Companies have found that integrating direct marketing, specifically telemarketing, into their field sales operations makes their sales efforts more effective. The cost of a sales call and the cost associated with closing the sale are already very high and on the increase. Many marketers have reduced these costs by combining telemarketing and sales efforts (a typical telesales call costs about 11 cents for each $1 in revenue generated).17 A number of companies now offer consulting services to help organizations in the sales process including assisting in direct-marketing methods, as shown in Exhibit 18-6.
The telemarketing department is used to screen leads and—after qualifying potential buyers on the basis of interest, credit ratings, and the like—pass them on to the sales force. The net result is a higher percentage of sales closings, less wasted time by the sales force, and a lower average cost per sale. For example, IBM teamed up with Zacson Corp. to open an integrated teleservices center for its Northern California territory. The group handles inquiries, lead generation, and qualification; develops promotional campaigns; distributes PR materials; and does problem solving for IBM clients. The new relationship reduced IBM's customer contact costs by 97 percent, lowered sales visit costs from $500 to $15, and exceeded customer expectations 78 percent of the time.18
As shown in Figure 18-7, there has been a rapid growth in the use of the telemarketing/sales combination for other firms as well. They have determined the phone can be used effectively for service and follow-up functions as well as for growth-related activities. Supplementing personal selling efforts with phone calls frees the sales force to spend more time selling.
In addition to selling and supporting the sales efforts, the telemarketing staff provides a public relations dimension. Communicating with buyers more often creates goodwill, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In addition to telemarketing, other forms of direct marketing have been combined successfully with personal selling. Direct mail and e-mail are commonly used methods for supporting sales. For example, many companies send out lead cards to screen prospective customers. The salesperson follows up on those who express a genuine interest, saving valuable time and increasing the potential for a sale. Other uses include database building and mining. Exhibit 18-7 shows an example of a highly used soft-
Figure 18-7 The growth of telemarketing as a sales function: reasons for growth (in percent)
Telephone Sales and Service* Field Sales*
Total growth related
Was this article helpful?