Software telemarketing and follow-ups go hand in hand. There is never a guarantee that you can score a lead (let alone a sale) during the first call. In fact, the rise of criticism against cold calling might as well have killed what little guarantee there was left in the first place. Furthermore, as a CRM software vendor, you might occasionally have your image as a tech company work against you if you resort to telemarketing. Wrong or right, it is a popular opinion that the landline phone is going the complete opposite direction of advanced.
Like any decent marketing tactic, your telemarketing agents must always look over signs of cultural influence in any market. Whether it is business culture, national culture, or seasonal culture, they all can influence a buyer’s decision. No matter how far you are up in the big business world, signs of this are everywhere. Continue reading “Telemarketing – Reviewing Market Culture” »
The telemarketing industry has a lot of experience when it comes to clashing with consumer rights. But for marketers, salespeople, and even the whole of the business world, there is plenty of migraine to be expected when this issue raises its ugly head.
Yes, consumers have rights. But in the zeal to preserve those rights, advocates are slowly eroding at the rights of businesses and their legal battles in the conflict are beginning to highlight their own violations. They also ignore a more obvious fact: they need businesses as much as businesses need them.
But setting that aside, how is it that even now, the controversy surrounding customer privacy remains a highly active subject? People no longer have to worry about getting telemarketing calls in their homes or worse, having a salesperson knocking on the door. Well, that is simply because marketing and sales have moved on and gone digital. With software and IT having an increasing impact on research and CRM, businesses are relying on online behavior and advertising to expand their influence.
Unfortunately, that too might soon come to an end as more consumers are aware of this tracking strategy. And like with telemarketing, they are demanding privacy by calling for technologies that conceal their behavior. In other words, from Do-Not-Call, you now have Do-Not-Track. This has left many CRM and internet marketing professionals in an uproar as not only their entire livelihood has been compromised, so has the source of critical information. It is a repeat of what telemarketing went through in supposedly their last days of relevancy. Continue reading “Outsourcing Telemarketing To Ease Consumer Paranoia” »
There’s no denying that telemarketing still suffers a bad reputation. The way phone numbers are becoming increasingly sensitive and withheld is just the tip of the iceberg.
But on further reflection, what marketing strategy isn’t under fire these days? If you think internet marketing or social marketing have it better, they might even have it worse. Look at Facebook. On the one hand, it has to contend with shareholders over the value of its advertising model. On the other hand, it user privacy concerns have advocacy groups breathing down on them just badly.
If you’re still not convinced read Derek Thompson‘s article from The Atlantic. It’s just one of the many out there that highlight’s Facebook’s spot between a rock and a hard place:
“That question is meant 100% seriously. The issue isn’t that I find Facebook creepy. I don’t, really. But today’s story about the company tracking drug store purchases to display more relevant ads to users is a good example of the tension between social media and social mores.
For now, Facebook uses aggregated information about the lives of its hundreds of millions of users to place relevant ads next to pictures and stories from our friends. That’s how it makes money. Our information is currency. More information makes better ads with better click-throughs at better rates for Facebook.”
By the looks of it, it seems like the whole of marketing is what’s really under fire here. Telemarketing services have already faced similar opposition that the article describes. And while they may continue to contend, it only goes to show that technology is no substitute for the basic defense of the marketing practice.
In the following are some typical objections often flung against marketers (telemarketing ones and otherwise):
- “You’re trying to sell something.” – And this is wrong, why? Of course, if you do B2B, this question could belie a far more critical and skeptical sentiment. On the bright side, getting a response that well thought-out should give you the right to ask in turn, “What’s wrong with that?” However, it’s important to first establish that your prospect can be legitimately qualified for software leads. Furthermore, it should awaken them to one simple truth: Nothing is for free. You need money to keep developing. You need money to keep serving. Facebook itself needs that same money to provide its service (hence its need to please advertisers). How are you any less limited?
- “I have no need for it.” – Sure, some prospects do give the impression of knowing better. That doesn’t keep this line from turning into an excuse to deprive oneself of needs. For example, a business with a customer base that has grown state-size obviously needs a CRM database to keep track. Such problems should call you and your marketers to demonstrate your collective expertise to determine if a prospect does know better or is just parroting anti-marketers. If they find it unethical to provide things people don’t need, it’s just as questionable to deny themselves a solution when they know it’s the only thing that can save their sinking business.
- “No. Just, no.” – People like these just can’t be argued with. The only thing you can do is respect their wishes and move on. That’s why it’s important to not limit the size of your contact list.
On that last count, don’t forget that marketing is still supposed to be for the sake of your prospects and customers. You are promoting your products for their sake and that’s one of the best defenses for the practice.
Managing the work force is a basic responsibility of HR. But today, HR software is evolving in ways that are reshaping the structure of the work place and the ways employees are doing their jobs. And with that change comes a change in market behavior that your marketing strategies need to adjust to.
The two major force driving this change are cloud computing and mobile. Shifting HR software to the cloud can not only benefit decision makers but can also liberate workers. It has allowed them to work from home along with more management over their time. Recent statistics have also shown support indicating that people working at home perform better than those working in a traditional office space (as this report from Smithsonian.com claims):
“After a few weeks of the experiment, it was clear that the telecommuters were performing better than their counterparts in the office. They took more calls (it was quieter and there were fewer distractions at home) and worked more hours (they lost less time to late arrivals and sick breaks) and more days (fewer sick days). This translated into greater profits for the company because more calls equaled more sales. The telecommuters were also less likely to quit their jobs, which meant less turnover for the company.”
As for mobile, you may have already heard that Google has just recently launched Coordinate, an application that utilizes its location-based software to help managers and administrators organize a mobile work force. Examples of such workers include delivery personnel, construction site workers, and perhaps those in the movie set business. This report from TechCrunch has more details but among the features include the ability to send new job orders to workers’ mobile phones, as well allowing administrators to monitor their current location.
On the other hand, nothing is perfect and there might be some other concerns that cause business owners to hesitate either shifting to the cloud or enabling a mobile work force. Software vendors marketing this new form of HR need to make sure their marketing efforts are well-informed so that they’ll run into fewer speed bumps when generating software leads:
- Security – Security is a major issue and is among the top concerns of decision makers when it comes to cloud computing. Therefore, it should be your concern as well when marketing cloud-based HR.
- Compliance – This is also related to security. Your marketing tactics shouldn’t neglect to give prospects a basic idea of where your responsibilities lie (and perhaps find ways to make it appealing).
- Industry – Home-based work isn’t necessarily for everyone. Certain industries would still have employees who prefer their cubicles than their homes for work. On the other hand, other industries may have already been using mobile workers for a long time. Make sure your marketing approach executes proper targeting and determines which industry is more likely in need of software that manages dispersed employees.
- Needs – Having a lot of features might sound impressive at first. But remember, managers tend to be very objective and want only what works for them. Again, your marketing efforts should be about identifying their needs before handing them over to sales.
No doubt these new technologies are shaping the work force but it’s always best to make sure people are eager to accept this change. Perhaps the change could actually be starting with them and you’re just giving them the kind of work environment that they’ve been asking for in a long time.
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.”
Things are really not looking well for Facebook as more statistics come in that cast major doubt on its value to businesses. While some professionals say that this is simply due to lack of targeting, the value of Facebook advertising has not only diminished, it’s being followed by decreasing support from its users as a result of its IPO controversies. The FOXBusiness video below has more details:
In light of all this, one must ask: Will the fall of Facebook herald the fall of social media? Well, perhaps that is still quite a stretch. Social media has existed since the time of Friendster and MySpace. And while it seems that it’s only been recently that businesses have been looking to it for a marketing advantage, the fall of Facebook is more likely to become just another repeat of what happened to those previous social networks. Meanwhile, new social networks like Google+ are more than ready to take its crown. The fall of one industry giant may not necessarily spell the fall of the entire industry.
Another question follows this though: Is the value of social media advertising the same as the value of social media marketing as a whole?
Despite the diminishing value of Facebook advertising, many experts still say that the true value of social media marketing lies in the medium’s power to fully engage your target market. In the case of ERP software, for example, frequenting sites like LinkedIn allows you to connect more easily with potential clients as well as discuss with fellow decision makers and experts on how to improve your products.
It can also greatly assist other lead generation endeavors like email marketing, telemarketing, and even direct mail marketing. This is done through the information and discussions you can have on these social networking sites. You get to familiarize yourself with prospects, attract their interest, and hopefully push them through further into the qualification process. After all, that information is the critical component of ERP leads. On the other hand, the above statistics seem to indicate that advertising doesn’t function in the same manner. As far as Facebook is concerned, it is still no different from other forms of online advertising (e.g. banner ads).
On social networks, your success depends just as much as how you take initiative as it does on getting attention. It can even be argued that the former, if properly executed, promises a higher rate of conversion. All the latter ever does is get people to talk to you. You still have to engage them a little bit and gather more information before you start directing them to a sale. You might even have to set software appointments prior to that because you can only exchange information for so long.
Social media is ‘social’ for a good reason. It’s supposed to help you connect with other people. In terms of business, more and more companies are emphasizing on establishing relationships before sales. More information is required before attempts are made. More trust is needed in order to really maintain that relationship. This isn’t something that advertising alone can accomplish. In fact, it could even be the complete opposite of that. When you’re using social media, you’re actually not that much different from those using email or telemarketing services. You should know that your marketing strategy is centered on engaging prospects and not just advertising.
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.
There’s no doubt that Facebook can be credited for starting the social media storm in the business world. Despite the recent events of GM ceasing to place ads on the site, one Businessweek article has this to say about what Facebook is trying to accomplish:
“The bigger picture is that Facebook is still struggling to prove that social forms of advertising work and that they are worth paying extra for.”
Hence, regardless of skepticism, Facebook continues to fight on in its advocacy of bringing a social element to marketing and encouraging stronger relations between business and consumer. However, even a casual business observer might notice one or two things about Facebook: it may not work for everybody.
Remember, there are two sides to the business world that companies cater to. One face represents the B2C relationships. In other words, these would be the businesses connecting their part of the world to the rest of it. On the other hand, we have the B2B side where companies connect and cooperate each other to improve on their services. A good example of a B2C company would be Hasbro or McDonald’s (and in this case, Facebook itself). B2B companies however would include the likes of IBM and SAP who supply businesses with management systems (e.g. BI software).
Here, when one sees the social media marketing attempts done on Facebook, it can be argued that B2C companies can experience a higher amount of success. On the other hand, Rich Karlgaard has written some interesting things on his blog that would hint as to why Facebook is not a good place for business leads.
“The company says it is zeroing in on a billion members. Good for Facebook, but what I would like to know is how many Facebook users have grown bored. I have not visited my Facebook page in two months. Almost every professional person I talk to who is over 25 years old has grown bored with Facebook.”
He even goes further and say that Facebook is not as much a necessity as some people would like to believe:
“I like Google, Intel, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, EMC and SAP because the world’s economy depends on them. Sure, we could live without them, but not without major disruption. The switching costs would be extremely high… Facebook is not integral to the global economy and its cool brand is rapidly fading.”
Naturally, some people might say that the social aspect is a necessity (as evidenced by some of the comments to the blog). While they may have some points, how much of those will hold for companies seeking to get leads out of it? ERP software groups are more likely to target professionals and decision makers. And as far as Karlgaard’s opinion goes, you won’t find plenty of them on Facebook. Many of those marketing within B2B companies still boast success with telemarketing services or setting software appointments than spending an unusual amount of time on Facebook. There’s a reason why some companies have blocked access to the site within their offices.
Cloud computing is one of the latest trends for B2B software applications from BI to SCM. However, like all internet-based services, updates are not uncommon and as such it is important that you inform your current clients beforehand. It helps them prepare for any new changes to the system as well as maintain a stress-free relationship with them all. Most software companies simply send emails or even have the software itself become the announcer and source of news regarding new developments.
Unfortunately, these can get easily lost because high-end tools like SCM software systems could be accessed by anyone with relevant authority but not always take the highest priority. In other words, you could be sending messages and notifications to a lot of people when you only needed to have tell the one person in charge of the whole thing.
This is where telemarketing comes in because unlike the online communication, the telephone is more akin to a precision tool than a blasting one. While email can be convenient in sending out marketing messages, there’s no point if you’re only trying inform the person who needs to know the most. However, maybe you need to first review why it’s not only important to inform your current clients but also why you need to save time doing so.
- Again, unexpected updates aren’t always taken kindly. You know there are many cases in just Facebook or YouTube where users have difficulty adjusting to new changes to the websites’ GUI. What makes you think your software won’t be any less irritating?
- Some people would have questions regarding these new updates, unexpected or not. As a provider, it is your duty to put their uncertainties to rest.
- If you don’t consider your current client, you’ll obviously have a harder time retaining them which is bad news during periods when new clients are hard to come by.
- Explaining the updates en masse however is not as efficient as simply talking to the person in charge and telling them what the new changes have in store. Put 1 and 2 together and you’ll also see how the phone can make conversations happen faster.
- Most SaaS providers have likely gone global and when you go global, you’ll have a lot of companies from all over and you need to speed up the process of informing them all. What’s worse is that not all of them can catch your email when they’re likely to have others flooding their inbox as well. At the very least, you can just make a call to tell them to look out for your message.
Now you might ask, even if you did decide on telemarketing to inform current clients, why outsource it? Well that’s only because telemarketing, whether it’s inbound or outbound, can come with a high cost that might seem needless. Skilled communication on the phone is arguably faster when it comes to gathering and dispensing information. Phone equipment and additional support software might also require a sizable investment. Finally, you need to have years of experience with the method in order to train people on how to use it effectively. Why else would you think telemarketing services still exist if there weren’t companies like you outsourcing to them?