Image: George Hodan Image: George Hodan

Too busy, not relevant, annoying, interrupting, irritating, bad timing, unknown number, unrecognised caller, voicemail, for all these reasons and many, many more; cold calling does not work. So why do so many companies still do it?

In the many years that I have worked in B2B Marketing cold calling has gone from being a key part of the strategy to something I now advise my clients not to do, because it just doesn’t deliver the results. It might sound like a great idea to just pick up the phone and speak to people about what you do but in practise it just doesn't work anymore.

In the early days when I would plan a telemarketing campaign I would base my stats on 3 to 4 dials to get through so would expect on an average day for each telemarketer to have up to 15 conversations. Now I have to plan on 10 dials to get through, which means on an average day a telemarketer may have 6 conversations. We used to plan for 10% of all conversations to turn into leads so in the past an average day would deliver 1.5 leads whilst today the ratio is 0.6 leads per day or maybe 3 per week compared to more than 7 leads in the past. So not many leads are achieved even with a lot of effort. In reality, however, we rarely achieve 10% conversations, because even when you do manage to get through to someone, that someone rarely has time to talk.

So what is the solution, how can we replace the successful telemarketing campaigns of the past with something that actually delivers a positive result? Our experience suggests that using the telephone as a marketing channel is still important but only when it is part of a well thought out and targeted integrated marketing campaign.

Here are 7 steps to using telemarketing successfully within your marketing:-

Step 1 – really tightly define your target audience, the smaller and more niche the audience is, the better.

Step 2 – profile your audience in detail and understand in depth why it is they need what you offer. What is your value proposition to each niche? Make it as targeted as possible. Use all sources of data to build out your profiles. Don’t forget to check your data against Corporate TPS to ensure that you are not planning to call businesses that have signed up.

Step 3 – build clever and compelling, personalised messaging and visual content around your campaign that will attract the attention of your target market.

Step 4 – create an integrated campaign that ensures your value proposition is presented to your target audience through every marketing channel that they might choose to use – direct mail, email, digital, social media, affiliations, sponsorships, events, phone, sms. Tailor your channels to the audience.

Step 5 – If you have time it is very wise to test your campaign through every channel with a small sample selection from your target audience. Make sure that the messages resonate.

Step 6 – Deliver your campaign over a specific period of time and measure each channel effectively ensuring that each channel gives a clear ROI. If you are using telemarketing as a channel within the campaign do so on the back of a clever direct mail or email. People are far more likely to engage in a conversation if they have just received an interesting direct mail or email from you that recognises their challenge. Avoid using scripts, people can see through sales spiel so ensure that whoever is calling understands that they need to adapt to the conversation.

Step 7 – Measure and keep measuring, test what is working and stop doing what isn’t. Make sure the results are delivering an ROI in the planned timescale. If they aren’t, change or scrap the plan before you spend too much time and money on it. Review your campaigns regularly and learn what works and what doesn’t.

Using the telephone as one channel within an integrated campaign will improve campaign results but using it in isolation to cold call will only result in a poor reputation and might kill your chances of every selling into a contact or business.

By Emma Muir, managing director, CMO Centre