Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Telemarketing Can Avoid Driving People Crazy

The idea of telemarketing driving people crazy is nothing new. What is also not new however is the idea that telemarketers can do a lot to actually run counter to that image. It is not just about how DNC lists have put a hamper to consumer marketing calls. It is about how the remaining markets that telemarketers can target are likely filled with many people who do not need much to go nuts.

The B2B Lead Generation Market

If you are a B2B company, there is a chance that you have thought of telemarketing (or may even be using it already). How is this possible when decision makers are likely to be more secure and more critical against marketers? More importantly, how can you have a contact center that does not drive them up the wall?

  • #1: They are not as tightly guarded as you believe – If you are under the assumption that cold calling will land you an automatic rejection, you are only half-right. The negative thing about cold-calling is that it is unexpected. But it is not so much given that businesses are not actually granted immunity from marketing calls. So long as you communicate right, you can actually avoid the cold shoulder that comes from cold calling.

  • #2: Know the proper time to call – It is a common rule for telemarketers but first-timers often struggle with it because they simply do not know the best time to call. So as a start, go for more physical indicators like figuring out a prospect's location. Are they in a different time zone? Should you call in the middle of the day or just when they are about to punch out? After that, try a more indirect form of communication like an email exchange prior to a telephone one.

  • #3: Value their time as well – B2B telemarketing does not always have to involve direct, outbound calls. Your call center could also be employing inbound services both for marketing as well as customer support. But in all cases, you should learn to value your caller's time. It is highly likely that they have other things pressing on their minds so a quick response is mandatory!

  • #4: Your follow-ups are well-spaced – The tricky thing about follow-ups is that it is like walking on a tightrope. You cannot make too many calls in a short span of time nor can you just take too long in between. It is like the extension of knowing the proper time to call and can be difficult without enough decent engagement with a prospect. But that is the keyword: engagement. At this point, you have already achieved making contact so use it as an opportunity to converse with a prospect and figure out the best time to contact again.

Never forget that when you are targeting others who are just as much as steeped into the business world as you, you run the risk of adding to their trust. But surprisingly, it is this same business culture than can bring you success if you exhibit a matching level of professionalism and strategic marketing. It is arguably a lot easier compared to consumers who are only too quick to press the DNC violation button. The best part is these basic sales lead generation tips are all that you need!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Find Sales Leads That Define Your Business Identity

In business, many people still underestimate the power of an image when it comes to attracting sales leads. While it is true that your business should be more than just looks, the concept of a business identity may not just be about looks either. Your marketing strategies can go beyond simply drawing out a picture of yourself.

Creating A Lead Generator That Projects Your Core

The basic concept is to take the core of your business and broadcast it via lead generation. While complexity is a guarantee in B2B, the very heart of what your business is about can fit even in the shortest marketing message. All you need is to take the following attributes and use them as parts of your image: 
  • Your methods – The truth is any method can be used to suit your business. It is only a matter of figuring out how you get them all to fit, how well you can stick with them, and how well they can adapt. For example, telemarketing alone can serve a variety of methods but why stick to using a singular approach when it is so much more effective to integrate it with others? 
  • Your industry – If you are in the construction business, use visuals that immediately relay that image. The same goes for your brand name. If not, why would you mislead your prospects and customers about what you do? The good thing about a simplified industry image is that it automatically relays the small stuff while giving you more time to elaborate on the complications. 
  • Your target industries – Ideally, you do not generate sales leads from just one industry. That is why your industry identity must meld with the ones you are targeting. Think of it like this: Your business has already presented the tool and now its time to show how well it can serve different purposes. People like variety and that includes your B2B customers. Better yet, they like a variety from which they can generate maximum benefit. 
  • Your budget – But of course, you should not be too unrealistic when it comes to presenting yourself. An effective marketing plan only works well if it is being honest or otherwise it will backfire very badly. Instead of viewing your budget as a restrictive limit, view it as the outlining sketch on which you can start drawing out your image. Otherwise, you risk disappointing prospects when the time comes to admit the costs they did not expect from doing business with you. 
So as you can see, the result is not just an image but an image the projects what you do and what your business is. Maybe there are many other situations where you do not wear an identity on your sleeves but when it comes to business, transparency and honesty are important. Do not be afraid to use tools like B2B telemarketing or targeting industries outside those you would be generally familiar with so long as they honestly express the core identity of your business.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lead Generation Tips – If You're Gonna Go Political, Don't Take Sides

Do you really feel that your marketing and lead generation strategy is just irrelevant and out of date without playing the tune of the election season? Do you honestly feel that, despite all risks of a major PR suicide, you want your own business to have a voice in politics?

Well, if you insist then go ahead. Go political. There is just one thing you need to avoid: actually taking a side.

Political Sales Leads Without The Partisanship

Admittedly, people who advocate politics in marketing do have one fair point: It is a powerful way to connect with your market. That begs one question though: Is it powerful enough to justify the risks?

The answer is no. Here is the good news however: You can still connect that way. The trick is to simply not take sides. There is no question that a connection formed via political appeal can generate more qualified leads from prospects who sympathize (if not, embrace) a certain ideological bent. You can generate this appeal though without necessary doing any embracing yourself.

If you want an example, look to 7-Eleven (as reported by Entrepreneur). It maybe a B2C marketing strategy but take a hard look at the core concept if you really doubt that B2B marketing cannot apply it:

The convenience store 7-Eleven proclaimed that 'politics are brewing' last month as it announced its quadrennial Presidential Coffee Cup Poll. 7-Election 2012 allows customers to indicate their presidential preference when they purchase a cup of coffee -- a blue cup imprinted with a donkey for President Barack Obama or an elephant-emblazoned red cup for Mitt Romney.”

But of course, you cannot be wrong for wanting the finer details of how this works for B2B. A key element in this strategy is understanding the link between politics and work place culture as well as viewing this election season just like you would any other season. In short, it is a form of seasonal marketing.

Related Content: Tips For B2B Telemarketing – Seasonal Myth Busted

Like regular seasons, elections are a theme in of themselves regardless of whether you subscribe to any worldview (or make it a part of your business identity). Your marketing just has to align itself with this theme just like 7-Eleven. That is not the same as aligning with any faction but just mildly tailoring your sales lead generation process accordingly to your prospects' political tastes.
  • Use prospect's opinion to line up with an objective need. - Your business is meant to fulfill objective needs. How do you align them with political opinion? You simply listen. Make a connection with their views with whatever solution or service that you could provide. 
  • Avoid raising the subject yourself – Do not forget that you are not alone if you want to avoid politics. Other business owners are not necessarily eager either. Stick to a neutral image first and wait to see if your prospect is starting lean away. If not, good news. You can now market as normal. 
Related Content: Professional Telemarketing – What Great Leaders Can Teach About Great Communication
  • Make a note so sales can carry on the conversation – Your markers cannot keep up the conversation forever. That is why they are supposed to just qualify and let salespeople make the close. You cannot just pass the baton though without letting them know what you are passing. 
So it would seem that you can appeal to the political side of your prospects without necessarily taking it. The best part is you now have both supplying you with B2B sales leads!

Treat Your Sales Leads Professionally, Not Dramatically!

While getting sales leads is your marketer's job, that does not mean they should not (or cannot) express concern over how your salespeople are treating them. You may have already heard this before but you will still hear it here: sales and marketing work hand-in-hand.

Business Leads Are Valuable For Both Sides

Just because your marketers have outlined their responsibilities on paper does not mean they cannot chime in on the actions of salespeople. Your salespeople in turn should not be afraid of giving and sharing feedback. In short, this is a call for both parties to act professionally and not act as if they are characters in some business drama.

Many negative stereotypes surrounding the business world are spawned from what is actually unprofessional behavior. For example, marketers actually act the part of pushy salespeople when they are just supposed to only qualify interests for appointment setting. Meanwhile, your salespeople are exhibiting behaviors that turn off prospects simply because they cannot tell their business world fantasies from reality.

It does not even matter what method you use. The problem lies at the human behavioral level so therefore, your solutions should focus on fixing that behavior. Because whether you use telemarketing or email marketing, that behavior will kill all your campaigns.

Related Content: The Top 3 Ways To Kill Your Telemarketing Campaign

This might sound more like an HR problem but this is an HR problem that specifically involves the people who are bringing in your customers. They are a critical part, if not an entire half, of your whole business model. So knowing that, you should still view this with the perspective of both parties in mind. A few things you can look into include:
  • Mode of communication – While it has been previously stated that form of communication does not matter, take a small note of how your marketers perceive the tools they are using. If you are outsourcing for example, do your provider's employees actually have their own belief in their chosen method? If not, then it is no wonder they do not deliver as many B2B sales leads. Obviously, you do not want a telemarketing call in the hands of someone who finds parodies of the approach more factual than the real thing. 
  • Means of appointment – Like with your marketers, the bad behavior of your salespeople might be tied to the kind of meetings they have with potential clients. As ridiculous as this might sound, those who lack a sense of professionalism might have a tendency towards dramatic delusions. Still, it makes for an easy start. Do your salespeople see themselves as actual professionals or just characters from Gossip Girl
Related Content: Don't Waste Lead Generation On Bad Sales Processes!

There is no doubt you will encounter defensive responses (and you yourself might feel a pang of guilt) from conducting this kind of evaluation. Despite that, this is a basic truth that is accepted among marketers and salespeople from all over. Ask yourself, who would want this kind of unprofessional representation? Nobody.

Hence, make sure you treat your business leads are treated professionally whether it is in B2B telemarketing or in client meetings.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Telemarketing Tips – Differentiate Between Following-Up And Pure Stalking

On negative perception that telemarketing companies work so hard to rid themselves off is actually the same negative perception that today's online marketers are trying to shake: stalking. And by stalking, it is actually the popular belief that businesses will do anything, even invade privacy, in order to learn about their customers. It is not just limited to B2C marketing either. In B2B relationships, similar charges can be made when you are following-up on prospects and trying to generate feedback.

How To Get Qualified Leads Without Stalking

In their defense, many businesses demonstrate a clear need for such information. The ideal is that it is supposed to help them provide a better service. Realistically speaking though, it can reach a point when it is starting to feel like unintended harassment.

And since that is the case, how then can you qualify your sales leads without irritating those prospects? You do a basic review of what a good follow-up strategy is supposed to have such as:
  • Good Timing: You know the best time to call a prospect. Although, this in of itself should be part of the information you should initially gather. When contacting a prospect for the first time, always give priority to determining the best hour of day to make any further calls or emails. 
Related Content: B2B Telemarketing Tips & Tricks – Following-Up With Prospects
  • Moderation: Do not always pester a prospect with calls even if each call comes with a different purpose. Just because you qualified their interest during one call does not mean you can call them again for a telemarketing survey soon after. If you have already called or emailed one contact, then be patient or at least pursue another one until you find another proper time call back. 
  • Transparency: If your purpose is B2B telemarketing, be honest about it. Do not waste a prospect's time beating around the bush and get straight to the point. Tell them why your business is calling. Are you there to re-evaluate their interest? Are you there to remind them of an appointed meeting with your sales representative? Is this the first time they have been contacted? Are there other times when you can call back or other means with which they are more comfortable communicating with? Regardless of the answer, always be clear in your objective. 
  • Finishes Fast – Speaking of wasting time, you should never forget how valuable it is to prospects. No matter how much you promise or how much you apologize, it will not return every, single second you consume. Your follow-ups should not only be thorough and objective but also quick enough that your prospect can easily resume whatever current task that was preoccupying them. 
Related Content: Calling For Sales Leads – The Different Ways That Time Can Affect Success

And do not forget, you can also apply this to more than just follow-ups. Your telemarketing surveys and B2B appointment setting calls can be perceived negatively as well so exercise the above traits to differentiate yourself from marketing stalkers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Training Telemarketers – How Much Investment Should You Put?

If you believe that experience is the best teacher, then you should know why you should invest in training whether it comes to telemarketers or any other professional engaged in a business process. No professional is made completely within the vacuum of academic institutions.

Telemarketing Groups Need More Than The Telephone

There is a reason why today's call center is now being called a contact center. More businesses are expanding beyond singular forms of communication with their markets. It then naturally follows that they will use the same multi-channel approach when it comes to communicating with each other.

Contrary to some people's fears, having different channels will not drive you crazy so long as you know how to manage and moderate. That however takes training. Thus, if you do not invest in training, no person, no matter how skilled, will stay long in their job.

Related Content: Telemarketing Tips – Employee Retention Rate Matters
  • Manage – Some might argue that management skills are already learned in school. That is under the misguided notion that a telemarketer can manage what needs to be done before the week begins. On the contrary, they must learn how to manage on the go. B2B telemarketers are called to exercise quick-responses regardless of what medium is being used by prospects and customers to communicate. Without properly managing the different tools being used in real-time, you will only end up with a flustered and harassed agent. In fact, some companies who train their agents still recommend that their clients not demand too many conflicting tasks. With proper management comes a good sense of realism. 
Related Content: How Telemarketing Is More Realistic Than Popular Opinion
  • Moderate – Using each method in moderation ties with good management. You cannot manage different marketing methods if you do not know which one to use and how often. The strength of using multiple channels comes from the capacity to be flexible. That flexibility is lost though unless you or a more experienced marketer will personally make sure that agents adjust to switching quickly when a prospect calls for it. For example, if they cannot get in touch via telephone, they must have a well-written email at the ready. And as an organization, they should be quick to adapt to what actually works versus having the extra but inefficient methods result in a large overhead. 
Both skills require actual training on the job because there is no established theory or textbook guide that will drive them in for you. Furthermore, you can read it in many marketing and business resources that actual field experience is necessary due to the fact that said field is always changing. Take for instance the sudden shift where traditional marketing is now challenged by customers who are more well-informed and more influenced by their peers. Some go as far as to say that the field is changing even more rapidly than before! If this is true, there might not be enough time for schooling and you will be limited exclusively to training your marketers on the job. Why wait until that time? Start putting more investment in training or at least outsource to lead generation companies and invest in theirs!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Use Legit Telemarketing To Combat Its Scamming Counterpart

Every now and then you would hear about the latest scams involving telemarketing frauds. Naturally, this is bad press for the industry but worst of all, it has been rapidly misleading people (at least consumers) into the belief that no telemarketer is legit.

Legit Telemarketers VS Anonymous Scammers

First off, perhaps it would be better if the public at large should also tone down on their desire to crack down on these swindlers. Yes, they should be caught. It is only expected that consumers cry out their rights and demand action.

That is not the same as the witch hunts which follow where businesses and telemarketers alike are lambasted for so much as pressing the number on a dial.

To protect your own right as a business, review your reasons for why you dial numbers in the first place: lead generation and customer support.
  • Business leads – It is generally not enough to simply exchange emails. You still have to formally sign the deal and even before that, B2B solutions generally entail lengthy discussions on price, project duration, as well as the bottom-line purpose and results of it all. It also helps to keep close in touch with your provider and have them keep an eye on those who make false calls on their behalf. You can even give them the mental incentive by saying somebody shady is sabotaging their work. 
  • Customer service – Customer service is not always about just receiving inbound calls day after day. Sometimes a company would like to conduct a small survey and have them contact their customers directly. As with business leads, make sure your business has a way of giving your callers an identity. It might also be best to use additional channels of communication to announce said survey. 
Related Content: How Customer Service Can Be Its Own Lead Generator

Speaking of which, you will notice that the biggest advantage you can give against false association is to make sure your contact center agents have a verifiable means of identifying themselves. Furthermore, that identity also verifies their affiliation with your company, thus showing it to be legit. Make sure your telemarketers take the following measures regardless if they are outsourced or in-house:
  • Database is under lock and key – Access to prospect and client information is regulated and breaches are swiftly dealt with. Any outsourced telemarketing company must have the same level of security as a well-guarded, corporate infrastructure. 
  • Have trustworthy personnel – Applicants as well as present agents should always be held with a certain level of responsibility over data security. Do necessary background checks and make sure recruiters ask them to file basic clearance requirements. 
  • High awareness of possible breaches and responses to scams – There is a difference between being highly aware and completely paranoid. Do not always respond to every telemarketing scam unless it directly involves your business. But in the case that it does, send word to your telemarketers and act immediately! 
Related Content: Why People Are Cautious About Telemarketing Services And What You Can Do About It

As for what actual actions to take, make sure both of you collaborate closely together in your response. Set up a page on your website that can differentiate your telemarketers from that of posers. If you are outsourcing, constantly check in with your provider and make sure they are in the loop on what is happening in case bad news starts floating around. Only use professional telemarketers to combat their shady counterparts!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Telemarketing Tips – Breaking The Costs To Your Prospect

In marketing, it is popularly perceived that a high cost is a turn-off while a low cost is meant to attract. When it comes to telemarketing though, you will need to learn how to break both types of costs to a prospect because they will eventually demand to know.

How Can Telemarketers Break It To Them?

No matter how high or how low you perceive a price to be, your prospect can always have a different opinion. The context formed by reasons and situations also play a significant role. What is the cost about? Is it the cost of implementation? Are you talking delivery costs? Is this a cost that comes from consultation or repair? In short, being honest with the costs is not exclusive to just lead generation. Both current customers and prospects have their own respective reasons as to why they wish to know how much money they are going to pay.

You might not need to get your accountant or financial adviser on the line but your agents would do well to emulate them when it comes to simply pointing where their money goes. It also should call them to be aware of the average budget among companies in your target market.

The following list outlines a few situations where you must cite the costs right away and avoid suspicion:
  • During qualification – A prospect that has shown interest in a product does not always mean they have the money for it. This is why it is important, again, to be aware of what budget sizes to target. Still, not all prospects will immediately tell you. That is why targeting can help rule out a significant number of businesses too big or too small. You will at least have fewer candidates to disqualify. 
Related Content: How to Get Better Accuracy and Results in B2B Telemarketing
  • When prospects desire additional products/services – If you are offering something in packages, perhaps it would be better to suggest them instead of leaving it up to a prospect to make choices one by one. Just be careful when it comes to how much you know about them. Can your marketers honestly tell them and yourself that they will maximize every component of this package? 
  • When customers come in with a new problem – Seeing as even outsourced telemarketing service can double as customer support, they should be ready to cite costs if additional support comes with a few fees. And while you can justify these fees, you need to avoid sounding like you are profiteering from a defect. 
Related Content: Is Your Telemarketing Broken On Purpose?
  • During promo periods – There is also the occasional promo period when you slash prices in the hopes of attracting more leads as well generate more loyalty from current customers. However, both these customers and your prospects might include people who wish to know more about why you are cutting prices. As always, telemarketers should be prepared. 
With the global economy on a volatile roller-coaster ride, it is not surprising that many people tend to be price-sensitive. In a way, your marketers should be too by being sensitive about how your costs and fees will be perceived. Always make sure your B2B telemarketers know when and how to break the price-tag to your prospects.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Are You Telemarketing For Short-term Or Long-term?

Given the variety of processes that telemarketing is capable of, it can be easy to grow indecisive when determining which on you need the most. For example, they can play a role in either delivering you a long-term advantage or a short-term one but not always at the same time.

Balancing Both Is Delicate For Lead Generation

Choosing between short-term and long-term benefits has been an ancient dilemma that extends beyond the world of business. Ultimately though, the decision maker has to make a compromise, trying to balance both by actually forging a connection instead of always picking one over the other.

Here is an illustration for telemarketers:
  • Short-term – Suppose your business is in a pinch and needs to generate as many sales leads in order to stand a chance of surviving the next year (or worse, just the following months). You can have telemarketers start a massive, wide-reaching campaign to see just how far the actual numbers go. You might have to forego using them for customer support for the time being but it just cannot be helped. Once you are done though, what do you do with the results? In fact, think about this with the assumption that you got enough sales to save your business. What then? Is this all you will get out of future campaigns?
  • Long-term – Suppose your business did well but there are signs that the future looks pretty dry and you need customer retention to survive it. The only way to do that however is to be as openly as possible to customer feedback. Telemarketers can receive incoming calls, record and resolve issues, but at the same time, send this feedback back higher up for the rest of your company to reflect upon. But just like short-term, what do you do with the actual results of this B2B telemarketing process? Are you really content with just maintaining your current business relationships without making new ones?
Hopefully, you can already tell what kind of compromise you can make between the two. Again, you need to forge a connection between short-term benefits that can have an effect on long-term. With regards to the results produced by telemarketers, that connection is formed by flowing the information between inbound and outbound. Using the above example, you use the information you got during your short-term, outbound campaign to inform the agents receiving your inbound calls.

In turn, your inbound calls should result in more information about what the market as a whole is currently demanding. These days, with online resources providing more and more information, your own customers have a greater capacity to influence each other's buying decisions ahead of your business. What is worse is that not even this collective understanding can always reach the specialist level of an industry expert. You should use the information gathered from feedback to shape up whatever message or questions to ask during your next campaign. Do not limit your B2B lead generation to either short-term or long-term but balance it for both!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Simple Lead Generation Facts: Knowing Where And Where Not To Get Information

Monitoring customers isn't just limited to consumer businesses. Even B2B companies need to observe their targets for lead generation. It is easy to understand just how much you need information that guides you on what prospects find most interesting and relevant to their business needs.

On the other hand, this behavior can have the same backlash as their B2C counterparts. More specifically, you don't want to violate the privacy of potential customers. Not only is it bad PR, bad PR has clearly negative effects on both future sales and lead generation success.

Avoiding This Image Is The Key To The Information You Seek

How do you avoid this image? More importantly, how do avoid it but at the same time, get the information you need so that your marketing efforts really touch on what a prospect is looking for. To find the answer, look first to how you get your information, who gets, and where that information is stored. One good place to start is your contact center.

Related Content: Avoid Bad PR In Telemarketing And Other Marketing Channels

Now whether you've outsourced it or managed to build one up in-house, it is very likely that you use this center as your main tool for interacting with your market and getting information. You don't always just use it for B2B lead generation or taking care of customer support but possibly both! In today's business world, you will need all the information you can get and that requires different sources. Without that information, you might kill any chance of success for future campaigns:

Related Content: The Top 3 Ways To Kill Your Telemarketing Campaign

Meanwhile, the conduct and practices deployed by your agents are what can define your business as either a faithful service provider or a creepy stalker. To find out which, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do you establish your presence? - First off, it's good to use multiple channels so that you have the means to converse with your market in anyway that is desired. Secondly however, are they aware of the regulations governing each medium? It would be very awkward for them to encourage proper online marketing practices but don't think twice about neglecting the ones for telemarketing.

  • How is the information given away? - Believe it or not, you are not always in the wrong for gathering information from public sources. That is because the source is, well, public. It is available to many. No prospect should fault you for acting on information that they have made available to everyone else. This should be your immediate defense. One clear difference between stalking and observing is that the former uses information that has been obtained without consent. Despite that, prospects in turn need to realize that even something as simple as publishing a social media profile should be done with the expectations of people acting on it.

  • Where do they draw the line? - Following the previous point, your agents should know where to draw the line. If they are certain that a prospect is not willing to impart certain information, they should respect it. At the same time though, they must be able to obtain more trust so that they can use it for the sole purpose of providing a better service.

The good news is that these are industry standards that apply to both in-house groups and outsourced companies. It just so happens that both marketers and prospects tend to have a flawed understanding of customer privacy. So on your part at least, make sure you hire professional telemarketers and other experienced professionals so that you will know when and when not to gather information.