Posts Tagged ‘Grindstone Business Development Group’

How to Successfully Launch B2B Marketing on Social Media

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Need to know how to successfully launch a B2B marketing campaign with Social media? Then we are here to share a few tips with you on how to successfully start a launch up!

 

To succeed in B2B marketing, a business must do much more than simply open a corporate account on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

For starters you need to be a major influence on your online reputation. Social media is an open forum. Customers will discuss you online with or without your consent. As a savvy business, you should monitor these conversations not to tell people what they can or cannot say but to learn about your customers. Customers have the power to share their opinions, feelings, needs, and desires.

 

Sometimes you have to start small to aim big. Use Google Alerts to see when people discuss your company throughout the Internet. Use BlogPulse and Technorati to see what bloggers and consumers are say about your company, products and services. These services are easy to use and free!

Secondly, learn to better position your brand.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook give you a crucial opportunity to build your brand awareness! Social networks can improve your position in the market as well as increase purchase intent by consumers! The fact your brand can be mentioned across social network will enhance the potential for your marketing success.

 

Research by DDB Worldwide and OpinionWay Research discovered that 36% of consumers that follow a brand on Facebook are more inclined to purchase from that brand than a competing brand. They are also more likely to refer their friends to the brand.

 

Another great tactic to launch a successful B2B social media campaign is to engage your prospects and customers!

 

Use social media to build a bond with your business prospects early. Help your business prospects solve problems through advice, useful products and services.

 

For more great tips read this article from SearchEngineland.com.

 

At Grindstone, our agents and managers are here to help your B2B business needs. We will do your companies’ market research to assess market patterns and implement better targeted campaigns that yield revenue!

 

For professional services and questions, contact Grindstone by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

 

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Value Selling vs. Price Selling

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Value and price. They are the same thing, right?

Well, not quite.

Selling based on value and selling based on price are two differing strategies. But what are the differences between the two and which is more beneficial for your business? This article from NetworkedBlogs.com explains. Value is a long-term solution and what is best for the growth of your company, while price is a short-term.

The key to selecting the right client is to ask the right questions. This will take about an hour of your time, but will be worth it. It is important to identify your ideal prospects on multiple levels.

Avoid boring presentations. Most prospects are meeting with you because they have already done their research on you and your company, checked references, and have a sense of your capabilities. What you need to focus on is the future, not the past.

How are you going to help your potential client and his/her business grow? How are you going to solve that client’s immediately and long term needs? These are the questions you need to be answering.

The rapport you build with the client is the key to any long-term business relationship. As the article says, “Rapport is based on trust, and hopefully is nurtured during the thoughtful exchange before contracts are signed.”

Each situation is different and every client must be handled individually.

Once the initial meeting takes places, send a summarizing document to the potential client and set up a brief follow up conversation. This is where you can finally discuss price. A useful question to ask is:  “How does this fit with your budget?”  Simple and direct.

The Process:

Begin with a focus on building rapport with the client and understanding needs and company background.  Begin by incorporating personal touches. Go in knowing that value is long term and that’s what’s important to your business relationship—and growth.  If the first few questions focus on price, than either a) you didn’t do your homework and/or b) you didn’t ask qualifying questions before your meeting.

“It is the steps you take to discover and connect that ultimately get you to that all-important meeting.”

If you have any questions, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

What are You Communicating to Your Customers or Perspective Business Partners?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

It is no secret that communication is a vital component to any business; whether it be communication with an employee, potential client, or perspective business partner, what you say has a profound impact on your business. But did you know you might be saying more with your mannerisms than your words could ever say? There is a reason they call it body language.

This article from LaRaeQuy.com explains. It breaks down every element of communication, not just what you verbalize, but what you say with your hands, head, eyes and other gestures.

Sometimes the message you intend to get across is not what you actually communicate. This happens when there is a conflict between what is verbalized and what is transmitted through body language.

“The body is always more accurate in revealing true emotions and feelings.” –LaRae Quy.

We show our emotions through our gestures. We have been doing it since we were babies, and we never broke the habit.

Clusters

Non-verbal communications come in clusters, just like words forming a sentence. So it is important to pay attention to all the movements a person makes during communication. This will give you a better idea of what they are “really” saying. A single movement could be interpreted any number of ways, but a series of movements narrows down what someone is really feeling.

Tips on Reading Body Language

Head

The head shows the most expressive body language characteristics. There has been a lot of research done on reading facial features and here are some generalizations that you can rely on when trying to read a person’s face to determine whether or not they’re being sincere:

•     Contempt – lip corner tightens and lifts on one side of the face

•     Happy – a real smile will always have crow’s feet wrinkles and pushed up cheeks

•     Surprise – lasts for only a second: eyebrows raised, mouth open, eyes wide open

•     Anger – eyebrows down and together, narrowing of lips

Eyes

As a general rule, breaks in eye contact are the most important non-verbal gesture. If you suspect deception in a conversation, here are some eye clues to watch for at the point at which they tell a lie:

•     Closing the eyes

•     Covering the eyes

•     Glancing at watch

•     Showing intense interest in fingernails

•     Looking out the window or at the floor

•     Avoid looking you in the eye during the moment of deception

•     Rapid eye movement

•     Raising eyebrows

Eye movements can reveal what a person is focusing on during your conversation.

•     Recalling a visual memory—eyes move upward.

•     Recalling something they heard—eyes move to the side

•     Recalling a feeling—eyes look down and to the right

•     Thinking to oneself—eyes look down and to the left

Hands

There are more connections between the brains and the hands than any other body part.

•     Palm up—nonthreatening. Even animals recognize this approach as friendly.

•     Palm down—authority.

•     Pointing finger—leaves a negative feeling in most listeners

•     Squeezing thumb against the fingertips—avoids intimidating the audience

•     Shaking with two hands is meant to convey sincerity and trust. Don’t do this unless you and the other person have a strong bond of some sort. Otherwise, you end up coming across like a smarmy politician.

•     Grasping elbow with left hand—communicates depth of feeling

•     Holding the shoulder with left hand—invades personal space and may result in a hug

So what are you really saying?

If you have any questions, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

The Importance of Search Engine Optimization in B2B Transactions

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a cost-effective way to market your business/product while increasing profits, especially for B2B companies. Unlike traditional consumer transactions, B2B transactions often require much more research before an order is ever made. And, as this article from Marketing Today explains, the internet plays a major role in this process.

A recent study, “The Role of Search in Business to Business Buying Decisions,” surveyed approximately 1500 participants responding to a 40-questions that was validated with pre-testing before implementation. You can download the entire report for free, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • When participants were asked to indicate how they would go about making a B2B purchase, 93.2 percent said they would research the purchase online.
     
  • When asked if they would use a search engine at some point in this task, 95.5 percent of participants indicated that they would.
     
  • When asked where they would start their search for information, 63.9 percent of participants chose a search engine over consumer review sites, e-commerce sites, manufacturer’s sites, and industry portals.
     
  • When taking budget into consideration, manufacturer’s sites and industry portals were the chosen starting place as budgets increased. However, 86.9 percent of participants said they would visit a search engine after visiting those sites.

So what did this study conclude?

  • Search engines play a dominant role in B2B purchases.
     
  • Search engines are used in the early or mid research phase in the buying cycle.
     
  • Google is favored over other search engines.
     
  • Search engine research takes place at least one to two months before the buying decision.
     
  • Good balance between organic and paid search is necessary. Organic SEO gets over 70 percent of the clicks.
     
  • Position is a factor, with over 60 percent clicking on the top 3 listings.
     
  • Most users decide which listing to click on in seconds upon scanning the page.

Here’s what distinguishes search engine marketing from other types of advertising:

1. Non-Intrusive:  Search marketing is a non-intrusive marketing tool. Most advertising, both online and offline, interrupts consumer behavior. If a user goes to a web site for info, up pops an intrusive ad. Reading a newspaper? Ads dominate and force articles to be continued on another page. With search engine marketing, the user is actively seeking your products, services, and information. They are delighted to be driven to your site.

2. Voluntary: Search marketing is the result of user-originated behavior. Your visitors from search engines and directories have voluntarily clicked on your listing rather than any competitors, thus they are motivated to explore your offerings.

With 90% of internet searches never making it to the second page of results, it is very important for B2B marketers, wholesalers, and B2B exchanges to ensure their Web sites are correctly optimized for good positioning.

If you have any questions about how SEO can help you, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

What’s the Difference Between a Business Development Manager and a Sales Manager?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

It seems as if there is some confusion as to the difference between a business development manager and a sales manager. While they are similar in nature, they are also both very different, as well. Both a business development manager and sales manager are concerned with sales, but in different ways (In smaller companies, the business development manager and sales manager may actually be the same person.).

A business development manager does more on a strategic level, has a specific vision for the company and its product ranges, researches new potential markets, is in charge of building new business relationships, and works towards building a brighter future for his/her company. Meanwhile, a sales manager does more on a tactical level, calls customers, makes/maintains/grows contacts, solicits interest, promotes products or services, and then closes the final deal.

The business development manager serves the business and works towards the future, while the sales manager functions as a client serving executive and works for the present. Once the business Development manager has made the relationship, it is the sales manager who has to do the follow up with the store owners regarding quantity required, he has to push them to place more quantity orders and ensure that payments are being received in time. A sales manager is working to increase the throughput of a known products/services through agreed channel.

In order for a company to run smoothly eventually grow, the business development manager and sales manager need to be working hand in hand. If either is not pulling their own weight, the whole system will crumble.

If you have any questions about how telemarketing can help you, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Benefits of Telemarketing for Small Businesses

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Are you trying to grow your small business, but you just do not know how to get started? Have you considered telemarketing? It is one of the best ways to promote your business and increase revenue.

First off, forget what you think you know about telemarketing, which is the fastest growing industry in the world today. This article helps to explain the benefits of this often controversial industry.

There are two types of telemarketing – inbound and outbound.  Inbound telemarketing refers to the manner in which a company accepts calls from consumers. This form has several advantages including higher volume of sales, greater profits, increased lead generation, reduced costs per sale, increased number of qualified telemarketing leads, increased number of appointments, increased customer base, higher number of closed sales, and maximum phone productivity. Inbound telemarketing is cheap and easy – often being outsourced to a third party.

Also inexpensive and easy is outbound telemarketing.  Outbound telemarketing allows businesses to make sales calls, to upgrade mail orders, do prospecting, or speed up cash flow to the corporation through accounts receivable collection efforts. Outbound can also be used to build retail traffic, get appointments for sales reps, and even re-sell customers who have cancelled their order.

Telemarketing is the future. So jump on board today and grow your small business.

If you have any questions about how telemarketing can help you, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Why Sales Professionals Should Never Prospect

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Prospecting is a monotonous activity with little results. Think of your first sales job where they had you cold call. You cold called all day, dialed hundreds of numbers to get what–maybe 3 or 4 prospects identified? Talk about a huge waste of valuable time.

We say don’t do it. Prospecting is the activity of a sales laborer. As a sales professional, your time is far too valuable for this administrative, time intensive, low output activity.

Understand that prospecting is the monotonous activity of separating the few prospects from hundreds or thousands of suspects. So if you had a list of everyone in Westport Connecticut, an area just outside Manhattan where many celebrities have homes, you can safely assume that most residents have money. But how do you find the 1% of the residents that have interest in your product or service? Let a sales laborer do it!

Here are some examples of having sales laboreres do your prospecting:

1. You outsource prospecting to a company that will design and print and mail a postcard or letter for you. That company and the post office mail carriers are your sales laborers to deliver your 10,000 mailers. The 1% of the residents that reply (say 100 people) are “prospects” and these are the people you should talk to now that the prospecting has been done. As a sales professional, you talk to prospects, you don’t locate them.

2. You hire a telemarketer or telemarketing company to call those 10,000 residents with your presentation (could be an invitation to a seminar, offer for a booklet, etc). You only talk to the people who express interest, i.e. the 100 people who identify themselves as qualified prospects.

3. You place an advertisement in the Westport edition of the NY Times offering your booklet “How the Rich Retain Wealth in a Depression.” You talk to the 100 people that request your booklet. The NY Times is your sales laborer.

4. You hire a company to run ads for you on the Internet and find prospects that meet your criteria. You pay them per lead. So of the thousands of people that see your ad, you pay for and have an outside firm identify the right prospects.

Yes, these prospecting activities all cost money but not very much. If you don’t want to invest in your business, then get a job as an employee because you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. You can be a sales laborer for someone else.

Sure, prospecting is the lifeblood of any business but you, the sales professional, shouldn’t be doing it because as the business owner, this is an activity you orchestrate and delegate.

If you have any questions about how telemarketing can help you, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

How to choose a telemarketing service that will produce the results you want without breaking the bank.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Telemarketing companies make large numbers of sales calls on your behalf. These services can be a cost-effective alternative to creating an in-house telemarketing group.

Telemarketing services can be broken into two major categories: inbound and outbound. This buyer’s guide addresses outbound calling.

Telemarketing services provide telephone sales representatives (TSRs) who can make several different types of calls for your business:

* direct sales
* lead generation
* appointment scheduling
* verifying information/cleaning lists
* research and surveys

With good training and support, the right telemarketing company can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

When choosing a telemarketing company, it is important that you balance the need to save money with the importance of having a high-quality provider. You should think of the provider as an extension of your business, rather than just another vendor. This BuyerZone.com Buyer’s Guide will help you determine what telemarketing company is right for you and launch a successful campaign.

Reasons to outsource

The main reason companies outsource telemarketing operations is that setting up a large-scale telemarketing call center is expensive and complicated. First you need to make a large capital investment in phone lines, furniture, floor space, computers, and software. In addition, you will need to hire and train TSRs and management staff.

Other factors can contribute to the decision to outsource:
Significant growth – Rapid growth can quickly overwhelm in-house telemarketing staff, but providers can quickly add reps if you need to increase volume. Seasonal businesses benefit by adding reps only during busy times of the year. New sales channels – Companies just getting into telemarketing can tap the expertise dedicated telemarketing firms can provide in creating lists, designing scripts, running tests, and managing campaigns. Testing – Today’s technology makes it easy to measure the success of new telemarketing programs. When testing new sales programs or products, large companies may find it easier and cheaper to use a call center than to retrain in-house employees. Small companies may also find it easier to do so than to build a call center and hire staff. Specialty services – Companies that do business around the globe may want to switch to a two- or three-shift operation or operate in multiple languages. Using a telemarketing provider can smooth both of those transitions.

In addition, telemarketing service providers can provide cost savings to many companies. They already have the hardware, manpower, and expertise — as well as the economies of scale– that allow them to operate at a much lower cost than companies that set up their own in-house operations.

Preparing your telemarketing search

Telemarketing service providers come in different sizes, use different methods and technologies, and have different specialties. Before you even start to talk to providers, sit down and determine what exactly your requirements are – then find providers who match your needs.

The first consideration is your goals for the telemarketing campaign. Determine what you will need the provider to do and what metrics you will use to measure success. You will want to choose a firm with experience in your industry and in similar campaigns, and you may need their help creating scripts or providing reports.

Next, forecast your expected volume. Base your estimates firmly in reality – because of monthly minimums and maximums that will be in your contract, under- or overestimating for negotiating purposes is not a good tactic. Make sure you have numbers that reflect any ramp or spike in calls you expect to be made for your telemarketing campaigns. You should have enough volume that the provider will put real effort into your calls, but not so much that their business depends on you.

If you have in-house contact management software, you will want to make sure that the provider can provide connectivity from their system to yours, allowing you to easily exchange data. If the provider uses the same software you do, you may be able to set up a real-time direct connection, allowing you to see updates as they are made.

Many providers specialize in certain types of telemarketing. Some focus on particular industries: technology, higher education, or retail, for example, which can result in a smoother launch of your program. Other providers have a niche serving audiences with multiple language support or 24/7 staffing. In your preparation, decide what “extra” services you need so you can quickly winnow your options.

The offshore telemarketing debate

One of the major decisions to make when considering outsourcing your telemarketing operations is whether to go with an offshore provider or use a company whose call centers are in the U.S.. In the last few years, “offshoring” has really started take off – and the controversy has taken off with it. While the idea of businesses using foreign plants and workers in manufacturing has largely been accepted, choosing offshore providers for telemarketing efforts has caused much heated debate. The best advice we can give you is to make sure you base your decision on good business reasons, not emotion.

The main tradeoffs are these:
Choosing an offshore provider is almost always cheaper. Rates can be as little as 25% of what a U.S.-based firm would charge for the same service. The savings are substantial enough that it is impossible to ignore this option. Your choice of providers can impact your corporate image. There will always be a segment of the population – including some within your own company – that prefer to keep these types of jobs in the U.S. Larger companies usually face more media scrutiny on these types of issues; for smaller companies, customer perception is the greater risk.

Communication issues can also arise when offshoring your operations. This can be a result of difficult-to-understand accents or cultural differences that make casual conversation difficult. Other challenges of offshore outsourcing include the difficulty of arranging site visits for evaluation and training.

You can reduce some of the risk and still lock in significant cost savings by choosing providers whose call centers are in the Caribbean, Canada, or other locations where accents are not as strong and English commonly spoken. In places where English is not the first language, products with simple sales cycles and highly structured sales scripts can be easier for telemarketing agents to follow.

As with most hot-button business issues, there is no one good answer to this question. Whichever route you choose, make sure your management team is on board and understands how the choice was made.

Evaluating telemarketing services

There are many factors to evaluate when choosing potential telemarketing services. Some may be more or less important to your business, but they should all be weighed during your purchasing process.

Price
Overall pricing is the first item many companies use to select a telemarketing provider. Unfortunately, for some companies, it is the only item. As we stated in the introduction, choosing a service provider to interact directly with hundreds or thousands of your prospects and customers should be treated as a partnership building, not a bargain-shopping, expedition.

Do your best to get apples-to-apples price quotes from the companies you are considering: either per-minute or per dedicated rep rates, and monthly minimums. Remember that training and setup costs can be substantial, especially if they involve international travel.

Experience
Look for a company with significant experience providing outsourced telemarketing services. Startups can be fine if their management has significant experience in the industry, but it is likely safer for you to choose a company that has existing customers and a solid reputation. Industry veterans know the importance of good infrastructure – phone systems, computers, and software – as well as how to adapt with the times.

You may also want to look for providers with experience in your exact industry. This can reduce the amount of training needed and help launch your program more quickly – but of course is no guarantee of success.

Sales reps
Whether they are called agents, phone staff, or telephone sales representatives (TSRs), the quality of the employees who actually make your calls is absolutely essential to your bottom line. Ask about their payment structure and the minimum hiring requirements to get a sense of how the company values their employees.

One good indicator of quality is how long the average employee stays with the company. An average tenure of less than a year can be a warning sign. The percentage of TSRs with a long tenure, over three years, can also be a tip-off: 35% to 50% is a good threshold to seek. Ask about the provider’s commitment to staff training and promoting from within; employees who have growth opportunities are more likely to stay with their current job.

Additional services
You should make sure you choose a provider who can provide an overall level of support sufficient to your needs. Make sure the account manager who handles your case understands your industry and your business, since he or she will be your day-to-day point of contact. If you need script development help, investigate the vendor’s process and ask to see sample scripts they developed for other customers.

Reporting is another important aspect of the provider’s offering. Without detailed, accurate reporting, judging results becomes next to impossible. Before discussing reporting in detail with potential vendors, gather input from your staff regarding the statistics that are important to them and how often they are needed. You should also decide if getting finished reports is sufficient for your needs, or if you want the provider to provide data in a common format (comma separated, Excel format, etc) so you can run your own analyses.
Some types of reports you may want:

* Total sales and revenue, plus breakdowns over time
* Sales and revenue per list
* Sales and revenue per rep
* Call duration
* Handling time
* Calls per time
* Revenue

The ability to monitor calls is another area where providers differ. Some require that you call one of their managers, who will then “piggyback” you onto an agent’s call so you can hear how effective they are. Others let you dial in to their phone system directly and listen to whomever you wish without any assistance or even notification.

Finally, make sure the vendor has adequate data security measures in place. Since they will be responsible for your valuable customer data, you need some guarantees that it will remain safe and secure.

How to compare telemarketing vendors

If you can arrange a site visit to the telemarketing vendors you are considering, you can get a wealth of information that may be hard to gather otherwise. Being in the actual call center can give you a sense of how the company treats their employees. Are staffers energetic and pleasant? Enthusiasm and friendliness in person carries over to phone calls. This will also be a good opportunity for you to look at sample scripts, meet some of the agents who may be working for you, and get a sense of the scale of the operation.

A site visit is also your chance to conduct in-person interviews with the agents. In addition to basics like how happy they are, their tenure at the company, and the projects they have worked on, questions such as “What is your next job going to be?” can help you get some insight into their commitment to telephone sales.

Another important test is listening to actual calls. Pay attention to how well the agents know the material they are selling, the overall image they project, and how well they can improvise when necessary. This the most direct way to evaluate a call center, so plan several listening sessions to make sure you get the information you need.
As with any major business purchase, you should request references of both current and former clients. If possible, ask for references to clients in businesses similar to yours, both in industry and size. Some questions you may want to ask when contacting references:

* Did you accomplish your overall goals when working with this company?
* Were you able to get all the metrics you needed around activity and results?
* What were the agents’ biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Telemarketing success

The success of a telemarketing campaign is dependent on many factors. The selling script, the time of the day when calls are generated, the personality of the TSRs, and the list of potential prospects can all influence the outcome of a campaign. Make sure you give your campaign enough of a chance to succeed: if the results are not what you expect in the first week or so, make some changes instead of canceling the whole campaign.

Often, scripts that direct the TSRs to push for a sale within the first 30 seconds of the conversation tend to result in fruitless calling. Additionally, prospect lists that are too selective or too inclusive may yield lower results than expected. Even changing the time or the day when calls are made can alter the outcome of the campaign. While a successful sales campaign may often be preceded by failures, your telemarketing firm should be flexible and receptive to any changes you suggest.

While you should develop your calling script and strategies in conjunction with the provider, you should definitely make sure that the exact methodology is spelled out in detail. Make sure specifics you require such as time of day, number of tries before leaving a message, how to follow up, and any other requirements are very clear – you may want to include them in your contract.

Training the TSRs is another important step – it is recommended that your sales management runs or at least participates in the training at their call center. Take the most important lessons from your own internal sales training and present them to the TSRs who will be working on your account: the more ammunition you give them, the better they will do selling your products or services. Listening in on the first few days of calls can let you quickly address any omissions or problems.

Pricing telemarketing services

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific market rate for hiring a telemarketing firm. Costs depend on a myriad of factors, including the type of project, skills and expertise required of TSRs, technologies needed, and even the time and day calls are generated.

Many large telemarketing firms require a minimum work order. These minimum orders can range from 1,000 to 10,000 person hours per project. Most firms charge an hourly rate and bill by the actual time spent on calls. This rate is more commonly in the range of $25 to $60 per hour, but can be can be as low as $10 per hour for discount-priced offshore companies. As the number of hours increases, the cost per hour drops.

The payroll structure of your telemarketer also affects the bill. For companies that do not offer commissions to TSRs, you can expect the base hourly charge to be relatively high. Companies that pay commission charge relatively less per hour. Depending on the cost of your product and the base salary of TSRs working on your project, commission charges may range from as little as 1% to as high as 10% of the revenue generated.

There are many other fees to consider beyond the basic charges. You should expect a setup fee of up to several thousand dollars to launch your campaign, which should cover configuring their software for you, basic script preparation, and initial training. Other costs, such as additional training, programming, and reporting fees, may be covered by your per minute or per hour charges – or may not. Make sure the provider spells out exactly what additional charges you will incur.

Contracts, metrics, and SLAs
A telemarketing contract needs to define more than just the contract term and pricing. It should specify exactly what standards and procedures the call center is expected to follow, how their performance will be measured, and what penalties can be applied if they fall short of the requirements.

We recommend that you include non-disclosure clauses in your contract. NDAs make sure the provider doesn’t take the lessons they learn with your business to one of your competitors. This is especially important if your choose a provider who specializes in your industry.

One typical approach is to define a minimum percentage of successful sales. If you have run similar campaigns in-house, you will have good benchmarks to start from; if not, you may have to work with the vendor to refine the goals after the program is launched.

Other contract options include exclusivity, translation services, secrecy/confidentiality, monitoring rights, and more. When creating contracts of this magnitude, almost anything is negotiable, but remember that you will pay more for special requests.

For more ways to grow your business, contact Grindstone Inc. by calling 1-888-724-7463 or by clicking here today!

The real reason why Telemarketing is coming out on top

Monday, May 16th, 2011

by Geoff Thomas

What’s the real reason telemarketing, or appointment arranging, works? Here’s the intellectual reason. During the recession I’ve noticed some companies have been forced to find another angle to reach their audience and gain new business.

Direct marketing has been pushed down the list because of cost, public relations has also been dropped as there was no guarantee that the business would see an instant ROI. So what marketing campaigns are worth pursuing?

Building trust has got to be top of the list. We’re all so savvy of marketing campaigns these days. The main objective of public relations being to get the brand, name or service noticed, telemarketing is a great way to get face-to-face meetings with key decision makers.

Yes, I did say the ‘T’ word! Everyone seems to shy away from it, but it’s been a very strong channel for marketing campaigns throughout the recession because the ROI can be closely tracked at every stage and clearly demonstrated: did I get an appointment with them, yes or no?

Supporting telemarketing with PR is often advantageous to help support the campaign and warm-up the prospects so they are more familiar with and receptive to your messages. Telemarketing allows you to strike up a conversation directly with the decision-maker and build a strong relationship with them.

Engagement is critical. Just look at the phenomenal growth of Facebook and Twitter. That’s all of us connecting with each other. This is a core attribute in the recession as building business relationships and trust has been one of the most important key factors to get an appointment and begin the first stages of securing
long term and profitable business.

Telemarketing, especially when run in association with supporting PR, can be a highly cost effective method of kick starting new business development in a recession because securing every new
customer starts with one important factor – a face-to-face appointment.

Intellectually correct. But what’s the real reason? A lot of people don’t like using the phone to make that ‘cold-call’. Emotionally that’s even more right isn’t it? I bet there are quite a few of you out there who just hate the idea of making that cold call to a new contact.

If you have any questions about how telemarketing can help you, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!

Insourcing vs. Outsourcing Telemarketing

Friday, May 6th, 2011

What to consider when implementing a telemarketing program to generate, nurture, and qualify sales leads…

To Insource or Outsource:
Telemarketing can be a cost-effective method for identifying and qualifying leads and then moving these prospects along the sales cycle. When companies are considering implementing telemarketing for leads, frequently the first two questions that come up are: “Should we set up a telemarketing team in-house or outsource it?” and “If we outsource, how do we find the right company?”

Can we do it ourselves?
“Doing it yourself,” that is, setting up a telemarketing team in-house, offers a number of benefits. Your call team is 100% dedicated to your project. Call reps are down the hall, rather than across town or across the country, and are behind the “firewall,” making it easy to access business systems like order history and inventory programs. In-house teams also make it easier to leverage your existing training programs and personnel.

However, before implementing a call center, you must also take into account all the marketing and sales responsibilities you already have. Effectively managing telemarketing in-house includes such factors as:

  • Hiring experienced personnel – You can’t put just anyone on the phone to represent your company.
  • Training – Experienced call reps may have the requisite phone skills, but they still need to be trained about your company, its products, your industry, the lingo, etc.
  • Motivation – Call reps take a lot of rejection. Are you prepared to constantly motivate them verbally and with other incentives?
  • Supervision – In addition to the call reps themselves, you’ll also need to hire call team managers and supervisors who will not only supervise and coach the reps but also monitor daily and weekly call goals.
  • Facilities and equipment – Telemarketers require more than a phone at a desk crammed in the corner of a company’s basement. Savvy companies equip call reps with up-to-date PCs and large monitors; software specially designed for call centers including call queuing, efficient data entry and links to online information; ergonomic chairs, quality headsets, and a clean, quiet and professional working environment.
  • Technology – Today companies must integrate the phone, email and the Web in order to lower costs and improve lead quality.
  • Continuity – All businesses experience peaks and valleys — those times when sales leads are coming in fast and furious versus other times when nothing is happening. As a result, you often wind up staffing for the mid-point, being overstaffed for the valleys and understaffed for the peaks.

Should we outsource?
When should you outsource your telemarketing function? The scenarios can vary from company to company but in general, it makes sense to outsource for the following reasons:

  • Adding head count is not an option.
  • You’re already stretched too thin and cannot manage another team.
  • You have peaks and valleys in terms of when leads come in (ie: during trade show season).
  • You need to get up and running quickly.
  • You want to test new programs without negatively impacting your existing operations.

In-house telemarketing programs often fail because companies don’t plan appropriately, or fail to keep the telemarketing efforts focused on clear objectives. Others can’t get senior management onboard or don’t know how or don’t have the resources to measure the results. And many times, companies are surprised by the costs involved.

Depending on your specific telemarketing needs and resources, you may decide it’s better to outsource telemarketing to a third-party provider instead.

Finding the right telemarketing company
Telemarketing companies come in all shapes and sizes. Some companies fall under the category of “direct marketing” and offer a range of services, from lead generation to fulfillment. Others are more like “boiler room” operations where inexperienced, low-paid call reps are required to make hundreds of calls every day.

When researching vendors, due diligence upfront will pay off in the long run. When interviewing possible vendors, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Ask about experience – This encompasses a wide area, from how long the company has been in business to whether the company specializes in B-to-B sales lead generation. You don’t want a company that’s been selling to consumers by cold-calling at dinner time to take on representing your company and its high-tech products or services to senior business executives. To have the best chance of success, be sure the prospective call center has direct experience in your specific industry.
  2. Get real numbers – If you’re looking for more qualified sales leads, ask how many leads a program should be expected to generate and the leads to sales ratio you can expect as well. Also ask how the vendor measures ROI.
  3. Tour the facilities – Venture beyond the conference room and onto the production floor. Listen in on phone calls and look over the shoulders of people who enter data and fulfill information requests. Ask to meet account managers and call teams.
  4. Get a written proposal – The proposal is an easy way to check the company’s understanding of your needs. It should include background on the company, its qualifications, a detailed program recommendation and the related fees. Keep in mind that the quality of the proposal and its attention to detail will often serve as a reflection of the vendor’s quality and attention to detail.
  5. Review their technology – Ask prospective companies what they do to make telemarketing calls more efficient. Also ask to see reports on activity and results. Are they provided on-demand? And, does the company have experience and the know-how to integrate their systems with yours?

The bottom line: Whether done in-house or outsourced, business-to-business telemarketing can be an effective tactic for generating, nurturing and qualifying sales leads. If you have any questions, contact the Grindstone Business Development Group by calling 1-888-724-7463 or click here today!