On the cusp of the two-year anniversary of the federal government’s Do Not Call Registry, which now totals a third of the U.S. population—more than 100 million Americans have registered—telemarketing is alive and doing quite well, thank you.
Telemarketing remains a vital and in many cases major portion of the marketing mix, particularly for b-to-b marketers. Blue-chip b-to-b marketers such as Xerox Corp. continue to commit significant resources to telemarketing, and it has become de rigueur for marketers to combine telemarketing with other online and offline marketing channels.
Xerox’s elaborate and sophisticated telemarketing practice is divided into three groups: North American agents, made up of manufacturers representatives and sales agents; the U.S. Solutions Group, agents who sell to the largest accounts; and the XCL, or Xerox Canada Limited group of salespeople. Within those three groups, there are both inside salespeople and outside salespeople, and all sell the full line of Xerox products and solutions. Telemarketing is the centerpiece. In addition, all telesales within Xerox are tied to specific marketing campaigns.
When you’re doing telemarketing, you need to have some campaign in mind,” said Charlie Alexander, VP-teleweb at Xerox Corp. “The telemarketer should have a very specific reason for calling their customer.”
Carolyn Goodman, managing partner at Goodman Marketing, agrees with this strategy.
“We continue to be conservative with telemarketing efforts [on behalf of our clients],” she said. “We know as businesspeople that telemarketing can be overkill sometimes, so we use it strategically. We write our scripts as short and succinct as possible, with calls kept to a minimum and the first thing we ask is, ‘Is this a good time to have a conversation?’ before we launch a pitch, which shows consideration to the target.”
Another feature of the Xerox approach is that its telemarketing campaigns are always integrated with other media channels for maximum effect.
“All of what we do is campaign-driven and all of what we do is integrated,” Alexander said. “A lot of times it will be a [direct] mail piece first with a “tele-” follow-up,” he said. “The reverse of that would be a call to generate interest and follow up with information through mail. Another way we’ll do it is, if we’re on the phone with you, we might take you to the Web site.”
Given its intricate sales organization, Xerox is constantly tweaking its strategy and testing new ideas within the teleweb group. It instituted some changes that it tested in a pilot program last year, using a lean Six Sigma process. Those changes were formally implemented earlier this year based on the success of the pilot.
“We ran a pilot in 2005 and, based on hitting our goals and talking to the sales force leaders in the areas we were piloting, they agreed this was a more efficient way to do it,” Alexander said.
The crux of the change was to give end-to-end ownership of accounts to specific salespeople. “We went from a co-selling model to a model whereby all sales reps covering the middle markets had specific account ownership,” Alexander said. “We’ve found that to be productive.” In fact, it’s been so productive, that Alexander said he has increased the per-month sales goal by 50% since the change was made.
Shelly Banjo contributed to this article.