It is so easy being the big guy on the block. And by big guy, I’m referring to enterprise-sized companies. It seems like they have unlimited resources for just about everything they want to do in business, including marketing. As a small to medium-sized business (SMB) looking for call center services you may be concerned that you’ll end up being a small fish in a big pond.
FTEs & Hours for SMBs
For our purpose, we are defining any SMB company that would use less than three full-time agents (FTEs), whether it be for outbound or inbound call center services. The reason for this cutoff is that it calculates out to less than 500 hours a month, a number many call centers look for as a minimum. We’ll also set the floor at 100 hours a month. Anything less can be a challenge.
A Practical Example
Let’s say a small manufacturer or distributor is looking for call center services to help prospect for its sales team of one or two individuals. The SMB knows that by using call center services their internal sales team can keep focused on closing deals and their pipeline will be filled with qualified leads.
The SMB has maybe $10,000 a month, and need a dozen good, highly qualified leads each week for their sales team. They need a call center with state-of-the-art technology to do the job efficiently, to understand telemarketing compliance laws, to watch their campaign closely, and stay in close contact reporting the call center services team’s progress. Spending $10,000 each month isn’t trivial and the SMB has to trust they are getting the maximum return on their investment.
When they begin their search for a call center services partner, they find many telemarketing companies who will tell them they are too small and decline the work. These types of companies only work with the ‘big guys’ who ultimately have a considerable opportunity that may require a minimum commitment of five agents or more, for example. There will be many doors of excellent call centers closed simply because of their minimum FTE requirements.
What to Look for in a Call Center Services Partner
Once the SMB company identifies call centers that are happy to work with them and their lower volume, here are some considerations:
Is customization important? Sometimes call centers limit the amount of customization they will do on smaller-sized campaigns. Understand what system or reporting requirements are important for the business. Keep an open mind at what the call center comes back with for options to fulfill that requirement.
If campaign customization is essential, be willing to pay for the initial programming time or keep searching for a call center services partner that offers the customization you’re looking for.
How responsive is the call center? Many will make SMBs feel like they are the center of their universe – until the deal is done. After that, many become Las Vegas magicians, having perfected their disappearing act.
So, if you are a small to medium-sized business looking for the help of call center services, what can you do to increase the odds of making a good selection of a call center partner?
- First, you can do some research. Indeed, web searches should give you some indication as to what the call center looks for as a minimum engagement or if they look for smaller campaigns. If you read about call center services using shared agents, that is a good indicator the company takes smaller jobs.
- If you don’t want to do all the legwork yourself, contact a telemarketing services broker. These people will have a file full of vetted call centers to refer you to, depending on your requirements. Generally, the call centers pay them a commission so that it won’t increase your costs.
- It isn’t easy to trust what the call centers share with you at face value relative to their performance before the engagement begins, so it is crucial to get references and check them. Ask the references if they know any other SMBs who used the call center and contact them. That $10,000 a month is all they have for marketing, so they need to spend it wisely.
- NEGOTIATE! Make sure you are getting everything you need from the call center. Most call centers will offer pilot programs, usually 60 or 90-days. If the call center is unwilling to provide a pilot program, consider if they are the right fit for your business.
Of course, I have another solution for you. Contact me at Quality Contact Solutions. Our very own SMB (Small Medium Business) team knows how a $10,000 a month spend or even a $5,000 a month spend can be just as crucial as the ones with an extra zero.
Steve Korn is Business Development Executive for Quality Contact Solutions. Steve’s experience spans 40 years and includes ownership of his own call center for over 20 years plus experience in B2C telemarketing and in-house B2B call center management. His core strength is in working with small and medium sized companies in designing and implementing programs for lead generation and appointment setting. Steve can be reached at [email protected] or 516-656-4198. d