Is it crazy to outsource Sales and Telemarketing?

Are you considering hiring a service provider for your sales and telemarketing efforts? This a great solution for businesses that don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to manage the process. You know its a must do. However, you are nervous about hiring the wrong provider and losing your money. The below information is a good overall guide to put your mind at ease.

Beware of 100% pay for performance arrangements. Don’t give in to the NO RISK temptation. When providers are compensated for quantity instead of quality, you can imagine what happens – the quality of each lead drops, as quantities rise – and your in-house sales team has to work twice as hard to weed out the “garbage leads”. These type of arrangements fail the majority of the time due to constant turnover, recruiting, poor management, re-training, and re-ramping. Momentum and business continuity is severely impacted. Finally and most importantly, your companies reputation will be adversely effected due to the lack of professionalism.

Realistic Expectations. Many sub par providers of this service will tell you just about anything you need to hear to make the sale. They make a living turning over clients with cheap rates and small tests. Why? Because they gain more sales. Your provider should want to know your business in detail and listen to your objectives. An honest provider will tell you what is realistic within a certain amount of hours. There are many variables, so its not feasible for any provider to tell you exactly what to expect. However, they should give you a realistic depiction of ramp times and potential production. They should come up with a customized strategy recommendation for success. A good provider should be focused on how to maintain a long term partnership.

Training prior to starting the program. – Good providers will want you to be directly involved with the training. After all it is your business and you know it best. Preparation is key to success. A good provider should be able to take your marketing collateral and create an initial calling script for training and ramping. Talented callers will not read a script word for word. The script should be nothing more than a training tool and reference until they have it down.

Caller Talent. – How do you want your company represented? Young inexperienced callers may be ok for simple business to consumer programs like fund raising. However, if you are targeting the business sector, its crucial to have experienced, mature professionals representing your company. While young people may be good for business to consumer programs, A good B2B company will have mature, experienced professionals representing your company.

A good provider has a distinct ability to control quality. Your customers are your bread and butter. Its crucial that communication with them is of the utmost professionalism. Good providers have a professional management staff with a solid infrastructure. Consistent feedback and communication between management, callers, and client is crucial for mutual success. What types of reporting and database access does the provider offer? Is it online and fully accessible to you?

Look for professional communication and management. A business development company should be giving you regular updates, and have data available to you on demand – not having this could be a warning sign that the data isn’t there at all. Consistent feedback and communication between management, callers, and client is crucial for mutual success. Does the provider offer you the ability to be involved in the program and speak directly with the callers?

Beware of companies offering short tests (less than 50 hours). The profitability & success of a campaign cannot be judged in such a short period of time. If you choose a provider based on the results of such a short test, you may end up getting “short changed” in the long run. This is equivalent to you hiring an internal person for just over one weeks worth of work. Pipelines take time develop. Anything less than 50 hours and you are probably just wasting your money.

Find out the exact location of the agents working for your service provider. Offshore agents aren’t usually held to the highest quality standards, and the communication barriers they create can reduce the effectiveness of your campaign – actually costing you money in the long run. While costs may be appealing, quality will most likely lack severely and cost you more money and the reputation of your company.

Beware of low hourly fees. All companies have to profit somewhere, and if they don’t charge enough for their services, you can be sure they will cut back in other areas – such as employee quality and training, equipment, and consultation time. You can see how important it is to not only know what you’re outsourcing, but exactly who you’re outsourcing it to.

Lists and dials per hour. Good providers will be educated on the best list resources for your particular program. They can typically provide you with or assist you in procuring the nest list. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the more dials per hour, the better. That is a big misnomer! EX> Lets suppose you are selling a sophisticated software application and need a company to properly qualify the prospects for you. If a provider tells you they can make 30 dials an hour on average, that’s 2 minutes per call! How is it possible to effectively have a quality conversation with a prospect in 2 minutes? Its not. These are usually “telemarketing agencies” that use predictive dialers. Essentially they are just burning through your valuable lists of contacts and letting Quality slip by the wayside. A professional organization is focused on the quality of the lead or sale. Therefore they should be able to give you a realistic idea of the average dials per hour for your specific program.

Brick and Mortar or Remote provider.

Cost – Brick and Mortar companies have a much higher overhead. In order to be competitive, they have to reduce costs internally. Often this means paying a smaller wage to their callers. Talent level is impacted. Remote model providers are usually more price competitive over Brick and Mortar companies.

Labor pool – Brick and Mortar companies are limited by an average of a 30 mile radius of their location. Once that pool is tapped out, the company has limited expansion ability.

Calling Talent – Ability to attract top talented professionals is crucial for success. Most experienced professionals between 30-60 years old does not have any interest in commuting to a call center and sitting a cubicle all day.

Flexibility – Ability to market in specific geographical regions of the country where the accent/dialect may be different. Providers that have a remote distributed workforce are much more flexible with staffing. They have the ability to strategically assign calling agents located in various geographic regions of the country.

Scalability – Fixed brick and mortar providers have limited real estate for expansion. A remote model allows for efficient scalability in the event you need callers added quickly to ramp up your program.

Focus – Brick and Mortar call centers utilize close quarter cubicles. Employees talk to each other and can be very distracted between calls resulting in less focus on the task at hand. Remote callers work in a quiet professional home office by themselves and are very focused on results without distractions.

Noise levels – Call centers are very loud. This is very distracting to the prospect on the other end of the phone. Additionally it sounds unprofessional, especially in the B2B marketplace. Remote agents engage in dialogue with prospects without the background noise.

Labor turnover – Brick and Mortar call centers experience very high levels of employee turnover. Remote agents have a high level of job satisfaction due the lack of commute and peaceful environment. This equates to higher energy levels and results for our clients.

Remote modeled providers are Environmentally friendly.

Copyright (c) 2007 Grindstone Inc.