Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Account Profiling -- Best Use of Telemarketing for B2B

Telemarketing has such a bad rap that B2B marketers often overlook some of its most powerful applications. The term itself prompts a mental image of fat ladies in stretch pants interrupting your dinner robotically reading irrelevant scripts with outlandish offers.

But for B2B marketers the telephone can be an amazing and unparalleled intelligence gathering tool.

Why?

Because the phone creates a magical connection between people which, when you call someone at the right moment, encourages complete strangers to share information and intimacies. The right tone, timbre and phrasing from an unseen, disembodied voice can unleash all kinds of emotions and transactions. The trick is finding and training the right people to make the calls and carefully targeting the calls to solicit discrete bits of information which are then assembled into a mosaic of information.

At Impole Corporation in Waltham, MA (www.impole.com) they call this effort
“account based intelligence marketing”. I think of it as account profiling. They deploy a team of highly trained techies to make dozens of phone calls to targeted titles and named individuals at companies targeted by their clients. The goal is to develop a comprehensive understanding of a particular account so that client sales and marketing people can efficiently tailor messages and offers that are likely to get them in the door, into consideration and into contracts faster with lower costs per sale.

Typically a complex sale cycle takes 6-9 months, involves as many as a dozen people and yields a buy north of $250,000 and/or multi-year contract. An account profiling program is designed to identify the key players, flesh out the organizational issues, surface the BANT (budget, authority, need and timing) qualifying parameters and give marketers and salespeople a feel for the interplay of policies, personalities and politics within each targeted account.

Calls are usually targeted at C level, VP and Director level people though often junior players and administrative people are more likely to tell who does what and who hates whom and suggest who else is likely to be open to a call. There is nothing secretive or furtive about the process. Callers reveal their identities and on whose behalf they are calling. Often one call checks and validates information developed on previous calls. Like news reporters, data is not considered valid unless it is confirmed by two sources.

After a dozen or so individuals are contacted the information is integrated with data found in offline and online public sources to develop a robust picture of what is going on in the targeted company, what they need, what and whom they are considering, how much they have to spend, when they are likely to buy and who will make the final decision. This information is current and much more useful than data culled from lists and an array of other sources. Plus you get current names, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses to insure you get through.

Marketers and salespeople then use this information to craft personalized, relevant messages to connect directly with prospects in ways that fit the context, sensibilities and business processes of their prospective customers. Having a robust account profile accelerates the buying process because it cues the most impactful marketing tactics and gives a sales team an incredible leg up in understanding and engaging with prospects’ concerns and decision processes.

Maybe if we use the term “Account Profiling” to separate this intelligence gathering function from the usual perception of telemarketing more B2B marketers will use his valuable tool.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny - hope all is well. Did a search on Account Based Marketing Intelligence [ABMI as we deem a new acronoym jargon] and this was one of two links.

Thank you for mentioning our firm and an independent objectivity on how ABMI can improve sales/marketing efficiency.

Tom Windle
EVP
Impole Corporation

10:23 AM  
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5:34 AM  

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