If you’ve come to the conclusion that it is time to implement a calling program for sales, there are a few considerations to resolve before you can proceed.
Now that you’ve come to a point where it’s clear that in order to meet your sales goals you need a consistent, targeted calling program, there are a few additional steps between this point and sales call success.
A robust calling program can boost your sales and bring your business up a notch. However, it’s important to acknowledge whether or not your sales team possess the bandwidth it needs to dedicate the appropriate amount of time and energy towards this type of program.
Should your calling program be in-house or outsourced?
Ask yourself the following questions to decide what is right for your company:
- Does your internal team have the bandwidth to make the calls?
Most internal teams don’t have time that can be allocated to making calls. If they do have any time, it is typically taken up by administrative tasks, meetings, and internal duties. Take the time to do a comprehensive audit of your current team and involve them in the process. How much time is spent making calls? What percentage of their time is spent actively pursuing new leads or nurturing dormant ones? Is the majority of their time split between internal commitments and those sales that are closer to closing? An outsourced calling team is able to dedicate their time to making calls and speaking with prospects.
- Do you have enough experienced salespeople to make a concerted effort and cover a lot of ground?
Is your internal team made up of experienced executives? Experienced and talented sales team members are often promoted past making calls, but this is often where their talents could really be used. Take a look at your sales team structure—are your most experienced and talented salespeople working on calls, or are they dedicated to handling sales further along the pipeline? Truth is, you should have experienced executives in both places. Outsourced inside sales teams are composed of sales professionals equipped with the proper experience and business acumen to reach decision-makers through phone calls, establish relationships, and engage in meaningful conversations to uncover business pains that high-level executives are experiencing.
- How much of your team’s time is taken up with internal commitments, current leads, deals in process?
In total, sales reps typically spend one-third of their time selling, and two-thirds of their time focused on other work. Is your sales team working with a streamlined system, or are they getting bogged down by internal tasks and find that they don’t have enough time to dedicate to making calls? In contrast, an outsourced team can spend 100 percent of their time making calls, contacting prospects, and qualifying leads to then hand off to your internal sales team without worrying about internal administrative tasks.
- Can you afford to hire new employees and do you need to expand your overhead, or would a concerted effort for a fixed amount of time bring in the opportunities you need?
Making a push for a particular amount of time and feeling understaffed? Hiring may seem like the right thing to do at first glance. However, take into consideration the reason you are hiring and if it is to resolve a short-term staffing shortage. If you have a new solution, or just want to make a push in the quarter or the end of the fiscal year to build your sales pipeline quickly, it may not be feasible to hire the amount of staff you need for such a brief period of time. An outsourced team can make the push to build your pipeline in the fixed amount of time you would like to focus on with no onboarding or in-depth training required.
- Are you breaking into new markets?
Does your sales team have enough time to focus on a new market? Your team may find that their time is already filled with developing sales in the current market. If you’re aiming to focus on a new market, chances are your team can’t pick up a new area to uncover leads because they likely do not have the time to add in another market that they haven’t covered before. Asking your sales team to shift their focus to a brand new market can slow down momentum and negatively affect your close rate. Outsourcing your B2B lead generation provides you with a professional sales team that is able to focus all of their energy into tackling your new market utilizing a specialized skill set and that is equipped with the time it takes to focus on the new market.
If you’ve decided to outsource, the next step is to choose the right outsourced sales firm to partner with that will best suit your sales needs.
Choosing the right outsourced sales company
Not all outsourced lead generation companies are the same. Consider these details when choosing a company to work with:
- What experience does the company have?
It is imperative to select a company to work with that has a proven process for sales which will result in qualified leads. Choosing an outsourced sales company with experience calling into a similar space within which you work will help it mesh with your current sales process.
- How much experience do the callers have?
B2B cold calling and telesales is a core competency and a skill that not every sales member may have. An experienced caller will make sure to ask the right questions and use their refined skill set to qualify and discover actionable leads. The best outsourced sales teams are composed of sales professionals with years of sales experience that can connect with decision-makers and will procure qualified leads.
- Do they have experience in your market?
Even when a company has a successful inside sales team, an experienced outsourced team is equipped with the business acumen needed to understand the industries into which they are calling—particularly for multinational companies—and can dedicate the time to host real conversations at the peer-to-peer level. Outsourcing to a sales team with a deep knowledge of the market can make all the difference for your sales success.
- What is their lead qualification criteria?
Properly qualifying a lead requires a meaningful conversation in which information is gathered from the prospect, proper documentation of the interaction, and filling out a comprehensive lead sheet that is clear to whoever picks it up and handles the next step. Lightly qualified leads are less likely to become clients than properly qualified leads, and therefore a teleprospecting company’s defined criteria for lead qualification is important because it separates eventual sales success from failure.
- Will they accurately represent your brand?
B2B sales is about more than just sales; it is about how your brand is represented and the impression it leaves on prospective customers. With thousands of calls being made on behalf of your brand, it is key to choose an outsourced sales firm that will represent your company accurately and positively. Anything less than the utmost professional representation for your company is a risk. Is it one you’re really willing to take? Luckily, this is not a necessary risk to choose so long as you select the right firm to outsource to for your sales efforts.
- Do they count the quality of leads, or simply the quantity?
How qualified are the leads that a firm’s outsourced sales team passes off? If they are only lightly qualified and the firm is working to reach a specific number of leads, it is not guaranteed that they will be of high quality and can turn out to be a waste of time for all parties involved. Properly qualified leads that are measured by quality rather than quantity are more likely to result in a positive return for your investment.
Common calling program pitfalls & setting yourself up for success
It’s natural to be wary of hiring outside help, convincing your manager that it is the right choice, and finding the funds to pay for the service. However, there are things you can control in order to set your partnership with an outsourced team on the path to sales success.
These are some common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to outsourcing, and what you can do to ensure your outsourced program is successful:
Pitfall: The outsourced team was not a good fit.
Solution: There are times when an outsourced team and a company are not a good fit, whether it is because of differences in goals, a misunderstanding between how to measure success, or many other reasons. Choosing an outsourced team that is qualified and can handle the level of professionalism required to represent your brand, understand the market, and have meaningful peer-to-peer conversations with decision makers is the key to uncovering prospective clients’ business pains and result in a list of properly qualified, high-quality leads.
Pitfall: The leads you have aren’t truly qualified.
Solution: A list of improperly qualified (or not at all qualified) leads is a waste of time. A team with business acumen and industry knowledge can host conversations with decision makers and turn over a list of truly qualified leads with all of the information your internal sales team needs to take it to the next level.
Pitfall: You weren’t able to leverage your previous outsourced team.
Solution: Your outsourced team should be able to jump right into the partnership with all the necessary knowledge to host informed peer-to-peer conversations. An outsourced sales team should have the time to engage in market validation and research, the business acumen to upsell to current customers, the finesse required for lead nurturing, and the ability to work on pre-and post-trade show calling on your behalf. If your current or previous outsourced team could not accomplish this, then they may not be the right fit for your sales and business development needs.
Pitfall: Your CEO isn’t sold on outsourcing your lead generation.
Solution: Convincing your CEO that outsourcing is the best option isn’t always easy. If you’re positive that outsourcing is the right choice and will enhance your business development endeavors then you can stand up for your beliefs using a few choice tactics. These can include conducting research to identify the right firm, ensuring sure your team is ready to handle the qualified opportunities an outsourced B2B lead generation program will create, and preparing to discuss the ROI of outsourcing with your CEO.
While there are a few steps that you must take before jumping into a program, taking the time to determine which outsourced lead generation firm is the right fit for your business improves the chance you will see great results, achieve sales success, and witness a positive ROI.
The business world has experienced many shifts and turns in 2020, and your goals might look a bit different than you had initially expected. However, having goals set and ready (and understanding they may change) is important as we head into 2021.
With the pandemic, the election, and other uncertainties that have occurred (and many that still are), organizations may have chosen to pause lead generation efforts or to focus on sales that were farther along the pipeline. This is entirely understandable when considering the circumstances, but luckily there is a new year on the horizon that will bring new opportunities.