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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Why Lead Generation Will Need More Than Your Own Call Center

Lead Generation, Sales Leads, Business LeadsSo you admit that telemarketing is far from dead and realize that the phone is still an effective tool for communicating with your prospects. However, you say your business already has (or at least can invest) in its own call center. Do you really still need to outsource a firm in the telemarketing industry? Actually, there’s still a lot more than what you might need for lead generation.

More specifically, you’ll need more of the same thing.

Now what does this mean? Well the good news is, you won’t have to worry about adding anything new. The bad news is your call center might be too small in terms of size to manage a lead generation campaign and at the same time, perform its other functions.

In case you’ve forgotten, companies who have call centers don’t automatically use them for generating sales leads. Half the time their actual purpose is customer support. Even today, businesses still leave their phone numbers alongside email addresses and websites because there are customers (both B2B and B2C) who also prefer the phone as a communication tool. Below is a short list of signs your call center might not be enough:

  • Clashing calls – While your agents are busy making outbound marketing calls to prospects, they suddenly get interrupted by incoming customer support calls. This is the worst kind of multi-tasking. Agents should try and remain focused on just one function as much as possible.
  • Keeping callers waiting – You do not want to keep callers waiting, especially in customer support. Often times this slow service has been the subject of ridicule both inside and outside the business world. Unfortunately, this can happen to your call center if its making too many calls and receiving more or less the same volume at the same time. Just like your agents, your network needs to reduce the strain that volume is placing. Likewise, you don’t want these inbound calls slowing down your telemarketers either. Speed is critical for any lead generation campaign.
  • Time zones – These days, it’s no longer just large corporations who are going global. Medium-sized companies can already start targeting prospects abroad through online channels and advanced communication technology. The same goes for their customer base. Unfortunately, having customers in one region and prospects in another could very well have your agents up all day and night!

A call center with that much work to do does not sound like a healthy work environment (nor is it even ethical). That’s why companies who have their own call centers should still review what they constructed them for. If your business has only been using one for customer support, then you might need to check its capacity if it can bear the additional weight of a B2B lead generation campaign. If not, then perhaps it might be better for you to outsource your outbound telemarketers. It doesn’t even have to mean that you’re doing away with the resources you invested in your own. You can still retain your own call center for customer support, as you had originally intended. You just need to remember that investing in one doesn’t always mean it’s good enough for lead generation.

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Sales Leads Can Be Generated Even From ‘Independent’ Businesses

Sales Leads, Business Leads, B2B TelemarketingTargeting small businesses for B2B marketing can be tough because there are just some things about them that make them tricky for other businesses. (Some might even argue that the bigger your business is, the harder it gets.) Of course, that’s never an excuse to disqualify them immediately as B2B sales leads.

Now perhaps another reason for why small businesses don’t seem marketer-friendly is their image of independence. They’re their own company, run by their own people, and that sometimes gives the impression that they’re not interested in buying. They do things their own and get by on their own.

It sounds ideal at first but the reality is, even small businesses need resources to keep themselves going. What you need to do is not necessarily scoff at their idea of independence but simply focus on the resources that they need. For example, if you’re a tax consulting agency, it will eventually occur to them that they’ll need more expertise but not at higher costs. If you’re an energy company, then it’s obvious that they’ll need electricity and it would be a quite stretch for a small business to produce its own just for the sake of ‘independence’. All in all, these resources will still indicate a demand and that demand can eventually qualify them as sales leads.

Now of course, there’s still the reality that they could just simply hang up or ignore anybody who tries to market them directly. That might be because you really haven’t been targeting well enough. If that sounds like how most of your campaigns have been going lately, then try the following measures:

  • Clean up data – It could be that it’s been a while since you updated your business database. Business leads that are the result of such poor data will naturally end up bad (and that’s assuming you can get leads at all). Run quick campaign that verify the information on your database first before marketing. You might end up rooting out businesses who really have no reason to be interested anymore.
  • Be more adaptable – For some reason, you might have been out of the loop for a while and are a little unaware of how your market is now behaving. There could be new findings regarding marketing misconceptions. A different type of strategy for both marketing as well as sales might be growing in prominence. Take note, these changes might not even have to do with the tools you use but the way you’ve been using them. In any case, your marketing approach must start quickly adapting.
  • Keep in touch with your industry – As with general market behavior, behaviors could also change in relation to changes in your target industry. A rise in costs in one sector could therefore lead to more price resistance. A new trend could also signify a new demand as a B2B market.

The idea of business independence isn’t necessarily some psychological shield that turns away any attempts for lead generation and appointment setting. The trick is to use changes in industry and in general market behavior to identify demand. These changes can happen any time and at any pace so your marketing shouldn’t be too static. Even independent businesses will admit to needs in the face of quick insight and awareness.

 

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Auto Insurance Sales Leads – Targeting By Industry

Telemarketing, Telemarketers, Lead GeneratorAs the name implies, auto insurance covers damages that involve anything related to vehicles. It’s commonly perceived as a consumer market but it’s role in B2B tends to be less well-known. However, simple logic is enough to indicate that entire businesses can be targeted by providers for sales leads.

Furthermore, techniques like telemarketing and targeted email can be more appropriate compared to classical forms of B2C insurance marketing (e.g. advertising). Targeting though is important so it’s advisable to start identifying potential industries before further identifying individual traits in the prospects within each one.

Potential sources of sales leads could include:

  • Trucking Industry – Companies who rely heavily on large trucks for delivery can benefit from large business packages. Furthermore, there is a plenty of risk involved given the size of the vehicles and the extent of their traveling routes.
  • Taxi Companies – Taxis are another potential industry given the amount of cars usually bought.
  • Bus Companies – You can even consider buses a combination of both trucks and taxis. For while they are common modes of transportation, they can also be prone to bigger accidents.
  • Funeral Homes – Converts vehicles into hearses.
  • Limousine Rentals – Given how expensive they are, coverage is a clear necessity.
  • Car Rentals – Though not as expensive as limousines, coverage can still prove beneficial (especially if the vehicles owned are great in number and variety).

Remember, the basic purpose of B2B leads is to signal your sales representatives to promising opportunities with interested clients. In B2B insurance, these leads must equip your representatives with adequate information on the needs and expectations of a business decision maker. This means that you should engage with them prior to any meeting with your sales representatives. There are many strategies such as starting with website marketing but ending with formal appointment setting.

As stated before, telemarketing and and targeted email can be ideal for B2B marketing situations. Expert telemarketers know the right words to say to bypass gatekeepers and it can even be argued that they’re less prone to feeling helpless in the face of telemarketing regulations. Combine that with targeted email and you have the means to start an informative conversation from which sales can then gain further insight.

Just remember to keep a few things in mind:

  • Industry expertise – Whether it’s telemarketing or email, your marketers must be familiar with the industry of your targets.
  • Relevance – You need to tailor your messages so that they’re relevant to the industry in question.
  • CRM data – B2B qualification doesn’t always happen overnight so you need a database constantly updated to keep track of their status in the sales process.

Consumers aren’t the only ones you can target for auto insurance leads simply because they’re not the only ones who are using conventional vehicles. Everything from trucks to even limousines will require some form of vehicle insurance but these are employed en masse by businesses in many iconic industries. Therefore, you need a sufficient B2B marketing strategy in order to target the sales leads you will find in these industries.

 

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B2B Lead Generation – Traits That Need To Be Analyzed When Targeting Small Businesses

Accounting Leads, Appointment Setting, Qualified LeadsSome companies have trouble targeting small businesses for B2B lead generation (their size obviously being the cause). Although the finer details of how this trouble arises need to be considered because they’re still a market for many industries like accounting and tax consulting. The sooner you actually know what these obstacles are, the sooner you can find a way around them.

Now being a small business usually has some of the implications:

  • Address – Some small businesses are actually home-based. Therefore, contact information on them coincides with their personal contact data. This comes with a lot of risks both for the business owner and any other company that would want to do business with them. For the owner, it makes it easier to publicize the location of their home without knowing. Anyone looking for the owner would have an easier time because their home address is also on business directories. For other businesses, contacting through traditional means like direct mail and telemarketing services could lead to unpleasant situations if those end up received by anyone else living with the owner.
  • Budget – This shouldn’t surprise you. A small business naturally implies a smaller budget. That’s why large companies have to think twice about marketing high-end service packages or products to all their prospects. If even just one of them turned out to be a small business incapable of affording it, you will leave a very bad impression. (For one thing, it might make them feel like you accidentally placed them in the same audience as large business patrons with equally large expectations of their finances.) You will always have to consider budget anyways so don’t waste on a marketing effort when it misses such a basic detail.
  • Decision Maker – Small businesses also tend to be a little understaffed. This is a good opportunity for anyone who wants some of their business processes outsourced to them. On the other hand, making that first contact with the decision maker can be tough when that decision maker ends up wearing a lot of hats. A decision maker who conducts several processes and has several positions under his or her belt isn’t unheard of (even in medium-sized businesses). Make sure you do a little background check on their company (you can even try looking them up on Facebook or LinkedIn). First determine who’s really in charge of what before contacting them with something more direct.
  • Schedule – Another thing that makes a small business owner similar to a regular consumer is their schedule. No doubt even running a small business can keep someone very busy but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have plans outside of running it. The solution here is to simply be considerate and realize that they’re still people. They want time for themselves and it’s not really a good idea to compel them to change their schedule. Better yet, try to predict which particular days of the week that such people are more comfortable having a business meeting on. You can even suggest simpler forms of conferences like a set period of talking over the phone.

Small businesses shouldn’t be underestimated but they’re still small. They don’t have a large budget, work force, working environment, and neither does their schedule automatically resemble that of a business professional. And like all things of a small size, that makes them hard to target. Don’t feel helpless though and just give up. Analyze their unique traits and re-evaluate your approaches. Maybe all you needed was to adjust the size of your marketing to fit them.

 

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Generate Pre-Qualified Leads Before Your Prospects Qualify Themselves

Business LeadsIt’s becoming common knowledge that the internet has granted customers more power to search for information and that information in turn affects their buying decision. This applies to not just B2C but also B2B as organizations are maximizing the use of online information to inform their decision makers as well. This puts them in the position to actually ‘qualify’ themselves before you can turn them into pre-qualified leads.

But first off, exactly what is being meant by ‘qualify’. Well if your qualification process is all about evaluating a prospect’s interest, identifying needs, and bringing them closer to a buying decision, then that’s exactly what the internet has allowed customers to do. The only difference is that they’re doing it to themselves and thus, eliminating the need to for companies to turn them into pre-qualified leads.

This comes with its set of pros and cons.

Pros

  • The more well informed a prospect, the less likely they are to just make a buying decision after being fed a smorgasboard of marketing material. The information presents them with more options and therefore, more information to influence that decision. 
  • Sales conversations can be more balanced. A well-informed customer is one that you shouldn’t underestimate. On the other hand, it discourages marketers from having typical misconceptions about potential clients. 
  • It can shorten the B2B sales process because you no longer have to spend too much time on needing to educate the prospect on your products or services.

Cons

  • Information isn’t always a good thing, especially when it’s too much. If left unchecked, there’s a risk that a prospect spends too much time gathering more data and looking for more options without ever making a decision. You also have the occasional unreliability of online information to consider. 
  • A balanced sales conversation can turn the tables too unfavorably if businesses aren’t as informed as their market. The empowerment of customers constantly raises the standards of what businesses must do in sales conversations
  • If unprepared, your business could just be reduced to the salesman who just follows the shopper around talking to them even though you both already know what is going to be bought. That’s what happens when you just let the prospect do all the work for you.

Ultimately, the challenge lies in balancing how much information both parties must have. And on the part of B2B marketers, it looks like you’ll need to have a little more information at all times. It’s either you increase your industry expertise or you seek out companies who are still in the midst of struggling with all the information. Both cases are valid as being an industry leader is always worthy goal while it’s also good to help companies who feel overwhelmed by the information that they need an expert. It’s only a matter of deciding whether you should be fast in improving your business to be an industry leader or faster in finding prospects who still in the midst of qualifying themselves.

Regardless, you need to make a quick decision either way. It’s not just about catching up with competitors anymore. The availability of information has also allowed even your prospects to leave you behind. Qualify them before they qualify themselves if you want to stay in the race.

 

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