Telemarketing in the business-to-business sector is full of paradoxes. The prospects you are contacting are both individuals but at the same time entire organizations. There is only one person authorized to acquire your software (CRM software, medical software, accounting software, SAP, SAGE, Oracle and others) but their decision is weighed with the collective input of many individuals. How will your telemarketing strategy handle this? Balance collective and individual objectives.
As you’re well aware, security remains a top concern even among companies who have begun to put faith in cloud-based software providers. Unfortunately, many of these providers are still emphasizing on cost-efficiency as the primary reason to shift to the cloud.
If you still aren’t convinced that data security should remain a high priority, take note that the Federal Trade Commission charges heavily against companies who they feel aren’t doing enough to protect customer data. In this article from CNNMoney, a representative explains further details, followed by disturbing statistics emphasizing the gravity of the dishonesty.
“’We have always said that it is not a violation to be hacked,’ said Kristin Cohen, an attorney in the F.T.C.’s division of privacy and identity protection. ‘We can only go after companies that have misleading privacy policies — either they did something that was deceptive or unfair.’
Over the past decade, the F.T.C. has reached settlements or sued around 35 companies for misrepresenting their data security. For example, RockYou, a social game site, settled with the agency earlier this year while Twitter did so in 2010.
The number of cases pales next to the proliferation of successful hacker attacks in the United States. Last year alone, there were 419 breaches reported affecting 22.9 million people, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a group that tracks the problem. The number of successful attacks is almost certainly higher, however, because many companies fail to disclose when their defenses are defeated, said Rex Davis, director of operations for the center.”
If you’re considering to offer cloud based software for CRM, be ready to have security brought up as an objection. As such, you should be ready to take responsibility and report breaches to all the parties that should be concerned. This not only means disclosing to the FTC, but also acting immediately to inform your clients. Another reason why this is so important is that it also makes for an effective lead generator on the side. Clients who can see that you’re doing what you can to protect their information are more likely to maintain trust in your software. This means more retention of subscribers and therefore, you can keep drawing in sales without necessarily having to search for all-new software leads.
But as always, a challenge lies in effectively reaching out to these clients and clearly communicating to them the urgency of any breach. Use emails that demand a response showing that they’ve read your notification, are aware of the threat, and are taking your prescribed course of action. If there’s no response, don’t be afraid to follow-up with something more direct like a phone call. Don’t worry about investing in an expensive call center and just outsource telemarketing companies for the actual callers.
Honesty will always be the best policy so be honest when there are security issues with your product. Sure, some people might people might get upset when they know that your security failed to uphold their expectations but at the very least, you told them the truth. On the other hand, the FTC has made it clear that worse consequences await those who betray their customer’s trust and don’t admit to any breach in security.
Despite trends in Big Data, a Wharton school professor is going against the tide and highlighting an overenthusiastic behavior among entrepreneurs and business owners. From MIT’s technology review, Peter Fader explains just how widespread this is and how it could spell bad news if they don’t tone down the hype.
No doubt that with the new technologies of internet and social media, businesses have wider and richer access to information that can tell them about their target markets. Be it B2C or B2B, businesses can use these new mediums of communication to observe buyer behavior and engage customers a lot better than what has been done during past decades. Much of today’s CRM software is now currently being developed to take advantage of these new information sources and come up with new ways to inform and help the relationship between business and client.
However, Fader’s words of warning echo much older words of wisdom about the whole world’s dependence on the Internet. The rise of the World Wide Web may have allowed us access to more information. But is more information necessarily a good thing? Here are his own words on describing this apparently flawed business mentality:
“’More is better.’ If you can give me more data about a customer—if you can capture more aspects of their behavior, their connections with others, their interests, and so on—then I can pin down exactly what this person is all about. I can anticipate what they will buy, and when, and for how much, and through what channel.”
As he himself demonstrates, the problem is that an excess of information is being used to make up for lack of competence. If you’re a CRM firm, you must avoid this habit if you’re going to generate sales leads. This does not mean that data’s not all that. In fact, going beyond one source is what Big Data is all about. The problem is depending on the acquisition of too much information instead of using the skills to fully utilize it.
For B2B, it’s like you spend so much time gathering online information on your prospects but don’t really invest in anything else. Observing the behaviors and drawing conclusions might work in B2C but individual businesses are an entirely different story. Your lead generator needs to know how to act on the information acquired in accordance to each specific organization. This could range from further asking about their own problems with their CRM to adding an appointment setting feature so that you can set aside a certain portion of each other’s time to really talk things out. To summarize, here’s an additional input from Fader about what differentiates those too dependent on Big Data and those competent enough to see its real value:
“There’s no question that new technologies will provide all kinds of genuinely useful measures that were previously unattainable. The key question is: Just how much of that data do we really need? For instance, do we need a second-by-second log of the shopper’s location? Would it be truly helpful to integrate this series of observations with other behavioral data (e.g., which products the shopper examined)? Or would this just be nice to know? And how much of this data should we save after the trip is completed?
A true data scientist would have a decent sense of how to answer these questions, with an eye toward practical decision-making. But a Big Data zealot might say, ‘Save it all—you never know when it might come in handy for a future data-mining expedition.’ That’s the distinction that separates ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ analysts.”
With outsourcing still a popular trend, there are plenty of companies out there who are eager to serve. But with so many of them, you will obviously have a hard time knowing who to pick. That’s having standards help and it also helps to remind yourself that big data is one of them.
Now if you’re supplying CRM software, big data is something you’d be very familiar with. On the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at gathering it. The methods themselves are usually outsourced to organizations like telemarketing services and other marketing firms. The good news though is that they’re capable of having and handling large amounts of data themselves (especially the experienced ones). On the other hand, that hardly narrows down the number of possible groups you can outsource to.
In fact, with the rise of online and social media marketing, some of these companies might still be new and are jumping on bandwagons. That’s not good when you take in these statistics cited on the Wall Street Journal:
“With hype over Facebook’s IPO sparkling and fading, senior executives say Big Data is a greater priority than social software for their businesses, according to a new study from McKinsey & Company. Roughly 49% of those surveyed said they are currently using Big Data to understand their customers better, while a combined 32% said they are currently using social media to interact with customers or promote their brands.”
Granted, it goes and implies that social media can actually form a part of big data. However, that only establishes further data from social media is only small compared to the whole of big data. Furthermore, not all social networking sites are reliable sources of information for every business. Since CRM software is a B2B product, it’s doubtful that you’ll find information regarding your target businesses from something as personal and consumer-oriented as Facebook. You can try LinkedIn but if you want big data, don’t you think getting your information through just one channel is a bad idea? Much of LinkedIn profiles contain only what would appeal to the people their users are appealing to and you’ll need to work a little harder on the site if you want it the other way around. Online communication is also not as easy because differences in timezones could make reading and responses slow. If you’re going to outsource your software lead generation, you’d want a company that is not afraid to search high and low for relevant information (e.g. key decision makers, budget, specific needs, schedule in case you need to set appointments).
Keeping the above criteria in mind will likely reduced the number of companies and likely leave you with just the more seasoned marketing groups. Some telemarketing groups, for instance, actually use more than the phone for generating B2B leads. They’ve integrated email and even social media into their information gathering strategy. Some of them come with large CRM databases of their own. That already spells out big data so in conclusion, you’d want companies who are big enough with their methods to gather it.
Setting appointments with highly interested clients is one of the additional services of many lead generation companies. Lead generation in turn is one business process (BP) that ranks among the top when it comes to being outsourced. For many years, both buyers and sellers of the service have done so mainly to reduce costs.
However, according to a cited survey in the Australian Financial Review, cutting costs is no longer the primary reason. 71% of companies in the country now cite reasons such as preventing increased workload from incurring additional costs, the global expansion, and even reduce negative environmental impacts (according to 83% of manufacturing companies). What’s interesting is that the process which received the highest surge in growth was marketing (where lead generation naturally falls under).
Couple that with global expansion (which ranked as the top reason), and it’s easy to see that, as far B2B lead generation in Australia is concerned, CRM software companies and other suppliers of management systems have a lot of opportunity here beyond that of cutting costs. Unlike a lot of products, plenty of B2B software companies are seeing the advantages of IT and how it can take their brand across the globe. Whether it’s through cloud computing or through some other means of online-based delivery system, you’re likely to have more reason (and ability) to go global.
But with global efforts, there comes a need for your marketing and lead generation efforts to catch up. Just making yourself available everywhere is not enough to attract the attention of potential clients. You need exposure first and the ability to maximize that exposure. Going back to appointment setting, you’re offering a very complex product (and an important one since its supposed to improve the relations between a company and its customers). You can’t just pack all the details of its functions and the implementation plan in a single email or phone call. Sometimes it’s better to slowly reel them in and use the appointment to take the sale home.
There are many ways to set appointments. Some companies hire professional telemarketers while others maximize their online exposure and hire people to handle inbound inquiries. Regardless of that however, the costs are high if it’s going to be on a global scale. Hence, outsourcing could be your chance for a cost-efficient global expansion.
Another thing you can take away from this survey is that businesses in Australia no longer need to fear being on a road less traveled. It’s a certified trend and furthermore, the original reasons for it (the cutting of costs) have made way for even greater ones. You can say it’s become less of a necessary ‘evil’ and more of an opportunity to do greater things for your company. What’s more, the thing about trends is that a lot of people are following it. In your case, that could also include your competitors and you would not want to fall behind them. Why not start outsourcing today? You now have better reasons to!
CRM software is for the sake of customer service. Recently, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become yet another channel in which companies can fully engage their customers. It’s only expected that CRM software companies would try and integrate this new medium to improve the quality of their services.
However, what about integrating it for B2B lead generation? Can these same sites also serve for your own benefit as a B2B software firm?
According to socialmediatoday, that may not be the case. In this article, David Meerman Scott cites Hubspot statistics that indicate the visit-to-lead conversion rate for these sites are only about .39-.67%. This isn’t to say that social media itself is not a desirable means but if you’re thinking of using it, there are better sites like LinkedIn. According to the same article, LinkedIn users have experienced a conversion rate that is about four times that of either site.
Statistics aside, why is it that Facebook and Twitter boast so much marketing and CRM success with customers but not with B2B? The answer obviously lies within the sheer difference between the two types of business relationships. Just looking at either of these two, you can tell that they’re heavily geared towards consumers. You can say that decision makers also have a Facebook page but when they do, they’re likely using it as a consumer and not someone in charge of a business. The wall posts of most people more often than not detail events that are rather personal than business oriented: birthday parties, pictures of their kids, silly videos from YouTube, game updates etc.
Now when you’re a decision maker, you really can’t afford the time to do any of that unless the work day is over. Heck, there’s a good chance you’re likely to go on sites like that from the desktop of your home rather than that of the office.
Speaking of which, one reason why B2B social networking sites like LinkedIn are valuable is because of the information that connections can provide. This could potentially include information that can help make them more accessible to you. Why not maximize the benefit of such information and go beyond the internet? Private messaging and email can only take you so far. Phone numbers abound in LinkedIn and it’s likely to take you faster to a company’s website than just manually searching even through Google.
If you want more evidence, you should know that even lead generation companies (e.g. B2B telemarketers) are using LinkedIn in their research to generate more leads for either themselves or their clients. Some have even gone so far as include the use social media marketing experts in their campaigns. And given how valuable information is for lead generators, they’ll need as much information as they can to contact and qualify targets.
Why not give a call to a B2B telemarketer yourself and see if they can offer these services as well as give you more advice on how to use and integrate this new medium for your business instead of just your software?