get in touch, and we can help you make a plan that will help you meet and exceed your goals.
If you missed the webinar, check out the on-demand recording of B2B Telemarketing: Your Secret Weapon to Energize Demand Gen at any time.