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An Interview With Mike Damphousse About B-to-B Appointment Setting

This is the first in a series of occasional interviews with top practitioners in the field of B-to-B demand generation.

Mike Damphousse

Today’s guest is Michael Damphousse, CEO/CMO of Green Leads, LLC, a firm that specializes in using the phone to get qualified appointments for its clients’ salespeople on a pay-per-performance basis. Mike is an experienced marketer, having served as CMO of two software companies before starting Green Leads. His blog, Smashmouth Marketing, has developed a wide following among B-to-B marketing professionals.

Mike, I’m hearing a lot of buzz about appointment setting as an approach to B-to-B lead generation. Please tell me more about it.

B-to-B appointment setting has been around forever, Mac. But it has evolved from a task that sales reps used to do for themselves into a program that inside sales teams and outsourced marketing vendors now predominantly provide.

The real appeal in having an executive-level meeting already set for sales as opposed to getting 20 raw leads sent over. Let’s face it, Mac, the real selling starts when a buyer and a seller get face to face.

Appointment setting can also be cost-effective. See for yourself by using my Appointment Setting ROI Calculator

I believe I’ve heard you say that to get the best results, B-to-B telemarketing should be part of an integrated marketing and sales program. Is that true?

Without a doubt. Especially today with the shift of the “selling process” to more of a “buying process.” With every executive’s ability to type a search phrase into Google, buyers are informed. Being there when they raise their hands for you to meet with them is one thing, but timing your outbound marketing efforts to ask for a meeting when they are ready and educated through lead nurturing—now that is the true benefit of “integrated.” In fact, we’ve studied the impact of lead nurturing combined with outbound efforts, and we’ve found that when B-to-B appointment setting and lead nurturing programs are implemented together, higher-quality appointments are set and better conversion rates occur.

Mike, I understand that one of the keys to success in telemarketing lead generation is the list. Who should supply the list, the client or the telemarketing company?

Lists are a double-edged sword that some marketers underestimate. A bad list can consume so much time and energy to work through that it can bring an outbound marketing program to a grinding halt. I have four tips on lists that should help:

  1. Build your own list—Your own list is an asset that most companies don’t invest enough in. Think of the millions you’ve spent over years of marketing to gather those names. Use that investment.
  2. Purchase lists—There are great resources out there today. We use three major online data providers, and they each have their sweet spot. Remember—downloading the name of the chairman of the board is not going to get you to the CTO.
  3. Research lists—Invest in cleaning and maintaining your lists. There are services out there that will do list validation work. They take existing lists and, through manual research, return only data that is accurate. You can also have a list scrubbed by research and get back the names of prospects that are a better fit for your offering.
  4. Capture lists—Inbound marketing is all the rage today, and the ultimate goal of all that Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, blogging and landing pages is to capture names. Once you have them, though, don’t just “follow up and forget.” Put them into active, nurturing campaigns, and as their lead score rises, hand them over to an outbound team for targeting.

How do you determine when it makes sense for a company to do its B-to-B telemarketing in-house, versus outsourcing it?

There really isn’t a black-and-white answer to this question. There are lots of variables to consider.

When I talk with demand generation experts, there is almost universal agreement that budget is a key contributor. Investing in building out the human assets of an inside team takes budget. With salaries, bonuses, benefits, training and overhead, an inside team can be a costly investment. That’s not to say that [in the] long term it can’t be the better investment.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, is usually easier to start and stop, and [outsourced staff] are typically already trained and specialized in lead gen or appointment setting techniques.

One other aspect of outsourcing that keeps vendors in line is that if they don’t perform, their client-vendor relationships will terminate.

I would also recommend that if a company is making this decision, it hire an expert to assist in the decision. There are many industry experts that specialize in evaluating outbound marketing and lead gen needs. (Editor’s note: I’m one of them!)

Mike, do you have any suggestions on what potential customers should look for in a B-to-B telemarketing company?

Other than the basics of client references, number of reps, measurement criteria, etc., these are some [pointers] from an insider’s perspective that should help vet the true quality vendors:

  • Look on LinkedIn and see how many “current” and “past” employees there are. Look at the background of [the company’s] reps on LinkedIn and see if they match your expectations.
  • Ask for copies of [the company’s] compensation plan. As it pertains to quality versus quantity lead gen, make sure the plan matches your goals, not theirs.
  • Listen when [the rep] mentions client names off the cuff during conversations. Then check them out with your network. It’s a small world—find out whom you or your colleagues know at those companies (use LinkedIn), then make your own inquiries.

Lots of companies seem to be looking to engage their lead generation and marketing service suppliers on a pay-per-performance basis. What are your thoughts on the subject?

I obviously lean toward performance-based demand gen. When we deliver a meeting, that meeting is not billable until it occurs and is not rejected by the client. In fact, nothing we offer is priced by the hour or includes monthly fees or retainers. It’s all by the deliverable. There is significant money being invested in these programs, and if you don’t know exactly what you are going to receive for the dollar, you can’t have a predictable ROI.

That said, make sure the “performance” you are paying for is tangible and has no gray area where the vendor can bill for deliverables that didn’t meet your needs. Is the lead with the right title? Is it with a company that is a good fit for your offering? Is the buyer ready to talk to you? Be up front about your needs before signing the contract, and measure to those specs.

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For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com