In the second of this 2-part series – click here to read Part 1 – Stuart Pearce shares the secrets of outbound calling success.
It’s more about how you say something than what you say
Your tone of voice, the pace of your voice and how you generally sound will have a big impact on how you are received by the person you are calling.
Your voice is the tool of your trade and first impressions count. Remember that you are likely to be one of several people who have called that day, so be polite, cheery and professional and stand out from the rest.
This extends to finding the right level of volume and energy for the call, as it is important to sound enthusiastic and passionate without overdoing it!
It is also important that you communicate with your prospective customer – and don’t just fall into the habit of talking at them and delivering your pitch. Understand your customer’s needs and try your best to meet them.
Don’t forget about body language just because you’re on the phone
I appreciate that we’re talking about communicating on the telephone, but body language will make a difference to how you sound.
For example, if you slouch in your chair it may affect how you come across on the phone. You should also always remember to smile while you talk, as this can be heard in your voice.
Know your ‘cost per seat’ and what it means in terms of sales
It is important that you work out your ‘cost per seat’ before setting targets to make sure your business plan is viable.
It’s as simple as this. Let’s say your agent costs you £100 for them to come to work and for every sale they make you get £25, so for you to be able to pay them, they must make 4 sales.
Now, of course, sale values will differ for every business but the principles remain the same. There is, as you’d expect, a value that can be placed on the setting of an appointment. With collections it will again be slightly different but it boils down to the same question – am I making money?
Each agent will have to perform at a certain level in order for the business to obtain an amount of revenue equal to their costs.
Of course, the ideal scenario is that the agent performs above and beyond that and therefore creates profit.
Think strategically about when to call your prospective clients
The time that you have to call your prospective customers is limited to the working day, so you need to make sure that you make the best of it. Whether you are calling B2B or B2C, the same attitude applies.
With B2B there will be times of the day when connectivity is likely to be lower (Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are classic examples), so why not use these times for other things? For example, a Monday morning motivation meeting or scheduling all your admin work for Friday afternoon.
When it comes to B2C the same idea applies, only this time you will structure your calling times to fit in around school runs and meal times. Generally, a B2C team would start around lunchtime and call until early evening.
It can also be helpful to give your team the same lunch break as the people they’re calling.
It’s not an infallible approach, nothing is, but if you make proper use of your KPI data you should be able to organise the day to get the best call hours and connections.
Never underestimate the importance of ongoing coaching
I see too many managers who just leave their people to get on with it after their induction. To get the best results, you have to keep on top of their performance and that means ongoing coaching – sitting next to them, listening to what they’re saying and making constructive observations.
Coaching is about helping someone perform a skill or solve a problem better than they would normally be able to. It’s about helping people to perform better than they currently do, to develop their skills over a period of time. You encourage, you share knowledge and you adopt an open style to allow others to learn from you.
Coaching should be used across the board so that all team members benefit from it, whether they are new starters, experienced or just those that want to develop.
There are many benefits to regularly coaching your agents:
- A person coached on a 1-2-1 basis will be able to learn at their own pace, have more involvement in the process and will not have to worry about saying or asking the wrong thing.
- Coaching a team as a whole will allow them to become clear about the goals they have to achieve. It can focus them all in the right direction and will generally raise the skill level of all involved.
- A good coach will benefit by developing a closer relationships with their team. They will discover new ways of helping people by listening to the feedback they get and by seeing the people they coach grow.
- It will improve the ability and performance of your people and add value to your bottom line.
Coaching is a great way to improve every aspect of your business – 99% of the time – but there will always be those who refuse to accept the process. You can’t force someone to learn who doesn’t want to be taught.
Remember there is a time and place for coaching
There is a time and place for coaching, meaning that there will be times when you shouldn’t coach but rather wait until afterwards and then do it.
For example, if the team are up against a deadline, you should help where you can but leave the coaching until everything has calmed down. Then you can sit down properly and discuss how the team can better prepare themselves for next time.
Relevant, good quality training helps keep people at their best
Good quality, relevant training is massively important to keep people focused and at their best – it works in the same way that coaching does. Keep staff up to date and motivated and things will be a lot easier.
The best thing to do is to conduct a training needs analysis so that you can establish where the gaps in performance are and therefore deliver the right training. This can extend to developing the attitudes of your staff.
It all sounds very simple, but there are a couple of things you’ll need to consider.
- You’ll need to identify the key priorities of any new performance goals and eliminate any obstacles that might prevent you obtaining those goals.
- You should look for any gaps in people’s competence and establish some success indicators.
- You should evaluate the training at every stage.
- You need to understand the areas you’re going to look at in your analysis and approach each one in turn, so that your analysis will give you the answers you need to create your training programme.
Taking everything into account, approaching outbound calling with a professional mentality can make a huge difference to the outcome of your efforts and, of course, your bottom line.
With thanks to Stuart Pearce, Director at Pearce Barber.