A Day in the Life of a ‘sort of’ telemarketer…

Do they just make phonecalls? Where the time developing sales in high-end tech marketing really goes….

You might not believe it, but some people in our industry think we are a telemarketing agency. Others think the job of high-end lead generation can be handled just by ‘telemarketing’…or more bizarre still – by ‘appointment setting’. And worse still, that really it’s about making as many phone calls as possible in a day.

Some tech marketers (and salespeople too) hate the concept of ‘telemarketing’, because of past experience. Rightly so, sometimes. But some also think digital will solve all of their needs, and deliver heaps of ready-for-closing opportunities to their hungry sales team.

So where are we?...

We all hate receiving calls from people who clearly haven’t researched us, don’t know what we do, and can’t even articulate their own proposition.  In addition, I personally have a low threshold of tolerance for those who over-sell, don’t listen, can’t ask proper questions, and can’t also write to me when I ask them to. Then can’t call me back, or email me back, when I ask them to…

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s agree we need to talk, but to the right people, about the right things, over a longer period. And we probably need to write to them too! But, how on earth can we entrust that to an agency?!

At our end of the market, our clients sell high value, complex solutions, often with long sales cycles - a task that usually tends to start with more than just one sales call. It can take months, of research, of calling multiple contacts, of emails, of asset distribution, of making appointments stick, of discussing ‘emerging opportunities’ with your own busy salespeople, of accounting for a (hopefully!) growing pipeline…and maintaining the data that supports all of that.

The more enlightened clients understand why it’s not just about how many calls we make. They are able to talk in the context of integrated campaigns. They get the fact the people handling the tele-part should be integrated as well, and probably doing a lot more than pick up a phone. We love that. That is where we excel.

So, ‘telemarketing’ is a bit of a misnomer. In terms of making this type of demand generation work, the telemarketing piece is only one – sometimes relatively small - piece of the daily pie. But it is totally critical – and not cheap either! You need professional sales developers who can do a lot more than just talking the talk.

We did an analysis of the ‘time-distribution’ on a typical high value solutions campaign, i.e.: ‘what does a typical Europa sales developer actually do in a day?’

The daily workload, by percentage of time spent, on an average campaign looks something like this:

This alarms some clients initially. They often can’t help but conclude the majority of their budget is being consumed by us doing things other than what they thought they were buying. But it’s true. And necessary. The shock truth is that most of what clients spend with us is not spent on phone calls.

In order to even be ready to make a call these days, and make it a successful call, we have to be good strategists, web-researchers, data specialists, crafters of great messages, writers of good emails, coordinators and support acts for busy salespeople…and analysts of market responses.. That’s where the time goes.

And it’s voice-mail city out there. Some people hardly ever answer their phone first time around. Gatekeepers and email blockers are the prevailing headwind resisting your approaches. Navigating through that requires a lot of different approaches.

So, if you’re selling expensive things, to busy, senior decision-makers (maybe in multiple languages) accept these factors:

  • It’s unlikely digital marketing will do it for you on its own
  • Talking to real people, by intelligent humans, might be the only way to make a real difference
  • Any ‘agency’ component needs to be tightly integrated with your own sales team, so that agency talks to suspects as part of a joined-up, well-researched, multi-channel, sustained relationship building programme
  • The higher the value your solution is, the longer the sales cycle, the more complex the sale, then the less telemarketing is likely to work on its own –you need to ensure your agency is doing all of the things in the pie above

And all of this often costs more than a purely digital option. But it can be more certain, more sophisticated, more useful in the long run. You also get to know much more about your market - and what works - than a cookie will ever tell you.

And by the way, if we thought we could insert more ‘tele-time’ into this pie, and still maintain our reputation as the purveyors of great quality results, we would do it. But based on where such a job really needs the time spent, we think we’ve got it right after 25 years of practice in promoting high-end tech solutions. I guess we might just have to hold our hands up and say on the basis of that “we’re not a Telemarketing Agency”.

So, what would you like us to be?