Outsourcing is an effective strategy for developing business. Although it is primarily used to streamline costs, outsourcing can also contribute to revenue generation. Companies invest resources to support marketing programs that are designed to generate leads or potential customers. Once these leads have been generated, the company must find ways to monetize them or convert them into sales.
There are many ways to convert leads into sales. Telemarketing is a standard feature of the sales conversion toolbox.
In the early part of the new millennium, US companies began outsourcing telemarketing services to remote locations such as the Philippines and India because it presented a low risk but high reward option:
- Remote call centers were only paid per qualified sale.
- Economies of scale made it possible to get more agents to call without incurring expenses.
US companies were able to find third party service providers that were willing to take on telemarketing functions.
But soon the problems of American telemarketers became the problems of remote telemarketers. Consumers by nature are not trusting when it comes to phone transactions.
The issue of trust is magnified when the call is made at the worst possible time such as when the prospect is preoccupied, during the weekend or when the prospect is not in the mood for conversing with strangers.
Given these conditions, it doesn’t seem like there is a good time to do telemarketing. Technology has not invented a device that could calculate with certainty the willingness of a prospect to accept a sales call.
Telemarketing remains a difficult and challenging job even for the best and most seasoned agents. But there are ways to make it easier and reduce the risks of dealing with irate customers.
Minimize the Use of the Script – Outsourcing companies ask agents to read prepared scripts and spiels when talking to prospects.
The purpose of these scripts is to reduce the risk of the agents making mistakes during the presentation. There are also specific guidelines that an agent must follow to conform to TCPA provisions.
But these scripts end up automating the process. Agents are reduced to script readers without the ability to initiate the 2 most important aspects of a sales call: feedback and empathy. Feedback generates response while empathy allows the prospect to understand the purpose of your call.
Overused lines such as “I know where you are coming from” only serve to infuriate the prospect because they’ve heard those words from a hundred other agents.
The script should be used only as a reference. Encourage the agent to carry on a meaningful conversation with the prospect. Without genuine human interaction, there will be no empathy and feedback.
Be Yourself – Another standard practice of outsourced telemarketing companies is the use of aliases, different accents and fake outbound numbers. How can you build trust with the prospect if you’re not being true to yourself?
Outsourcing companies from the Philippines often change Filipino sounding names such as “Juan” to “John” and “Erlinda” to “Linda”. The agents are also required to undergo voice training so they can sound like Americans, Australians or British. Some will also adopt a US number to appear as if they are calling within the United States.
Some prospects will know right off the bat you are not whom you seem to be. Not all agents can successfully pull off an accent. If the agent is from a province in the Philippines where the dialect is hard and thick, it will be risky to make him or her sound like a “John” or a “Linda”.
Ditch all the smoke and mirrors and let the agents be themselves. People all over the world already identify outsourcing with remote countries anyway.
Be Creative – When managing B2B or Business to Business campaigns, always introduce yourself and the company you work for. Some clients don’t want the call center to inform the prospect that they are calling from another country. But there is a way of being honest without compromising the reputation of the client:
“Good morning! I am Juan Santos from Benchmark Global calling in behalf of Mr. John Smith of XYZ Insurance Services. John will be in your area this Wednesday and would love to meet with Mr. Russell Crawford to discuss your company’s 401K plan. Can we pencil an appointment at Russell’s convenience?”
You will notice 3 things:
- Juan introduces his company and his client’s company.
- Juan identifies the reason for the call which is the company’s 401K program.
- Juan does not phrase the question to be answerable by “Yes” or “No”.
Gatekeepers, who are usually the receptionist or secretary, can be very protective of their boss. You have to be upfront and honest with them. If they shut you down, try to maintain the conversation but never insist.
Establish the Need – When marketing qualifies leads this means the prospects in the calling list have been cleared from the DNC or Do Not Call list and have been identified as interested in the product or service.
Thus when telemarketing, establish the need and validate it with how you came about with the prospect’s number:
“Good Morning Tim. I am Linda from Benchmark Global calling in behalf of Real Deal Wholesalers. You signed up for the Gold Members subscription plan. I would like to inform you that you have been pre-qualified for the membership. Can I have 5 minutes of your time to go through a short questionnaire?”
In the first few seconds, the agent had already validated the purpose of the call by stating Tim voluntarily entered the process.
Customize Your Offer – Technology has made it easier for companies to make heads or tails of Big Data. You can categorize prospects based on:
- Industry type
- Size of the company
- Need for the product
- Budget size
- Spending ability
Some marketing departments input valuable data in the CRM so that sales people will have an idea on how to approach the prospect or how to package the proposal.
When the agent makes the call, he or she can already get the ball rolling by presenting the merits of the proposal for the company.
Despite its reputation, telemarketing will never be obsolete for the simple reason that it remains an effective approach to converting leads into sales. As long as the agents of the outsourcing services provider are well-prepared, mindful of the hours they call and truthful, they will be successful in bringing in new sales for the client.