Is your sales team benefiting from the customer insight your B2B telemarketing team discovers with each telemarketing campaign? Likewise, is your sales team sharing their customer knowledge with your telemarketing team? Are they really on the same page?

Let’s face it, communications between marketing and sales aren’t always brilliant. But they are so important. Without alignment, you end up with wasted insight, missed opportunities and complex B2B buying cycles that end in a decision to do nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So what to do?

Here are five essential areas that will help align your B2B telemarketing with sales:

1.       Agree on what an ideal prospect looks like

Together, your telemarketing and sales need to drill right down into micro-segmented ‘buyer personas’ and agree on the ideal prospect – or prospects.  This is where rigorous data segmentation comes in. It’s not enough to rely on top-level segmentation such as geography, turnover, employee numbers and standard job titles. As well as operations, purchasing and motivations, they need to look at detailed profiling that includes individual goals, concerns, preferences and decision processes.

2.       Together, identify the prospects’ actionable issues

A service- or product-led pitch doesn’t work. Together, telemarketing and sales should consider an issues-based approach that identifies their prospects’ top concerns. They need to get inside the prospect’s head and think: “Why change? Why now? What’s in it for me?”

3.       Align telemarketing messages and sales conversations with the buyer’s journey

If you can’t clearly define what stage of the buying journey your telemarketing messages and sales conversations are intended to influence and what outcome you want to achieve, then you are likely to gain little. Don’t waste your time.

4.       Telemarketing must help sales have intelligent conversations

If you’re supporting a complex B2B buying process that involves dialogue that stretches over an extended period of time, your telemarketing agency can really help your sales team. With each campaign or outreach, the telemarketing team should develop a series of talking points that will help give direction to the subsequent sales conversations.

5.       Share answers to difficult questions

Telemarketing and sales teams are often faced with difficult-to-answer objections or requests for clarification. So, get the two teams to work smarter by sharing the best answers. After all, why reinvent the wheel?

If you’ve got this far, you might find our eBook interesting: How to use Buy Cycle Analysis to Improve Lead Generation or check out the new IZEN video.

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Einsten defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As much as to anything in life, this applies to your B2B telemarketing campaigns. It is madness to expect better results from telemarketing if you, or your telemarketing agency, are using the same tactics again and again. It may seem risky to some but, in today’s highly competitive world, you’ve got to innovate to progress.

The risks of not taking risks

Not all of us are born risk takers. But if we aren’t, we have to learn to take risks – measured risks. Today, we are inundated with information from many sources – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, TV, radio and countless emails – as well as phone calls. This means that the highly successful telemarketing approach you were using five, two or even one year ago is unlikely to generate the same great results today.

 

Stop, look and listen

But before you decide on your new campaign tactics, take a leaf out of a UK road awareness campaign and ‘stop, look and listen’ to your market.  It’s so important that you really know that you are targeting the right people with the right message at the right time. You need to listen to who is saying what and where. Apply the ‘stop, look and listen’ rule to your B2B telemarketing, and you are bound to choose a safe route to success. At the very least you won’t get run over.

 

…So you’ve worked with your telemarketing agency and come up with new tactics, and together you’ve developed a great new approach. Now what?

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate

This is crucial. Otherwise, how do you know if your telemarketing is working?

From the very first day your telemarketers get on the phones, they will be in a position to give you feedback. That way, you can revise your new tactics, if necessary, before wasting any time or money.

Make sure you have a de-bug process set up for real-time campaign analysis and performance monitoring. And have a red alert system for potential problems, whether they are due to internal factors which you can influence, or external factors such as a data or market/competitive forces.

But don’t worry

When you do find that a particular approach isn’t working, learn from that and try something else. In Thomas Edison’s words: “Just because it doesn’t work doesn’t mean you can’t use it.”

Check out our new B2B telemarketing video to find out how we can help you refresh your B2B telemarketing tactics.

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The days of one-sided, self-serving dialogue to the masses are over for B2B marketers. We must instead consider our audience as individuals for whom we tailor communications and conversations based on their needs. Failure to do that will result in, well, failure. For example, if you met someone new at a networking event and you jump right in there with ‘Hello, let me tell you all about me’, you couldn’t really be surprised if any eventual response was abrupt and unenthusiastic.

With today’s savvy buyers, we have to consider every single individual we are touching and influencing and think about their perspective, their pains. The exact same rules apply for any good B2B telemarketing agency when they engage with your customers and prospects.

7 x 10 touches to close a sale

But there’s more to it than that. It used to be said that it took ‘seven touches to close a sale’ – driven by outbound, push-based interrupt-driven marketing strategies such as telemarketing, web landing pages, events, advertising and press relations.  Now, in B2B marketing, it’s more likely to take 10 times that – around 70 touches or ‘moments of truth’ to close that sale.

The importance of first impressions

This makes first contact critical. The modern marketer must capitalize on the opportunity by providing value and education to the prospective buyer. You must address their specific areas of interest, and earn the right to engage more fully – even before they are ready to buy.  And don’t forget – customers are people too, so they will continually seek to verify information with their peer groups, analysts and other stakeholders. These influencers are very important to you, too.

The big four of content: information, timing, format, place

So how do you know you are giving your customer or prospect the right information at the right time, in the right format and in the right place? This really isn’t as difficult as you might think. Customers leave tracks and clues about themselves and their priorities all over the place. You just need to look and apply.

For example, if you have a repeat web visitor, make sure you map what they do and why they did it. Maybe they received a telemarketing call which spurred them towards a particular landing page to download a relevant white paper. To keep them engaged in the buying cycle, you can take this information and perhaps suggest another relevant white paper, guide them to a customer video on the same subject – or invite them to a webinar or to sign up for a relevant newsletter.

Ultimately, to achieve great results, you have to recognize your audience as individual people and take a considered, human, two-way approach.

Find out more in our ‘Demand Generation: the no-nonsense guide’ eBook.

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If you use your telemarketing team to the very best of their capabilities, they can help you drive marketing success and business innovation. How? A good B2B telemarketing agency gets right under the skin of your prospects and customers. They know if they’re talking to the right people. They hear their pains first hand. They know if the message is working or not. Smart businesses will use their telemarketing agents to help them evaluate, adapt and innovate their marketing approach by listening to them before, during and after the telemarketing campaign.

What to avoid

Failure to do this could mean that, for example, you only find out at the very end of a telemarketing campaign that your audience or message is not working and you’ve not therefore fully utilised the benefits of telemarketing. Similarly, you could be missing strategic business opportunities if your telemarketing agents discover that while the object of this particular campaign could possibly help them, in fact X other product/service would be extremely useful to address Y pain.

Stay flexible

Do not be afraid to disrupt the status quo. Flexibility is fundamental to a successful business. Thorough preparation before campaign launch and continuous updates from your team along the way are not only crucial for basic campaign success, but can really open your eyes to your business from the customer point of view. You must be prepared to consider adapting your marketing approach – and even business strategy – based on the important conversations your telemarketing team is having with your prospects and customers.

Assuming you have worked with your telemarketing team to develop your message proposition and script, here are three simple steps to follow that will help you best use telemarketing to support innovation:

Evaluate: From the very first day your telemarketing team picks up the phones to talk to your customers and prospects, it is in your interest to evaluate feedback.

Adapt: If there are doubts surrounding the credibility of your message or the accuracy or relevance of your data, consider refining your proposition and amending your data.

Innovate: Is telemarketing feedback identifying potential opportunities for you to change your marketing approach, your market or even your product or service? Act on this. Customer-driven business is the easiest route to success.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your telemarketing service, take our free five-minute assessment.

 

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In their EMEA summit in London the other week, SiriusDecisions presented an updated version of their demand waterfall.  With 250 top marketing directors in one room, it was exciting to hear the event generate such a buzz around strategic B2B telemarketing, once again a hot topic on the lips of automation-overloaded marketers.  On the flip side, however, to me the ‘waterfall’ presented as a jargon-happy, technically overcomplicated yet singularly focused chute that ignores two elements critical to successful B2B marketing.

Text talk
Before I get to those two elements, however, I’d like to touch on the language of this ‘waterfall’. In an industry laden with acronyms, SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall pumps out even more. They include TQL, TAL, AQL, TGL, SAL and SGL; abbreviations that would be more at home in a text message than in clear and simple business communication.

But these are mere semantics. More importantly are the two neglected areas of the telemarketing process that are crucial to successful B2B marketing.

Lush opportunities left adrift
Firstly, while the waterfall clearly addresses the direct sales force, it does not acknowledge the channel. This is quite an oversight if you consider how the channel is the bread and butter of many companies – especially IT companies.

Secondly, the waterfall doesn’t allow for the reintegration of lapsed, lost or unsuccessful customers and prospects – what we could call the ‘spray’ of the waterfall. Instead of being carefully collected in the water basin and brought carefully back up to the top of the waterfall, the spray is allowed to drift off in the wind, most likely to land in a rival water source. This is a major flaw.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”, said Bill Gates.

In the same vein, so this customer/prospect spray is really, very important. Just think how well you know them already, the contacts you have made, the insight into their business, operations and potential requirements. These contacts have enormous value and should not be ignored; I would recommend them over a cold lead any day.

Telemarketing – back in the strategic B2B marketing game
Still, with the buzz around the summit, it’s very positive for the B2B marketing industry that B2B telemarketing has been elevated from the tactical and transactional back into the strategic marketing game.  For too long now, marketers have been focussing on automation, hoping that it could tick all the strategic boxes. But, of course, it can’t. You still need that personal outreach and nurturing for relationship building. In such a competitive business environment, engagement through conversation is now more important than ever.

So despite the limitations of its demand waterfall, we can be glad that SiriusDecisions has helped put strategic B2B telemarketing firmly back on the B2B marketing agenda.

Posted in B2B Telemarketing, Data Management, Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Telemarketing Services | Leave a comment

So, you have finalized your customer value proposition for your B2B telemarketing campaign and have put the finishing touches to that most essential piece of  collateral – your telemarketing script. Your telemarketing service team has read, questioned and understands the script. So now, all that is left is to pick up the phones and start some lead generation, right? Wrong. In fact, at this point, if your telemarketers are worth their salt, they will throw your script away and then pick up the phone. Let me explain why.

A common worry: disconnect between caller and buyer

Telemarketing scripts are vital, but they are not intended to be used verbatim during a discovery telemarketing call. Each telemarketer who speaks on your behalf is representing your company to a prospective customer. If you employ unskilled telemarketers who are unable to hold meaningful peer-level conversations without the crutch of a script, they will not do a good job of representing your organization. The result is that you are unlikely to achieve the desired return on investment (ROI) from your telemarketing campaign.

Solution: check out your telemarketing callers

As a pre-requisite of any telemarketing work, satisfy yourself as to the calibre of the caller, not just the agency employing them.  Ask for their resumes and meet them in person – after all they will be representing you on the telephone. And make sure to sit in on a selection of calls so that you are happy with the quality of work. Any decent telemarketing service should have no objection to this. In fact, such hands-on support should encourage them and help them feel confident about the task in hand.

Five key caller competencies:

Make sure that you are confident that your callers know what they are doing when it comes to these five essential skills of a telemarketing call:

  1. Opening – the preliminaries, including introductions and starting the conversation
  2. Investigating – uncovering, clarifying and developing the buyer’s needs
  3. Qualifying – discovering budget, authority, need and timeline or a different set of qualification metrics
  4. Demonstrating capability – establishing how your solution meets buyer needs
  5. Obtaining commitment – securing agreement to an action that moves the buyer to an agreed next step.

If you are happy with all of the above then you are well down the road to a successful B2B telemarketing campaign.

Do you think it is a good idea to meet your callers if you can?

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Your customer value proposition is crucial to the positioning of your B2B telemarketing campaign. Taking the time to think, investigate and continuously refine your proposition as your campaign progresses, could make a world of difference to the lead generation success of your campaign. Let us look at how to work out your value proposition for a mutually beneficial customer engagement.

Planning: your value proposition in context

In a well-planned lead generation B2B telemarketing campaign, by the time you come to develop your value proposition, you will have already worked out your “ideal customer” and planned your data acquisition. Now it is time to investigate how best to present your offering to your prospective customers.

Challenge: give and take

Essentially, your value proposition will act as the basis for a telemarketer to uncover in your prospect an “active pain”, while at the same time ensuring that telemarketing is kept on-message and aligned with your go-to-market initiatives. NB: it is not a word-by-word script.

In such a competitive and time-starved business environment, what precious little time you may have to connect with your prospect needs to be used incredibly smartly. You need to develop a compelling reason for them to listen.  Do you have a solution? Do you have a compelling offer? How can you convince them that they are benefitting from this conversation?  Can you use it to find out more about them, perhaps?

Solution: do your homework – what does your customer see in you?

The best way to work out your clearest customer value proposition is to interview key stakeholders such as your sales team, your client services directors and maybe even your customers. They will have extremely valuable insights that will help you get under the skin of your prospective customer and quickly engage their pains in relation to your offering.

For a really compelling value proposition, make sure you consider these core aspects:

  1. Market – the specific group of customers you are targeting
  2. Value experience – benefits minus cost, as perceived by customer
  3. Offerings – the product/service mix you are selling
  4. Benefits – how your offering delivers clear value to your customer
  5. Alternatives and differentiation – how you are different from and better than the alternatives
  6. Proof – provide substantiated credibility and believability of your offering.

As your B2B telemarketing campaign progresses and you glean more information from the field, you must continually refine your proposition. And remember, keep the format and language simple and the tone real.

For more hints and tips, download our eBook: “The Definitive B2B Telemarketing Toolkit”.

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Congratulations! After careful thought and planning you have finalised a great B2B telemarketing lead generation campaign and your telemarketing team is ready to hit the phones any day now…but have you forgotten something?

How will you know if your campaign is actually working and that you aren’t just pouring all your lovely budget down the sink?  Whether you are using your in-house people or an external telemarketing company, it’s critical to your campaign success (and, I expect, to your personal success) that you have the confidence that your telemarketing team has a strong process in place to make sure that you know at any point in time whether your lead generation campaign is working. And you must do make sure of that BEFORE you kick off.

Lead generation – a definition

Firstly, what exactly is “lead generation” telemarketing?  A good lead generation process can be clearly defined from end-to-end and includes:

  • Contact acquisition
  • Account profiling
  • Lead qualification criteria
  • Agreed calls to action
  • Lead reporting
  • Measurement and analysis

Make sure you/your telemarketing agency have addressed each of these steps, that you understand the processes involved and know exactly what to expect and when.

Lead generation telemarketing – best practice

So now let’s look at what we mean by a good lead generation telemarketing campaign. In line with industry best practice, make sure that you/your agency have the following four crucial elements in hand.

A debug process – this should be set up to enable real-time campaign analysis and performance monitoring.

Red alerts – make sure you can identify potential problems and whether they are due to internal factors, which you can influence, or external factors such as data or market/competitor forces.

Effectiveness measurement – this is important when it comes to:

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of target contacts reached
  • Ease of contact
  • Extent to which prospects are within the agreed segmentation and TMS
  • Extent of prospects’ understanding of campaign messaging, as gauged during the call.

Next steps – possibly most importantly, make sure you can identify and qualify all relevant business opportunities, ready for further engagement.

If you follow these simple pointers, you should be confident at any given time of exactly how your lead generation telemarketing campaign is faring.

With your experience, how do you define a successful lead generation campaign? To make sure you’re getting the most out of your telemarketing service, take our free five-minute assessment.

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How you or your telemarketing agency treats your data can make or break a telemarketing campaign. Good data management creates the foundation of any successful campaign. If you haven’t got to know your data properly before you launch, or if you treat your data poorly, it could all get very messy, stressful and horribly expensive.

And as for a future? Well…

To help you, here is our Cassanova’s guide to data management for successful B2B telemarketing lead generation.

Your first date: pre-campaign audit and de-dupe

Your data sources are likely to be multiple and of varying quality. For example, you’ll source data from events, webinars, brokers, sales reps and your CRM system. So before you get going on any campaign, you need to perform a data audit and de-dupe, making sure you have an agreed format for your consolidated data.

Finding security: cover your assets

Data is critical to your success or failure as a business. Your data integrity is vulnerable in two key areas: data loss from unprotected systems and infrastructure disruption; and data theft by disgruntled employees leaving the organisation.

How do you avoid this?

  1. Make sure you review the security behind how you/your agency hold data, transmit data and protect data in the event of key staff departure.
    Make sure you’re clear on how your staff/telemarketing service manages data in CRM systems.
  2. If you require an agency to access your system, whether on premise or remotely, find out their experience, procedures and processes. For example, make sure your telemarketing agency can provided dedicated end points through a virtual private network (VPN).

Getting deep: stripping bare the heart of your data

The deeper you can delve into your data the better. Data sourced from companies such as D&B, Hoovers and Harte-Hanks are fairly superficial; they won’t help you when it comes to organisational structure, business units and those campaign crucial, deeper levels of segmentation. Nor will they be able to identify the increasingly obscure, emerging job roles.

Instead, what you want is additional data sources that will really spark up a B2B telemarketing campaign. You want not only to identify specific job roles, but also gain meaningful insight from your data. For example, how many servers does the business have, what are their license renewal dates and budget cycles.

If you take these steps in data management, you’ll have a good, solid start to your successful B2B lead generation telemarketing campaign.

Do you have any secrets to avoiding data heartbreak? What works for you?

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your telemarketing service, take our free five-minute assessment.

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IZEN are currently in the process of being accredited to ISO27001 (Certificate Number IS590769), the global industry best practise standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). The objective is to provide comfort to customers that all IZEN client data is managed securely. The Certificate is issued by the accreditation organisation BSI is based on a schedule of training courses, pre-audit assessments and a final audit completion date of June 2013.

Critical security processes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Protection against data theft by full or part time employees and contractors
  • Processes to protect against third party data corruption, accidental data loss or theft (such as forgetting laptops during travel, or stolen mobile devices holding data)
  • Documented data and information management security procedures and training programs

We believe that any agency responsible for handling customer data in any capacity should have such accreditation, so that client companies can have peace of mind that their nominated agencies are adhering to well documented and independently audited policies and procedures.

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