The global telemarketing industry is worth more than £10 billion each year.

Its reputation notwithstanding, the phone unquestionably remains a key tool in the outbound marketing arsenal. As a result, many B2B companies look to deploy telemarketing as part of a sales campaign and often choose to outsource the work. With this in mind, here are five questions you must ask any telemarketing company before you entrust them with your reputation.

Nice old phone

1. What’s the quality of their data like?

If the company is buying data and call lists, question them on the quality. If the contacts they have don’t fit your buyer profiles then they are unlikely to result in quality leads or sales. Ask them about conversion rate as well as volume of calling; you don’t want to hire a random talking shop.

Telemarketing agencies tend to experience internal battles between volume of activity and quality of research, with different managers pushing their agents to either call more companies regardless of quality, or spend just a few more seconds on research before dialling. What’s more, wasted calls can easily generate enough bad blood to outweigh the value of the successes. But if they’re using supporting data this conflict goes away. They’ll be doing fewer, more considered calls, with better results.

Check the industries and verticals they have data on, as well as the company size, location and revenue figures. Also make sure they have details of the specific people at those companies that they are targeting. A good mnemonic to use is BANT:

  • Budget – are the companies on their call list likely to have sufficient funds for this service?
  • Authority – do they know who makes the decisions on buying products and services?
  • Need – do the companies on their list have a requirement for your product or service?
  • Time – does the timeline of these companies to buy align with your sales cycle?

2. Who’s making the calls?

If possible, try and meet some of the people who will be making the calls. Are they smart and personable but authoritative? Will they be able to connect with your prospects on the phone? The human touch counts, so make sure you are comfortable with the team who’ll be calling.

3. What industry standards and regulations are they working to?

The worst thing that could happen is that your telemarketing company lands you in hot water for not complying with industry standards and regulations. In the UK, the DMA publish detailed guidance about best practices for B2B telesales. Any telemarketing agency worth their salt will be able to tell you how they comply with it.

4. Can they provide references and proof?

It’s worth following up with previous clients to see what their experience of working for the company was like. Successful telemarketing companies that have built good relationships with their clients should have no qualms about providing this information.

5. How will they prepare the lead for closure and share the information with you?

Finally, if there isn’t a good handover between the leads generated by telesales and your own internal sales team, much of the investment you make with the telesales agency will be wasted. You should ask for clear guidance on how they see this working.