In the modern market of aggressive marketing, companies cannot afford to sit around waiting for customers to get to know of their products and services passively from the other sources.
Instead, companies push for call centers to initiate conversations on their behalf, speaking about the value addition that the product in question provides, and then pitching a sale to a potential customer. Such calls that call center agents make to customers as part of telemarketing are known as outbound calls.
Although outbound calls are typically aimed at boosting sales, they may also have other purposes, such as verifications, surveys, list updation, check-ups, etc.
There are various telemarketing software dedicated to analyzing data about the customers to determine the ones who are most likely to buy a particular product or service, taking into account their buying history, their current requirements, buying patterns and personal profile information.
Outbound calls carry great significance because they are direct approaches in a bid to generate more revenue and increase the customer base.
The most critical goal of any company is to grow and increase profit margins year on year – and the way to do this in the most direct manner is by efficient outbound calls.
For this to happen, agents must work effectively, carrying out decisions based on the data that has been procured, and customer service is provided at a high level to keep the customers satisfied with their choice of brand.
“The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign – even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo.
In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special”, says Bill Taylor in his article, “Do You Pass the Leadership Test?”
There are various key performance indicators that are dedicated to throwing light on the outbound calling process. They highlight the areas where improvement is required, and give a general sense of what can be done on the part of the agent to derive better results out of the practice.
We can harness the power of software to constantly monitor these key metrics and get accurate results on where efforts are lagging, which can subsequently be rectified.
Given how important a role outbound calls play in the scheme of things related to call center operations, it is extremely crucial for the call center managers and employees to devise strategies that can best utilize this spectrum of telemarketing.
The commonplace use of software has revolutionized the telemarketing industry. Keeping that in mind, here are some of the top tips on how outbound calling can be improved using technologies designed for telemarketing solutions.
1. Find the correct prospects to pitch to. Identifying your likely customers is the first and possibly the most important step to successful outbound calling.
Use the software to filter out the obviously uninterested and likely uninterested contacts, to save on time, money and resources. Analyzing buying habits of customers also helps to detect which customers are likely to be interested in a particular genre of products.
2. Know what your client is interested in. There is so much information available about literally anything online that gone are the days when a product could be misrepresented and clients could be tricked into purchasing it.
This is why it becomes important to focus less on what the product is, and spend more time explaining and convincing what the product can do to better the situation that the customer is in.
This necessitates that the call center agents know everything they can about the customer’s scenario, what sort of challenges they are facing in their work and how your product can help to solve those problems.
3. Forge meaningful relationships. A customer is far more likely to respond positively to someone he has known over a longer period of time, than a stranger who calls to sell a product.
In fact, positive reactions straight out of a cold call are extremely rare – about 97% of first call approaches fail. This is why a lead, once generated, needs to be nurtured with care by the agent assigned with customer’s duties.
Agents must establish a relationship with the customer by setting common goals, networking through mutual contacts, staying updated about their businesses and the progress that is being made.
4. Invest in the correct technological tools. Almost all of the work that involves sifting through volumes of data can be far more effectively carried out by software.
In addition, predictive models can be built up, and customers’ profiles can be substantiated with information collected from various sources to form and identify clear patterns that indicate whether or not he is a suitable candidate for that particular outbound call.
5. Establish credibility among your buyers. Buyers today are almost definitely going to check on reviews either at websites or over the social media, before investing in any product.
This is why it becomes imperative for companies to manage their presence online, and establish credibility right at the source of your customer’s curiosity. These channels also allow for the company to gain valuable information regarding prospective customers by noting and analyzing their behavior online.
6. Gather information about your competition. Because call center agents are directly interacting with individuals, they are also in the best position to know what their competitors in the market are offering.
This information has to be drawn subtly out of these individuals while the agent is talking to them about the problems they face and the solutions that the company offers.
7. Introduce team-based incentives. Humans work best in an environment of healthy competition. In addition, when you have a group of people working in a team, they tend to complement each other’s’ strengths, thus resulting in a greater overall productivity.
Pitching two internal sales teams against each other to see who generates more sales is the sort of practice that can make your employees strive to achieve more.
8. Schedule your calls smartly. Business hours are a prime time to pitch sales through outbound calls, but the aspect of scheduling is much more complicated than that.
Perhaps the individual is already knee deep in work at that peak hour. Perhaps he is already receiving and sending calls for other purposes at office.
Once again, technology takes the wheel, as there are complex scheduling algorithms that take into account each customer’s schedule and derives the best way you can schedule calls so that every customer is in a position to receive and consider what you have to say.
9. Provide training and development to the agents. Buying and selling is a person-to-person business, no matter how large our corporations become or how much technology we shove into the process.
Therefore, these persons conducting a sale can be trained to be more effective. Using software, we can simulate situations, post challenges and train skill sets to the agents so that they are able to deliver to the best of their abilities.
10. Provide agents incentives on the basis of KPIs. The way your KPIs shape up will determine whether or not the process of outbound calls is being done right by your agents.
Therefore, it makes sense to appraisals for agents who have managed to keep their critical metric numbers above the predefined goal.
Such a possibility would motivate other agents to emulate that success as well, and eventually the end product is better for the company as a whole.
The Case Study
The tips provided here are very likely to help increase the efficiency of your outbound calls procedure and that is bound to translate into a boost in revenue for the company.
We have seen why outbound calls constitute such a crucial part of the entire sales phenomenon. All of the best telemarketing software regard outbound calling features as a priority, since data collection and analysis plays such a key role in that regard.
To get an even better insight, let us take the example of a real-life scenario. Here, we will consider a case study involving Oreos Solutions, a telemarketing agency providing call center services for a large company.
In this case study, we will take a look at the situation that the company was in, the challenges it faced and the solutions that its top leaders managed to incorporate to eradicate those challenges. We will also devote some time to understanding the effects of the changes that were brought about and how the results showed a positive change.
The Problem Scenario
Oreos was embarking on an aggressive promotional strategy to accompany the launch of a new product by their parent company.
The cornerstone of their marketing strategy was outbound calls, where they were hoping to generate a huge number of leads and then nurture them and convert them into sales.
However, what they found was that although they reached out to a whole lot of people, the number of leads generated was lower than they had expected, and the number of leads that were actually converting to customers who bought the product, was well below the predetermined goal they had set for themselves.
The company faced plenty of challenges in their daily operations. However, in this case study we will only be discussing those that pertain to outbound calls.
1. Although a lot of people were being contacted, the majority of them showed no interest in the product that was being sold. These people had no requirement for the product, but the agents did not have any means to filter their contact lists. This led to a loss of time and resources.
2. Many people who expressed interest did not end up buying the product because they fell out of touch owing to the absence of proper follow ups from the call center agents.
3. Agents had no individual goals set for them, so as soon as the collective goal was reached; the effort being put into the operation became discernibly low. This hampered the overall work environment and also the potential loss of customers.
The managers of the company recognized that their strategies for outbound calls had serious drawbacks and needed to be fixed immediately. They went through the issues that the agents were facing and drew up this list of solutions to be implemented.
1. Software relating to telemarketing tools was introduced to determine contact lists based on the customer data, so that a very concise and high value group of potential customers could be targeted, which was much more likely to bring in results at the same or better rate without unnecessary usage of resources chasing dead ends.
2. Scheduling algorithms were implemented to facilitate follow ups and staying in constant touch with a lead.
3. KPIs were monitored so that the quality of work for each agent could be assessed. This also motivated the employees to strive to bring in better results, since their individual numbers were now being considered for incentives in cases of outstanding performance.
The effect of these changes was felt pretty quickly. Within a quarter, the efficiency of outbound calls had gone up by more than 20% owing to the implementation of call center software.
More leads were now maturing into customers, and revenue went up by 7% within a year of implementation. The morale of the employees was also high because they felt they were contributing significantly to the success of the company, and they also had the technology to help them out so they could deliver precise results.
Thus we see how much of a difference call center solutions can make to outbound calling performance. By taking the help of the tools available, we facilitate our agents to perform to their full potential, and derive the best possible results out of any scenario.
Automation also saves time and effort for the agent, who can focus on one-to-one interactions rather than spend his time in compiling and filing the data.
How Telemarketing Software Offers Value for Money
In the competitive market that exists today, quality customer service is a key element of operations for any business, be it big or small in scale.
The problem, however, for many small and medium scale enterprises, is that they find it difficult to allocate monetary resources specifically for telemarketing because they fail to see a clear return on that investment.
What results is either sticking with a lackluster call center agency, or crippling your potential customer service functionalities by not investing in the best telemarketing software that could lead to far better outputs.
The Case Study
The viability of a contact center is dependent on the technology they use to make data-driven decisions. You cannot grab hold of a market if you are not willing to make use of the opportunities using every resource that you have at your disposal.
Therefore, it becomes very important for industries, especially the SME sector, to realize how telemarketing software offers value for money.
Once businessmen are clear about the return on their investment, we will likely see a more liberal attitude towards funding for telemarketing, subsequently resulting in increased value for customer service and translating into better sales, assuming all other factors remain conducive to growth.
To further illustrate the importance that software provides in this role, we will look at a real-life scenario. In this case study, we take a look at Ambience Solutions, a call center agency that provides telemarketing solutions for an established organization.
We will talk about the situation that the company found itself in, what sort of problems it faced, and how solutions were drawn up to counter those problems. We will also take into account the effect of the changes that were implemented and analyze whether or not the solutions actually brought about a positive change.
The Problem Scenario
Telemarketing is a dynamic problem-solving technique, and Ambience Solutions was hesitant to jump on board in terms of new technologies, without receiving proper feedback about their continued usage.
The company noticed that users were increasingly voicing thoughts about the customer service not being up to par. There was a drop in the conversion rates as well, so a sizeable number of the leads that were being generated did not mature into customers.
The company found its growth stagnating because of these issues, and they were slowly but surely losing their grip on the market, with competitors trying to take advantage all the time.
The major challenges that the company faced in its day to day operations are listed below.
1. There was no software in place to regulate outbound calling feature. This resulted in a lack of targeting and regular follow ups with the client.
Therefore, on quite a few occasions potential customers would be tempted to move away from their product and invest in a competitor’s product, either because the features and benefits of the product were not explained clearly to them, or they lost touch with customer service agents and nobody reinstated that relationship.
2. Data analysis was not conducted professionally and tools were not implemented to build forecasting models. As a result, during peak hours the resources available proved insufficient in dealing with the high call volume that was experienced.
The company found it difficult to understand beforehand exactly when these spikes in call volume would occur, and thus were caught off guard when it did actually strike.
3. Cataloguing software such as the implementation of call disposition codes were not enforced, which is why it was virtually impossible to recover one call recording from a month ago, buried under terabytes of data.
This made it very difficult to retrieve records and conduct efficient follow ups. Even though the call center software in question would cost a significant amount, the company noticed that they were losing out on a lot of business opportunities, and their potential gains could far outweigh a one-time investment.
The managers at the company recognized the need for serious change to take place, and for it to be done sooner rather than later. They pooled their ideas together and came up with this list of solutions to counter the challenges that have been described above.
1. Outbound calling was automated as far as possible. Bulk broadcasting was carried out via software that could collect data about customers to sort them into categories and create relevant calling lists based on the characteristics of the product.
This meant that the message was reaching out not only to a large number of people, but to those people who are likely to be interested based on their buying history, interests shown and customer profiles.
2. Data accumulation and analysis was delegated to computer software so that patterns could be identified and trends could be projected in order to accurately predict what sort of call volumes to expect at different times, which made the decision about staff scheduling and division of resources easier for the managers.
Now, they could effectively determine shifts so that calls did not go unanswered for lack of resources in peak times, and that resources did not go to waste during hours of the day when far less calls were received and made.
3. Call disposition codes were implemented so that pieces of data could be tagged for future reference. Employees could label their calls, scribble notes about them, etc. to make them searchable later on.
This helped in creating meaningful data out of the entire dump that was being produced every minute of every working day.
With this meaningful data at their disposal, the company could now gain insights to figure out what was being done right, and more importantly, what need to change.
Within a year of implementation of the technology and software, initial investment costs were covered up by a healthy growth rate of 7%, with a conversion rate increase of 1.5%. In three years of dedicated usage, profits rose up to double the investment, and market lead was established once again.
Thus we see how software efficiently provides great value for money. Investing in the right tools can go a long way in ensuring a much healthier conversion rate, greater chances of lead generation, elevated standards of customer service, increased client retention and overall a positive growth of sales.