By Nathan Teahon, Vice President
So, you’re a Telemarketing Services manager overseeing an outbound marketing campaign. This campaign has proven successful in the past. Unfortunately, results are dropping. In the world of outsourced telemarketing, that just isn’t going to work. This needs to be fixed. However, you can’t fix anything until you diagnose what is broken.
What do the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) say?
In outbound marketing, the numbers rarely lie, and if you carefully study the numbers, they will almost always point you in the right direction. First things first, is this an issue of efficiency or is this an issue of execution with the customer on the line? Are your contacts per hour less? If you are having less quality conversations per hour, it is more difficult to get the same amount of sales. The exception being if you are getting more sales you could see lower contacts per hour as a result of writing more sales. In this example, we are assuming that is not the case. In outbound marketing, if contacts per hour are down, then so are sales.
Okay, Contacts Per Hour (CPH) is down, now what?
Well, we need to figure out why contacts are down. Are your dials per hour also down? If so, it could be as simple as a work habits issue with the outbound marketing frontline agents. Obviously you would want to drill down and look at this at the agent level and see if you have some outliers that are bringing the overall group down. If dials per hour are down across the board it probably isn’t a work habits issue. It could be, but if an entire team is getting lazy, you might have bigger issues, some of which will be addressed later.
More likely is that something changed in the outbound marketing program. Talk to the team, individually and as a group. Explain the issue, and get their feedback. They are doing the job; no one is going to provide better feedback than them. I can’t tell you how many times it’s come down to, “well management has us do this now to solve this issue and it has caused ‘X’.” This can come in many forms. Perhaps the client has requested that the agent notes every single account for every call, increasing each call by 30-45 seconds and causing an overall decrease in calls made. Perhaps there has been a process implemented that is cumbersome that is taking time away from the agents making calls that could be automated resulting in more calls. I have also seen the confirmation process of a sale grow bit by bit to ask this, verify this, etc. Each of those things probably had their own merit for being implemented. However, you can create a “death by a thousand cuts” scenario that has all of a sudden turned your sales call into Frankenstein and is now 50% longer than it truly needs to be.
Of course, it’s also possible that your contacts per hour are down but your dials per hour are the same as they have been or even higher. Is this a new list calling or one you have been dialing on? If the outbound marketing lists are different, it could be a list quality issue. What is the difference? Are the leads a different level of decision maker? Is the percentage of bad numbers much higher than typical? It’s difficult to hear your team blame performance on the quality of leads. It feels like passing the buck. And, frankly, we have all seen that. However, sometimes, that is the case.
Perhaps the list isn’t new, or the list is made up of the same demographics as is typical. However, answer rates are lower. What are you pushing for the outbound caller id? Displaying the proper number and CNAM can increase answer rates by up to 40%. It also might be time to rotate or change what you are displaying.
What if the issue isn’t contacts per hour and its conversion?
You’ve identified that contacts per hour aren’t your issue, but outbound marketing results are down regardless. Most likely your conversion rates are lower. Meaning, you are getting less sales per conversation. The reasons for why this could be are numerous.
The first is staffing. Have you had attrition on the outbound marketing campaign? Have you lost any of your heavy hitters and failed to appropriately replace them? Have you recently grown the campaign and you have added a bunch of new staff? If so, did you bring on the right staff and need to make changes? Are they the right staff and you need to devote more resources to developing their skills as quickly as possible? None of these are one-stop quick fixes, but they are must-ask questions that have to be answered with an appropriate plan of action.
In conjunction with the questions about staff, you also have to look at the messaging. Not every outbound marketing sales campaign has a message that is appropriate now until the end of time. The message or pitch that was productive for you three months ago might not be the appropriate message now. The same old message can get stale for both the customers and the sales team. That message may need to be altered to something more appealing or that is more relevant to the current market. Seasonality can also play an effect here, and the same message that was productive before may again be again another time of year. Plus, as hard as it may be to admit, perhaps under certain circumstances a program is only successful certain times of year. Every program is different.
There are other factors that an outbound marketing telemarketing services manager must consider when diagnosing the issues with an outsourced telemarketing services program. Do you have the right supervisor on the program? I have said a thousand times that the role of a supervisor is the most important management position in the call center industry. A great supervisor can make an average team great. A poor supervisor can make a great team very poor. This can be a tough decision to make, but sometimes it is needed.
Additionally, outbound marketing salespeople thrive on goals. All salespeople love to win. Are the outbound marketing sales goals attainable? Goals should be attainable but not easy. There is a fine balance, but if a team has a goal that cannot be achieved you have likely failed before you started.
There are many things to consider when an outbound marketing program isn’t going well. It’s important to understand the “Why’s” when diagnosing the issue and then put in place a plan that addresses those issues.
Nathan Teahon is the Vice President at Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. As a highly competitive person, Nathan brings his “A” game to work every day, ensuring that each of his clients wins on a daily basis. Nathan carefully balances the operations resources and client goals to ensure his clients receive the highest possible results at the lowest cost. Nathan is a true, born and bred telemarketer. He grew up in the business and intimately knows (and has played) every position on the field, including supervisor, quality assurance, call center manager, program management, account management, and call center psychologist. Nathan can be reached at [email protected] or 516-656-5133.