Telemarketing is nothing new. It really took off in the 1980s with business to business telemarketing and then to the business to consumer market. Over the next 20 years, we saw telemarketing take an increasing share of the marketing spend compared with field sales teams and retail environments. Telemarketing is cost effective. Telesales agents are typically cheaper than their field sales counterparts and need far less to be spent in terms of expenses. Nowadays, many sales environments work exclusively through the phone call. There are other advantages to telemarketing including an ability to tightly manage the sales environment and make rapid changes. People are used to buying or giving information over the phone. However, 2 things have impacted the telemarketing industry; the poor quality of some (if not many) telemarketers. The rise in offshore telemarketing has undoubtedly added to this but is not the only issue. Consumers receive many more telemarketing calls than they used to and have become unresponsive if the activity is not done correctly and there are many instances where it is done very poorly. The other challenge is the rise of the internet. People buy from the internet and generally trust it is a sales or information channel. However, the internet is still a specialised channel for many companies. This may sound an unusual thing to say but it is true. If you take the lifestyle survey industry for example which uses both internet based surveys and phone based ones. There is only a certain type of person who will do the survey online and they are normally incentivised to do so e.g. by being placed into a competition. Incentivising the surveys attracts a certain type of person who may not necessarily be the target market for people who buys leads. Telephone based surveys attract people who would not otherwise be attracted. This is why the leads generated through telemarketing will generally outperform web generated leads by a considerable amount when you try to turn them into sales.
Telemarketing has challenges, that is for sure. The days of just dialling as many people as possible and hoping for a good result are long gone. Done correctly, telemarketing is still a great way of generating leads and making sales.