An outbound call is one initiated from a call center agent to a customer on behalf of the call center or a client. Typical outbound calls include include telemarketing, sales or fund-raising calls, as well as calls for contact list updating, surveys or verification services.
There are many factors which will determine the success or failure of an outbound call effort. Most of these factors can be tipped in your favor with the right planning and preparedness. Approaching an outbound campaign requires a sound outbound calls strategy.
Detail your outbound calls strategy
Your outbound call strategy needs to be defined long before anyone picks up the phone. Of course, it will be reworked and modified along the way, but it needs dedicated planning from the get-go.
Specify goals and KPIs
In order to set a course, you need to have a clear idea of the end goal of your campaign. Is your objective to set appointments? Straight sales? Surveying? Who are you hoping to contact? These questions (and their answers) will help you draw up call lists as well as establish KPIs.
KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, will be the foundation upon which you will be able to appraise the success of your outbound calls strategy. Not all KPIs are created equal and not all of them are relevant to outbound sales. Thankfully, measuring every KPI, all the time, would be a tremendous waste of time and resources and would yield an unmanageable and opaque amount of data. Here is a small selection of KPIs which you might deem worthwhile.
- Average handle time (length of all calls / total number of calls)
The average amount of time an agent spends on calls, including hold or transfer time. A long average call time might be a sign of poor closing skills or insufficient product understanding.
- Conversion rate (number of sales / total number of calls)
Conversion rate is a measure of how efficiently agents are able to bring on customers and close a sale.
- First call close (number of closes on the first call / total number of calls)
A high percentage of first call closes shows that agents are selling efficiently, and making the most of their time (and the customers’).
- Occupancy rate (time spent on calls vs. time spent unavailable)
A low occupancy rate percentage reveals that agents might have trouble completing their after-call work, and losing on overall productivity.
Draft up worthwhile call lists
Blind cold calling is a game of numbers, but not very good ones. If your call lists are made up of qualified leads, then your agents are more likely to succeed. Qualified leads have been nurtured thanks to marketing efforts, the fat has been trimmed, and what’s left are prospects with potential.
Doing research on product needs, location, industry, internal organization, etc., gives your agents a leg up when it comes to making a connection and guiding a prospect to a sale. Nothing screams “blind cold call” louder than asking to speak to “the proprietor,” whereas knowing your interlocutor’s name can go a long way.
Using the proper tools can be a tremendous boon as well. A CRM solution can help keep track of leads and rank them by promise in order to assist the whittling process. Managers can assign tasks, and the whole calling team can stay on the same page. Integrating your phone system into your CRM is taking it one step further. You’ll be able to call prospects with a single click, and centralize all important call information.
To use scripts or not to use scripts?
We’ve looked at the advantages of call center scripts. They can help agents retain information, avoid mistakes, and remain consistent across calls. However, customers can smell stilted call center scripts from a mile away.
outbound calls strategy
If you opt to write scripts for your outbound calls strategy, the trick to craft them to help agents without tying their hands. A good script will give your agents something on which to lean if they’re struggling without making their speech sound contrived and unnatural.