Outbound call centers depend on skilled and well-trained agents as much as useful software to consistently meet business goals. Keeping an outbound call center operating efficiently means making the most of both the talent you have on hand and the tools you can afford to implement.
Outbound call centers thrive only when agents can place calls with confidence, and confidence is borne of preparedness. Call centers that implement agent performance management solutions equip their agents with the ongoing coaching and training needed to perform at their best. Speech analytics tools like CallMiner Eureka, for instance, allows call center managers to monitor outbound calls for language patterns, indicators of customer sentiment, and other factors that provide insight into performance.
These insights can help your call center identify the phraseology commonly used during the most successful calls, which can then be used to help agents improve their performance and meet expectations, at both the individual and team level. What’s more, by arming agents with the tools and insights they need for success leads to greater employee satisfaction, which, in turn, contributes to increased customer satisfaction.
Download the report, The Insider’s Guide to Outbound Contact Centers, to leant more about the outbound calling marketplace, as well as best practices for outbound contact centers.
Challenges Outbound Call Centers Face
Outbound call centers face unique challenges in the marketplace. Walking the line between being a welcome interruption and an unwelcome nuisance is not easy to do.
On top of managing this delicate balance with prospects on each call, outbound call center agents must also mitigate compliance concerns with carefully planned interactions. Keeping leads interested without wasting their time further complicates matters.
To help your outbound calling operation overcome these kinds of obstacles, we’ve rounded up a selection of immensely useful tips below. Read on to learn more:
Tools to Leverage for Your Outbound Call Center
1. Aim to connect.
“A good outbound sales script contains a strong connecting statement. Why is it that you’re calling, what prompted the call.” – Grace Sweeney, 5 Outbound Sales Scripts You Can Adjust on the Fly, Copper; Twitter: @copperinc
2. Keep metrics in mind and up to date.
“KPIs (key performance indicators) or targets are basically there to help you measure your team’s performance. But you have to know how to read them, what they mean and how to act on the results in order for the exercise to be worthwhile. For example, keeping them up to date is massively important, as there’s no point in having them if you don’t keep them up to date and act on them. You should also use the results to plan for the future.” – How to Succeed with Outbound Calling – Part 1, Call Centre Helper; Twitter: @callcentrehelp
3. Leverage speech analytics software for ongoing training and coaching.
“Call center training for new recruits often lasts for about six weeks where new agents spend time on theory as well as practicing calls with their managers. Training, however, should not be viewed as a one-time thing. Instead, you should incorporate regular coaching sessions into your processes to help underperforming agents. Leverage best practices from your top performing agents to get other team members up to their level. Speech analytics softwarethat tracks 100% of agent calls can help you identify the phraseology used during successful calls. Use this vital intelligence to help underperformers.” – 12 Call Center Best Practices You Need to Be Doing Right Now, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner
4. Put together a prospect list ahead of time.
“A high-quality prospect list is composed of individuals who fall under your target demographics. They tend to show real interest in your offer because it aligns with their needs or desires. Instead of looking like a pesky salesperson, you can appear like a reliable consultant ready to offer solutions to their predicaments.” – Outbound Telemarketing Tips That Will Make Them Listen, Magellan Solutions; Twitter: @magellanbpo
5. Use industry-specific email to break the ice with new leads.
“Do any of your top target accounts fall into the same industry or vertical? If you don’t have the time or resources to set up individual one-to-one targeting for each company, industry-specific messaging can be the next best thing.” – Brad Beutler, 6 Examples of Using Employee Email as a New Account Based Marketing Channel, Terminus; Twitter: @Terminus
6. Consider purchasing lead lists from third parties for additional relevant prospects.
“Consider using a third-party provider to gain more targeted leads without spending exorbitant amounts of time on prospecting. There are dozens of companies out there that collect, verify, and sell prospect information to help sales teams build pipelines for their outbound campaigns. While it won’t replace your own internal research and account-targeting tactics, purchasing lead data from other sources can ease some of that end-of-month and end-of-quarter pain.” – Tamara Scott, 5 Outbound Sales Strategies to Increase Revenue, TechnologyAdvice; Twitter: @Technology_Adv
7. Avoid over-optimization of auto-dialers if it negatively impacts agent performance.
“The ultimate in efficiency is to link a dialer to the ACD and when the dialer notes periods of inactivity and staff availability, it can place an outbound call and match up to an available agent. This is the most efficient use of staff, but it’s not always a practical approach. Some agents can’t deal with the true call by call mixture of inbound and outbound calling. Just because the technology makes it possible doesn’t mean you should do it.” – Penny Reynolds, A Simple Approach to Staffing for Outbound Calls, SWPP; Twitter: @swpp_org
8. Leverage VoIP for less intimidating phone numbers when placing long-distance calls.
“Consider getting a business VoIP service to support your local and international outbound calls. With a web dialer, your call center agent can quickly place calls from a computer and log important call notes. Additionally, they can contact long-distance clients and display local area codes instead of international ones. Individuals are more likely to answer recognizable or local numbers instead of random, unknown ones.” – Beny Mouen, 11 Proven Tips to Improve Your Outbound Calls Strategy, GlobalCallForwarding; Twitter: @forwardcalls
9. Use lead-centric data mining tools to boost outbound results by providing much-needed context for calls.
“One way to blunt the sharp edges of outbound prospecting is to do diligent prospect research by collecting readily available information about potential buyers. Gleaning data from corporate websites, news, and social media activities is a good place to start. Meanwhile, technology — such as software that collects and stores useful data — will help warm up the process of cold prospecting.” – Audrey Weber, The Best Outbound Sales Strategies and How To Track Performance, Outreach.io; Twitter: @outreach_io
For more information on how factors such as voice of the customer can be measured efficiently, download our white paper, Measuring the Voice of the Customer: Data Driven Strategies & Tools to Unlock Voice of the Customer Insight.
10. Use tools that accommodate multiple channels.
“Forget about software that does not have omnichannel features. Omnichannel contact center software offers a single dashboard from which you have an eagle’s eye view of all that is happening across various channels like email, chat, phone, SMS, fax and social media. From one dashboard your employees can view everything and connect on any channel through which a customer has initiated contact and then switch channels if required. Work becomes easy. You can keep track of disparate channels of communication and feed it all into your CRM for easy referencing.” – Hiten Dudhatra, Top Tips on Choosing the Best Call Center Software For Your Organization, YourStory; Twitter: @_mystorycom
11. Automate the busywork of dialing.
“The main agenda of employing a call center solution is to save the time of agents so they can maximize the talk-time and productivity. Therefore, to raise sales it is vital to use features of the best call center software. One of the most astounding features that can be looked at in the call center solution is the predictive dialer. It automatically dials lead numbers and passes merely those calls to the agents that are related to a real human. This helps in saving a lot of time for the agents to invest in sales processes.” – Effective 5 Tips to improve an Outbound Call Center strategy, Elision; Twitter: @elisiontec
Outbound Call Center Techniques & Best Practices to Implement
12. Use outbound marketing to coax new leads into your sales funnel.
“Outbound can be used to build awareness, initiate contact, gather research, profile, provide immediate responses and distribute early stage resources.” – Shawn Hadden, Ultimate Guide of Account Based Marketing With Outbound Marketing, UnboundB2B; Twitter: @UnboundB2B
13. Unite marketing with sales through an account-based marketing approach for high-quality leads.
“In account-based marketing, sales and marketing work together to create an always-on series of touches and relationship building aimed at these accounts. One meeting with an account is just the beginning – not the end – of an account-based marketing program.” – Craig Rosenberg, Insights and Research for Marketing, Sales Development and Sales, TOPO; Twitter: @topohq
14. Know your audience before each call.
“Who will you be selling to? What’s your target audience? Without this information, your sales team won’t contact enough of the right people to make a significant number of sales. Segmenting your market into smaller groups also helps tailor your sales approach. This is especially important if you sell different products, or your customers are in different verticals.” – Steli Efti, Guide to outbound sales: Best strategies, tools, and tips, Close; Twitter: @close
15. Avoid wasting people’s time with small talk.
“Even though you need to sound conversational, don’t misconstrue that as an invitation to go into an extended introduction of purely small talk. Your prospects’ lives are busy. You may not know exactly what takes up the bulk of their time, but you do need to respect that they likely don’t have extra minutes floating around begging to be spent on chit-chat with a stranger.” – Lindsay Schluntz, The 5 Best Practices of Outbound Call Centers, Call Logic; Twitter: @call_logic
16. Use focused goals to your advantage in training.
“An outbound call center representative can be more quickly and narrowly trained and focused based upon the type of outbound calls they will be making.” – Inbound vs. Outbound Call Center: Which One Does My Company Need?, Global Response; Twitter: @BrandCarePeople
17. Try warm-up messages before calls.
“Another great thing you can do is to send a text message before the call as a warm-up notification that will make the customers most likely to attend and listen. Do the proper research to create more customized messages that will boost your possibilities of closing the call the best way.” – Six Best Practices For An Effective Outbound Call Strategy, The Inscriber Mag; Twitter: @TheInscriberMag
18. Reframe gatekeeper relationships.
“Stop looking as the gatekeeper as the enemy. Create a sense of rapport and get them working with you to help provide solutions to their business needs. Start by enlisting their help by asking who the best person to talk with is if you haven’t connected before. Often, they will tell you who the right person to speak with is and if you ask for their email, they will probably give it to you, turning the gatekeeper into a referral source when you mention them in your follow-up email.” – Jess Pingrey, 8 Outbound Sales Call Script Examples With Proven Results, Fit Small Business; Twitter: @FitSmallBiz
19. Work on vocal dynamics as well.
“Most of us take our speaking voices for granted. But the tone, pitch, inflection and even the speed at which you talk can have a powerful influence on your listener. Think about typical news anchors or radio commentators. They have voices that command attention. With a little effort, you can develop one too.
“Try recording a general collection call opening and then listen to yourself. Make adjustments as needed, and try again. This will not only improve how you come across on the phone, it will also build confidence. It does take a little time and extra work, but remember, success is strongly linked to preparation.” – Robert M. Tharnish, Six Tips for Making Collection Calls that Get Results, ABC Amega; Twitter: @ABCAmega
20. Prioritize on-the-job experience.
“Waiting until your employee’s first official day to commence training is a waste of time. Think fake calls in the boardroom will suffice? Let your agents train on the job to get a feel of what it’s actually like.” – Outbound Call Center Worst Practices, Remote Call Center; Twitter: @RemoteCallCentr
21. Counter objections with empathy.
“The best way for the outbound call center services provider to handle the objection is to use words like feel, felt, found. After understanding what the objection of the prospect is, you should tell him that you understand how he feels. In fact, others also used to feel the same way earlier.” – Sukriti Saini, Best Tips for Outbound Call Centers to Handle Calls, Go4Customer; Twitter: @go4customer
22. Keep in-call assumptions to a minimum.
“Telemarketers often complete customers’ sentences for them in a way that leads to a different meaning. This hurts the rapport between the customer and the agent. Remember, every customer is unique, and their experience in using a particular product may not be similar to other people’s. Listen to what they are saying, and try not to interrupt their speech. It degrades your image as a company’s agent, and the customer may disconnect the call.” – Emily Watson, 12 Tips to Win Customers Over the Phone, Business.com; Twitter: @businessdotcom
23. Avoid carrying negative interactions over to new calls.
“An outbound sales call center needs to remember that any call can turn into their next big customer. So, they will always have to be prepared and put forth their best efforts in the call.” – Important Tips for Outbound Call Centers to Handle Calls, ICCS; Twitter: @ICCSIndia
24. Move on if “no” is the final answer.
“If you feel confident, you can try — politely — to argue your case, but sometimes a ‘no’ really is a ‘no.’ Imagine the shoe on the other foot, too — you don’t say ‘yes’ all the time, do you? Let it go, thank the person for taking the time and try again another day. Telemarketing requires a lot of persistence to produce good results.” – Rikke Friis Dam, 10 Effective Tips for Successful Outbound Telemarketing, Interaction Design Foundation; Twitter: @interacting
25. Separate concerns between multiple agents.
“Outbound calling for potential clients can be pretty difficult to handle in certain aspects without composed, optimized, and prepared beforehand scripts. Moreover, if you don’t provide a detailed algorithm for every other occasion, you can get total profits results that differ a lot as opposed to what you expect. That’s why it is important to subdivide global tasks into smaller, simpler ones and make individual plans for separate workers if need be.” – Daria Negriy, Outbound Call Strategy, Simply-Contact; Twitter: @Simply_Contact
How does your outbound call center keep the conversation going?