To make matters worse, most victims of these nuisance calls aren’t aware that they can claim this compensation directly from the bank for free. The fact that banks haven’t actively sought to make customers aware of this, and PPI management companies have kept it quiet, would seem to go against the FCA’s Treating Customers Fairly principle, particularly one of the core outcomes specified:
Outcome 3. Consumers are provided with clear information and kept appropriately informed before, during and after the point of sale.
This type of irresponsible cold calling negatively impacts consumers, both in the B2C and B2B spheres, and gives genuine telemarketing a bad name. Whilst a cut-off deadline has been set for PPI, it is probably only a matter of time before another issue triggers the next wave of claims calls or spam texts, given the huge industry now fuelling the fire. So what steps have been taken to try and protect consumers and establish better practice? Let’s look at the regulations surrounding cold calling and telemarketing.
What’s being done?
Since 1999, The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) has attempted to tackle endemic nuisance calls. Whilst it is illegal to cold call customers registered with the TPS, unfortunately many ignore the law, and the same laws do not apply to cold texting. What is more, TPS has itself been undermined by scam companies offering a paid-for service to block cold callers, whilst there is no charge for signing up to the official register. These disreputable companies are scamming consumers and fuelling the issue they claim to fix.
Since February 2015, the government has taken measures to clamp down on the companies behind cold calls and nuisance text messages. Whilst it has become much easier under new legislation to impose fines of up to £500,000 on the companies cold calling and texting, these measures haven’t yet provided a sufficient deterrent.
As of April 2016, cold callers ignoring the increased risks of fines have been forced to display their number, even if the call centre is based abroad. In line with fair treatment policies, this gives customers the chance to weed out the legitimate calls from the nuisance ones. Again, though, this hasn’t been very effective, as too many businesses both in the UK and overseas ignore regulations in favour of commercial gain.
Sadly, it appears that, however stringent the legislation, there will always be businesses willing to put profit before customer interests. Ironically, the new General Data Protection Regulations, which will introduce tighter controls around marketing consent and higher fines from May 2018, may themselves fuel the next epidemic of cold calls and spam texts to follow PPI.
Telephone marketing done right
Clearly, for any company that values its reputation and understands that trust is the key to successful and profitable customer relationships, harassing individuals with irrelevant, unsolicited cold calls is not a foundation for business success. Whether telemarketing to businesses or consumers, it is important to work with an agency that builds trust and reinforces brand reputation with the target audience. At The Telemarketing Company, we’ve worked with major companies whose brand is their most precious asset and whose business model is centred on customer needs. It is critical therefore that our services are always transparent and compliant. Here’s how we get it right:
What we do:
What we don’t do:
Done well, telemarketing and phone research provide effective tools with which to protect customer interests and rights and there are many reputable agencies, including ourselves, supporting that effort. FCA audited ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ compliance calls form a significant part of the work we do, ensuring customers have not been mis-sold products or services (including PPI) particularly in regulated sectors such as finance and insurance. We also carry out customer satisfaction programmes for clients in many different industries, providing a channel of two-way communication, capturing customer feedback, both positive and negative, to help them better support their customers.
Publish Date: October 31, 2017 5:00 AM
A great brief means a relationship based on trust
Like all good things, a successful client-agency relationship starts at the very beginning. A well-developed brief means the agency knows exactly what they need to do, what results to aim for and what success looks like. The agency then has a responsibility to ask all the questions they need to in order to ensure they have interpreted the brief correctly. Having an open and informative discussion at the beginning of a project means that the client can go away safe in the knowledge that the agency knows what they’re doing; in other words, trust is formed and communication links established. With a plan of action based on the initial brief, the agency has a solid foundation on which to build the programme, and a clear understanding of what they need to deliver in order to create value for their client.
Collaboration is key
It’s imperative that the relationship remains collaborative, even if the agency is set to take on most of the day-to-day activity; a great brief will lay the foundations for this, while regular communication and the establishment of information sharing processes will enable it to be long-lasting. Clients and agencies alike need to make sure they’re working to a common goal and share all the necessary data, materials and results with everyone involved, on both sides of the table. In the early stages of any engagement, where assumptions around the brief and preferred approach are tested, collaboration is critical. In the case of telemarketing, a pilot period and a solid feedback loop supported by regular reviews, live listening and call recordings ensures early refinements optimise the overall approach and ongoing campaign performance.
There is a staggering discrepancy between the freedom to speak that clients and agencies feel they have; 88% of clients believe they always speak their minds freely, while only 36% of agencies say the same. For the relationship to be truly fruitful, everyone should feel listened to and encouraged to speak their mind; this will lead to maximum collaboration and creativity. Clients should be open-minded when talking to agencies about new ideas and strategies; after all, good agencies will be experts in their field, with experience based on hundreds of previous campaigns. Agencies should be equally open-minded when it comes to ideas, as the client knows their product and proposition best, and is usually the expert when it comes to what works in their industry.
Proactivity and reliability
Marketing is an ever-changing environment and both clients and agencies need to be on the ball to make sure nothing slips through the net. One of the main reasons for engaging an agency, however, is for them to carry the overhead of managing your campaign. An agency must provide pro-active account management, identifying when they feel the campaign is off track, opportunities and areas of untapped potential, or new approaches that you might not have tried before. Unless the agency is working on your behalf to continuously improve your programme and the results you receive, they are not doing their job.
When all is said and done, the agency is going to be judged on the results they deliver. When success is discussed at the beginning, robust KPIs should be put in place so that both the client and the agency understand what constitutes a positive outcome. Agencies should be proactive in monitoring results throughout the project, rather than waiting until the end to determine what has or hasn’t worked. Clients also need to be clear, and realistic, about the results they can expect, guided by the agency’s previous experience of similar work carried out. Taking time at the end of the project for a full review of what has gone well and what can be improved will mean that the next project starts out with an even stronger foundation for success.
Publish Date: September 19, 2017 5:00 AM
Research by CEB amongst 600 B2B buyers tells a different story. Buyers are ‘overwhelmed and often more paralysed than empowered’. A recent study by IBM paints a similar picture, describing how most people are disappointed with digital brand experiences – in fact, 70% aren’t impressed with ‘The Experience Revolution’.
Too much information and too many options make customers feel less in control
The CEB Research throws light on why the B2B buying process, in particular, might be more rather than less painful, despite the wealth of information and choices available to today’s buyer.
Easing the route to purchase - the role of the sales rep
Interestingly, The CEB research shows that the majority (86%) of sales professionals agree that ‘helping the customer consider all options and alternatives is important’. However, is presenting the customer with ‘all options’ the same as easing the route to purchase? Shouldn’t suppliers be aiming to offer the customer ‘the right option’ instead of simply demonstrating ‘all available’ options?
Equally, an effective sales rep should make the customer feel secure, guiding them through the purchase process, helping them navigate the overwhelming choice of options to find the product or service that is the ‘right fit’.
Understanding your customer and finding the right fit
In order to guide the customer to the right solution, both sales and marketing need to understand the customer’s needs, their definition of success, and the barriers they face. They need a deep understanding of the buying group; who is involved, what challenges do they face and what is the purchasing motivation for each buying team member? Only with this level of insight, can they communicate a relevant message and a proposition tailored to the customer’s individual needs.
Take a proactive approach – engage early
Rather than waiting until 60% into the buying process, it is in the interests of both buyer and seller to have an early conversation that qualifies interests and builds a solid base of understanding so that neither party wastes time further down the line. A proactive approach where the supplier engages at an early stage ensures that the customer’s needs are at the heart of the process, allowing the seller to present a targeted, compelling offer from the start. This facilitates a more relevant customer experience and helps nurture a relationship built on trust and rapport, making the customer feel secure with a credible partner who truly understands their viewpoint and addresses their needs.
Putting your customer back in control
As discussed, the sales rep’s role is key to easing the customer through the buying process but, given timescales required and the need to engage a complex buying group, sales resource in many organisations is already stretched. Where resource is limited, it is worth considering an outsource option, which can be applied at almost any stage of the buying cycle, generating leads at the top of the funnel, qualifying and converting inbound leads and nurturing them until they are ‘sales ready’, or taking them right through to close of sale. If, due to limited resource, you are leaving your buyers to navigate through 60% of the buying process, not only does this risk leaving them feeling overwhelmed and lost, but it creates an opportunity for your competitors to step in and take them by the hand, potentially losing a sale for you.
Publish Date: May 5, 2017 5:00 AM
Similarly, the callers within the agency need to understand the client proposition and use their expert listening and communication skills to match that proposition to the right prospects, identifying needs that correspond to the unique attributes of the business.
This personal approach, from an understanding, responsive agency will create the perfect match between you and your telemarketing partner, and between you and your prospective customers.
Here are our tips on the traits to look for in your ideal partner:
Publish Date: February 10, 2017 5:00 AM
We have looked previously at different ways to measure the customer experience, including Net Promoter Score - how likely a customer is to recommend you, Customer Effort Score and NetEasy Score - how easy it is to do business with you. Whilst these metrics allow you to identify pain points and areas for improvement in the customer experience, they don’t tell you what action you need to take, or what needs to change. They provide useful benchmarks, but a deeper level of insight is needed to really understand how your customer feels about your business.
Telephone interviews and other more qualitative research methods allow you to dig deeper into quantitative results and understand the ‘why’ behind your customer ratings. A telephone survey will not only increase response but, speaking to your customers over the phone reminds them that you’re not just a faceless business.
In a world dominated by digital communication, a human connection is in itself a differentiator, one which shows you really value your customer and actively seek their opinions. A one to one conversation gives you the opportunity to fully explore and understand their viewpoint, asking fundamental questions, gathering information and using these insights to build customer-centric strategies from the ground up.
In simple terms, the best way to find out how a customer feels about your business is to ask. Undertaking customer research to inform your customer centric strategies may be daunting if you aren’t experienced in designing and implementing surveys. There are, however, some simple rules you can apply in developing an effective customer survey, and we have put some of our top tips into the infographic below.
If you feel you need to make a stronger human connection with your clients, or need support in gathering feedback and insight from your customer base, get in touch with our research team today.
Publish Date: January 12, 2017 5:00 AM
This is the worst case scenario, as your marketing costs escalate and your sales team spends their valuable time chasing poor quality leads that produce very few conversions. Far from a positive experience, it is very frustrating for the sales team and does little to create a harmonious relationship between your sales and marketing departments. If you’re experiencing that growing sense of frustration, you’re not alone – only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.
In a survey of 100 mid- to senior-level B2B marketers we carried out earlier this year, a quarter (26%) of respondents said the greatest pressure from senior management was to produce a greater quantity of leads, while a further 59% stated it was a ‘significant’ pressure. With marketing automation now facilitating the process, it is all too easy for marketers to yield to this pressure and push even more leads into the top of the funnel in the hope of increasing conversions. This tactic, however, rarely works, as it doesn’t address the real problems.
The devil is in the detail
The best approach you can take is to step back and look at where the real issues lie. The quality of your leads, as well as the resources and processes you have in place to deal with them, could all be impacting your conversion rates. Below are the top most common issues that businesses face – address these, and you may well see your conversion rate heading in the right direction!
Publish Date: January 4, 2017 5:00 AM
Its unobtrusive and convenient nature means customers are often more receptive to email than other forms of marketing, but it is not a successful marketing strategy on its own. ROI is highest when your channels - email, content, voice or social - are used within an integrated approach. With many new capabilities around automation and personalisation, the flexible nature of email makes it easy to integrate with other channels to create a cohesive customer journey.
The challenge in using email effectively within your marketing mix is; how to strike a balance between bland and over the top, pushy and unassertive, too much and too little. Marketers need an up to date email marketing strategy that effectively delivers a message to the right customers at the right time; a strategy that strikes all the right balances.
With the increasing sophistication of email marketing, best practice is essential. Tiny, but essential details really set your emails apart from Inbox clutter. Whether it is as simple as using the right ‘from’ address or adding a question mark to your subject line, or a more sophisticated approach using predictive technology to personalise your message, the key thing is to have a plan that maximises the effectiveness of each and every email.
Because email is such an important part of an integrated strategy, we’ve unpacked some of the most crucial elements, and created an infographic with our top tips to help you create winning emails for your campaigns.
Publish Date: September 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Kevin Byrne, Senior Business Development Manager
Bit of an odd concept? We are pretty good at what we do but, with any marketing campaign, there will always be a number of people who say ‘no’ to any particular offer. Despite this unnegotiable fact, there are different ways to add value.
The message of this article is simple - there is untapped value and insight in every call - it's important to recognise and capture it.
Let’s start by looking at a typical lead generation campaign. Maybe, we are talking to SMEs about our client’s new product and have a target of 1 in 10 contacts converting to a lead or an appointment. Both the client and agency are, quite rightly, focused on the positive outcomes required but, at The Telemarketing Company, we always talk about the ancillary benefit of extra business intelligence. This is often greeted with a polite nod and then, “What about the leads?” the client will ask, “that’s where the return is...”
So, if we are 'failing' as many as 9 times out of 10, what happens with those interactions?
There is normally a series of result codes, dispositions or similar. Here is a typical list:-
So, here is our simple answer for trying to unlock the hidden value –
Always ASK ONE MORE QUESTION.
Does that seem too simple? Let me try it on the codes above. Let’s call it ‘a little bit extra’
Extra: Can you say what you would be willing to pay? What are you paying at the moment?
Have a competitor product
Extra: (after asking who?) And could you rate our product against it based on this brief chat?
Extra: Is it just something you don’t need, or just not the sort of features that appeal to you?
Extra: Can I just get a bit more information on whatever the factor is (turnover/employees)?
Not looking for this type of product
Extra: Do you have a different solution in your business? How does it work for your business?
Extra: is there an actual name of someone we can talk to?
and what do our clients get out of it?
Valuable information about pricing
Some candid, unfiltered views about your own product/competitors
Insight into some real weaknesses in the product (or the telemarketing presentation of course)
Detail that may enable you to understand any opportunities that are, for example, close to criteria and identify companies that may meet the criteria at some point in the future
Not looking for this type of product:
Some insight here, which may enable you to change your product or change your message
A key decision-maker name, or information about the decision-making unit.
There are some other benefits to this approach too...
Wheat from Chaff
It is pretty effective in separating real future prospects from those that really don’t want to engage. Someone who gives a considered and thoughtful answer to a supplementary question has a genuine reason not to go further and is giving you information about how, and importantly why, he might buy in the future. Someone who doesn’t, is just trying to get rid of you.
Take a moment to consider the life of the telemarketing agent; being told ‘NO’ 9 times out of 10 for 7 hours a day is a tough gig. It takes a special kind of person, as you may know, if you have run an in-house team, or have even done it yourself. If you can share the value each call, even those that don’t result in leads or appointments, and feed aggregated results back to the agents on a regular basis, it can create an entirely different level of motivation.
PLUS, some devil in the detail - a couple of other outcomes you will see:-
If this is a big number, it flags an issue with your data. Who is looking after your data? If it’s your own database, you might consider some data cleansing before you start spending your hard won sales and marketing budget. If it is bought in data, then you would normally get a refund on any invalid numbers - every penny counts.
Your ‘new prospect’ data contains a significant number of existing clients. We see this all too often in quite large numbers and the same applies - get your data into shape before you start calling.
In a campaign of 1,000 there are 900 potential pieces of extra information. Imagine you collect 200 pieces of insight on the topic of pricing – both your own and your competitor’s. That starts to become statistically significant information to feed into commercial decision making.
In previous campaigns, we have altered the messaging and the offer mid campaign, or run a split test at two different price points in response to this type of feedback, and improved campaign performance, as a result.
In our world, a successful outcome can be multi layered, but by adopting our 'a little extra' approach and asking one more question on every call, we bring to the surface the hidden value others miss.
Publish Date: September 9, 2016 5:00 AM
Kevin Byrne, Senior Business Development Manager
That said, we have seen a shift in the tenor of some of those enquiries which seems to be a result of businesses taking a long hard look at the effectiveness of their sales channels. And, more specifically the teams tasked with generating appointments and leads for internal sales people up the food chain. In almost every case they cite two factors:
Sound familiar? This article sets out why you might consider talking to a specialist outsourced telemarketing company, as a number of organisations have done with us since Brexit.
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first: on paper it looks more expensive to have an outsourcer run this team for you than to run it yourself. But, before the ink dries, let’s add a few more things into the calculation.
Have you factored in all your management costs? Obviously, there is the direct cost of someone running this team, but what about the time (and money) invested in recruitment and training?
Overhead costs: software licences, CRM set ups, physical hardware of desks, phones etc. expensive rented space that could be better utilised?
Management Information: do you have a system that is really telling you what you need to know about the performance of your telemarketing team and indeed your customers, or just a couple of brute numbers round results? Is the absence of that insight costing you money in chasing pointless prospects and targets?
Flexibility: you are paying for people on a full time basis, wouldn’t it be great if you could turn off that resource in August during the holidays, in December when all productive appointments stop in the run up to Christmas, or when you suddenly have less Field sales resource through absence, sickness or holiday. Take 6-8 weeks out of the costs - how does it look now?
Skills: can you guarantee to get someone with experience in this area, as you would with most other jobs, or are you having to take on people younger and less experienced than you would like?
But, the real argument should not be about cost but about value. If you have a sales team capable of attending 40 appointments per month and your team is only delivering 30, you are losing 25% of your sales potential, which is the most important calculation you should make. If you have a telemarketing team of 3 people, and you lose your best person, what is the effect of not filling that vacancy for several weeks? And then the time to bring the new person up to speed? And if you are being entirely honest in your appraisal, of the people you recruit, how many stay the course to become successful and consistent telemarketers?
How does outsourcing answer these problems?
Firstly, in our model, all your costs are contained in one hourly charge: no extras, no surprises, no IT charges. There are no recruitment or training costs, those departments are free to focus on more strategic priorities.
Management Information: our systems are designed to deliver a degree of insight into the progress of any record or prospect in the system such that you can understand a ‘pipeline’ that shows how many prospects have requested information, how many have a firm commitment to talk again, how many are talking to colleagues and, more than that, why prospects are not engaging.
Flexibility: with over 170 staff, your campaign will always be fully staffed. We train more people than is required to also cover for holidays and absences-we are delivering results, not people and that means that an appropriate trained resource always has to be on hand.
Those people have made telemarketing their job; and in our case they are typically in their mid 30’s with an average of 3 years’ experience in the role within our business (and often many more years in previous businesses) – their skill base is unparalleled. And the people who are managing them, each have over 8 years in role, and experience of at least 100 campaigns. More often than not, we can also align you to an account manager who is working or has worked previously in your sector.
Value: we always work to a target, and in general try and build a financial-based ROI model with our clients. Continuity, professional management, specialised technologies, developing insight all lead to a model that can be managed for continuous improvement but we don’t just say this, we put our money where our mouth is - all campaigns even with our largest clients are subject to 1 weeks’ notice, so we’re never able to let our foot off the gas or take our eye off the ball.
Publish Date: August 22, 2016 5:00 AM
The simple fact is, not all propositions, no matter how pioneering, lend themselves naturally to a telemarketing approach. And, not all are well placed to provide an immediate return on investment, from what can be a relatively expensive marketing channel.
The good news, however, is that a lot can be done in the preparation phase to ensure that yours is not one of those, which promises a great deal, but which all too frequently gets short shrift from your buyer.
Depending on who you are targeting with your proposition, yours is undoubtedly one of many offers your prospect will receive at any given time. Decision makers in SME organisations are likely to receive upwards of 10 sales calls a month, with switchboards in Enterprise companies, gatekeeping twice or three times as many. Some job functions such as HR or Finance, whose remit can be broad, are among the most heavily targeted with well-meaning, but all too often poorly articulated, propositions.
To get that highly sought positive response, it is essential that your offer is not perceived as ‘nice to have’. The decision maker must immediately appreciate the value it can provide and how it can contribute to success or failure in their business.
So what are the key features of a MUST HAVE proposition?
Immediate Return – this generally means it will make money or save money for you. The ’must have’ proposition will be able to convey this message with a tangible sum ideally, or with direct examples of the savings other companies have made, ideally firms of the same size, type, and in the same sector. If you can’t do this, perhaps because your product is new to the market or entering a new sector, then you might need to reinforce its value with a free trial or money back offer.
Where a proposition combines low (or zero) cost with high value, this makes it a real ‘Must Have’ and highly tele-marketable - for example, we were engaged by a company offering specialist knowledge and guidance to qualifying businesses on how to claim tax relief from the government in their specific industry.
Immediate Threat – the fear factor is a well-established sales and marketing tactic that gets attention and motivates a customer to take action. At its most obvious this might be legal or compliance, where companies are unwittingly in breach of legislation or certain codes of practice.
A proposition, which relates to compliance, also lends itself well to a telemarketing approach. For instance, we recently helped position a proposition that enables companies and individuals to avoid personal and corporate liability for bribery under the UK Bribery Act (2011). This offer ensured the company had strong, up-to-date and effective anti-bribery policies and systems in place and it resonated immediately with senior management responsible for this issue.
More subtle elements of threat include opportunity cost, or you might say fear of losing out, such as loss of efficiency (you are wasting money or resource), or loss of sales opportunity. These slightly less tangible messages are best reinforced by real, concrete examples such as: Company X, also in packaging, saved 7.5% of its procurement costs in 1 year...” or Company Y generated 12 new business opportunities, and converted 4 directly from leads from the advertising site, making £25,000 from an investment of £500.00”
It’s ‘Immediately’ Unique - firstly, is your proposition really unique? What does it do that other products can’t, and most importantly, how does that uniqueness address a real pain point for that business?
It may be that the customer has a solution already but, if your solution solves a problem for the business in a way that is cheaper/faster/more painless than their current way of working, that will also give them a compelling reason to engage. For example, if you have an easily implemented, low-cost but highly effective tool that means the customer can dispense with a piece of expensive licensed software, this bodes well for a telemarketing approach.
The key word in each of these cases is ‘Immediate’.Telemarketing is the ultimate ‘Immediate’ channel. It delivers the message straight to someone’s ear- in person, not via an impersonal route such as advertising, email or social media. It communicates direct with a human voice – intrusively, demanding the attention of the listener, at least at the start of the call, and it requires a message that matches that immediacy, so that the hard won contact and valuable opportunity is not wasted.
Many clients we speak to describe their proposition as unique, but then brief us on a set of fairly generic benefits, often claimed by many other firms. For example, “we offer unparalleled customer service”, or “we excel at SEO design”. By contrast, others have a quite poorly formulated proposition but some very distinct benefits come to the fore during briefing, which they just haven’t highlighted, or sometimes even considered.
Taking time to formulate your proposition and ensure you are communicating the ‘Must Have’ message is critical. Our recent blog “How Effective is your Telemarketing Message?” talks about this in more detail but here are three ways to assess if yours is, or can be converted to, a ‘must have’ proposition.
Put yourself in the position of the decision maker and consider the 3 ‘MUST HAVE’ attributes:
Immediate Return – if you are talking to a decision maker who has a budget and a target, you will want a definite part of that budget. But, can you promise him a definite return? Have that conversation with yourself as honestly as you can, and then build a case that shows this as convincingly as possible.
Immediate Threat - can you show this decision maker an immediate and definite consequence of him not taking up your offer? If it is not immediate, can you put some real and tangible financial consequences around that over a period of time?
Unique Product - firstly assess honestly whether your product is truly unique, or more importantly, offers a unique solution. If it is truly unique, then what are businesses doing to solve that problem at the moment? Is the problem important enough for them to make the effort? If so, is what you have compelling enough to make them change?
People still buy these products but they tend to buy them after more consideration, more information and when the time is right. Whilst, as we have said, telemarketing is the ultimate ‘immediate’ channel, it can still help you nurture the interests of longer term prospects who may not be immediately ready to buy, and help you target high value individuals that you are unable to reach through other channels. It can also help support your broader sales and marketing activity with high quality data and insight to inform your overall strategy.
To find our more, contact us today.
Publish Date: August 18, 2016 5:00 AM
Poor quality data impacts every part of your business – from the customer experience and relationship, to sales and marketing activity, branding, resourcing, through to aligning your teams and strategies. It is also intrinsic to your ability to maintain staff morale, when, for example, your customer service team grapple with an inaccurate, fragmented view of the customer, and as a consequence struggle to provide good service. Similarly, where your sales reps are wasting their time chasing poor quality leads with no real interest or likelihood to purchase. What is more, poor data can undermine your other investments – there is no point investing in expensive sales acceleration tools or marketing automation software, without a solid data strategy to support it.
In a recent survey of over 100 mid- to senior-level B2B marketers, 88% said their organisation’s approach to data management relies on internal resource, with only 6% employing external data specialists. Given the financial impact outlined above, this would appear to be a false economy. The fact is poor quality data equals high cost and poor ROI and it is imperative that data management is given the attention and resourcing it deserves by B2B organisations that want to succeed.
Publish Date: July 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Niall Habba, MD, The Telemarketing Company
This report, based on a survey of over 100 B2B marketers, has a different slant from previous pieces of research we’ve conducted. In recognition of the challenges inherent to modern-day lead generation, we’ve chosen to drill deep into the pain points experienced by B2B marketers.
We wanted to hear and better understand the views of the people tasked with managing a bewildering choice of channels and techniques, orchestrating a complex set of interdependent variables and activities to generate just the right quality and quantity of leads for their sales colleagues.
At The Telemarketing Company, we’re highly specialised in one channel – voice. Since we were founded in 1990, it’s been fascinating to see how telemarketing has repeatedly fallen in and out (and back in) to favour. Voice contact is not inexpensive when it’s done well, but has a mixed reputation because it's so often done badly. As a result, email marketing, online marketing, social selling, content marketing and MA have all come to prominence as potential alternatives. Each has, for a moment, promised to displace the need for voice contact or human interaction completely; efficiently driving outcomes without the involvement of costly and awkward human beings.
The reality, acknowledged by organisations like SiriusDecisions, expressed by many of our clients and confirmed in the findings of this survey, is that voice contact, telemarketing, inside sales – call it what you will – remains essential at every stage of the so-called funnel. Organisations that have moved to a purely digital model have quickly realised that profiling, prospecting, lead qualification and development, turning interest into appointments and closing deals, remain essential activities where human interaction reigns supreme. It’s significant that even the most ardent digital businesses such as LinkedIn, Google and HubSpot all use significant levels of human interaction in their new business development. These digital champions all maintain inside sales teams, lead development reps and sales people who take the best outputs that digital can provide and use them to quickly identify, qualify, nurture, accelerate and close sales opportunities.
The good news is that there is a huge opportunity for enlightened organisations to fully realise the value of their digital investments by leveraging human interaction at key stages in the marketing and sales process.
Visit our Knowledge Bank for the full report and findings
Publish Date: July 15, 2016 5:00 AM
A study of the practices of B2B marketers by Cintell in 2016 showed that companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have a clear roadmap for implementing customer personas. Those companies were 2.2X more likely to have and document personas, than companies that missed revenue and lead targets.
Customer personas – also known as a buyer persona or marketing persona –when designed well, and used to tailor content, target outbound activities and drive high quality lead generation, can bring real value to a business.
What is a customer persona?
A persona is basically a snapshot of your ideal customer based on analytics, market research and existing customer profiles and behaviour data, for example your email marketing or transactional data. Google Analytics and similar tools on the market have improved the process of advanced segmentation along the entire customer cycle. A good persona will take the needs of your customers into account - what their main drivers are, how they think, how they behave offline and online, and how and why they buy - to improve an overall targeting strategy.
Why segmentation matters
Creating personas, and segmenting your data accordingly, provides the structure needed to attract and engage customers with the highest potential lifetime value. It allows you to generate well qualified, sales ready leads with a high propensity to convert, ultimately leading to more profitable business.
If you know what your customers need, you can provide better customer service, improve direct messages, and maximise up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. It is, therefore, worth spending time and involving the right people from the outset to develop personas that are as authentic and rounded as possible.
Tony Zambito, a leading authority on buyer insights and personas, has pioneered an approach to persona development, which centres on the underlying goals driving buyer behaviour. His buyer persona canvas highlights the key questions needed to create well-defined customer personas that can drive improved customer strategies, customer experience and ROI. Rather than looking at behaviour only in the context of the buying process - what customers buy, when and through which channels - this approach looks at the goals, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs behind the behaviour.
This approach provides a much deeper level of understanding and a more fully defined persona to inform decisions around customer experience and strategies that lead ultimately to improved revenue performance.
Customer segmentation is a fairly standard practice these days but, as with all processes, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. The first is using outdated information:
We have talked previously about the importance of data quality when using marketing automation for lead generation, and the same applies when building customer persona. Many of our clients come to us with outdated or incomplete data sets as a basis for their marketing activity. Using incomplete or poor quality data to inform your customer persona and segmentation strategy, will provide an incomplete and misleading picture that undermines your ability to accurately target both your inbound and outbound efforts. Good quality data and a robust mechanism, such as an outbound data cleansing service, to maintain the health of your data, are essential.
Creating too many persona
Developing too many customer personas is tempting, but should be avoided. You might think that you’re simply covering all your bases by constructing a long list, but you run the risk of stretching your resources too thinly without making a significant impact on any particular group. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless with your persona list, or nervous to scrap a segment if it is no longer relevant to your business. It is important to keep reviewing and refreshing your list; if your personas organically change or shift after a campaign simply adjust your strategy accordingly
Involve the whole team
In the same vein, include every facet of the business to thoroughly research your buyer personas, from your sales team and call centre staff to marketing and management teams. Without a consistent, cohesive strategy throughout the business, your brand message can become disjointed, and your developed persona can be diluted through the later stages of the buyer cycle.
Limiting the reach of your personas to a set of teams within the business, or certain parts of the sales funnel only, can also limit your lead generation strategy. Think of your customer personas as part of your brand voice which encompasses the entire funnel and every team.
B2B lead generation
Utilising customer insight to improve lead generation is a key challenge amongst B2B marketers. The Cintell study found organisations that do align their efforts with a customer persona are three times more likely to reach business goals, and companies that exceed lead and revenue goals are 3.8X more likely to have a resource internally dedicated to personas.
The report also suggested that interviewing real buyers (both potential and existing) is one of the most important components of persona development. It found that qualitative interviews were the top source of personal insights, used by 82.4% of those companies exceeding their revenue goals.
Voice contact is one of the most effective channels for delivering clean, accurate data and insight to feed and refresh your customer persona, and enhance your targeting strategy. Not all customers will be right for your business and a vibrant and realistic customer persona matching your ideal prospect is essential to underpin your sales and marketing efforts, and align your content and messaging to priority data segments.
Publish Date: July 8, 2016 5:00 AM
More than ever, it is about a relevant dialogue at critical touch points in the customer journey steered by the interests and needs of the buyer, rather than the linear progression of a lead through the sales funnel, driven by the priorities of the supplier. Getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time has never been more important, or more challenging.
To differentiate their offering B2B companies must prioritise personalisation
Mastering Omni-Channel B2B Customer Engagement, Accenture
In a perfect world, digital sources provide a full view of your buyer in terms of their interests, preferences and social connections, as well as interactions with your brand, either via your website or social media pages. In the case of an existing customer this synchronises to provide a 360 degree view of that customer in your CRM, including their previous enquiries, full purchase history and any interactions with your service or support teams. With the sales and marketing automation tools available, you can score your leads and harness that insight and intelligence to prioritise those with the greatest likelihood of becoming profitable customers. You build an understanding of their interests and can deliver relevant and engaging content that steers them effortlessly from interest through to qualified sales ready leads for the sales team to work and convert, taking advantage of productivity-enhancing tools to accelerate the process.
But what about the real world…?
Recent research reports that only 12% of B2B marketers rated themselves as “very effective” at delivering a consistent customer experience. Kapost: B2B Customer Experience Benchmark Report 2016
In reality, marketers face many challenges in bringing together all these threads – data, content, tools and digital programs - to achieve a personalised customer experience across channels. Some of the many challenges faced include:
How can Telemarketing help?
How can telemarketing help achieve a consistent, high-quality, personalised customer experience across channels, technologies and content? A flexible and highly targetable channel, telemarketing brings the human touch to an often impersonal digital experience and can add value in many areas:
Clean, accurate, profiled data
Identifying the right contacts as the starting point for any sales and marketing campaign is crucial to securing a return on investment from any related activity, be it your automated email, social media, inbound marketing, or the valuable time spent by your sales team following up on the leads that are generated. Depending on your target audience, it is not always easy to source a clean, accurate database, which contains up-to-date contacts matching your ideal target customer profile.
Telephone research can generate new lists or enhance existing company data where you don’t have the right contacts. It can plug gaps by cleansing and enhancing poor quality data, updating phone numbers and adding decision maker emails, which can then feed your other marketing programmes and channels.
Once you have a clean list, you are in a much better position to profile and segment your data and activate your digital and non-digital programs, prioritising key segments of your database to ensure you are targeting the right people with the right content and messaging. A clean profiled data set may also help you identify patterns and uncover untapped opportunities, allowing you to redefine and improve your sales and marketing strategy.
Cutting through the noise of digital channels
Your systems may contain the right contacts and your automated programs may be serving up content on a regular basis, but your digital programs may still fall short. Individuals are weary of email, open and click rates are increasingly low, and ad blockers now prevent marketers getting their message across through online advertising. There is a limit to how many of your prospects you can effectively reach via digital routes. The disruptive nature of a phone call cuts through the noise of digital channels allowing you to get through to contacts that you haven’t been able to reach via other means. Unsolicited calls are far more acceptable in the B2B sector and can connect you to high value individuals in a far more personal way than digital alternatives, whilst at the same time delivering higher value outcomes including face to face meetings.
Once you have reached your prospect, a two way phone conversation allows you to build rapport and develop a real understanding around the prospect’s interests and individual challenges. Leads can be qualified based on real insight into the customer’s situation, and intelligently nurtured by your marketing automation with content that addresses their needs at the right point in the buying cycle. The deep layers of insight provided by one to one communication facilitate relevant dialogue at each touch point in the customer journey whether via an automated nurture or other marketing programs, interaction with your customer service team or ongoing voice contact with your sales team. In this way, the sales team benefit from highly qualified, sales ready leads and insight based on real customer feedback that increases their ability to convert the lead to sale.
The increased relevance of communication helps accelerate the sales process but, most importantly, provides a highly personalised experience for the customer, which is the foundation for long term relationship-building. Nothing is as personal or as persuasive as one to one communication and nothing builds trust as effectively as human interaction. Prospects may engage with you via social media but this cannot match the depth of engagement that can be achieved through real, dynamic, one to one conversation.
Integration and ROI
Whether standalone or integrated with other channels, voice contact can add value throughout the sales process. A real, two-way conversation builds trust and enables the caller to present a tailored, compelling proposition that speaks directly to the prospect’s needs and wants. In addition, a phone call, and the data and insight it provides, can also enhance the value of other channels. It can integrate seamlessly at any point in the sales funnel, filling the gaps to provide a more coherent approach and, through the data and insight it generates, supporting a more personalised and relevant customer experience across multiple channels and platforms.
With low response rates for email, a call can be made to recipients who clicked on a relevant link and high quality content sent out as a follow up, once customer needs are properly understood. Where marketing programmes have previously failed to penetrate specific departments within your key accounts, a targeted phone call can help you reach and engage influencers, with social media research helping to fill gaps in intelligence. Once engaged, the prospect can be steered via automated programs to valuable online collateral or exclusive events or webinars, and gently nurtured through tailored content on your landing pages, PPC campaigns and other programs, ensuring your channels and technology really work hard for you. In this way your valuable marketing effort and precious sales time can be prioritised and targeted at the contacts with highest potential lifetime value, who will deliver the best return.
In the real world…
Ongoing dialogue and human interaction at different stages of the customer journey establishes the trust that is essential to sustainable business relationships. Providing insight that drives relevance across all channels, telemarketing can join the dots between data, digital programs, content, marketing automation and sales productivity tools. It can ensure personalised communications and relevant dialogue throughout the customer journey, with increased focus on the high value individuals and data segments to increase overall return on investment.
Publish Date: June 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Tim Newman, Telemarketing Specialist
Telemarketing vs Email Marketing
One objection to telemarketing that we often hear revolves around the low cost of an email marketing approach. If we were to do a straight comparison on price, of course, sending an email would always win, it costs literally nothing.
What telemarketing does offer, however, is the ability to speak directly to the right people. As we all know only too well, your beautifully crafted email might simply end up in the spam folder, or at a generic destination where it is deleted or, if it does by some miracle reach the correct person, it might remain unopened.
A well conceived and structured telemarketing campaign will pinpoint the exact companies and individuals that your company wants to approach. At The Telemarketing Company, we call via our bespoke calling platform, either direct to the target individual or via the main switchboard initially, and from there, we are diverted to the person who we believe will suit your product or service best.
Then, if the person we speak to is not the correct person (after all, some company structures can be bewildering), the person we are speaking to will, more often than not, know exactly who we need to speak with and, crucially, give names and sometimes contact details for us to pursue with a follow up call.
So, rather than an email going to someone, somewhere, we have a direct conversation with the exact person who is likely to be interested in the proposition you are offering.
This approach cannot be beaten by any other marketing channel. Whether the data you have is up to the minute or not, changes are constantly taking place. There is no way to hit the exact decision maker by any other means than a direct phone call.
The Human Touch
Even if we play devil’s advocate and pretend that an email or brochure has reached the correct person, it does happen sometimes, telemarketing still comes up trumps. Once we are speaking to an individual we have a human conversation with them.
This means that as we are speaking to them, we can tailor the offering to suit their needs. We can skip irrelevant features and play up the ones that the contact is most likely to be interested in.
Our telemarketers are trained to be persuasive, but not pushy. They are polite and business like. They ask pertinent questions so that, even if the prospect is not interested, business-relevant information can still be gleaned and passed back to you. This might include information about what products they are already using, why they are using them and when they are reviewing their current package. None of this information can be collected from a faceless email drop.
There are still segments of the business world that are untouchable by any other channels. Some people are rarely office based and only contactable by phone, due to the nature of the sector in which they work.
Other audience segments ignore spam as a matter of course. Others still do not engage in social media, either because they don’t have the time, find it impersonal, or they may be technology averse.
Because these people are hounded less by businesses attempting to attract their attention, they can often react much more favourably to a telemarketing call. They may be slightly less jaded by marketing communication, or may by nature prefer to interact with a human, rather than a device.
Telemarketing vs Social
Social media has forever changed the way in which business is done. But social media does not offer the same level of interaction as a phone conversation. It’s true that companies are easier to talk to, but if a company you are looking to engage isn’t looking to engage with you, they are not likely to find your LinkedIn or Facebook page.
The internet also offers a whole raft of ways to advertise to businesses. But, with the rise of ad blockers, even this channel cannot be relied upon to bring home the bacon. A recent report claims that mobile ad blocking has increased 90% in the last 12 months, with one in five Smartphone users blocking ads. In addition, whilst the number of impressions your ad receives may seem incredibly high, the ROI may not be quite as impressive.
In conclusion, although telemarketing will cost more than a LinkedIn or Facebook ad campaign, or an email shot, the ROI is almost guaranteed to be better. We speak directly to the people responsible for making the relevant decisions. We interact, human to human, and have a two-way conversation. Rather than producing little more than brand awareness, we set up meetings where you can pitch to companies that you are excited about pitching to - face to face.
Publish Date: June 7, 2016 5:00 AM