It is a common misconception in the B2B industry that telemarketing is limited to activities near the bottom of the sales funnel – implying its limitation for use only on the final stages of the buying process, or to generating hot leads effectively. And that anything upwards of that would simply be “unwanted cold calling,” especially in this era of digital and inbound marketing.
As we have shown to our clients throughout the years with high leads-to-conversions rates, this is nowhere near the truth. Though, this isn’t immediately apparent to them, to the leads that we have generated, or to the outside world.
And therein lies the art in our process. We will discuss this in more detail shortly, but first it is important to explore the different buyer profiles across buying stages to understand how telemarketing should fit into their journey.
The following are some stages in the customer journey and the approaches telemarketing takes to lead customers down the funnel:
1. Complete Strangers
Nearly all B2B prospects in this stage has been acquired, in one way or another, by inbound marketing techniques. Web, content, and SEO drive most of the traffic, with display and pay-per-click advertising targeting users based on keywords, profiles, and intent according to the search phrases used.
Put simply, the overall goal for inbound marketing in this phase is to capture prospect information for further retargeting, remarketing, and nurturing.
Prospects may be closer to a purchase than the captured list of leads tend to present. Telemarketers can easily be deployed to follow up on responses to forms and qualify them as leads, or to yield for further nurturing. Telemarketing also shows its importance at this stage because, as they say, first impressions last. Follow-up calls at the right moment with the right message shows prospects that what they have to say matters to the company, as well as empowers them to make purchase decisions based on their specific issues and pain points.
Telemarketing in driving awareness through smart profiling:
Internal work culture can vary wildly between countries and companies. Some persons of authority find the idea of online activity during work hours as beneficial in the grand scheme of things, seeing as how the internet holds an unlimited volume of information that helps everyone keep up with the pace at which the world changes. Others, however, simply see it as a distraction from their duties.
Wherever you stand on the issue, it is a certainty that many prospects simply cannot be reached through online methods alone.
A combination of smart profiling techniques and a succinct telemarketing script is central to generating awareness on markets difficult to penetrate with inbound marketing. ThinkLogic’s own methodology – its interest-based approach – makes smart use of data by pre-qualifying our contacts at the database acquisition phase, so we know exactly who to approach come a solution that needs marketing.
2. Subscribers and Leads
Acquainted visitors consume content, are aware of the company in question, and are often subscribed to promotional emails.
During this stage, prospects are encouraged to take a specific course of action. Dial in to webinars, attend a nearby convention or seminar, or request for product demos and trials, among other similar nurturing techniques. These actions, when taken, allow marketers to gain more information from their prospects as well as to score them for warmness and propensity to convert.
This is one of the best opportunities for telemarketers to begin determining the prospects’ interests and intents.
Remember: “interests” are the desires of the prospects to remedy an existing organizational process, while intents are the “interests” prospects have already looked to implementing soon.
Distinguishing between both is straightforward through telemarketing. This is especially true when telemarketers place a special emphasis on having genuine, human conversations with their prospects. Human conversations are achieved by simply making prospects comfortable – accent, approach, choice of words, ways around several cultural intricacies, you name it. Once this is realized, prospects feel more open to discuss their needs and pain points instead of them having the impression that they are used solely for data collection.
Towards the conclusion of the phone call, it should be clear which prospects need more nurturing, and which ones are closer to a purchase decision – the latter being easily approachable by the sales team given the insights that helped them formulate their pitch.
Opportunities are prospects that are already scored, and their interests discovered. With a little bit more hands-on nurturing, opportunities can be led quicker and further through the sales funnel.
Opportunities are usually further nurtured through a mix of inbound and outbound techniques. Calls to action are modified to ascertain decision making power, budget, and time frame. Often, the modifications are straightforward and manifest themselves through lengthier content walls and more personal emails.
One can immediately see the drawback in this approach: the prospects’ declining willingness to accomplish a form the longer and more “sensitive” the data being asked for becomes.
The issue is less about the data being requested from the prospect, but rather the limited trust they are willing to give to an online for – an online form that can only do so much to reaffirm that the data they submit will end up in safe hands. True, many websites manage to earn that trust. But the reality is that innumerable visitors (prospects) are averse to filling in more forms given the internet’s infamy to be easy to trip email subscription mines.
We have previously discussed and emphasized how BANT-style qualification can often be flawed when taken as is and on its own. In a nutshell, our articles about BANT talk about it being an effective measure of one’s propensity to buy, but it is severely limiting in terms of reach and can leave out prospects from organizations with internal culture intricacies.
Of importance – one that cannot be ignored is the complete focus on key decision makers alone with little reservations. On paper this makes perfect sense: key decision makers, those with the responsibility and power to sign the dotted lines, should be prioritized. But to limit opportunities only to those decision makers, especially in this day and age where shared information and collaboration reign supreme, would mean…well…missed opportunities.
According to a 2016 study conducted by TechTarget, IT management and staff have significant influencing power towards solutions purchasing. 85% of these respondents consider themselves to be influencers to their senior IT’s decisions. Naturally, only 19% of Senior IT management consider themselves to be influencers, but 71% – not a full 100% – does the decision making.
There is clearly a tight synergy between each level in the IT department, one that is probably more pronounced here than elsewhere. This also suggests that typical filters can and will create many missed opportunities.
Determining whether an IT personnel has strong influencing and recommending power, then, doesn’t stop at job titles alone. To score them, one must determine their functions, roles, and specific responsibilities and how they fit into their company’s big picture.
And, as you may have guessed, this is where telemarketing’s strongest suites shine.
Nothing simply comes close to having a real, human conversation with your prospects. Like how acquainted visitors are assessed according to their issues and pain points, opportunities can be qualified further by carefully listening in to how their pain points related or affect the opportunity himself.
Sure, everyone can consider themselves a recommender, but our experience in the field has shown us one thing: that one’s affinity for their roles and functions, regardless of their title, have strong implications toward a company to lean on to a sale. This affinity can only be reliably evaluated through real, human interaction.
Through a combination of data and smart profiling techniques, telemarketing has shown over the years that not only does its challenge the many notions against it as a medium, it also presents itself as a completely viable and effective full-funnel marketing solution.
Furthermore, when understood completely and strategized, telemarketing can bring great results when used to complement other forms of inbound and outbound lead generation techniques, or on its own.