In conversation about marketing funds (MDF) with a senior vendor manager, he made the statement, "telemarketing is so 2005". Made me think!
In recent years, I have been fortunate to receive vendor MDF and used outsourced telemarketing to generate sales leads. The return from this marketing investment varies and tends to seesaw between "high volume/low quality" and "low volume/high quality". Telemarketing outsourcers will tell you how valuable their services are but ask a business development manager following up those leads and you will invariably get a very different view. So is it money well spent? Not as a single strategy to start the sales process. It is a machine gun approach with much wastage.
Most VARs make an initial investment in a search engine optimised web site followed by monthly expenditure to promote it, eg Google Adwords. Visitors to that site are offered a telephone number to call, a call back form or an offer of a demo or white paper that again requires a form to be filled.
This type of inbound marketing has a value but lacks the proactive edge for which the IT channel is renowned. I believe it is time for a change.
If an individual has made the effort to find your web site, why are we waiting for them to dial your number or complete a form? Seeing your company website like a traditional retailer sees their shop should change your perspective. A retailer advertises their shop to attract customers. Well-trained and motivated sales assistants greet those customers to accelerate their buying decision. The approach is proactive and maximises the opportunity for a sale. So why is it acceptable for prospective customers to view a company's web site and not get prompt contact from the company they visited?
This reactive approach goes against the grain. IT channel sales people are held in high regard for their ability to perform in a frighteningly competitive market. Lead generation to fuel that function has to follow suit. Technology exists to identify the company or organisation who visits a web site, without a visitor needing to complete a form or make a telephone call. Surely it makes sense to focus telemarketing expenditure there.
With vendors reducing their MDF, requiring greater transparency and wanting better returns, VARs need to sharpen up their lead generation activities. The simple message is, if you don't your competitors will.
Andrew Cross is sales director of Channel Recruitment Solutions
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