Telemarketing Case Study – Lead Generation Expert V Call Centre

What’s the difference between hiring a Lead Generation Expert or hiring a Call Centre?  If you want to make a decent Return On Investment – let me explain the difference…

Lead Generation Expert – “It’s the hard-rubs of the world that make a man shine”

I’ve been working in Sales, Marketing & Business Development my entire life.  I’m not far short of the big Five-0. So I’ve probably made more sales than many people have eaten hot dinners.  I’ve sold Cable TV and Double-Glazing as a young man.  I’ve sold everything else as a seasoned professional, from highly complex software  to small Power Stations.  I’ve been a Director of a number of SMEs – so I know what it’s like to sit in the driving seat and make those difficult decisions.

So I guess the first matter that sorts out the men from the boys is ‘experience’.  The average age of someone in an outbound Call Centre is less than 30.  The vast majority of people who work in telemarketing call centres have never actually made a sale.  Most have never run a business, never been a buyer for a company, and never passed ‘rookie’-level in their profession.  So why is this important?

On a recent project, an agency asked if I could help with a high-value client, to gain market penetration, spot sales opportunities and if possible generate appointments.  Their client is a high-tech solution provider for the Automotive and Aviation industries.  The offering is highly complex and buyers at companies like Aston Martin are less than easy to make contact with – let alone persuade them to meet up with a sales-person.

Yet when one has been around the block a few times, experience pays dividends.  Circa 18 months ago, I arranged a meeting for myself and one of my clients to visit Bentley Motors.  After an entire tour of the factory and the production line, I began to gain a keen understanding of what it takes to make a luxury motor car.  So when I was asked to spearhead a lead generation campaign for my client in to the automotive market, I had a very good idea how to pitch this correctly.

The result was a plethora of interested Automotive Giants in the UK and a very happy client.  The client laughed and pointed out that there was no way on this planet that a call centre could have achieved the same results.  After all, how many people can get their head around a multi-spatial geo-positioning tagging system and the associated benefits?

Lead Generation Expert – The Complex Offering

I always do my best to give anyone who calls me a fair chance to try and make a sale.  Call it professional courtesy perhaps.  Yet I can count on one hand the number of times that someone has called me before I rapidly lost interest.

My favourite recent calls to me are those that start with “Please could you tell me who looks after the energy bills for your business?” Or translated in telemarketing terms, this means that whoever was making the call couldn’t be bothered to build a database with the right buyers.  Given that I work from home, why on Earth were they targeting me anyway considering my energy bills are so small?

Those call centres who’s telemarketing is a little more polished generally have my name and ask for me.  This always endears me towards the seller.   The moment where they lose the plot is where I start getting interested, but they appear to be very vague about the offering.

The best recent example was a call centre telemarketing person trying to sell me Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  They knew my name, they knew my websites and they were asking all the right questions.  They were doing ever so well until I asked them to, “Briefly explain how they undertook the SEO and whether I would have full visibility?” Then everything just fell to pieces in their pitch to me….

Now at this point, the telemarketing person should have nailed-down an appointment with me.  I’ve told them that I’m interested, I’ve told them I have a budget, all I wanted at this point was to know that the company could deliver if I spoke with their sales-closer.  Unfortunately, this is where the telemarketing person revealed that they had zero product knowledge.  I tried to help them out and threw them a rope, asking them, “OK, just tell me what makes your company different from anyone else?” The only answer I got was complete silence for 5 seconds then a strange “Uuuuh” noise at the other end of the phone.  After another 5 seconds of complete silence I hung up.

In conclusion, if you have a complex offering and a sophisticated buyer – choose a Lead Generation Expert to help you, not your average ‘rookie’-filled call centre.

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Telemarketing Case Study – Research or Return on Investment?


In any telemarketing campaign there is an element of ‘research’.  This is especially true when I conduct a ‘pilot’ or ‘test campaign’.  The two following case studies demonstrate different views on research and how this was used to examine the conclusions.

Client 1 – Telemarketing Research as a feedback-loop to improve performance

I was approached by a company of Online Marketing Experts.  Although a relatively new company, their background was in working for a major player in this market as employees.  As any good Managing Director would do – they telephoned all previous clients immediately – to win new accounts.  They had built a very solid reputation and rapidly won many Blue Chip contracts based on personal contacts.

After 18 months of rapid growth, the team expanded to fulfil all the new wins.  Then suddenly, the pipeline began to dry up.  With all known contacts exhausted, the company was facing a dilemma.  Rapid growth meant scaling up a large in-house team, but where could they find new business?

Email marketing to high level decision makers is becoming increasingly hard.  Likewise, the market for improving web performance is now saturated with literally thousands of so-called experts and Pay-per-click marketing can be horrendously expensive in this sector.

These chaps ARE TRULY BRILLIANT – but how can one convey this message to a potential audience that is struggling to find the true gurus amongst many a company of charlatans?

After an intense set of trials on different routes to market, the MD realised that Consultative Telemarketing was the answer to Lead Generation.  Yet after countless interviews, the MD could not find the right person in the whole of London to help him.  Agency after agency was interviewed, but again they could not find anyone of a high enough calibre to win at telemarketing.  Finally, the MD scoured the internet and read my blogs and my website.  Highly impressed by my rhetoric – he decided to make contact.

Perhaps it was the fact that most of the discussions took place out of hours or on a Sunday afternoon that swayed the MD.  Perhaps it was my thoroughness and attention to detail that won him over?  Whatever the reason, I was told that my approach to consultative telemarketing was light years ahead of every individual and company they had spoken to in the UK.

The company directors had deployed one of the best teams in the UK on sales analysis, to write a script and to target the right people; but something wasn’t working.  I’m pleased to say that the directors embraced my somewhat ‘unique’ approach immediately and we began a ‘test pilot’ telemarketing campaign.

Whilst the internal team were still struggling to gain interest, I raced ahead with making appointments of high value.  It was a pleasure helping these chaps.  Although they had grasped the theory of Telemarketing Lead Generation, their delivery was letting them down.  Whilst their junior managers struggled to comprehend my approach, the directors instructed their team to just follow my lead.

Within a couple of weeks, the appointments were streaming in as my research was fed back and taken on board rapidly.  At each turn, I warned the directors to spend less time analysing my approach and more time using my conclusions.  My lead generation advice was followed and the Directors quickly booked triple the pilot-test time, to make sure I would be around to help them with the next steps.

I’m pleased to say that this project is going from strength to strength and this is a prime example of “if you hire an expert – let them help you in the best way they see fit – and you will reap the rewards very quickly”.  A rapid feedback loop in consultative telemarketing, if understood and acted upon, is the fastest way to make a complex sales to an intelligent buyer.

Client 2 – Telemarketing Research to explore the marketing options

The two clients in this scenario are like ‘chalk-and-cheese’.  Client No.2 was running a successful company for many years.  The company had grown organically and whilst their marketing collateral was good, they weren’t really sure why they were doing so well.

The MD really wanted to bring on 2-5 big new customers for 2011.  Yet he really wasn’t sure about this and was hopping between all sorts of ideas.

Was there really more business for the MD locally?  Would his new technology make a change in buying behaviour?  There were so many questions that the MD really did not have answers to.

The upshot was a multiple-thread pilot-campaign aimed at different industries, different offerings and different geographical markets.

For a relatively small financial input the MD got what he needed.  He walked away with a number of databases, and more importantly he walked away from the telemarketing pilot with a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) that helped him to understand the market.

I’m looking forward to working with this chap again.  Armed with the knowledge of the market place, the MD is now deciding upon the best way to make money and the fastest route to market.

Posted in Telemarketing, Telemarketing Case Study | 14 Comments

Case Study – Best Data to Win New Business via Telemarketing Lead Generation

Of all the processes involved in making a sale, the one process that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the process of Lead Generation.  Good lead generation starts with good targeting and that requires the best data to win new business.  This case study compares 2 clients that I have helped and the difference that the quality of data can make.

A few years ago I was asked by an agency to work on a couple of projects to help with telemarketing lead generation.  The clients both ran small businesses.  One client worked in the field of executive training, whilst the other client was a specialist in the financial sector.  Both clients were intelligent, well-educated Company Directors, but their characters were like chalk and cheese.  Each client favoured a different approach to using the best data to win new business which led to two very different outcomes for their campaigns.

Client No1 – A Sad story of a client who did not use the best data for Telemarketing Lead Generation

A good start using classic lead generation
The first client was one of the nicest people one could ever meet and he was able to build friendly relationships with just about anyone.  The client was essentially a specialist trainer, which led to a mindset that “Everyone should place learning above all else in life.” Generally speaking, I have a long conversation with my clients before I begin any works, to explain the difference between their perception of the world and the perception of their prospective customers.  My clients usually bow to my better judgement as an expert and say “Ok, let’s do it your way”, and that’s how matters began….

Gaining traction in the executive training market is not easy, with a plethora of competitors out there.  Yet I made steady progress and within 3 months my client was quoting for a significant amount of business.  Just as things appeared to be going swimmingly well, my client’s wife decided that a holiday in the sun was more appealing than my client spending money on Lead Generation.  After all she said to me and her husband, “You’re already quoting for a significant amount of business and it’s time your Lead Generation expert made some leads for me and I have a few ideas of my own”. At a time when I was running low on fresh data, this comment could not have come at a worse time.

Should you hire a lead generation expert then tell him what to do?
I called the agency and said “I have a problem.  The client is being persuaded by his wife to go on holiday and drop the project for 4 weeks.  Worse still, his wife is about to start telling me how to do the job.  Please can you have a teleconference with me and the client to put him back on track and to discuss a new data source – otherwise the progress of the campaign could grind to a halt?” The Head of the agency agreed to a teleconference.  To my astonishment the Head of the Agency backed down on every area required and “fluffed” the client instead of guiding him.  The Agency thought that this was the best way to deal with the matter and that giving the client what they wanted was better than giving good advice and guidance.  The result was that the client felt great for a few weeks that he was the “genius of lead generation” and he was able to go on holiday with his wife and keep her happy.  Thus the slippery slope began of the tail wagging the dog.

The client, “fluffed-up” by the Agency started to believe that he was the God of Lead Generation.  The client believed that training and new ideas were the way forward for everything.  Thus the client announced that my ways of Lead Generation were archaic and belonged in the past century.

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing in lead generation
Working closely with his wife (a very intelligent lady but one who had never undertaken lead generation), the client decided that he had cracked the art of telemarketing lead generation. After reading a numerous articles on the Internet, the client announced that the answer to modern Lead Generation was to use Linkedin and Facebook to find the best data for the campaign.  This is where a perfectly good campaign with a small but steady flow of high-paying opportunities, suddenly degenerated in to a bizarre experimental laboratory for new ideas.  These were often complex ideas that required either significant resources or were at best untried or unproven.

Please don’t misunderstand me here.  I’m not suggesting that Linkedin and Facebook are not credible tools for data mining; but the application of such tools is often misunderstood by the non-savvy lead generator who has read about the idea but never put it in to practice.  I’ll save a full discussion of the use of Social Media Marketing for another case study.  Suffice to say, if you want to target the right decision makers in the right industrial sectors and have the correct contact information, you’ll be hard pushed to find all the necessary data on Facebook where telephone numbers are generally hidden.  Conversely, buying-in to a quality database with millions of contact details that is fully searchable can provide rapid and effective targeting.

To win new business through telemarketing lead generation, one must have all the pieces of the puzzle.  In this case, the client needed the following decision maker details – the name, the phone number and the title of the correct potential person.  My client was so “fluffed” by the Agency by this point as to his input on lead generation that a wager was mage.  A bet was made that the client’s wife would provide a significant set of sales opportunities using the Facebook approach in excess of anything I could achieve using this data.  I warned my client that this was not a good idea for me to compete in such a manner or to use the Facebook approach;  but after being firmly being put in my place by the client and the Agency – the result was zero opportunities made by me or the client’s wife in 3 months using Facebook as the main database.

Beware of the Lead Generation Agency that blindly follows the client’s wishes
In the meantime, my client’s decision to spend his money on a holiday instead of a lead generation campaign over the summer months, had killed the essential call backs and the pipeline-building  of sales opportunities.  By the time my client came to his senses the recession had begun to bite deeply. All the opportunities that I had urged my client to close quickly in the spring/summer months were beginning to evaporate like the morning mist on a hot summer’s day.

By the final quarter of the year my client was beginning to show signs of desperation.  Once again I urged the Agency and the Client at a teleconference, to invest in good quality data and to revert to classic lead generation tactics and an effective data source.  My opinions fell on deaf ears and despite a few opportunities that I created by going against their wishes, I was forced to “Do as you’re told as the client knows best”.  As I was just about getting the campaign back on track, I was asked to change tack once again on another new idea.  The client asked me to utilise a Trigger approach that he had just read about on the Internet.  I’m always happy to utilise a Trigger approach (I’ll explain this in more detail in another Case Study); but the Trigger approach to lead generation is a very, very intensive approach that requires a lot of front-loaded input and the clients budget was small.

I slaved away on the Trigger approach for a number of weeks (bear in mind I was only working one day a week on this project) and the approach started to create opportunities.  Yet by this point it was too late for my client.  This most jovial and lovable client had turned in to an incredibly stressed chap.  The client was increasingly pressurising me to generate sales opportunities in weeks not months.  When the client announced that “The Trigger approach should work immediately and why was I not using it quickly enough?” – I pointed out that the Internet article he had read on the subject was about one of the World’s highest-paid Trigger Lead Generation experts, who charged £1000’s per day not a few hundred pounds.  I pointed out that if was prepared to increase expenditure on the campaign accordingly that I could do the same for him in days not months.

I was doing my best to help my client, but he somehow felt cheated.  The result was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met turning into a complete monster.  The client shouted at me down the phone for over an hour and I was barely allowed to say a word.  He then called the Head of the Agency and shouted at him for an hour.  A few days later, the client called me to apologise.  “I’m sorry he said.  I’ve forgotten who the expert is here and I’m lost.  I don’t know what to advise you and you should be advising me.  Why did I listen to my wife and to the man at the agency instead of listening to you?”

I’d like to say that the work for this client all ended beautifully; but in truth – the Agency’s attitude to pandering to the whims of the customer instead of providing firm guidance almost ruined the client’s business.  The irony was the final comment of the client – “I actually have the best data that you mentioned from day1 in the cupboard, but I suppose it’s a bit late now…..?”

Lessons Learned
At the end of the campaign, the client’s wife called me to apologise and we parted on good terms.  The client was kind enough to commend me for my help.  My client learned the following lessons about Lead Generation:

  • When sales opportunities are on the table – don’t delay in closing business if you want the business.
  • When lead generation is working – don’t take a break or you will lose momentum.
  • New ideas are good, but stick to one method for as long as possible instead of chopping and changing.
  • Don’t be swayed by peer pressure to try experimental ideas unless you have deep pockets.
  • Don’t forget that if you’re hiring an expert then you must listen to them – otherwise you may as well employ the services of a trainee telemarketing person.
  • If it isn’t broke don’t fix it – when your campaign is working – keep doing the same thing.
  • If you have the best data then you have won half the battle – match this with the best telemarketing lead generation person and you will succeed at winning new sales opportunities.

Client No.2 – A strange client, but one who understood the value of the best lead generation data

I was literally five minutes away from a meeting with a client when my mobile phone rang.  It was the 2nd Agency project and the Head of the Agency was on the phone.  “Sorry Stephen, I forgot to warn you that the client is a bit strange”.  I wasn’t quite sure what the Agency meant until I entered their offices.  The offices were full of people, yet it was very quiet.  Everyone was doing their best not to make eye contact.  After a brief wait with a cup of coffee provided by a young lady I was ushered in to the client’s office.  I suddenly realised why the client was “a bit strange”….

As I firmly shook hands with the client and cracked a joke, the entire offices immediately fell silent.  The client stared at me and paused for what seemed like an eternity.  He suddenly burst out in to laughter and like some form of “clapping machine” on T.V. his entire staff suddenly started laughing as well.  Then silence immediately fell as soon as the client stopped laughing and sat down.

Secret Sales Success
The client went on to tell me that he was far from the most well-liked person in the industry.  In fact the attrition rate of his staff was somewhat phenomenal even for the financial services industry.  The client leaned over the table and for a couple of hours most of the conversation took the form of a low whisper.  His knowledge of the industry and his capability to save vast sums of money for organisations was evident.  Yet the whole conversation was more akin to a clandestine meeting in a dark smoky pub than a briefing session for a lead generation campaign.

I was left in no doubt that this chap was indeed an industry expert and his company’s presence in the market place towered over all competitors.  As he pawed over charts conveying his supremacy of the market place, he discussed market domination plans like an American General about to launch a blitzkrieg attack on Iraq.  This chap was acutely aware of his capabilities.  The client was also acutely aware of his unusual interpersonal skills.  Whilst I can certainly say that I empathised with his staff in terms of the very awkward atmosphere in which they worked, I can without a shadow of a doubt testify to this man’s genius at making money.

Available Lead Generation Data
It turned out that the Agency had forgotten to tell me quite a few things about this client.  Alongside the client’s strange interpersonal skills and the subdued silence at his offices, it turned out that the client had booked a number of agencies to work on his Telemarketing Lead Generation plan.  The client was using an archaic online database system which had evidently been tailor-made about 10 years ago.  This online data system was way-past its sell-by date as the client appeared disinclined to spend money unless asked to do so at gunpoint. The client provided me with access codes to the data and told me to work out how on earth the system could be used to create sales opportunities.

I didn’t find out that the client was using multiple lead generation agencies until I went online.  Then I suddenly saw a few names of people that I know in the industry and put 2 and 2 together.  The online database was appallingly clunky and did not work as a telemarketing lead generation tool; so I had to run a ghost system in Excel for lead-tracking purposes.  The upside was that the data supplied by the client was excellent.   There were names, titles, phone numbers, direct lines, mobile numbers, and an array of peripheral contacts such Personal Assistant details.

The Sales-Man behind the Mask
Conversing with the client whilst he was on the road was both a disturbing and painful experience.  Imagine someone driving a car, whispering everything down a mobile phone to you as if it was a state secret?  Imagine someone who would take about ten minutes to answer your questions, but generally discuss something completely different instead?  Finally, imagine being subject to random insults due to someone possessing interesting personality skills?  The strangest aspect was that once I understood that he couldn’t help the way he was and that he was evidently a business genius, eventually he began to seem normal and rather brilliant at his work.  Perhaps it was my strict upbringing or I was suffering from some form of Stockholm syndrome, but I actually started to admire the chap for his business skills.

The Best Lead Generation Data and the Telemarketing Expert
With my usual flair, wit, charm and of course lack of modesty – I won opportunity after opportunity for this odd client.  As the months went by and the campaign was drawing to a close, I noticed that all the other Telemarketing Agencies had slowly withdrawn their services and I was the last man standing.  The data he provided was so accurate and up-to-date it was excellent.  Combined with my lead generation skills the client was storming the market place like General Storming Norman.  Yet I learned later from the other agencies that they had resigned due to his unusual manners.  One of the other agencies later told me that they hadn’t even bothered to pursue the invoice with the client as she would have preferred several trips to the dentist.  I’m not suggesting for one moment that being rude to people is a good thing, but I was evidently the only person who could see past his shortcomings and view him as the genius of his industry.

Lessons Learned
This client was not the most affable man or the easiest person to work with, but he was smart enough to look in the mirror and be aware of his shortcomings.  I am pleased to say that the client provided me with a commendation and recommendation for my services and I would happily help him in the future.

Lessons my client learned:

  • When in-house interpersonal skills are lacking for lead generation, simply hire an external expert who excels in this area.
  • Accurate and up-to-date information is the backbone of quality lead generation.
  • Understanding how to utilise the best data should be left to the skills of the expert that you hire – if you’ve hired an expert then let them do it their way for the best results.
  • If you want to be the best then you have to be fairly thick-skinned – this is especially so in the sales industry and particularly for lead generation.
  • There is always a balance between how hard you can push someone and how much you remunerate them – if you want to be the best then pay a premium for this and your chosen lead generation specialist will tolerate most things to help you win the market place.
  • Don’t forget to thank and praise those who succeed for you – an ill-temper at times does not encourage success in others but balance this with praise and the results should be on target.
Posted in Telemarketing, Telemarketing Case Study | 56 Comments

Telemarketing Case Study – B2B Wholesale to Retail

A call came in for me from a prospective client looking for a freelance telemarketing expert.  He told me that he was in the double glazing business and my heart sank.  I thought “If he thinks I’m calling residential properties in the evening, he can find someone else”, but I was wrong.

The chap who called me was a Managing Director of a Double Glazing Manufacturer.  As with many a business, his first clients were people that he’d known from working in the industry.  As time went by he gained further business via word of mouth.  Whilst the business grew nicely in the early days, the sales eventually peaked.

Marketing Dilemma
The company grew from a one-man-band to a team of about 5 people.  The company then reached stagnation point in terms of new business.  Apart from the current orders and a very occasional referral, no new business was coming in.  The MD tried a number of ideas in terms of Marketing but to no avail.  Mail-shots, Local advertising and Google Pay-Per-Click were expensive but getting him nowhere.  So the MD Googled “Freelance Telemarketing Expert” and he found my website.

Telemarketing Targeting
The MD explained his predicament to me and his plans to grow the company.  His budget for marketing was small, but he was convinced that the right telemarketing person could solve his problem.

Without any historical data to work on the MD simply sent me a large envelope stuffed with letters he’d mailed out and some photocopies from Yellow Pages.  Using my vast database, I ran a search for local double glazing installers that he could sell to.  I honed in on buyers and company directors and started to build a database.

Marketing Collateral for Telemarketing
I looked at the marketing collateral for my client which was virtually none existent.  My client had business stationery but no brochures and no website.  After much deliberation, I asked my client to postpone the work until he had built at least a one-page website.  From there, I constructed an HTML supporting email with all the right reasons why someone should buy.  With the new website and the follow-through email completed, we were ready to rock and roll.

Highly Effective Telemarketing
This project was an unknown quantity for the client and for me, so we started with a 4-day pilot-test spread over 4-weeks.  The results of this Telemarketing Case Study were astonishing.  My client was meeting prospective customers within a matter of days.  By the end of the 4 x weeks, my client had signed up enough business to keep him busy for 6 months!

Telemarketing Case Study Conclusion
I cannot say that it’s possible to create 6 months work for every client in only 4 days of my time.  Yet it proves a point that my Telemarketing methods can achieve astonishing results and can be applied to almost any market sector.

Posted in Telemarketing, Telemarketing Case Study, Telemarketing Wholesale Retail | 84 Comments

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Thanks for taking the time to read my Telemarketing Lead Generation Case Studies.

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