Marketing Microsoft

Dialing for Dollars or Wasting Your Money?

Take control of your telemarketing effort, whether you outsource or make them part of your team.

Most of what Microsoft partners call "telemarketing" simply doesn't work. Unfortunately, they waste a lot of time and money learning that lesson the hard way.

Here's what typically happens. After a project team finishes putting a bow on the latest client project, its members suddenly realize that the money pool is about to dry up and they've got no new projects in the pipeline. So they do one of two things:

Scenario A: They grab an unlucky administrative assistant, salesperson or consultant and say, "Quick. Get on the phone and generate some qualified leads." This unfortunate person is handed a call list that hasn't been touched in years -- or worse, a list of all area businesses, pulled from the Yellow Pages -- and told to start dialing. The result? Either the person drafted to do the telemarketing is so reluctant to make these calls that he or she stays busy "getting organized" and never actually dials. Or calls are met with rejection, and then the person starts "getting organized." You get the picture.

Scenario B: The partner does a quick Web search and calls a couple of telemarketing firms whose names pop up. One firm's representative assures the partner that prospecting for new business "is just what we do." So the partner, in a rush to get some opportunities in the pipeline, asks the firm to start right away.

Then the firm is handed a call list that hasn't been touched in years -- or worse, a list of all area businesses, pulled from the Yellow Pages -- and told to start dialing. (Sound familiar?)

The telemarketing firm then turns around and quickly recruits some people whose qualifications include something like showing up for the interview and smiling a lot. Or they ask a temp agency nearby to send over some people who have been through a similarly rigorous screening process. Next, they dust off an ex-client's script, change a few words, give it to the newly hired telemarketing reps and say, "Start calling."

Not surprisingly, both scenarios are recipes for disaster.

Of course, you, with your years of experience, probably could skim a list of prospects, determine who's worth calling, pick up the phone and find some sales opportunities. You've got the skill and knowledge necessary to recognize when a prospect's needs are a good fit for your services. But you're probably not the one who's going to be making the lead-generation calls, because you've got more important things to do.

So if you're serious about using telemarketing to quickly generate qualified leads, you need to take either of these two carefully orchestrated steps:

  1. Hire your own top-notch telemarketers. Look for people who like being on the phone, understand that rejection is part of the process, have lots of experience calling your types of customers and can knowledgeably discuss the situations and applications your services fit best. (Hint: Consider ex-salespeople who now have kids and want to work part-time and without traveling. Or go after retirees who have realized they'd like to work part-time.) Then give them up-to-date lists of prospects to call.
  2. Hire a top-notch telemarketing firm. Look for a company with a proven track record of calling into the same industries and the same titles as you will want them to be calling on your behalf. Thoroughly check references and insist that the telemarketing firm assign experienced callers to your project. Then both you and the firm can invest time and effort in creating call guidelines (rather than a verbatim script) and training callers on the unique aspects of your business and your prospects. Finally, give the callers that same clean, well-targeted list of prospects, and have them start dialing.

The acid test for success in either case: How would you feel if you received that telemarketing call?

About the Author

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh has been providing marketing and sales consulting services for Microsoft and many of its partners for more than seven years. More than 1,000 Microsoft Partners across the United States and Canada have attended his Marketing Boot Camps and Marketing for Leads (tm) live and Web seminars. You can contact Mac via www.sales-lead-experts.com.