As with everything else in this wonderfully varied universe of ours, not all telemarketing campaigns taste the same. They all have their own distinctive flavours and textures. It’s tempting to think that starting a campaign simply involves reading about a product and then calling people to talk to them about it. Alas, it’s rarely that simple. Despite their many variations, most campaigns have some shared pitfalls and problems.
Tim Newman, Telemarketing Specialist
The Telemarketing Company
Below are 7 beefs you are bound to come across when setting up and running a telemarketing campaign:
1) Data Dilemma
As the old saying goes “the devil is in the data”. Although that isn’t actually an old saying, it certainly is true.
Whether you are a client trying to select the right data for a campaign, the Account Manager scouring the data for cherries to pick or the telemarketer calling through it for lead generation purposes, data is king.
Sadly, data starts getting old as soon as it’s collected, and the fresher it is, the better for all. It’s also vital that the data contains the sort of companies that might be interested in the product or service we are offering. That sounds like a no-brainer but a pre-screen can save oodles of time in the long run. There’s no point calling to offer kettles to a kettle manufacturer, for instance. And, to dispel another telemarketing myth, although we are highly skilled at what we do, we would still struggle to sell ice to an Eskimo.
Excuse me whilst I get Biblical for a second. Using bad data is akin to the foolish man who built his house on the sand. If your data is squishy and unstable, the structure you attempt to build will sink into the ground as soon as the sales tide comes rushing in. But, if the data you select is as solid as a rock, the marketing palace you build will be sturdy and resilient. Apologies for that dire metaphor.
2) Finding That USP
Although ‘USP’ (Unique Selling Point) is a pretty salesy term, it will never lose its power. In a bustling market place you need to have something that your prospective clients can hang their hats on. Finding a USP that is truly unique can be pretty tricky though.
For instance, a great number of companies are proud of their customer service, and rightly so. The problem is that conveying that over the phone is quite difficult, it’s a “soft” skill that is almost impossible to prove. It’s also far from “unique", I doubt there’s a company on earth that doesn’t say its customer service is tip-top.
You need to find out whether the product is the only, the biggest, the oldest, newest, fastest, simplest or most cost effective in the market place.
Most companies have a USP hidden away somewhere, it’s just that not all companies have figured it out yet.
3) Selecting The Right Caller For The Campaign
Telemarketers come in all flavours. At The Telemarketing Company we have people aged 19 to 70. We have telemarketers who left school at 16 and we have others that are educated to degree level and beyond.
This is a good thing, it means we’re highly likely to have the right person for any telemarketing campaign we’re asked to handle.
Not every caller is comfortable with every type of calling, so in depth knowledge of your telemarketer’s individual niches is essential.
Some of our guys will forge fearlessly into desktop virtualisation or complex accounting tools but fall limp to the floor at the thought of a less complex campaign.
Conversely some telemarketers recoil in horror at the mere sight of a technology based campaign, but take like a duck to water in an equally complicated but less technology focused push.
Everyone’s different, thankfully.
4) Client Contact
Once a fledgling telemarketing campaign has left the nest and is swooping majestically over prospective customers, we still can’t afford to take the foot off the gas.
A client, who has paid good money for us to call people on their behalf, will want to know how things are going. Fair enough. Keeping in touch via a 15 hour review and weekly reports might be enough for some clients, but everyone has their preferences and it is our job to work that out quickly.
Some clients want us to get on with the job, email them to share lead generation successes and only let them know how we are faring if things go majorly well / wrong. On the other hand, some clients want twice daily phone calls and constant updates with minutia. Either way is fine with us, we just need to find the groove as quickly as possible so that we don’t either pester our client to distraction or leave them shivering in the cold.
5) Staying Positive
When a telemarketing campaign begins it generally takes a bit of time to warm up. Even the most carefully selected data will have the occasional invalid entries, TPS registered numbers and companies that have recently ceased trading. The most desirable companies have to be found, emails sent to the right people and decision making contacts tracked down.
If you are trying to talk to the people who hold the purse strings (or at least have access to them), they are guaranteed to be busy folk. You are unlikely to catch them on your first call.
All of this cleansing and hunting takes time, it can become pretty frustrating spending hours with what seems like very little to show. In reality the data is getting fresher and the net is closing in, but for the people on the phones it can feel like a slow waltz in the blistering desert of results.
It is therefore vital to remain chipper when things appear dry. The truth is, you never know when you will reach your first decision maker of the day, so each call needs to be as positive as the last.
6) Defining Success
As discussed in a previous blog post, a lead is not necessarily a lead. It is vital that before the callers get cracking on the phones, everyone is clear on where the target is and what shape it is.
Some clients might be looking for face to face appointments at the prospective customer’s site. Others may want a scheduled call; others still might classify a webinar as their chosen outcome. All are equally doable, we just need to know which one to shoot for.
Two cleaning companies might come to us, both wanting to set appointments with companies in the South East of England. At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking the campaigns were pretty much identical. However, one of the companies wants to target smaller businesses and the other wants to go for large corporate clients. So the end point is the same – booking appointments, but the way we hunt them down and book them is going to be entirely different.
There are numerous frameworks within telemarketing which can be useful to assess success, like BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) but everyone has their own preference. No framework can ever suit all needs.
Once you’ve decided what success is going to look like for the client, you can also think about the added bonuses you might be able to generate. Things like up to date and accurate email addresses for correct contacts are of obvious value. Also, information about a prospective company’s buying cycles and their current product range can be almost as useful as the appointments we are setting.
In the same way that communication has to be tailored to the client’s needs and wants, reporting must also be timely and useful.
A whole host of information comes out of a telemarketing campaign, sometimes a great deal more than the client expects (or needs). It is vital that we find the pertinent data points for the individual needs of the client.
Some of the information gathered is not always instantly recognisable as useful, and some explanation might be needed. Information like number of calls made and the number of appointments are immediately of interest. But, if you scratch deeper, there can be a wealth of information that may come as a surprise.
Sometimes the information gathered from “no interest” calls can be almost as useful as the successful calls. We capture not only the reason why the business isn’t interested, but also when they might be interested in the future.
These nuggets of information should be explained to the client so that the full value of their campaign becomes obvious and so they can take advantage of new insight and data when planning lead generation exercises in the future.
These, of course, are not the only 7 challenges one faces when designing, running and completing a telemarketing campaign.
But they are certainly notable and impossible to avoid...