Dialing for dollars or wasting your money?

If you’re serious about using business-to-business telemarketing to quickly generate qualified sales leads, you need to read this article.

Unfortunately, most of what B2B marketers call “telemarketing” simply doesn’t work.

Why? Because this is what happens when somebody realizes that there are not enough sales leads in the pipeline to meet this quarter’s sales revenue goals:

Scenario A: They grab a couple of unlucky administrative assistants, salespeople or interns and say, “Quick. Get on the phone and generate some qualified leads.” These unfortunate people are handed a call list that hasn’t been touched in years-or worse, a list of all area businesses, pulled from the Yellow Pages-and told to start dialing.

The result? Either the people that have been drafted to do the business-to-business telemarketing are so reluctant to make these calls that they stay busy “getting organized” and never actually dial the phone. Or their initial calls are met with rejection, so they start “getting organized.” You get the picture.

Scenario B: Someone in marketing is assigned to find an outsourced business-to-business telemarketing company to make cold-calls and generate qualified sales leads. The marketer starts by doing a Web search, then calls a couple of the business-to-business telemarketing companies whose names pop up. During one of the calls, the business-to-business telemarketing company’s sales representative assures that cold-calling to generate qualified sales leads “is just what we do.” So the marketer, in a rush to get some qualified leads into the sales pipeline, asks the telemarketing company get started right away.

The business-to-business telemarketing company is then handed a call list that hasn’t been touched in years-or worse, a list of all area businesses, pulled from the Yellow Pages-and told to start dialing. (Sound familiar?)

Next, the telemarketing company quickly recruits some people to do the actual cold-calling whose qualifications include something like showing up for the interview and smiling a lot. Or they ask a temp agency nearby to send over some people who have been through a similarly rigorous screening process. Next, they dust off an ex-client’s script, change a few words, give it to the newly hired business-to-business telemarketing reps and say, “Start calling.”

Not surprisingly, both scenarios are recipes for disaster.

Of course, you, with your years of business experience, probably could skim a list of prospects, determine who’s worth calling, pick up the phone and find some real sales opportunities. You’ve got the skill and knowledge necessary to recognize when a prospect’s needs are a good fit for your services. But you’re probably not the one who’s going to be making the lead-generation calls, because you’ve got more important things to do.

So if you’re serious about using B-to-B telemarketing to quickly generate qualified leads, you need to take either of these two carefully orchestrated steps:

Hire your own top-notch telemarketers. Look for people who like being on the phone, understand that rejection is part of the process, have lots of experience calling your types of customers and can knowledgeably discuss the situations and applications your services fit best. (Hint: Consider ex-salespeople who now have kids and want to work part-time and without traveling. Or go after retirees who have realized they’d like to work part-time.) Then give them well-targeted and up-to-date lists of prospects to call.

Hire a top-notch B2B telemarketing company. Look for a company with a proven track record of calling into the same industries and the same titles as you will want them to be calling on your behalf. Thoroughly check references and insist that the BtoB telemarketing company assign experienced callers to your project. Then both you and the firm must invest time and effort in creating call guidelines (rather than a verbatim script) and training callers on the unique aspects of your business and your prospects. Finally, give the callers a well-targeted list of prospects to call, and have them start dialing.

The acid test for success in either case: How would you feel if you received that telemarketing call?

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M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America's leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and marketing speakers. He is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a marketing consulting firm specializing in helping companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. More about Mac...

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