What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
In the first year, they introduced us to a client in New York who was wary to invest his $2.5 million Engineering R&D budget into anyone because he didn’t believe they could complete the job. He wanted an entire plan written up for the whole year for his budget and also wanted very clearly defined terms with a cash flow analysis to send to his junior management. We’ve retained that customer and they’ve been doing between $750,000–$2 million per year since 2003.
This resulted in us moving to a full-time engagement with Strategic the next year. We had them continue to develop leads for us for six or seven years. Our owners decided to bring in a marketing person at that time who was also involved with telemarketing. We were growing so fast and didn’t need any more leads for two years. We backed off around 2010–2012 and hired someone on-site.
They provided us with enough new customers throughout the engagement to yield over $1 million per year in growth. In the five years we were with them, we went from $370,000 to almost $4 million. In addition to that, we went from having 8–10 employees to having 30.
What did you find most impressive about them?
They are the best telemarketing company I know of. Their thinking is unconventional and open to outside-the-box approaches. They broke the leads down into three categories: leads who they gave directly to us, leads who were missing information or critical telescript requirement, and companies who weren’t interested. They also gave me and my other employee a connection into their database. We could go in and look at the categories to determine if a company was a good fit or not. Their open, transparent and joint teamwork methodology made this relationship a winner for us.
We decided to have monthly meetings with our primary telemarketer to make corrections which Al sometimes participated in. If there were any prospects they sent us that didn’t work, we gave them feedback and they adjusted the script. They also went through the uninterested companies to decide who we wanted to approach. Our relationship felt like more of a partnership rather than someone just selling to me.
We were trying to sell something that was intangible to these engineering managers. Our typical sales cycle was between 6–18 months. In working with Strategic, we were able to cut that cycle down to 6–9 months because the leads were so qualified. We kept track of people even if the sale wasn’t successful, which resulted in people returning to us in the future.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Strategic could’ve made the transition smoother when they changed out telemarketers. We sometimes didn’t find out for three or four weeks. There was also one telemarketer who we had to switch out. Once we learned about it, we were able to train them and they did fine. Strategic was probably just growing too quickly at that time.
Do you have any advice for potential clients?
It took them some time to work on the script because they wanted to make sure we approved of it. Having patience through this script development paid off in a big way. There were a lot of conversations back and forth—as well as a lot of script revision—before we finalized everything. Some companies may get frustrated with that long of a process. I know they’ve changed a lot since we stopped working with them. Strategic needs to make sure the company is aware of the process and how long it takes to get everything right.