How to use outbound telemarketing to support your inside sales team

Sandy Pernick, Senior Operations Manager

Outbound telemarketing Note: When we use the term outbound telemarketing, we’re talking about placing cold calls to prospects to set business to business appointments. Some companies call this work Business Development. Others call it prospecting. Others call it lead generation. Keep in mind that these terms can be used interchangeably.

Clients are hesitant to lose control of one of the most important elements of their marketing and sales operation: setting appointments for their inside sales staff. This essential component will make or break new customer acquisitions so outsourcing appointment setting using a third-party firm can cause angst and uncertainty.

However, most inside sales organizations can’t do appointment setting and closing successfully. They need to stay focused on sales. In fact, most inside sales reps themselves loathe prospecting and aren’t very good at it. They are good at selling, so it is important to keep these resources (who are typically higher paid) doing what they do best, which is selling. Let another dedicated team focus on filling that pipeline for them.

Our client, a leader in negotiated hotel rates for high volume business travelers, understood this concept, and that by outsourcing appointment setting, it would free up time for their reps to close more business. The client looked to QCS to implement a telemarketing lead generation program that provides them with qualified leads and confirmed appointments.

Two primary goals of this outbound telemarketing program:

  1. Set high potential appointments with business executives at an acceptable cost per appointment
  2. Create a qualified database of prospects by gathering critical data

The outbound telemarketing team was initially smaller, enabling us to:

  • Fine tune scripts; we conducted several rounds of script testing refining the presentation and the data gathering
  • Get baseline program measurements such as contacts per hour, conversion percentage, and appointments per hour
  • Develop an effective rep profile to use when expanding owner operator partners
  • Identify business to business lists that meet our criteria
  • Establish what the sales reps consider a “qualified” appointment to ensure that we had their buy-in on the leads we fill their pipeline with

Some of the critical components of our outbound telemarketing program success included

  • A targeted list is the first step toward well qualified appointments: In order to establish criteria for calling lists, we identified key factors:
    • The NAISC codes with high probability of business travel
    • Revenue and employee size thresholds —we found that these correlated to whether companies have employees who travel extensively.
  • We use one central appointment entry person at the call center. This increases contacts by relieving the rep of the burden of entering data into a complicated CRM
  • We reinforced the appointment by sending an immediate confirming email to the customer with the date and time of the appointment. The email offers a link to a video explaining the benefits of the company. This increased the “kept appointment” rate
  • We take the rep feedback we get through anonymous surveys and focus groups very seriously. It gives us further insights on our prospects.
  • A lucrative gift card incentive program for individual reps creates excitement and motivation. The “winners” are announced daily in a personal email from the QCS manager with a thank you for their contribution to the success of the program.
  • We work closely with our client’s sales managers to align our program with their expectations. Until the reps had some big “wins” from our appointments, they were skeptical of their value.
  • Hourly flash reports and daily monitoring are critical in the day to day management of the program.

Throughout the process we started with a small group of 5 call center agents setting 100 appointments the first month. As we proved the program’s success and refined the message and process to be a well-oiled machine, we grew the program to over 100 agents with 4,000 appointments monthly

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Sandy Pernick is a widely recognized call center and telemarketing expert. Working with the QCS team as Senior Operations Manager, Sandy brings 30+ years of experience to each of her client programs. Sandy is a past president of the Professional Association for Customer Engagement and in addition to working with QCS, she runs her own successful consulting practice, S Pernick and Associates. Sandy can be reached at [email protected] or 847-256-0115.