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There is Still a Place for Telemarketing in ABM

There is still a critical role for Telemarketing in ABM

Account Based Marketing, Marketing Automation, Digital, Social selling – these all seem to be the current buzz phrases in B2B Sales & Marketing that are turning many people’s attention away from voice (telemarketing), potentially clouding judgement when it comes to planning an effective Marketing strategy.

But Telemarketing still has a critical part to play in B2B Marketing – especially in high-value, high Cap-ex, long life-span (7+ years) where my 30+ year career to-date has been based and I am sure this remains true for many other types of B2B organisations.

ABM and Marketing Automation are not as effective WITHOUT Telemarketing

I say this from representing 200+ IT & Tech clients since 1993 – getting perspective on promoting many different types of complex cap-ex IT solutions into all private industry verticals (plus one or two public sectors), whereas many Marketers may only have had experience working in a handful of verticals, promoting the same solutions for years.

I have also spent some time in IT solutions field Sales and received some excellent Sales training.  A golden tip?  If you truly want to be a great Marketeer, attend a reputable Sales training course that can give some great Sales ‘pre-close’ tips!  This will give you a true and invaluable 360-degree view of the challenges and solutions for how to build and maintain great Marketing strategies and ‘cohesive’ Sales & Marketing teams!

I am certain that it is this combined experience that enables 95%+ of my leads to be accepted by Sales, while many businesses around the world still limp along with Sales rejecting up to 73% of leads supposedly qualified by their Marketing teams.

I have gained valuable experience in what works and what does not work (and why, in both cases) therefore understand and can justify the high risks involved in any strategy with little to no inclusion of Telemarketing.  

I write this article to impart my knowledge of what works, because I want you to succeed.  I want your business to stop hitting balls into the long grass.

Duff campaigns and strategies waste serious amounts of business time and effort (particularly) and money, and in many cases – people can still just end up not seeing the wood for the trees.

No fluff.  No smoke or mirrors.  

My perspective will help you to navigate away from ‘future campaign obstacles and failure’, while giving you the tools to design ‘success with continuity’ into your marketing strategies.  

I am here to pass on knowledge that will enhance current tactical thinking or get your business back on track – even to fast track your current and future marketing strategies, potentially by 1 to 2 years – particularly any B2B companies setting up their first or new sales territory. 

In fact, without Telemarketing, you are not going to get an accurate view of your key target accounts and could very well more than double the amount of work you are doing – continuously, year on year – using up more budget and maybe only achieving half the results you could do if you had deployed Telemarketing at the very start – in the formative stages of your strategy, while still leaving you at first base – scratching heads.

What are the stages where Telemarketing is still a great fit within ABM?

Telemarketing touchpoints from a B2B high cap-ex perspective

1. Cold call

It is the ONLY method one can deploy where you have direct control of gaining a decision maker’s attention deliberately (usually after passing through a gatekeeper). 

Yes, you are interrupting their working day but, introducing your brand, asking some highly focused questions and seeking to generate that all-important lead, gives you the opportunity to also obtain strategy-defining insight that Marketing Automation cannot hope to deliver.

A valid reason why Telemarketing must be a pre-cursor to ABM

If you had a market-leading competitor with >50% target market share and you knew you could never penetrate their user base – would you not want to know which companies in your primary target audience use this competitor’s solution, so you can avoid them?

With any new sales territory, one should always start with a Telemarketing-driven lead generation campaign to vet ALL the raw target data after you have deployed the industry sales territory locations and business size co-ordinates, then buying in target data that is GDPR compliant and sourced from UK Companies House.  

You will generate leads of varying qualities, but you will also gain the insight you need to further segment your primary target market.  You need to instruct your Telemarketers involved in such campaigns to ask additional questions, including: – 

a. Was the decision made overseas or in the UK?

b. What solution do you currently have in place (in the UK, up to 60% of companies should give you the answer you require, the remainder will not divulge),

c. When do you think (roughly) that you are next likely to review?

d. How many people (or departments) in the company use the incumbent solution/service?

2. Qualifying inbound traffic from Marketing Automation. 

You MUST use Telemarketing to qualify and grade ‘every single’ inbound ‘click’ or ‘enquiry’. 

Do not be fooled by terminology such as ‘qualified traffic’ by specialists in Marketing Automation.  This is a term used for automating the quality of an enquiry by present rules you have set in place as part of automating inbound activity.

3. Follow up calls to first cold call AND response to warm leads generated from investment in Marketing Automation. 

At this stage, it is probably still too early for Sales to engage with this ‘inbound intelligence’.  Better for an internal business development rep (IBDR), who are in the crossover between Marketing and Sales.

Alternatively, if you do not have that resource there are external agencies who can fill the gap as and when required.  Some companies see this as first step to a permanent hire in this role. 

4. Continue to nurture/develop leads 

Continue to nurture and develop point 3 above until qualified sufficiently for a ‘suspect’ to become ‘sales-ready’, using the external specialist agency or the IBDR. 

Never pass a lead across to Sales before the ‘suspect’ is ready to engage with Sales for a first appointment UNLESS the Sales team want to get their foot in the door earlier before the ‘review cycle’ commences. 

This is particularly the case for very high-value solutions and services that are complex in their nature and require more of an ‘Educational approach’ as a pre-cursor to the Sales cycle of the target market, or if there is a value proposition on offer that requires some extra time for consideration before a ‘suspect’ 

5. Handover to Sales or book appointment on Sales’ behalf. 

This is perhaps seen as the end of the journey for Voice inside the Marketing funnel and its related processes and stages.  But it should be deployed further into other activities that are all ‘Customer frontline’ and ‘centric’.

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Additional areas where Telemarketing is effective

1. Market / Client Research

Generally deployed prior to product and upgrade launches – also opportunity to get more leads!  Market Research alone is expensive. 

Yes, it can give you some great insight into the target market, but that depends on the details of your questions and the experience of the Researchers making those calls for you and how adept they are at recording all info.  But highly likely that very few of them have any sales skills and therefore Market Research can be enhanced to be an initial foray into the primary target to also generate leads if you have people with great sales lead qualification skills and know-how and when to ask the key commercial questions that will help satisfy BANT. 

It is also a great way to ensure that product will be 100% ready for product launch.  And in some cases, it may make product development think twice about product launch and go back to the drawing board so that launch will then NEVER FAIL.

2. Do not forget your project and implementation staff

They rub shoulders with the clients’ staff who must deal with the challenges every working day, that you are there to solve. 

Not only will you receive information to help you with your primary project activities in solving what you are paid to resolve there today, but there will be other intelligence received from your client’s staff that will fuel additional business from them in the near future – allowing you to grow your footprint, gaining a stronger foothold in your new client and making it harder for the competition to remove you a few years down the line. 

So it is imperative you instruct your project staff to listen out for this intelligence, better still to train them how to identify it and record it/feed it back into Sales and Marketing and the CRM to be retained for corporate memory.

3. After a company becomes a client

The journey does not stop there.  You can use Telemarketing here to work with your User base or Account Management team and uncover additional business opportunities.  This is very important when companies are struggling to gain new business.

4. The internal voices inside your own business

Some internal research must be done, for everyone in your business who has direct target access, to view the list of target companies and tell internal researchers what they know about any of the businesses on the list, from the experiences and knowledge that they have picked up over the years.

You could just find a hard core of data that is invaluable to the business that has been locked away for a long time, without realising it could be useful if it were tapped into.

If you have any long-term top level execs who have been with the business all their career – they’ve got a wealth of past business experience that may not be locked in Corporate Memory – so tap into that resource and get them to spend time reminiscing on the highlights of their time with clients and prospects while with the company before they retire and that knowledge is gone forever.  

It may well be knowledge that was never brought to the board table or discussed in any previous meetings but could have incredible value today!  It is almost like asking them for a series of interviews to brain dump what they have picked up along the way.  

5. Telemarketing highlights where other methods can be deployed to greater benefit

One ‘ring around’ the target market will identify who will not take cold calls, has no names policies, who asks for emails to be sent first, or where only hardcopy collateral, references and white papers will be accepted through the post. 

You can develop a more agile set of tactical manoeuvres in your overall strategy as a result – reaching key contacts through different mediums that are better suited to an individual.

Voice is most definitely not ‘one size fits all’.  This has a very positive knock on effect with the personalising of messages and its content to resonate to all different fits.

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Additional relevant tips for Telemarketing in an ABM strategy

All the Marketing in the world is no good without a solid, tried and tested sales lead grading structure AND everyone in the business buys into QUALITY of sales leads first and foremost and that Volume KPI’s are relaxed in order to absorb changes in external market forces and the overall Economy.

It has been tried and tested that a focus on QUALITY can increase growth of Sales Revenue by 40%+ within 12 months!

FACT – Cold calls are going to have to be made to identify ‘Who’ in the target list has which type of behavioural pattern that allows you to add more layers of segmentation in identifying your ideal primary target markets. 

The typical 3-stage segmentation plan is very much ‘two-dimensional’ and has not been sufficient.  Plus your larger competitors and market leaders have been deploying 5+ layers of segmentation for many years to get them to where they are today and personally, I know of 10 layers of segmentation.

Even before CRM systems arrived, many companies have had evolved plans regarding target data that they have continuously adjusted for years and now data mining and for the larger companies using AI to convert data held into full blown campaigns is becoming more straight-forward.

Internal behavioural pattern – Do you want to steer clear of the market leader?  Or do you have a solution to penetrate the market leader’s client base because you have strengths that resolve their weaknesses?

The age of your solution and the demand curve also have a bearing on the content of your messaging and the behaviours of your target market(s).  So always bear in mind where your solution(s) in the demand curve; Emerging, Growth, Stagnation, Decline, Extinct/Legacy.

Lighten the Load for fast results and filter out the rubbish

If you can get this work done quickly – as well as using Telemarketing, you should perhaps utilise both Sales and other Marketing personnel in call execution. 

Even get senior Sales management involved, roll up their sleeves, particularly if their personal view of current market conditions are dated and their decisions on budget and strategy are based upon way back when they were field execs themselves.  And a main Director willing to roll their own sleeves up and lead by example is a great morale booster for the frontline workforce.

Getting one person fully dedicated to execute a full primary data cleansing campaign to 800+ companies could take the thick end of 6+ months (excluding holidays and outside school holiday seasons). 

If you have an internal Sales and Marketing team of 4 people plus maybe the Sales Director, the work can be completed within one calendar quarter – BUT then you have a great boost to FY early-stage pipeline and you have all the awareness you need to build a great Marketing strategy, selecting the right key accounts to continue forwards with.

You will be amazed at the initial results and it will provide a refreshing view of what was originally perceived as your primary target market(s)!  

If you have NEVER done anything like this before, 25%+ of your first perceived target market will be irrelevant after the initial Telemarketing / cold-calling stage. 

Without deploying the initial groundwork you would be diluting the impact and overall results of your combined Sales and Marketing teams and related budgets by 25% to 50%!

Once you have executed the groundwork to gain a more segmented and accurate primary target, you should try and run a voice-based ‘sweep’ of your primary target audience once every 9 to 12 months.  You cannot rely on just moving straight into ABM with Marketing Automation alone.  It will not be as good as you would wish.

Realistically, you should have a cold-call with a primary target at the very least, once every 12-months or perhaps once every 9 months if you have resources available.

Think outside the box as much as you can.  Hopefully, the tips above have helped realise that there may be other areas in which voice can be used, both internally and externally for the overall good of the business.  And this should encourage a bonus/voucher-scheme linked suggestion box to tap into everyone’s creativity inside the business.


Craig de Prez

My 30+ year career to-date has always been working in the IT sector operating within the B2B Sales and Marketing functions. I saw a gaping hole in the market for Quality lead supply so in 1993, I set up my own IT & Tech focused lead generation business, TriWonder Data (now trading as Reflex IT Marketing).

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