If you’re considering using telemarketing to generate leads for your business, you might be wondering whether or not it’s worth it, or whether the disadvantages are too great.

You may think we’ll be pretty biased here – we’re a telemarketing agency, after all. But, because we do this day in and day out, we know that it’s not the right fit for every business – and we want you to know whether that’s the case for you. There’s no benefit to you or us if we try and convince you of something that won’t work – so let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages with an unbiased eye…

Advantages of Telemarketing.

Fast lead generation

Obviously, if you want to generate leads, then any activity needs to have the benefit of doing just that. One of the big advantages of telemarketing is the fact that your activity and results can be up and running fast.

If you’ve done any SEO, you’ll know that it takes plenty of time to start showing results. Telemarketing doesn’t have that problem – a little bit of set up time (to make sure you have your audience and messaging sorted) and you’re off.

Efficient lead generation

As well as being faster to get off the ground than online lead generation, telemarketing is more efficient than a lot of more traditional sales activities. Compared to driving round and trying to drum up interest, telemarketing can reach more people in less time.

It’s also a great way to follow up with warm prospects and nurture them, without taking up the time of your sales team, who can then focus on closing deals from hot prospects.

Connect with prospects personally

Cold outreach is a tricky situation – you’re asking people to pay attention and listen to what you have to say, whether that’s on the phone or via a cold email. The benefit of telemarketing over email outreach is that you can strike up a rapport with more of your prospects. Even a personalised email is easy to ignore, but well-crafted messages delivered directly can be so much more engaging.

Handle objections on the spot

Similarly to connecting with prospects personally, being on the phone makes it possible to handle objections that would simply get an email deleted and forgotten. If someone has a minor objection or concern with your product or service, it’s very easy for them to just delete and move on. Whereas if you’re having a conversation, you can address that objection there and then.

Sometimes the objection will be insurmountable, but at least you know it’s a legitimate no, where the prospect is educated as to what you can do for them. But sometimes, you’ll be able to handle that objection in a way that turns into an opportunity.

Market research and feedback

Even if you’re using a telemarketing campaign to generate leads, it can also be a very useful market research tool. You get live feedback about your product or service. If you think that you can appeal to a specific market sector, but everyone in that sector tells you that they don’t need what you’re offering, that’s hugely helpful feedback (even if it’s not what you want to hear).

The feedback you receive through telemarketing – speaking directly to your prospects – can help you refine your target audience, your messaging, even your service itself. How can you make it more appealing? Is there a better industry fit? Is there something missing? You can save a lot of time across sales and marketing by getting this kind of on-the-ground feedback from prospects.

Measure your results

If you’re investing time or money into any kind of marketing activity, you need to be able to see how effective it is. A good telemarketing campaign will be completely measurable – you’ll know how many hours of dialling result in a lead or appointment, how much a lead costs, and how many of the leads you generated turn into customers.

If you can measure your results this way, it’s easy to ramp activity up or down – if you know a lead costs you £200, or 20 hours of activity result in 6 leads, then it’s simple to say whether or not the investment works. And if it does, then it’s very easy to increase that investment – if you’re getting leads that are generating a return on investment, then adding more investment is a very easy decision.

Disadvantages of Telemarketing.

There’s a potential for reputational damage

Now, this sounds very dramatic. But if your telemarketing campaign is run badly – perhaps your callers are rude or uninformed, or you’re using a bad data list, or your messaging is wrong – then people can definitely get a negative perception of your business.

If you have a small, close-knit target audience, this could be a deal breaker for you. If you have a huge target market and don’t rely on reputation, then this might just come under the cost of doing business. It’s a judgement call based on your business and your industry.

Not everyone responds well

Not every prospect who receives a telemarketing call will take it well. There are usually a few reactions – irritation, indifference, indignation, and even anger. Even the best telemarketer, with training and fantastic messaging, will get some of these calls.

This can be dealt with, but if you have inexperienced telemarketers or you’re trying to run this in-house, then there’s more of a risk of this outcome.

You’re responsible for your data and compliance

In order to run a telemarketing campaign, you need to have people to call. Those people may not have opted in to receiving calls and it’s important that you can demonstrate that you either have the right to contact them, or that they have a legitimate interest in hearing from your company.

If you buy a data list, you could end up with data that’s out of date, which will not only waste your time, but it will also make it more difficult to justify using that information for your campaigns. You’re better off building your own database, or working with a company that will build a database for you.

Sales teams may not like it

While making business decisions based on whether another team will “approve” isn’t a great way to do business, you do have to consider the impact of those decisions on your teams. Some sales teams feel that telemarketers deliver poor quality leads. Others believe that bringing in telemarketers means that you don’t value their abilities, or that you plan to replace them.

Communication is the way to get around this disadvantage – make sure you spend time with everyone to understand their concerns and address them.

Gatekeepers and “do not call”s

Ask any telemarketer and they’ll tell you that gatekeepers can be the kiss of death – you can’t get through to the decision-maker and you know your message isn’t going to be passed on. People who refuse the answer the phone, or those that block callers they don’t recognise also fall into this category.

The thing is, there will always be obstacles in any lead generation method – telemarketing is simply a tool in your arsenal and won’t be a magic bullet with no trouble reaching every potential lead. Emails go to spam, letters go in the bin, and telephone calls get stopped at the gate. It’s annoying, but not a reason to avoid this method.

Some industries just don’t suit telemarketing

This could refer to your industry, or it could refer to the industry you’re targeting. If you’re targeting an industry where the majority of your prospects are on the road or working on client sites all day, then calls during business hours might not get much success – you’ll be leaving a lot of voicemails.

Not everyone has the skills or mindset

Telemarketing isn’t a job for everyone – it can be tough, and you need a great team around you to handle the rejection and disappointment that can come with it. Plus, it’s a job with pretty high turnover for the most part. So, if you’re recruiting for in-house telemarketers, you may struggle to get someone who will last – and if you have to keep replacing them, you’re out the time and effort for recruitment and training.

You can overcome this disadvantage by outsourcing, of course, where the burden for training up to your standards falls on the provider rather than you, and you have no pause in service due to your in-house resource leaving.

Talking of which – if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for you, let’s talk lead generation.

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