- 31st January 2012
When I began my career in B2B sales and marketing, I was hired by a Canadian company to sell software to insurance companies based in the United States. They set me up in a remote office and provided me with everything I needed to sell a lot of licenses: Solution Selling training, a Goldmine CD, a thick binder of product brochures and datasheets, and an experienced sales manager who used to sell paper forms to insurance companies (before computers made that business obsolete).
What I did not have, and cannot imagine selling without today, was the support of a teleprospecting organization to qualify leads before I called on them. I was hard-rock mining, cold calling from sunup to sundown. The only marketing leads I had came from the few industry events we sponsored each year.
We’ve come a long way. Today, teleprospecting is an essential part of B2B demand creation strategies. Teleprospecting professionals are an impressive group, constantly adapting to changes in how companies buy, and utilizing new technology to be smarter about what they do. They’ve taken on new personalities in an ongoing effort to meet the growing demands of the role.
Let’s look at three personalities that are a modern take on traditional teleprospecting roles, including:
- The First Responder. Field marketing teams promote several high-value offers at any given time through inbound channels like search marketing or content syndication. Any response to these offers (e.g. free trials, implementation best practices ebook targeting buyers in the later stages of the buying cycle) triggers a route around normal lead scoring and routing and is delivered directly to the inbound teleprospecting queue for immediate followup. The teleprospector knows that an inbound response to one of these offers is a great indicator of need or propensity to buy. More importantly, following up quickly, often within minutes, is the best way to establish a positive perception in the mind of a buyer, who may be in exploratory mode figuring out what to do next.
- The (Social) Networker. When I started my B2B sales and marketing career as a quota-carrying software sales rep nearly 15 years ago, I was handed a thick A.M. Best directory of all the insurance companies operating in North America, complete with a list of top executives. The prospecting tools available to sales reps today are a little more advanced. Teleprospecting reps in particular are very savvy at mining social networks to uncover new leads. The best ones are all over LinkedIn and other professional networks, keeping tabs on who moves where. They join special interest groups, monitor conversations in these communities and reach out through networking tools to make first contact with targeted prospects. It’s a learned skill, and many teleprospecting reps are now quite expert at leveraging social channels to generate new demand.
- The Field Nurse. The field nurse excels in the high-stress environment of an inbound call center, where there’s no time to prepare and no two calls are alike. It’s fast-paced, and it’s reactive. All inbound calls, email requests and click-to-chat sessions are routed to inbound teleprospecting in real time and immediately prioritized over other prospecting activities. As might be expected, teleprospectors with exceptional verbal and written communication skills and the ability to think and act quickly will excel here. Each inbound conversation is different, so teleprospectors require broad knowledge and customer-service-like training to triage each request.
The practical question now is to see if companies start to formalize these personalities into distinct roles, giving even greater focus to the teleprospecting function. In another post, I’ll explore four more emerging teleprospecting personalities, and ask the question: ”are these teleprospecting personality traits the harbinger of role specialization, or an omen of problems to come?”
About the Author
Jason Hekl is Service Director, Demand Creation Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. With an emphasis on developing and executing demand generation strategies to accelerate growth, Jason has sourced, developed and closed millions of dollars in new business throughout his 19-year career. Follow Jason on Twitter @the_hekler