Several times a week, we hear from people who are either searching for outbound call center software or looking to upgrade their existing platform. I am often surprised that they have done little or no due diligence to identify their desired outcome. Are they looking to move calls more fluidly through their maze of departments and personnel? Or, are they looking to boost sales? In my experience, their questions often revolve around buzz terms like “IVR” and “metric tracking” (wait time, call time etc.). All of this makes great sense if they are truly a call center fielding inbound calls. However, many of these are not call centers at all. They are sales centers focused on outbound selling. And that, my friend, is the big surprise. So the question begging to be answered is this:
Are you a true inbound call center fielding calls? Or, are you an outbound center focused on selling products, prospecting, surveying or setting appointments?
If you are the latter, then you should focus on selecting a software platform that can increase the activity of your reps and enable them with best-in-class functionality. If you are the former, then traditional call center software with all of the IVR bells and whistles makes more sense. Many companies are blended; they field return calls from customers and prospects. The great news is that even if you are blended, taking inbound calls and making outbound calls, there are great solutions that allow you to do both and still increase your outbound selling efforts. If it is about selling more, then I recommend doing a bit of homework to determine what exactly you want your new software to do. Is it more contacts per hour you desire? Better lead routing, better tracking or real time information on a sleek dashboard? It may be one of these or all of them. Today, companies can choose from many great platforms, delivered through the cloud at a price point that makes it all but impossible to say no.
Some of features that drive best-in-class performance for companies selling outbound include:
Next-Best-Call Routing– This drives productivity by utilizing the organization’s business intelligence that has been derived from all calls attempted vs. calls attempted by an individual rep. The collection of all the data enhances the ability of management to determine the likelihood of a sale on a call by call basis. The idea here is to route calls that are more likely to have a positive outcome then those that are not. This ensures that the sales organization is focusing their best people on their best opportunities.
If you have ever watched a rep hunt and peck trying to determine who is their next best prospect to call, then you already know what I mean. It can be a real time killer. Without question, getting the right and best leads in the hands of your salespeople and doing so in an efficient manner is a big key to incremental lift.
Auto Dialing – Also called progressive dialing, auto dialing creates lift by dialing the record upon arrival. You get a lot of bang for your buck with progressive dialing. Just like the time saver found with next best call routing, progressive dialing recaptures the lost time that can occur when sales reps simply wait to engage with the prospect. Put your own team to the test. Stand behind them and measure how long they spend looking for a record to call vs. time spent actually calling the prospect. All of this time is recaptured when next-best-call routing is combined with progressive dialing. Many inside sales teams that are manually dialing and do not have any call routing logic experience a 40% lift when adding these two features together.
On-board Integrated Email– This is the third feature of what I call the big three time savers. This feature allows your inside sales team to quickly communicate via email with prospects and customers by utilizing pre-built email templates and attachments. Sales reps can still personalize the emails but the core messaging and attachments are created and approved by management ensuring that the messaging is clear and consistent and, more importantly, that the lift is measurable. Adding the ability to do complex emails with attachments on the fly reduces the workload of your rep and increases the productivity yield per hour.
These three features deployed across an inside sales team can create lift and additional opportunities north of 30%. Why? Because they recapture the lost time of your sales reps, assist in selecting the best opportunity to work and standardize your messaging.
The Aberdeen report entitled “Inside Sales Enablement; Let them Drink Coffee,” validates the importance and focus on inside sales. Peter Ostrow, the Research Director at Aberdeen who authored the report stated; “Best-in-Class companies are aggressively supporting inside sales enablement, and as a result see an average of 87% of their reps achieving quota.”
As always, a picture is worth a thousand words. The graph below illustrates our point.
When the above-mentioned features are combined together, it becomes a powerful formula for a more productive selling environment that maximizes each and every minute of the selling hour. I encourage you to watch your team make 100 outbound calls and ask yourself the question, “If the next best call was automatically routed, if upon arrival the prospect or customer was being dialed, and if all of our email messaging represented your best practices, how much lift would we be getting?”