Tag Archives: Sales Articles

12 Metrics You Need to Know to Hit Your Sales Goals

By A.J. Windle

What’s the correlation between hitting your sales goals and leprechauns? Well, since it’s March, let me tell you how.

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and do you know what that means? Leprechauns, rainbows, and giant pots of gold. But the challenging part is finding the gold. First, you must find the rainbow and get to the end before it disappears. But how do you get to the rainbow before that happens?

With clear goals, a plan, and discipline, you will find that pot of gold, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Closing sales deals is like the journey to finding your pot of gold—a lot of challenges, obstacles, and some tough leprechauns . . . I mean prospects, along the way.

Find your pot of gold by setting and hitting your sales goals. Here are twelve metrics that support hitting your sales goals you should consider.

1. Outreach Attempts and Interactions per Day: The more outreach attempts, the more potential opportunities. Salespeople don’t love prospecting, but if you don’t search for that pot of gold, you’ll never find it.

2. Contacts per Day: This metric will help you understand how the interaction attempts contribute to your ability to speak with people.

3. Opportunities Created: Do you know how many conversations are becoming real opportunities with prospects? A small number of opportunities can mean many things. You or your sales leader can help determine what is and isn’t working by analyzing sales metrics. For example:

  • Are you or your sales team communicating clearly?
  • What’s the method used to determine a qualified lead?
  • Can you identify a training opportunity based on knowledge or skill gaps?

4. Proposals: Proposals are the next step of opportunities. Are you sending a proposal for every opportunity? If not, why? Watch how the increased number of opportunities translates to sending a proposal. Please pay close attention to what your proposals include and where they fit in the sales process.

5. Conversion Percentage: Conversion focuses on the ability to close meaningful deals. Setting goals for converting proposals is sales 101.

6. Average Order Value or Size: This is a great goal to set. Consider minimum average order values to ensure your company can perform the work with an elevated level of quality and be profitable.

7. Cost per Sale: Work with your clients to understand their cost per sale goal and make that transparent to the rest of the team. This metric is a great lag indicator and will help you dive into your lead goals should you struggle to meet your objective.

8. Length of Sales Cycle: Time is money, and while you should always take the time to make sure you are solving your customers’ problems and developing a great solution, you should make every effort to close quickly.

9. Retention Percentage: It’s harder and more expensive to get new customers, so take care of the ones you have. Set a goal for retaining your existing book of business.

10. Increase the Lifetime Value: It’s less expensive to sell additional services to your existing clients than to find new ones. Uncover their pain points. And if you have a solution, offer it.

11. New Sales Revenue: Every salesperson should know how much new business they’re responsible for bringing in. Setting new business sales goals is a fundamental metric to set and work toward achieving.

12. Profit Margins: Set a minimum margin goal and make sure you know how to price products and services accordingly. Based on the changing economic climate, you should continually evaluate the minimum margin goal.

Conclusion: All of you ambitious sales executives and sales leaders, it’s time to set new sales goals using the metrics we covered to measure your path or your teams’ path to find the pots of gold at the end of your rainbows.   Then focus on hitting your sales goals.

A.J. Windle is the director of client engagement at Quality Contact Solutions. He is responsible for ensuring innovation and key initiatives are accomplished for each QCS client on an ongoing basis. A.J.’s background in call center management includes training and operations. Reach A.J. aj.windle@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5106.

Appointment Setting Versus Lead Generation

By Shaun Thompson

Appointment setting and lead generation are both strategic business options that most companies employ to accelerate their sales, but they’re often commonly misunderstood. The question is, what sets these two apart?

Generating Leads with Lead Generation

B2B sales lead generation starts your sales process. It’s the initial step towards making a sale that involves sparking consumer interest and swaying them to be open to consider your products or services. Concisely, lead generation is all about captivating consumers’ interests, especially those within your target market and industry.

Outbound sales lead generation is also about generating leads. Lead generation has three types of leads: nurturing leads, qualified leads, and unqualified leads.

  • Nurturing leads refer to customers who’ve shown interest in your products and services but aren’t ready to make a purchase. Nourish customers who fall under this aspect by staying connected with consistent follow-ups and providing product information until they are ready to make a purchase.
  • Qualified leads are ideal. These are the types of leads that belong to your target market, are interested in your products and services, and are ready to purchase at any moment.
  • Unqualified leads are those who are not interested at all in your products or services, and they don’t belong in the spectrum of your target audience.

The primary goal of lead generation is to generate and keep your sales pipeline filled with qualified leads. A good flow of leads in your pipeline creates a chance of boosting sales.

Leads may come from various sources such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and digital ads. But one of the leading practices in conducting effective lead generation is telemarketing. B2B telemarketing lead generation is discovering leads through cold calling. Marketing executives reach out directly to prospects to stir and capture their interests.

Telemarketing lead generation has several benefits.

  • A Proven and Tested Method: Some say cold calling is dead. Yet research shows that telemarketing is still an effective medium in lead generation. In a study by Rain Group, 57 precent of C-level executives say that they value information provided by marketing executives over the phone.
  • Helps You Better Align with Leads: Since telemarketing is direct in terms of approach, it’s easier to understand your prospects. Hence, you’ll have a better idea of how best to capture and nourish their interests.
  • Targets Your Ideal Market: Telemarketing lead generation is a personal approach. It can ensure that your appointment setters target your ideal audience, unlike other strategies that use scattergun approaches.

Securing Meetings Through B2B Appointment Setting

Appointment setting comes after lead generation. B2B appointment setting refers to the act of calling qualified leads, specifically key decision-makers, to schedule appointments with them. Appointment setting, in general, picks up the generated leads from the lead generation process for possible appointments. More appointments booked translate to more sales.

As much as lead generation is an essential aspect of the sales process, appointment setting also plays a vital role. Appointment setting opens the door for sales opportunities through scheduled meetings where sales teams can conduct their sales pitches to sway and convince key decision-makers to make a purchase.

While it may look easy to schedule appointments, appointment setting is tedious work. It needs a certain level of trust, rapport, and consistency.

Telemarketing appointment setting also has benefits.

  • Measurable Results: Unlike other sales approaches, appointment setting is immediate. Therefore, it’s easier to measure if your number of scheduled appointments is increasing.
  • Marketing Pipeline: An appointment setting requires a high volume of calls to create higher chances of scheduling appointments. Those calls are also marketing opportunities that can help increase brand awareness and get your brand recognized and noticed in the market.
  • Relationship Building: Appointment setting builds on human connection. The presence of the human element makes relationship-building easier, which later helps in influencing buying decisions. A good relationship level also contributes to building trust, which is a key factor during negotiations and in obtaining referrals.

Lead Generation Versus Appointment Setting

Appointment setting lead generation works together and is an essential strategy employed in your sales and marketing mix. Nourish and generate qualified leads through lead generation. Meanwhile, translate these leads into appointments through appointment setting. Lead generation can occur without an appointment setting campaign. However, it’s best if these two work alongside each other to maximize results and accelerate sales.

Executing appointment setting lead generation campaigns is vital in achieving your sales target. To manage these two campaigns effectively requires experience and expertise.

While you can execute these in-house, partnering with appointment setting lead generation companies is an option, especially if you’re looking to generate fast results and achieve your goals promptly. Why? These companies can help you create strategies aligned with your business. They also have a well-trained staff, necessary technology, and experience to help you get the results you seek.

Shaun Thompson is a director of Telemarketing Professionals, an organization of leading industry specialists in marketing within the lead generation and appointment setting space. Learn more about appointment setting lead generation and other telemarketing services at telemarketingprofessionals.com.au.

Telesales Best Practices: Three Tips to Improve Telesales Training

By Angela Garfinkel

When it comes to telesales best practices, evaluating your training program is typically at the top of the to-do list. Telesales training can be painful, both for the trainees and for the trainer. Why is this? Primarily because the training is typically not that effective. 

Here are three ideas that will immediately improve your telesales training.

1. Intersperse Classroom Training with Hands-On Practice

Telesales training should not be jammed into a condensed schedule, racing from one module to the next. Telesales training is best conducted with a thoughtful blend of classroom training and hands-on experience. When it comes to telesales best practices, I’m an advocate for training 20 percent of the product knowledge and then giving the team some practice with some low value leads. People will not successfully retain all the product knowledge, market positioning, and benefits of your product or service when they don’t get a chance to practice and use what they have learned. 

Ideally, training follows a schedule like this:

  • Day 1: Classroom training on the first 20 percent of the training curriculum.
  • Day 2: Practice with live leads. Pair trainers to cut down on burning through your list with unskilled sales presentations. One sales rep does the talking, and the other sales rep does the call guide navigation and data entry.
  • Day 3: Classroom training on the next 20 percent of the training curriculum.
  • Day 4: Practice with live leads and set some realistic stair-step goals to master and implement the first 40 percent of the information trained.
  • Day 5: Classroom training for half the day with the next 20 percent of the training curriculum. Then spend the second half of the day with live calls.
  • Day 6: Classroom training for half the day with the next 20 percent of the training curriculum. Then spend the second half of the day with live calls.
  • Day 7: Classroom training for half the day with the final 20 percent of the training curriculum and tying it all together.
  • Day 8: Graduation from training.

2. Implement a Training Graduation Bonus

Pay a reward after finishing training and completing a skills assessment certification. This is particularly important if the team is comprised of new hires. Telesales representatives are motivated by money. Pay them a smaller hourly wage for training hours and then offer a bonus for successful completion of training. This includes perfect attendance and skills assessments tests. 

By pairing the training compensation to an end goal—as opposed to just a flat compensation for their hours—the telesales team members will be motivated to attend all training sessions and prepare for the required certifications. This will also cut down on the people that say, “I’ll try this job, and if it doesn’t work out, I don’t have anything to lose.” 

When it comes to telesales best practices, you want people to opt-in for the opportunity to have a high chance of earning the bonus. I recommend the bonus should be 30 to 50 percent of the minimum hourly rate you pay for a training class hour.

3. Integrate the “Why” into the Training

Why do we say the things we say? What is the psychology behind the words? How does the product or service make the world a better place? What is the potential customer missing out on by saying “no” to our call? 

As a telesales best practice, I recommend that you do the deep work to identify the “why” in your training curriculum. Start with answering these questions.

  • Why does the client and product exist?
  • Why do we pitch the product/solution the way we do?
  • Why does this product or service matter?
  • Why should a prospect take our call and listen to us?
  • Why should a gatekeeper provide us with access to the decision-maker?

Put these three training tips into practice to produce better telesales results.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. She leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. Angela can be reached at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.

How to Use Outsourced Telesales for Increased Market Share

By Megan Hottman

What is outsourced telesales?

Outsourced telesales is partnering with an external organization to help sell your products or services directly to the customer by telephone. An outsourced partner can help transform the way your company gains market share while maintaining and supporting your current customer base.

There are several reasons a company may look at outsourcing all or part of its business. Some of the reasons include efforts to reduce internal costs, to have an increased focus on internal core objectives, to free up internal resources, and to help support or maximize and achieve overall growth objectives while increasing market share. It’s this last point that is important to call out and to take note of.

Yesterday’s outsourcing focused solely on reducing costs, with perhaps a dash of technology improvements. Today, outsourcing is all about collaboration with the right outsourced telesales partner that has the experience to help achieve and support strategic organizational objectives.

There are several ways outsourced telesales partners can help support increasing market share. Here are a few of those ways.

Outsourced Telesales Will Increase Contacts

That’s right. Outsourced telesales will increase the number of dials and contacts. The outsourced telesales team will be 100 percent focused on picking up the phone and calling someone to offer a product, solution, or service. It may seem obvious, but today too many salespeople rely on email, social media, and inbound leads. Think about it for a minute. Having a question answered, an issue resolved, or someone that took the time to listen to the person on the other end of the phone leads to higher customer satisfaction. 

Now, what does customer satisfaction have to do with gaining market share? According to an article from Salesforce, when customers are satisfied, they are loyal to your brand and more likely to have repeat sales. They also point out that this helps reduce the costs associated with finding new customers, which speaks directly to market share.

The right outsourced telesales partners are not just skilled at outbound calls. They have the skillset, expertise, and capacity to support various functions that interface with customers. Other benefits of phone calls that help gain market share:

  • Speaking to people, which is much more personal and leads to a two-way dialogue where callers can ask questions and receive answers 
  • Having the ability to check for understanding and clarify if needed
  • Negotiating larger deal sizes and generating more sales
  • Receiving feedback from customers/prospects live and in real-time rather than a web form

An Outsourced Telesales Team Will Generate More Leads and Opportunities

Telemarketing is one of the most effective ways to generate qualified leads. The landscape today demands that the process of lead generation provides high quality and relevant information, understanding what business challenge you’re addressing and being diligent with follow up—all while providing the best experience for the prospect. Organizations use outsourced telesales partners to help increase market share through lead generation services.

Lead generation is effective for companies of every size and helps support consistent growth when done correctly. Partnering with the right outsourced telesales partner that has expertise in lead generation will help achieve the desired results of gaining market share. The ideal outsourced telesales partner to support and drive lead generation efforts will:

  • Demonstrate their capabilities of building a bridge between your organization and the prospect
  • Help identify the right prospects by continually making suggestions to refine the process
  • Serve as a true partner and act as an extension of your team

An Effective Outsourced Telesales Team Will Demonstrate Relevant Experience

Today, experience matters more than ever. An outsourced telesales provider should not just “talk the talk” but should be able to provide insight and give suggestions based on previous experiences and lessons learned with helping organizations increase market share. 

Tapping the expertise of the right outsourced telesales partner can help mitigate potential costly mistakes. The best-outsourced telesales partners can help demonstrate their experience by:

  • Being nimble and flexible. This is crucial as changes to market conditions or other objectives can change in an instant.
  • Being objective. An outsourced telesales provider can view your company and operation from a different lens. Their fresh and unique perspective has the power to help model a successful outcome.
  • Being willing to dig in. They can figure out what tactics, scripts, and resources will be most successful. Outsourced telesales partners should be willing to figure out what will work best to drive reaching organizational objectives rather than just saying something isn’t working.

Outsourced Telesales Will Make Your Business More Nimble

No matter the size of the business, speed to market really matters when looking at increasing market share. If you can’t get to market before your competition does, it doesn’t matter how great your product is. Slow speed to market is like handing over a giant competitive advantage to your unwelcomed competition. Time to market requires a strategic approach so you can get products in front of the desired audience as swiftly and organized as possible. Partnering with the right outsourced telesales provider can help increase speed to market, which in turn increases market share.


Outsourcing has a proven ability to deliver regardless of the size of business. For companies of all sizes across all industries, outsourcing can be a complete game-changer for achieving organization-wide objectives.

Megan Hottman is an operations manager for Quality Contact Solutions. Megan’s experience includes working as an outbound telemarketing manager for a Fortune 100 company. Megan has been both a client and an employee of QCS, so she knows firsthand the quality, productivity, and passion the team brings to work each day. You can reach Megan at megan@qualitycontactsolutions.com.

How to Move Leads through Your Sales Funnel

By Janet Livingston

All people in sales depend on the sales funnel. Salespeople at outsource call centers are no different. As the metaphor goes, you pour leads into the top of the funnel, and sales flow out the bottom. Of course, this presumes you have an effective sales team in place to work the leads. Conversely, an empty sales funnel will produce no sales, regardless of how good your salesforce is. No leads mean no sales.

To better understand how a sales funnel functions, let’s look at the life cycle of a lead.

Acquisition: To start, we need a source of leads. This lead acquisition phase occurs through marketing, either directly or indirectly.

  • Direct marketing initiatives for call centers include paid promotions, such as print media, online ads, and direct mail. A target audience receives a marketing piece tailored to them. If they respond, they become a lead, which feeds into the top of the sales funnel.
  • Indirect marketing initiatives are those where certain elements are put into place to facilitate lead generation. One example is an organic internet search that directs potential buyers to your website. This hinges on having a professional website with relevant content that is strengthened with search engine optimization (SEO). A second example is word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. To make this work, you need to provide quality service, and it helps to ask for referrals. Again, these leads feed into your sales funnel.

Qualification: The next step is evaluating the quality of these leads. Ask strategic questions to help make this determination:

  • Do they seek a service you provide? If not, they aren’t a viable lead; don’t waste time on them.
  • Do they have the budget? Some people want to buy, but they can’t afford to. Move them into the nurturing track. In this phase, encourage them to add your services to their budget for next year or help them find the money in this year’s budget.
  • Do they have an immediate or future need? Immediate needs should be assigned to sales without delay. Future needs should be nurtured. Keep them engaged until they are ready to buy.
  • Do they have the authority to buy? Some people may be gathering information. Others can merely make recommendations to decision makers. And the rest have the authorization to make purchasing decisions. Nurture the first two groups, and assign the third group to sales.

Nurturing: Leads that are qualified but not ready to buy must be nurtured—that is, prepared to one day purchase from you. This is often done most cost-effectively by using a form of email marketing, often called a drip campaign, where strategic messages are automatically sent out at prescribed intervals. Nurturing should provide engagement, deliver information, and offer encouragement.

  • Provide engagement to keep your call center in the prospects’ minds so that when they are ready to buy or their situation changes, you are the first call center they think of—and the only one they call.
  • Deliver information to communicate the value of your service, the cost-effective nature of what you offer, and how you can help their business be more effective and profitable. This includes sharing success stories of other clients. But before you disclose their results, get their permission or obscure their identity.
  • Offer encouragement to move the process forward. This might include suggesting that they add your services to their budget or doing a cost-benefit or ROI (return on investment) analysis.

Assignment: Leads that are qualified, have a current need, and possess the authority to buy must go directly to sales for immediate attention. All other leads stay in the nurturing phase until they are ready and able to buy.

  • Be strategic in who you assign leads to. Some salespeople do better selling certain services or interacting with different personalities of buyers. Make a good match to maximize the opportunity for success.
  • Hold salespeople accountable for the leads you provide them. Accept no excuses.

Sales Opportunity: By only passing vetted leads on to sales, the assigned salesperson can focus on quality prospects who are ready to buy. This keeps them from wasting time on leads who aren’t yet ready or never will be.

  • The first key to working these leads is to respond. At too many organizations, there is no response at all. Though this happens at other call centers, it should never occur at yours.
  • The second key to sales success is to respond fast. In today’s on-demand, instant-gratification society, people expect an immediate response. Each hour of delay, even each minute, serves to lessen the chances of sales success.
  • The third sales key is following up diligently. If the prospect has a question, answer it. If the prospect needs more information, provide it. If the prospect gives you their time frame, respect them by not making contact too soon or delaying too long. And if you have none of these scenarios, contact with the prospect periodically, but be sure that each contact counts by striving to move the buying process forward.

Close: When the lead is ready to buy, be ready to close. There are many techniques to close sales. Learn them, apply them, and use the ones that best fit you, your personality, and your style. Just be sure not to bungle a sales opportunity, because you may not get a second chance. After all the work you and your call center have done to move this lead to this point in the process, don’t give your prospect an excuse to go with your competition. Make the sale and close the deal.

And each time you do, another sale drips out the sales funnel.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or call 800-901-7706.

Connecting on an Outbound B2B Sales Call

By Matthew Robison

Let’s face it: Nobody likes receiving sales calls. Those of us who aren’t millennials remember the days of the landline ringing at dinnertime and having to listen to someone trying to sell us a vacuum cleaner or get us to contribute to the latest fund-raising event. The timing was never good, and there was always the internal struggle of being rude and just hanging up or waiting until we could politely say we weren’t interested. Over time salespeople got better at recognizing this and developed the technique of not pausing where we expected them to while giving us their spiel, which would throw us off our game of ending the call as quickly as possible.

Since the advent of the Do Not Call (DNC) list, most people rarely have to deal with solicitors at home. But what about at work? For many, those dinnertime phone call memories are still ingrained, and the hairs on the back of their necks automatically go up when they receive a sales call at the office. So how do we counteract that reaction when we’re on the other side of the phone line? 

Ditch the Salesy Talk: Picture wanting to buy a used car and having to deal with one of those salespeople. What happened when you read that? Did your heart start beating a little faster? Did a deep sense of dread envelope you? For so many people, that’s the feeling they get when they receive an unsolicited sales call. It’s our job—in a matter of seconds—to try and assuage those fears.

Start by being a real human being. Use the same tone of voice you would use when speaking with a manager at work. Be friendly and engaging while still showing respect. You’re not your prospect’s best friend, but you also don’t need to be overly formal.

Another salesy turnoff that most people hate is answering the phone and hearing the salesperson say, “How are you doing?” You may think you’re being friendly, but until you have developed a relationship with that buyer, asking him or her that question right away will most likely earn you a terse “Fine” that does nothing to move you down the path toward a sale.

Instead, introduce yourself politely. Ensure that you have the correct person, and start by letting them know you will be taking only a few moments of their time. Then state the reason for your call. When you actually sound like a human being instead of a salesperson, you’re much more likely to be responded to as a human being. 

Ask Questions and Be Engaging: A fundamental rule about human beings is that we love to talk about ourselves. What questions can you ask your prospects to learn more about their business (thus helping you with the sale) while getting them to open up? Depending on the product you’re selling, it can be extremely important to find out what processes they’re using. Learn what they do on a daily basis at that facility. Ask how long they have been with the company.

There are many great questions you can ask to get people to open up. The key is to always be ready with a few questions—and most importantly, to listen when they answer. Many times telesales representatives are so worried about what they will say next that they don’t truly listen to the customer.

The most powerful weapon you have is your ability to ask questions and listen to the answers. When customers are willing to share even the most basic of answers, you have a great opportunity to find out what’s important to them and what their current pain points are. This information can give you fantastic insight into knowing how best to sell to them.

Connect on a Human Level: If you are lucky enough to reach a someone who is willing to hear you out, it’s extremely important to somehow connect with him or her on a human level. Be personal. Customers want to buy from people, not companies. Is it Monday morning and you’re calling Bob in Wisconsin? Bring up yesterday’s big win for the Packers. Does Jane say something about being behind today because she was in charge of the carpool this morning? Ask her how old her kids are and briefly mention your own. Any chance to connect on a personal level can be helpful in building the bridge toward a sale.

Conclusion: In spite of the fact that our society runs on technology, there is still a need and desire for good human interaction. Unless you are selling a one-time purchase item, your goal should always be to develop a long-term relationship, not to just go for the one-time sale. If you can provide value while also connecting on a human level, you’ll go a long way toward becoming a valued partner for your customers.

Matthew Robison has spent over ten years working in call centers in a variety of roles. He is currently sales manager for a nationwide welding and safety distributor.

Telemarketing Lead Generation

Five Tips for High Quality Leads

By A. J. Windle

Our economy exists because of sales. Think about it. Everything we have is tied back to a sale that was made from a conversation, which all started by generating that first lead. Most businesses have a goal to grow, and in order to do that, they need new leads and new opportunities.

So what’s the secret sauce? How can you get more leads, and how can you make sure that your sales team is capitalizing on those leads? Every business is different. However, I can tell you that after running hundreds of B2B telemarketing lead-generation programs, there are several processes that I believe will make sure your team is generating strong leads and your sales force is capitalizing on those opportunities.

Follow these five tips, and you’ll see improved results.

1) Multiple Touch Points: One of the hardest and most time-consuming aspects of lead generation is actually reaching the person who actually makes the decisions. Regardless if you are generating your own leads or using outsourced telemarketing, the days of people sitting at their desk all day is dead. We are truly living in a mobile age. So how can you more effectively reach prospects? You must use a multiple-touch approach.

Call, leave voicemails, send emails, connect on LinkedIn, and join groups with people you know need the product or service you are selling. Implement a process for these contact methods, including what attempts you will try using a different or multiple-touch approach. Also consider the amount of time between contact attempts. You do not want to call, leave a voicemail, send an email, and connect with your prospects on LinkedIn on the same day. That is borderline creepy, and it will more than likely push them into your competitor’s hands.

2) It’s Not an Interrogation: One of the biggest mistakes I see when launching a B2B telemarketing lead-generation program is using an overly interrogative script. I get it—you want to ensure that your sales team has as much information as possible going into the sales call in order to be successful. Consider this: If you had to sit on the phone for fifteen minutes answering questions, only to find out the purpose of the call was to set up another call with more questions, would you stay on the phone? I’m going to put my money on “no.”

Don’t get me wrong, valuable information needs to be collected. However, if you are skilled enough to get C-Level managers on the phone, respect their time and understand that they probably have better things to do. Keep questions to a minimum. Part of the follow-up call from your sales team should be engaging the conversation and asking more questions so they can build the relationship with the potential client.

3) Setting Up the Sales Call: This is critical. If your outsourced telemarketing team does not have a proper process in place to set up the follow-up sales call, your leads will run cold. Time is critical. The closer the follow-up call to the original lead generation call, the more successful you are going to be.

I recommend a maximum of no more than two days, which should only be exceeded if there is a very valid reason. If your prospect wants to push past a week, don’t set the appointment. Instead schedule a time to call the prospect back when there is a smaller window. This will keep show rates up and the likelihood of your prospect recalling the initial interest much higher. Second, send the prospect a calendar invite while you’re on the phone together and get the prospect to commit to adding it to his or her Outlook calendar. If the time is blocked off, it is a lot less likely the prospect will back out of the appointment. Last, walk your prospect through the next steps. If a prospect clearly knows what is going to happen after you get off the phone, he or she more likely will be prepared for the next level conversation.

4) Create a Lead Rating System: Every lead is not equal, so why do people classify them as such? When conducting a lead-generation program, you are going to get bad, good, and great leads. The key is to know the difference so you can appropriately prioritize the time in which you contact these prospects back.

When conducting B2B telemarketing lead generation, you should have a method for rating prospects on how they answer specific questions you have deemed necessary within the script. You can use the hot or cold method; however, I prefer a bit more detailed approach of A, B, or C.

“A” leads want to make a decision now; they have been looking, have the budget, and want a call right away. They are informed, and you can tell they have done their research.

“B” leads are prospects who are interested in having further conversations. However, their time frame for a decision could be several months out. You will know when talking to them that they are interested, but they just don’t have a plan in place.

“C” leads are those who don’t necessarily want to have a phone call or in-person conversation but would like more information sent to them for future reference. Because timely follow-up is critical with prospects, having a system in place for your outsourced telemarketing team that clearly conveys who is priority number one helps increase the likelihood of closing deals.

 5) Synergize Lead-Generation and Sales Teams: Finally, one of the most important pieces of a successful B2B telemarketing lead-generation program is to open communication between your lead-generation team and sales team. Although these teams both play separate roles, the goal is the same, and you should never create silos.

A strong lead-generation team should always know what the sales team is looking for in new leads, the results of leads sent, and what they need to do to improve the quality of leads that the sales team is receiving. I recommend a weekly or even monthly call between the two teams to ensure everyone is on the same page. The time spent will be worth it.

Conclusion: Generating high-quality leads for your sales team is a learning process and one that requires constant refinement. However, if you stick to some basic processes and communicate your expectations clearly, it can be fun and rewarding.

A. J. Windle is senior operations manager for Quality Contact Solutions, an outsourced telemarketing organization, which has run hundreds of B2B telemarketing lead-generation programs. With fourteen years of telemarketing experience, A. J. has built his career on creating win-win-win relationships between his team, his clients, and his telemarketing vendors that drives success. A. J. can be reached at aj.windle@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5106.

Ask Kathy: Effectively Prevent Customer Cancellations

By Kathy Sisk

Customer cancellations are inevitable in the BPO industry, and they can be frustrating. There are many reasons why a customer might cancel an order, but most are triggered by buyer’s remorse. However, you can take steps to solidify your customers’ buying decisions.

Solidify Your Sale: This crucial step in preventing cancellations is easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Solidify the sale by reviewing the payment information and order details before asking the customer why he or she decided to buy. Do not sound hesitant when asking this question; make your prospect feel like you want to know.

Phrase the question to make it comfortable for you, such as, “John, I’m really glad you decided to go with us and get product X! I like to ask my customers what made them decide to order. Can you tell me the reasons behind your decision?” Then give him time to talk; your job is to listen. Avoid leading him.

Seek a Second Chance: When a customer calls to cancel, ask why. Phrase this carefully, such as, “Please share with me why you feel it wouldn’t work for or benefit you?” This will help you dig deeper into customers’ real issues and handle their hesitation in order to provide the opportunity to ask for a second chance. You may change their minds and resolve specific doubts.

Help Customers Rethink Their Options: Start a constructive conversation to prevent customer cancellations from occurring. This will help you get to the root of the problem and enable you to take the necessary actions:

  • Offer assistance to correct any product problems.
  • Set up a webinar for customers who find it difficult to use your product and show hidden benefits they can get from it.
  • Show them you value their opinion by adding their input to a public forum.
  • Create a billing option or give a discount to address issues about cost.
  • Provide time for the feeling to pass when a customer makes a knee-jerk reaction; then make a follow up call.

However, if cancelling is truly the best option, make sure the customer’s final experience with the company leaves a great impression.

Kathy Sisk, founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc., is a trainer and consultant, contributing thirty-five years of expertise to the telemarketing, sales, and customer service industries.

[From Connection Magazine – January/February 2016]

Ask Kathy: Mastering the Trial Close

By Kathy Sisk

Closing a sale occurs when the customer agrees with the conditions and gives the agent his or her firm commitment. Closing a sale should be a natural ending of the sales process, but it should not be viewed as transactional, because customers may hesitate with purchases made over the phone. Don’t try to close without trial closing first.

Mastering the trial close is a paramount for an effective sales agent. It places you in a solid selling position and gives you the perfect time to test for a commitment before the final close.

The Trial Close Is a Powerful Tool: A trial close helps sales agents assess how customers feel about a product or service. It is a powerful sales tool that is critical in closing a sale. However, if you use a trial close in the wrong way or at the wrong time, you may lose the opportunity of selling the customer altogether.

While speaking with customers, a sales agent must constantly note the customers’ reactions. Gauging their interest helps determine when to use a trial close. Practice helps agents become instinctive regarding the process. The use of an effective trial close is a technique to achieve a higher close percentage.

 Trial Close Examples: Prior to trial closing you need to get your customers’ reaction. You are not asking for a commitment. Instead you are asking how they feel about what you have shared so far.

  • Do you have any questions about what we have discussed?
  • Do you have any suggestions about our proposal?
  • Does that sound reasonable?
  • Does that sound fair enough?

The trial close happens after sharing the features and benefits and after you get your customers’ reaction to ensure that what you communicated with them is of interest. When the customers’ response is positive, you can safely go to the trial close, restate the offer with benefits, and give the price.

Trial Close Importance: Many agents make the mistake of asking customers for their commitment without knowing how they feel about the offer. Failing to acknowledge customers’ questions and concerns may result in a “not interested” response.

A trial close helps agents strengthen their sales process and prevent lost sales.

Kathy Sisk, founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc., is a trainer and consultant, contributing thirty-five years of expertise to the telemarketing, sales, and customer service industries.

[From Connection Magazine – November/December 2015]

Monitoring Your Salespeoples’ Gatekeeper Skills

By Nathan Teahon

Is your business-to-business telesales program performing below par? If so, what’s wrong? This could be a million-dollar question. Poor performance might be due to any number of things. Most smart telesales managers will look at the pitch, the offer, the close, or perhaps the call list. Those are great items to constantly evaluate, and many times a small adjustment will yield tremendous results. However, one of the most overlooked pieces of the equation can be successfully getting past the gatekeeper to reach a decision maker. In fact, I’ve found that getting to a decision maker is 75 percent of the battle.

So, if that is true, why is it one of the last things to be evaluated? A typical sales staff is made up of talented individuals who know how to talk and how to sell. One of the first things they learn is how to get past a gatekeeper. It is not the core of the sales process, and it is almost certainly not the aspect of a call that people would consider the most fun. Naturally, the most mundane part of a person’s job often leads to resting on one’s laurels. When the salesperson gets the decision maker on the phone, the job gets fun and the salesperson become fired up. Getting past a gatekeeper? Meh. No fun there. And because managers often view this as a basic skill versus a sales skill that separates the leaders from the pack, it’s easy to overlook.

Getting past the gatekeeper isn’t a new concept; it’s simply the most overlooked. It might be time for a reality check on how staff is handling gatekeepers. You can do this by conducting 100 percent non-contact monitoring sessions. Sure, you can listen to how they are doing in this regard during the course of normal monitoring, but inevitably, the bulk of your attention is going to be on the core goal of the sales call.

During a non-contact session, you can pull fifty random non-contact recordings and spend an hour, or even just thirty minutes, listening to nothing other than how your team is handling gatekeepers. This will tell you exactly what you need to focus on. The top four basic requirements are:

  1. Ask for a specific callback time if the decision maker is not available.
  2. Ask for an alternate decision maker if the person asked for is not available.
  3. Use the client name up front with the gatekeeper.
  4. Work quickly and intelligently through automated machines.

Using this list, keep score and mark a point off for each category missed. At the end of the session, you will have a non-contact accuracy score. Doing this evaluation is mundane and not much fun. You should probably load up on coffee or an energy drink prior to doing it. But, rarely is one of these sessions unproductive. No matter how experienced and diligent your team is, these habits are the easiest to forget.

The Importance of Alternate Decision Makers: Why is it important to ask for alternate decision makers? Most gatekeepers will tell you that at least half the calls they get are someone asking for “Bob Smith” when they really needed “Joe Nelson.”

Also, there are usually additional people with decision-making authority. Most companies don’t have a structure where only one person has the authority to buy. Seventy-five percent of the battle is getting a decision maker on the phone, but it’s naïve to think there is only one person in an organization with the authority to deal with a sales agent.

Try Setting a Phone Appointment: Are your agents’ calls typically ten to fifteen minutes or more in length? If they are, that is a significant amount of time for the decision maker to spend with a salesperson when the person is not expecting the call.

Most people keep rigid calendars, and salespeople can increase the odds of a decision-maker contact by getting the call on that person’s calendar. Have your team set up an appointment, and then send an outlook calendar invitation. Many people will end up canceling or not taking the sales agent’s call at the set appointment time, but if they have the placeholder for a time to talk with the agent, he or she is less likely to have to play phone tag. People appreciate having an appointment, and sending out a calendar invite is professional, giving the agent more credibility. This isn’t the right approach for every campaign, but depending on the objective of the call and how long it takes, it can be very effective.

Approaching the Gatekeeper: I’m not going to cover getting past a gatekeeper from a sales agent’s perspective; that article has been written many times, and it’s funny how a process seemingly so simple has so many varying opinions on which strategy is best. Should the agent say, “I am calling for John Smith,” or should he ask, “Is John Smith available?” Is it better for agents to treat gatekeepers like gold, or is it better to be as nondescript as possible and pretend the decision maker has been sitting by the phone anxiously awaiting the agent’s call all day? Should the salesperson be polite and ask them how they are, or is it a waste of time that will annoy them? I’ve seen articles written on both sides of these considerations, each giving a very convincing argument.

First, each one of these approaches will work in specific circumstances. Next, not all sales programs are the same. What works best for getting to the president of a hospital is not necessarily what works best in connecting with an owner of a fitness facility. Also, sales agents aren’t created equal. It’s certainly worthy to create standard practices for your team, but don’t take away their flexibility to do what works best for them.

Final Thoughts: One last rule of thumb: Instruct your agents to not treat gatekeepers like gatekeepers. I’ve never seen an employee with the title “Gatekeeper.” They are human beings doing a job, just like everyone else. When they are screening calls for their boss, they aren’t being mean to your salespeople – they are doing their job. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a National Gatekeeper Convention where they all gather and snicker about the time they wouldn’t let that salesperson through despite his or her strongest efforts. If I am wrong, someone let me know.

As my mother said, “Treat people the way you would like to be treated. If you do that, odds are you’ll have some success. “

Nathan Teahon is the director of operations for Quality Contact Solutions, www.qualitycontactsolutions.com.

[From Connection Magazine May/Jun 2014]