SunGard had already been integrating its media mix—incorporating e-mail, the Internet and seminars—so when the direct mail stream dried up, it wasn't completely unprepared.
But doing lead generation via mail—where a mail piece can be carefully scrutinized before it reaches prospects—is a relatively controlled exercise; outsourced teleservices is another matter entirely. Putting your company's first impression in the hands of a rep who doesn't work directly for you and has little experience with your product would seem risky business.
The teleservices program SunGard had in place at the time would need to be modified if it was to shoulder the bulk of the company's lead generating and qualifying.
Rather than taking calls from respondents to what Palermo calls self-qualifying mail pieces (offers of books on disaster recovery), outsourced reps would be required to get enough information from a prospect via a cold call to determine whether that prospect was a lead, and of what quality.
SunGard had been working with the Richmond, VA, Martin Agency, whose Martin Call Center Services had been providing call center services for the company for a few years. But the program would need to be kicked up a notch.
While the reps for this program don't need IT backgrounds, "they're going to ask questions of people who are in an IT position," explains Deanna Maneker, executive vice president, Martin Call Center Services.
Further complicating matters, SunGard has been repositioning itself, moving from straight disaster recovery to information availability. The difference, explains Palermo: "If you have a tape with all of your data on it, and you're standing on the street corner watching the fire company put out the fire in your building, your data is safe, but it's not very useful at that point in time."
What SunGard now emphasizes as a "new and improved" product, tying into the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, are redundant facilities—data centers that can house the minimum hardware and staff a company needs to remain operational—and services such as instant availability to ensure that should something go terribly wrong, a company can be up and running without missing a beat.