Don’t Ignore Telemarketing for Demand Gen


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phoneDigital marketing dominates the B2B marketing space, making telemarketing seem like an outdated, or at least an under-appreciated, marketing method for generating and qualifying leads.  Its association with intrusive phone calls and sometimes aloof call agents may keep this tactic from making it into your marketing mix.

Truth be told, telemarketing can be a very cost-effective and reliable way to generate qualified leads for your pipeline.  Admittedly it was not always included in my arsenal, but proven success over recent years has turned me into a telemarketing supporter.  The power of conversation and human touch with the right call center can yield rewarding results.  

My experience with call centers is focused on two types of campaigns: generating net-new leads for targeted accounts and re-engaging with stale leads to uncover opportunities.  In both cases the leads ultimately qualified as sales-ready are passed on to an inside sales team for immediate follow up. 

The average conversion rate for moving stale leads to sales-ready has consistently been 10%-14%.  That’s pretty good considering the industry average is about 8%.  Additionally, the feedback from the sales team doing the follow-up has been positive, citing these leads are turning into real pipeline opportunities. 

Here’s some useful tips to keep in mind when using telemarketing in your demand generation efforts:

Choose the right call center

When evaluating call center partners, there are three things to find out:

  1. The number of agents that will be contacting your prospects
  2. Their level of experience in your industry/product category
  3. Where they’re physically located 

No one wants to be the guinea pig.  Inquire about its experience with campaigns similar to yours and get examples of quantitative results (that is, conversion rates).

Also, keep in mind that a good call center will provide guidance on tactics and methods for success.

I recommend choosing quality over size and selecting smaller call centers with seasoned call agents.  These call centers may charge a higher premium, but the end results are worth it.

…and stay connected 

Work closely with your call center contact to train them on scripts and monitor progress throughout the campaign.  

This type of relationship allows for immediate program adjustments when needed.  And they’ll appreciate your involvement – your success is their success.

Evaluate the call list and set achievable goals

The call center partner will help set expectations on conversions, but you can prepare early on by evaluating campaign deliverables to formulate realistic goals.

For example, assess the age of the existing leads that are to be contacted and nurtured to the next phase impacts conversion rates – the longer a lead has been left dormant in a database, the more likely it is to have moved past the next phase in the buying process and may no longer be a viable prospect.  Understanding call list characteristics such as these will help you predict results. 

Concentrate on the call script

The script is another important deliverable that marketers can influence to help generate good results.  The dialogue between the call agent and prospect should be brief and include pointed questions with multiple choice answers.  The answers to these questions will identify which prospects are ready for the next phase or outreach. 

Avoid questions that invite open-ended conversations.  The call agent isn’t likely an expert on your company’s products or services and therefore ill-equipped to provide detailed responses. 

In-depth discussions should be left for the sales or marketing expert that will follow up with the qualified leads.  The role of the call agent is to extract only the information necessary to qualify the lead for the next phase.

Simply put…

I’ve found the best results come from a diverse marketing mix.  Telemarketing can certainly be one component of a well-rounded demand gen arsenal and should definitely be considered if your database contains a large volume of stale leads. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maureen Beattie
Maureen Beattie is a Marketing Strategist at Integrate. She has a mild obsession with demonstrating return-on-investment for marketing campaigns. Her top priority is providing value to customers through the elimination of laborious tasks and creating an easier, clearer path to maximizing the best results.


  1. There is still a place for telemarketing within many marketing campaigns. Success rates depend on the approach. I think this sentence sums it up best: “The power of conversation and human touch with the right call center can yield rewarding results.” The key phrase here being “right call center” and more specifically “right call center agent”. It’s absolutely necessary to find the right match for your business/product.

  2. This is a good list, but there are two items that I recommend adding: 1) Above all, assess how your intended buyer buys, so you can determine whether telemarketing will likely be an effective tactic in the first place. Clearly, some products can be sold more easily over the phone than others. 2) assuming that prospective buyers don’t mind (or even like!) being contacted by phone, make sure that other media outreach dovetails with the telemarketing campaign so that the telemarketing staff can be more productive.

    Many companies rely on telemarketing campaigns alone for prospecting, but this is problematic when call center agents encounter prospects who have no knowledge of the product or service, and who may have no known need at the time they accept the call. Sure, there are some truly talented telemarketers, but there are very few on par with legendary pitch man Billy Mays.

    The meteoric rise of mobile phone usage brings serious new risks for telemarketers. While mobile technology makes it easier to reach prospects, the circumstances in which unsolicited prospecting calls can backfire on a vendor have also multiplied in proportion.

    Consider the outcome when a prospect’s mobile phone rings just as he or she is navigating a dangerous turn in traffic, holding a serious conversation with a spouse or child, or during a musical performance (in which the prospect forgot to turn off the ring tone). Telemarketers must consider the circumstances in progress when he or she causes someone’s phone to buzz, ring, or play a song. That was a far smaller issue when office landline phone numbers were used almost exclusively for telephone sales.

    Anecdotally, I can assure any telemarketing executive that contacting people at such inopportune times is a very poor way to attempt to begin a business relationship, and I encourage my clients to consider the ramifications when communications might be perceived as intrusive, and to investigate tactics that are less risky.


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