Friday, November 16, 2012

Lead Generation & You – Ways to Generate Leads

lead generation, business to business leads, lead generation companies
If you're a newbie marketer who's looking for some helpful information about how to perform lead generation to get results fast, then you've come to the wrong place! If you are looking for a quick fix, then this post is definitely not going to answer your prayers. Why? That's because lead generation is not something you can just do overnight and expect to have a full list of leads to work with the next morning (although maybe some have done it). Generating good leads takes time. If time is something you don't have, then you'd best be on your way in search of more information. If you can be patient however, keep reading.

While we're talking about patience, allow me to say that it is a key learning when it comes to lead generation. You cannot hope to be an effective lead generator if you can't learn to wait. So now that you've read thus far, and in a way have been waiting for us to get to those tips you are looking for, we'll finally get to talking about the different ways in which a newbie marketer like you (or maybe not a newbie but just browsing around) can do lead generation for business to business leads.

So now brace yourselves! Lead generation tips are coming (forgive the lame meme)!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Get Help From A Lead Generation Company

lead generation company, sales lead generation, business to business leads
Imagine a scenario in which your acquisition of new clients and finding of new prospects starts to slow down. Next, your sales pipelines seems to be becoming even less filled with leads to work with. After that, you start making only enough to keep your business afloat and then... business dries up. Sounds like some kind of business nightmare, right? Well, this can indeed happen to you if your attempts at lead generation are not going so well for you. In that case, maybe it's time to turn to the aid of a lead generation company.

Why hire a lead generation company? What's wrong with my own lead generation campaign? This may be just your train of thought when you start exploring the possibility of outsourcing to an outside provider. Nothing may be wrong with your lead generation campaign, however you cannot discount the possibility that you just do not know how to do sales lead generation.

Some people are quick to accept the fact they are just not capable enough or have the needed resources to perform effective lead generation. As such, these companies turn to the aid of third party providers. If they can do it, so can you. If you're still wondering what a professional lead generation company can do for you, then keep reading.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Appointment Setting Process And Its Ties To Productivity

You may have heard it before but this benefit of appointment setting is so important, it bears repeating. Your business will not last long if you ever have lesser and lesser work to do. And by work, it is not necessarily the stressful labor that many in the business world associate with the word.

As a matter of fact, stress will only result because your rate of productivity is highly unstable and worse, highly unsustainable.

Sales Leads – Another Form Of Business Fuel

Businesses require a lot of resources to keep running. They need money. They need time. They also need opportunities.

That last one is what your lead generation process is supposed to provide. Without opportunity, your production is wasted. And with wasted production, you end up wasting both money and time.

Granted, there are many attributes that need measuring in order to fully map-out how productive your leads are making you. The following lists some of the major ones so make sure to always keep them in check:

  • Lead quality – How informative are the leads? Do they have everything your salespeople need in order to deliver a successful appointment presentation? Never forget that a qualified lead is more than just a name and an email address. You want to save your salespeople the trouble of constantly asking the basics and getting straight to the bigger challenges that prospects might have.

  • Company resources – Money and time are not the only resources of your company has. Make sure that the leads you have generated are not done so at a rate that is too much beyond the capacity of your other business processes. This is not only a note for your marketers but also for your salespeople. Secondly, you should not also be expending so much on marketing itself (especially when it is not even the core of your business).

  • Cost evaluation – Make sure that you organize your costs properly. This is not just your accountant's responsibility. If you cannot check if your in-house lead generator is eating too much of your finances, you might as well outsource an appointment setting company to have a more definitive cost. And even then, make sure to remember that quality should still be maintained in order to further justify the decision.

When marketers (both within companies and in independent providers) clash with other parts of your business, that is a sign that your productivity is being compromised. The key to making it productive for you is to make sure that it does not demand more than it has to.

Once more, it is not just about generating leads nonstop or making sure that marketing does not eat up too many resources. It is about using that control to stabilize its place in your productivity. Your main objective should always be to generate sales leads that keep a stable amount of work flowing in!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Use Telemarketing To Help Forgetful Prospects

While poor memory can be quite unprofessional, some prospects cannot always help it. Therefore, you should try using direct tools like telemarketing to serve as reminders. It is not just simply limited to follow-ups or appointment reminders (though those count too). You should pay attention to the different ways a telemarketing can come in handy when a prospect makes forgetful mistakes.

Mistakes That Telemarketers Can Fix

  • Hastily filled contact forms - There are smaller and more subtle ways that a prospect's forgetfulness can compromise the sales process and it can happen at the very start of the sales process. In this case, it is your contact form. With many businesses (even telemarketers themselves) using websites to increase their exposure, there comes the increased use of online forms to obtain contact details from a prospect. On the other hand, some prospects can be so much in a rush that they only fill in the basic boxes while not giving so much as a greeting. As you are well ware, contact details are not the same as sales leads. Your lead generator will need more information to qualify (e.g. budget, business industry, appointment details). That is why a phone call makes for a quick follow-up. The best part is the conversation does not have to take too long. You are only reminding a prospect that they filled a form but have not said anything else. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about them, starting with how they would like to have an actual conversation in the future. 
Related Content: B2B Lead Generation Tips: Tip #7 – Combining Strategies 
  • Sudden lack of return calls – You know a prospect is interested. You could tell it from not just their voice but from the actual affirmation that they want to talk further. However, when a prospect fails to return a call, then it is clearly a sign that something must have taken up your slot in their memory. In that case, use your B2B telemarketing service to call back yourself and remind them. Also take note of what caused them to forget. It would be rather strange that they expressed so much interest only to stop calling for a while. Who knows? You might learn of a few more unexpected details that could be brought up during your actual appointment. 
Related Content: B2B Lead Generation – Traits That Need To Be Analyzed When Targeting Small Businesses
  • Forgotten appointment – When a prospect forgets to show up, it could be the worst case scenario for your telemarketers but it could also be the critical chance to keep it from happening again. The moment you hear about this complaint from salespeople, get your marketers to call that prospect as soon as possible. Find out if they really forgot and why. And since it has already happened, control the damage via rescheduling so that not everything will be a total waste. The advantage you have now is that you know a prospect is prone to forgetfulness so you can be sure to prioritize appointment reminders. 
Please remember though that prospects are only human. Avoid being rude and demanding when their forgetfulness has become a bit of a stumbling block to their qualification. They are still potential customers after all so you have to be considerate. There could be just as many valid reasons to forget as there are invalid ones. With that in mind, you yourself must not forget to only use professional, B2B telemarketers to remind them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Too Obsolete For Sales Leads? You Might As Well Outsource To Find Out

Obsolete. That is a powerful word to use against a business, if not an entire industry. Once you see that label placed, businesses start kissing their sales leads good-bye. Who would want a service or a product that nobody seems to need any more?

Use Telemarketing To Be Sure

Well if you are really going to think that way, you should at least see for yourself just to be sure. More specifically, why not hear it straight out of prospects' mouths? Do you really want to bank the future of your business all because you stumbled upon statistics that lambasted your industry?

If you really think it is time to pack your bags, you might as well finish up with something simple like outsourcing telemarketers to hear your prospect's final say. At the most, you might learn that you are giving up too soon and at the very least, you can tell yourself for certain that you put up one last fight.

The best part is outsourcing comes with a lot of perks that makes this plan all the more easy for you:

  • It is cheap: You do not have to worry about spending too much money or time just overseeing the whole thing yourself. If this is going to be your final marketing run, it might as well be easy on your pocket. And the more experienced the telemarketer, the faster you can get it over and done with minus the risk of undermining the quality of results. 
Related Content: B2B Appointment Setting: Why Should You Outsource? [INFOGRAPHICS]
  • Real results: The results you get are of your own making and are not simply on the word and deed of a third party. And even if some people might accuse you of picking your sample, you at least know that this sample still sees a lot of value in your business. On the flip-side, you have also harder evidence on why your industry could be facing obsolescence. That knowledge comes with its own power: finding something else to try. 
  • Giving effort to the very end: Sentimental as it may sound, it is better to have one last attempt to get as many B2B sales leads as possible than just simply sit there and let them go by. No matter how terrible the results may be, you manage to at least make a few more sales before throwing in the towel. 
Besides, it is not truly the end is it? While being rendered obsolete can be a crippling experience, it always teaches the same but powerful lesson: never give up. Sure, you might think that nobody needs what you have anymore but are you sure that you are not limiting yourself? Maybe it could be time to develop new ideas or simply switch to a different market. Try to expand your range of application and just create different approaches to more unique prospects.

Related Content: Wide Lead Generation Can Run Into Very Unique Prospects

Ultimately, just because you have been considered obsolete somehow is no excuse to just get on your knees and die quietly. You may have your back to the wall but the rest of your body can still move. Outsource to lead generation companies to find out if the game is really over or you have only just begun!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lead Generation Services – When And When Not To Give Your Own List

Outsourcing lead generation can be convenient if you want to focus more on what matters to your business. However, you have to be careful when it comes to choosing between giving them your own list or letting them use their own information.

The Quality Of Business Leads Depends On Quality Of Information

Do not assume that this about whether one party has less reliable data. In fact, you should always consider the possibility of both. Do not take too much pride in your own database and nor have too much confidence in your provider. It all boils down to an objective evaluation of who has the most appropriate information for B2B leads. As a matter of fact, even if you are both reputable parties, that does not rule the need to use contact data that fits well with the overall marketing strategy.

For example, if you are manning an email campaign, then your email addresses must be accurate by corresponding to matching online properties such as website and social media profiles. If you are running a telemarketing campaign, then utilize the information that has the reliable phone numbers and business addresses.

Related Content: Understanding B2B Telemarketing

To further elaborate, the following lists a few more specific scenarios and which one should call you to use your information or that of your clients.
  • Your target market is unfamiliar to your provider – There are times when you will limit yourself to a provider that does not know the market you are targeting. This does not automatically mean companies that lack industry expertise. Different niche markets can still exist even under the same umbrella. This only means that this is one situation where you need to provide the information. Do not forget that they still have the resources and manpower to get in touch. You just need to tell them who to get in touch (and if it helps, explain to them why and learn to take responsibility for responses not within their control). 
  • You are unfamiliar with your target market – This is the reverse of the previous situation. Suppose you want to try something new and that being a new market. New markets are naturally unexplored territory but that is the advantage if you let a lead generation company use their own information. Think of it as the business marketing version of hiring a forest guide. The best part is they hold more responsibility because this is their information this time and you have more right to hold them accountable. On the other hand, make sure you listen to them as well. They could offer valuable insight on the needs you need to discover. 
Related Content: Wide Lead Generation Can Run Into Very Unique Prospects
  • Information of one party is less up to date – The tricky thing about situations like this is that it can apply to one, the other, or both. At this point, no amount of expertise will suffice for obsolete information. The good news is that overcoming it is not as difficult. All you need to do is assign the task of mining data to the one who can do it best. If you think you know your targets better but lack the marketing muscle, then you provide it. If your prospect gives their word that they will update their database, why not give them a chance? 
Unlike the decision to outsource, you cannot always be immediate when it comes to choosing your information or theirs. Choose wisely before generating B2B sales leads.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Telemarketing And Promos Don't Always Mix

People think that telemarketing is all about promotion. That may be so but that is a little different from saying that every telemarketer comes to you with a promo. The image of a telemarketer coming to you flinging pitches alongside promised discounts with call-to-action isn't always accurate.

A Lead Generator Gets More Expensive With Promos

Promos are, in fact, a sort of gamble. Fortunately, unlike gambling, you are not leaving everything up to chance. It just so happens that there remains risks when it comes to, for example, cutting the costs of your products and services. The costs of lead generation can shoot up to frightening levels if such a promo is not properly controlled. This type of strategy is not even all that complicated. You lower your prices for a particular time in the hopes you can make up for the reduced payments in terms of more customers.

Taking such risks all the time however does sound a bit counterproductive to any telemarketing group that prides itself already in terms of low costs. And if they do not get enough customers, they might struggle with a lower return in terms of sales.

Promos Only Help The First Step Of The Sales Process

As you can see, one main purpose for promos is to attract more customers even from B2B markets (like if you're a wholesaler for example). On the other hand, is a high number of potential clients the be-all, end-all of your marketing strategy? Telemarketers will tell you otherwise. It is only the first step of the process. The other steps they need to consider are:

  • Qualifying these prospects – One downside to promos is that they might attract those who are only after the freebies and discounts. They may not be considering other factors like if a service or product would even result in real customer satisfaction. The same applies even if you are using outsourced telemarketing for your own business and not just telemarketing itself.

  • Considering long-term business relationships – Many B2B industries do not just depend on the closed deals of salespeople. They depend on long-term business relationships because that is when actual money and actual services/products start to exchange. It is also where the real challenges start to rise up in terms of customer satisfaction and handling complaints.

B2B telemarketers are not always focused on pure numbers and dedicate their tools to attracting many customers at the cost of their own company (and yours, to an extent). They can focus on quality over quantity as well and that is why they do not always mix with any strategy that is just about attracting hordes of customers at a cost. You can promote and draw attention to your business without necessarily declaring big discounts and pushy calls for hasty decisions.

As a matter of fact, you can see that the entire B2B sales process does not always mesh well with promos even though telemarketers themselves fit right in. It just goes to show that you're better off focusing their skills on your B2B sales leads instead of mixing them up with promo tactics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tell Your Telemarketing Agents About Your Social Media Activities

Just because your telemarketing provider does not come with additional social marketing resources does not mean they are unfamiliar with the subject. Furthermore, they are not ignorant of the possibility that some prospects can be found as the result of social media activity.

On the flip side though, you need to make sure your social marketing campaigns are supplemented with telemarketing and other channels to really drive your prospect deeper into the sales process. That's why if you outsourced it, you need to know how both forms connect.
  • Step 1 – Get information: This is where social media marketing comes first. The advantage of using social media is that you get to actively interact with both your prospects as well as others in the same business as yours. If it has become a powerful information tool for regular consumers, both B2B companies and their customers just amplify it further for information-dependent processes like appointment setting. You get to know about what your market wants and familiarize yourself with each individual prospect as well. There's also the simple benefit of people posting requests for B2B services and products. 
  • Step 2 – Use and share information: After getting the data, now would be the time to inform your telemarketers about who they are contacting. You do not just give them a number, an address, and several names. This is where you should let them know about previous social media interactions with your prospect. It helps them familiarize with your potential clients and can also prove useful when they start approaching them using their own tools and methods. 
  • Step 3 – Telling them what to say: Despite how your business has personally interacted with those on social networks, you are still leaving the actual calls to another party. Granted, there are good reasons to. You have to budget your own time for managing slots and actually working on projects with current customers. That's one benefit of outsourced telemarketing: more time to focus on what you actually do. Still, it is best to not leave them in the dark. Informing them about your social media discoveries comes with the responsibility of actually sharing proof that your prospects actually expressed a need. This will help your telemarketers get their foot in the door. 
This all goes back to the simple fact that outsourcing is a two-way street. You need to share some necessary information in order for them to deliver exactly the kind of leads you want. Another simple fact this also recalls is the need for adequate qualification. Responding to posts on social media can only get you so far. And for you all you know, you could even be responding to a prospect who's posting the request under a different alias.

Whether or not that is a good practice, it is still a reality. That is why close collaboration means more transparency and sharing enough information before marketing. You don't want them giving calls to your prospects completely without a clue. They may be cold calling experts but it's only common courtesy to make things less stressful and inform them of past interactions like social media activities.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Telemarketing To Similar Businesses – Similar Doesn't Always Mean The Same

Some businesses are hesitant to start telemarketing other businesses than seem to sound just like them (or even use the same form of marketing as them). It's bad enough that they have to contend with fears about cold calling and the ridicule often levied against call centers. The last thing they want is to market a product that a business itself is trying to provide.

Though like all fears, it's not always justified by reality. Just because a business sounds very similar doesn't automatically mean they're the same thing. For example:

  • VoIP and Telemarketing – Both types of companies can fall under telecommunication but while it might sound ironic to use B2B telemarketing to market to another telemarketing company, a VoIP provider is actually not the same. The difference can be easily missed but the fine line is there. VoIP provide a different service and product compared to telemarketers.

  • Medical Tools and Healthcare Services – While they're both concerned with the overall quality of health for patients, only one of them actually has direct focus on the patients themselves. These would be the healthcare services. Companies like those who provide medical tools actually focus on how to better those services. Simply put, their effect on patient health is more indirect.

There are probably more than a dozen other examples out there but the point is, similarities don't necessarily imply that two businesses are the exact same thing. So no matter how similar your prospect is to your business, you need to take the following steps to be sure:

  • What you provide: Just what is it do you actually provide and is it something that they themselves are already providing? If it's not, emphasize on that. No matter how basic it seems, highlight the one thing that they need and draw attention from what makes you similar. Again, it might seem awkward to use telemarketing to present your business to another telemarketing firm but draw focus on the actual thing being marketed. You could even be offering something completely unrelated to telecommunications (e.g. office cleaning services).

  • What makes you different: Speaking of which, you should have as much emphasis on the other things that make you different. The tricky thing about these differences is that they don't always reveal themselves at first glance. The key is still focus.Pour more focus on the other things that make you different asides from just what you provide. Demonstrate more advanced knowledge on subjects that are well-known to businesses like yours but aren't in businesses like theirs despite being under the same category.

In lead generation, you should always be prepared to look in every corner for a lead. Don't always assume that just because you or even any of the marketing tools you use make you similar to your target businesses, it means you're offering something they already have. While it's good to have some common ground with prospects, it's also important to draw attention on differences too. Those differences will highlight the things your prospects need. Don't be afraid to draw a fine line between what is similar and what is the same!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Telemarketing Could Be The Only Channel For Some Prospects

Despite how highly advanced our world seems to appear, there are times when you end up resorting to old ways like telemarketing. In fact, it won't even be you who'll consider the phone first when it comes to contacting another business.

There are just some businesses, through no real fault of their own, who end up getting cut off in ways that are a little beyond the comfort of this internet-driven society. Furthermore, these aren't people you should ever make fun of. No matter what their situation, a business is still a business and you should view them equally and objectively. You should even consider yourself lucky that they're still reachable via telemarketing and not some more ancient forms of communication. (Carrier pigeons anybody?)

Below are just some very valid reasons why the phone could be a business' only means of contact:
  • Less computer use – It's not like the entire world literally revolves around computers and the internet. Some industries still dabble in completely offline work activities that can keep them hours or even days from sitting in front of a computer. In some cases, the only time they will get in front of a PC is when the work day is done. It's also for this very trait that make certain types of small businesses difficult to market to. 
  • Not always in the best mood – Speaking of which, once the work day is done, they're not always in the best mood. Worse still, it's doubtful that even telemarketers can call them by then. You need a marketing tool that can get their interest when their minds are oriented on work but not necessarily disturb their job. 
  • Not enough time – Some decision makers are just too busy to read an email or browse a website, much less make a response to either. Time is ever of the essence in lead generation but that also includes the time of your prospects. A phone conversation can happen more quickly and, as demonstrated above, is more easily initiated when digital marketing cannot. 
  • Can't afford it – Some businesses don't even include any form of computer system simply because they can't afford it nor deem it a necessary tool for their kind of work. There are also businesses who use computers for strictly defined purposes that don't include internet surfing. Their phone however might be a lot less restricted if your telemarketers know how to talk to a gatekeeper. 
The best part is, just like online marketing, you can outsource the process to a telemarketing company. The lowered expenses should only give you more obligation to reach out to these prospects because:
  • They can be less informed – Despite their limited internet time, there is indeed more information being shared on the internet. A prospect that is often out of reach has lesser and lesser opportunities to stay well-informed. For example, if you're in the business of offering some form of management solution, your out-of-reach prospects could be those making age-old mistakes. Don't be sure that whatever they deem as a necessary source of information is reliable enough to inform them. 
  • They might even want your call – Some decision makers can be so cut off and feel so lost in their business that calls like yours could be an answer to their prayers. It's not like all of them want to stay uninformed. 
No matter how outdated it sounds, always focus on what works. It's still possible for telemarketing to remain the only channel for some prospects.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Maintaining Sales Leads Means Staying Focused On What Works

Don't be so easily tempted by every new marketing tool that comes around the corner. But more often than not, your sales leads are generated best when you stay focused on what works best for you and not always because of a new tool. If you're being intimidated by a promotional display of statistics and the fear being left out, then at least do some more careful research before you risk falling for hype.

And speaking of which, there's no doubt that hype tends to describe a lot of things that declare themselves new and revolutionary. This doesn't mean you should close off to change but you must always have an objective evaluation for any marketing approach (new or old). Being prone to going after what's new all the time comes with the following risks:

  • It requires you to start from scratch – For example, suppose you've been using telemarketing to communicate with prospects. Lately, you've been increasingly bombarded to use social media. Unfortunately, once you cave in, you find that social media requires a different strategy, different metrics for measuring success, and a different set of tools. Furthermore, your original strategy suffers because of neglect and decreased investment. Meanwhile, the total amount of sales leads that you're generating is an all-out low because of the combined failures of both.
  • It wastes resources – From the resulting failure, all the money and time you've poured into both becomes a major waste. Wouldn't it be better to have at least come up with a plan that properly manages the amount consumed by either? Yes, in business, there will always be a need for risks but that doesn't give you the license to take risks that you can't recover from!
  • It may not be what your market wants – Just blindly adopting a new kind of marketing approach is pointless if your target market still would have preferred you did things the old way. This is critical when targeting sales leads by industry because not all of them are buying into the marketing hype either. You won't always be alone when it comes to sticking to old forms of communication. On the other hand, it would be very rude (and ironic) to approach these businesses with the very same marketing tools that they reject!

Again, this doesn't mean you should close yourself off to change. It simply means that you need to maintain focus on what works. So far, if an old method is your golden goose, don't just kill it for the sake of trying something new! Instead, approach the latter with caution and focus on it only after you've gotten it to work for you. If a new marketing trend is purportedly killing all the old ones, then it should reflect on the results.

Having the best sales leads should always come first in B2B marketing. It shouldn't instantly suffer for what comes second, being the methods you use. Now, in case a method does start doing well, integrate it slowly. Gradually adjust the amount you invest in correspondence to that success. Better yet, if it can be used to improve the old techniques instead of eliminating them, then push on with that! No matter what, keep focusing only on what works.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inbound Sales Leads Still Need Qualification

Businesses who prefer an inbound marketing strategy for sales leads are usually the cautious type. They don't want to use overly direct means for fear of being labeled disruptive, intrusive, and just plain pushy. Many inbound marketing advocates feel the same way (which is why they're ready to back up this attitude with very convincing statistics, research, as well as personal experience).

However, it can still logically follow that inbound sales leads still need to be qualified. Attracting them purely through their interactions with your website or even on your social media page will not be good enough reason to appoint them to a sales representative right away. Here are two reasons why:

  • People still doubt online information – Not all business owners are quick to believe what's on the internet. In fact, some business owners can be quite critical of what businesses promise online. If they can't find anything else to verify what's being said on your website, then they won't move any further in the sales process. 
  • Online information from clients can also be unreliable – The information you receive via website contact forms or sent through social media isn't always what it appears. Anybody can write a message on the internet, send it, and claim it so long as they have access to the account. Why do you think many businesses (perhaps even your own) are being extra careful with whom they share online contact information? You might need more than a name, an email address, and a few words expressing interest before you can fully qualify a prospect.

There's a reason why the qualification process is one of the longest phases in lead generation. It's the stage where you engage a prospect even further, identify their needs, as well as verify the shared information for both sides. And despite what critics say, telemarketing is still one of the most commonly used forms of verification. You can replicate a typed message but you can't replicate a live person's voice nor the discussion you can have with that person. Below are just some of the ways that inbound marketing channels can use B2B telemarketing to qualify their sales leads:

  • Email – Inbound leads generated via email come from positive responses to a well-aimed email blast. But again, these responses could be made by anyone. Using a phone call to follow-up assures you that you are indeed communicating with the sender. 
  • Social media – Chatting on social media after an extended period might seem like an alternative to talking over the phone. However, remember that one of the biggest criticisms against social media is that it still allows a considerable level of anonymity. You do not want that anonymity being a cause for doubt among either your salespeople or your prospects. Direct the latter to give your business a call and don't neglect the things being discussed through social media to show that they're still talking to the same company. 
  • Website – Put a CTA in your website that encourage interested prospects to call. This helps convince your salespeople that the prospects are real and at the same time, lets skeptical prospects know that you're real as well. However, that's just the ideal. There are factors that still leave much room for skilled and honest communication so don't forget those!

Sometimes you'll find that it's not even enough to combine telemarketing with just one of those channels. Multi-channel marketing approaches are seeing increasing favor because more businesses (even small ones) are asking more transparency and information just to be convinced. Qualify your inbound sales leads with telemarketing today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Combine Telemarketing And Awareness To Quickly Identify Demand

appointment setter, b2b leads, business lead, lead generation company, targeted sales leads, telemarketingThe energy industry is an industry that covers different forms, applies different sciences, and caters to different markets. Despite that, there are common, unifying, but sad traits that are faced by everyone in the industry: cost and scarcity. Awareness of these, however, can actually help things improve if combined with precision lead generation techniques like telemarketing.

For one thing, awareness of problems will help you get a general idea of how your entire market (which includes both current clients and prospective ones) is behaving towards your industry. Meanwhile, targeted telemarketing can react to this behavior and further confirm any demands as well acquire more specific information about individual businesses. Consider it a gradual descent from general information to more specific details of their needs and preferences.

Now, here are some of the following problems and perceptions people have about energy and power companies:
  • Expenses – Factors such as the rising cost of fuel, the expensive research for cheaper alternatives, and even just the maintenance of current sources are just a fraction of the cost-related issues people have with this industry.
  • Scarcity – Speaking of which, these costs are popularly believed to be the result of scarcity. And in fact, this can be true in some cases. If you find these cases to be though, it's constantly brought up in various political and economic discussions on the issue of energy resources.
  • Inconvenience – Aside from major issues like costs and scarcity, you have minor issues like inconvenient power outages. Consumers aren't the only ones you should be worried about. A more painful backlash could come from business owners who find such outages damaging to their businesses.
Any of these could be a cause for concern for your market. The key is to first be aware of the large picture before narrowing down to different individual businesses. A few ways to maintain awareness include:
  • News and current events – These issues are more than just a business' concern. It's everyone's concern from the politicians to the homeowners. Because of that, these issues usually make the news. Pay attention to any changes in prices and try and predict reactions from your market. Use outbound telemarketing to engage your customers and prospects to see if your predictions prove to be accurate.
  • Event hosting/participation – Given the urgency of the issue, hosting or attending related events is not a bad idea. It gives you exposure and a large venue to exchange information on important issues. Inbound telemarketing services can be used to receive additional inquiries while outbound calls can send personal invitations to your customers.
  • Surveys – Surveys can be done in numerous ways with more varying measures of size and scope. Regardless, it's another good way to generate feedback and understand what the market is thinking. Inbound telemarketing can also be used to receive additional input should participants have something more to say.
Once you've obtained the information and awareness of basic problems, you can then market your efforts to fulfill these demands and analyze the traits of those who makes them the most. This could mean a change in marketing messages or even an entirely new solution for sales to offer when pursuing targeted sales leads. Identifying demand is one of the first steps of marketing after all. Combine the power of general information and that of well-aimed marketing efforts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Is Telemarketing Dead With The Rest Of Marketing In General?

Bill Lee of the HBR Blog Network caused quite a stir recently after publishing an entry that declared the death of traditional marketing as it is making way for a new paradigm that's customer-centric and more highly controlled by social influence. So, does this mean it applies to telemarketing as well?

Well while many in the comments are finding the article insightful, the same can also be said of the discussions among them. Some of the noteworthy ones come from those who find Lee's definition of marketing 'narrow' as opposed to the definition covering a wide array of practices (which, ironically, include the alternatives that Lee himself is advocating). So just what is it that Lee is advocating as a sort of 'replacement' for marketing? Will it truly 'kill' marketing (and telemarketing with it)?

Restore community marketing. Used properly, social media is accelerating a trend in which buyers can increasingly approximate the experience of buying in their local, physical communities.”

It goes further on and says that social media is the medium of which businesses can start replicating the community that markets for the company instead of themselves. That might sound ideal for marketing to consumers but what about B2B? Are decision makers really the types to rely solely on peer-review? Are they just going to instantly be influenced by the words they'll read on a forum or social-networking site?

Find your customer influencers. Many firms spend lots of resources pursuing outside influencers who've gained following on the Web and through social media. A better approach is to find and cultivate customer influencers and give them something great to talk about.”

Sure, find customer influencers. Just one question: How do you plan on contacting them? They're still customers too you know, and in B2B, a customer with that high amount of influence is going to have a very well-guarded communication line (from email to telephone) and is also not likely to be influenced by just peer-reviews.

Help them build social capital. Practitioners of this new, community-oriented marketing are also rethinking their customer value proposition for such MVP (or "Customer Champion" or "Rockstar") customer advocates and influencers.”

Making it easier for your advocates to influence in the world of B2B might still warrant an appointment setter or at least a flexible, multi-channeled means of communicating for exchanging information. Sharing data that backs up their sphere of influence is good but wouldn't it better if you showed them how to properly use and understand that information?

Get your customer advocates involved in the solution you provide. Perhaps the most spectacular example of this comes from the non-profit world... Using the techniques for building a community of peer influence, Florida solved it. They sought influential teen "customers" such as student leaders, athletes, and "cool kids," who weren't smoking or who wanted to quit — and instead of pushing a message at them, they asked for the students' help and input.”

If you try and make a B2B version out of this, it sounds suspiciously like getting customer feedback and the only significant difference is that it's limited to strong customer influencers. That still doesn't rule out the need for communication (the kind of which telemarketing can provide for inbound customer input).

In short, he might have a point about relying more on customer communities for marketing. It compliments the rising demand for customer freedom. Still, his proposed model requires a form of communication between the key influencers of that community and the companies themselves. Social media may not be enough for that kind of communication.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Be Careful With Contact Data When Outsourcing B2B Telemarketing

You might think that outsourced B2B telemarketing services can save you the hassle of directly managing the process for generating targeted sales leads. However, that doesn't mean people still won't find a way to hold you responsible. Guilt by association may be a logical fallacy but if there's a direct connection between you and a telemarketer of ill-repute, then that won't be the case. In some way, you still played a part in whatever offense they committed.

Fortunately for you, excellent telemarketing is neither blind nor deaf to the demands of responsibility. One the greatest and gravest of such responsibility is the handling of customer data.

There are two ways that telemarketers acquire their data:
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  • Self-acquired – Their contact database is the result of their long years in the business. It's the compilation of many call campaigns, qualified leads, and even customer surveys.
  • Client-Provided – Some clients approach them with readied contact lists and hand it over to  telemarketers to manage and qualify as targeted sales leads.

Regardless of how it's done, information like that is sensitive. It won't just contain phone numbers but it could also include physical and email addresses, their company websites, and the names of the decision makers. Whether you rely on them to obtain that information on their own or provide it to them, you should keep that sensitivity in mind. There are many dangers out there that threaten the value and quality of that information. Your outsourced telemarketer must be ready to assure you of security and is capable of taking countermeasures.

Here are just some of the things that can jeopardize business contact information:

  • Lack of Back-Ups – Luckily this danger is the easiest to avoid. It's also the most basic. Many things can cause the loss of data whether it's something as sinister as a virus or something as natural as physical damage to the infrastructure. In any case, backing up your data is just as good an idea in business as it is when you're maintaining your own PC.
  • Lack of Updates – This too is another basic requirement but what's interesting about this danger is that it also tests the quality of the telemarketing service. Information gained from lead generation should provide accurate insight based on up-to-date information on a prospect company. It should also tell you in what stage they are in the whole sales process and how fast they are being qualified. A lack of updates can indicate laziness and an unreliable lead generator.
  • Outside Threats – In this category, you will find the dreaded hackers and viruses that will always remain a threat to anything digital. Anybody who reads online tech news will always encounter a report about password leaks, security breaches in even major web companies, and the growing notoriety of the so-called internet 'hack-tivism'. These threats should merit standards of security that you need to hold every telemarketer.

Now remember, if you hand over data to a telemarketing firm (or any other kind of marketing company for that matter), you can tell how much they've invested when they have a credible reputation for data security. You can never be too paranoid about competitors so you can't be too paranoid about the safety of your prospect data either. Storing, maintaining, and protecting that information is a great responsibility that every lead generator should be willing to bear.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learned Helplessness And Telemarketing Services

Last month, Ron Ashkneas of the HBR Blog Network published an entry that spoke about 'learned helplessness'. This was the result of his encounter with a colleague who was dealing with a company that felt too restrained by government regulations. For telemarketing services, that's a feeling that many in the industry are far too familiar with.

Ask yourself honestly. How many times have you heard or read about the DNC (or some other form of regulation from telecommunication watchdogs) whenever the subject of telemarketing gets brought up? If you've had plenty encounter with critics, it's likely that these are raised up to prove that the industry is dead. So, what about organizations who have long depended on telemarketing services to generate their B2B leads?

In several cases, they would feel just like the companies being described by Ashkenas. They get afraid to act about it because the government might send the FBI after them or something. Interestingly enough, while he admits that the fears have some basis, he points out that such basis may not be 100% factual:

Of course all of these explanations are at least partially true. However, around these kernels of truth, managers build concentric circles of excuses that absolve them of accountability for change or improvement. So instead of finding creative ways to deal with regulations or budget cuts, they accept the status quo and blame external conditions for the problems that exist.”

If you think this applies to telemarketing, you'd be right. For example, while DNC registers generally do forbid telemarketers from calling the numbers that have been registered, businesses are generally ineligible for such protection. The cases of exception tend to be very specific and limited only to small businesses where phones are used both for domestic and business purposes. You think a telemarketing firmthat's all about delivering quality sales leads would neglect to notice such a glaring detail? If telemarketing was completely dead, then these lists would've been configured to register businesses bigger than your local night club.

The truth though is they don't, plain and simple.

Despite that, the fears continue to circulate and businesses and telemarketing companies remain intimidated by the very scary threats to sue. The blog cited describes this sort of behavior as 'learned helplessness' where initially factual fears blow out of proportion and become excuses that cripple an entire business organization.

Frankly, if you're going to be paranoid, you're better off beingparanoid about your competitors and the quality of your targetedsales leads instead of the regulations surrounding telemarketing. The key to answering this behavior, as pointed out in the blog, is having the courage to challenge these fears.

For starters, clean up your contact data so that it doesn't contain any DNC-registered numbers. In the case that someone still threatens to sue even if you do, politely challenge that threat by investigating the claim. For all you know, you might just be facing a gatekeeper's bluff. What's amusing is that even your average telemarketing firm has already covered these basics. If you're planning on outsourcing the best (or already have), then why continue to worry? Don't be intimidated by exaggerated fears and keep learned helplessness to a minimum!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You Can't Be Too Paranoid About Pre-Qualified Sales Leads

Sometimes when a sales team lays out their specifications for pre-qualified sales leads, some lead generators might think them a bit too paranoid. There might think that there are too many specifications. The channels they demand to be utilized could be beyond available resources (imagine requesting the use of direct mail while you've only barely mastered email marketing). Well, speaking of paranoid, Sarah Lucy of PandoDaily said something similar about Facebook's CEO:

This is in part the genius of Facebook: It has never become too complacent. Mark Zuckerberg is a classic wartime CEO, even though it may appear he’s long since won this war. He is clearly intensely paranoid, perhaps the most paranoid CEO we’ve seen since the legendary Andy Grove. He might as well have a $60 gillion valuation. He operates the company as if it could crumble at any moment. And that’s why, to date, no social network has come close to toppling it.”

The rest of the opinion article just goes on to say how Zuckerberg's alleged paranoia is what keeps the company standing. However, perhaps there's a point to the man's constant 'overreaction.' This same point can also be applied to marketing (and hence, lead generation). Below you will find two areas where this so-called paranoia is necessary for pre-qualified sales leads.

  • Competitors – Like Zuckerberg, it pays to be a little paranoid about what your competitors would do. They're everywhere! And when it comes to B2B marketing, you never know if a potential lead will be approached by them. This is why you need to keep nurturing your leads until they're ready to take the next step (like if they're ready to set an appointment or take a sales call). You also never know when competitors might overtake you so keep an eye on what they may be doing. As it says in the title of Lucy's article: copy-cat tendencies are a sign of strength.
  • Prospects – You can't be too paranoid about prospects either! However, you should know by now that 'paranoid' here simply means you can never know enough about them. Learn about their preferred channel for communication. Identify their needs and use that knowledge to bring them further along the sales process. Knowledge is power after all. The more information you have on your B2B leads, the higher the chances you'll have at a successful sale. You can never bee too sure about a prospect.

Still, perhaps 'paranoid' may not really be the best word to use when describing the above behavior. Perhaps a better one would be: vigilance. It's all about keeping an eye on all things and being prepared to time your reactions.

When it comes to competitors, you need to acknowledge their constant presence. Be open to the possibility that they might overtake you. Be open to using what they're using in the event that they do.

For prospects, be vigilant about their qualification. Don't just send the leads to sales right away. Learn as much about them, their business, and their needs as possible so you'll have the best chances to succeed in the sales attempt. If this qualifies your business as paranoid, then so be it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Modern Marketing Misconceptions Your Appointment Setter Must Avoid

About a month ago, the Harvard Business Review published a three part series that dealt with modern misconceptions among marketing professionals today.

But first, just what is being meant by 'modern'? It's modern because these misconceptions are not only relatively new, they're new because they're spawned from a new idea that originally was very ideal. At the same time, this ideal actually brought very positive results. The misconceptions however are the result of acting upon that ideal in the wrong way.

So what is this ideal? It's simply a strong focus on the consumer and less upon the business. It's the sort of marketing approach that is actually emphasized by channels like social media. Nobody wants a pushy salesman who doesn't care about what customers think. Everyone loves the salesman who kowtows to their demands for information and freedom of choice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Benefits of a Telemarketing Call Center

In business, it's all about the money at certain times. You'll probably spend your days watching your profit in comparison to your expenses. When your profit margin isn't enough to cover your expenses, you've got trouble. And what usually gets businesses down is because they spend too much on their marketing strategies. However, using an outbound call center could possibly lower your expenses; especially when it comes to generating quality credit card processing sales leads.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Importance of Lead Nurturing

Have you ever answered a call and got a message like this?

“Hi, this is ----, we are currently in the neighborhood and we do free estimates on getting your living room repainted from top to bottom. How does 10am on next Tuesday sound?”

If you ever got a message like that on the phone, I'm sure you won't continue the conversation any further and just hang up the phone; or if you ever continue, I'm sure you would get so frustrated at the telesales agent and complain a lot before hanging up the phone.

What b2b lead generation and appointment setting firms focus more and more each day is that they should nurture their leads. This is because lead nurturing can help improve leads to be converted into loyal company customers over time. When a business would nurture their leads with the right kind of lead management tools and training, sales revenue can increase significantly by around 10% or even more. Not only can lead nurturing increase the sales for your company or business organization but it can also help build a trusted relationship with those leads.

With the wrong kind of nurturing, leads and customers alike would feel being trapped into a corner by hardcore salesmen. These salesmen would ask questions that can be so intrusive to their potential customers that it can get so frustrating just listening to them. Prospects need to be taken care of and should be treated with the right kind of respect. Always remember that if you want respect, you should be the person to give it first.

Now, let's tweak that same message a bit and let's see the difference.

“Good day, this is ---- Are you in need of repainting your living room so that it would be the envy of all your friends? If so, we might be able to help you in your time of need. We are a group of experts who paint living rooms and have extensive knowledge on how to turn your living room into the best living room that can be seen in your neighborhood. We can also do free estimates for you to help you decide on which design would be perfect for your living room. When would be the best time to contact you again to set the appointment date?”

This time, the person selling you the service is more polite and knows how to respect their potential client. The main difference here is the level of respect and the questions that they ask. On the second message, the question to make the appointed date was neither intrusive nor rude. Instead, it gave you as their potential client the freedom and flexibility to choose which would be the most appropriate date for your living room to be repainted. The key here is that they are not trying to sell you the service, instead they are there to provide you with insights and solutions within the realm of their expertise.

Customers have the right to choose whether or not to purchase a particular product or service. You don't have to be coerced into buying what you don't really need.

When a business nurtures its leads, they can already be seen as experts and professionals in what they do. The build-up of trust would then be converted from a possibility to a reality when the right kind of nurturing is involved. With this kind of sales technique, both the salesperson and the client alike can both feel good about themselves. For the salesperson they feel good about what they offer and for the client, they feel good about what they have purchased.