aquantive

Outsourcing telemarketing services is a lot like (but not exactly the same as) acquiring another company and bringing it under your banner. In both cases, there’s some level of submission, compromise, and confidence involved. That’s why if you’re thinking about what happens when the sealed deal becomes a sticky ordeal that’s hard to get out of, you need not look any further than Microsoft’s acquisition of aQuantive five years ago and see where it has placed both companies today.

In mid-July, Microsoft reported a net loss of $6.2 billion for the quarter ending June 30th, its first ever net loss as a publicly-traded company. Five years ago, it bought aQuantive, a (then) leading display ad company, for $6.3 billion in cash. If you’ve noticed, the two amounts closely resemble each other. That’s because the bulk of Microsoft’s reported net loss has been due to write-downs made in relation to its purchase of aQuantive.

So why the write-downs? The answer lies in the fact that Microsoft has finally admitted that its struggling online advertising arm (represented by aQuantive) is really a sad failure. Some of the reasons for this dismal outcome are discussed below, and they appear to resonate what a company looking to outsource telemarketing services from a B2B teleprospecting provider should think about carefully.

1. Culture Compatibility. Former aQuantive employees, who have been critical of the whole affair from the start, say the biggest reason the deal had been a mistake all along is the culture mismatch between the two companies. Microsoft’s engineering mindset, as it turned out, couldn’t blend well with aQuantive’s advertising-oriented culture. Culture compatibility should be one of the factors you have to consider in choosing a targeted teleprospecting provider.

2. Core Competency. Things went from bad to worse when Microsoft diverted aQuantive’s talent pool away from their core competency, display advertising, and directed their efforts toward search advertising, something which aQuantive had relatively little expertise in (compared to Google). In the case of outsourced telemarketing solutions, it’s always good practice to understand where the candidate cold calling company excels at and to let it stay in its element.

3. Level of Intervention. Another key contributing factor to Microsoft’s failed venture into online advertising is its tight grip on aQuantive’s affairs. Autonomy is a basic requisite in collaborative projects such as acquisitions as well as outsourcing. Similar to the point made in #3, you have to let professional telemarketers be professional telemarketers, intervening only at points where you’re most concerned with.

4. Transparency. At the time of acquisition, Microsoft’s true intent weren’t fully understood by aQuantive employees and insiders. Even now, speculations abound that Microsoft’s purchase of aQuantive had been purely defensive (i.e., to beat its rival Google to the punch). In the case of outsourcing cold calling services, both you and your telemarketing partner should demonstrate a reasonable level of transparency in your dealings.

Recently, Microsoft has also acquired Skype and Yammer but, unlike its handling of aQuantive, many experts familiar with the matter believe that the software titan has learned its lesson this time and is letting the two companies do their own thing. A company like Microsoft can afford to incur $6.3 billion in losses (which actually came in better than analyst estimates). For a company like yours, how much can it lose before saying it had made a mistake on choosing the wrong telemarketing solutions provider?