Practice of using the telephone as business tool to make sales, generate leads, to receive customer service and support calls, or gather marketing information is telemarketing. Telemarketing offers the advantages of being time saving, cost effective, flexible in terms of adaptability with rapidly changing market and since it involves human interaction it has many other benefits in terms feedback and marketing scope. Telemarketing is often a part of an overall marketing program of a company. Telemarketing programs can be either outsourced to organizations specialized in the business or can be handled in-house.
Telemarketing can be either inbound or outbound in scope. Inbound telemarketing consists of handling incoming telephone calls from potential customers who have been solicited through advertisements for a range of products or services. Inbound program typically can be classified as informational or issue-oriented. Whereas outbound telemarketing is directed towards lead generation, customer acquisition and retention, database enhancement and management and customer service etc.
Although telemarketing has always been the centre of debate, the industry continues to grow. Common telemarketing roles are to increase the sale, qualify prospects, define the market, generating leads, gathering information, and improving customer service etc.
Typical Telemarketing Functions are:
Generating Sales: Telemarketing can be used to sell products and services independently, or it can complement the field sales for uncovering new customers and potential market. Existing customer base is perhaps the most important asset in any business since most sales increases come from current accounts, and it generally current customers are less costly to maintain than to search out new business. So account list distribution among field sales and telemarketing is very important.
Generation of Sales Leads:
Telemarketing lead generation can be ultimate tool for growth of any business, and referred as generating customers for making sales. Compiling and updating prospective customer list, lead nurturing, teleprospecting and qualify them according to priority are the many aspects of telemarketing.
Gathering Information: Telemarketing is a powerful tool for gathering marketing information about prospective customers available. It is also commonly used in conducting marketing surveys and is very effective in providing data on potential market.
Customer Service: By using telemarketing for dissemination of information and customer service in conjunction with current computer technology companies can go a long way toward keeping customers happy.
Outsourcing Vs In-House:
Every business has the option to choose to set up in-house operation or outsource the work to outside agency with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is advisable to consider return on investment and cost comparisons on both avenues.
Outsourcing: Lower costs are one of the main advantages that outsourcing is likely to offer. Outsourcing service providers have necessary equipments and trained staff to start a program as required. It is more cost effective to outsource inbound telemarketing program for its round the clock service coverage requirements. Significant advantages of outsourcing are:
1. Lower operational and labor costs deliver a big impact on a companys revenue.
2. Its gives the scope of focusing on core business processes while delegating repetitive and time consuming processes to outside service provider.
3. Provides the opportunities to access to more specialized workforce and resources not available internally.
4. Outsourcing helps to reduce capital investments, eliminates expenditure on equipments, maintenance and other risks as insurance liabilities and security risks. More capital helps to expand and gain access to new market areas.
In-House Telemarketing: In-house telemarketing program offers total control over all facets, including hiring and firing, scripts, budgets, advertising, and compensation.
Main advantages of developing in-house telemarketing program are:
1. It offers the scope for more control over all facets mentioned earlier.
2. Develop a long term relationship with the potential customers.
3. When it comes to handle high technical expertise in-house reps are better trained.
4. In-house phone reps have ready access to company information, so they can confirm delivery, authorize credit, and suggest alternatives to out-of-stock items.
Controversies and Future of Telemarketing:
In spite of growing industry, unfortunately popularity of telemarketing is diminishing due to deceptive practices, numerous scams over the years and rampant and insensitive use of this tool. And the industry is still adjusting to the new reality that has been created by the do-not-call registry. Legislators at state and federal level have debated a number of proposed laws that could affect telemarketing in the future.
With increasing sales and increasing number of people being employed, there has been unprecedented growth in telemarketing industry as a whole. According to telemarketing experts: We will see global telemarketing expand a hundredfold in the future due to advancement in telecommunication technology and international telephone rates coming down. Future of telemarketing is to be more offshore, with extremely low operational costs of call centers, more targeted marketing as databases get better and data mining tools become more powerful.