In accounting, it is often advised to categorize your spending. In fact, even marketers will say that the cost of your lead generation campaign should be further divided in terms of medium (e.g. the cost of social media should be separated from the cost of telemarketing). On the other hand, what if your marketing process is outsourced? Is it something that you should group with your own marketing costs or does it deserve its own category?
Being honest about your limitations is important in appointment setting. Because, during the first few minutes of the meeting, the last thing you want to give a prospect is disappointment. More specifically, it is disappointment from being unable to receive the clear, accounting prediction they have been hoping for.
While your salespeople will say that accounting leads demand a quality of their own, that quality comes at a cost. But more than that, this cost shouldn’t go beyond more than the money your salespeople actually make. Ask yourself, just what good is it to spend so much just to attract attention when that attention earns you so little in the end?
Appointment Setting Strategies Should Contribute Instead of Cost
Make no mistake, getting the attention of a market is an established need. It does not matter whether you are a B2C or B2B firm. It does not matter whether your lead generation is done in-house or is outsourced elsewhere.
Doing it right does still come at a cost. But again, that cost shouldn’t undermine your business by using so much money that you scarcely had more than what you had prior to spending.
This is not even just exclusive to finances. The costs can also undermine your capacity to grow, your capacity to serve, and even your capacity to keep marketing!
- Capacity to grow – Your marketers should go beyond what their own results show. They should be able to see how their efforts, despite their supposed success, translate into a more tangible success via growth of a business. Will the prospects they attract become long-time customers? Will the money earned from a close deal cover the cost and at the same time, give you enough improve your accounting services?
Related Content: How Appointment Setting Should Consider ALL Marketing Results
- Capacity to serve – After all the money you poured in, does it leave you with enough to even maintain the quality of your services? Growing is one thing but daily operations and paying your employees are a more pressing needs because they are also your present ones. You can put the brakes on upgrading till you have found ways to save up enough. But if you cannot even maintain the current costs of running your business, you need to re-evaluate how much your B2B accounting leads are guzzling.
- Capacity to keep marketing – Marketing costs can also consume marketing itself! At this point, you are looking at the worst case scenario. If the costs of, for example, a single click on your web banner ad eats up half of your online marketing budget, it is time to stop. That is the best thing you can do before the next click bites out the budget you have set aside to pay your resident tax advisers. If you cannot even see a way to keep the costs of marketing from eating itself up, then you need to seriously review cost-efficient ways for generating your leads.
Never forget that, at most, a quality lead generator only does half of what you need to keep your business running. Yes you need the attention of your market but that is for the purpose of gaining more opportunities and more customers. Those opportunities are lost if your campaigns do not leave you enough to spend to make it happen. The costs of B2B appointment setting should not cost you your sales!
If you’re outsourcing to get your accounting leads, then it’s only natural that you apply the same BPO standards to them as your own clients do to you. There’s no doubt that the processes can be different but as far as outsourcing goes, you and your outsourced lead generator will have a lot in common.
Now there are many ways to generate accounting leads. From a simple, singular approach to a complex, integrated, multi-channel approach. But for simplicity’s sake, try first comparing yourself to a telemarketing company. You’ll find that you both still share the following basic requirements:
- Database Technology – The first is the obvious. Both accounting and lead generation depend on information. Therefore, the standards of what makes quality information hardly differs between you two. It should be constantly thorough, detailed, and also well-maintained. Information must never grow stale. For accounting, it’s to make sure that financial reports are accurate. For telemarketers, it’s to make sure that their CRM database informs the clients of a lead’s status in the sales process. Don’t forget about security either. Both accounting information and customer information can be considered very sensitive and many people wouldn’t want hackers to get a hold of either.
- Dedicated Work Force – Aside from information, you have the people who are charged with using and managing it. With regards to the latter, diligence and productivity are critical. Diligence means that your employees are capable of being consistent in their duties (whether it’s in calculating and tabulating accounts or cold calling a list of prospects). Following that is productivity. It’s what distinguishes diligent tasks from pointlessly repetitive ones. Both telemarketers and accountants shouldn’t be just grinding away at their job. That grind should be able to produce good results.
- Cost-Efficiency – You can’t just forget about lower costs now. If it’s one of your primary selling points as an accounting service, then it should also be a selling point for your outsourced lead generator. Otherwise, what’s the point if outsourcing isn’t going to be any more expensive than doing the process in-house? It’s not only redundant but it also compromises the cost-efficiency of your own business.
- Industry Expertise – Telemarketers and accountants take pride in their industry expertise. That means your bark should be as good as your bite (or better). Make sure your outsourced telemarketers are familiar with accounting services and have prior experience in promoting them to other industries. (More specifically, industries that you’re currently targeting.) This will not be much different from when these same prospects soon demand your own bookkeeping expertise in relation to their line of work.
So far, there’s barely a mention of how different your services are from telemarketers. It would be the same had you compared yourself to other forms of lead generation, even multi-channeled ones. It doesn’t matter whether it’s onshore or offshore lead generation either.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Since you both are familiar to the common standards expected of all BPO firms, you will know what to expect of them when it’s your turn to to do the outsourcing. They must have a secure database, a dedicated, work force, cost-efficiency, and top-of-the-line expertise. Outsource your lead generator, the same way your customers would outsource to you.
Outsourcing has seen considerable growth and support among Australian businesses as attested by this article by the Australian Financial Review. Among the services experiencing the most growth, accounting and finance are listed along with marketing (which in turn is the category which lead generation falls under). This not only means good news for accounting firms like yours but can also give you better reasons to outsource for accounting leads.
However, there are still questions that remained unanswered such as the common choice between outsourcing to onshore companies versus offshore. This piece of commentary by Kate Southam of The Punch poses just some of these questions.
Discussing this can be quite tricky (as evidenced by the comments on Southam’s column) and if you’re a company with any foreign accounting experience, you’ll know that it involves not only currency but also ethics. For those supporting onshore outsourcing, the reasons do not do much to touch the subject of costs but on the other hand, it focuses on the advantages of generating work for one’s own countrymen and improving the state of the economy. Another, and perhaps, more obvious reason is the geographical proximity. You will have a much easier time visiting and checking up an outsourced company within your own nation’s shores and not go through the hassle of international travel.
Now on the other side, those who are for outsourcing are quick to mention the costs because costs of offshore outsourcing are generally lower. Another popular argument is that despite the low costs, workers in offshore companies are paid salaries that make for quite sustainable incomes in comparison to that of others. No doubt this touches on the controversy regarding the economic states of developing nations but it does go further and say the money sent overseas can help improve conditions.
At this point, the discussion can get a little heated. Kate Southam’s article cites the Australian BPO Report 2012 which in turn refers to Martin Conboy, head of the Australian BPO Association. Conboy himself is counted among those “who believe Australia doesn’t have enough people with the right skills to meet its outsourcing needs on shore.” As to reasons why, career preferences appear to be prominent which might result in onshore companies suffering poorer quality compared to offshore. Further statistics in the article also hit hard on the notions that question the quality of offshore companies.
Meanwhile, those who are opposed to offshoring have cited reasons that are not so much for the betterment of their own nation but out of concern for the welfare of those in developing nations. It’s no doubt that the stereotype of offshore companies suffering exploitation is a popular one. It doesn’t help the pro-offshore side to add that such exploitation is indeed the result of differences in currency as well the poverty plaguing these countries giving rise to desperate job-seekers.
So once again, the subject of outsourcing can also become a matter of currency and ethics when you face the difference between outsourcing offshore or onshore companies. However, it’s a question that you must face with great impartiality. Whether its outsourcing an accounting group in one’s own country or telemarketing services in another, you need to acknowledge the pros and watch out for the cons.