Companies increasingly use external partners to do the things they can’t do in-house, leaving them free to focus on the core activities they are good at. The non-core activities are usually things such as accountancy services, or auditing, on the grounds that they benefit from having an external specialist. In the past five or so years the list of outsourceable functions has grown to include things like payroll, HR, and telemarketing. Most of those activities are outsourced because the competencies required to do them well are difficult to nurture and sustain in-house, and telemarketing is no different. Where telemarketing is unique, however, is that where software and market innovation has enabled certain functions to be performed by non-specialists (for example Sage and Xero – pretty much anyone can use them), telemarketing has got even harder, because no innovation will make a one to one human interaction easier. Besides its complexity, managing telemarketing people and processes are often so fragmentary in nature, it has been likened to cat herding.
Before clients come to Blue Donkey, they’ve often tried their own telemarketing in-house. The rationale for this is regularly cost-based, surely it’s cheaper to achieve successful interactions with potential clients by using the team that sits within your own four walls. This should be true, but when you join the dots on the day to day reality for most companies, they have the people, they have the desks and the phones, they have direct access to the data, but bringing all that together is oh so much harder than it sounds. Where outsourced telemarketing teams are dialling and smiling all day long, in-house teams find the pressure of making dial after dial too prohibitive, so the number of decision makers they reach across the day is very low. This in turn makes the true cost per unit (number of decision makers reached and influenced) very high. Organisations don’t help when they make their telemarketing roles entry-level. Telemarketing is hard work, it’s demanding and highly skilled when done properly. It also has its own way of making you feel at the bottom of the food chain without your company reinforcing it by saying ‘do telemarketing for a while and if you’re any good, we’ll give you a real job’.
Another reason some companies resist outsourced telemarketing is they believe briefing and training an internal team is easier than an outsourced one. Again, that’s a reasonable assumption. However, at Blue Donkey, we have decades of experience taking a solid brief that translates to an excellent interaction with key company decision makers. The methodology we use is tested year after year, so it’s robust and reliable. Our calls are award-winning and have 14 years of ISO:9001 quality systems behind them. So it’s absolutely possible for a best in breed agency to take a brief that delivers your brand impressively dial after dial. Inevitably, if you don’t have the most experienced and skilled voice representing you on your front line, not only will your team fail to generate leads, they may well inflict irreparable damage on your reputation, your database and your brand. That impact is hard to recover from too because unless your calls are exceptional, buyers will opt-out of future contact. It’s harder to rebuild a damaged brand reputation than it is to make great calls in the first place.
There’s also a perception that an internal team will know your company’s products and services better than any outside company could ever do. And in a way that’s true. However, you need more than product knowledge to make telemarketing work. The messaging should be stripped down on a telemarketing call, so you communicate only the important business benefits – that’s invariably about time, effort, money or security. This is because you only have a few short moments to make an impactful first impression. Outsourced telemarketing specialists are used to guiding conversations to the key benefits on offer, so a prospective client can engage with their open questions more effectively. If there is one key attribute that makes a call successful, it’s not product knowledge, it’s the ability to confidently and sensitively draw a buyer into a conversation about their business needs. Sadly, it’s not unusual for someone who’s bursting with product knowledge to make the dullest calls, usually because they’re more motivated to speak than listen.
You can’t control what you can’t measure, and in house teams simply don’t have the systems and resources to manage campaigns like an outsourced telemarketing company. Unless a business is all about telemarketing, they’re unlikely to have invested in the complex myriad of systems that measure dials, decision makers reached, data touched, leads generated etc. An outsourced agency will configure their world around the sophisticated control levers that help them measure their service delivery and value. At Blue Donkey we know how our projects are performing against a benchmark, down to the last moment and keystroke of every hour. Our clients also know due to our completely transparent reporting. Most importantly, every member of our internal family has access to management tools that help them monitor and manage their performance, so they know when they’re doing a great job, what datasets perform best, how their numbers compare with their peers, and when their hard work matures to a positive outcome.