What’s the Difference Between Telemarketing and Call Centers?


Telemarketing has been around for centuries, in various forms and iterations. Essentially, it’s the process of selling goods or services over the phone. Call centers often provide telemarketing services, but they also work with customer service, technical support, and other departments that need phone assistance. 

Understanding the differences between these two types of communication is integral to your success in creating the right communications strategy for your business. You can outsource to call centers for a variety of different needs, including telemarketing, or you can choose to work with a company that specializes in telesales, giving you the upper hand in that department. 

Let’s look a little closer at what telemarketing companies and call centers offer to further investigate what makes them different (and what they have in common). 

Telemarketing 101

This is a form of telesales or selling goods and services over the phone. These services are provided by independent contractors that can handle lead generation and other sales calls on your behalf. You can have all kinds of custom solutions created, but it will all be focused on sales. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can benefit from a much more dynamic sales campaign if they have access to outsourced solutions like telemarketing. 

Telemarketers can handle inbound and outbound calls. Some services are designed strictly for one or the other. Most, however, will do inbound and outbound telemarketing, along with any other sales services that they can provide to assist you in growing your business even when you don’t have the time and resources to dedicate to telesales yourself. 

Telemarketing remains one of the most effective marketing options today, and although it’s usually focused on outbound calling, it can go both ways. Telemarketing can also:

  • Take the time and money out of finding customers and closing deals
  • Identify and capture new leads
  • Create a more reliable data source than your own in-house sales
  • Remove the need for your sales team to spend time on cold calls
  • Offer a professional way to present and sell your brand to your target market
  • Provide insights about market research and customer trends
  • Provide a steady stream of appointments and leads 

It’s all in how you use it. However, it’s also all focused on the sales and prospecting part of business. What about the customer service, technical or product support, and so forth? Well, that’s where call centers come in. 

Call centers: the more dynamic solution

A call center generally offers an array of services and solutions for clients, along with a staff that can handle all kinds of tasks from phone calls to appointment setting, customer service, and more. A call center may also be called a contact center. The exact duties performed by this service will vary based on the needs of your business. Typically, though, they answer customer calls and provide all kinds of additional support, not just for sales calls. 

A call center is a centralized hub that handles all inbound and outbound calls from existing and potential customers. They can be outsourced or hosted in-house, such as in the case of enterprise brands that have the means to create and manage their own call center. These services can do anything that you want or need, including helping generate leads and satisfy customers, and so much more. 

Some call centers only make inbound calls and some only handle outbound calls. Then, there are blended contact centers, which handle all incoming and outgoing calls, along with a host of other services. Call centers give your business the chance to:

  • Develop and foster more leads 
  • Respond to customer needs and inquiries quicker and more efficiently
  • Create a strategy for communications that changes the game
  • Give customers that personal connection they crave 
  • Be available 24/7, even if you aren’t actually available 

You’ll also find offshore call centers that can provide cheaper services, but you may compromise on things like customer satisfaction because there are language barriers, and they lack proper knowledge of the company. 

Which is better?

This isn’t really a question that can be answered simply. Since telemarketing is, in a sense, only part of a call center’s services, it may seem that you would be better suited to choose a call center for all the dynamic assistance that they can provide. Of course, if you just need a solid telemarketing campaign, you’ll want the best telemarketer, regardless of what other services they provide. 

The importance of finding the right solutions

Ultimately, you have to find the solutions that work for your business. Whether that’s a telemarketing company or an outsourced contact center, understanding your options makes it much easier for you to find what you need. Call centers and companies that offer multiple services are generally a better investment because you get more for your money.

When you choose to work with a call center, you’re giving your customers the chance to get dedicated support and assistance, no matter what they have in mind. They have their own teams and management to handle everything that your business needs for incoming and outgoing calls. 

Today, you’ll also have the option of a virtual call center or virtual receptionist service.  

Speaking of which, let Smith.ai handle the calls for streamlined service and more

At Smith.ai, we have a team of dedicated virtual receptionists that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to handle all kinds of communications and sales needs. We can provide solutions for inbound and outbound sales and support, 24/7 phone answering, live website chat, and even lead intake and appointment scheduling

Plus, ask us how we’ll help you craft the ideal strategy to manage all of it, no matter how big or small your needs may be. Forget about trying to decide who’s right for the job because we’re right here and ready to get started. 

To learn more, schedule your consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your business. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Business Education
Written by Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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Affordable plans for every budget.