B2B Teleservices: Six Steps to Success
Chief Marketing Officer, DialAmerica
Do more with less. Cut your marketing budgets for the second half of the year. Hit your revenue targets. These are the daunting challenges that sales and marketing executives face in today's extraordinarily difficult marketplace.
In response, business-to-business companies are seeking new ways to address their demand- and lead-generation strategies. Increasingly, they are taking advantage of the proven sales building potential of teleservices campaigns. Especially at a time of economic disruption, these programs can boost the productivity and effectiveness of a company's sales force, ultimately enabling it to close more deals!
In contrast to consumer teleservices campaigns, B2B programs typically focus on prospecting vs. selling. Effective prospecting - i.e. identifying and pre-qualifying leads -requires skills, techniques and time that many salespeople lack. Furthermore, most successful sales agents simply dislike cold calling and don't approach it in a disciplined, consistent way. In an ideal B2B scenario, teleservices agents contact prospects, pre-qualify leads, set appointments and then hand-off well vetted opportunities to salespeople to manage the selling cycle and close the deal.
It's a highly productive process we call ThinSourcing, in which skilled outside teleservices agents seamlessly interoperate with in-house sales people. The ThinSourcing model addresses a paramount need all businesses face: how to maximize the value and impact of their organization's internal talent to achieve vital goals, while assigning related business activities to a closely aligned partner.
At DialAmerica, we have identified six critical ThinSourcing steps that can lead to highly successful B2B teleservices campaigns:
1. Start with a Smart Strategy.
Each B2B teleservices campaign must be driven by the revenue requirements of a well thought out sales strategy that clearly identifies the goals, messages, implementation protocol, qualified lead criteria and expected outcomes. As part of this strategy, product positioning, core customer benefits, definition and attributes of 'qualified leads' should be clearly defined and agreed upon.
2. Scrub the Data.
Most B2B campaigns start with existing lists of customers and prospects to be contacted. However, these names invariably need to be checked and updated to verify titles, phone numbers, email addresses and decision-making responsibilities. Importantly, they also need to be evaluated against a strategic profile of the type of company that represents the best prospecting target.
3. Don't be Rote.
In B2B teleservices programs, agents typically do not utilize scripted pitches. Instead, drawing on their seasoned experience and product training, they work from message tracks and call guides, engaging prospects in conscious conversations with the goal of discovering issues, challenges and opportunities, and setting up pre-qualified appointments for the sales force. At the end of each call, teleservices professionals carefully record notes and details that help sales professionals prepare and deliver a targeted, prospect specific and effective engagement with a new prospect.
4. Share the Platform.
Ideally, teleservices agents should operate on the same technology platform as the salespeople and other executives involved in a B2B campaign. Utilizing a shared CRM system facilitates communication, standardization of data capture, timely reporting and ongoing evaluation of campaign success.
5. Report, report, report. Analyze, analyze, analyze.
One of the great strengths of teleservices programs is the continuous flow of data and insights from phone conversations between agents, prospects and salespeople. What are the hot button issues? Which approach is working best? And of course, how many qualified leads and appointments are being generated; how many sales presentations are being made; and how many deals are being closed? This information - promptly captured, reported and discussed - is invaluable in continuously improving a B2B teleservices program.
6. Be a 'problem detective'.
Occasionally while prospecting, a teleservices agent will interact with an existing customer who has a prior complaint with a company's product or service. Detecting, documenting and communicating it fully and promptly should be standard operating procedure within all B2B campaigns. Experience confirms that many concerns can be alleviated as the result of timely input from alert teleservices agents.
As B2B marketers and sales managers look for efficient, effective ways to build their businesses - with the added urgency of today's tough economic times - they can benefit from teleservices campaigns that follow these six steps to success!