I have to admit, I don’t like the terms, and they conjure up images of days long past with smoke filled rooms and guys wearing bad plaid jackets saying, “How does that sound so far?” and “Can I put you down for two?” In part, that image is well earned and deserved.
I can remember back when every company in America was rushing to build a telemarketing department. Once technology improved they were rushing out to get the latest telemarketing software. Gee whiz – what happened? It’s the same thing that happens to most tools or processes that really work; they got abused. As the abuse increased the consumers pushed back and a few bad apples ruined the lot for everyone. But did telemarketing go away? Of course not. It improved, regulations improved, and technology improved, and it morphed into something new, something better.
We have found all kinds of nifty words to cloak the activity. Our telemarketing centers morphed into contact centers, and our telemarketers turned into agents or Inside Sales Reps. Heck, we have even built an association around it : the “American Association of Inside Sales Professionals.” It’s a great association by the way, and if you are not a member you should check it out. The point is, we still sell over the telephone and we still make cold calls – many of them to people that in truth would probably rather not hear from us. We still deploy technology to increase our efficiency in making the calls. We just don’t want to call it telemarketing.
OK, Ken – thanks for the history lesson but what is the point? The point is that by embracing the core activity of what you do and how you drive business, you can make better choices regarding people, technology and processes. Case in point: as software provider to thousands of companies in the US and other countries, I have seen firsthand how many of our customers came to us frustrated over the choice they made in terms of technology. By not embracing the fact that they had people on the phone doing a fair volume of dialing, they chased non-synergistic solutions such as CRM down the rabbit hole. Sure – CRM is sexy, hot and needs to be a part of every business. But, as they found out, it did little to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their Inside Sales People (you know – their telemarketers). They typically missed auto dialing, next best call logic, scripting help and basic lead management that one would find in telemarketing software.
Our company, like most, is guilty of blurring the lines on our product offering. We are a Sales CRM Software, Lead Management Software and Telemarketing Software all rolled into one app. The messaging you get from other companies running the ads to catch your eye can be challenging to weed through. Tip – If calling is the core activity that drives your prospecting and sales, I recommend focusing on companies whose core delivery platform is focused on your core activity. No one wants telemarketing software. We all want something a bit sexier. I encourage you to embrace your telemarketing roots and Google Telemarketing Software, Lead Management, call scripting and so forth. You may be surprised to find that the biggest and most recognized companies in the world all advertise their offerings under these headings. Why? Because they know that over time all companies that are phone centric move back to their roots and search for what they really need: good old fashion telemarketing software. But when you search, don’t get fooled by sheep in wolves’ clothing. Stay focused on the functionality that drives the productivity.
In closing, remember it is not fair to compare yesterday’s telemarketing software to today’s Lead Management Software, just as it is not fair to compare yesterday’s telemarketer to today’s Inside Sales person. In the end it is better to have great telemarketing software with robust CRM functionality vs. having incredible CRM with little or no telemarketing features that drive productivity. Do your research, choose wisely and be productive.