What marketing path is the fastest to revenue? In order to get to revenue, you need to gain the attention of the prospect and engage them in a business conversation. With that in mind, I contend that inside sales is the fastest speed to revenue.
Inside sales, which is typically a mixture of cold calling, warm calling and email marketing, has as its primary goal engaging the prospect in conversation. Whether the call focuses on appointment setting for a sales presentation, driving attendance to trade shows or other events, or pitching and closing a transactional sale, customer engagement begins early in a successful process.
- You outsource other specialties areas, don’t you? Do you outsource legal, payroll or benefits? It makes sense to go outside the company and outsource when the skilled resources are not already inside the company.
- You probably have outside sales reps, but inside sales is a whole different animal, from strategy to training to managing. It makes sense to recognize the difference in experience and skills needed for appointment setting versus closing the deal.
- How soon do you want results? If you hire internally, it could take months to find the right person, hire them, train them, and start getting qualified appointments. It makes sense to reduce that ramp up time to weeks or less when outsourcing with an appointment setting B2B inside sales vendor.
- Speaking of time, ramping up or down once you have an internal team can be messy and expensive for HR. It makes sense to use an outsourced vendor who can turn your appointment setting sales spigot on or off, up or down, quickly and with ease.
- So you are thinking of hiring an inside sales appointment setter. Who is going to manage them? It makes sense to outsource with a vendor who will manage the appointment setter so you don’t have to.
- How many hours of calling do you think an internal inside sales rep makes in an eight hour day? I can assure you it isn’t eight! It makes sense to pay only for hours spent calling with an outsourced vendor.
- When you hire an internal appointment setter, you hire one appointment setter. When you outsource your appointment setting, you essentially hire the vendor’s team of experts to manage your sales campaign. It makes sense to increase your value by outsourcing your appointment setting.
- When you hire an internal appointment setter, someone has to train, monitor, coach and motivate that person. With your outsourced team of experts, it makes sense that you have specialists to train, monitor, coach and motivate your specialist appointment setter.
- How do you know if your campaign is a success, and a cost effective success at that? Reporting provided by the outsourced vendor provides the information you need to analyze success and ROI. It makes sense to get reporting on hours, calls, appointments, dispositions and results as part of your outsourced solution.
Bottom line: hiring an internal appointment setter may give you a dedicated resource, but it also increases your infrastructure overhead and headcount. Hiring an outsourced vendor for appointment setting is typically a more cost effective and flexible option.
If you ask a group of consumers about their experience with offshore call centers for sales or service, you will be hard pressed to find glowing recommendations based on that experience. Keeping in mind that every business professional is also a consumer, why would you consider trusting your B2B prospects with an offshore vendor?
While there is no denying the potential cost advantages of offshoring your B2B appointment setting or inside sales, the labor rate is not the only important consideration.
Your prospects want to engage in relevant and topical business conversations. While an offshore center may speak the English language, and even speak it well, they likely do not speak the jargon of American business, your industry, and American culture. They may not know what is happening in American national news, pop culture, political coverage or other “local” intelligence that will impact business conversations. When the Aurora, CO movie theater shooting occurred, an offshore social media vendor picked up on “Aurora” as a trending topic on Twitter and thought it referred to one of their product lines. It was a PR embarrassment for their US based client when the mistake was realized.
With the wide range of major weather events or breaking news potentially affecting your prospects in various regions of the country, an onshore sales vendor can respond quickly to suspend calling into sensitive areas. The same holds true for national or local holidays which may impact calling. Local intelligence is the best intelligence.
Bottom line: Offshoring your B2B sales campaign may cut costs, but it also cuts business opportunities.
There are three pillars of success when planning a B2B inside sales campaign: the message, the messenger, and the message recipient. If one or more of these elements is off target, success is sure to diminish.
- The Message: Why you? Why not your competitors? If you can’t answer this question, your campaign is not positioned for success. Your message must be compelling, relevant and unique, and instill some sense of urgency for the prospect.
- The Messenger: The inside sales agent is the face of your company to your prospects. A professional and friendly demeanor is a given, but what are the other critical requirements? The agent needs sufficiently experience and training to engage in business conversations about your product or service, not just sales pitches. You need to invest in the right agent as they are a critical component to your success.
- The Message Recipient: This is your prospect list, and in case you haven’t heard, niche marketing works! You need to ask yourself what your ideal prospect looks like – not “who can use my product/ service” but “who would be ideal customer and be best served by using my product/ service.” Target demographics, geographics, psychographics, and any other “graphics” which will narrow your prospect list to the most likely suspects for success. Caution: when in doubt, test two or three of your best target lists to determine which responds most positively to your message.
The three pillars of success need not be perfect, just well thought out and polished as your marketing campaigns evolve. Testing is an important tool in marketing, but it is best used in silos: first test the message, then test the list, then test the messenger. If you test all three at once, you won’t know which pieces are working and which still need work.
There is a big difference between being “talked to” and having a conversation. To engage someone in conversation is to stimulate their interest and willingness to continue the conversation. Isn’t that the best way to communicate?
Think about how your B2B inside sales agents engage with your prospects – do they use a script? How rigid is that script? Is strict adherence required? Do your agents have the leeway to engage in business conversations?
Consider adopting the practice of using a call guide instead of a script. A call guide outlines a typical conversation flow and gives the inside sales agent a positioning statement and conversation starters but allows flexibility to respond appropriately to the prospect. After all, no one gave the prospect a copy of their half of the script!
A call guide can still give directional advice to the sales agent, pointing the conversation in different directions based on prospect responses. It is usually accompanied by a Questions and Answers (FAQ) document and an Objections and Rebuttals document. Both documents have scripted answers/ rebuttals, but they serve as guidelines for the sales agent to respond, rather than scripted verbiage which must be used.
It is important that the agent start with appropriate experience and training if a call guide is used in place of a script. After all, we are trying to start a conversation and they need to be able to handle their side of the conversation with the prospect. Ongoing monitoring and coaching will ensure the inside sales agent is on track, holding the right types of business conversations, and leading the prospect appropriately to setting the appointment or closing the sale.
What do you think of when you hear the word “telemarketer?” That annoying phone call during dinner, the interruption to your relaxing evening, or the call which wakes you on a Saturday morning? Someone reading a lengthy sales script to you rather than engaging an interactive, meaningful conversation with you? Do you want a “telemarketer” as the face of your company to your business prospects?
Hopefully, your answer is a resounding “NO.” You have the blink of an eye to engage your prospect on a phone call – you need to have a professional Inside Sales Rep as your company’s face.
What is the difference between a telemarketer and a professional inside sales rep?
- Business experience – The key to being able to engage in a business conversation is having sufficient business experience. Sales skills are not enough to finesse a prospect. You have to understand their needs and fit your solution to their pain. You can’t script experience.
- Level of training – Don’t just train your sales agents on sales skills, they need the same training you give to your outside sales reps. The inside sales reps should know your products and services inside and out, if you’ll pardon the play on words.
- Coaching – Everyone gets better with feedback. A monitoring and coaching system is a critical component to moving your sales agents beyond “script adherence” and towards business acumen.
- Compensation – You get what you pay for. How complex are your products and services? How challenging is your sales environment? If you want the advantage of professional inside sales reps, you cannot pay a telemarketer’s wages.
Bottom line: your prospects deserve a professional sales interaction with your company, so you must invest in your inside sales team. Hire experienced business professionals, train and coach to help them reach their maximum potential, and pay them what they are worth.