Direct Marketing and, specifically, “teleprospecting” adds substantial value to sales for complex products targeted at enterprise customers.
“Teleprospecting” is a new buzz word with a definition in flux. You can observe some of the ambiguity of the definition of this direct marketing technique in a debate on “Telemarketing vs. Teleprospecting vs. Inside Sales” (http://www NULL.focus NULL.com/questions/marketing/telemarketing-vs-teleprospecting-vs-inside-sales-are-they/).
I define teleprospecting as the use of direct telephone contact to individuals within targeted prospect companies to determine organizational structure, decision trees, stake holders, roles, projects, plans and other matters of interest. The collection of information that results from this teleprospecting activity is a very rich resource which a nimble business with a complex product or service can use to develop accurate understanding of the “critical perspective” (Jeff Thull, “Mastering the Complex Sale”, John Wiley & Sons. Second Edition, Page 124) of targeted prospects.
I, myself, have written earlier in this blog about the necessity of developing this precise understanding in a post on why the old adage that a sales person with an address book can be so true, as long as the sales person carries a useful reputation and a prior history of business with his or her contacts.
The fact is that qualifying prospects without recourse to a foundation of knowledge and understanding about the business, roles, etc., can produce unreliable information. Prospects may not open up during untrusted conversations; therefore, an outbound contact effort has to be built on useful business intelligence.
The objective of teleprospecting, as I understand it and as I make use of it is twofold:
- to promote conversations with stake holders by scheduling meetings between subject matter experts and prospects and
- to create a “map” of targeted prospect businesses complete with roles, decision trees, etc
The objective is not to sell anything. Further, efforts to transform teleprospecting contacts into customers will generally be fruitless. The nature of the conversation in teleprospecting as compared to the nature of a conversation in a selling technique like telemarketing is fundamentally different. The first is exploratory, expansive, intentionally non threatening and clearly a pure information gathering exercise, while the latter is focused, concentrated and clearly intended to accomplish an objective: a sale as well as providing the customer with a desired solution.
So how do we get from teleprospecting to sales? Via the meeting noted in objective number 1 above. These meetings (and it may take several meetings to collect the required information and then modulate from information-gathering to sales) provide the setting for transforming the discussion into a sales campaign.
Try it, I think you’ll like it.
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