Unlocking the true potential of telemarketing: in-house versus outsourced | DMA

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Unlocking the true potential of telemarketing: in-house versus outsourced


Telemarketing, a flexible and highly personal channel, is a powerful tool for businesses seeking to reach new audiences, deepen customer engagement and drive sales. However, its effectiveness and efficiency often hinge on a crucial decision, whether to manage in-house or outsource to a specialist agency, and the cost implications of those options.

In this article we drill down into the true costs of in-house versus outsourced telemarketing, uncovering some of the hidden expense and highlighting the additional value that can be gained by using a specialist agency.

In-house telemarketing: the hidden costs

At first glance, in-house telemarketing may seem like the more cost-effective option. After all, if you look at an average hourly rate for an outsourced solution, you can employ someone for less or use existing spare capacity, can’t you? However, while this might hold some truth, it isn’t that simple. When you factor in some of the hidden costs lurking beneath the surface, the gap isn’t so great.

Recruitment and training

The recruitment process can be time-consuming and costly, from creating job specs to conducting interviews and onboarding, plus the fees due to any recruitment agencies used. Assuming you find staff with the skills you need (which isn’t a given), ongoing training is essential to keep them up to date with systems, processes, and products. Once you’ve paid for recruitment and training, you also carry the cost of any churn, which means all that effort and investment can be wasted.

Staffing costs

The type of skills and experience required will vary depending on the requirement but finding staff with the resilience to sustain call rates, get past gatekeepers, systematically follow up, and with the ability to engage senior decision makers with credibility isn’t easy. Good telemarketing agents are hard to find and skilled experienced salespeople that can pitch effectively and close business even harder. You need a salary and benefits package that reflect market rates and attract and retain the right individuals.

Infrastructure investment

A computer, phone, headset, and database aren’t sufficient to ensure a return on investment; you need systems and technology that deliver productivity, insight, and transparency to optimise campaign performance. This includes software for call and data management, call recordings, customer relationship management (CRM), and analytics. Equipping your in-house team with the tools and technology that will get results comes with a price tag.

Sickness, holidays, absence

If you outsource to an agency, you pay only for the hours you use, whereas running a campaign in-house, you need to cover the cost of any downtime. Aside from the financial impact, you have the head ache of filling gaps, training and supporting temporary staff, not to mention the fact that any momentum gained is quickly lost as your pipeline goes cold.

Management overheads

Managing an in-house telemarketing team requires dedicated resources to proactively coach and train staff, manage data, oversee the calling schedule to ensure hours are productive, analyse performance and continuously refine the approach to drive improvements. Taking this on risks stretching internal bandwidth and diluting focus on strategic priorities.

View example cost analysis

Outsourced telemarketing: the hidden value

While cost considerations are important, a narrow focus on cost alone can obscure the bigger picture. To truly evaluate the in-house vs. outsourcing decision, it's crucial to explore the additional value and return on investment that a specialist telemarketing agency can deliver.

Here are some of the benefits of outsourcing that can drive-up ROI:

  • Specialist skills

    Hard-to-recruit skills, such as native languages, sales/inside sales and customer care are readily available through agencies.

  • Bespoke systems and technologies

    Agencies invest in advanced data and analytics as well as productivity tools, ensuring that your campaigns are data-driven and results-oriented.

  • Tried and tested processes

    An established telemarketing agency has tried and tested processes, so you benefit from best practice and follow a robust, well-trodden path.

  • Domain-specific expertise

    Specialist agencies bring a wealth of channel expertise and experience based on delivering hundreds of client campaigns. They understand what is needed to run a successful campaign and how to tailor a campaign that best supports your objectives.

  • ​Seasoned, trained agents

    Outsourcing provides access to a large pool of trained agents with skills honed on many campaigns that will help get your message to the right people, generate demand for your proposition and achieve your objectives. Having access to a large team also greatly increases the chance of finding an agent who meets your brief.

  • Quality and compliance

    Established, reputable agencies adhere to robust quality and compliance frameworks, ensuring that your campaigns meet regulatory requirements and maintain high standards.

  • Fresh insight and industry knowledge

    Partnering with an agency means tapping into a strategic partner who can offer fresh insights, share their industry knowledge, and work with you to refine a strategy that will drive success.

  • Flexibility and testing

    Outsourcing provides a flexible resource that allows you to test and benchmark different approaches, optimising your campaigns to hone your strategy and improve results.

  • Proactive account management

    Experienced account managers take on the management overhead, overseeing your campaigns, troubleshooting issues, continuously optimising the approach to deliver better outcomes.

  • Scalability

    Agencies often maintain a large pool of experienced agents, providing the agility to tap into new opportunities, respond to market demands and scale quickly once you have honed your approach. Similarly, an outsourced resource can adapt to fluctuating demand and scale down rapidly to avoid unnecessary costs during periods of reduced opportunity.

The path to optimal ROI

The decision to manage telemarketing in-house or outsource should go beyond the narrow scope of cost considerations only. While in-house operations might seem initially cost-effective, the hidden expenses can accumulate and limit your ROI potential. Specialist agencies, on the other hand, offer a wealth of benefits that extend beyond cost savings.

When you partner with a reputable agency, you tap into a rich vein of domain expertise, a skilled, flexible workforce, stringent quality and compliance measures, and the ability to harness cutting-edge technology and data analytics. These elements combine to unlock the full potential of your telemarketing efforts, delivering a greater return on investment and ensuring that you not only reach your target audience but also engage them effectively.

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, the decision to outsource telemarketing can be a strategic move that not only maximises ROI but also empowers your business to adapt and thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. So, when weighing the pros and cons of in-house versus outsource, remember it isn't just about costs; it's about investing in your future success.

View our infographic for detailed analysis of the true costs of in-house versus outsourced SDRs.

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