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B2B telemarketing: An interview with Michael Brown

Ask before telling and learn before selling

Michael A BrownMichael Brown is our “Business to Business By Phone Expert”. When it comes to using the phone to generate, nurture and qualify leads, there’s nobody better than Michael.

With all the developments lately in B2B marketing, telemarketing still has a prominent position and I want to highlight that. So I sat down with Michael and asked him what’s new in telemarketing.

Mac: Michael – tell me what you’ve been up to. What’s the latest and greatest in the world of B2B telemarketing?

Michael: Well Mac, there’s a debate inside Sales and Marketing circles about cold calling versus “smart” calling. Cold callers call to pitch. Smart callers call to learn what the prospect’s organization is trying to accomplish, and to see if the caller’s product or service would be helpful. The cold caller uses a generic (same script for everybody) approach. The smart caller has a unique approach for each call… one based on significant research and pre-call preparation.

Okay, Michael. I hear where you’re going with this. What other differences are there between cold calls and smart calls?

Make smart calls from behavioral and affinity lists, not demographic or segment lists. Behavioral lists are based on verbs in addition to SIC codes (for example – “grew by 15% or more”, “merged”, “moved”, etc). Affinity lists are based on recent purchases of related products or services. These lists cost more, but end up giving higher ROI because their performance is so much better.

Smart calls begin with a quick visit to the prospect’s website to find out what their business does and how they position themselves. Focused homework beats “tell me a little about your business” every time. Lose the elevator pitches, hype, and feature dumps. Ask before telling and learn before selling.

Smart calls are exploratory calls based on an organization’s relevant news – an event or occurrence that changes them into a better-than-average prospect for your company. Something that you can build a logical, valuable conversation around.

Tell me what you think about integrating telemarketing with some of the more recent tools?

We all need to get really good at multi-media marketing. I define that as: phone + e-mail + social + SEO/SEM + online content. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Getting all the pieces working together creates real synergies and greatly improved results.

Speaking of “working together”… strongly encourage coordination between Sales and Marketing. The more closely the two collaborate; the better off everybody is… including your customers.

I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said, but especially that last statement regarding Sales and Marketing alliance. Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Michael. Any closing remarks?

Yes. Provide for time. Market and sell with vigor and enthusiasm tempered with humility and patience.

Well put. Thanks again.

If any of you readers have anything to add about Smart Calling, or the integration of marketing tools across media, please weigh in below.


Mac – I think ‘smart’ calling is obviously preferable to cold calling. Is a phone call the preferred method of introducing yourself, company product to a prospect? I typically reverse the order… using social media and email to introduce, then following up with a phone call after having (hopefully) broken the ice.



Hi Mac,

I think the best sales people that those that constantly innovate. Those who are willing to adopt to changes and utilize the latest tools and strategies available as to easily penetrate the ever blocking targets.


I agree with Bob. One of the things we’ve learned after recording thousands of live sales calls is that close rates improve if the ice has been broken a little bit.
Also, we recommend a flow, rather than a script.


Awesome Article…! previous Job experienced of mine says when you have excellent coordination between phone + e-mail + social + SEO/SEM + online content, marketing a product or service will be easy. If not, (even with) good strategy of marketing, qualified employees, resources are available, the product or service will be failure in long term. (In) some cases, you can see short term success,not long term..! Doing B2B telemarketing is not a cup of tea for everybody .. 🙂


This article makes a great point. The difference in being successful is understanding and listening before trying to insert yourself as an expert. It can’t be done with a script and it takes the right type of individual to make it work. I like to think of this more as relationship building than telemarketing, because B2B sales are not developed with just a phone call.


This was a really useful article for our salespeople so we shared it with them too. I think a smart caller is so much more successful at achieveing the final outcome.


Great article, I think the key part is the last comment about multi-media marketing. Every lead generationcampaign will produce greater results if multiple media is used.

This is something I have been talking about for years and still I hear online marketing companies give the advice that traditional marketing is dead, online is the only tool needed today.


Every business organization needs to have a steady flow of marketing leads and potential customers to run their business. It is to make sure that legitimate leads flow regularly into your organization as it is one of the main aspects of your business. At such point B2B email lists are very effective tool that brings in tremendous results.


Smart calling will have better chances to generate ROI. People are familiar with cold calling, its time for a new strategy. I agree with Michael that all marketing tactics should work together to get better results. Thanks for this article Mac. Looking forward to your write ups.


If all the actions mentioned above, like: emails, phone calls, SEO/SEM, social media and content on the website are integrated and the business is global, marketing can be successful even if started with cold calls. The most important thing is to provide the customers with short and concrete information about your business and to show them how can it be useful for their companies.


Hey I heard many interesting news about michael brown that he is extreme expert for discussing informative details about telemarketing and sales. Its really good to see his interview in this post. Thanx for the update mac


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