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Telemarketing: ripe for outsourcing


In the second blog in our series about outsourcing and marketing management, we turn our attention to telemarketing programmes and consider why the domain is ripe for outsourcing.

Last time, (in the first blog of this series), we distinguished between those marketing functions that invariably remain in-house (we called them “programme management” activities) and those that are particularly suited to being outsourced (which we called “marketing execution” activities). Among the latter functions, we identified telemarketing as a leading alternative for outsourcing. In this blog, we’ll dive into it in more detail and try to answer the question, “why does outsourcing your lead generation telemarketing programme make so much sense”?

The role of lead generation telemarketing

The role of lead generation telemarketing within the marketing department is something of a hybrid or anomaly. That’s to say it sits mainly on the fence that divides the marketing and sales functions not being entirely one or the other. As such, it has two main purposes:

  1. 1. To generate new leads
  2. 2. To qualify existing leads
The “clients “of telemarketing are sales directors (they benefit from the results); the managers of telemarketing programmes are usually marketing directors. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Generating new leads

This function is better known as “cold calling”. It involves reaching out to prospective buyers to bring them into your sales pipeline. The goal isn’t to sell your product, but to set the stage for a formal sales call to follow. It prevents the sale director from wasting time pursing leads that for one reason or another may not be ripe for picking.
Outbound cold calling isn’t a core skill for most standard marketers even though it fits under the management umbrella of marketing so if you’re going to include lead generation telemarketing in your marketing programme, you’re likely either to need to  hire an in-house team to do it or outsource the function. You could, in theory, pass the task over to sales itself but why distract sales directors from their main task of developing and closing the new business opportunities already in the pipeline? And anyway, arguably the majority of sales directors are no more expert telemarketers than the majority of marketers themselves are. Telemarketing simply isn’t their core skill.
Hiring an in-house telemarketing team makes little sense. It come with all the costs of full-time employees, all the requirements needed to manage them (which, generally, you’re unlikely to have in place) and the time required, if you can find it, to recruit and train such a team. For an FT100 company (or just a “very large” company) the step might be worth taking, but the for majority of SMEs, it isn’t. So if you want to use telemarketing to generate leads (and history proves that you should), outsourcing is almost certainly the way to go IF you can find the right partner to work with (how to do that is something we’ll consider later in this series).

Qualifying existing leads

The second “main” purpose of telemarketing is lead qualification; the function that sits at that invisible but highly contested dividing line where marketing hands over to sales. Marketing activity generates a lot of “soft” leads (for instance, people who read a blog, download a white paper, listen to a podcast, or surf a website); all those are names who have expressed an interest in you but it’d be optimistic to describe them, having done no more than that, as real sales opportunities. That’s where telemarketing comes in; turning a marketing qualified lead into a sales qualified lead; a real, vetted opportunity that does belong in the formal sales pipeline.
Effectively executing and managing this process is, again, a skill and it’s not one that marketers or, for that matter, sales directors inherently have. Yet it’s a skill that’s critical to the success of your organization, even if it makes little sense (for the reasons already outlined above) to maintain it in-house. In short, if you want to benefit from a healthy pipeline of qualified sales leads, arguably most organisations have little choice but to outsource the function to an external agency.
In the next blog in this series, we’ll return to that point. What are the benefits of keeping lead generation telemarketing in-house and do they stand up to scrutiny? And what – in contrast – are the benefits of outsourcing?

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