I had lunch earlier today with one of our B2B telemarketing partners. Among other things, we chatted about how commoditized typical outbound calling services has become. Interview any call center and they will tell you they have the best callers, the best training and QA process, and the best results. If you're lucky, you might get a former client to validate those claims, but most often, validation comes down to a trial of at least 100 hours. Sure, many outsourced telemarketing projects aren't executed well, but quite often that's the client's fault. When done right, with measurable controls in place, outsourcing early stage calling is undeniably more cost effective than doing it in-house.
We kicked around a few ideas to help differentiate their service from others in the space and kept coming back to a unique approach to calling (I'll discuss that in a future blog post) and the metrics that prove a successful trial.
Calling is of course just one step in a multi-step approach to nurturing leads into opportunities. So it's important to measure calling effectiveness on metrics that are not just related to the phone. There are a number of other metrics and considerations when evaluating call centers which you can find in our white paper, Real-Time Collaborative Prospecting: 10 Ways to Improve Your Telemarketing Results. However, all things being equal, when testing a few call centers (always test more than one) it's important to focus on a more holistic set of metrics that prove the telemarketers' contribution to delivering sales ready leads - often times long after the calls were made.
Aside from listening to recorded calls, these are some new metrics to evaluate how well your B2B telemarketing partner helps you deliver "sales-ready" leads.
# of emails opened: Tells you the caller was capable of navigating to a decision maker or influencer, had a conversation and got permission to send an email to a valid email address. ( after all, odds are pretty good that after 100 hours of calling, the opt-in email list of decision makers and influencer's will be far more valuable than the handful of prospect who were graded "A" ...assuming you nurture those emails correctly ) Be sure to have the caller indicate the buying role of each contact.
# of A and B quality leads that opened an email: Cost per "A" and "B" quality lead based on the phone conversation is nice -- but if fewer than 80% of those leads are not opening the email following the call, investigate the leads that didn't open up the email first.
Cost / opened email broken down by grade: If many emails are claimed to have been sent -- but few are opened, it's time to evaluate the quality of the conversations and the QA process for verifying the email before hanging up the phone.
Cost / unique visitor to the website: You can easily compute this if your callers are sending trackable emails via a marketing automation solution that integrates website tracking to help you identify when the email recipient visits your website.
Cost per visitor that visits your website after the call and becomes an "A" or "B" graded lead as a result of activity on the website. It happens all the time. Busy execs can cut the call short or may not indicate strong interest or BANT ( budge, authority, need, timing ) qualities over the phone, but actually do express interest based on activities on your website. Again - you will need a solution that blends email marketing activity and website tracking onto a unified contact history profile in order to easily get this metric.
Some of the typical metrics that don't matter are:
# of dials made (attempts), # of connections, # of conversations, # of wong numbers, # of outdated contacts, average minutes per conversation, etc.
These and a host of other stats will indicate the quality of your list, but they won't indicate how well the callers are at actually navigating to decision makers and building your pipeline.
The bottom line: Don't evaluate your telemarketing partner solely on how many "qualified leads" they drum up. Many factors beyond their control can impact this statistic including the target audience's bandwidth, receptiveness to your solution, brand and perceived pricing. Work with a B2B (outbound only) firm that understands nurturing the complex sale, and hold them accountable to the metrics above that truly indicate their contribution sales-ready leads.