Given all the popular ideas of telemarketing, you might think that it is a tool that only brings out that bad behavior. How can it possibly be used to discourage it? Well first off, telemarketing is not the only (and perhaps not even the most notorious) cause of bad business habits.
Forbes just announced that famous coffee-chain Starbucks has just made a hefty investment in mobile payment service company Square. Asides from the prediction that mobile will eventually bring to question the very purpose of paper and coin currency, you can also see it as another sign that mobile is becoming another market that’s growing with potential B2B software leads. Just look at the figures being mentioned:
“Mobile payments service provider, Square, got a $25 million investment from Starbucks (SBUX) — valuing the start-up at $3.25 billion— that could mark the beginning of the end of cash. Meanwhile, this deal could boost Starbucks’ profits and puts Square’s competitors on notice.”
But like every other B2B software market, generating qualified software leads can sometimes be troublesome. In the case of relatively new markets like mobile payment, targets might be hard to define. If the report is any indication on the other hand, a few possible business groups could be:
As pointed out by the article, small businesses make good targets for this type of mobile business technology:
“That’s because it launched by selling to the 66% of 27 million small U.S. businesses that don’t accept credit or debit cards to avoid expensive payment processing fees, an annoying application process and required credit checks.”
Small businesses however can be very elusive for different types of marketing approaches. Typical B2B tools like telemarketing and email could backfire but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a call center ready to take in customer support calls. What small businesses lack in size and budget, they can make up for in numbers. Don’t let poor customer service generate bad referrals and a lack of desirability among them.
You can also target mainstream retailers who generally take credit cards. The lower costs isn’t a benefit that’s limited to simply small businesses. If you can find a way to impress and assure larger companies, that gives you another potential market to target. Even better, it gives you more wiggle room for telemarketing attempts if they’re done right. Get the name of the proper decision maker and do some prior research to confirm their interest in mobile payment. If they agree to an appointment, make sure that their information is recorded accurately on your database so your sales representative won’t have trouble preparing.
If Square aimed for Starbucks, why shouldn’t you try aiming for similar chains? Just like retailers, it’s simply a matter of knowing your targets individually as much as you know them as an entire market. Keep in mind though that it’s also important to know about how these chains approach their own customers. Will offering mobile payments improve their own marketing strategy? Will it improve customer relations? Different companies have varying approaches to their customer so you need to show how a mobile payment service fits into that approach.
To summarize, a new market can still require the same old marketing techniques. Know the desires and needs of your targets, familiarize with them individually as much as a whole group, and try to relate your product to their business needs prior to appointment setting.
As you’re well aware, few things describe the industry of a business better than the process that makes and delivers their products (a.k.a. the supply chain). And as such, it’s important for that vendors have industry as a requirement when defining their SCM software leads.
Now, it’s not a bad idea to use industries as categories in order to organize your software leads. So as long you don’t forget that each business should still be approached individually and aren’t closed to the possibility that they have very unique problems. If you’re going to set up categories however, you have to be sure that your industry expertise not only covers knowledge of the industry but also knowledge of it as it currently stands.
Lots of industries require manufacturing and thus, need SCM software. On the other hand, it’s good to pay attention on which of these industries are currently leading. You also need to organize further by outlining how far you will judge these industries. Ask yourself questions like;
- Will I compare by a regional or global scale?
- Do I limit my targets to businesses of a certain size?
- How soon should I quickly respond to changes?
While there are many other factors that could affect the interest of a market, knowing where certain industries stand can also help predict changes in that behavior. It can also determine the appropriate marketing strategy for your product. For example, if your SCM software is cloud-based, then you might benefit further from comparing industries on a global scale. But despite that, not all regions around the world rank high in the world’s top-most industry. If your software is flexible enough, another alternative is to learn which industry ranks highest in a particular country. Another example: just recently the New York Times published a five-part article that stated the U.S. still remains to be one of the world’s top auto manufacturers.
“But the migration of Japanese auto manufacturing to the United States over the last 30 years offers a case study in how the unlikeliest of transformations can unfold. Despite the decline of American car companies, the United States today remains one of the top auto manufacturers and employers in the world.”
This means that auto manufacturers are a good bet when targeting the U.S. Regardless, not everyone stays at the top forever. One of the risks of industry expertise is obsolescence so you need to keep your knowledge of an industry up to date. That though includes how it’s currently faring whether in regards to the industry’s place in a certain country or the world as a whole.
Sometimes, the top might not be the best place to aim for. A few more questions you should consider could be:
- Should I really be targeting the ones at the top?
- Will their place in the rankings actually work to my marketing advantage?
- What will it mean if this particular industry suddenly makes way for another one?
Targeting is important for many marketing endeavor whether it’s B2C or B2B. It’s not static either. If your targets are moving in entirely new directions, a change in strategy is in order. Therefore, your industry expertise must be ready to adapt to these changes and kept up to date.
People hate complaints. That’s a fact. The hatred for them has gone so far to the point that those who make them plenty are treated like mortal sinners. However, do you think such an attitude is really good for business? How about in CRM software? If complaints are so awful, why is there a need to store them as data? Do you really think that treating them with this attitude will positively affect the way you generate software leads?
Well, it won’t.
Remember, handling complaints is supposed to be part of what CRM does. Hence, it’s logical to assume that your software is supposed to help businesses handle them as part of their tasks. The way you treat complaints will reflect on both your software and in your own dealings with your software clients. As far as the latter is concerned, your treatment will definitely affect your success with your software leads.
Now here two of the worst ways you can respond to a complaint:
“If it’s such a problem for you, then do something about it.”
Why would they be calling you if this was a problem that they could solve on their own? Better yet, what if they could solve it but they’re looking to you for guidance? A common idea about complaints is that those who make them the most are the laziest to solve the problem. People who think this way, respond in the manner above. The truth is the ones who immediately have that response are the ones who are really lazy. They’re too lazy to consider the possibility that:
- The customer may already be in the process of doing something about it but needs your support.
- The customer’s business is still new to using software for CRM so you should be ready to help because you’re the expert.
- The complaint could indicate an unseen flaw in your software or an entirely new problem altogether.
“I’m sorry but that’s beyond our control.”
Really? Are you so sure of your incapacity? Maybe this response will find some validity in the end but it’s still not a good idea to set this as a knee-jerk reaction to every complaint. A better reaction would be a FAQ page because then, you would have at least identified some common complaints and set up guidelines for customers to help themselves with.
First, you need to investigate thoroughly and really make sure that the problem is out of your hands. Here are some suggestions:
- Outsource a software call center and use live, well-informed agents, who can help them troubleshoot the software.
- Set an appointment if the problem can be solved but its complexity and that of the solution’s warrants discussion.
- Use social media as your eyes and ears for common problems and as another means to discuss it with both prospects and current customers.
What people have forgotten about complaints is that they’re supposed to indicate that something is wrong. And whether a problem is big or small, helping a customer resolve it is part of what CRM is supposed to do. Customers with complaints shouldn’t be treated like ‘whiners’ who have to be shown the door the moment they come in. They’ll just be taking their complaints outside for other businesses to hear them. And when they hear them, it will affect the way they’ll see your business. These include the businesses you’ve already qualified for leads. If you don’t want them to revoke their hard-earned approval, then start handling complaints properly and with respect.
If you think that celebrity endorsements exist only for B2C, you may be half-right. It’s a popular tactic and there’s no doubt having a famous artist or public figure advocate your brand is the highest form of influence marketing. The logic isn’t even all that complicated. Superstars have fans and if they see a superstar endorsing a particular brand, then they’d be eager to use it too!
On the other hand, B2B industries can have their own version. No industry might demonstrate this better than the tech industry. And what’s unique about this industry is that its superstars have fans both among consumers and big business. However, is brand advocacy via an individual really an effective way to attract ERP leads?
You see, a popular way to generate leads is through another marketing strategy called referral. Brand advocacy is what happens when you enter a very influential industry figure into that strategy. Still, you’d be surprised by at how many decision makers are listening to them. This can be done through testimonials, the actual use of the product itself, and perhaps even an autographed picture mounted on your office wall. If you managed to convince a powerful figure to advocate your ERP solution, then in some way, you’ll have a lot of other curious decision makers coming in (and thus, more ERP leads to qualify).
Now, perhaps a few examples are in order. Take a look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates; these two CEOs are the biggest examples of brand advocacy because their public image became synonymous with the brands that they represented. In B2B, if you could have involved your business with anything they had a direct hand in, then you could use it to raise your own company’s image. Referrals also aren’t as direct as other popular B2B marketing methods such as telemarketing and email.
All right, here comes the trade off. Brand advocacy has its risks. Some of you might already be thinking that the idea of getting a famous CEO to endorse you is lofty enough, you might also want to know if it’s even worth the effort at all! As a matter of fact, the University of Colorado Boulder published a study saying that the negative perceptions about a celebrity are more likely to transfer to the endorsed brand than positive:
“‘In three different studies, negative celebrity associations always transferred to an endorsed brand, even under conditions when positive associations did not,’ said Campbell, an associate professor of marketing. ‘The overall message to marketers is be careful, because all of us, celebrities or not, have positives and negatives to our personalities and those negatives can easily transfer to a brand.’”
Such words of caution should be heeded by anyone who is considering the role of a major influential figure to influence referrals. The strength of the endorsement lies no longer in just the brand but in the individual endorsing it. Relying on this kind of advocacy is a double-edged sword that can either make or break your ERP software brand. In fact, this isn’t just about tying your brand to celebrities and CEOs but simply tying to a single individual. Everyone’s perception of that individual will be their perception of your brand (hence, the great risk). You should also remember that there are other ways to conduct software lead generation. Traditional methods are still viable. Don’t just bank your marketing efforts on a single approach.
If you’ve been following the status of Facebook’s stock market performance, then you’re well aware of the debate that ranges around its value for advertising. On the other hand, the value of online advertising itself has long been called to question. If this is already a problem for B2C brands, how much more for B2B brands like those in ERP software? Cases like this are a good reason to seriously re-evaluate the ways with which you generate software leads.
Generating software leads starts with getting a prospect’s attention. Naturally, marketers assume that online advertising will get them that attention. After all, these are advertisements are on the Internet. Like anything on the Internet, they’ll be presented to an audience of over a million people.
However, that value is being put to question because, ironically, both online and social media have diminished the role of advertising as a source of information. (Then again, some might even argue that advertising was never that informative to begin with.) Customers (both B2C and B2B) have been empowered to obtain more information on their own as well as from their own peers. No doubt, advertising still gets attention but by itself, it has lost much of its capacity to push prospects all the way through the sales process. You don’t need to just grab their attention. You need to first avoid making assumptions about that interest, learn about the finer details about their need for an enterprise solution, and set an appointment should the sales team specify the moment where you pass over the baton.
This means that it’s about time to consider the alternatives. And by now, you might already be familiar with several of them: email marketing, social media, telemarketing, direct mail etc. These alternatives have to be prioritized according to how effective they might be. Of course, with so many advocates each saying that their method works better, it’s hard to come up with some proper guidelines. Fortunately, just take the following steps to come up with an objective conclusion:
- Find what appeals to your target market – Since you’re an ERP software vendor, your target market comprises of influential decision makers and high-ranking business executives. And as you can already tell, getting their attention won’t be easy. These people are clearly a bit above your average consumer so appealing to them is about appealing to their preferences. Most likely, these decision makers would want a one-on-one, direct marketing approach. This could mean telemarketing or email. You don’t have to start cold calling immediately or firing off email blasts but engagement through these channels must be done early.
- Play to your strengths while outsourcing – Your market can suddenly shift their preferences to any popular channel and it might be hard to constantly invest in a fully multi-channel approach just to keep up. Your resources could get painfully divided. You should play according to your strengths and maintain your mastery over a certain approach. Meanwhile, outsource those other tools so that their respective channels can still be covered. Outsource a web design team if you need a website or outsource a telemarketer if you need a call center.
- Use the others methods as support – The other methods don’t have to be entirely discarded. They just need to be directed to give support to the main component of your ERP lead generation process. Find ways to integrate them all.
When Microsoft acquired Yammer about a month ago, it’s easy to see that going social is going to be the next step for enterprise software. As stated by Yammer’s CEO David Sacks:
“When Adam Pisoni and I started Yammer, we set out to do something big. When most people thought social networking was for kids, we had a vision for how it could change the way we work. Four years ago, we started paddling out to catch the wave that we’re riding today.
With the backing of Microsoft, our aim is to massively accelerate our vision to change the way work gets done with software that is built for the enterprise and loved by users.”
Now spotting trends is part of what marketing does and, to an extent, it’s supposed to shape the finer details of software lead generation. It’s only common sense to say that if you know what new innovations are dominating the market, then you’ll know which direction to take your B2B software firm and promote the appropriate technology.
In this case, social enterprise is one such trend and if you want further confirmation, Tony Byrne from InformationWeek has this to say about the actual necessity of making enterprise software more social.
“In other words, your colleagues are creating records while they engage, and seeking to engage while they manage formal documents and participate in structured processes. Ditto for your interactions with customers and other partners beyond your firewall.”
This also points to an even greater trend that’s set around configuring technology to enable social engagement. No doubt one can see the influence of social media sites when they spawned the popularity of social media marketing. This kind of marketing however demands engagement with customers (whether they’re B2B or B2C).
However, perhaps Byrne’s most driving point is the reality of engagement as a need in many business endeavors. There is now a need to integrate social interactions with the main processes of enterprise management. In the same way, marketing is now in need of a similar integration via social media.
Setting that aside, if you’ve engaged in social media marketing, then you may have already seen this coming. Adding a social aspect is a trend that’s beginning to encompass various forms of today’s technology (from the consumer level all the way up to the enterprise level). What should be noted however is that social engagement isn’t necessarily limited to digital channels. The main value of this engagement is still the enriching exchange of information. You can accomplish this even through more traditional channels of communication (whether it’s a face-to-face meeting with all your colleagues or using telemarketing services to engage customers with actual phone conversations).
In conclusion, going social is a trend that’s not just another trend for ERP but a trend that’s driven by more underlying principles. It’s driven by the need for humans to add a social element in many activities (be it in marketing or enterprise management). Use this trend to mold not just the way your software will drive engagement but the way you drive your business to similar engagement with your customers.
Before you read on, this is the definition of ‘friction’ according to a blog from the Harvard Business Review. In here, you will also find explanations as to why you need to be careful when pursuing the HR department for offering software solutions specific to its function.
“Friction is anything that makes it more difficult for people in critical roles to win with the customer. Flow, on the other hand, is doing everything possible to remove barriers and promote better performance. The question applies to virtually any company in any business and it will take you farther down the road faster than the hazy, abstract injunction to become a strategic partner.”
Now read that last phrase, just what does it mean when it says HR needs to be a ‘strategic partner’? Well that’s because, according to this blog, HR leaders aren’t always in tune with the overall action plan. So what does this mean for you as a vendor of recruitment and payroll software? It might mean that while your attempts to sell might be well-received, it doesn’t mean the rest of the organization will follow.
Granted, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go straight to HR. Contacting that department still should be your first order of business when you’re qualifying other companies for B2B sales leads. It just simply means that you have to be on your toes when it turns out that your target HR department is experiencing friction with the rest of its organization.
Diving right in without fully grasping the situation could land you right in the middle of internal politicking. That’s a conflict you don’t want to get caught up in when you don’t even have much of a strong relationship with that company in the first place. Establishing ties in the following manner should be your top priority:
- Contact HR – First, you need to know the proper contact details and the right decision maker in charge of the department. And by ‘right decision maker’, don’t just stop at titles and identify who is really calling the shots.
- See things from different perspectives – Second, you must ask about why there is friction. After asking about it and hearing the story from the point-of-view of HR, try making calls to other departments involved and see their side of the story. Doing so will give you the different pieces you need to form the whole picture.
- Offer a supportive solution – Finally, go back to HR and show a software solution that can help HR resolve this conflict as well as help it contribute more to the company’s overall strategy.
It may look time consuming at first. In fact, that last step is highly likely to warrant software appointment setting just so you can have enough time to talk and find the right meeting place to present your solution. However, you should always remember that you’re only targeting one part of a whole business entity. If that particular part is causing friction, then you should think twice before diving into the fray. Try to see a more complete picture of the problem and offer a relevant software solution to HR that can help ease the tension.
This latest news from BBC presents a startling look into how poor record keeping and waiting times in medical institutions can actually kill. From the report:
“In a joint letter, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea Councils complained to the trust about its handling of the problem.
The letter said: ‘It seems to us there could be a possibility of clinical harm as a result of delays in the diagnosis and commencement of treatment arising from the trust’s failings.’”
If you’re well aware, one of the advantages of meaningfully used EMR is that it would help quicken document processes and streamline hospital and patient management. This means shorter waiting times and more organized patient profiles. Unfortunately, many institutions from around the world are still grappling with the issue of implementing IT into healthcare.
The above example, however, should give software vendors more urgency to promote their technology and educate professionals and institutions on their proper use. Despite this, one cannot deny the presence of obstacles such as:
- Lack of time – Both private practitioners and those in institutions don’t have a lot of free time throughout most of the day. Surely you all know just how tiring it can get in their line of work. It’s hard to promote something when your market comprises of very elusive and hard to reach individuals.
- Tricky phone network – Calling a hospital is probably a lot riskier compared to calling a regular business organization for B2B. If you end up dialing the wrong number (especially an emergency number), they have a right charge you to the full extent of the law.
- Lack of understanding – As stated before, many institutions and professionals are still skeptical about the use of EMR and other medical recording technologies. On the other hand, there are also those who actually overestimate its value and expect the software to perform functions that don’t exist.
To summarize, what you have here is a substantial lack of time, communication, and information. In order for them to even know that products like yours exist, it is only more important for you to have a software lead generation strategy. Contacting these prospects is only the first part of what lead generators do. Some of the best medical IT companies have even employed a multi-channel approach in order to grab their prospects’ attention and start this long process. It’s then followed by a lengthy qualification phase where interests and needs are briefly investigated. Finally, some companies finish up with appointment setting so that they won’t end up taking too much time on their prospects’ part. This gives the prospect not only awareness of a better solution for keeping medical records but also the option to choose the time and place to learn more.
The lack of EMR use among medical institutions and professionals is both surprising but at the same time hard to deny. Plenty of them still don’t understand the risks they are making if they underestimate its significance. Don’t wait until even their own waiting times are starting to kill their patients. Start marketing and generating leads for your EMR today!
With today’s technology, from mobile SMS to email, most people are assuming that direct mail is dying (if not dead already). Electronic and digital forms of communication are making the old-fashioned mailing system look not only obsolete but also more expensive.
However, new findings from the DMA’s 2012 Response Rate Report are showing that people actually give more response to direct mail than they do to digital forms of marketing. In the graph below, you will see that despite the relatively low percentage of responses for direct mail, email is quite dismal by comparison:
Another thing you will notice from the graph however is that the response rate to the phone is actually higher than the rest of them! This could be good news for telemarketers but what’s truly interesting is that both telemarketing and direct mail have been popularly depicted as behind the times.
And make no mistake, they both possess flaws which justify this depiction. For telemarketing, you may have already heard enough about the typical objections of being pushy and disruptive. It’s why B2B telemarketers have to contend with gatekeepers who in turn indirectly delay your efforts to generate sales leads.
Direct mail, on the other hand, suffers similar though not as disruptive deficiencies.
- It can be slower in comparison to digital and electronic channels.
- The costs of printing an appealing and well-designed marketing letter significantly add to the costs.
- Responses are even harder to measure. There’s no magical way to know that your letter was opened.
- Like email, it can be just tossed in the trash but it’s slightly worse given the physical space it actually occupies (as well as additional environmental concerns).
- B2B software can be a complicated thing to market. You need to be careful not to overwhelm or underwhelm the prospect with excess or insufficient information respectively. It’s far more difficult considering the physical restrictions of a letter.
Still, despite that, the higher response rate of direct mail can actually make it a more powerful tool to integrate with telemarketing. Email marketing and telemarketing can also be used together to improve the rate of connecting with a B2B prospect. The mail is meant to either signal the arrival of a call or encourage a call from the prospects themselves. This minimizes the disruptive effect that people hate about telemarketing. Either way, you can actually think of direct mail as an upgraded version of using email. It may be slower and more expensive, but the response rate is higher.
And at this point, you might be wondering, “How is this possible?” This might surprise you but some of the guesses are based simply on common sense. Because of the mass use of SMS and email, messages have lost their personal touch. It can be argued, for example, that even a decision maker is more likely to look at a message when they can tell the effort it took to design and print it. This is something worth considering if you feel that email is not doing enough for your telemarketing services and would like to turn it up a notch.