Telemarketing Consultant V Call Centre

If you’re new to outsourced telemarketing for Lead Generation – then you may be puzzled about the difference between a Telemarketing Consultant and a Call Centre?  I will try to explain the differences and which one will work best for your Lead Generation.

Personally, I’m a Telemarketing Consultant with 25 years experience.  I’ve built and managed small teams of telemarketing people and I’ve hired Call Centres for projects.  So I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about the industry and how to utilise these different resources.

There is a huge difference between a Telemarketing Consultant and someone you find in a Call Centre, so let’s explain from the top, starting with the Call Centres.

What is a Call Centre?
Put simply, a Call Centre can generally be thought of as a building that houses anywhere between 20 and 300 people who are manning the telephones every day.  Many Call Centres specialise in what is known as “inbound” telemarketing – think about when you buy your insurance policy over the telephone and you’ll get the idea.  Remember that “inbound” telemarketing people do not hunt for business – they simply pick up the call that comes in and answer it. 

Why the “Inbound” Call Centre has turned telemarketers in to Zombies?
“Inbound” Telemarketing is generally the lowest-skilled form of Call Centre Telemarketing and this is generally reflected in the price you pay for their wages.  Over the last decade, the quality of “inbound” Telemarketing has got lower and lower due to outsourcing to offshore Call Centres.  Companies such as Lufthansa were the early drivers in moving their operations to India.  By 2010, there has been a backlash against offshore Call Centres who have built a reputation for not understanding the British Culture; but the image of “inbound” Telemarketing has been tarnished by these cheap and poor services.

Call Centre managers have spent the last decade using technology to streamline their operations, reduce costs and improve efficiency.  Like many people, I consider that this has “dehumanised” the entire process and turned many Call Centre people in to mindless automatons.

The “Outbound” Call Centre for Lead Generation
If we’re looking at true Lead Generation (as opposed to you calling the company in response to an advertisement), then we’re talking about “Outbound” Call Centres.  This is where the telemarketing staff makes cold calls to potential buyers.  The problem for “Outbound” Call Centres is that UK centres are competing in a price war with the offshore centres.

Pick up a copy of a Call Centre magazine and you’ll see that it is riddled with articles about technology and “how to stop losing your staff”.  Put simply, UK Call Centres cannot compete effectively with offshore Call Centres on price.  Quality and value are the only way that a UK Call Centre can compete with an offshore centre – but unless buyers have been forced to switch to UK telemarketing people by complaints from customers, this still pushes down the quality and the price.

So will you find a Telemarketing Consultant in a Call Centre – certainly not!  If anyone in a Call Centre has the cheek to use the title “Telemarketing Consultant” that would be akin to a hospital porter claiming that they are a “Consultant”.  Whilst many hospital porters may be budding doctors, I think you’d be very upset if you were advised on your health by someone pushing trolleys around the ward for a living.  The same is true in Telemarketing – where the distinction has been blurred between a novice and an expert by Call Centre staff being given grandiose titles – because it’s cheaper to inflate someone’s title than to pay them a higher wage.

What Makes a Telemarketing Consultant?
A Telemarketing Consultant is at the top level of Telemarketing.  Like me, many Telemarketing Consultants began their working life on the bottom rung.  The vast majority of people who try to choose Telemarketing for a living fail miserably.  Some plodders stay at the low-level “inbound” Telemarketing phase; the vast majority cannot hack the pace; but a tiny percentage move up the ladder.

The best telemarketing people soon move up to a management position.  From there, a good telemarketing person will often either move in selling advertising space or move in to Business Development.  At this point, the tiny percentage of people who remain in the industry is again whittled down to an even smaller number of potential Telemarketing Consultants.

To become a true Telemarketing Consultant, one needs something that cannot be bought – “experience”.  The top Telemarketing people will generally move in to senior roles such as Sales / Marketing or Business Development Director.  With umpteen years under their belt selling complex offerings to intelligent buyers, a true Telemarketing Consultant emerges from years of experience and success in their field.

What does a Telemarketing Consultant do that a Call Centre employee cannot do?
A Telemarketing Consultant is able to define who you should be meeting to win business.  Then with wit, charm, flair and acumen – they will put you in front of a willing buyer.  So why can’t a low-level Call Centre person do this?

 Firstly, a Call Centre comprises Directors, Managers, a technology team, and a raft of employees.  For efficiency purposes, it would be rare to find a Director or a Manager making calls.  Likewise, it would be rare to find Telemarketing people winning new business, managing the finances or providing account management.    Conversely, a Telemarketing Consultant will fulfil all these roles in one person.

So if a Call Centre person does not understand the roles of Admin / Finance / Legal / Marketing or Operations, how can they converse in a meaningful manner with a prospect that does this for a living?  This is why most Call Centres aim at the consumer market, because that’s the level at which they can communicate effectively.  Yet with offshore Call Centres, it is even debateable whether their callers can effectively communicate with Joe Public.

A Telemarketing Consultant understands business; they understand what it’s like to be a senior manager or director.  Why? – Because they’ve probably held that role in their career.

When to choose a Telemarketing Consultant or a Call Centre
If you are selling to the masses (Joe Public), then this requires a lot of telephone calls to be made.  So the Call Centre may be your ideal platform.

Also, if you are in business but you need to sell high-volumes at a low-ticket value to lots and lots of customers then the Call Centre may work for you.

Yet in many businesses, you will probably be selling low-volumes with a high-ticket value (for example a consultancy service at £10k per sale upwards).  Your offering may be complex, so this requires a highly skilled Telemarketing Consultant to find new business and engage effectively with senior buyers.

If you’re still confused – give me a call – Stephen Law, Telemarketing Consultant 0870 042 1263 or email me stephen@sl-freelance.co.uk .

Stephen Law is a Business Development expert. Over a 25 year period, Stephen worked has worked from a Foot Canvasser and Telemarketing Junior in the 1980s to an Executive Director and Company Secretary in the 1990s. Stephen's sales and marketing career spanned the IT, Communications and Technology sectors, where he was always top in his field. Stephen has also been head of Manufacturing, HR, and R&D for a number of organisations. In 2005, Stephen decided to form his own company offering Business Development via Consultative Telemarketing. Few people enjoy telemarketing as much as Stephen and fewer still understand how to communicate effectively with senior decision makers. Stephen is an Associate Partner of the No1 UK Business Development Agency and an Honorary Director at the LCDA for Business Development, where he has taught the Art of Selling at London South Bank University.

Posted in Lead Generation, Telemarketing, Telemarketing Consultant

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