Given the Internet-based model of cloud computing, the use of telemarketing seems out of place. It makes more sense to use social media, online marketing, and web advertising to promote your cloud-based solution and communicate with your market.
However, are you aware that what telemarketing is the precursor to all of those?
It all goes back the same way the Internet you know and love goes back to the telephone. Telemarketing made use of available technology. It targeted a certain audience. And most of all, it was eventually faced with opposition and restriction. The first two are also important for attracting your cloud computing leads and increase subscriptions. If you think that last one is the exception though, you’ll soon find yourself wrong.
Now, here’s how telemarketers specifically fulfilled each objective:
It made use of technology.
The telephone may have advanced a long way when telemarketing was first used in the past 20th century. However, when telemarketing was first introduced, it was just as much a new thing for businesses then as internet marketing is the new thing now. Furthermore, even today’s telemarketers are coming to apply much of their experience on new tools like email.
It targeted a certain audience
Both B2C and B2B companies have always used a form of targeting when sending out their messages. Today, Internet marketers have email listings, the power of social media profiling, as well as behavioral tracking to identify the people viewing their sites. But back then, they had similar counterparts in mailing lists, call lists, and good, old-fashioned market research. In either case, both acknowledge the importance of keeping in touch with one’s customers.
It faced opposition and restriction
Speaking of behavioral tracking though, here’s the part where you’d be wrong about how online marketing is not facing a restriction that strongly parallels that of telemarketing. According to Venture Beat, this restriction is none other than the new, “Do not Track” option:
“For advertisers, behavioral tracking is an effective way to develop a strong profile on web users so they can better target ads. But for privacy groups and web users, it’s a massive breach in privacy that goes against the most basic tenets of the web. Originally proposed in 2009, Do Not Track is the “Do not call” of the digital age, a way for users to tell advertising companies that they want to opt out of behavioral tracking.”
Honestly, one big mistake people make when pitting new marketing tools like websites against traditional ones like B2B telemarketing is they forget they share the same opposition. The Do-Not-Call registers were developed in the same way. Customers grew fed up of intrusive calls and wanted them locked down.
Be it B2B or B2C, it’s this demand for customer privacy that has always kept marketing, as a whole, in check. No matter what you do, that is the customer’s right and no new form of marketing is going to change that demand.
The bright side to this however is that it calls everyone on the side of marketing and sales to look back and realize how history is only repeating itself. As a cloud service provider, you yourself would know a thing or two about customer privacy. Instead of figuring out new ways to violate that privacy, why not look to how the old ways have come to respect them instead? That’s the thing about consulting precursors like the telemarketers. They’ve long learned lessons that are still being learned by their successors.
Make no mistake, even telemarketers will turn to software professionals when it comes to the actual heavy work of identifying and addressing a cyber threat. On the other hand, the effects of these threats tend to be understood on far more simpler terms by the users themselves. They may not understand how or why something is wrong but the fact remains: something is wrong. This makes engagement very important when evaluating a threat and that is where telemarketing comes in.
You also don’t have to be a security vendor just to have this obligation. Most business software providers are still called to a considerable measure of software security, especially when it comes to handling sensitive business data. Two major examples would be payroll and CRM.
But more than that, even the IT security firms prefers to take matters into their own hands rather than wait around for the support of law enforcement and federal action. What more reason do you need in order to do the same?
Though speaking of which, take a look at this Forbes article if you’re still not convinced that software companies shouldn’t be as active in monitoring these threats on their own. Asides from the argument about how the route of government intervention will only be a wasted effort, the author also says:
“As new threats have developed– from cyber crime, to nation state espionage, to weaponized malware targeting uranium gas centrifuges– the industry has reacted. There are now tools that collect intelligence, identify previously unknown attack attempts, and alert network operators to successful intrusions, giving them the ability to track down and eradicate them. Major security vendors already gather threat intelligence from hundreds of thousands of deployed devices. New firms are even actively infiltrating and gathering information from hacker and cyber criminal forums.”
But again, while outsourced telemarketing may lack the specialized IT and computer knowledge, they can get feedback from your users. These users, in turn, are likely to exhibit one of the many noticeable symptoms of cyber attacks. Some of the things you could already try are:
- A customer service call center: Many business decision makers don’t have time to wait for an email response and if it’s an automated one, that will only aggravate their impatience. That’s why your customer support should always give a number to call and a real representative to receive it.
- A brief phone survey – While you’re generating ERP leads, have your strategy emulate a survey. Like a survey, your telemarketers can ask questions that touch upon the usual signs of software difficulties. You may not qualify all the time but at least you have verifiable information to work with.
- Small advisory – In case your specialists have already identified a threat beforehand, you can use the telephone as a means of spreading the word. Even if some threats are easily remedied, there’s always the human element when it comes to your customer’s security policies and protocol.
Having eyes on the users is just as important as focusing on a cyber threat down to the level of hard code. For one thing, not all users are really capable of grasping the finer details of IT or computer science. They can, however, easily realize that something in their system is going berserk or critical information has been compromised. Get a telemarketing firm to help you monitor signs coming from them so as to be even more on the alert for cyber threats.
Outsourcing telemarketing doesn’t always make it cheap. The actual process can be tweaked to discover software problems that tend to be overlooked. Of course, you can’t entirely put people at fault for underestimating these problems. On the surface level, some of the tasks the involve business software tend to look mundane and repetitive.
Underneath that though is a very important system that handles information critical to the daily functions of a business. Any problems that occur within these systems can cause multiple business processes to halt. Why would you be in this industry if such dangers were non-existent? With the right targeting, you can use telemarketing to draw attention to these problems as well as keep in touch in case more come up.
Below is just one case of underestimating a software problem’s impact, taken from Crain’s Chicago Business:
“United Airlines has been experiencing a systemwide outage of their passenger service system (PSS), SHARES, since at least 3:20p Eastern time. This system is used for reservations, ticketing, check-ins, etc. It is not operationally involved with safety of aircraft, but is critical for checking in and, in some cases, boarding passengers. It is expected to have a significant impact on United’s airline this evening as flights will be delayed substantially because passengers will be unable to checkin for their flights as well as the other operational roles of SHARES.”
Read closely. It says right there that while the system isn’t involved in the safety of aircraft (a major concern for both passenger and airline employee), it’s still critical for another important business process: check-ins.
While compared to, say, the dangers of aircraft malfunction, you’d be tempted to take trouble at the check-in counter any day. That still doesn’t take away the reality that check-in time can poses as a major hurdle when catching a flight. If any of you have ever taken a single business trip, you’d admit this to be true.
Starting with outsourced telemarketing, you can determine similar information software problems so as to prevent delays in similar business processes. A few advantages you can make use of are:
- Getting a prospect’s attention: Some information problems tend to take a higher priority on a prospect’s mind. That’s why it’s important to ask them questions that would point to a problem they consider a lower priority. A well-timed phone call will not only get their attention, squeeze in a brief conversation will give them a cause to rethink about their priorities.
- Determining a problem: Be warned, not everything that is perceived to be a problem turns out so. That’s another advantage of telemarketing. You have agents that are trained to easily adjust their message and their questions in order to really get a clear picture of their prospect’s situation.
- A surefire follow-up: Not everyone will automatically consider so it’s only proper for a telemarketing crew to call at some other time. They might even leave a calling card of some sort, like an informative email. This sets everything up for the next time they call.
Qualifying sales leads requires problem identification. This includes identifying problems that are often overlooked because they don’t seem so urgent at first glance. Tweak your telemarketing advantage by focusing on its ability to draw attention to a problem and follow-up on it to make sure it’s not underestimated.
Forbes just announced that famous coffee-chain Starbucks has just made a hefty investment in mobile payment service company Square. Asides from the prediction that mobile will eventually bring to question the very purpose of paper and coin currency, you can also see it as another sign that mobile is becoming another market that’s growing with potential B2B software leads. Just look at the figures being mentioned:
“Mobile payments service provider, Square, got a $25 million investment from Starbucks (SBUX) — valuing the start-up at $3.25 billion— that could mark the beginning of the end of cash. Meanwhile, this deal could boost Starbucks’ profits and puts Square’s competitors on notice.”
But like every other B2B software market, generating qualified software leads can sometimes be troublesome. In the case of relatively new markets like mobile payment, targets might be hard to define. If the report is any indication on the other hand, a few possible business groups could be:
As pointed out by the article, small businesses make good targets for this type of mobile business technology:
“That’s because it launched by selling to the 66% of 27 million small U.S. businesses that don’t accept credit or debit cards to avoid expensive payment processing fees, an annoying application process and required credit checks.”
Small businesses however can be very elusive for different types of marketing approaches. Typical B2B tools like telemarketing and email could backfire but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a call center ready to take in customer support calls. What small businesses lack in size and budget, they can make up for in numbers. Don’t let poor customer service generate bad referrals and a lack of desirability among them.
You can also target mainstream retailers who generally take credit cards. The lower costs isn’t a benefit that’s limited to simply small businesses. If you can find a way to impress and assure larger companies, that gives you another potential market to target. Even better, it gives you more wiggle room for telemarketing attempts if they’re done right. Get the name of the proper decision maker and do some prior research to confirm their interest in mobile payment. If they agree to an appointment, make sure that their information is recorded accurately on your database so your sales representative won’t have trouble preparing.
If Square aimed for Starbucks, why shouldn’t you try aiming for similar chains? Just like retailers, it’s simply a matter of knowing your targets individually as much as you know them as an entire market. Keep in mind though that it’s also important to know about how these chains approach their own customers. Will offering mobile payments improve their own marketing strategy? Will it improve customer relations? Different companies have varying approaches to their customer so you need to show how a mobile payment service fits into that approach.
To summarize, a new market can still require the same old marketing techniques. Know the desires and needs of your targets, familiarize with them individually as much as a whole group, and try to relate your product to their business needs prior to appointment setting.