Connected conversations: how smarter calling delivers greater ROI

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Marketers have invested heavily in digital in recent years – but isn’t it time the rich insight generated filtered through to the people manning the phones and live chat?

The potential for improving customer experience, conversion rates and ROI is enormous – and easier to achieve than you might think.

We have so much technological power at our disposal, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the personal touch in marketing. But business buyers will always value the opportunity to talk or chat directly to another human being. Even with the most sophisticated predictive models, it’s impossible to know if someone is actually ready to buy until you pick up the phone and speak with them.

This begs an obvious question. What if we could blend the two together? What if we could use digital technology to enhance the experience and effectiveness of human interaction? What if we could use all the data we generate and capture to make each successive conversation more personal and persuasive? There must be a way…

There is a way. And there are two pieces of good news.

It’s not going to require another quantum leap in technology investment, and it’s possible to begin testing and learning almost straightaway.

More connected conversations

You need to get the right information in front of your business development teams – when they’re preparing for an outbound call or in the moment they respond to an inbound inquiry. Whether they’re talking on the phone or typing away on live chat, they need to know as much as possible about who they’re talking to and the best course of action to take: which questions to ask, what content to provide, which incentive or promotion to mention, and what additional data to gather.

We’ve given some thought to what information an advanced caller interface could display (the answer is not a CRM system), how it could help reps gather more insight, and had some fun imagining how it might look. Take a look at our Fantasy User Interface (FUI).

Having the right knowledge to hand can dramatically enhance both the efficiency and effectiveness of a rep. At a time when many marketers are struggling to justify their investment in marketing technology, they have the opportunity to increase the return from their calling teams in a number of ways:

Better targeting

Using smart analysts, lead scoring or advanced analytics to identify the database segments most likely to engage and convert instead of just calling down a cold list will not only make reps more efficient. They will be able to engage the prospect in a more meaningful way too, because they will have guidance on their likely needs and the best way to address them.

Better nurturing

One of the most common complaints buyers make is that vendors are not ‘joined up’. If they speak to two different people a month apart, learnings from the first conversation are rarely applied to the second. A considered, systematic approach to data capture can ensure every interaction – whether it takes place online, over the phone, or face to face – builds on the last and moves the conversation forward.

Better feedback

The rich, qualitative data gathered from calls can be used to adapt or refine messaging and content to meet previously unidentified (or under-estimated) needs. Captured in a structured way, data can be used to support highly targeted digital activity. And the web team can benefit from immediate feedback on the website experience through live chat.

More intelligent operations

Let’s look at what needs to be done in order to digitally-integrate and data-enable a business development team…

Do you have the data?

The simple answer is yes. You have mountains of it, and you generate more every day. But it is almost certainly siloed, unstructured – and depressingly, much is thrown away shortly after it’s gathered because there’s no way to retain it. This is not about a one-off data consolidation exercise but a process of discovering where essential information currently lies, transforming it into a usable format, and making it available where it’s most needed.

Do you have the platforms in place?

The good news is that it is possible to dramatically improve the performance of the business development function without a major investment in more technology. An advanced user interface would be ideal, but in the meantime it’s possible to ‘Flintstone’ the process to provide and capture the necessary insight by more manual means to build a business case for further investment.

Do you have the people?

Almost certainly. The skills required in the business development team of the future are no different to those we need today. With algorithms, analytics and even artificial intelligence in place to filter and make sense of data, reps can spend less time researching and interpreting and more time interacting. But to really change behavior, they also need to be given the incentive to gather and capture the information to enrich our picture of what’s happening in an account.

Do you have the process?

This is more of a challenge. Campaigns need to be planned collaboratively from the outset, with target segments clearly defined, and a rigorous methodology applied to testing, measuring, and learning from new techniques and tactics. The discipline of experiment design – creating hypotheses, establishing controls, data analysis – needs to be embraced and applied.

Do you have the mindset?

The biggest obstacle is one of attitude – and this costs nothing to fix. Senior sales and marketing decision makers with the authority to bring it all together need to view the business development team as an intrinsic part of an omni-channel, dynamic, agile marketing operation – not the end-point of a linear process. Years of ingrained, siloed behaviors need to be overcome.

Do you want to have more connected conversations, powered by more intelligent operations? The truth is you probably have most of the building blocks in place already. You don’t have to go out and buy it; you just need to get people to believe in it, then work with a partner like MarketOne to help you get there faster.