Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success, Part 1: Agents
October 02, 2018
By: Marilyn Soares
Editor’s note: This post is the first of a 3-part series addressing factors that contribute to outbound lead generation and customer acquisition success. We plan to publish parts 2-3 monthly.
Companies choose to outsource their lead generation and customer acquisition programs for a variety of reasons.
They may lack the expertise to do it themselves, preferring to hand the work off to professionals; it may be a regular part of their marketing mix; or they may wish to spare their sales team the hard work of cold calling, letting them follow up on warm leads instead.
Regardless of the reason, how companies decide to choose an outsource provider — and the characteristics and qualities they should look for to avoid picking the wrong one — is critical to success.
Of the many factors that go into making the right decision, four carry the most weight: the agents serving the program, the messaging (script or offer), lead management, and technology.
Let’s begin this series by talking about the vital part agents play in the lead generation program mix.
Call center agents are the cornerstone of any successful outbound lead generation or customer acquisition program. Their ability to connect with prospects, garner their attention, present a solid value proposition, and close on the opportunity, all without face to face contact, is a skill set that is both acquired and innate — and certainly to be admired, for it is no easy task. If you ask most in the industry, they’ll agree, agents are the heart and soul of the business.
What elements go into making agents so well prepared they continue to reach or exceed a client’s sales metrics day-in and day-out? Consider these eight:
Correct Hiring Practices
Call centers should always hire employees who best fit the client’s needs, the company’s personality, and core values. That’s where a hiring profile that starts with the job description and continues through the successive testing and interview phases and background checks comes into play.
At Transparent, we pair the client’s hiring profile with our best practices, use our TalentPitch assessment tool to identify those who match the key characteristics we’ve found to be most successful and follow a defined interview process to confirm alignment with the sales program.
Continual Training and Development
Agent success starts with an organized, disciplined, ongoing process of training and leadership development.
I hope you won’t mind me being self-referential, but we put a great deal of value, time, and energy into training our agents at Transparent, and not just for the initial two-week period before graduating them to the floor, but throughout their career.
We teach agents to understand the metrics they will be responsible for meeting (such as contact rate, conversion rate, upsell percentage, or wrap time), the relationship each has to the other, and the sales-catalyzing domino effect that can occur when just one is met.
Training for metrics isn’t our only goal, however. We also emphasize training for behaviors. We know teaching agents how to interact with prospective customers, respond to their questions and objections, and understand the value of the brand’s products or services will lead to a successful outbound program.
Our team leaders are also essential to agent success, and we put much effort into imparting leadership skills, such as making agent engagement a top priority, providing real-time feedback, becoming program experts, and keeping the program’s structure and process consistent.
It’s also why we offer the “Rising Stars” program, which incentivizes growth for employees who want to make working in the contact center industry a career path.
Often, the greatest successes come from programs where agents are given the flexibility to insert their style and personality while staying within the confines of the offer.
There are some points where the agent must communicate with the customer verbatim, sticking to the script, but it’s best when agents interject their personality and speak from experience, knowledge, or personal testimonial.
That’s one reason Belize has seen such great success in outbound acquisition programs — its citizens are naturally friendly and customer-centric. It comes across in every conversation.
Belizeans also speak English natively (we teach our agents to do so with a neutral accent), and due to their familiarity with U.S. culture, can be very conversational, making the prospect feel much more at ease.
Clear Goals, the Right Tools
Providing agents with clear goals and giving them the tools to know how they are doing and how they compare to other teams is another way to ensure success.
The ultimate goal, however, should be to empower agents to control their success. The more ownership stake they take over their performance, the better for all concerned — the agent, outsource provider, and client.
Celebrating the success of the team and each member builds excitement on the floor and builds confidence that goals are attainable.
At Transparent, celebration equates to recognition, and we create a variety of fun and collaborative ways to celebrate success. In a job where 95 percent rejection represents a good day, it’s important to keep it lively and fun.
Engaged Floor Support
With any contact center channel, the team leadership plays an essential role in the success of the program — a factor that is especially true in the world of outbound sales. Team Leaders can drive excitement, offer support, or just lend an ear.
And while there’s no requirement to be a full-time cheerleader for the team, the most successful floors always have a buzz in the air. That’s why team leaders should be actively engaged with agents, walking the floor, offering support, listening to calls, and even taking over a call if when necessary.
Keeping agents enthused pays an additional benefit: lower attrition. No customer service VP or director wants to work with an outsourcer that suffers from high attrition where new agents are the only ones working on their program rather than those with experience.
Partnering with Seasoned Agents
Partnering new agents with tenured, successful agents and adopting proven processes — buddy system, morning huddles, sing praises — are guaranteed to foster growth. To become the best, you must learn from the best. Don’t lose sight of accountability and the importance of achieving the expected results, however. After all, in outbound, you’re only as good as your last calling day.
Look at individual outcomes so you can understand where your agents need coaching: Quick hang-ups might indicate the agent’s opening is weak or that the agent is disengaged while longer call durations with a “No Interest / No Reason” may mean agents need help closing or presenting the right offers.
It’s fair to say that the success or failure of any outbound program hinges on the agent and his or her ability to connect with prospects quickly, turning them from strangers to friends to customers.
It’s a skillset that agents gain over time as the result of the right hiring processes, continuous training and leadership development, the freedom to interject their personality, having clear goals and the right tools, their successes celebrated, and proper support and coaching from team leaders on up.
With that combination, your outbound lead generation and customer acquisition programs are bound to be a success!
Transparent BPO specializes in outbound; fully half of our business is in that arena. We offer a variety of outbound program options, including lead generation, direct sales, membership services, welcome calls, debt collection, satisfaction surveys, and appointment confirmation.
Contact us to schedule a time to talk and see if what we offer is right for your company.