Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Should your Business Use a Telemarketing Company?

Telemarketers charge you money to do something most people & business owners think they know how to do themselves. Telemarketers can make and some take a large volume of calls on your company’s behalf. Then there is the question of doing it as in in-house function or outsourcing it all. Like everything, there is a good side and a bad side to making the decision as to whether to establish telemarketing in-house, or to trust it to an outsourced telemarketer.

Being a telemarketer this blog will focus for the most part on the outbound telemarketing.

Telemarketers, make different types of phone calls to generate sales, appointments of leads for your business. They can do direct sales, making leads, schedule appointments, verify information, and conduct research and surveys, it all depends on your business and what you need done at a given time. When considering outsourcing as a service, it is always good to look at the Call Center as an extension of you and your business; after all, they will be dealing with your customers who should have no idea that you have chosen to outsource (if they even know what that means) to a telemarketer. The following are factors to think about in developing and choosing a telemarketing division for your business.

Outsource, Of Course: The orchestration of a large, in-house telemarketing division for your company can be a huge investment. You would have to consider hiring new employees, finding space, providing furniture and other resources, and not to mention the beginning and on-going training that would have to be provided in order for the venture to hopefully become a success. Many businesses decide to outsource just to avoid the time and money it would take to establish their own telemarketing department.
Telemarketer providers can very easily handle a rapid or slower period of growth. They will have the resources ready to take on more people if the time of year or the growth of your business becomes a factor.

A Call Center will bring with them their experience (which you cannot put a price on- especially if your business has no prior experience in telemarketing). They can help with creating lists, scripts, running tests, and managing campaigns. In addition, the outsourcing firm will most likely have the hardware, software, manpower, and afore mentioned expertise to nicely complement your business. Then there is a good chance they have prior experience in dealing with a company like yours so they will know what works and what doesn’t work on the phone.

The Calm before the Search: Before jumping into the partnership with a Telemarketing firm, there are several things to consider. There are plenty of companies out here and you need to find the one that will make the best match for you and your business. Think about what you want your main objectives to be and what you want them to achieve with your program. Choose a firm with successful experience in dealing with other businesses in your industry; this way, they will not only have the prior success on their side, but can help with the development of the campaign.

You will need to properly estimate what your expected call volume will be. You would not want to come up with a number that is too high or too low to reflect what the reality will be; if so, the Telemarketer can handle the number of calls you need to have. In coming up with your number consider any peaks or valleys in calls that may deal with special sales, time of year, holidays, trade shows, new equipment, company growth, etc.
Like we work mainly with printers advertising companies, sign shops and other graphic companies, most, telemarketers have special areas of expertise whether it is in business type, technology, retail, education, etc., so you may want to see what will make for the best match for your company.

Offshore?: Many businesses have made the decision to adopt call centers that are located offshore (based out of the United States). Many companies have decided that off shoring is a solid business decision mainly because it has a low cost; but the legality and ethics of the situation have recently made their way into American headlines. As stated, it could be cheaper, dollar wise, to use an offshore call center, but is it in the long run? Rates can be as much as 25% lower than using a call center in the U.S. that is a complete replica. To reiterate, the ethics of the situation come into play because many businesses (whether they knew or not) have been tied in with some illegal activity in regards to not staying faithful to the laws upheld here in America. Industry and customer perception may come into play and going offshore will leave any company susceptible to negative reactions.

Communication issues can be a factor if you decide to outsource to offshore. Telemarketers with heavy accents may find it more difficult to have a conversation with your customers or they might just not like it knowing that you went out of the country. Usually, these places will have a formulaic script set up to make sure there is little communication breakdown, but this may be good or bad depending on the nature of your business. There are places such as Canada and the Caribbean Islands where you can still find some discounted benefits and where you will might find the communication issue not to be a problem but watch out people have a way of picking up accents and language more than you might want to think.
Which Telemarketer: Obviously, you need to keep your bottom line in mind while picking your telemarketing company. Depending on expected volume, the impending pricing may vary. The outsourced firm may charge your company per minute or per dedicated representative for instance. Pricing is very important, but don’t forget to remember that most likely your customers will make no distinction between your company and the voice on the other end of the line; your customers will think that they are dealing directly with your company, so finding a firm that will handle your calls with the same passion and desire for success should be something to be heavily considered despite the cost.

Experience as a company and in your particular field is something that should matter to you. This is a partnership, so you want to hire the best people for the job. You should look at the prior successes and reputations of any firms. As said before Telemarketers that have worked with your industry before can help you put together a more successful campaign and can help you foresee any problems that may arise during the course of the program before they happen.

Pricing: It has been mentioned that several factors will pour into just how much this campaign will cost your company. You have to consider the volume of calls, where the outsourced company is located, the type of project, technology needed, the expertise of the Telemarketer, etc. Many large telemarketing companies ask for a minimum work order. The minimum can range from 1,000 to 10,000 persons per project or will charge per call or number of calls per hour, which can range from $25 to $60 per hour.
How the outsourced company goes about paying their own employees will affect how they will in turn charge you. Some companies will offer commission to their workers, so the base hourly rate will most likely be lower (but higher if they do not offer commission). Other fees to consider involve initial set up costs (that could be in the several thousand), along with additional training, programming, reporting fees, etc., which leads into the next point.

Make sure that all fees and stipulations are clear before starting out with any outsourced firm. Depending on how successful your company becomes (or does not become) there may be additional fees due to your company’s straying away from the initial projections and project roll out. A non-disclosure clause in the initial contract is highly recommended, so this way they cannot take your company’s proprietary information along with them if they wind up working for one of your competitors (especially if the outsourced company specializes in your industry).

Tips to Get Rich: An outsourced firm that offers sales commissions to their Telemarketers should be more attractive because their workers are more likely going to be more highly motivated, and that is what you want your workers to be.
- The structure of a good script should not be overlooked. If the outsourced firm has worked in your industry on similar campaigns, then they can definitely help you orchestrate a successful one.
- If the nature of the calls warrants a callback, outsourced firms (if they are running an inbound program) usually offer an 800 number to set you up with. DO NOT take them up on this offer because it is much cheaper for you to establish your own. This way if things go sour, you do not have to worry about setting up another number (which can become confusing for clients and customers); you can simply use the same number while engaged in business with another provider.

Larson Notes & Satire: We are all different in how we handle and give our services. If you are thinking about doing some outsourcing of telemarketing or any kind of sales give me a call. I will be happy to answer your questions.

Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
Target Marketing & Telesales Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better

P.S. We make telesales for small business affordable by offering programs down to only 15 hours a week. Maybe you could add telesales into your marketing mix call today and find out.
P.P.S. An American Company, marketing American Companies! Call or email to get an appointment to pick my brain (a $125.00 value) for 30 minutes.


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