Thursday, September 20, 2012

How B2B Appointment Setting Responds To Consumer Behavior

Vendors of CRM software are B2B companies yet you can already tell that consumer behavior will have quite an impact on their own success in appointment setting. The difference is in terms of focus and which one do they impact less directly.

To the man on the street, it can seem a strange thing to see so many businesses thriving so hard alongside high-end IT technology and software. But for those in business, there is only an increasingly stronger connection between the need for information and using it to successfully market brands (even consumer ones).

From ForbesLouis Columbus reports on a Gartner survey regarding the attitudes of CIOs towards tools that are becoming increasingly prominent in analyzing customer data. As a result of this trend, their own behaviors as your CRM customers have in correspondence to certain priorities:

CIOs need to be just as strong at strategic planning and execution as they are at technology. Many are quickly prioritizing analytics, cloud and mobile strategies to stay in step with their rapidly changing customer bases.”

Below are a few more details on the Gartner survey:

Gartner’s annual survey of CIOs includes 2,300 respondents located in 44 countries, competing in all major industries. As of the last annual survey, the three-highest rated priorities for investment from 2012 to 2015 included Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI), Mobile Technologies and Cloud Computing.”

As a matter of fact, these statistics could be something worth looking into when it comes to evaluating your own CRM leads. If you're providing any of those three tools being prioritized, it might be time to get busy.

But take a step back, why again is this all happening? Well, just from the start of Columbus' article, he says:

Customers are quickly reinventing how they choose to learn about new products, keep current on existing ones, and stay loyal to those brands they most value. The best-run companies are all over this, orchestrating their IT strategies to be as responsive as possible.

It's a simple domino effect: if consumer behavior changes, then so will the behavior of your B2B customer. As a matter of fact, this isn't just exclusively limited to CRM software. Any piece of technology that gets in between a B2C interaction is likely to be affected be that relationship.

Furthermore, the behavior that's changing consumers can be applied to B2B customers as well. The risky thing about marketing to CIOs is that their knowledge will contend with yours (just as their customers are starting to contend with their business through their means of learning about new products).

This is why the IT world and the business world are intensely working hand-in-hand. This is truly the age of information and its implications affect everyone at the same time, from consumers to other businesses. As a business within the IT-side, it's ideal for you to have necessary information to not only understand your own customer's behavior but also how your technology can help them understand theirs. Make sure that your appointment setting services don't have the bad habit of just sticking to minimal information (e.g. budget, size, business name). They must also show signs that they're responding to changes in consumer behavior.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Use Telemarketing And Other B2B Channels To Fully Spread Your Software Security Message

In business software, many security experts will tell you that today's hackers really love to brag and make statements. Their claims are sent through a variety of digital channels from email to social media. But when they make such claims against your software and your company, why not go beyond them and include telemarketing in your response?

Now just recently, All Things D just reported about one example of how many companies these days typically respond to claims by hacktivist groups. Its report details the FBI's rebuttal to a claim made by AntiSec regarding a breach on a device owned by one of the former's personnel:

The FBI has shot down today’s claim by the AntiSec hacking group that it breached an agency-owned computer and stole a database said to contain some 12 million unique ID numbers for iPhones and iPads around the world.

The FBI computer from which the data was supposedly taken was never hacked, the Bureau said. What’s more, it said it never gathered the information in the first place.”

As you can see, this way of spreading the message is through the assistance of online news publications. But why stop there? You already know that hacktivists use similar channels. Once you've determined that no breach at all took place, you have every obligation to make sure all your customers and prospects will get that message. Therefore, giving them a phone call in response to such claims really brings it straight to their desk. And with the existence of outsourced telemarketing, you don't even have to build your own call center!

Remember, you're not contending with just the threats of hackers themselves. You're also contending with the fears they spread across your target markets. Integrating telemarketing as one of your communication channels gives you its unique set of advantages:

  • It's fast – It's not just fast in terms of connecting directly to a decision maker's phone. It's also a quick way of disseminating information at a prospect's preferred pace.
  • It gets attention – Skilled telemarketers know how to deal with the obstacles of voice mail and lack of response. Furthermore, when faced with gatekeepers, you've at least gotten the business' attention.
  • It goes both ways – You can use outbound, inbound, or both! Whichever you prefer, know that it's no big deal when prospects prefer to be called or want to be the ones calling in case hackers start spreading their claims.

Of course, there's no denying that online attacks are still a major threat to both software companies as well as any other businesses in this digital age. In fact, CNNMoney cites Shawn Henry, a former FBI official on cybercrime, who insists they stop downplaying:

What he's seen there is a growing army of patient, sophisticated hackers who are siphoning off some of America's key military and commercial intellectual property. Awareness is increasing, but companies are still in denial about the scale of the problem, he thinks.”

You would do well not to deny the scale but you have a duty to deny any claims by hackers when such claims are being used to spread fear and misinformation. Fear is the last thing you want when trying to qualify ERP leads and establish trust. The hackers may only have the Internet but businesses like yours have more resources to spread your message against them (whether it's outsourced telemarketing providers or your own professionals).
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