The Importance of the Call Center

Boomer Elmsdale

So you think people don’t make sales by phone anymore?

Think again.

It’s true the internet has replaced some of the call centers that once reigned supreme in sales, but these proven sales centers are still alive and well. Email, online chats, etc. are great tools for closing a sale, but nothing will ever replace the traditional call center even if it’s virtual.

To increase a company’s ROI (return on investment) businesses need to keep sales calls in the marketing mix.

Selling to an Inbound Lead

Inbound leads, referring to sales leads that contact a company as opposed to the other way around, are unicorns in the sales world—rare and wonderful. They are the exact opposite of an outbound lead, which is a sales lead contacted by a company salesman.

To capture unicorns, companies will create content that informs and incentivizes the lead. The lead then chooses how and when to contact the company. But after that first connection, it’s up to the sales representative to close the deal.

A mix of communication strategies is imperative to closing the sale. It can take an ongoing mix of phone calls, emails, mailers and other strategies to hook the lead. Calls are an important part of the mix though.

Sidebar//What’s a Touchpoint?

In marketing a touchpoint refers to a meaningful interaction with a potential customer. Individual touchpoints include phone calls, emails, marketing messages, mailers, etc. Together touchpoints make up the customer experience.

How to Integrate Sales Calls into a Marketing Campaign

Phone calls are one type of touch point, but they may just be the most important. Calls connect the potential customer to the company with one person as the go-between. On average it takes ten touch points for a potential customer to feel familiar with the lead, an asset in closing a sale.

Even if the sales lead doesn’t take your call at first, the sales associate can leave a voicemail with contact information including their name. Mixing this with personalized emails and other points of contact helps the customer feel comfortable with the sales representative. And when they are comfortable, the customer is more likely to bite.

The phone call doesn’t have to be used for the entirety of the sales representative/customer relationship (although some customers may prefer to communicate this way). While a call can establish familiarity, it can also be considered a nuisance. Instead use the call to point potential customers in the right direction. Establish the next steps, such as logging on to a website to fill out a form or responding to an email, during the phone call or voicemail.

Closing the Sale

It’s important to keep the potential customer comfortable during the process. If you’re speaking to someone at a business it is likely part of their job to answer phones and be helpful. Instead of asking questions about the company or its owner, ask specific questions about the services they offer and make a connection between your business and theirs.

For example, if you are selling yearbook templates to a high school try asking the sales representative about the school’s sports teams. The rep can also ask if individual team yearbooks are offered already. These questions lead the representative into their pitch without pushing the potential client away.

Don’t hold contacts on the phone for too long. Instead of pressing for a sale on the spot give the potential customer an out, i.e. “how about I email some information to you and your boss about our current offers?” The contact will appreciate being able to put the phone down, and here you’ve already offered next steps to take the conversation to email. As an added bonus, you’ve likely just secured the contact information for the person in charge of purchasing decisions. Who knows? This could lead to a meeting.

Planning a Call Campaign

To get started with a call campaign, or a campaign that includes phone calls as part of the sales strategy, follow the following steps.

  • Plan a marketing campaign
  • Identify the break even point
  • Hire callers
  • Execute phone calls/touch points
  • Run a report
  • Adjust the plan to optimize ROI
  • If you need help… Hire Contentz

A Marketing campaign encompasses several strategies to close sales. By starting with a detailed marketing campaign it’s easier to see how phone calls will fit into the overall plan.

Because having a call center costs money, a company needs to know their

breakeven point

—that’s how many sales have to close in order for costs of the call center to be covered. This number depends on number of employees, employee hours and cost to close.

Once the breakeven point is established the goal is to go beyond that point and create a revenue stream. An effective marketing plan with details on how to close sales and scripts for callers will help and allows many companies to hire entry-level marketing employees instead of all-star sales associates. This helps keep costs low.

To hire, look to online job boards where 1099 employees can work on a per diem basis. This allows a company to evaluate performance and only pay for the hours needed as opposed to creating full-time positions that require benefits, guaranteed hours and more.

Create a trial period

where the hired callers execute phone calls according to the campaign and get in touch points to build a relationship with potential customers. Make sure this trial period is long enough that callers have a chance to close sales.

At the end of the trial period, run a report. The report will give information on the number of closed sales, how long/how many conversations it took to close each, each employee’s individual success rate, at what point during a campaign the sale was made, how much money was earned and any other data points that are relevant to the call center portion of the company.

After the report has been generated and studied, it’s time for the executives or business owner to make adjustments. No business plan is perfect on the first try. Adjust the marketing plan as needed to meet the average customer. Pay attention to where sales were closed (online, by phone, in a meeting, etc.) and who closed the sale. Are some of your employees better than others? You have options. Employ them to train the underperforming employees or up the hours of the most successful employees and ditch the others. The goal is to have the best ROI possible.

Are you stuck? Not everyone knows how to effectively run a call center sales campaign. It’s a lot of work. Since most businesses are moving online it’s also becoming less clear how to navigate sales calls. At Contentz, that’s what we specialize in. In addition to creating the plan the staff at Contentz can write phone scripts, hire employees and run the reports. With customized plans available entrepreneurs can get the help they need, either only at the starting point or also for ongoing management of call center sales campaigns and other marketing efforts.