15
Aug

Telemarketing Continues to Provide Very Strong Returns Against Investment As Compared to eMail, or Social Media Approaches

Despite an enormous amount of material arguing to the contrary, in this writer’s opinion, telemarketing continues to provide the best return on investment of any sales lead development approach. Recent conversations with personnel from a number of prominent ISVs (active in markets related to Microsoft’s Office platform) indicate these organizations share the same opinion.

Perhaps it can still be argued online product promotion (web content in all its forms — online press releases, web site editorial content, blog articles, status updates to prominent social media venues, etc) is, nevertheless, the best method of driving prospect interest in a product. Further, it may be the case the best method of nurturing prospects through a series of interactions leading up to a purchase interest in a specific solution is to periodically contact these people via email messages. But, ultimately, as these leads transform into consumers with a defined appetite for a specific product, the best method of engagement available to ISVs remains telephone contact, meaning telemarketing or teleprospecting.

To provide some sense of how much more effective telephone contact can prove to be, at the right time, we refer to some work we recently undertook for one of our long standing clients. This ISV had recently exhibited at 3 prominent trade shows for its market. The initial effort to engage with booth visitors, after each event, took the form of a comparatively impersonal broad email message sent to each visitor, in HTML format. In each case the level of incoming activity from booth visitors, post receipt of this email message, was weak. Further, the follow up efforts we undertook immediately after the broad HTML email had been received by booth visitors, which took the form of a personalized text email message, produced equally anemic results.

In contrast, a serious effort to reach out to each booth visitor via a telephone call exposed healthy interest in our client’s solution. Approximately 5% of visitors contacted even expressed some serious interest in purchasing the solution albeit at a later point in time (for example, the next fiscal year).

Bottom line: telemarketing (and, by extension, cold calling) should play a prominent role in any ISVs lead generation planning.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

21
Jan

It Makes Sense to Revisit the Usefulness of Cold Calls in 2013

Where possible it makes more sense for technology businesses to implement what we have referred to as coordinated direct marketing campaigns than it does to merely implement unsolicited telephone calling, otherwise known as “cold calls”, as a means of breaking ground on engagement with a market sector.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers considerable current experience with both approaches. In our opinion, the costs associated with the amount of wasted effort that can be made on unplanned, ad hoc, “cold call” programs are prohibitive, regardless of whether the costs end up being shouldered by a third party service provider or by a technology business, itself. Of course, carefully planned campaigns that make use of cold calls may, in fact, be successful.

A number of factors, including

  • the quality of a contact list given an objective for a campaign
  • the titles and responsibilities of prospects targeted for calls
  • the visibility of a company’s brand in a chosen market
  • and, finally, the level to which the reason for a call amounts to a topic of general interest in a market

have a direct bearing on whether or not a cold calling campaign will produce useful results, or not.

Each of the above factors are much better handled within the context of a coordinated direct marketing campaign. For example, a dedicated effort can be made, in advance of actually initiating the kind of campaign that we recommend, to put together a truly useful set of names for a contact list. In fact, the marketing communications piece, itself, can provide a method for testing the usefulness of the names on the contact list. To implement this method, language should be included in the marketing communications piece that qualifies the level of involvement (if any) of specific individuals on a list with a set of targeted activities. For example, specific pieces of marketing collateral can be designed for audiences of technology users, buyers, and even sponsors (meaning stakeholders with a vested interest in ensuring that technologies successfully deliver on their promise).

Following further, it may well be that it will makes sense to provide telephone call follow up for some of the roles specified, while it may not make sense to plan on such follow up for others. Therefore, using a list carefully, and, specifically, in conjunction with a range of marketing communications options based upon role, can help, substantially to ensure that the right follow up efforts are made for the right set of contacts.

In the next post to this blog we will look further at why prospect titles should be used as an important indicator of whether or not it makes sense to follow up on marketing communications with a telephone call.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

14
Jan

Marketing Communications Content Should be Used to Produce Opportunities to Directly Engage with Market Participants

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has considerable experience identifying opportunities for clients to meet with prospects who want to learn more about our clients’ products, services, or integrated solutions. Usually the type of opportunity that we produce is a meeting between a representative from our clients’ team and a prospect.

Often this type of service is called “lead generation.” However, we won’t use the term lead generation over the next series of posts to this blog. “Lead generation” is, in our opinion, a vague term that, literally, refers to an undefined process, “generation”, which somehow produces “leads”, meaning the names of contacts and prospects likely to have an interest in specific products/services/integrated solutions.

Further, the term “leads” is, itself, hard to define. For example, what does interest really mean? In fact, it is often the case that interest can arise as the result of any of a wide range of factors, not all of which will result in a purchase.

We think it is much more useful to break up the process of promoting products to attract sales prospects into a series of steps, which are each clearly defined. Once each of these steps is clear, then the method of managing these steps to ensure success should be clear, as well.

The first step in building a successful product promotional campaign is to target the marketing communications component, meaning the promotional editorial content, to the specific market segment most likely to be receptive to invitations to engage in a manner that will produce useful information. There are 3 key aspects to this first step:

  • The content must be targeted
  • A specific group of recipients, meaning a subset of the overall market, should be the intended audience
  • and, finally, the objective should be to collect preliminary information that can be used to qualify individuals and their respective organizations as to the likeliness that they will emerge as customers

It is by no means a simple matter to successfully accomplish each of these three steps. We think that the challenges that arise for clients as they realize mediocre returns from their efforts to promote their products contributes to a general skepticism about “lead generation” services.

In the next post to this blog we will talk about what we think successfully targeted product promotional content is all about.

If you are tired of mediocre results from product promotional efforts, and would welcome a fresh look at your marketing and sales plans for your products, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have current experience working with software products, services and integrated solutions for enterprise business markets and comparably sized organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. You can telephone us at +1 631-673-2929. If you prefer electronic contact, then please contact us. We are enthusiastic about opportunities to engage with businesses looking for a truly effective method of producing market interest.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

11
Jan

Product Awareness Collateral for Channel Partners Should Include a Call to Action

There is no less a requirement for a call to action to be included in a piece of product awareness marketing collateral than is the case for any other type of promotional marketing communications. In fact, driving engagement is, perhaps, a more pressing objective for this type of marketing communications than is the case for other types of promotional material. After all, legitimate opportunities for ISV staff to engage with channel partners outside of joint sales calls are usually rare. Therefore, it makes sense to use an opportunity to present product awareness information as an occasion, as well, to schedule a follow up telephone call.

The most obvious reason for a follow up telephone call is to ensure that recipients have correctly received the intended message about a specific product, or product line. Certainly it makes sense to enlist the support of channel partner management in this effort. Specifically, efforts must be made to convince channel partner management to encourage their personnel to make themselves available for these follow up telephone calls.

We have participated in quite a number of these efforts where the management encouragement piece was missing. In each of these cases it proved to be very difficult to gain commitment from personnel to speak with us about the product awareness information that they had received. Subsequently we determined that product awareness collateral was less effective as a method of attracting the attention of sales, and maintaining it. Bottom line, a follow up telephone call can be a very powerful method of wrapping up a product introduction for channel partners.

These follow up telemarketing calls should be carefully scripted to ensure that each and every important point has been received by the individuals contacted by the telemarketing team. In fact, we think that the team of telemarketers selected for the follow up telephone call activity ought to be selected by the same marketing communications team responsible for the creation of the product awareness collateral. After all, the purpose of these calls is to ensure that each of the individuals contacted have a useful understanding of the product in question. It is important to note that a “useful” understanding is one that empowers the individual newly empowered with your information to relay the right message along to her contacts in an enterprise IT organization, or even contacts from influential line of business (LOB) units.

Keep in mind that an important objective of the entire product awareness campaign will likely be to multiply the number people broadcasting a correct message about your products, related solutions, and, of most importance, benefits.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

3
Jan

Telemarketing and Teleprospecting Should be Components of a Coordinated Direct Marketing Campaign

This is the second of several posts to this blog which are intended to provide more substance to a description of IMB Enterprises, Inc. as a unique resource, capable of delivering a combination of marketing expertise (effectively a suite of tools) that can be used to craft a highly successful set of coordinated direct marketing campaigns for appropriate businesses. In this post we will present our view on why it makes sense for these campaigns to include a telemarketing and/or a teleprospecting component.

We think it makes sense to follow up marketing communications efforts with telemarketing and/or teleprospecting activity. In order for this type of activity to be effective, the marketing communications piece must provide recipients with some advance notice that telephone activity will follow. Further, the activity itself, must be undertaken while the marketing communications effort is fresh in the minds of recipients, usually no later than 3 days from verified receipt of communications.

It is very important that the personnel charged with placing calls to campaign recipients refrain from using the opportunity of the telephone call for any other purpose than to gather information. The actual specific information which ought to be gathered by these calls, in our experience, varies from client to client; therefore, we cannot be more specific than to simply refer to it as “information”. With a highly specific objective that is heavily weighted towards gathering information, rather than presenting information, we make much more use of personnel for these calls who exhibit high quality listening skills for this endeavor than might be expected. Further, it is essential that these calls be placed in an absolutely courteous manner. We instruct our representatives to always request a moment from contacted individuals. Of course, where a moment is not presently available, then an appointment needs to be made to speak at another, more convenient time.

Of course, with broad guidelines like the ones we have just provided, it makes sense to equip telemarketers with call scripts. We do not advocate requiring that telemarketers strictly follow scripts; rather, we look to work with personnel capable of adhering to the boundaries of courtesy delineated by the script, yet within their own creative presentation. Successful representatives generally exhibit an ability to ingratiate themselves with call contacts. This ability is important as, in our experience, comfortable contacts generally share more information.

We do make a heavy use of recording telephone calls. In our experience, recordings of telephone calls provide management with the information required to gauge the progress of coordinated direct marketing campaigns. It is our policy, particularly throughout the early stages of working with a new client, to share all recordings with our clients to ensure that calls are handled in an acceptable manner.

In the next post to this blog we will take a look at teleprospecting as a separate type of telephone activity with prospects.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

2
Jan

On Using a Coordinated Direct Marketing Campaign in a Lead Generation Program for Highly Competitive Markets

IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers considerable experience producing leads from highly competitive markets. We approach our task with a set of tactics that we refer to as a coordinated direct marketing campaign. We have built our tactics, in part, on some of the work of acknowledged experts in the fields of direct marketing, product marketing, and enterprise sales. These experts include Ernan Ronan, Jeff Thull, and, with regards to competitive markets, Michael Porter.

The remainder of our tool set amounts to a gallery of our own entirely original techniques, which we developed through our work with three entrepreneurs who successfully built businesses that went public. We need to note that two of these three individuals are serial entrepreneurs with several business-building success stories. They each built multiple businesses that successfully went public. We will be happy to present more information about these three entrepreneurs, and our affiliation with each of them, upon request. Please contact us for more information.

We are happy to say that we, ourselves, have successfully managed our own business, in its present form, for over ten years. Therefore, our clients can depend upon our consultants as representatives of a successful business venture, who, as required, can provide overall business counsel, as required.

The tactics that we have developed over the years, which we have used to successfully deliver the results required by our clients, maybe, to some extent, surprising. For example, we are equally comfortable conceptualizing, designing, and, then managing marketing communications efforts (including print and/or electronic media), telemarketing and teleprospecting campaigns, and even some aspects of product marketing. These tactics can be particularly useful to early stage businesses with unique (or seemingly unique) products as well as more mature businesses looking to consolidate several marketing roles into a single resource.

As well, our team includes individuals with expertise of strategic value for growing businesses in 2013. Of particular importance, as we see it today, with specific regard to marketing communications, is an ability to combine graphic design with editorial content into a recipe that stimulates the appetite, and provokes the required interest on the part of prospects, to motivate them to reach out and engage with vendors like our clients. The members of our team possess this expertise.

In our opinion, it is by no means satisfactory for our clients to simply either over emphasize the value of a strictly graphical representation of a concept, or, conversely, to merely portray it through words alone. Rather a combination and balance is required, of graphic elements, text, and video, particularly where the competitive markets of concern are enterprise businesses.

In the next post to this blog we will discuss the second section of our gallery of tools, telemarketing and teleprospecting.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

25
Oct

High Quality Contact Lists are Essential to Telemarketing Efforts to Generate Leads for Enterprise IT Software

We have little tolerance for low quality contact lists. Our tolerance is especially low where list vendors prominent. We recommend corrective action whenever a client encounters excessive list errors. The higher the cost for list subscription, the greater our urgency in bringing the need for corrective action to client attention.

We were surprised, recently, to work with a client who had purchased a list from a very prominent business services company. What surprised us was the very high frequency of errors in the list. Telephone numbers were incorrect, or disconnected. Prospect management lists were not current. Many businesses had changed hands. New corporate parents were not listed. In sum, we recommended to our client that the list vendor be notified of these errors and that a refund, or at least a credit be applied to our client’s account.

In 2012, there is little, if any excuse for peddling low quality contact lists. With so many social media venues available for contact verification, it should be rather straightforward to verify important information — like management team members, parent corporations, etc. — before marketing lists to the public. At a minimum, low quality lists should be correctly promoted, as such, with a lower acquisition cost for the customer.

In contrast, we found the subscription cost incurred by our client to be very high. With barter resources like Jigsaw dot com readily available, we see little need, if any at all, for purchasing comparatively expensive plans (our client is looking at an annual charge in the $5K range).

In fact, we ourselves tend (at least at the outset of a client engagement) to put together our own low volume lists through a manual process that makes use of prominent social media sites (principally LinkedIn). Our accuracy is very high, but the volume of contacts is low.

We think it is very important to have a healthy volume of contacts available for outreach. Maintaining an adequate pool of available contacts empowers telemarketers to be discerning in their activities> “Discerning” means carefully avoiding the tendency to counter contact objections. Where the number of leads is constrained, we find a strong tendency on the part of telemarketers to convince contacts to sign on to lead campaigns. Therefore, it makes much more sense to provide these teams with a large volument of contacts.

If you would like your business to generate leads, at least in part, through telemarketing efforts, you should consider using the services of a third party like IMB Enterprises, Inc. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

24
Oct

Telemarketing Calls Placed to Generate Leads for Enterprise IT Software Should Conclude Promptly When Objectives have been Achieved

Once contacts express interest in a topic, telemarketers generating leads for enterprise IT ISVs ought to promptly conclude calls and move on. Therefore objectives should be clearly established before telemarketers begin to work on call campaigns. Generally, these objectives can include:

  • Adding names to opt in email lists
  • Sending information about offers, white papers, etc
  • Scheduling follow up sales calls or
  • free of charge surveys
  • or participation in webinars, etc

While we are very familiar with free of charge surveys, we are not very keen on them. In fact, we are not advocates of “freemium” strategies. We have excellent recent experience working with clients who, in contrast, are keen on “freemiums”. These clients offer free versions of paid software, as well as broad surveys of customer requirements. In both cases we have noted barriers that have arisen, in our opinion, as a result of these free offers. We can’t help but think that sales prospects who are receiving some material, at no charge, are, therefore, hard pressed to accept that they will have to pay for other material. Therefore, we highly recommend that contacts not be offered opportunities to participate in free of charge surveys.

The other objectives that we have listed, above, are certainly promising. For example, securing permission to add contact information to an opt-in email list provides enterprise IT ISVs with an opportunity to build up a captive audience. If this captive audience is not subject to abuse (spam), or swooned into indifference as the result of poorly structured marketing communications efforts, it can provide telemarketing teams with an excellent set of prospects for further development. We have recently worked with a client who is very adept at maintaining these boundaries. We are happy to say that the opt-in email list maintained by this enterprise IT ISV is filled with a rich set of appropriate and valuable contacts, with whom we have positively engaged. One important point about this client’s use of the list is that communications are rarely any more frequent than once a month. Another important point is that the communications are structured in a manner that eschews a bald sales pitch. In fact, the communications are put together around technical topics, which constitutes a neutral ground upon which we have successfully engaged with prospects.

We are eager to expand on this discussion with companies who can see the value of a lead generation method that respects the privilege of engaging with valuable prospect, but, nevertheless, moves a sales process forward. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

23
Oct

When Telemarketers Pursue Qualified Leads They Should Not Spend Time Overcoming Objections

As we noted in the last post to this blog, outbound telemarketers working on generating leads for enterprise IT software should be equipped with call scripts that include a short presentation of specific product, or service, or integrated solutions very early in the call. Determining whether or not a contact is interested in a topic of conversation very early in the process of a call ensures that telemarketing activity will be very efficient.

Along the same lines, it makes sense for telemarketers to quickly pass over contacts who either express no interest in topics or products, or state that their needs in the target area are already being satisfied via other options. Keep in mind that the purpose of these telemarketing calls is to produce leads, not to close sales (neither do we think it makes sense to counter contact objections within the sales process, but we are not going to cover why sales personnel will do well to respect contact objections within a sales process, here). Therefore, including a purely directive question in the call script:

  • Would you like to hear further?

offers the contact an opportunity to cut the conversation short, which also frees the telemarketer to move on to other calls, which may prove more fruitful.

Probing the contact for more information to determine other areas of need does not make sense, unless the enterprise IT ISV has other products targeted to other common enterprise computing needs. Where this type of enterprise IT ISV has implemented a telemarketing process to generate useful leads, the call script should necessarily, be different. In this case it makes sense to include a bit of information on each of the products as well as the market need that each product is designed to address.

Once a contact has made it clear that he or she is not interested in the subject of the discussion the telemarketer should gracefully end the call and move on. It makes sense to schedule a follow up call to this type of contact approximately 3 months out. Enterprise organizations can make changes on a quarterly basis. Following Up on a quarterly basis ensures that information about prospects, and their employees, partners, consultants, etc. is adequately accurate to determine that opportunities to develop sales are not being missed.

If your business is enterprise IT software, but you lack the internal resources to determine whether your present promotional strategies are adequate, or not, you should work with a third party like IMB Enterprises, Inc. to ensure that you are on the right track.

Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

22
Oct

It Makes Sense to Include Some Presentation in Direct Outreach Telemarketing Calls for Enterprise IT

It makes sense for enterprise IT ISVs to use direct marketing, and, specifically, telemarketing in their lead generation efforts. We have written extensively on the topic of telemarketing and a variant of telemarketing — teleprospecting — in this blog. Telemarketing can also be used for selling. Nevertheless, when telemarketing is used for lead generation the call script should include some presentation of the product/service/integrated solution offered.

Much has been written over the last several years about best sales practices for software to enterprise customers. Most of these practices include product presentation rather late in the sales cycle, after a complete picture of a customer’s needs has been assembled. But generating leads is a wholly separate process from sales. Where the objective is to produce leads that may develop into sales opportunities, products/services/integrated solutions should be at least mentioned in the initial call to contacts. Outbound telemarketing calls to unqualified prospects cannot produce meaningful results without some confirmation that prospects have an interest in the specific offerings of enterprise IT ISVs.

There is no substitute for including a short presentation of an offer for this type of telemarketing activity. By injecting a brief presentation, upon which a contact expresses an interest, a telemarketer can produce a useful lead. We define a “useful lead” as a qualified contact who is interested not only in a subject of discussion, but, further, in learning more about a specific offer. It is much easier to start with useful leads than to spend lots of time engaging with contacts along the periphery of a market topic without ever venturing in for a closer look at specific products, services and/or solutions. In contrast, once a telemarketer obtains confirmation from a contact that a product is of interest, he or she should start to collect answers to who/what/where/how/why questions.

The best method of injecting presentation into these first outbound calls is to include a sentence on the topic within an introduction of the business. For example:

  • “My name is John Smith, I am calling you from Acme Enterprise Software. We offer a scalable customer relationship management system, either on premise, or in the cloud. Would you care to hear further?”

This simple 3 sentence introduction (which must only follow obtaining a contact’s permission to proceed with a discussion. Telemarketers must be instructed not to make any introduction unless/until a contact grants permission to proceed) provides the following product specific information:

  1. the general category of software — customer relationship management
  2. the fact that the software is scalable, and, therefore, specifically targeted for enterprise organizations with different classes of users and applications
  3. and, finally, that the product is available either on premise, or as a software as a service (SaaS) delivered over the Internet and accessed with web browsers (cloud)

In the next post to this blog we will examine the impact of including a short presentation in an opening call to contacts on other aspects of generating enterprise IT software leads with telemarketers.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. works with enterprise IT ISVs that lack internal marketing management resources. We can serve very well as a temporary marketing communications function. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved