Working for the lead generation industry, we receive a lot of questions about how telemarketing has remained relevant in an age dominated by blogs, social media, search engine optimization and advertising, content syndication, and a multitude of other digital platforms. We also get our fair share of displeased looks when we tell our peers about the industry we work in. In a nutshell, the general consensus towards telemarketing is that it’s out-dated, easily outperformed by newer marketing methods, and is generally frowned upon no thanks the public’s experience being on either side of the line. To some, even just the first four letters of the word are enough to irk them.
Full disclosure: ThinkLogic PTE Ltd. is a lead generation company specializing in digitally-assisted, interest-based telemarketing in Southeast Asia. We help both clients and prospects grow by giving special emphasis not just on either party’s ROI, but also the potential for improving business processes and enabling scalability.
The short answer to the questions we get is simple: telemarketing works. It works better than most people are led to believe. And, if done right, the experience can be outright rewarding.
The long answer is that in the B2B world, telemarketing remains necessary. Even in situations where it isn’t, it serves as the perfect complement to whatever inbound or outbound lead generation efforts are currently in place.
A note on digital marketing
The increasingly-accessible internet ushered in a new era of digital marketing. More powerful computing devices, an overabundance of free, easily navigable information, and online services for every conceivable need has shifted the roles of most buyers from passive receivers of marketing materials, to active seekers of solutions for their specific needs. MarketingSherpa’s 2007 study quantifies this observation through a survey where they found that the ratio of proactive versus reactive buyers were as high as 4:1.
And thus, the surge in inbound marketing efforts across all industries. Vying for the public’s attention for their products and services, companies invest heavily on building a strong online presence. Corporate blogs and public knowledge bases, search engine optimization, search engine advertising, and social media are just a few of the tools and platforms businesses utilize to cast a wide audience net and maximize their corporate visibility.
Each of our individual everyday experiences with the Internet are testament enough of digital marketing’s power to capture and influence audiences. When we look something up on search engines, we find what we’re looking for – and more. Put simply, digital marketing platforms generate awareness – especially in the B2C market – on a scale that’s hard to equal.
Telemarketing as the missing puzzle piece
Generating awareness is one thing, and getting those who heard to convert an entirely different matter. Whichever digital platform one chooses, one is still left to guess the intents of the gathered pool of brand-aware leads. True, lead scoring does help in quantitatively measuring the propensity of a prospect to convert, but there is ultimately no going around digital’s limitations.
No matter how far digital marketing has progressed, it still doesn’t allow marketers to do one simple, yet vital thing: listen to their prospects, gain insights, and understand how their solutions can leave a positive impact to their prospects business processes.
It is for this reason that telemarketing still lives on strong today. It may not bring in the volume digital marketing rakes in, but it plays a role that is laser-focused to getting a targeted group of prospects to convert. Think of it as a smaller, but less leaky funnel under one big, but very leaky digital marketing funnel.
While one could argue that losses could be mitigated by bringing in more volume, there are situations that more volume simply isn’t the solution.
For one, certain markets have very low email and ad display penetration rates. Two, certain industries, on top of strict company and IT policies, have limited access to the web – thus limiting visibility to outbound marketing efforts. And three, the right point person within a specific organization may only be contacted through offline means.
In situations where digital marketing does penetrate, telemarketing still does equal wonders as a complement to existing lead generation strategies as much as it does on its own. It still is, and will always be, the most effective method for warming up existing leads in a cost-effective manner.
As we have discussed before in a previous post, telemarketing today is nearly indistinguishable from the telemarketing of the past. For example, our modern interest-based methodology here at ThinkLogic revolves around building our database in-house from the ground up, pre-qualifying contacts and sorting them according to their interests, and integrating emails into our calling process. This effectively addresses the issue of cold-calling – because we know who we are directing our calls to – as well as giving the medium many of digital marketing’s tricks or integrating with it.
Perhaps the biggest change we have made to how we do telemarketing is the way we qualify our prospects. Our qualification criteria are dynamic, ever changing to suit each client’s requirements, and completely doing away with BANT-style questions.
Instead of solely targeting authoritative figures in an organization and straight up asking whether they have the budget planned for a specific solution, we opt to have deep conversations filled with open-ended questions to pick up on challenges and pain points along the way. This not only humanizes the lead generation process, but also identifies needs often even before prospects realize them. Further, this also allows our clients’ sales teams to position themselves effectively as they know exactly how their products can improve their prospects’ business processes.
The medium continues to thrive because it is cost-effective, highly measurable, and infinitely adaptable to every possible requirement – within reason, of course. Put simply, if a campaign requires the warmest possible marketing qualified leads at low acquisition costs, then there is no better replacement to a real conversation with a prospect over the phone.
Being in this industry for over a decade, we’ve worked with a multitude of clients as well as the prospects we have introduced and connected them to. From assisting companies to gain a stronger foothold on a specific market, to helping humanitarian causes generate more funding, all of our campaigns had their own nuances and each required an approach unique only to that need.
And it wouldn’t have been possible to adapt to each need without having a real, human conversation at the heart of the lead generation process.