Telemarketing isn’t dead, it just smells bad

Anyone who has ever tried to recruit ‘telemarketing’ staff will know that word is pretty much bottom of the food chain these days. Due largely to the ever-increasing demands made by companies fighting hard for market share, far from being dead, telemarketing is more relevant today than ever as long as it’s used in the right way. As we’ve seen over the past decade, used inappropriately, telemarketing not only damages brands, it threatens the whole industry and makes the profession unappealing for newcomers.

Most complex businesses need an intelligent voice to communicate their differentiating factors. Mass marketing doesn’t work for these products or services, that’s pretty much anything in relationship-driven b2b marketing. This means you can’t write it down succinctly enough to keep attention, it can’t be broadcast without being a long boring ad, and you can’t create messaging that appeals to the almost unique demands of each individual buyer.

You need a human element, personality, charisma, intelligence and yes, patience, to ask questions and deliver material accordingly. Telemarketing does everything needed to get your message out there in a way that wins the hearts and minds of new customers. It’s quick to do, and cheap compared with other human methods such as face to face marketing, or trade shows. Its good stuff this telemarketing. So why the pong and what can we do about it?

Not just another water cooler

Firstly, make sure telemarketing is the right medium for you. Telemarketing companies don’t usually take any project that comes along, they make a value judgement about whether the calls will be helpful to the people selected to receive them, and whether the skills and imagination of the agency’s staff is the right fit for the project. Some products are never right, alas many telemarketing companies feel there are simply enough water coolers in this world already.

6 key benefits

Follow this format to help decide if telemarketing is a good fit. In single sentences write down 6 key features that mark your product out as special. Then add the words ‘which means’ and finish each sentence. This is simple benefit selling. If you can do that in less than 500 words, telemarketing probably isn’t right for you because it requires skilled labour which is generally more expensive than other marketing. Pick the method that gets your message out in the most effective and efficient way.

Polished dataset

Use a defined dataset. Telemarketing should never take the view “I can sell to anyone”. No one in a b2b context can sell to anyone, if you’re thinking about using telemarketing, you need to define a particular sweet spot in your potential buying universe and target them specifically. Use test calls to uncover what appeals to your target buyers in a way where you can sustainably meet their needs long term. In other words, bringing them in with massive discounts won’t be a long term solution, and frankly isn’t a skilled strategy for building a business.

Be special to someone

Taking the time to understand who your product is the best fit for will enable you to target your marketing budget in a way that gets the best return. Don’t expect your telemarketing to be like the first day of the Harrods sale! You’ll rarely get a fast or big response to your telemarketing campaign, it takes time. The rough reality is that initially you do a lot and get a little, eventually, you do a little and get a lot. People who appear at telemarketing companies saying they did it before and it didn’t work, usually suffer from unrealistic expectations about how quickly things happen in telemarketing. It’s a phone, not a magic wand.

Generic strategies

To be successful, telemarketing companies need their briefing process to include a generic strategy that’s clear and aligns with the brief being delivered. In other words, if the product on offer is capital equipment for a particular niche, then the telemarketing brief needs to be specific to that particular buyer type and niche. Obvious you might think, however, it’s not unusual to get a brief that is simply too broad to deliver because the client hasn’t quite decided on their targeting strategy.

Well known business academic Michael Porter illustrated this idea in his 1985 book ‘Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance’. He described four key strategies that an organisation can choose from. He believes that a company must choose a clear course in order to be able to beat the competition. The four strategies are Cost Leadership (cheapest), Differentiation (meets specific needs), Cost Focus (wide market appeal and low cost), Differentiation Focus (niche appeal and higher cost because it meets more specific needs)

Whatever market or strategy a company pursues it’s important to remember that business relationships take time to build. The big game-changer wins are more possible using telemarketing than another method of reaching out because human touch is powerful. However, even the best telemarketing companies can’t just throw open the doors metaphorically speaking, and find themselves run over by hungry buyers. Just doesn’t happen and any attempt to push buyers hard creates long term damage. Telemarketing like life needs to be worked at.

If you would like to find out more about how telemarketing can work for you contact Blue Donkey Intelligent Telemarketing on 01353 724 880.

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