Telemarketing as an outreach strategy often gets a bad rap. It has the tendency to be associated with under-educated people sitting in gigantic call-centers in faraway lands offshore, who are programed (like robots) to read a script over and over, day after day, to hundreds of prospects an hour, pushing products that have little to no value to the person on the other end of the line.

In an effort to distance themselves from that association, software vendors have shifted their outreach methods in recent years to focus on digital marketing tactics (email outreach, content syndication and online advertising for example), instead. And while digital marketing is an important way to generate inbound leads, outbound telemarketing can also be a highly valuable method if it’s done right.

While the image we have of the outsourced telemarketing firm may be true in some cases, there are of course exceptions to the rule. Choosing the right outsourcer can make all the difference when designing a successful lead generation campaign, so spending time to align your expectation with the quality of the work delivered is key. But let’s also not forget that educating your buyer personas about your solutions is also a must since you cannot expect prospects to be ready to purchase at the drop of a hat.

So how can you get your buyer personas in front of your content and generate top-of the funnel leads? When you have created a great new piece of content, whether that be an e-book, a case study, a webinar-on-demand or a whitepaper, it’s important to promote that content across channels. You want to establish your company as a leader in your niche, but in order to be recognized as a thought leader, you need to be seen in order to be heard. Increasing visibility and name recognition for your brand doesn’t happen overnight, and effective content marketing is a must in order to get your assets in the right hands (or in front of the right eyes). This can come in the form of a variety of tactics including: social media outreach, social selling, community management, SEO, sponsored content/advertising, the creation of optimized landing pages and emailing campaigns (to name a few).

But sometimes these methods are just not enough. For sure, simply publishing your content is not going to generate leads all on its own. The old dictum from the famous Kevin Costner baseball film, Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come,” is not true in software development or in marketing. Actively promoting your content needs to happen especially since now, more than ever, there is so much content out there to be had. And this is exactly why using telemarketing as an outreach method is so effective. By proactively soliciting prospects to generate interest in your content, you will identify more leads than if you just post your asset online, sit back and wait for people to find it themselves.

Marketing qualified lead generation workflow using outbound telemarketing

B2B telemarketing means you are targeting the right people with the right message in order to grab their attention. For that, you need to tailor your pitch specifically for the person you are speaking to.

  • What is it about your asset that should bring value to your target audience?
  • Why should such a prospect be interested in what you have to offer?
  • What competitive software solutions are you up against that may already be in place within your target list of accounts?
  • What edge does your solution bring to the table?

The answers to these questions should be your starting point in order to design an outbound calling campaign. Understanding the who, what, where, when, why and how will give you the plan you need in order to execute your campaign successfully.

Here is a step-by-step workflow to keep in mind when using outbound telemarketing to generate top-of-the-funnel leads:

Step 1: Determing the buyer personas you want to target

What types of companies (select industry sectors, company size and geographical location) should be profiled? What job titles (functional line-of-business decision-makers or technical decision-makers) are most appropriate given the subject matter of the assets you want to promote? Maybe you want to focus your efforts on an ABM list of priority accounts. Which accounts have the most potential for your business to include in such an outreach effort? Once you know exactly who you want to target, you can move on to step two.

Step 2: Prepare datasets

Data is a living and breathing organism — it changes all the time. Someone who works for a company one day could leave the next, so it’s worth scrubbing your data if it hasn’t been used in a while. If you do not already have a proprietary database of accounts that you can tap into for your outreach, you can research companies online, or solicit a third party outsourcer to conduct a data building campaign.

Step 3: Create a call guide

No-one should ever read a script word for word on the phone, but a guide will indicate the value proposition of the asset or assets you are looking to promote, and should list some qualifying questions in order to determine your audience is concerned by the topic at hand, and truly interested in engaging. The guide should serve as an outline for your callers, highlighting your key messages and your call-to-action. You may also need to include legal statements should you be looking to obtain explicit consent for GDPR compliance in the EU.

Step 4: Create an e-mail

As follow-up to the call, you should have an email ready with links to download the assets you are promoting. It’s nice to reference the phone conversation, give a short explanation highlighting the main topic of the asset(s), and leave your contact details where a prospect can get in touch with you should they want sales follow-up. This email should be created prior to calling so that immediately after you have begun calling to verify interest on the phone, the email can be sent to the prospect. We recommend sending such an email message no more than 48 hours after the initial phone conversation (and 24 hours after is ideal).

Step 5: Begin test calls

The initial calls will help you determine the reactivity rate of the target audience. This will also help you tweak your pitch, determine the most common negatives (that you can then counter argue more effectively), and other difficulties that you may need to work around. By following the lean method for agile marketing, you should test and tweak, test and tweak until you are satisfied that you have your best practice. Once you feel confident that things are working well, you can then scale the activity.

Step 6: E-mail follow-up

Emailing each prospect who has expressed interest in receiving an asset will help “anchor” your lead, and will start the education process. Of course you can track to see who has opened and clicked on the links in your email, and you can conduct follow-up efforts accordingly. While the goal of this type of activity is to identify top-of-the-funnel leads, you may also come across some sales opportunities in the process. Be prepared for your sales team to actively schedule appointments with those leads while they’re hot.

Final thoughts

While you may very well come across some highly qualified sales opportunities when promoting your content via outbound telemarketing, it’s unrealistic to think that everyone you speak to will have an immediate acquisition project they are ready to move forward on. By educating and nurturing your marketing qualified leads over time, you should be able to push some of them down the sales funnel and convert them into qualified sales appointments. Having a holistic approach to marketing, being present across channels, and using outreach tactics on and offline will help you cover all your bases and reach your buyer personas where and how they want to be reached.

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