Telemarketing for technology companies is an approach that is widely used when it comes to lead generation. We get a significant number of requests from all manner of technology providers each month, all wanting us to generate qualified leads for their business on an outsourced basis. Some companies support the activity with other methods of marketing such as email, web demos, webinars, seminars and white paper downloads. Others rely heavily on this form of direct marketing believing that the nature of their offering lends itself best to a direct approach where it can be explained on a one to one basis.
All of this is good stuff but what makes a successful lead generation for technology companies and where does the approach fall down? We’ve seen some great campaigns and some that struggle to get off the ground. Below, we’ve listed 6 Factors for technology companies to get the most from telemarketing and to ensure that their cold calling delivers on expectations.
Consider your target market carefully
Whether you’re doing b2b telemarketing and pre-sales in house or outsourcing, target audience definition is crucial. This is nothing unusual. But technology companies often focus either too narrowly, resulting in a campaign that is ineffective, short-lived and doesn’t benefit from pipeline building, or too wide meaning that the proposition is undifferentiated with the inevitable disappointing results.
Some clients ask us to just target London or only target financial services or focus only on CTO job roles. The logic is sound but the problem with this is that these areas may not be where current opportunities reside and / or may not provide the prospect with a sufficient reason why they need to see you right now.
A good example of this is a recent successful campaign that we ran was for a CRM vendor. They originally wanted to target CRM managers with solutions relating to Microsoft Dynamics arguing that they could more or less solve any problem. The problem was not least that most CRM managers by implication already have a CRM that may not be Microsoft Dynamics. Whilst there isn’t much we could do about that, the proposition was too broad. After further discussion with us, we decided to focus the audience and proposition. We agreed to target Facilities Managers in large businesses with multiple sites. The client had developed a solution at one of their clients specifically for these job functions to remove complexity, reduce risk and enhance productivity and visibility. Identifying a list of those facilities managers wasn’t totally straightforward but, with some data building, we were able to target the right people and speak their language. By refining the audience and message, the results came through.
Work out what your audience really needs?
Too often, technology providers rely on the calls alone to do the job. We know that you’re good at what you do and have good clients. We know that buyers need what you offer. The problem is that the same can be said for your many competitors and many of them are already entrenched and contracted with your target customers. So, how can you shake the tree? How can you refine the elements of the lead generation strategy to hone in on what the prospects need? How can you shape your offering to a specific target audience for the calls? What is likely to overcome inertia and contractual agreements? It may be that you can’t overcome the last one, but you can trigger interest in an initial speculative meeting. Do your research to identify the real needs of your customers and you’ll have more reason to engage and make more effective calls.
Understand the sales process and sales pipeline.
Quite understandably, many of our clients want leads that are BANT qualified (Budget, Authority, Need, Timescale). That makes sense and is the optimum solution. But that has a couple of flaws. (1) given the contractual and budgetary situations in most large companies, BANT qualified leads aren’t always possible in the short term. That’s especially the case where companies are contracted or half way through the financial year. Therefore, if the requirement is only for leads where there is budget and a need within 3-6 months, you may lose any future opportunities if you ignore these as part of the sales cycle. It also means that it’s much tougher to generate leads that meet all of the BANT criteria. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible; just that it will inevitably take longer. And, will be much more challenging if you only want to meet financial services companies with 1000+ employees in London at CTO level. How many of those do you think there are and how easy might it be to even reach the CTO?
Successful lead generation tends to be about data gathering and building to identify the right companies and decision makers and then a refined approach to pipeline building for long-term opportunities. After all, if Tesco is a target and they have a contracted incumbent for 2 years, does that mean you take Tesco off your target list?
Work out how much is a lead really worth?
The revenue that our clients can generate from a successful sales conversion can often be in the tens of thousands through to six figures and beyond. When undertaking telemarketing, it is important to evaluate what a lead is really worth. A recent prospect told us that they believe that they will convert 10% of meetings to a sale. A project is worth minimum £100,000. Whether you consider a 10% conversion rate to be too low or realistic is a separate subject. This of course depends on the quality of the opportunity. What is important however is to understand the cost of sale both of the telemarketing activity to generate the lead and the cost of goods to service the client. If the net margin is say 30%, we know that one sale = £30,000 profit. If it takes 10 meetings to achieve one sale, how much is one meeting worth? Companies may assess this differently based on length of contract or lifetime value or even just what the company stance is with regard to allocation of marketing spend per lead. Whatever the approach, it is essential to establish what each meeting could be worth.
Identify the most appropriate basis for remuneration?
This is always a tricky subject and relates to the points above. Clearly, this is about where the risk sits and what level of risk and reward each party is willing to take. And, the tougher it is the more the risk may move from the client side to the agency. If for example, you’ve got a genuine ‘game changer proposition’ that is differentiated and new to market alongside a targeted database with correct names and contact numbers for your targets, that’s a world apart from an undifferentiated commoditised proposition to an ill-defined (anyone) target market where the data is old and not validated. Both sides need to be open here and realistic about the elements of the exercise. Clearly, everyone is in business to make money. Everyone has overheads and the opportunity to generate good return is an incentive.
Typically, there are three / four models.
- Day or hourly rate – where the risk is on the side of the client.
- Remuneration per lead – only where the lead meets stipulated criteria
- Hybrid – where there is a lower hourly or day rate plus a bonus per lead
- Commission – this is where the above may play a part but also a commission is payable upon successfully winning a piece of business
Each of the above has its place and there are merits and disadvantages for each. For example, one could perhaps argue that in the first option above there is no accountability on the part of the agency. But what if the data is really poor to start with or the proposition is weak and you’re targeting the FTSE 250 companies and job roles that are constantly unavailable? Equally, it could take some time to build the pipeline from cold.
If it’s a per lead basis, it could be good news for the client as they have no up-front costs. But what about the agency? How much would the lead need to be priced at to warrant deployment of time and a good quality caller into this high level of audience? And what happens when the provider finds that it is harder than they anticipated? How quickly might they become disillusioned?
Perhaps the best of the bunch is a hybrid model i.e. a combination of a payment per lead alongside a percentage of that lead payable in advance to cover agency overhead. That could be supplemented by the commission based on sale. For that, trust is vital so that the agency feels comfortable that 6 or 12 months down the line, they are likely to reap the rewards even if they are no longer working with the client!
I was always taught that business negotiation should be about win-win. There should be shared reward and shared risk. This has to be based on openness and realistic expectations. No marketing solution is perfect and very few means of lead generation come with any sort of guaranteed success. And that includes your sales people! Therefore, it’s up to each client and agency to find a solution that benefits everyone.
Support your campaigns with other marketing
We mentioned at the beginning of this blog that some technology vendors are active in providing support to the telemarketing activity. That could be in the form of emails where callers can target those clicking through or opening the email as priority calls. Some organisations run webinars and seminars that can form part of the sales process in order to build pipeline and a database of future call backs. Others understand that a web demo can be a halfway house (and method of qualification) towards a face to face meeting that may be easier to secure. Some technology providers are able to generate content and distribute that via social media platforms. That increases awareness in the marketplace of the specific solutions and of the company itself. White papers and case studies can be used to send to prospects following a call. LinkedIn can be used in conjunction with calls to reach targets. A PPC campaign driving prospects to a landing page with a compelling call to action where you can capture data can provide a good pool of warm leads to fish in.
Whatever the approach, the warmer the call, the more likely your callers are to be able to deliver the number of leads you need to reach your sales goals. If you can provide impetus through other forms of marketing, this will inevitably speed up the process.
The right technology solution improves business productivity, reduces costs and risk and offers all manner of business improvements. No business can operate effectively without technology that fits their business needs. New solutions come to market all the time that provide great opportunities for both vendors and buyers. The need for new solutions grows each year. However, a huge number of vendors play in the market, often all targeting the same large enterprises at senior level. This audience is bombarded with marketing messages on and offline. It’s a market that is crowded with seemingly commoditised solutions and lots of suppliers offering the same technology. Some technology vendors often claim they offer a one stop shop. Others claim that they’re local and that makes a difference. We’ve also heard claims of great service. The reality is that everyone talks the talk. How many walk the walk and how easy is it to reach and pitch this kind of solution to time poor senior decision makers?
To get the traction you need and the leads you deserve, make sure that you really think about the best approach when undertaking b2b telemarketing for your technology business. Take the time to get the 6 factors above right from the outset and you will see the results.