5 Tips for Outbound Calling Success
1. Start with good data
It’s no longer enough to identify outbound prospects based on a few key factors such as industry, title or location. The best outbound campaigns involve sophisticated data collection and analysis before any calls are made. A key advantage can be gained by building context around each prospect. This can be done by obtaining a large amount of highly relevant information. In today’s world this tends to be much easier, due to the wealth of information available on various digital channels such as social media. Collecting this data can be done manually by agents, for example by searching names on LinkedIn or browsing company websites. But some campaigns may require more systematic approach, using software to collect and analyse “big data”.
One way to increase the chance of sale is to use event based techniques. Opportunities can arise through events like office relocations, or changes to job roles. For example, a company that has just established an office in a new country, may be much more open to discussing international video conferencing services. Whether marketing to businesses or consumers, keeping a rich and up to date customer database can give sales agents a real advantage. It’s worth mentioning that database cleansing is also an important task for any large customer database. Validation services for example, can ensure that telephone numbers are active and in use before diallers begin making outbound calls.
2. Establish proper measurements for success
All campaigns will require some form of monitoring and measurement for success, and these will depend on the nature of the campaigns themselves. This will need to be thought through as early as possible, as it’s important to go into a campaign knowing how many conversions are needed before it can be considered a success. Using the right metrics and key performance indicators is important, and campaign managers should have a good understanding of what they need to measure to gain the best insights into both agent specific, and overall campaign performance. There has been a recent push in the industry to encourage agents not to focus on the metrics themselves, but for managers to use them in the background to gain a good understanding of how a campaign is going, and to guide agent training.
3. Use a clearly defined agent training system
To ensure agents are performing at their best and getting the most out of their roles, they need to really understand what they, as individuals, need to do to perform well. They need to be rewarded for doing so. This can be achieved by providing a well thought out training, monitoring and reward structure. A clear training and coaching system should be in place before you start a campaign, and this should involve both team based and individual coaching sessions. Using the technology available can make the training process easier for everyone. Listening to call recordings, and even conducting live training where constructive feedback is given during calls, can provide agents with an instant-feedback environment for learning.
Train smart, not hard.
- Use idle time for agent training sessions to ensure you don’t eat into periods where agents are busy.
- Give agents the tools they need to improve. A myriad of software and training tools are available, where sophisticated call analyses can help agents understand how to personally maintain performance.
4. Consider using a script, but don’t rely on it
A commonly debated topic in the industry concerns whether or not to use a script when making sales of other outbound calls. Highly experienced agents tend to rely much less on scripts, but that does not mean that having a script brings no benefits. For less experienced agents, or when starting a new campaign, it can be hugely beneficial to have some kind of call breakdown available for reference whilst an agent makes a call. Especially with sales calls, a well thought out script can provide agents with the key pointers such as unique selling points when they need them the most. But regardless of the purpose of an outbound call, agents should never rely totally on a script, as call recipients will be able to identify agents who do, and will very quickly become disinterested.
5. Get the timing right
This isn’t just as simple as calling people when they’re likely to be home from work. Timing calls can be a complex process that takes many factors into account. A few things to consider include:
The customer profile
Is the customer a business employee, or a consumer? The optimum times of day differ greatly between these two profiles, which can lead to different campaigns being run for different profiles over the course of a day. Depending on when customers are likely to be busy, you may decide to adjust agent lunch and breaks accordingly.
Looking back at your data
Using the information you have, such as what times of day calls are being answered the most, and at what times the most sales are being made, can help you to find the best times to call in the future.
The wider context
It can often pay off to avoid certain times of day. For example when calling consumers, avoiding key evening television viewings can be wise. Similarly, being aware of what’s happening in the world can inform the best time to call too. Event based marketing has provided businesses with huge success in the past.
Pre-arranged or scheduled calls
Prospects are much more likely to be receptive if they have agreed a time to be called. Many call centres have success with prescheduling calls using text messages or other channels to send preliminary call invitations.