B-to-B: You Make the Call
In the current tough economic environment, many marketing and sales organizations are curtailing their in-person visits to prospects and customers. Of course, they still need to find, engage, acquire and keep customers. And despite all the e-marketing initiatives, most business prospects and customers still insist on some form of live, personal contact, especially for "considered decisions."
Fortunately, we have phones, and so do our prospects and customers. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to conduct B-to-B telemarketing with clear focus, great skill and big results. You'll need to start by crafting a phone communication strategy built on the following four key elements.
Full Integration Within Your Marketing Mix
Most marketing mixes include Web sites, direct mail, trade shows, seminars and webinars, field sales people, dealers and distributors, and phone. As campaigns begin, many choose to send a direct mail piece or e-mail a webinar invitation. A caller then phones the prospect to conduct qualification, and afterward bows out as the resulting lead and subsequent selling activities go to the field sales group or a business partner. Currently, that is a recipe for underperformance. Instead, you should take the bold step of actually asking your prospects and customers how and when they prefer to communicate. Many of them will tell you that they still want live, proactive contact from you and live access to you. Here are the options for call and multimedia timing options:
- The phone call follows a mailing, invitation, event or similar effort, either with or without the prospect's request for live contact.
- The phone call precedes other marketing elements to provoke a "yes" to consideration of the next element. Another call follows the element to hear reactions and arrange the next step.
- The phone dialogue results from a real-time request by the Web site visitor via the site's click-to-talk option.
- The phone call follows a Web site visit, either with or without the prospect's overt request.
- The phone call initiates a real-time, collaborative Web site visit. More calls and/or e-mails come later, as arranged with the prospect.
Positioning in the Marketplace and Within the Company
Prospects and customers perceive your phone calls either as marketing, sales or customer relations. If they are confused about the true purpose of your calls, they will not act and will not buy.