Outbound calling works in B2B marketing and I can prove it.

For a long time, I’ve been requesting a guest post from Leeann Raymond, Director of Operations & Sales at Business to Business Marketing (B2B), but she’s been way too busy to fit it into her schedule. So I finally got wise and asked if I could just interview her. She agreed and now I’m pleased to share with everyone something I’ve been wanting to illustrate in this blog for years — that outbound calling campaigns (done professionally) are powerful and productive in B2B marketing.

I started the interview by mentioning to Leeann how I regularly see posts on LinkedIn or on blogs that calling, especially cold calling, is dead (along with direct mail, email and everything else marketers did before social media).

She then related a story of a sales call she had made to a CEO to sell her company’s outbound calling services. When she got him on the phone, he said, “I don’t want to do it because calling doesn’t work.” Her response made for rather a “duh” moment when she replied, “I just called you and you’re the CEO of your company. If our outbound calling services didn’t work, we wouldn’t be able to stay in business.”

I then immediately asked, “Does it always work?” She responded, “In 12 years, I can count on one hand programs that didn’t work. In each case the problem was primarily oversaturated markets.”

So here are two of the 12 years of case studies she shared. She asked me not to name the actual companies because we’re including specific data from their campaigns.

Case Study #1 involved making calls to physician practices and medical testing centers on the part of a leading provider of healthcare technologies. During the process of the campaign, the client sent regular call reports with input on leads so the direction of the calling message could be shifted as necessary.

Engagement: 90 days

Goals: Determine if there was enough demand to support a sales force focusing on a non-hospital market for their products, and also to generate incremental sales.

Calling List: Provided by the client

Results:

  • Conducted 675 hours of calling in 3 months, making a total of 9112 calls
  • Reached 2047 individuals, with 22% of reached prospects resulting in conversations
  • Generated 161 sales-accepted leads, i.e. leads that were validated by the sales team as workable, with 7% of the conversations resulting in qualified leads
  • Created a pipeline of over $5.5 million in sales in the 90 days, based on a typical sale of $150,000
  • Total campaign cost: $29,722
  • Total cost per qualified lead: $134; sales qualified leads were defined as having the name of decision maker, a company with a stated need, budget, and time-frame to purchase

Case Study #2 was for a company selling a cost-saving financial technology tool marketed to CFOs or VPs of Finance at companies with $1 billion or more in revenue. The B2B prospects were at companies where one would think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reach a decision maker by phone. These included Nike North America, Sony Music Entertainment, Verizon, Dell Computer, Southwest Airlines, Motorola, Whole Foods and the list goes on.

Engagement: 12-month program

Goal: Set up five to 10 appointments per month for individual sales people, including managing the sales person’s calendar, sending out Outlook® meeting invites, getting confirmations and updating the sales person’s calendar. These additional steps were all necessary, as sales people were on the road non-stop traveling to appointments.

Calling List: Obtained by Business to Business Marketing to match the client’s selected criteria.

Results:

  • Made 29,078 calls
  • Calls resulted in 332 appointments — meeting and often exceeding the monthly goal
  • Made 914 presentations, of which 17% turned into appointments
  • Client did not share actual sales data; however, they tracked results and, in over a year of working with them, the client reported that a total of only 17 appointments were not qualified

Leeann says that, even when callers are reached and are not immediately productive, the call can still be used to gather important information such as the name of the decision maker. She recalled one prospect that was spending $100,000 a quarter to send out a fancy mailer and getting nothing. B2B Marketing suggested that the company let B2B call in advance of the next mailing to find out why. The calls revealed that 50% of data was wrong. The company had been wasting half of their budget.

She said, “We generate 70% of our business from cold-calling.”

There’s virtually no limit to the options available in this channel:

  • List building or list clean-up
  • Lead generation
  • Appointment setting
  • Event attendance confirmations — advanced calling has proven to increase attendance by 20% to 30%
  • Research
  • Nurturing
  • Following up leads from trade shows — post-event follow-up
  • Qualifying SEO leads, customer touch
  • Upselling and cross-selling
  • Marketing new offerings
  • Just keeping in touch with customers

I can hear some readers responding to this blog with, “We don’t have the money or time to make thousands of calls to get the results we want.” But that’s not the point of these examples. The point is, B2B decision makers can still be reached via phone and it’s still well worth the effort to include calling in the marketing and sales process.

About Business to Business Marketing: Business to Business Marketing has been conducting outbound calling for complex business-to-business offerings since 1999. Their second division MedContacts specializes in outbound calling for companies selling products to the healthcare market.

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4 Comments

  • By Joe, September 25, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    I’d like to hear more about what you guys say on a first call. I think it can be a fine line between getting some interest and complete disinterest.

  • By Susan Fantle, September 25, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    Joe, Like all marketing, it’s a numbers game. If the calling list is good, that will minimize those who have no interest. But yes, there will be many of those. It’s a matter of making enough calls to find those who are interested. There should be enough interested prospects to justify the effort. I suggest you contact the folks at Business to Business Marketing and ask them how they typically open conversations.

Other Links to this Post

  1. BizSugar.com — September 25, 2012 @ 8:04 am

  2. Outbound calling works in B2B marketing and I can prove it … | Lead Finder Software Pro News Blog — September 25, 2012 @ 10:33 am

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