This is the burning question many have about outsourcing B2B telemarketing
There’s actually a huge opportunity to accelerate consistent long-term revenue growth by putting the right 3rd party (outsourced) external resources in place for a telemarketing campaign.
There are mixed results and tainted views on the topic directly related to the vendor a person has experience with, their past involvement, and long-term opportunity and qualified leads management. The program flops have been a direct result of a lousy vendor match, not that outsourcing can't succeed.
How to outsource B2B telemarketing
A typical scenario is a company wants to outsource outbound B2B calls or appointment setting to get quality leads, they research some firms and:
- The plan and expectation might be something like “How many meetings can we expect?” Can you find the "decision makers?"
- Vendors jump on trying to “sell them a program” of outbound calling based on telemarketing efforts that don’t actually map to real sales pipeline or sales cycles once you dig deeper. But it sounds great so far with the metrics quoted—so many dials and meetings sound amazing!
- They settle on the low-budget outbound telemarketing services to mitigate risk (which actually increases it) thinking if it works they will do more.
- The new leads program yields poor results, they conclude outsourcing outbound calls isn’t a fit for them and they need to hire an FTE.
I get calls almost daily from telemarketing agents who are not my conversational peer. Once I got a call from an F500 company, and their agent chewed up all the time I had for them talking about how CEO’s don’t usually answer their phone. I told her if she had looked me up before calling my cell phone, she would know who I was and suggested she does that on her next call. How much did the company pay for this call? Who knows, it wasn’t cheap. With ridiculous conversations like that going on, of course, companies ask “Can SaaS Firms Outsource B2B prospecting and SDR’s Successfully.”
The key ingredient for best results is understanding what you need in a vendor (Article: Before You Outsource B2B Telemarketing or Telesales.)
Today, the vendor field of telemarketing agencies for outsourced options really is very broad and includes everything from a larger call center which is modeled in a very controlled and structured way with hourly employees (high turnover,) to a more boutique operation which is highly specialized and operates more as a strategic partner for very specific requirements and value-add.
I wouldn’t recommend a large call center in B2B marketing or telemarketing for complex deals other than verifying opt-in status, a single topic data gathering effort, etc. Building long-term customer relationships and uncovering pain points and deep-dive info early in a discussion needs an entirely different skill set and level of industry knowledge.
A lot of people want the results of a boutique operation that is strategically aligned with them with the budget they see in Google Ads—like this (see below:)
People see ads like the above and think they are going to be able to do this “cheap.” It isn’t like outsourcing other tasks you can do on a budget…outbound B2B outreach requires highly developed communication skills and the ability to guide discussions real-time through complex topics. It also demands a very savvy data management practice to support it.
How SDR/Inside Sales roles have changed over the years
The SDR/Inside Sales role in itself has radically changed because of the empowerment of B2B buyers and the discovery they can do on their own. In times past, you would see more junior reps on those front lines that qualify and stage engagements for the big gun account team (unfortunately the FTE model is often still to put a more junior person as that first engagement—which is a personal peeve because it perpetuates the stigma of outbound.) The bottom line is by not having the right skillset and telemarketing strategy on the front lines leaves millions on the table.
A decade ago, prospects would take a less-than-great call to learn more about a platform because they needed to in some cases. Information wasn't available in a self service way and they would engage with sales people. Today, they can avoid a bad telemarketing experience, look your company up via social networks, wrongly decide it isn’t a fit because they had no real access that could actually put their requirements in a context that would help them see it in their environment, and move on.
In truth, the SDR/Inside Sales team needs a sophisticated skillset where they can quickly establish themselves as a peer and map a discussion in real time to the right topics, maintaining the discussion as relevant and needed presence for the prospect—all operating without visual contact. Potential buyers will engage with a peer that understands their business, Those are beneficial relationships, not having a very underwhelming agent be their first contact.
Results of Outsourcing B2B Telemarketing
We had a client do a study of their outbound programs running over a few years, they had a low-level telemarketing team just getting appointments, another higher-level firm getting appointments, and our program which is more of an SDR program on steroids. Lots of appointments on the surface, but 80% of the deals that closed and business opportunities came from the B2B outbound program they ran with us. This demonstrates it is a much more complex engagement than what companies think of when they hear B2B Outbound or B2B Telemarketing and Telesales. The sales process is complex, so why put potential customers in the hands of telemarketing companies that are not situationally or technically fluent?
It’s notable that a program that performs like that is tightly aligned with the sales representatives,short term and long term objectives, your martech environment and digital channels, senior level team on the front lines, while also being fluent on the technology landscape in large enterprises.
It takes a commitment on the client side to participate and be involved…if you read the article on outsourcing linked above, you can see what it requires on both sides.