Maximize Results with B2B Outbound Marketing



By Ryan Apodac

“What’s the secret sauce?” This is a common question new clients often ask me. But there is no simple answer. Of course, there are a multitude of variables for evaluating B2B marketing campaigns to maximize performance. However, it’s easy to overlook the small details that can make a huge impact on your overall results. Here are a few creative techniques that a great telemarketing service partner will use to maximize results on your B2B outbound marketing campaign.

 Daily Program Scheduling

One of the keys to B2B outbound marketing project success is identifying when the prospect or customer will answer the phone. In most B2B outbound marketing campaigns, the ultimate decision maker is typically in an executive or at least a mid-level management position. Knowing that, you have to ask yourself, “When would be the best time to make contact?”

It is much more productive to dial the majority of the time Monday through Thursday and half a day on Fridays. Statistically, in B2B outbound telemarketing, Friday afternoons are typically the worst time of the week to reach decision makers. While this may not apply to every B2B campaign, it could definitely be a key ingredient.

 Use a Local Caller ID

How many times have you received a call, noticed an out-of-state caller ID number, and let it go to voicemail? Conversely, I’m sure we’ve all seen an unfamiliar local number on our Caller ID and answered it out of curiosity. “Is that my spouse’s office? Maybe it’s my child’s school. Well, it’s a local number, so maybe it’s someone I know calling from a different phone.” Pushing a local caller ID can only improve results.

 Ring-to Number

What’s the best way to speak to a decision maker? Have them call you. One of the best ways to increase decision-maker contact is to create an inbound campaign. In conjunction with using a local caller ID, routing that number to an inbound campaign and ultimately a live agent, gives you another opportunity to speak with the decision maker.

A good best practice is to route to a live agent instead of voicemail. Routing to voicemail creates the additional step of calling back the customer or prospect. Whether or not you leave a voicemail message, some decision makers will return a missed call just by seeing your phone number on their Caller ID. Outbound marketing agents sound confident if they can speak in their own words. Click To Tweet

 Rotating Time-Zone Attempts

While Eastern Standard Time leads are the first leads to call each day, it is likely not a best practice to run through all those leads before moving on to Central Standard Time, and so forth. The same would apply to calling Pacific Standard Time leads late each afternoon. Granted, you can dial Eastern Standard Time leads earlier and Pacific Standard Time leads later each day, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to reach decision makers.

The key here is to rotate the times during the day you are calling these time zones. Be flexible with how you manage your time zones. Review the data, and you’ll likely find that sweet spot to maximize contact.

No More Scripts

It may seem counterintuitive to eliminate your script. After all, how can you expect an agent to call an outbound B2B marketing campaign without a script? Instead, provide outbound call agents with a call guide or a call flow that outlines all the objectives and important information to relay to the customer. Then let the agent communicate that message to the customer.

For some agents this inevitably results in them creating their own script. So be it. It can empower the agent to contribute to his or her own success. Ultimately outbound marketing agents will sound more confident in their presentations if they can speak in their own words.

Careful monitoring and coaching of agents to calibrate their thoughts of effective verbiage with your expectations is key. While there is no easy recipe to maximizing performance in B2B marketing campaigns, these are definitely ingredients to consider. Think outside the box. Little changes can make big differences.

 Ryan Apodac is an operations manager and training leader at Quality Contact Solutions, a leading B2B outsourced telemarketing organization. With a background of more than a decade in sales, Ryan is passionate about developing and delivering training that ultimately results in improved performance for client programs.

Successfully Purchasing Accounts

By Steve Michaels

Question: I am in charge of account acquisition, but every time I try to buy some accounts, someone beats me to it. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: In today’s challenging economy, everybody wants to increase profitability. Purchasing accounts is one of the best ways to do that. But in this market, you need to be ready to move fast.

When the electronics store opens on Black Friday and only has twenty-five $100 Blu-Ray TV sets, you don’t have time to ask questions. The limited supply will be gobbled up while you are looking for a clerk.

I remember my first morning at boot camp in the Marines. The drill instructor brought us to the chow hall and said, “Ready, sit,” and then “Ready, eat.” I had just started looking for the salt and pepper when he yelled, “Get up; get up!” Breakfast was over, and I hadn’t taken a single bite.

I learned when he said, “Ready, eat,” I ate. I kept my mouth moving, gobbling as much food as possible as quickly as possible. He was trying to teach us that, in combat, you eat when you have the chance. You don’t dawdle or worry about condiments.

The same could be said for purchasing accounts. If there’s a lot of demand and little supply, you don’t have time to look for the salt and pepper. You need to ask the basic questions and be prepared to make an offer quickly if the basics look good.

In buying accounts, you need to have your preplanned set of questions readily available, set up a conference call with the seller, and be ready to make an offer if the questions are answered in a suitable manner that fit your criteria.

Remember, when the supply is limited, the time to make a buying decision is also limited. You have to adapt to the situation. If putting in your offer quickly is paramount, then make it a priority. You can complete your due diligence later – and back out if that due diligence does not meet your needs.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com. His website is www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine Jul/Aug 2012]

Mind Your Business: The Due Diligence Process

By Steve Michaels

Question: I’m selling my business, and the buyer has asked me for a long list of information. What am I supposed to give him to complete his due diligence?

Answer: Everyone has his or her list of due diligence questions. One buyer might only want three or four items answered before he makes his decision, while others present a single-spaced list covering two pages of questions. It all depends upon the buyer and how meticulous they are in their fact-finding process.

What I tell sellers is to give them everything except customer lists and DID numbers. All else is fair game.

To make this easier for the buyer, I instruct sellers to print out their customer list with the client’s start date, the number of calls and minutes received in a month, and all of the associated charges. Then I tell them to use another piece of paper to cover the name and DID number of the account; in its place put what type of businesses they are, such as medical, apartment complex, plumber, and so forth.

This will give the buyer a good idea of the pricing, call volume, and type of accounts they are considering buying. Once the purchase has been consummated, the seller can just remove the paper and hand the buyer the account list with the actual customer names and DID numbers.

If only the accounts are being sold, some sellers think that they do not have to supply the buyer with financials since they are only taking over the accounts. This is incorrect. An astute buyer will want to see what comes in and out of the business to determine what the labor costs are, if the seller is utilizing the phone to the maximum benefit, and what perks are being taken out of the business. This is an important part of any deal whether someone is selling accounts only or the complete business.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing; he can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions. His website is www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine June 2012]

Escrow Deposits and the Asset Purchase Agreement

By Steve Michaels

Question: I am buying a business. In the letter of intent (LOI), the seller and I have agreed on a due diligence date with an escrow deposit. To what extent is my escrow at risk, and where does the asset purchase agreement fit in?

Answer: There are a couple of considerations, depending on whether the escrow deposit is refunded or forfeited.

A period of time is allowed in the LOI for completion of due diligence by the buyer, typically three to four weeks. When the deadline for completion of due diligence is reached, it is the buyer’s responsibility to notify the broker or seller that the requirements have been met. The deal then proceeds to the completion of the asset purchase agreement.

The completed asset purchase agreement between seller and buyer is typically not contingent on the due diligence process. If the due diligence period ends without the seller and buyer’s attorneys being able to agree on the asset purchase agreement, the escrow deposit should be refunded to the buyer and the deal considered cancelled.

If the buyer’s requirements for due diligence have not been met and the buyer chooses to back out of the deal, it’s up to the buyer to contact either the broker or seller prior to the due diligence deadline. The escrow deposit would then become refundable.

However, if the buyer decides to cancel the transaction after the due diligence deadline is over (due to a change of mind or not having completed the due diligence in a timely manner), then – according to the provisions of the signed LOI – the buyer would lose the escrow deposit to the seller.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions. His website is www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine April 2012]

Is There a Set Formula for Purchasing a Business?

By Steve Michaels

Question: “I have self-listed to sell my business, and a prospective buyer has come to the table with an offer, stating that the following is a standard formula for purchasing a business. In your estimation, is this correct?

  • A confidentiality agreement is signed. This agreement also stipulates that the business be taken off the market for thirty days, during which the seller cannot talk to another potential buyer. There is no earnest money put down by the buyer during this time.
  • After completion of due diligence, the buyer submits a letter of intent.
  • At closing, the buyer provides a down payment and the purchase agreement is signed.

Answer: There is no standard formula for buying and selling a business. It basically comes down to what both parties agree to. A seasoned buyer will most likely use their formula (which they may call “standard”), and it’s bound to be one that works in their favor.

TAS Marketing sells its businesses using the following method:

  • The listing sheet, financial information, and bank deposits are furnished up front to all prospective buyers who have signed a non-disclosure.
  • A letter of intent is presented with the offer. At this point the seller can accept the offer, negotiate the offer, or reject it, thus leaving the door open for other offers.
  • If the offer is accepted, an escrow account is set up and the business is taken off the market for a period of time so that the buyer may do his or her due diligence.
  • If the due diligence process uncovers facts that were contrary to the information provided, the deal can be renegotiated or the escrow deposit completely refunded. If the due diligence is favorable, then the buyer has two options:

1) If they are purchasing the accounts, they have the option of putting down one-third of the sales price, which is nonrefundable, and thus receive all of the account information to program into their system before closing.

2) If they are buying the entire going concern, an “asset purchase agreement” is drawn up, it is signed at closing, and the funds change hands.

Ted Turner said it best: “Business is war… with rules.”

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions. His website is www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2012]

How to Determine the Right Buyer for Your Business

By Steve Michaels

Q: I am trying to sell my business myself and have two offers. I really like one gentleman, but another has put in a higher-priced offer. Do I go with my gut and accept the lower offer, or should I go with the higher offer since selling a business is all about money?

A: Entertaining offers is like going to a school dance. You may be asked to dance by the most attractive person there, but that does not mean he or she is the best partner or most compatible for you. When selling your business, you are selling a part of yourself. You have to realize that you will be dancing with this person for several months, affecting you, your staff, and your customers. Sure, the money is important, but so is the lasting effect of a deal gone bad.

Have a heart-to-heart talk with each potential buyer – and really listen. How do they bill? Do they take care of their employees? Are they going to leave the business in place or move it? Do they have the necessary financing available? Will your agents be offered jobs?

Sadly, some buyers will tell you what you want to hear in the beginning. They may even offer more than the asking price so you’ll take the business off the market. They may begin to burden you with questions to wear you down. Then, as the closing date draws closer, they might lower their offer, using the data you provided them. In some cases this is relevant, but in others, it is merely a shady negotiation tactic.

Your question is difficult to answer, because there are many reasons for selling a business. Look at what is important to you to find your answer. If it is money, then go with the highest bidder.

My advice is to obtain as much information from the buyer as possible; make sure they have the funding and are a compatible fit with you and your business. If the difference is only a few thousand dollars, then you may want to go with the buyer you like best; if not, sleep on it. Hopefully, in the morning you will have a clear idea of who your buyer will be.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing; he can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or at tas@tasmarketing.com. His website is www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine December 2011]

Mind Your Business: What Is a UCC-1 and Why Should I File One?

By Christine Michaels

  1. I sold my telemessaging service and hold a promissory note from the buyer. Should I also file a UCC-1 form?
  2. UCC-1 stands for Uniform Commercial Code financing statement. In general, it is a public notification that the sale of your accounts (and equipment, if included) have not been completely paid for. It is filed with the secretary of state and appears as a lien against the business.

Whenever a business is sold and the seller accepts “paper,” such as a promissory note, then the terms of the sale should include the filing of the UCC-1 statement. The UCC-1 form (available online) is completed by the seller and lists the name and address of the debtor (buyer) and the secured party (seller); a complete description of the collateral (assets such as customer accounts and equipment); the terms of payment for the note showing the amount due, payment schedule, and term; and where the collateral will be kept or used. There are also provisions for the secured party’s remedy if the debtor defaults on the promissory note so the secured party can reclaim the collateral. Thus, the UCC-1 form provides a lien, which is a legal right of interest in the asset that lasts until the obligation is paid.

Some sellers believe that a promissory note sufficient if a default in payment occurs, but the promissory note does not protect the seller’s claim to the assets. In many cases, the buyer can turn around and sell the assets (accounts and equipment) to someone else and still never pay the original seller in full.  However, if the seller files a UCC-1 form with the secretary of state in the state where the business was sold, then the existing lien on those assets provides protection against a fraudulent sale. Unfortunately, we have heard of this happening.

For our clients, we generate both the promissory note and UCC-1 financing statement in those cases where the seller agrees to carry a note from the buyer. However, the UCC-1 statement is useless unless the seller files it with the secretary of state.

Christine Michaels has her master’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and is an associate with TAS Marketing, Inc. She can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tasbroker@tasmarketing.com for questions.

[From Connection Magazine June 2011]

When to Walk Away

By Steve Michaels

Q: I’m trying to purchase a business, but the seller keeps asking for more. When do I say, “Enough is enough”?

A: Once, my wife and I were trying to purchase a house in Northern California. We made a full-price offer directly with the seller who hemmed and hawed for several weeks. He then asked that we pay him for some additional items over and above the purchase price; we begrudgingly agreed. He made us wait some more. Then he said he would finalize the deal if we included our car!  That was the last straw. We walked away from the deal and learned a valuable lesson. When any deal becomes too one-sided and unreasonable, it’s time to walk away. We finally purchased a beautiful B&B with an ocean view; it was the best move we could have made.

When you first approach a potential seller to buy his or her business, you have given over some control already as they know of your intentions and desire for the purchase. There are several ways to combat this situation:

1) Hire an intermediary to act on your behalf. Simply have them contact the potential seller and ask if they may be interested in selling. Instruct them to say that they are calling businesses in the area so it doesn’t look like the owner is being specifically chosen.

2) Don’t mention a price – he who speaks first in price negotiations is usually the loser. You may offer more than what the owner thinks the business is worth.

3) If you feel the asking price is a bit high, you can always agree to a price based on the outcome of your due diligence. Let the process move forward. You can usually find items in the business that could lower the price.

In your quest to purchase a business, if there are unreasonable demands by the seller and lengthy negotiations that always seem to be one-sided and unresolved, then it is time to simply walk away.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions.

[From Connection Magazine March 2011]

Mind Your Business: The Value of Representation

By Steve Michaels

Q: My wife and I are considering selling our call center. I feel that I am capable of selling the business myself, while my wife feels we should get an intermediary or broker. What are your thoughts on this subject?

A: Let me answer your question by telling you a personal story. We recently built a small underground cement structure called an eco chamber to house a backup power generator. When I was ready to order the generator, the generator company told me the salesman I had dealt with was no longer with the company.

The new salesman informed me that the underground structure was not approved for use with the generator I wanted to buy. However, my contractor, my electrician, and I were told several times by the original salesman that, as long as it was vented properly, the generator would work fine. With no other recourse, I retained an attorney and sued the company.

The demand letter asked for $38K in damages, which was the cost of the structure. Since I had a contractor and electrician to corroborate my story, the case looked very favorable for me to win. However, to avoid a lengthy battle, the generator company offered me $10K to settle. I requested that my attorney counter with $15K, thinking that I would end up with approximately $12K.

When I followed up with my attorney, he said that he countered with $25K, not $15K as I had instructed, as he felt we had a good case. He was right; the company agreed to split the difference and offered a settlement of $19K.

I was thrilled, but I also realized that I would not have been able to negotiate such a favorable settlement myself. I was too close to the deal; because it was my property and my suit, it became personal, thus clouding my judgment. My attorney, however, was neutral and more objective, and thus able to get me a better settlement.

The same goes for selling your business. It is your baby that you’ve grown from scratch and owned for many years; all objectivity goes out the window when the seller is directly involved in negotiations. You should listen to your wife and hire an intermediary, such as a broker; you’ll be glad you did.

Steve Michaels is a business broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2011]

Mind Your Business: Asset Sale or Stock Sale

By Steve Michaels

Question: What’s the difference between an asset sale and a stock sale? Why does it matter?

Answer: An asset sale is the purchase of the assets of a business, which normally consists of the client list, equipment, furniture, fixtures, rights, good will, and a covenant not to compete. It does not include cash, and the buyer does not assume the liabilities. When a buyer purchases the assets only, the buyer has the option of depreciating that investment over a period of years. The buyer is also increasing the value of the business entity by being selective about the assets purchased from the seller in order to grow the revenue base. This may be the ideal way a buyer can comfortably increase an existing business without creating any major IRS tax implications. An asset sale is also subject to the Bulk Sales Act and sales tax issues.

A stock sale is the purchase of corporate stock or LLC shares from the owners and can also include cash. A stock sale includes everything on the balance sheet, both assets and liabilities. If the buyer needs a tax write-off, this may be a viable option. This creates a completely new entity for the buyer, and this affects the buyer’s federal tax position depending on what basis is created upon purchase. A stock sale involves buying the entire entity, so past financial and legal liabilities are included, creating a significant exposure to the buyer. Thus, financial debt and legal risk could play a factor in reducing the purchase price of the sale.

A stock sale is not subject to the Bulk Sales Act, but this can be a negative concern to the seller by creating a large federal tax obligation. In a stock sale, the buyer assumes the current depreciation schedule of assets and the existing tax status of the corporation. Loans to the owner and personal liabilities are normally removed. One reason for a stock sale is when there is a right, license, or exclusive distributorship that cannot be otherwise transferred.

The majority of buyers do not want to take on the liabilities of a company; therefore, they choose to purchase selected assets, giving them the opportunity to increase their revenue base without acquiring the seller’s liabilities.

Steve Michaels is a broker with TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com for questions.

[From Connection Magazine November 2010]