Thursday, 13 August 2009

Why it’s Important to do your Homework

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’ve just had a second cold call in as many days from a telemarketing agency trying to sell their services to me. Whilst I can’t complain about their enthusiasm or technique (the last lady who called was particularly polite), if they had done their homework beforehand they’d have realised that we’d be competition for them. Looking at this in isolation you might think it’s not a huge issue, it’s just some poor telemarketer being forced to grind out 20 calls an hour working from an excel spreadsheet and from that perspective you’d be right. However, look a bit more closely and you’ll see that that kind of untargeted, scattergun approach is the worst kind of marketing faux pas you can make and here are the reasons why:

  1. It’s a waste of their time and yours. If the telemarketer has targets (and lets face it, who doesn’t?), that’s one less genuine call they could have made.
  2. Brand damage. For a company that pitches itself as a ‘targeted B2B telemarketing agency’ making untargeted calls surely goes against their ethos?
  3. Cost. The agency had probably bought the data list that our company is on, paid the IT person that loaded it into their database and paid the telemarketer at least a basic salary (that’s without taking into account any kind of overheads) – so what’s the true monetary cost of that call?
  4. Annoyance factor. I’m a fairly level headed kind of guy and not prone to writing complaints or ‘disgruntled of Guildford’ letters (except maybe for this blog) but it is extremely annoying to receive calls from agencies that clearly have no idea about what we do.

As a new business person myself I spend a great deal of my time either pitching to prospective new clients or researching businesses that I can approach with our service offering i.e. businesses that appear to have a genuine need for what we do. Clearly there is an investment in terms of time to conduct this research but what it does mean is that it increases the chances of each approach I make being successful – or to put it another way, it removes a great deal of wasted time trying to talk to businesses that will never have a need for what we do.

And that’s really the point of my long-winded rant, taking the time to research prospects before you contact them, be that via email, DM or telephone can make a huge difference to your success rate and position you as a thoughtful, professional organisation.

There are number of ways to ensure you get your targeting right. If your new business team has the luxury in terms of time and can Google each prospect before they call them then great, if not a fairly simple customer profiling exercise should be undertaken before you purchase new data. That way you can identify the profile of your most profitable customers and purchase data which matches that profile. Or to be even more targeted, you could bring predictive models in to play which use multiple variables to statistically predict which businesses are most likely to purchase your products or services, giving you a pool of prospects that are genuinely likely to be interested in what you have to say.

Anyway, enough said, that’s my rant over; I’ll get back to praying to the cricket Gods for an England win next week and avoiding cold calls!

1 comment:

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