Just mention the word 'telemarketing,' and eyes begin to roll. Telemarketing has a somewhat negative reputation, but the truth is, in the business world B2B telemarketing is one of the most effective remotely executed methods available to generate leads, schedule appointments, and lay a foundation for new business relationships. There are many profitable companies that exist solely to conduct and manage various types of telemarketing campaigns for their business clients and there are call center specialists available for virtually every type of business. In lieu of outsourcing your business's B2B telemarketing needs, B2B telemarketing can be done successfully inhouse by trained employees and would require dedication to creating a measurable campaign strategy.
The design and purpose of B2B telemarketing is very different from that of 'telesales.' The negative connotation associated with telemarketing is often due to its confusion with telesales. Although telesales is a form of telemarketing, telesales is typically used in the business world to sell a product or service-or essentially close a sale. The telesales call is not successful if a sale is not generated and completed during the call. B2B telemarketing is different in that the purpose is to generate interest, encourage additional contact, and build strong B2B relationships and calls are typically made directly to the decision makers within the potential or existing client's organization. Depending upon the desired results of your B2B telemarketing campaign, outbound B2B telemarketing callers can attempt to entice the recipient of the call into wanting to hear more about your product or service, or they might try to schedule a follow up visit with a company representative to discuss the potential client's needs, as they pertain to your business, in more detail.
B2B telemarketing agents often make contact to gather information from clients or potential clients in order to improve their own processes and procedures. These types of calls are often referred to as telemarketing surveys. The results of telemarketing surveys are often instrumental in improving company policies, procedures, and strategic decisions.
Building a B2B telemarketing team and creating a campaign strategy inhouse is a lengthy and complex project, but it can also yield very positive results. Outsourcing your telemarketing endeavors is often a less costly option and there are a variety of companies that provide a variety of telemarketing services that range from just making a scripted call that you provide to designing a successful telemarketing campaign from concept to completion.
The first step in designing your telemarketing campaign, regardless of whether you choose to use your own staff or outsource the mission to one of the many companies that provide telemarketing services, is knowing what results you would like to achieve. Knowing the purpose and expected outcome of your B2B marketing campaign will help guide you, if you execute inhouse, or better inform the outsource company of what it is you want to achieve so that they can better represent your company and your intentions to the businesses they call.
If you plan on carrying out your telemarketing campaign inhouse, there are many other facets to consider, procedures to define and things to do before the first call is made. The source you will use to create your call list needs to be identified. The software that will best store, maintain, and provide necessary reporting functions must be defined (and possibly purchased and/or added to your existing infrastructure), the need for a physical call center environment should be acknowledged and staff must be well trained.
The decision to use internal staff for a B2B telemarketing campaign is common, in part due to your own staff's intimate familiarity with your particular business. Many business owners just don't trust a company that provides B2B telemarketing services to represent their company as well as their own employees.
Unless their particular type of business is providing B2B telemarketing services, most business owners and executives do not have the expertise, or are just unaware of the details and techniques that result in creating a successful B2B telemarketing call center. However, building an internal outbound call center has its advantages, including the fact that the callers will be more familiar with the inner workings of your company and in a better position to respond to questions or comments in the most appropriate manner.
There are several ways to gain the knowledge necessary to create a B2B telemarketing campaign from start to finish. Seminars and workshops offer the opportunity to exchange ideas with others and ask questions specific to your business situation. They also present one of the quickest ways to get all the information necessary, enabling you to begin the campaign sooner. There are also many books written on the topic, and several have earned industry favor for presenting a reliable and detailed plan to follow that accomplishes the desired results.
In order to begin making the outbound calls associated with your B2B telemarketing campaign, your target market needs to be identified and a database of contact information must be readily accessible to both outbound callers and management. Based upon the campaign's expected results, some companies begin a campaign call list using their existing list of customers or clients. Beginning this way is a good way to introduce current clients to new services and renew or foster a productive business relationship. It can also be useful in obtaining their opinions of your current products and/or services and also offer the customer the opportunity to express any particular business needs that they might have that you may not have been previously aware of. If you garner contact information for your telemarketing calls from your existing customer base you will want to scale it down to only the individuals who will ultimately make a decision based on the information conveyed during the call.
If not initially, eventually, you will want to expand your B2B telemarketing efforts beyond your current client base. There are several Internet based companies that sell industry customized contact information. These 'lead lists ' obtain business professional's contact information and can also include various additional information based on a combination of the seller's company policies and your desired industry standard preferences.
Your call center staff needs to represent your company and the reason for their call in a professional and positive manner. In order to achieve this, the staff must be trained extensively. When speaking with decision makers within an organization, it is important that the outbound caller be articulate and concise in order to capture the time and attention of the executive on the line and determined-but not pushy-in order to be effective and achieve the desired results.
The call center staff will need to know the intricate details that surround the reason for the call in order to be prepared for just about any client response and conversation scenario. For a low key B2B Telemarketing campaign with a results oriented goal of scheduling appointments for individual executives in your firm, this could be as minimal as having access to the executive's calendar of commitments. It could also be as extensive as being able to provide specific or generalized customer service duties. Of course, the extent and type of skills and information that the outbound caller needs to possess would be determined by your industry and the results expected from your B2B telemarketing campaign.
Every B2B telemarketing campaign should be monitored closely throughout the project and outbound call center call details must be individually maintained, analyzed, and retained in a measurable form. This is important to inspire employees, will ultimately determine the success of the B2B telemarketing campaign and, if executed properly, enable the timely solution to any unpredicted staff or business related issues.
The importance of a reliable, user friendly, and generally industry specific B2B telemarketing computer software program can not be overemphasized. Telemarketing campaigns must be monitored, analyzed, and measured to determine the success of the entire campaign. Maintaining various pieces of information pertaining to the overall business strategy upon which the results of the telemarketing campaign are based provokes inaccuracy and data loss.
Outbound call center staff members, management, and executives should all have access to the same information within the same computer program. Combining various pieces of mission critical information in separate programs, even if it is an automated process, is not an efficient or reliable methodology.
There are several award winning software programs designed specifically for B2B telemarketing campaign use. The programs range in complexity and price.
Because the investment in the software and its integration is a long term one, the complexity of the program you choose should correspond with a variety of prospective telemarketing campaigns and your general industry. Many software manufacturers also offer web hosted B2B telemarketing software solutions. These enable remotely located executives and sales personnel to access the telemarketing software and all data from just about any location.
A certain amount of internal staff training and practice sessions should precede the roll out of any new computer software. B2B Telemarketing software packages are no exception. In fact, in order to get the most utility from the software, B2B telemarketing software requires relatively intense training for at least the IT staff, executives, and those in position of management and the outbound call center staff. Often, the amount of modules available to address various departmental needs as they pertain to customer service, sales, technicians, and other client interactive departments and the depth of information retained by the telemarketing software program make it a useful company wide tool. Staff members can typically be assigned varying levels of access within multiple functions, which helps prevent incorrect data from being captured. Your business policies and procedures will determine which staff members need access to what information and to what degree they can edit or input that information.
Making sure everyone on board knows how to use the software to its full capacity can be a time consuming process, but a very worthwhile endeavor. These intricately designed telemarketing programs typically combine several modules, each of which has its individual functions as it pertains to a part of the entire telemarketing process. Some staff members may only need to understand a particular module and its functions, while others would benefit from an in-depth understanding of several modules.
The most important component of a B2B telemarketing outbound call center is, of course, the outbound call staff. The most important resource for the outbound call staff is the company's integrated B2B telemarketing software. While it is of utmost importance that your outbound callers have a thorough understanding of their specific daily tasks and the results that are to be expected, they also need to have an in-depth understanding of how to utilize the software to take advantage of all available features and work in the most effective manner. In order to optimize performance, many organizations arrange for their call center employees to be trained outside the organization, while others have training conducted within by outside consultants. Larger telemarketing software program providers typically have a staff of consultants that install the software on the company server and distribute it to employee desktops, and many also offer a staff of sales and training consultants to educate the staff and answer any specific questions as they arise. Allocating ample time to ensure all telemarketing software users are trained properly will result in better overall productivity and is well worth the temporary loss of the employee's time and ability to complete any required daily tasks.
Though it is important that your call center staff be comfortable enough to sit at the desk for long periods of time, balancing physical comfort without diminishing the mental alertness necessary to be an effective and reliable caller can be challenging. All outbound telemarketing call center staff members should be equipped with certain call center specific supplies such as a headset, ergonomically designed chair, and a computer system with an ergonomic keyboard.
Outsourcing B2B telemarketing to a reputable firm that provides telemarketing services and has an understanding of your specific industry can be a very beneficial method of scheduling appointments for outside sales staff. Most organizations delegate the responsibility of generating new business and maintaining existing relationships to their outside sales staff. Most salespeople spend the majority of their working time building and maintaining existing relationships as opposed to obtaining new clients. The salespeople spend more time tending to the existing client base for a number of valid reasons; however, aside from referral business, their available time and efforts available to generate new business are stunted. Outbound calls are often a dreaded, but necessary task. When this form of telemarketing is already perceived with an underlying negative connotation, the salesperson is not in their element and less than average results should be expected.
Outsourcing a B2B telemarketing campaign that is expected to generate new business by making arrangements for an outside salesperson to have a business meeting with the decision maker of a potential client is frequently less costly than assigning the task to in house employees or outside sales people. It is arguably the most effective way to generate new business as well. Proficient salespeople are typically high salary and extremely capable of building upon and improving existing relationships. This is very profitable in the long run for the business, justifies their salary, and makes the best use of their time and talents. Companies that provide B2B telemarketing services specialize in generating demand and can increase the selling time of every outside sales representative and enable them to perform at optimum levels.