Telemarketing vs online marketing

14.05.2013
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Trying to get new business today is an ever increasing challenge. Telemarketing is a means by which organisations can proactively promote their business. No more waiting for the phone to ring! Take control of your sales cycle. That sounds like good news for telemarketing.

Online marketing can drive leads to your business without having to pick up the phone. Sit back and wait for the leads to come in. Or at least that’s the theory.

It is often said that people buy from people yet more business is being done online. Equally, millions of people have registered on the opt-out register to avoid unwanted sales calls. Companies also have increasing levels of hazards that prevent telemarketers from getting to the Holy Grail i.e. to talk to a decision maker. Budget holders are shielded by voicemail, rottweiler PA’s, IVR routers that route you to hell and back whilst telling you that your call is important. All of this is before we recognise that one of the biggest marketing challenges regardless of channel is the quality of data. Figures suggest that business data decays at a rate of between 30-50% per annum. That means that people change jobs, leave and get promoted. Companies close, they merge and move as well as change their phone number.

With all of the above, a telemarketer would be excused from feeling that they should immediately fall on their sword and head online.

You’d certainly be excused for believing that telemarketing is a thing of the past. However, the above doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story. The reality is very different. The same factors and principles that drive business leads and revenue growth in all marketing are the ones that drive successful telemarketing.

Successful businesses have good products and services. They promote them effectively and they differentiate themselves from competition. Whilst, decision-makers are shielded by Junk inboxes and gatekeepers amongst others, they are always in need of things that are relevant for them and that add value to their business or job role. That’s true for an email, on the homepage, via a mailer and on a call.

Researching a decent list is probably the most important factor in successful marketing. This is true for the phone and via email marketing. If you don’t know who might buy your products or services this inherently slows the rate of success. Imagine making a call to an organisation and asking for the person who is responsible for XYZ. Or sending an email to info@xyz.co.uk. Knowing who you want to target is crucial regardless of the channel you choose.

You must make your communication relevant and compelling. Probably the biggest threat to telemarketing isn’t the growth of online mentioned earlier. Rather it is the lack of differentiation or a compelling proposition. That’s the real challenge for businesses whether telemarketing, advertising, using PR, for websites or even in networking situations.

People will take notice if what you are saying is relevant and interesting. So when you call, make it interesting. When you email, make the subject line and the first paragraph grab their attention. Find a ‘call to action’ that makes it sound interesting and make it worth their while.

Decision-makers are usually under pressure and time poor for some reason or other. So when you contact them, what are they thinking?

Very early on they are weighing up the options. Whether it’s a call or an email to their PC, they may well be sub-consciously thinking one or more of the following:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Is this likely to be interesting?
  • Can it help me do my job better?
  • Will this make me look good in front of my boss, the board or my peers?
  • Can it drive revenue / reduce costs etc

Their mind is also cluttered by constraints such as budget, incumbent suppliers or other aspects to their role. Hence, you must give them something that makes their life easier. And that isn’t more of what they already have.

So is telemarketing dead? No more dead than the ability of companies to differentiate themselves and to provide valid reasons for potential clients to see them. You will get through if what you have to say is relevant and the person on the phone is capable. Marketing is about positioning your business. It is about being clear about why you add value.

So what about the ROI aspects? This is more complex. If you really focus your investment online and you know who and what you’re targeting, online is the place to be. However, it is a very competitive arena. Whilst everyone thinks they get too many cold calls, it is rare that several come in on the same day. You can also speak to a direct decision-maker if you persevere. Online searches can deliver millions of competitive websites and you need to be on the first page. On the flipside, hopefully those that fill in your form or download something from your site are not tyre kickers and are looking for your product or service.

So what’s the reality? The reality is that, like other routes to market, both telemarketing and online marketing can work if you work them properly. They can both deliver excellent ROI if targeted correctly. Click here for some tips to make your online and telemarketing work for you.

So what to do? Here’s a quick checklist for telemarketing.

  • Decide who will buy your products or services. Try to find the decision-maker role and secure a list of named decision-makers.
  • Work out why they should see you. What is it that you are offering that is special and compelling?
  • Why should they see you now rather than at some distant never to come point in the future. You will be fobbed off. People don’t fob you off if what you’re saying is relevant and timely.
  • Brief your telemarketing team properly. Work with them so they understand what you do but more importantly make them believe that the decision-maker should really see them now.
  • Don’t go in with a straight line approach. If they’ve already got a supplier of what you offer you won’t get far. Find something around your business or the industry that they want to know.
  • Get face to face. The five points above are to help you get in front of those that can buy your services. Once you’re there, that’s the time to weave your magic, build rapport and find the need.
  • After all, the art of a good salesperson is to identify the need and to provide something that satisfies the need
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