Posts Tagged sales management

Inside Sales: Making it Human. Three Tweaks That Deliver Results

15341131_sThere really isn’t a winner in this scenario, so I’ll get right to the point. Happened last night.  My phone rings:

Me: “Hello?
(dead air, because the dialer is ahead of the rep.)
Me: “Hello?!”

Inside Sales Rep: “Hello uh….Mrs. Sal…Salzibar…um…Saldibar”
(no time to get the name right.)

Me: “Yes.”
(#*!#@**!)

Inside Sales Rep: “Okay, Mrs. Saldibar. How are you today?”
(poor guy is still being told to start with that line.)

Me: “Fine.”
(#@**!!!!#@*%!!!)

Inside Sales Rep: “We have people in your area to provide estimates on windows and other home improvements and…”
(Rattled off like a third grade book report.)

Me: “No thanks. We recently had our windows redone. Can you please remove my name from your database?”
(I ask nicely because, irritating as it is, I know their world and their pain.)

Inside Sales Rep: click.
(Oh, alright then.)

Here’s what I believe is wrong, having worked for a call center software company and headed up inside sales for a number of years. First of all, the center is using a dialer (which they all do) which presents calls at a break neck pace, without giving the rep time to compose himself, let alone get a slightly tricky name correct. Furthermore, these reps are in and out the revolving door because they receive about 30 minutes of training and are harnessed, like plow horses, to their headsets and, lo and behold, here come the calls. And, if they are working for a telemarketing company, they may have almost zero knowledge of the product they are hawking.

There is simply no “win” here for anyone and it’s hard to believe that this “cost efficiency” really pays out for anyone, at least not long term. I have worked with inside sales reps many times over the last twenty or so years and I do know that, while many may appear to have thick skin, they need a lot more support than one might think.  Here are some fixes, whether you run a telemarketing firm or you have hired some folks to do your dialing:

1) Slow down the dialer. Or lower the rep’s quota. I know that this is a numbers game, but the rep who called me clearly had his finger on the trigger as soon as I had uttered my “fine”. There is a race to answer as many calls as possible. Bad sales tactic.

2) Treat them as humans, they will act like humans. Calls like the one I’ve shared hurt the rep, the prospect and the company brand. It’s not worth it. Far less people will “bite” with a robot on the end of the line. If it’s a few hours or a day, they need to get plugged into what is being sold and need to get their heads around what they’re being asked to sell. Frankly it’s good for your brand.

3) Listen up. Clearly if a manager had heard the exchange above the rep would have either been fired or given additional training. It was so over-the-top awful, it’s hard to believe anyone is listening. But someone is paying. Most agencies will be able to tap you into live calls periodically. If the reps are under your nose, shame on you if you’re not listening…

You’re right, these are straightforward. Too simplistic. Too common sense. But I have worked with telemarketing firms which take the time and it shows. The bottom line is that you lose a little margin on the front end and gain gold on the back end. Which will it be for your company?

Bottom line, you have product to move. We all get that. But take a few minutes, or hours, to understand the people you are putting out there to spread the word about it. A few more hours, here and there, will make a huge, measurable difference in how your product is perceived.

The dollars will follow.

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