When people are looking to declare sales techniques to be ‘dead,’ there’s probably no more popular target than B2B telemarketing. “Nobody cold-calls anymore,” they say – but nothing could be further from the truth!
Outbound ‘cold calling’ is still commonplace throughout B2B sales, with nearly 9 out of 10 marketing managers at Fortune 500 companies saying that it’s either “effective” or “very effective.” On top of that, 55% of high-growth companies find B2B telemarketing to be “very effective,” and have much higher growth than most companies that disregard it.
While outbound cold calling may not, strictly speaking, be a requirement to make sales today – you’re probably passing up a lot of opportunities if you refuse to do it!
However, one thing that has changed is how cold calling is done – and that might be why people perceive outbound telemarketing as old-fashioned. They don’t realize that new techniques have evolved to make B2B telemarketing highly effective and worthwhile for both seller and buyer. Cold calling solely is no longer the way to pursue; you need to combine good desk research, available data, personalized content, social connect/selling and good explorative (cold) calls to be effective.
Making the Most of B2B Telemarketing In 2021 And Beyond
There is one key concept that will almost entirely determine your B2B telemarketing success rate (or lack thereof) and that is research.
The days of mindlessly calling up every company in the phone book fishing for leads are definitely dead. Today’s outbound B2B sales agents are private investigators, doing in-depth research to ferret out great leads, and tailor pitches to their needs before even picking up the phone. And why not? Information on companies is freely available today, and relatively easy to obtain. All it takes is a little time, patience, and basic online research skills.
Generally speaking, just going to a company’s homepage will reveal information such as:
- Overall business goals and strategy
- Corporate culture (check their recruitment pages!)
- Product lines and future expansion plans
- Legal/regulatory trends
If that company has a blog, YouTube channel, or other significant content-based social media presence, even better! The topics they focus on will almost always be ones they personally find important and will usually include a lot of information on common problems within their industry.
On top of that, there’s LinkedIn, which you can use to drill down and get information about the people involved in the company. A little research (and maybe a bit of stalking on Facebook or Twitter) will reveal a wealth of information on the most important decision-makers. That way, a canny sales agent doesn’t merely know what their target company needs, but they’ll also have a good idea who to talk to.
So rather than a scattershot approach, today’s B2B telemarketing is focused and borderline scientific. A highly successful outbound sales agent doesn’t even pick up the phone until they’ve already qualified the lead, have a good idea about that lead’s wants and needs and know who to talk to about making things happen.
The Playbook for A Successful B2B Telemarketing Call
Of course, there’s no One True Way to make outbound sales or set up sales meetings. However, there are some guidelines for making things go more smoothly.
1. It’s not a script, it’s a playbook
One of the eternal debates in telemarketing is scripted vs non-scripted. However, this is one of those debates where the truth lies in the middle. A truly scripted telemarketing call will almost always fail, in part because leads can usually tell when you’re reciting a script. At the same time, you shouldn’t ever go totally off-the-cuff because you’ll want some pre-made talking points, statistics, and other pieces of info that are always at the ready.
So, don’t think of it as a script. Have a playbook full of ideas and tidbits, which you string together with more spontaneous conversation.
2. Grab their attention with a great intro
The most important thing to establish at the beginning of a B2B telemarketing call is why the person on the other end should bother listening to you. After introducing yourself, your intro should immediately jump into a reason why your call is relevant to the buyer.
One good way to phrase this is by invoking other companies, such as saying “I’m (title/name) with (company) and I’m calling because businesses like yours turn to us for help overcoming (relevant problem).” If you’ve done your research and you’re certain that the problem you name is one that the lead is facing, you’ve probably already got your foot in the door.
Also, don’t ask if they have time to chat or such. That just gives them a new opportunity to say no and hang up. Only pivot to asking about a callback if they interrupt to say they don’t have time.
3. Two parts listening to one part talking
Another common mistake among B2B telemarketers is that they spend too much time talking, or worse, pitching. The successful strategy is to get your lead talking instead! If they start to open up and have a discussion about their company and either their goals or problems they’re facing, they’re basically handing you intel. This should be encouraged! Keep asking questions to keep them talking and gather more info on what they’re looking for.
Then, when the time does come to make your ‘pitch’, you’re not doing so blindly. You’re directly addressing the issues they brought up and discussing how your company will be relevant to their needs.
Basically, B2B telemarketing sales pitches should never be treated as “one size fits all.”
4. Ask for a meeting multiple times
You probably aren’t trying to make a sale directly on the phone, instead, you’re trying to get them to agree to a more formal sales meeting. Don’t take no for an answer! At least not the first ‘no’. Ideally, you should ask for a meeting three times over the course of your investigative process before accepting that they aren’t interested.
It might feel a little awkward, but you’ll be surprised how often they come around if you ask, get a no, provide more information on the services you provide, then ask again. On the other hand, do accept a good, honest argumentation why a person is not interested. Focus on recontacting the prospect at a proper time (when he/she might be in the market). This gives you better results on the long(er) run.
5. Track your successes and your failure
Every other element of sales and marketing is data-driven, and your B2B telemarketing calls should follow suit. After each call, take a little time to log it. Note what opening and closing lines you used, and what talking points you deployed. If you track these things, over time you’ll start getting a good feel for what approaches work best for you and\or your target leads.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you might even start doing some direct A-B testing of different approaches. I.e., run one playbook for one lead, then run another playbook for the next. Go back and forth to see which is more successful, then refine your strategies and move forward.
Skondras Can Take Your B2B Telemarketing to The Next Level
Skondras is a leader in European sales outsourcing. With us, you gain access to years of experience and highly competent sales teams who know the best techniques for reaching out to your customers. If you’re struggling to make B2B telemarketing work for you, contact us for a consultation!