Small, highly specialized business-to-business marketers often lack the resources to follow up every casual inquiry. First Databank (FDB), which sells drug data to medical information system providers, health plan operators, pharmacy benefit managers and other organizations, has been using an outside telemarketing firm to pre-qualify its leads.
The sales cycle is slow—it took more than a year after FDB began working with B2B sales generation firm LeadJen for the program to break even. But the company has been rewarded for its patience: Director of marketing David Manin says the program’s monthly return on investment hit 300% earlier this year.
FDB had used telemarketing before it began working with LeadJen for the early 2009 program launch. Manin believes the phone channel offers a methodical way to qualify leads before passing them along to in-house sales reps. But Manin had questions regarding the amount of data that was being received from his previous telemarketing firm.
LeadJen allows him to capture more granular response data from prospects, including reasons why they might not be interested in FDB’s offerings. Manin discovered prospects generated from trade shows and conferences don’t generate the same return as those who come onto its website, or who are current customers. FDB has eliminated shows and conferences as prospecting channels.
The LeadJen reps don’t actually sell: Their job is to identify and qualify prospect needs and pain points, and to set up face-to-face or other, further-information meetings with First Databank’s in-house representatives. The call system is integrated with FDB’s contact management platform, and the entire call history goes into First Databank’s database as if the LeadJen rep had logged it there herself. This allows FDB’s in-house sales staff to pick up the trail seamlessly.
Qualifying leads that become prospects has become harder, Manin admits: FDB recently reduced the number of fields within its on-site interest or information-download forms, removing the title field and making the phone number space optional.
In one sense, these changes have been very successful. Form completion rates, which had hovered between 10% and 15%, currently sit at 30%. The tradeoff is that LeadJen reps have to do a bit more work to locate and qualify leads. FDB is currently evaluating the long-term effect of its changes.
The other adjustment FDB made was in how “no interest” prospects were qualified. FDB had seen a spike in “not interested” reactions when telemarketers followed up on some of its prospect names, such as those who had downloaded information. LeadJen captures a more discrete level of response information, and has found that many of those prospects are already FDB customers who don’t need additional contacts but want the information offered.
In some cases, the no interest information served as a quality check on FDB’s regional sales managers. If the company finds that an inordinate number of existing customers from a particular region are downloading information, rather than having it offered to them by a regional salesperson, it can check with the salesperson and determine if there is a communication breakdown with customers.
Conversion from target to appointment varies based on the campaign. First Databank based a recent effort off current customers who downloaded information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and its impact on the use of electronic healthcare records. These prospects generated a 70%-80% appointment rate. And sales from that upsell campaign, aimed at current data users, were right around the 50% level, according to Manin.
This is exceptional, of course: LeadJen president Jenny Vance notes that under most circumstances only around 10%-15% of appointments passed along to FDB will be with prospects who have the perfect confluence of need, timeframe and budget. More often, prospects have recognized a need and may even have a timeframe in mind, but haven’t received spending approval.
FDB does not use telemarketing in a vacuum. Prospects are often first contacted via email, and then followed up by telephone. Often there will be multiple waves of calls and emails—and LeadJen’s staff is familiar with the content of the email messages and able to reflect their points in its conversations.
That said, the primary driver of appointments is the telemarketing calls, which generate 93% of all scheduled contacts, according to Vance.