Telemarketing has been an effective and efficient marketing technique for decades. Even with massive shifts in customer behaviour thanks largely to the rise of the social media networks, telemarketing has continued to be a mainstay within the marketing armoury of all businesses in the B2B space. Indeed, telemarketing has proven its worth time and again as a channel where long and lucrative commercial relationships are forged and maintained.
B2B marketing is a complex process that requires the use of multiple sales channels. Enterprises within the B2B space now leverage a number of sales channels that work in parallel to deliver the high-value sales that are typical in this space. Telemarketing has not been overshadowed by the development of omni-channel marketing, but has proven its value as an essential point of contact that all B2B enterprises continue to benefit from.
Telemarketing across the B2C and B2B spaces has remained a vital channel that continues to hold its own alongside email, mobile marketing, social media and organic search.
Indeed, research from the DMA’s Contact Centre1 and Telemarketing Council concluded last year that telesales is used by over 80 per cent of B2B marketers to generate leads, with 68 per cent using the phone to nurture those leads over the long term. More than half of consumers prefer to speak to a person when making purchasing decisions, with 71 per cent of customers stating they don’t trust any company that does not allow them to speak to a person.
Digital marketing technologies have delivered a 360-degree view of a customer. Marketing automation (MA) has also been able to highlight potential sales leads that telemarketers can pursue. With customers coming into the B2B sales funnel at many different stages – according to the CEB2 B2B buyers don’t engage with sales representatives until they are near 60 per cent through the purchase tunnel – telemarketing can be the differentiator for a business looking to move buyers towards purchasing decisions.
THE RISE OF MULTICHANNEL MARKETING
Gone are the days where B2B buyers used one sales channel that was easily managed, quantified and analysed. Today B2B buyers have become multichannel consumers, using a number of touch points when locating vendors and making their purchasing choices.
Business today is online, with every B2B organisation maintaining its digital presence, which their buyers are increasingly demanding. According to Forrester Research3 ‘Building The B2B Omni-Channel Commerce Platform Of The Future’ three-quarters of B2B buyers look up product or service information online, but also expect this information to be consistent across all channels, with two-thirds of B2B companies stating that they see a rise in customer satisfaction and over half stating that omni-channel customers have higher lifetime value.
Forrester concluded: “B2B buyers’ expectations have shifted. Expectations for work-related purchases have been driven for several years by the simplicity and efficiency of online consumer sites that compete along the lines of price, various fulfilment capabilities, and transparency of content and information. So, in essence, B2C customer experiences are driving B2B buyers to expect the same level of omni-channel service from their suppliers for work-related purchases.”
What role, then, does telemarketing play in an age of omni-channel marketing? Telemarketing brings to the table not simply another channel to maintain, but a tangible communications platform that B2B buyers will welcome.
B2B companies must embrace digital marketing, and expand their traditional sales channels to encompass the omni-channel approach to marketing, but all this activity is underpinned by relationship building. Telemarketing has shown time and again to be a master at this art.
Successful marketing in today’s B2B space means integration. As we have already seen, B2B buyers are increasingly adopting a multichannel approach to their vendor selection, and using a multichannel approach to communications. For B2B companies, placing their telemarketing within the context of the omni-channel is a commercial imperative.
The customer journey to purchase is now more complex and fragmented than at any other time. This is a clear challenge to B2B companies that have had to manage complex purchase decision-making processes across their organisations. B2B marketing in 2015 is clearly multifaceted, but for all the digitalisation and socialisation of marketing channels, personalisation has always been at the foundation of these relationships.
A robust telemarketing platform that takes the best of the digital channels and funnels this into personalised communications is proving to be highly successful for B2B companies that make the investment in telemarketing strategies.
For B2B marketers, the rise of multichannel marketing means:
- Further integration of all sales channels to deliver consistent sales messages.
- An understanding that B2B buyers are also B2C purchasers and have had their propensities to buy influenced by the omni-channel.
- B2B buyers now enter the sales funnel at various stages, with marketers needing to manage these relationships.
- Multiple touchpoints across a B2B company are now expected.
- More personalisation is expected with marketing communications. Telemarketing holds the key to long-term buyer value.
- In ‘2015 State of Marketing,’ Salesforce Marketing Cloud4 concludes: “While 25 per cent of marketers in 2014 saw social as a critical enabler of products and services, that number leaps to 64 per cent in this year’s research. Sixty-six per cent of marketers agree that social media marketing is core to their business. In 2015, nearly twice as many marketers categorise social as a primary revenue source versus 2014.”
How B2B companies support this trend is with more personal communications. A proven channel to achieve this goal is telemarketing. Supported by analytics and data, all B2B companies can leverage the power that the telemarketing channel offers.
HOW TO GET MULTICHANNEL MARKETING RIGHT
Developing and then maintaining a multichannel approach to B2B marketing, and placing telemarketing at its core will require a number of key steps to be taken:
1. Define multichannel marketing
It is important to clearly define what multichannel marketing means, as this will differ across sectors within the B2B space. For B2B companies, viewing their service through the eyes of their customers will enable them to identify which marketing channels should support their particular multichannel approach, and where telemarketing is best used to support these channels.
2. Communicate with buyers
The multichannel will mean ensuring a presence is maintained across the digital space, but B2B companies should pay close attention to the actual channels their buyers are using. It is a mistake to believe that one-size-fits-all when considering multichannel marketing.
3. Assess behaviours
Segmenting a customer base is a tried-and-tested method of increasing sales levels. The B2B buying funnel is complex, and has been made even more so with the advent of digital channels. Segmenting an audience will always reap commercial rewards, even more so when identifying candidates for telemarketing campaigns.
4. Make it personal
Using email, direct sales, social media and inbound content marketing are all valid, but what every B2B buyer is looking for is a reason to commit to a particular vendor. Here telemarketing has proven its value as the most effective means of making those all-important personal connections.
5. Integrate marketing campaigns
All B2B buyers are also B2C purchasers. As such they have already been exposed to multichannel marketing, which will influence their B2B buying activity. All B2B companies must maintain multiple touchpoints with their buyers, as single channel sales are now rare.
In ‘CMO: Time for digital transformation,’ Accenture Interactive5 advises marketers: “Set your sights on an enterprise-wide digital ecosystem and the role of marketing within it. Aim to create multichannel, personalised experiences for each customer across the brand. Don’t wait for all the technology to be ready. Select a few channels now, offer more than one experience and begin to test and learn. Then review the data and shift your tactics and technology if necessary. The key is to start now, collaborate across the business and keep at it.”
Telemarketing in the context of multichannel sales is about understanding how telemarketing can be a powerful weapon to begin conversations, but also one of the most effective methods to maintain a dialogue throughout a complex sales funnel. Make no mistake; in a multichannel-dominated commercial environment telemarketing is the key to sustained long-term high-value sales.
TELEMARKETING: THE KEY TO UNLOCKING VALUE
As we have seen, B2B marketing has rapidly evolved using new digital channels to make lasting connections with buyers. Telemarketing is also proving to enable B2B companies to expand and diversify their use of other sales channels. Today, telemarketing is a core influencer of every other marketing channel B2B companies are using.
B2B companies understand how to leverage their telemarketing activity. Reaching high value prospects at the right time has been a core skill of the telemarketer for decades.
However, in an age of big data and social media, telemarketers are now using the insights digital channels can offer to radically improve their response rates and deepen their commercial relationships with existing buyers – and more importantly – increase their success rate when reaching potential new customers.
Until relatively recently, B2B marketing data was siloed with little integration or interrogation beyond basic buyer profiling. With digital channels, advanced analytics and the 360-degree view they deliver of potential buyers, telemarketing is having a massive impact on how B2B companies are developing their digital channels to support their telemarketing campaigns.
The potency of telemarketing is undeniable, as it has proven its value for decades. Today leveraging the digital channels available to all B2B companies allows them to supercharge their telemarketing activities.
Telemarketing can unlock value across other marketing channels by:
- Delivering the personal communications channel lacking in some forms of digital marketing.
- Becoming a differentiator with B2B buyers who are increasingly looking for long-term commercial partnerships based on trust.
- Leveraging investments made in new digital marketing analytics.
- Reinforcing relationships initially made across social media.
- Increasing the success of cold calling with masses of data about a potential buyer.
- B2B companies are realising the investments they are making in digital marketing channels are infinitely more effective when these investments lead to further integration of all their marketing efforts. Here telemarketing is a core investment, as personalisation is proving to be a massive differentiator with B2B buyers often overwhelmed with digital marketing messages from a plethora of vendors.
HOW TO GET TELEMARKETING RIGHT
The B2B marketing landscape has changed out of all recognition, but one element that has remained constant is the need to make personal long-term relationships with commercial partners. Unlike in the B2C space where telemarketing has been seen as somewhat of a scourge, offering little more than nuisance calls, in the B2B environment telemarketing is an accepted norm.
Over the last few years the attention of B2B companies has shifted somewhat towards digital channels. However, a refocusing on telemarketing requires a number of steps:
1. Telemarketing is the perfect opportunity for lead nurturing. Build regular contact with existing and potential new buyers into a contact schedule.
2. Before any calls are made, interrogate the buyer data collected from other channels. Social media is an ideal candidate as a source of this information.
3. A multichannel approach to marketing will always be more effective than a single channel approach. Integrate telemarketing into all marketing campaigns.
4. Playing the long game is where telemarketing comes into its own. Be prepared to nurture a potential buyer for long periods of time.
5. Make every conversation relevant. B2B buyers expect to receive sales calls, but they will only react positively if the content of these calls is relevant to them.
6. The human connection that telemarketing delivers is its core benefit. Telemarketing delivers lasting relationships.
Forrester3 concluded: “Become intimate with the business buyer. B2B companies must respond to the demands of buyers for robust and sophisticated B2C-like shopping journeys. They must deliver personalised omni-channel experiences that are tailored to procurement and non-procurement buyers and across multiple language, currency, payment, and fulfilment options.”
Telemarketing has a value right across every business. Getting telemarketing right means understanding its unique features and, more importantly today, how this tried and tested channel can be enhanced by digital channels; and how telemarketing itself can influence their development across your business.
CASE STUDY Q&A: THE CONSULTANCY COMPANY
With extensive ‘hands on’ and senior management experience, its deep technical knowledge and expertise enables business and management consultancy The Consultancy Company to deliver sustainable results quickly and efficiently. Here, we speak to Tim Richardson, principal consultant at The Consultancy Company, about his experiences with telemarketing and the multichannel.
In an age of social media and digital marketing, why has The Consultancy Company continued continued to use telemarketing?
“For us telemarketing simply works. As we work at senior level, the quality of the leads that The Telemarketing Company generates for us are excellent. We have a very close empathy with The Telemarketing Company, which we see as an extension of our own business.”
How does telemarketing integrate with your other marketing activities?
“We do think that other sales channels, or at least other channels to connect with potential clients, are valid – social media being the obvious channel to point to here – but we find that telemarketing has given us consistently high value leads over the years. What we have found is that we are in the relationship business. When it comes to consultancy services, people buy people, so we are fully aware that channels like LinkedIn are important, but so is the personal connection we gain through telemarketing.”
What does telemarketing deliver to your business?
“We find that telemarketing is a fantastic way to generate quality leads over a relatively short time. We will often work with The Telemarketing Company for a few weeks, and out of that will come several meetings that we know will lead, in many cases, to a purchase of our services. We simply don’t see that level of connection using other channels.”
Does telemarketing continue to have a value in today’s social media dominated business landscape?
“Very much so. Our experience of social media is that it builds good relationships, but on the evidence to date we are struggling to convert these into commercial conversations which ultimately lead to revenue. We started using telemarketing over 10 years ago and to me it seems just as effective now at generating good numbers of quality meetings. Perhaps this might change as the current generation of senior managers who don’t instinctively use social media are gradually replaced by people who are very comfortable with newer technologies. Even then social media seems to be more effective in sustaining and deepening relationships once personal contact has been made through telemarketing and subsequent meetings. At the moment I cannot see what is going to change that will cease to make telemarketing effective.”
What do you think the future of telemarketing looks like?
“For me when I think about telemarketing I always think ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Working with a company like The Telemarketing Company that gets our business and understands the power that telemarketing offers as a lead generator means the future of telemarketing is bright.”
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