In Part I of the series we discussed how client involvement is critical to the success of any campaign. In this chapter we look at the other side of the coin, in other words, how campaigns can be derailed by a lack of client engagement.
The first interaction that a client has with the calling team is during the brief. This is the client’s chance to really convey the essence of their company, their values and brand; what makes their offering unique and distinct and why a prospect should listen. It also gives the team an opportunity to hear direct from the client their expectations and to absorb the necessary product knowledge.
A poor brief
A poorly conceived or structured brief can give a campaign a false start, so client input at this early stage is critical. The brief is paramount, it provides the callers with the ammunition needed to successfully communicate the proposition and handle objections raised. If the client fails to grab this valuable opportunity it must be considered a shot in the foot.
The brief establishes the client’s wants and needs for the upcoming campaign, what, exactly, do they want? Telemarketing campaigns are as varied as the products we promote.
The calling team needs to know whether they are setting telephone appointments or face to face appointments. Are there any geographical restrictions? What level of decision maker are they looking for? If these parameters are not clear between all involved, appointments get made for the wrong people and the calling team can become frustrated. And, even more importantly, the client’s investment is wasted generating leads or appointments they can do nothing with, whilst also sapping the sales team’s time.
Our brief template aims to capture all the key elements we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Too frequently, we receive incomplete or poorly communicated briefs, which are then often discarded in the face to face briefing as new or stronger messages come out in conversation. While we expect there to be a refinement of understanding on our part through the face to face briefing, if what’s discussed and agreed in the meeting differs distinctly to what is captured in the brief, it puts the callers at an immediate disadvantage and will inevitably delay the start of the campaign. Perhaps one of the most common offences is when clients provide only a smattering of information in the brief and refer us to standard datasheets. Rarely are these campaigns a success.
Aside from completeness, clarity is vital. Clients have been known to ram the brief full with a myriad of messages covering too many angles or industry jargon that simply will not resonate over the phone, or expect us to have deep sector specific knowledge. While we do boast considerable experience across a number of sectors, we would never position ourselves as experts in any one sector.
The client can easily forget that they live and breathe their products and proposition, particularly in the early stages of a campaign it simply won’t be possible for us to have the same intrinsic knowledge. It is important that the client doesn't assume anything and presents benefits that are relevant to this specific target audience and their pain points, not generic feature lists or product sheets. This is a mistake often made and causes a knowledge gap that can only slowly be backfilled.
It might sound surprising, but sometimes clients who have engaged us for a lead generation campaign, do not assign sufficient time or resource to follow up the leads and appointments that they are paying us to create; this results in the leads we have generated going stale and the investment is lost.
Appointments cancelled or postponed by the client can also occur. As you can imagine, this interrupts momentum and can be damaging to the client reputation with the prospect.
Another time-related problem we encounter can occur with time-sensitive campaigns, such as events. We can not be expected to fill an auditorium with five days notice. We’re good, but we’re not miracle workers.
Clients expect us to be able to manage a telemarketing campaign on their behalf; that is what they are paying for. But, to make it as successful and cost-effective as possible, we thrive on client input.
Assigning a point of contact for your campaign is extremely important, but all too often the contact assigned does not have sufficient time or multiple decision makers are involved; this can be confusing and result in inconsistent feedback and incredibly muddy waters.
Clear, consistent direction is essential. For example, if leads and appointments are coming in too quickly, we need to know. We can be as flexible as the client needs; calling can be paused rather than the sales team running themselves ragged or leads going cold.
Right from the start we must establish clear criteria for what defines a successful outcome. Some clients have been known to send back leads that they deem invalid, despite them meeting all of the criteria that they set out in the brief. This, of course, leaves us confused as to what a successful outcome should look like; and the calling team can become demotivated.
We always provide call recordings as a matter of course. This is a major insight into the campaign and you would imagine that clients might jump on these as a matter of urgency. Amazingly, this is not always the case. Sometimes we don’t receive feedback on the calls at all.
Listening to calls allows clients to provide genuine critique and not devoting time to this activity is to miss a huge opportunity. The client knows their product, audience and sector better than anyone else. If we are not meeting expectations it is better to know sooner rather than later so that our compasses can be realigned.
Beyond the calls, feedback on the quality of leads or appointments supplied is always encouraged but not necessarily received. Once the sales team have followed up with leads generated, feedback is more than welcome, it’s vital. Additional information gathered at the appointment can be rich pickings to inform future calls.
Measurement and Reporting
It’s easy to postpone reading that ‘reporting’ email. To promise to devote time to reading it later, but later never comes and soon it is pages down your inbox, resigned to the same fate as the previous week’s and the week before that. In fact the weekly campaign reports carry a wealth of information, from the number of decision makers contacted per hour to the total number of calls and the average length of the calls. Clients don’t always take the time to look into these and take advantage of the insight they provide.
The more consistent and constructive the feedback we get about our calling, or any other facet of the campaign, the quicker we can hone the offering and meet expectations.
Poor Supporting documentation or Data
Another aspect of a campaign that requires client input is the marketing collateral; an area where clients sadly do not always invest their time.
There is a natural limit to the depth of information that can be transmitted in a single phone conversation. By arming the telemarketers with some high quality supporting documentation the message is bolstered.
Similarly, poor quality data supplied by a client will hamper success. If the data doesn’t match the target audience, or contain valid or up-to-date phone numbers, no amount of calling will produce the right outcomes. By the same token, many companies will be TPS registered, this means it is illegal for us to call them, and no, we won’t circumvent the law for a client either, I’m afraid.
As established in the examples we looked at in Part I, an involved client is so often the key to a successful and cost-effective campaign. As with everything else in life, you get out what you put in, partnership and communication is key to making a campaign work.
Getting the groundwork right is important, but communication needs to continue as the campaign progresses, providing a solid foundation for continuous improvement and longer term success.