B2B - What software should I use?

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B2B - What software should I use?

This article will look at the various software options we have seen used in the telemarketing sector and is part of the "back to basics" series which looks at various aspects of telemarketing.

What software should I use for my telemarketing?

Obviously this is a loaded question as it depends if you are a start-up, a growing agency or a market leader. Each have there own core requirements which may well be different.
Also bundled into this is whether your focus is inbound, outbound and if you use any other channels (email, social, SMS or postal) for your marketing.
In an effort to keep it simple we will look at the first two types of telemarketing agency: start-up and growing.

Excel, Google Sheets and similar

This type of software is probably the de-facto starting point for almost all companies as all you need is the data in the sheet and a phone to get going. Notes can be made against each record and reporting can be done quickly with only limited Excel skills.
This is great when there are only a couple of people in the company and each are working on separate customer campaigns. However, as the customer base grows and staff churn starts to kick in very quickly it will become difficult to:

  • Get consolidated reporting of weekly performance
  • Keep a track of which Excel is the most recent
  • Who has access to the Excel's

This is a great tool for companies between 1-3 users, but it is beyond this point people start to think about the next steps of whether to build their own or look for a system to support their needs.

Access, Google Tables/Forms, FileMaker and similar

While there are an awful lot of really good software to choose from, depending on the needs, sometimes they might not work for the specific requirements of a telemarketing agency.
In this case, the agency has decided to build their own software.
While this gives them complete control over what and how data is processes, there are some none trivial areas to be thought about:

  • Software development - Initial build cost
  • Time of development
  • Hosting charge
  • Ongoing development

Software development is a difficult process as it takes the ideas of one person, translated by a second, to be written by a third and then presented to the original person. While the specifics may vary, be prepared for several iterations of development to get the software close to any initial specification with ensuing time and cost implications.
Access also has some limitations which need to be thought about.

  • Security - who should have access to each client data?
  • Concurrent access - what are the limits to how many people can access the same data?
  • Who can change the structure?

We have seen some very complex systems written in this type of technology and know it can support somewhere between 1-10 users. 

Buy some software

While we have said "buy", in reality software is rented on a subscription model and this is generically called "Software as a Service" or SaaS for short.
Within this area there is a plethora of options, but they can be broken into some distinct areas as shown below.

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
    This is probably the first thought for most people when they are looking to manage their telemarketing operations. However, most CRM solutions are designed for a single organisation general customer relationship management, so for telemarketing companies this poses a problem for any opportunity management, consolidated reporting and more.
    Also the mainstream CRM solutions (such as HubSpot, Salesforce or Dynamics to name just three) are more geared towards email. On the calling side, a number have links to VOIP solutions and so have inbound call centre functionality, but the outbound calling will be limited by a number of factors such as call management.
    It is possible to use standard CRM solutions within a telemarketing agency, but the limitations on reporting, call management and others will become apparent as the number of clients scale.
  • Diallers
    There are a number of different types of dialler software all of which will need another system to manage the data:
    • Robo diallers
      With this you record a message and link this to a menu ("press 1 for ..." etc). This is then used to dial a List of numbers and when someone picks up the phone the message will be played.
    • Predictive diallers
      This type of software is used to call lots of numbers at the same time, with the first connection being connected to a live person. Of course this will lead to the infamous "silence" while it connects.
    • Preview diallers
      As an operator starts to wrap up a call, the software starts to dial the next number and the details from the CRM system will be shown on the screen so they can "preview" who they are calling.

    The first two options are much better suited to the B2C market as a lot of the numbers will not connect and operators/BDR time is not cheap! Preview diallers can work quite well in a B2B environment, but only when there is one number to call and not several options as is usually the case.

  • Call/Contact centre software
    This area comes in the following styles - inbound, outbound or blended (both). Depending on whether its a pure call centre or a contact centre, it may deal with emails, social or other channels as well as just telephone.
    If we look specifically at the outbound side, they will have a dialler built in to make calls, but will also have some form of CRM built into them. As with pure diallers, they will sit side by side with a CRM solution.
    • Outbound call centre use cases
      Generate and qualify leads via cold outreach.
      Conduct market research to pinpoint customer preferences and analyse competitors.
      Provide phone support for proactive customer service.
    • Inbound call centre use cases
      Receive and respond to support calls from existing customers.
      Process orders and payments and deal with payment issues.
      Inquire with customers about upgrades and/or renewals.

    By enlarge Call/Contact centre software target single organisations and so for telemarketing companies this poses a problem for opportunity management, consolidated reporting and more.

  • Purpose built - Vertical CRM
    A vertical CRM is software that has been build to support a specific industry with examples being:
    • Veeva Systems for Biotech
    • RexSoft for Real Estate
    • Actionstep for Law
    • SmileCRM for telemarketing

    SmileCRM will help manage the following:
    • Multiple customers
    • Custom data for each customer
    • Calling options based on customer needs
    • Surveys
    • Opportunities
    • Orders
    • Diaries
    • Reporting with automated scheduling and distribution
    • Compliance
    • Transactional email (request for information) and broadcasts with links to calling schedule if link clicked
    • Built in enquiries, specifically targeting key telemarketing needs
    • Quality control to ensure opportunities meet criteria
    • Customer access

    SmileCRM has been built to support the specific processes a telemarketing company have and not a generic solution from the alternatives - it is a true vertical CRM