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What is telemarketing, and is it relevant in 2024?

telemarketing

If you ask the average person what telemarketing is, you’ll probably get a somewhat annoyed response with a hint of negativity. Something about TV commercials or annoying offers of all sorts of junk over the phone. Some might mention the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” But is that really telemarketing? And what is telemarketing in general?

In short, telemarketing is sales. But not just that. We highly recommend reading this material, from which you’ll learn about the history and functions of telemarketing, what a telemarketing agent does, and why the largest global companies in 2024 prefer to outsource telemarketing. Get ready for the long read, it’ll be interesting.

Development of telemarketing

Before discussing modern telemarketing, let’s briefly go through the stages of its development. The history of telemarketing as a type of commercial activity dates back to 1957, when the first call center was founded by the American company Life Circulation. Life Circulation developed a sales campaign to support local sports teams and non-profit organizations, and later began selling subscriptions to Time magazine by phone, which was one of the first examples of a call center outsourcing service.

Telemarketing in the 1970s and 1980s

In 1976, 100 years after the invention of the telephone by Edwin Bell, Life Circulation created DialAmerica Marketing, which provided telemarketing services to banks and telecom providers. Interestingly, DialAmerica Marketing’s telephone subscription services were already used by over three hundred magazines!

The 1980s saw the so-called “golden era” of telemarketing, which was driven by the development of telephone technologies. Automatic dialing appeared, 0800 numbers began to be used, and tonal call center IVR systems became widespread. 1981 was the first year when telemarketing spending exceeded direct mail spending. The rising success of telemarketing campaigns encouraged more and more businesses to try the telephone as a sales tool.

Telemarketing in the 1990s and early 2000s

In the 1990s, telemarketing gained a negative context due to the increase in telephone fraud cases. Laws were developed to protect people from unwanted calls, and in 2003, the American Federal Trade Commission launched the National Do Not Call Registry, which registered over 50 million phone numbers. It seemed like the era of telemarketing was coming to an end.

Modern telemarketing

Today, telemarketing remains an important method for developing and maintaining business relationships between companies and clients, as well as in the B2C sphere. The emergence of new technologies such as VoIP call center software, CRM systems and artificial intelligence have increased the economic benefits of telemarketing and greatly simplified the processes for sales agents.

Since the ability to call anyone is no longer possible due to the emergence of telemarketing laws and opt-out services, today telemarketers carefully define their target markets and then create databases that comply with regulatory requirements. Therefore, we can confidently say that modern telemarketing is a profitable and maximally transparent business sector in which personal interaction is a key factor.

What is telemarketing: definition

There are many definitions of telemarketing, but the most concise and understandable one is as follows:

Telemarketing is a marketing strategy that uses the telephone to make direct contact with potential or existing customers for the purpose of selling goods or services, conducting surveys, providing information, or resolving issues. As you can see, telemarketing is not just about sales.

Functions and tasks of telemarketing

Telemarketing is a general term that encompasses any type of communication with potential customers. Telemarketing focuses on developing relationships between businesses and consumers. The goal of telemarketing is often to identify potential leads for the sales team, gather customer feedback, increase brand awareness, and promote products or services to customers. Let’s take a closer look at the functions of modern telemarketing and the tasks that telemarketing solves for businesses.

Lead generation and lead qualification

Lead generation is the process of finding and attracting potential customers. Telemarketing performs this function by calling potential customers to learn about their needs and interests.

Lead qualification takes place during this process, where potential customers are divided into categories based on their level of interest in order to be directed to the appropriate departments. Information about potential customers forms databases for further use.

Sales

Sales is, of course, the main function of both inbound and outbound telemarketing.

Inbound telemarketing is where call center agents receive calls from customers and potential customers. Inbound telemarketing not only provides basic sales according to the customer’s needs, but also involves upselling and cross-selling, which allows you to maximize revenue, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, and differentiate the company’s products or services from competitors.

Outbound telemarketing is sales made through outbound calls, when call center agents call through databases of potential customers. Outbound telemarketing uses cold, warm, and hot calls with the following goals:

  • Entering a new market, introducing the company, its products and services to the audience, analyzing demand;
  • Reminding existing and potential customers about a product or service, informing about discounts, etc.;
  • Closing the sale or finding out what is holding the person back from buying and eliminating this factor.

Improving the customer experience (CX)

Although sales is the main function, an equally important goal of telemarketing is to provide customer support and deliver an exceptional customer experience. Consulting, answering questions, reminding about new products, discounts, and promotions create a continuous process of personalized communication.

Thanks to this function, customers feel their importance to the company, which ultimately contributes to improving customer loyalty and related metrics (CSAT, CSI, NPS index, etc.).

Marketing research and surveys

Telemarketing can be used for marketing research using the Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) method. Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) is an automated survey method that makes the process of marketing research more efficient and convenient. Surveys can be conducted regarding preferences, needs, and experiences with products or services. Information obtained during marketing research can be used to improve products, services, and marketing campaigns.

Telemarketing Jobs

According to Market Growth Reports research company data, it is expected that the global outbound telemarketing market will grow significantly between 2024 and 2031. The forecast clearly correlates the growth of the telemarketing software market with the likely demand for jobs in the telemarketing field. The salaries of telemarketing agents are steadily increasing on average by 2% annually. Despite discussions about artificial intelligence replacing call center agents, all these facts suggest that in the coming years, work in telemarketing will be in demand.

What exactly does a telemarketing agent do, and what qualities should a person have to perform this job?

What does a telemarketing agent do?

According to the functions listed above, outbound line telemarketers make calls to potential customers with the aim of selling, or to tell them about the company’s products or services, conduct surveys, collect information, or schedule appointments.

The duties of the agent include both the direct processing of customer orders and their service in a broad sense, i.e. consultations, problem solving, providing the necessary information. Based on this, an important task of a telemarketer is to thoroughly study the product or service being provided.

It is also important for a telemarketer to adhere to the company’s performance indicators, policies, and work standards.

Career growth prospects in telemarketing

Working in telemarketing can be an excellent starting point for a career in sales, where there are many opportunities for growth and development. With experience and skills, an agent can become an expert in the field of telemarketing, opening doors to better opportunities in the future. In the long term, a telemarketing agent can hold positions such as:

  • Sales Manager;
  • Telemarketing Department Manager;
  • Customer Service Specialist;
  • Sales Analyst;
  • Customer Relationship Manager, and so on.

Skills acquired while working as a telemarketing agent can be valuable in many other fields, including customer service, advertising and PR, market research, and more.

Qualities needed for work in telemarketing

It should be noted right away that telemarketing is not an easy job and can sometimes seem boring and monotonous. To perform it, considerable communication skills are required, as agents mostly need to communicate clearly and politely with people over the phone.

Empathy, persuasion skills, and resilience are also necessary, as it’s important to listen carefully and handle objections and refusals.

Additionally, self-organization and time management skills are important for a telemarketing agent to work with a large amount of information and complete tasks on time.

Why leading companies outsource telemarketing?

As part of the trend to outsource call center services and the global trend to outsource business processes (BPO), outsourcing telemarketing is one way to reduce costs and increase sales effectiveness. Even tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft use telemarketing outsourcing to promote their products and services, including customer support, surveys, and promotions.

Banks and financial institutions use call center outsourcing services for lead generation, promoting credit products, insurance services, and other financial products, as well as customer service and support. Leading Internet providers and telecommunications companies also often use optimized Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), including telemarketing, to sell mobile phones, tariffs, service packages, etc.

So, what benefits do these companies get from outsourcing call center services and telemarketing?

Benefits of outsourcing telemarketing

From its inception to the present, telemarketing has evolved from cold calling to a high-tech field of finding, engaging and supporting multi-channel communication between businesses and their customers. In order to ensure the constant quality of this communication and at the same time not to lose in sales, companies resort to outsourcing business processes, including outsourcing telemarketing. Let’s consider the main advantages that a business gets by delegating telemarketing functions to an external contractor.

Reducing Costs

As part of the trend to outsource call center services and the global trend to outsource business processes (BPO), sales outsourcing in Ukraine is one way to reduce costs and increase telemarketing effectiveness. The costs of hiring and training staff, purchasing equipment, software, and infrastructure can be significantly lower when outsourcing call center or telemarketing services, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as for startups.

Expertise and experience

Market analysis, database collection, lead generation, negotiation and closing skills – all of these are quite complex processes that require experience and expertise. Outsourcing companies that specialize in telemarketing have such experience and use proven effective strategies that can lead to better results than an in-house sales department. Outsourcing call center agents are qualified experts, often multilingual, who are focused on selling goods and services. By outsourcing telemarketing, you can be sure that the quality of services will be at the highest level, and the business will receive the expected sales results.

Increased efficiency

By choosing to outsource their sales department, companies gain access to advanced technologies and tools that help optimize sales processes and increase conversion. Outsourcing companies constantly monitor new technologies, trends, and market developments, which allows them to apply the most effective tools and work methods. Using modern software, such as cloud PBX, autodialing programs, interactive voice response systems, software for recording and monitoring call quality, outsourcing call centers achieve higher efficiency indicators.

Flexibility and scalability

Rapid growth in the number of customers, decrease in the number of requests depending on the season, change in working hours depending on time zones. All these factors can negatively affect the in-house call center. Outsourcing telemarketing companies can easily adapt to changing business needs. From 24/7 customer support to increasing or decreasing phone lines, from quickly changing the number of agents to adding new communication channels, outsourcing telemarketing provides flexibility and efficient use of resources.

Advanced reporting

Call center reporting plays an important role in measuring the success of sales and customer service operations, as telemarketing has evolved beyond just phone calls and is now a multi-channel process. This approach allows customers to interact with individual agents via messengers, email, SMS, web chat, and social media. However, this also means changes in the reporting required by both the customer and the telemarketing outsourcing company.

Outsourcing companies specializing in telemarketing have effective reporting systems that allow them to collect and analyze data on calls, order processing results, and other performance metrics, which helps ensure stability and transparency in the interaction between the customer and the outsourcing contractor. In addition, outsourcing telemarketing functions such as research and surveys can help identify trends, identify strengths and weaknesses in telemarketing strategies, and improve products and services.

Telemarketing: conclusions

So, we’ve learned what telemarketing is, looked at its history, and considered the specifics of the profession of a “telemarketing agent.” In summary, it’s worth noting that the prospects for the development of call center outsourcing and the telemarketing services market are promising, as the importance of personal communication with clients and individual approaches to them are increasing. Technological progress, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence and business process automation, also contributes to the development of this market, providing more efficient communication and data analysis.

As for the job market in the telemarketing agent profession, it also has prospects. The growing popularity and development of telemarketing create demand for skilled professionals capable of effectively communicating with clients and performing various tasks related to sales and marketing. In particular, growth prospects depend on the development of call center software, CRM systems, data analysis, and personalized customer approaches.

About author

Фахівець з маркетингу компанії Global Bilgi
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