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November 1998


Lead Generation Campaign A Success For Year 2000 Compliance Vendor

BY JEAN VILLANTI, UST, INC.

In the remaining days before January 1, 2000, all corporations and government agencies are faced with the daunting challenge of "coming to grips with the year 2000 Crisis" or "the millennium bug." For the last four decades, computer software has almost universally represented the year field with a two-digit number. The century was implied and not explicitly stored. When we reach the year 2000, however, and the computer abbreviates the "year" as "00," programs will lose the ability to distinguish between dates. Therefore, in the commonly used "mm/dd/yy" format, March 9, 1900 is stored exactly the same as March 9, 2000 (i.e., 03/09/00). This will result in miscalculations, nonrecognition, or computer crashes.

A number of information technology services companies that have written specialized software programs to locate year 2000 bugs are vigorously vying to position their product in the marketplace before their competitors. One year 2000 compliance provider combated such a competitive problem by developing and implementing a lead generation, business-to-business telemarketing program through a teleservices agency to sell their year 2000 suite of software products to the marketplace.

Based on their program, here is how a properly planned lead generation program can quickly qualify and segment your market into short-, mid- and long-term buying cycles.

Using qualifying criteria specifically established for your products and/or services, a lead generation program can be designed and developed by a teleservices agency to segment your market into three primary categories:

  1. Accounts actively evaluating purchases,
  2. Accounts in the market that may evaluate purchases,
  3. Qualified accounts not currently in the market for your product and/or service.

To further segment the market and prioritize subsequent contact within each account, a set of "status codes" should be developed as part of the lead generation program. Each status code should represent a set of qualifying criteria, having to do with decision time frames, budget allocation, dedicated resources in place to explore and/or evaluate purchasing decisions, plus other criteria specific to your product and/or service.

An extensive "call record" should be designed to include a variety of questions to elicit "must have" and "nice to have" information that would allow the teleservices agency to "code" the call record according to the qualifying criteria.

A relational database should be developed to house the prospect files once the calls are made. Processes also need to be developed that tie into the relational database that would enable the teleservices company to fulfill information requests, report on lead status, analyze market feedback and electronically distribute short-term leads to the field sales organization.

Mid- and long-term opportunities can be turned over to you after the program is completed or be incorporated into a calling program designed to build business relationships and educate prospects who acknowledge the need for your product and/or service, but do not yet warrant contact from the sales organization.

A monthly "status report" should be designed and distributed to all who are involved with the program to provide lead status codes, company/contact information, key decision makers, callback information, etc.

At the conclusion of the program, a comprehensive "end-of-project" report should be provided to include both performance/quantitative and research/qualitative information. This information should enable you and your company to determine the program's success as well as make decisions on potential roll-out programs.

To assess whether your lead generation program was successful, use the following checklist as a guide to what your program should accomplish:

  • Raise the level of awareness regarding your product and/or service among qualified prospects,
  • Generate and deliver immediate qualified sales opportunities to the field sales organization to concentrate on closing business,
  • Identify all opportunities within the prospect market to build a mid- and long-term pipeline,
  • Establish a competitive barrier by providing early entr´┐Że into your prospect's buying cycle,
  • Increase market share and provide market intelligence,
  • Establish an accurate and segmented prospect database for future campaigns.

Jean Villanti has been in the teleservices industry since 1981. Her experience spans the full gamut of the industry, from program manager to center operations manager to consultant. She has been with UST since 1986. UST, Inc. - The Technology Marketing Group is an Atlanta-based market development and management company for the high-technology industry.

 







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