10 Questions to Answer When Seeking an Outbound Call Center Partner

outbound call center services | call center service provider

Lead generation, lead qualification, and appointment setting services are critical components of business development efforts. Most businesses realize how important they are but not all businesses can staff for their needs. Outsourcing outbound call center services, in part or entirely, has proven to be an effective approach to securing effective staff.

Not all call centers are good candidates for these specific services, however. Many centers simply don’t want to take on the challenges associated with outbound efforts, preferring to answer inquiries originating from customers. Some centers offer these services, but only on their terms. There are ways to approach your provider search that will help find the right company for you. You should be prepared to answer the following questions when asked by providers as you search for a partner:

1. What services are desired?

Most outbound call center services are designed to generate or qualify leads, as the starting point for the campaign. There is a big difference between lead generation and lead qualification, specifically when contact first occurs. Lead generation is more challenging than lead qualification due to the absence of expressed interest by your prospects. Generating leads through cold calling requires staff who are more “thick-skinned” and understand the most effective way to navigate obstacles such as gatekeepers who are trained to keep you from reaching the decision-makers you seek. Lead qualification efforts are generally easier to staff since the people you are calling have requested more information.

Lead generation programs should be staffed with more experienced personnel. Representatives on these programs should possess advanced sales skills, the result of sales-focused training, even if they don’t consummate sales. Lead qualification programs also benefit from representatives with these qualifications; however, you can still run a successful lead qualification program with staff offering less experience and sales-specific training. Understand the qualifications of the staff who would make your calls with this in mind as you vet potential providers.

2. What is a successful outcome from the calling efforts?

Oftentimes, a call center is tasked with providing service across the entire spectrum of the sales funnel. Companies will ask providers to generate a lead, qualify it, then present an offer to consummate a sale. In other settings, a center will be tasked with reaching a party who has already expressed interest, qualifying them through a series of questions, and, when appropriate, setting an appointment for their staff to continue the sales process.

You must understand what you are asking your provider to deliver for results. If you are tasking a center to sell, but the extent of their capabilities is qualifying leads and setting appointments, the fit is not ideal. Vet the centers under consideration, review their website and marketing collateral and ask yourself if the services they promote align with your needs. If you can’t find details promoting the delivery of services consistent with your program requirements, chances are you can find better options.

3. Are you targeting businesses, consumers, or both?

B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) programs have similarities but also important differences. There are federal and state laws that apply to both types of programs. Consumer calling, however, is more restrictive and you must choose a provider that conducts compliant programs and applies best practices for this audience. There is a significant risk, including penalties, associated with non-compliant calling efforts so make sure that any company you work with has experienced management guiding your efforts and protecting your interests.

4. Who are you trying to reach?

There are nuances associated with reaching and speaking to,  individuals at various levels within a company. For example, there’s a difference between qualifying C-Level executives at Fortune 500 companies and someone who orders supplies at a retail store. An effective call center partner understands these differences and will design a program where calls are placed at the best time of day to reach your prospects. The depth of training on a program is also commonly impacted by who representatives will be speaking with. Look for a company that has experience calling your target audience as well as companies that have been in business for more than a few years. Their experience and knowledge of best practices will undoubtedly contribute to better results in your program.

5.  What is your budget?

Call centers come in various sizes. Many call centers have minimums, measured by the number of representatives on a program or a monthly minimum fee. Make sure you focus on vetting companies that offer a service model consistent with your budget. It also helps to know if the provider can scale up, or down, in short order should your program require them to do so.

6. Are you seeking a provider that offers performance-based billing?

There are not as many providers offering this billing option as there used to be. That noted, there are still some companies willing to “put skin in the game” and provide this billing method. You should also understand how the provider determines the cost per successful outcome and at what point in your engagement the “performance pay” element becomes available.

7. Are you comfortable with representatives outside the U.S. handling your calls? 

There is a multitude of differences between companies who call from within the USA and those who outsource to other countries. If your business serves a regional customer base, you probably require that representatives have a neutral accent. You should also discuss any preferences you have regarding virtual vs. in-house staff.

8. What systems are needed for the program?

Do you have a CRM platform you prefer the call center to capture data within, or will you need the call center to provide one for you? Will the call center also be emailing prospects on the program, and do you provide an email client for that purpose? Are there special considerations related to the dialing technology that must be employed? Can the provider deliver production reports containing the data you need, in your desired format and when you prefer?

Make sure that any call center you choose provides the platforms you require and can integrate with your internal systems.

9. Are there any specialized skills or capabilities your representatives should have?

Specialized skills include languages spoken, technical knowledge, advanced typing skills, elevated sales training, and the ability to administer corporate presentations, to name a few. Make sure to clearly define specific skills required of representatives, in addition to the general scope of your needs. They are, after all, the conveyers of your value proposition and representatives of your brand when speaking to potential customers.

10. What results are needed for your program and partnership to be successful?

Be clear about your expectations and needs related to your program and the relationship you wish to establish. Providers committed to delivering a true partnership experience focus on more than just the metrics related to their efforts. A positive ROI associated with your program is central to your provider search and is a given, and your chosen partner should understand there is much more than KPIs to consider. Take the time to understand each company’s core values and commitment to a partnership before making your choice.

If you begin your search prepared to answer these questions, a healthy initial conversation will ensue, serving as the starting place from which to build the foundation of a potential partnership.

Contact Telecom, Inc. for Outbound Call Center Services

Telecom, Inc., a domestic provider in business since 1993, provides a robust suite of outbound call center services, custom-designed to achieve your unique program goals. Our experience crosses numerous verticals and the decision-makers we target range from heads of households to C-level staff of Fortune 100 companies. We conduct B2B and B2C campaigns and offer budget-friendly models. We are happy to conduct pilot programs to prove the concept and provide vetted performance-based billing options. 

Telecom’s technology is cutting edge and is adaptable to any program. We offer specialized skills amongst our representatives and apply compliant, best practices to all programs we administer. Schedule a free consultation with us and we will provide answers to any questions you have about our people, processes, and platforms.

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