The story of a good lead
There is a risk, in B2B telemarketing, of wanting too much, too soon. Given the investment, this desire can often be justified, but the long-term benefits of patience in telemarketing far outweight the 'quick wins'.
A good lead is one that has been nurtured, warmed-up, and handed off for a sales appointment at exactly the right moment. A good lead is one where the sales rep walks into the appointment knowing the history of interactions with the client, knowing the pain points, and knowing exactly what their requirements are.
First touch - no appointment
If a telemarketer makes 80 dials a day, and has ten conversations, of which one turns into an appointment, then there are 9 conversations that didn't turn into an appointment. Of the 70 that remain, there will be many to carry over into future days, and of course, a certain amount to exclude from future days and campaigns.
That's 90% of conversations not turning into appointments, and it's quite normal. The key is recording the right information, and if the appointment isn't there, not to push for it, but to push for when the appointment might be appropriate. For example, if the contact says they have just signed a contract with another provider, it may be good to 'touch base' in 6 months' time to see how it's going. There is a chance that they may want to back out of the contract. If the contact says there's no opportunity at present, find out when such decisions are made - budgets, end of year, etc. Any information on current providers, of course, is like gold dust to the B2B marketer.
Second touch - no appointment
It can often prove beneficial to have a catch-up call with a prospect and further establish the relationship between telemarketer and prospect. So long as the call is based on a business conversation and is not overly pushy (unless the opportunity is there to close an appointment), the call is beneficial in that it positions the brand once more in front of the prospect, and it opens the conversation out into further data collection opportunities.
This may be even a follow-up to an e-mail promoting a white paper, provoking a discussion on the content of the white paper and whether it has any relevance within the organisation. It's all about maintaining contact and keeping the organisation within mind. Equally, the conversation may result in a white paper being sent - if there is anything of relevance to the discussion, giving further potential to position the brand (and the brand's thought leadership capabilities) in front of the prospect.
Third touch - appointment
The best appointments come on the back of goodwill. If a telemarketer has, over several months, established a relationship with a prospect and achieved a favourable image with that person, the appointment is easier to obtain. The key is to warm the prospect up - not to harass the prospect - and strike at the right moment. If a contract is up for discussion, if budgets are up for discussion, if suppliers are being short-listed, then the goodwill gained through a long-term telemarketing relationship will make the appointment easier.
The hand-off, therefore, between telemarketing and sales - via the marketing team - is essential. Briefing the sales representatives, ensuring that follow-up calls are made quickly and seamlessly, and that the conversation effectively carries on as if it were the same person, is crucial. That, however, is worth another blog post...