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The “Surprise” Solution To Getting More B2B Leads In A Digital World

  • Written by By Kelly Olson, The Mx Group
  • Published in Demanding Views

1kellymxWith all the advantages technology provides these days in terms of marketing automation, efficiency, speed and data availability, there’s still no guarantee that, as a senior marketer, you’re bringing in enough B2B leads each quarter to meet your goals. In reality, for most of the marketers we talk to, utilizing technology and digital marketing tactics alone is not always enough to get across the finish line. So what’s a “surprise” solution for squeezing more performance and more B2B leads out of your digital marketing programs? An older-school technology — telemarketing.

If you’re skeptical about telemarketing’s relevance in the digital age, you’re not alone. Research from the Direct Marketing Association found that, although marketers continue to underestimate the effectiveness of telemarketing, it’s a mistake to do so. Sure, you can make a case that cold calling is dead, at least in the traditional sense. And younger buyers, in particular, are more inclined to respond to a text than to answer a call (just ask the parent of any millennial). But telemarketing still has an important role to play in B2B marketing.

Integration With Email Brings Big Results

Overall, B2B marketers in the DMA study realized an 11-to-1 return on their investment in telemarketing. The study also found that telemarketing is most effective when it’s integrated with other channels. In fact, more than 80% of marketers in the DMA study said they improved campaign performance when they combined telemarketing with another channel.

Unsurprisingly, the most common telemarketing goal for the B2B marketers in the study was generating B2B leads (84%), and the best results came from integrating telemarketing with email. Adding a telemarketing component also improved the performance of other digital marketing channels, especially company websites.

Customers Crave Human Interaction

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For all digital marketing has to offer, one thing it can’t do is replace the human touch. Person-to-person interaction remains important, especially for complex, high-dollar B2B transactions. The right kind of telemarketing — and we’re not talking about cold calling here — can make marketing interactions with prospects more meaningful.

People suffering from “email fatigue” at work may be more willing to talk on the phone because they still put a value on actual conversation. And if the call is triggered by the right thing at the right time, it creates value by making the recipient’s life easier.

A properly trained B2B telemarketer has the ability to dig deeper with a prospect, to get answers and insights that are impossible to unearth by analyzing digital media habits or reading a filled-out form. One of the most valuable aspects of this kind of person-to-person communication is that the exchange of information can help you understand opportunities, qualify leads and gather crucial insights to make sales calls more effective. For example, the agent might ask what the prospect’s replacement cycle is, how big their warehouse is or what’s in their company’s technology stack.

B2C Experiences Set B2B Expectations

Research by Accenture shows that even in this digital age, human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction. It found that 83% of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings for customer service issues, and 77% prefer dealing with human beings for advice. The Accenture research focused on the consumer side, but as research by KPMG Nunwood has demonstrated, the expectations of B2B buyers are increasingly dictated by their experiences in the B2C world.

Not Your Father’s Telemarketing…

When it’s done right, today’s telemarketing looks nothing like the cold calling of the past and is a real solution for driving B2B leads. But in order to be effective, it requires telemarketers who are well-trained about their company’s business and product lines, as well as the challenges their customers and prospects face.

Rather than the old “hard sell” style, agents need to adopt a conversational approach designed to reassure buyers and strengthen engagement. While some script-driven call centers still exist, our experience shows that utilizing call agents with deep business knowledge, who are trained to have a conversation rather than doggedly pursue a transaction, leads to the best business outcomes.


Kelly Olson is the Director of Client Services for The Mx Group, where she oversees strategy and implementation of integrated marketing programs for all clients.