Here’s our approach to telemarketing our telemarketing services: the companies we target, the buyers we try to reach, the pains we probe for and the objections we encounter – and do our best to overcome.
We publish content fairly regularly, we maintain a social presence, we run paid search ads, send emails to our database and telequalify scored leads – all that good stuff. But despite our best efforts, we don’t always reach and engage all the accounts we want to work with. So sometimes we need to do outbound calling programs to fill a pipeline gap. Sound familiar?
Any outbound effort starts with building the best possible account list for a distinct segment. We’re typically trying to reach companies that meet these criteria:
- At least $500m in revenue and/or over 5,000 employees (although for certain sectors, like SaaS we’ll often start lower) – we find these companies have a higher propensity to outsource
- Operating in sectors where we have experience and proven success: traditionally enterprise software and hardware, telecoms, advanced manufacturing, pharma and business information services
- Selling a product or solution with an annual contract value of $50,000 or more – this makes telemarketing a viable option as we can demonstrate a return on the investment
Once we have a targeted list we’re trying to reach people who have some responsibility for managing the teleprospecting and telequalifications functions. Titles might include Demand Generation Manager, Field Marketing Manager or Marketing Director.
The conversation starts with a ‘power statement’ – a short, sharp intro that immediately establishes our credentials and reason for calling.
“Hello, I’m calling from MarketOne, we’re an integrated demand generation agency and we help companies like [we arm our callers with a list of companies similar to, but not competitive with, the target accounts] to generate leads using a combination of digital and telemarketing services.”
We don’t go straight into a pitch – we have to build rapport first. Asking for help immediately creates a human connection. People are more inclined to help someone who is polite and shows some humility.
“Can you help me? I’m trying to find the person responsible for generating and converting leads using outbound calling. Is that you? Do you use internal resources, or outsource it? How’s that going? Are you getting the results you need?”
If they’re not getting the results – we’re off to the races. Straightaway we can dive deeper into how they’re measured, why they think they’re not getting results – get them to self-diagnose before prescribing our assistance.
But more commonly, they’re reasonably satisfied with the current state and not in an active buying mode, so we have to probe further for business pains. First up we’ll compliment them on their success to date (flattery can get you everywhere – or at least keep someone on the phone that bit longer) and then we’ll talk about one or more of the following issues.
Pain #1: Inside sales reps poached by Sales
“We sometimes find that when inside sales reps are successful, they’re fast-tracked into a sales role – we have clients operating inside sales teams that feel just as they have someone trained up and productive, they’ve lost them to the sales organization. Do you struggle to retain the best people?”
Pain #2: An aversion to outbound calling
“We find a lot of internal teams are good at the inbound qualification, when it’s a warm conversation, but they tend to shirk away from the cold, outbound activity – the really difficult icky stuff. How are you getting around that?”
Pain #3: Selecting and targeting the right accounts
“For most companies the inbound inquiries don’t always come from the companies they want to work with. But when they’re trying to do Account Based Marketing programs, they’re not always sure which accounts to target, or they’re dealing with patchy, poor quality data. Is that the case for your company?”
Pain #4: No uplift from using predictive analytics tools
“Many companies we encounter have tried using third party predictive analytics tools to identify the accounts that are currently ‘in market’ but haven’t necessarily seen uplift from those tools – is that something you’ve tried?”
Pain #5: Coping with peaks and troughs
“Even if everything’s going well, we find that most companies have peaks and troughs of activity where they may need additional resource on-demand. Is your business steady through the year or do you have to recruit for big events and manage seasonal spikes?”
Pain #6: Covering all language requirements
“And are you able to replicate that success in all markets? We usually find there’s one or two languages where companies struggle to hire – do you have enough work to support full-time resources in every language? Are you expanding into any new markets where new languages are required?”
Usually a prospect will respond to one of these pains, but that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. We’ll still usually have to deal with objections.
Some are hard to counter – I haven’t got time to talk right now (ask when’s convenient), I’m not the decision maker or budget holder (ask who is), we can only work with approved vendors (ask who manages that process).
But there’s some we can attempt to overcome…
Objection #1: “We have a pretty complex proposition; I think you have to be immersed in our company and products to get it.”
“The way we see it, any product or solution is designed to address a business challenge – so that’s where we start. We’re not typically trying to present technical features or argue the merits of one solution over another, we’re trying to see how people are currently addressing that challenge and if they’re open to finding a better way.”
Objection #2: “I get calls from telemarketing agencies all the time, how are you different?”
“It starts with the people we hire – and keep. They’re seasoned professionals, mature, qualified and capable of holding conversations with C-level decision makers. You can come and meet them if you like. And the other thing that marks us out is the fact we operate globally, so you get the benefit of a consistent approach and rolled-up reporting.”
Objection #3: “We want to keep this in-house and build our own capability.”
“That’s not uncommon. We typically co-exist with internal teams. Many of our clients have this same ambition but they recognize it takes time to ramp capability and get even just a few people up to speed. We actually even offer training services to help inside sales teams increase their call rates and have better conversations.”
Objection #4: “Sales doesn’t want anyone touching their leads, they’ve had bad experiences with agencies before.”
“We understand the importance with sales alignment. To get around this we talk directly with sales to understand what they consider a ‘lead’. Other agencies shield their staff that because they’re afraid to put them in front of sales – we’re happy for our people talk directly to your sales people – a ‘warm’ handover.”
Objection #5: “I’ve heard MarketOne is expensive.”
“I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘You get what you pay for’. We pay highly professional people a fair living wage – and we find that enables us to attract and keep the best ones. Our telemarketing programs typically generate pipeline that’s between 50x and 200x the investment – what other marketing activity can you attribute that level of return to?”
Getting a next step
If we can identify one or more pains and successfully overcome any of these objections that arise, we’re usually in a pretty good place.
An agreed next step might be quoting on providing language support in a certain territory, arranging a meeting to share our experience working with a particular predictive analytics vendor, or having a discussion about how we’ve used data and segmentation to improve calling outcomes. Naturally prospects are keen to hear about real use cases and success stories rather than theoretical discussion.
Then our business development reps do exactly what we’d do for clients – they write a call report which is fed into our CRM system (Netsuite). Then they’ll wander over and relay any particularly interesting conversations directly to a Business Development Director. And if it’s a particularly nice lead, we may even ring a bell.
So there you have it – there’s no big secret to our success – not any more, anyway.