The Role of Call Centers in B2B Marketing Strategy

Have you ever designed a great marketing strategy and been frustrated to find that the company you designed it for did a poor job of responding to the telephone leads it generated? Worse yet, did they fail to properly track the leads that would have shown just how successful your marketing efforts actually were?

A good call center is a critical component of your marketing efforts. It can provide you with a consistent process for:

  • Capturing leads
  • Qualifying them
  • Scheduling the next step in the sales process
  • Tracking the source of your leads
  • Measuring the effectiveness and cost of your marketing campaigns

What is a good call center? Whether it is an in-house call center or an outsourced call center the most important step in having a successful collaboration is to have a single point of contact at the call center. That person’s job is to coordinate with both you (the marketing manager) and the sales manager. The goal is to create an effective process for filling the sales pipeline with “qualified” prospects and providing a smooth hand-off to the sales team.

You should not have to be a call center “expert” yourself. You need a call center contact that can act as a guide and do a great job of interviewing you about your marketing campaigns and your goals. The call center can’t properly prepare for callers unless they have asked you questions like:

  • Source: What will be generating your responses (ex. direct mail, print ads, radio, TV, etc.)?
  • Volume: What will the volume and pattern of responses be, what time of day will they come in, and how much time will it take to handle each one (ex. ten calls a day, spread out evenly, during business hours, that take one minute each OR one hundred calls, all at once, at 1am, that each take 15 minutes)?
  • Duration: Will this be a continuous marketing program or is it a temporary project, a test market, or a seasonal effort?
  • Goal: What is the goal of the call (ex. to capture a lead, schedule an appointment, take an order, etc.)?
  • Information: What information will the call center need to capture from each prospect?
  • Qualifying: What are the “knock-out” questions that can be used to eliminate unqualified leads?
  • Caller Expectations: What expectation should they establish with prospects about what will happen after the call?
  • Follow-Up: Who will be assigned to receive “qualified” leads? If more than one person is assigned, how will they determine who should get each lead (ex. by type of service or product, by location of prospect, by time of day, rotated evenly, etc.)?
  • Dispatching: How will leads be dispatched and how quickly should this be done (ex. by phone, e-mail, pager, etc.)? How should leads be prioritized?
  • Accountability: How will they create a system of accountability for sales people and reporting to the sales manager and the marketing manager?
  • Tracking: What information should be tracked for reporting purposes (ex. number of calls, time of calls, call length, source of lead, quality of lead, salesperson assigned, etc.)?
  • Measurement: How will the final cost per lead and cost per sale (include both “front-end” and “back-end” costs) be determined? How will the average and the total value of each sale be calculated?
  • Post-Mortems: What should be reviewed in a post-mortem (ex. what kinds of questions did prospects have, were there any misunderstandings, what percentage of respondents were unqualified, what changes could you make in your advertising to improve the percentage of “qualified” prospects, which ads generated the most “qualified” leads at the best price per lead, etc.)?

In addition to asking great questions, your contact at the call center needs to have the expertise and experience to add value to the process – creating effective scripts, mapping out processes, explaining capacity constraints, recommending appropriate technologies for salespeople to interact with, etc. A true professional can often recommend options you may not have even considered.

It you feel the need to micro-manage a call center, this is a sure sign that you lack confidence in the person you are working with. If this is the case, you may need to look for another contact or, if you are outsourcing, another call center. Collaboration is the most important key to success.

The call center is where “the rubber meets the road”. If they do a good job of planning and training in advance and then work in concert with your sales team, they can give you outstanding results and valuable intelligence to use in subsequent marketing campaigns.










Story originally published at http://www.marketingexecutives.biz/node/83

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