Calling All Small Businesses
Meanwhile, in the conversion process, sales representatives are equipped with "faxables." Used both with prospects and existing customers, these one to two-page sheets are based on direct mail pieces and also are versioned to fit individual customer needs.
"We take the direct marketing pieces and we break them down," explains Haran. Versions of the faxables are tied into the creative of the direct mail piece and can be faxed out to the client in support of that offer. Haran notes a problem/solution approach often works best when it comes to faxables, as do testimonials. "In all the research that we do, what seems to resonate with [customers] is if in fact they can see someone like themselves who has a business problem similar to theirs," she says.
Beyond the Mail
BellSouth also is quick to point out its direct marketing channels, including those used for the new customer initiative, are highly integrated, with direct marketing and the sales channel working closely together. The emphasis is on multiple touches via multiple channels. Whether it's outbound telemarketing, e-mail or direct mail, each channel is aligned in creative and content to present a consistent, cohesive face for BellSouth. The company also gives customers the opportunity to respond via their channel of choice.
However, there is an effort to provide continuity. Raible describes, "When a customer comes onboard and was sold through one particular channel, but may ultimately wind up in another, the first call back always is handled by the channel they came in through." Eventually, the customer may be "right-sized," says Raible, to the channel that will best offer the solutions that meet its needs.
All the direct mail touches are supported via outbound calling, which starts within one week of the mail drop. Here the focus is on consultative selling. Small business representatives spend 13 weeks in training prior to answering or placing their first call to be able to offer busy small business professionals the support they need.