Dialing for dollars: How to use outbound call campaigns effectively

Outbound call campaigns used to be a staple of the marketing and sales team in the technology industry – but times are changing. Now, the way call campaigns are used needs to reflect the transformative needs of the prospects.

This was the topic of discussion at the latest SMA/ITAC Marketing & Sales Think Tank, where marketing and sales leaders from technology organizations gathered to discuss how best they can reach prospects and customers through outbound call campaigns.

The team shared a number of insights on how call campaigns can be used effectively in today’s market, and how marketers can overcome the current challenges they are facing. These are the key takeaways from this event:

1. Finding the right stage of the sales engagement process: There are a number of barriers associated with call campaigns, such as caller ID, no solicitation policies, and prospects who are not interested or available to chat. To overcome these issues, it’s critical that technology organizations use call campaigns at the right stage of the sales engagement process.

2. Deciding when to use call campaigns: Outbound calling can very effective in encouraging and confirming the attendance and followup of prospects that have been invited to events. Call campaigns are also a useful tool when targeting prospects that have spent considerable time online reviewing digital content about a technology firm or solution.

3. Relying on internal resources: Call campaigns are best executed when they are handled by internal account representatives because of their ability to build long-term relationships and their deep knowledge of the technology solution. However, it’s more and more challenging to find and keep reps that are willing to deal with the frustrations of reaching voicemail 90% of the time and the unwillingness of those prospects who are contacted to engage in a meaningful dialogue on the phone.

This SMA/ITAC Marketing & Sales Think Tank was hosted at Arrow ECS in Mississauga by Jessica Skead, Channel Manager, IBM Software, Arrow ECS. The discussion was moderated by Bob Becker, Principal, SMA.

Attendees

  • Joel Black, Account ExecutiveADGA
  • Marie Akam, Software Licensing Sales Specialist – Arrow ECS
  • Jamie Grossi, GM Infrastructure Systems Group and Central Region – Arrow ECS
  • Patrick McGuire, National Account Manager – Arrow ECS
  • Graziella Perricone, Marketing Intern – Cloud, Digital Transformation, IOT – Canada – Arrow ECS
  • Jessica Skead, Channel Manager, IBM Software – Arrow ECS
  • Richard Sheppard, Director of Sales, Marketing and Solutions – Blair Technology Solutions
  • Sara Jensen, Channel Consultant, Global Channel Marketing, Enablement and Tools – Dell EMC
  • Sukh Auluck, BUE – Hardware Channel Sales – IBM
  • Christine Johnston, Senior Account Executive – IDC
  • Caterina Didio-Duggan, Canadian Regional Marketing Manager – Information Builders (Canada) Inc.
  • Mariana Kutin Morais, Director, Membership and Business Development – ITAC
  • Mike Tindal, SVP, Corporate & Market Development – Prophix
  • Robert Bracey, President and CEO – Quartet Service
  • Erin Hochstein, Communications Director – Rubikloud Technologies Inc.
  • Darrin Whyne, Business Development – Rubikloud Technologies Inc.

Provide Value to Prospects and Customers Through Call Campaigns

The most salient takeaway from this discussion with technology marketing and sales leaders is that call campaigns need to provide value to prospects and customers. Cold calling will not be effective because people are constantly inundated with inbound messages, both on the phone and through email.

A new tactic is needed. As one participant mentioned, we are running the risk of making our customers mad by cold calling them.

How can technology organizations overcome this hurdle? By providing knowledge – true value – to their prospects and customers. By shifting the call campaign to an education tool, rather than a sales tool, technology companies will be able to have a better chance at building long-term relationships with prospects and gaining their trust.

Research and Analyze Data Before Calling

Only 3-5% of people actually answer their phones. When the odds of reaching a prospect or customer are that low, it’s important to put in the research to make sure you’re targeting the right people – at the right time – with your outbound call campaign.

Instead of calling a large list that may or may not be cleaned, now call campaigns are done more strategically and are combined with other activities in the marketing mix.

While lead definition is still challenging, call campaigns are more successful when the contacts are highly – and strategically – targeted. Using third-parties to verify information can also help.

Target the Right Prospects and Customers

One participant mentioned that the initial touch of the call campaign has shifted further down the pipe. Instead of using call campaigns as the first touchpoint, most prospects go online first. Companies have more success when the prospect already has shown interest in the organization by going to their website and downloading a lead magnet.

Using call campaigns to invite warm leads to events, and follow up with them after the event, has proven to be very successful. This way, it’s another opportunity to further the relationship, and feels less like the company is disrupting the prospect. It’s a continuation of the conversation rather than an interruption.

Combining call campaigns with email campaigns is also an effective strategy that many of the participants’ organizations are implementing. In addition, making emails more dynamic by using video within them through platforms like Vidyard provides value-added content for prospects – which is what makes the campaigns memorable and useful to the target.

Put Internal Reps on the Frontlines

The participants agreed that the most successful outbound call campaigns were when internal account reps performed the calls, instead of third parties. This is because internal account reps have detailed knowledge of the technology system and can speak to prospects about the challenges they are facing and how they can help. This is what helps to build long-term – and valuable – relationships.

Some companies are reallocating their resources to hire an internal rep for outbound calling campaigns so they can be trained with the right value proposition and key messaging, which is required to identify and build relationships with qualified leads.

In any case, it’s critical for marketing and sales to have equal skin in the game for incentives, as one participant mentioned. That process ensures that all qualified leads are being followed up on through the right process.

Overall, it boils down to value. When prospects and customers are actively avoiding cold calls, and companies have implemented no solicitation policies, it means something needs to change. Instead of using outbound calling as a sales tool, it needs to be shifted to providing value to the targets instead, through content, education, and events.

This event provided value to many technology marketing and sales leaders, and was at full capacity. The attendees shared insights, learned new tactics, and discussed issues they can take back to their teams to further their initiatives. Stay tuned for the next event happening this spring!

The SMA/ITAC Marketing & Sales Think Tanks, held at different host locations across the GTA, are one of the benefits of membership in the Information Technology Association of Canada, or ITAC. To find out more about the Think Tanks or ITAC, contact Bob Becker, Principal, SMA at 416-275-6782 or email at  Bob.Becker@SMAworld.com.

Posted By: SMA

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