Ultimately, according to Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management, “The aim of marketing is to make selling unnecessary.”1 Meanwhile, for P. Kotler and Keller (Marketing Management, 2012), “one of the shortest good definitions of marketing is ‘meeting needs profitably.’” Such is a quicker way of saying than the longer, though also more meaningful on the side of consumers regarding what marketing is, i.e., “marketing is about identifying and meeting human and social needs.”2 Selling, along with advertising, is just part of a larger marketing mix, i.e., a set of marketing tools that work together to engage customers, satisfy customer needs, and build customer relationships. So far it’s all good and well. But, how about telesales and telemarketing which, after all these years, are still polarizing?
First, let’s go over what they are. Then, we’ll see a few similarities and differences between telesales and telemarketing. Finally, let’s get to know some pro tips regarding both.
Marketing and selling over the phone
Based on the definitions of marketing and sales we established above, we can have the following definitions when both are done over the phone.
Telemarketing is about identifying and meeting human and social needs remotely, i.e., over the phone. However, since, as we also established earlier, marketing’s scope includes a broad range of activities, including selling, that works together to engage customers, satisfy customer needs, and build customer relationships, a telemarketers job could be anything in such a spectrum, including the range of activities within a sales funnel which are all within the marketing spectrum. The broad range could also include phone-based research such as the population of data and data cleansing－activities which may only indirectly provide support for a laid out marketing plan, but are important, nonetheless, considering a much bigger picture.
Telesales, as with selling that is part of the larger marketing mix, has a narrower function. It is an activity that is focused on the direct sale of products or services to customers over the phone. Insofar as the sales funnel is concerned, a job in telesales could include a range of sales activities or depend on a specific sales strategy requirement.
Similarities of telesales and telemarketing
Basically, telesales and telemarketing are similar in the way they evolved in adapting to new technologies, such as making use of big data and improved communication options so they can reach customers directly, both doing it over the phone. Both telesales and telemarketing share overarching goals and strategies, both aim towards achieving them through personalized sharing, communicating, and promoting directly to customers.
Differences between telesales and telemarketing
Although telemarketing and telesales share in the same strategy whereby they connect with customers directly over the phone for a shared company goal, they differ in their focus on specific process segments, milestones, and short-term goals. To reach their shared objectives, the telemarketing and the telesales teams focus on different but related sets of tasks.
The telemarketing team reaches out to potential customers to provide information and create interest in the brand’s products or services. Telemarketers would also connect with existing customers to generate repeat business. They also create sales opportunities from customer inquiries, setting appointments for sales if needed. Through telemarketing, a company could also conduct outbound calls for market research. They then provide the sales team with relevant data that are accurate and actionable to reach the overall desired efficiency in the shortest possible time.
Following through, the sales team makes use of the provided data and qualifies leads generated through marketing efforts. Telesales then becomes an important tactic in converting qualified leads to buying customers in the shortest possible time. The immediate goal, then, for telesales is to close sales. Now, while still on the line, they could, as well, upsell, cross-sell, and advise customers about the brand’s after-sales support they can easily reach for inquiries. Those inquiries, later on, would be helpful for inbound telemarketing.
Finally, to maximize the capabilities and increase the capacities of your telesales and telemarketing teams, you may want to consider the following.
1. Use a more reliable source of data, rather than just buying data. With this, you can reduce costs by focusing only on hot prospects, that is, those who are more likely the ones interested in the brand, product, or service. If you’re using telemarketing already in your business, you may also want to explore how you can integrate digital marketing into it, here.
2. Know what else customers may need, and in what manner they would want to listen to it, rather than spending more time, in moving forward, still just trying to figure out the whys. You could, for example, start by making use of big data and understanding the correlation of data points towards predicting customer behavior and patterns. You could also, for example, make use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools and support that further with IA (Intelligence Amplification). The reverse of this has proven costly and time-consuming, i.e., trying to understand causation in customer behaviors to hopefully come up with the right pitches.
3. Know the difference between the skill-sets needed for telemarketing and telesales. Excellence in telemarketing, for example, does not necessarily mean that the individual telemarketer could also be good at telesales and vice-versa. Again, for example, a high conversion rate, because one has specialized in telemarketing, does not immediately mean that the same telemarketer could be expected to have a high conversion rate in telesales.
4. Anticipate the next steps and support your digital/online marketing efforts with inbound telemarketing. This means you could position inbound telemarketers to take the calls of customers interested in knowing more information about a product or service, and taking these opportunities to solid sales leads.
5. Aim for a great customer experience so that your brand could be worth advocating for.
Understanding CX to Increase Customer Value
The Customer Journey: From Awareness to Advocacy
Close More Sales: The 3 Stages of the Buyer’s Journey Explained
1 See Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, Marketing Management, 14th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012), p. 5.