Is The Internet Replacing Telemarketing?

Is the Internet replacing telemarketing? Before I answer this, let’s look at three topics, telemarketing, the Internet and the traditional sales model.

Telemarketing’s basic function is to provide “warm” leads to the sales force through the following process:

1- Marketing provides telemarketing with some form of an offer, along with a script, a promotional piece and usually a competitive analysis.

2- Telemarketing calls existing or potential customers by using either using its existing “customer list” or a list generated from an event such as tradeshows or seminars, to discuss the offer, along with why their product or service is the best.

3- If there seems to be interest by the customer, then telemarketing documents the required information and forwards the “warm” list to the sales organization.

4- Sales then strategize on a plan of attack and calls on the potential customers.

5- As part of their strategy, sales can provide a variety of activities such as product demos, testimonials, various presentations and eventually some form of a proposal.

In my previous posting, I talked about various Sales Models. Let’s look at the traditional Direct Sales Model process.

1- Marketing generates awareness, often by offers on the products/services for sale, through promotions around these offers and aimed at targeted markets.

2- As stated above, telemarketing or sales themselves develops “warm” leads.

3- Sales pursue the leads and develops a strategy for each account

4- On the customer side, when the customer has a need to be addressed, they generate inquiries to a number of potential vendors about their products along with some formal request via a RFI/RFP.

5-The customer “listens” to a selected subset of vendors.

6-The vendor does not control the situation but has a big influence on the client through activities such as providing information, competitive analysis, and their relationships.

Let’s now look at the Internet and its capabilities as related to telemarketing and sales functions and how it has changed them.

Fundamentally the consumer/buyer is now in controlm not the selling organization. Here is why.  First the potential buyer can do most of the research especially in areas such as product or service information, what other users are saying about the product/service, what the competition has to offer, and what market analysts are saying. These are usually provided by the telemarketing (functions 1, 2, and 5 from above) and some of the sales activity.

Second, the potential buyer eliminates many of the potential vendors from the final list without the vendors even knowing about it.

Third, the Internet or more specifically, social media is helping sort out all the marketing hype versus the reality of vendor’s offerings.

So is the Internet replacing telemarketing? Well the political answer is MAYBE. My Answer is a definite YES!

Given the criteria that I mentioned, if you look at the evolution of the sales model coupled with the Internet capabilities, it is obvious the telemarketing’s role is diminishing over time.   I say diminishing because there will be certain types of organizations or products and services that will benefit from telemarketing.

So, if you have a telemarketing function, are you looking at how it is being used now and how it will be used in the future and how it will interact and utilize the Internet capabilities?

RHL 5/14/10

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