B-to-B marketers know that it’s a multichannel world out there. However, multichannel direct marketing doesn’t only refer to setting up a Web site and launching that e-mail marketing program to complement your direct mail efforts. Outbound telemarketing also can be a valuable component of your multichannel efforts—one that can build your customer base and ultimately increase customer lifetime value. Neil Sexton, president and founder of Trinidad, Colo.-based B-to-B outbound telecenter and multichannel marketing company TeleGreet, notes there are a number of key outbound initiatives B-to-B marketers can use to improve their businesses:
1. Full account management. The purpose of this outbound activity is to provide your best customers with a higher level of service. Benefits include lower attrition; enhanced customer experience by assigning of a dedicated resource; and learning more about what your best customers want from you. “Most companies can afford to deploy some additional resources [to] their top customers,” says Sexton. “That’s usually the first place that I recommend people take a look.”
2. Assimilation. This is for companies in a robust customer acquisition mode. To successfully “assimilate” new customers into your program, Sexton suggests calling every new customer over a specified dollar value, with three objectives in mind: to thank her for her order; to make an additional offer if she orders again within a set period of time; and to qualify the customer by asking questions about her business and how she uses your products or services to find out if there is opportunity to escalate her through your outbound process, potentially through the group of people who handle your top customers.
3. Reactivation. The process of bringing lapsed customers back in the fold is essential, since “we know that in B-to-B approximately 30 percent of our buyers turn over every year,” points out Sexton. First, prioritize the lapsed customers. Go after former high-value customers with no activity in a period defined as too long by your business. This activity also might include calls to recently lapsed customers, who are more likely to come back than customers who’ve been missing for years. Just as with assimilation calls, begin by thanking customers for their past business. Also, make it a priority to find out why a customer left your program, and track those reasons closely so you can address any recurring problems. You almost always will want to make an offer to this group and to qualify them for possible larger opportunities.