By Claire West
With the unpredictability of the current business market place, now is the time to sort out the costs and efficiency of the sales team. Through the years of boom it has been easy to let the sales guys just get on with their job as long as they bring in the results. Now there is a potential recession and all the associated ‘belt tightening’ that is being done, the cracks will start to appear in the sales process. Only the brilliant and / or efficient will survive.
Or there is an alternative — outsourcing part or all of the sales process.
The principle of outsource is that of increasing efficiency and reducing cost and HR related burdens. Specialist outsourcing has dedicated resource that allows for both economies of scale and specialist skills sets. As a result when you outsource you receive concentrated and highly trained personnel who can work solely on their specific role in an environment where everyone else has the same responsibilities. Sales and marketing departments are notorious for their distractions and cross over of work allocation. If some of these key functions can be removed and the personnel in the sales and marketing department can concentrate on their more specific roles it creates much greater efficiency and therefore better results.
Where outsourcing can be most effective is with the parts of the sales process that are traditionally ‘disliked and difficult’ such as cold calling for appointment generation or telephone based lead generation. There are very few sales or new business generators who are happy with cold calling or generating appointments. And in many cases it is actually a waste of their talents. It is rare for sales people to be trained in cold calling but it is normal practice to be highly (and expensively) trained in closing. Outsource telemarketing scores so highly here because you have a room full of dedicated telemarketeers who are trained and conditioned to carry out this specific process. Telephobia, the fear of making cold calls, is present in most people and extremely difficult to overcome in a non call centre environment. A good telemarketing will have the training and motivational process in place to overcome telephobia and therefore increase the effectiveness and quantity of the calls.
The one rule of outsource is understanding that on the whole you get what you pay for. There are many outsource telemarketing centres that offer senior level decision maker appointment setting for bargain prices. Already warning bells should be ringing. It is a common problem for British call centres to reduce their overheads by employing young people for high level contact making. This is generally a diseconomy due to the essential requirement of maturity and experience to have a convincing conversations with people at a senior level. Often high commissions also distort the quality of leads and appointments. The key question to ask is what the cancellation level is on appointments and reasons for clients not renewing contracts.
One of the core principles of telemarketing is that with a good person on the phone they will ‘make luck’. How many times have you heard someone say ‘I have just called someone and they are just looking at buying what we are offering, how lucky is that.’ Good telemarketing will put in sufficient volume of calls to the correct contact that these situations will occur on a regular basis. The more calls that are made to the correct database the more ‘lucky’ results will be achieved.
Outsource location has been a hot topic over the past 10 years with the growth of the offshore outsourcing centres. The highest profile is that of Indian call centres, initially with their dramatic cost reduction implications all the way through to the problems of language and brand damage (incidentally this is also the case with broad regional accents in the UK). The current fashion for television adverts stressing the ‘UK’ call centre shows the extent of the damage that was created by the difference in culture and accent. Other areas of the world such as Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Morocco have seen a growth in International call centre business but still the trend is to return back to UK for the language and local knowledge. There is now an alternative that utilises the best of all worlds, this is ‘nearshore’ with expats.
The exodus to Spain and France caused by the attraction of good weather and inexpensive living has allowed for a new industry to have spring up. The latest outsource telemarketing companies are in the popular expat areas of Spain. This has allowed companies to tap into a rich vein of native tongue English speakers who have chosen a new life with lower costs. This in return passes onto the client as highly experienced and often mature telemarketers who are willing to work for considerably less to fulfil a better lifestyle.
An example of this is a company called Mainshot Marketing that is based in a small harbour town called Denia in the Costa Blanca region of Spain. Mainshot was founded 2 years ago to help fulfil contracts for a UK based outsource telemarketing company that found it could make the calls more cost effectively from Spain with expats than from their base in the Midlands. The company now has its own client base from all over UK and the US. Due to the diverse nationalities of expats in Denia Mainshot is also able to offer its services in numerous European languages, including Spanish, German, French and Russian.
Bruce Galliford the founder of Mainshot believes that the success of Mainshot is down to the quality and experience of the marketers with the bonus of lower cost to the customer. Cheap global telecoms and cheap flights have resulted in the ‘physical gap’ between Spain and UK being almost nonexistent in business terms. As Bruce points out it is actually cheaper to fly to Spain from Manchester than it is to go to London by train. The marketers at Mainshot have a very diverse backgrounds, many of them have run their own companies in both UK and Spain but all of them have years of experience at dealing at a senior director level. As a result, they have the ability to talk to decision makers in large companies on an even footing and therefore having meaningful and productive conversations.
Outsource is becoming set to grow as its effectiveness becomes more proven, but as with all new industries it is important that the careful consideration goes into picking the right outsource for the company.