Outbound telemarketing to prospects who don’t know you has never been easier. What used to take hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and infinite patience can now be accomplished with little to no time, energy, or investment. The secret to cold calling is simple, and I’ll share it with you right now: Don’t.
Think about it. When was the last time you received a sales call from a stranger and it improved your day? When was the last time you made a purchasing decision based on an unwanted solicitation? Which of your current business relationships began with a cold introduction that you didn’t ask for? I’m guessing that your answers are “never, never, and none.”
If you’re reading this blog, then you most likely follow TSL or a TSL team member on social media voluntarily. You opened the article because the topic was relevant, and you’re still reading because the content is (at least somewhat) interesting. When you’re finished, there will be a call-to-action, an offer to meet with one of our strategists about goals and challenges related to sales growth. Clicking on the CTA and then converting on that offer means that you will eventually speak with a human, but not until after you took FIVE purposeful steps.
This article is meant to recontextualize telemarketing as a tactic for the progression of sales opportunities, and not as a method of building a pipeline of unfamiliar prospects.
Where Telemarketing Fits Into the B2B Sales Process
I realize that I have yet to speak kindly of phone-based business development, but I assure you that it does have a valuable time and place in your sales process. The time is after the contact has shown relevant interest and the place is the middle and/or bottom of the sales funnel. As much as digital marketers would love to own the entire inbound sales cycle, a technology service provider or reseller simply cannot automate closed deals. There must be a real person involved to qualify sales opportunities, gain a better understanding of the prospect’s needs, and facilitate the handoff to a closer.
So, if we’re not cold calling prospects directly, how are we getting them to show this relevant interest? Here are 3 ways that are guaranteed to work, if done properly:
- Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. Instead of telling your audience how great you are, why not start by asking about them? Survey campaigns come in different shapes and sizes, but we have seen success when targeting a right-fit target audience with thoughtful questions about their goals, obstacles and current environment. The business intelligence gathered during this exercise is valuable in the sales process, and it positions the inside rep well when further qualifying.
- Content still works, it just needs to be valuable. Marketers have spent the last decade-plus telling us that CONTENT IS KING, but is that still true? As someone who approaches marketing from a business growth perspective, my experience is that relevant content written for a specific buyer persona is still king. Develop web content answering the questions that your prospects are typing into Google. Write blogs about the challenges that prevent your persona from falling asleep at night. Build case studies to show potential buyers how you’ve succeeded with other companies in their space.
- Let them find you. The best – and fastest – sales opportunities are prospects who find your website when they’re searching for a solution to their problem. To build this stage of the pipeline, you’ll need a strong technical SEO strategy, a pertinent offer, and a clear path for them to convert. Organic search is the ideal vehicle, but Google Ads is still a viable approach if you have a specific target audience (and a healthy budget).
Outsourcing Telemarketing to Progress Leads
Once you implement these practices, you will need a plan for progressing contacts. Let’s face it, inside sales positions can be nearly impossible to properly hire for. Aligning diligent lead nurturing with commission and bonus structures is a challenge. You’re likely to end up with an ambitious junior seller who will eventually fall into the same bad habits that make lead progression difficult for your senior sellers, cherry-picking the most qualified opportunities while ignoring viable prospects. It is also unlikely that your volume of warm prospects justifies 40 hours of attention per week. This is why we strongly recommend outsourcing this process to a growth agency with nearly 25 years of experience in B2B technology lead generation.
If you’d like to discuss further, then I am happy to finally reward your patience with an offer to meet with one of our strategists about goals and challenges related to sales growth.