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The Telemarketing Pipeline - Value beyond Leads and Appointments

Clients come to us, generally, because they want to generate leads. That makes sense, that’s what we’re good at. Often, the client will have in mind a set number of appointments that they would like us to generate. Of course, at the heart of what we do sits the client’s wishes, so we set the campaign out with their targets very much in mind.

Tim Newman, Telemarketing Specialist

However, whilst the priority may be lead generation or appointment setting, clients often don’t appreciate the many dimensions of the telemarketing pipeline and the weight of parallel insight and value that a campaign can provide, alongside appointments generated. The typical view of a pipeline with a linear progression of a prospect from start to end of the process does not marry well with the reality of the telemarketing pipeline. With a telemarketing pipeline, in fact, there are multiple outputs at each stage of the pipeline, in addition to any leads or appointments produced.

In an ideal world, our first phone call would be answered by the person who makes the decisions and we would simply book them in. In general it’s a much longer slog. First, we have to track down the right contact name, which can take a good few calls as we hit voicemails and get directed to incorrect departments.

Next, there’s the matter of sidestepping the gatekeeper. Finally, once we have hit the right individual, it might be another 1-3 calls discussing the product and sending out information, and then another few days wait for them to digest the information before we start attempting to recall them for a decision.

As an average, from the first call to an appointment, it takes between 7 and 14 call attempts. If we call a company every other day, that means an average appointment will take 2-4 weeks. So, the process naturally takes time, it is rarely a case of picking up the telephone and dialing straight through to the person in charge.

This does not mean that the initial time before the results appear is a waste, quite the reverse. Along the way, a telemarketing campaign adds a great deal of additional value, above and beyond the eagerly awaited appointments.

Buffing the Data

When we first receive a set of data, there is a fair amount of romancing that needs to go on before any lead generation can begin. At the gritty end of the stick, some data might include wrong numbers, incorrect emails or companies that have closed down or moved.

The first call through the data set often involves cleansing these errant data points and updating records. Although this stage is unlikely to generate appointments, it does mean that the data you receive at the end of the campaign is 100% up to date.

The nature of data means that as soon as it is published or collected it is aging, people move, companies disappear, but with the data we return to you, you know the contacts are spot on if you wish to follow up or conduct another campaign at a later date.

The second “phase” of calling, albeit again not linear but in parallel, once the company’s numbers and addresses are up to scratch, is the hunt for the correct decision maker. Generally, the client will have a level of decision maker they would like to engage with, or a particular job title. The first call into the company will be focused on establishing the correct decision maker and then chasing them until they answer their phones.

Along the way, right from the get go, we will be collecting relevant emails and, where possible, people’s direct dials. These details are useful for us in our pursuit of results, but, going forward, they will be just as useful to the client for following up in future marketing drives.

Collecting Knowledge

When a client comes to us, they have their product or service ready to pitch, they know their sector and they know what sort of information will prick up the ears of their potential customers. At least, they hope they do.

Once we start calling into their chosen sectors and speaking to the level of relevant decision maker that they desire, that story can often change. Once our telemarketers are engaging with these contacts and discussing the offering, there will be a continuous feed of new insight and intelligence.

At the thin end of the wedge, our conversations might reveal that the client’s take on things was on the money, the pain points discussed are, indeed, the prospect’s bug bears. This reinforces their sales and marketing strategy and gives them assurance that they are on the right track.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have run campaigns where our conversations with prospects have turned up vital information. This can be anything from the possibility of legislative change, which may be governing prospect behaviour, to a change in market conditions causing companies to hold their purse strips tightly for a given timeframe. Subtle details can only be gleaned from hundreds of conversations with the people in the know, and that’s what we do.

As an example, one of our clients - Zehnder Clean Air Solutions - asked us to promote their products to a broad mix of sectors including logistics, engineering and manufacturing. Using our bespoke platform, we tested small pots of data in a number of different sectors. From this suck-it-and-see approach, we found that a sub-sector: fabrication/welding, outperformed all others in terms of lead generation. From then on, we could focus our attack and the floodgates opened.

Using a similar approach of dipping into sectors we are able to test the water in a methodical fashion; we can observe how different sectors respond to the message and tweak it accordingly, allowing us to present tailored pitches aimed directly at the heart of each decision maker’s concerns.

A good example of how this approach worked well is InsightBee, a company who offer bespoke business analysis. This company initially asked us to focus our calling on IT/Telecoms, we carried out testing with those decision makers, but also cast our nets a little wider. In the end, it was a completely different area of business where we made our results.

In this way, even if no results were generated at all, we have provided additional value, a new perspective, a new target to aim at, in short, insight.

The Voice of the Customer

On top of the data cleanse, the hundreds of conversations and the methodical approach to wading through the data, we offer still more benefits than the appointments. Arguably the most useful of this collateral is the call recordings.

Every single call we make from and receive to our building is recorded and saved. Calls are routinely sent back to our clients so that they critique and help us hone and enhance the message. Additionally, these calls can throw up surprises for the client, they are effectively listening in on the conversations of their chosen demographic, often for the first time; the decision makers’ pain points, information about competitors, sector specific details are all unearthed in a playable format.

As an example, Step Exhibitions who have used us for multiple campaigns promoting their events, re-defined their criteria for geographical targeting after reviewing and considering feedback from call recordings.

Of course, clients know their product, sector and customers very well indeed, but our methodical approach and sheer depth of penetration will always uncover nuggets of fresh information and insight. The huge number of conversations a team of telemarketers can make over the course of a campaign cannot fail to bring some new facet of the story to light.

Awareness Building

Another extra level of value is in regards to building awareness. Humans are constantly bombarded with advertising and marketing, from the moment they leave the house to the moment they turn off the TV at night. Many of us have become advert-blind. This is where telemarketing can make a real difference.

Email campaigns can hit thousands of people in an instant, but how many people even open those direct mails, let alone read and absorb them. A conversation, however, is much more difficult to forget, by its very nature, it is more personal. Even if the call isn’t successful, because of our well-trained, professional calling team, they have a much higher likelihood of remembering the product.

Also, an email received a moment after the call has ended, addressed directly to the correct person, using their personal email address is likely to have a much greater impact than one of the other hundred emails they received that same day.

Not all calls produce a lead or appointment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t contribute to the sales pipeline. If a decision maker says “no” it is not always a “NO!” sometimes, it is a “not now.” That information in itself is highly useful. On those types of calls, our telemarketers will capture all relevant information, including, vitally, the date at which the company is likely to be interested.

If this date falls after the telemarketing campaign has finished, the client has a warm bit of data with the appropriate time to contact the client in the future. We regularly collect this information meaning that successes can still be generated long after the calling has ended.

Perhaps even more importantly, the prospect sometimes tells us exactly why they aren’t interested. Perhaps they are looking for a bigger, smaller, slightly different package from the one on offer. This information will be returned to the client so that if a bigger, smaller or slightly different package ever becomes available, they can be contacted directly with a much higher chance of being interested; perhaps the information can be fed back as an input for future product development.

So, as we’ve seen, although leads and appointments are our priority and focus, there is a lot of additional work that goes on in the background. Much of this extra legwork can be just as vital to the success of the campaign as the results we make.

Telemarketing is much more than simply telemarketing.

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