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Call Center Sales Pro

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An Interview with: Janet Livingston

Founder and CEO

Tell us about Call Center Sales Pro.

We are a full service consulting company that specializes in outsourced sales. Our specialty niche is the call center answering service vertical. Our goal is to link our clients to a best-matched call center. We look at what a client is requesting and find the best call center to meet their needs.

Our staff is comprised of call center veterans that know what to look for and know how to solve pain points.

We don’t just help our clients grow by bringing on new business. We guide internal growth by addressing needs in diverse areas such as operations, training, compensation, IT, billing, human resources, and financial management, as well as optimizing the business for possible acquisition.

What prompted the formation of Call Center Sales Pro?

I have 35 years of industry experience. In the last five to ten years, the industry went through mass consolidation. Users of call center services were displaced. They felt large consolidators were not able to be customer-centric enough. We were dealing with companies that were growing in leaps and bounds but didn’t have the right people in the right places to help them facilitate their growth.

I knew I could alleviate these businesses pains. So, two and a half years ago, I hired the best people in the industry. Our team is skilled in focusing on sales and marketing within the call center answering service market.

While we are based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we serve an international clientele.

“Every call center answers phones for a living, the difference is in how they do it.”

Janet Livingston, Founder and CEO

What differentiates you from your competitors?

We are a call service consultancy. People know what they think they need but aren’t always sure exactly what they need. We listen to them and take a consultative approach. We help them find out exactly what they need and point them to providers who can best serve them at their price point.

If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. Growth must be facilitated through quality of service. We want to help you grow your top line and your bottom line.

What is included in your consultation service?

We take our clients from A to Z. We help create and negotiate service level agreements.

Our goal: bringing a client’s product to a call center that is going to meet their needs and put best practices in play.

As a reference point, the average life cycle of a call center/answering service campaign is approximately 36 months.

When sold, priced, and implemented properly, that life cycle can be achieved. We are trying to ensure a long-term life cycle of the account to maximize ROI for both the client and the call center. We want our customers to find the right call center to successfully service the account. When we find the perfect fit, it becomes a true profit center on both sides of the equation.

We have the ability to speak every vertical – even veteran call centers can’t do that! Since it can be difficult for clients to articulate what they want, our consultative approach helps determine business objectives, price points, and more. We walk our clients through the best options for them. Maybe a call center is not the best solution. Perhaps they need a marketing plan.

Our advice to clients: answer all the logical questions to achieve the outcome you want: satisfied callers at the right price point. We help educate our clients on what they want vs. what they can afford.

“People know what they think they need but aren’t always sure exactly what they need.”

Janet Livingston, Founder and CEO

What should a client be looking for in a call center provider?

Two things: 1) experience in their vertical or product, and 2) longevity in the marketplace.

You want a blend of both: a true representation of the product and the culture of the product. To achieve this, you can’t just have a vendor relationship. You must be a good culture match. You must be partners in your campaign.

A call center agent is the first person your customers talk to. They are a direct reflection on your brand and your vertical.

Who is your ideal client?

Someone who has a firm understanding of their market and their objectives.

Sometimes clients are unaware of what it takes to come to market. We educate and give them options. We offer both live and non-live services. A lot of calls can be facilitated through technology, not just live people. Clients should be prepared to take the best of both worlds when it comes to meeting their pricing objective.

What should a client know when looking for a call center?

Identify what your statement of work will be. What is your objective for using a call center? Every call center answers phones for a living, the difference is in how they do it.

I always come back to finding the best culture match. For example, a large medical company won’t do well with a call center that specializes in mass marketing a product. Some people think if they have high volume, they need to be at a great big call center. But sometimes your best match is a boutique answering service that offers high touch. We help clients find the right partner.

Do your homework. If you’re not sure what to ask, find someone to help you facilitate the questions. If you don’t know the right questions to ask, you could be putting your consumers at risk. Be informed of what services you need and make sure a call center meets those needs.

For example, medical offices must be HIPAA compliant. When they choose to outsource services to a call center, that call center needs to be HIPAA compliant as well.

When placing orders and credit card information, PCI regulations must protect credit card data. Not adhering to these guidelines could result in the loss of the merchant account. Make sure call centers are keeping collected data safe, doing background checks, and not allowing agents to bring cell phones to their desk.

We are a point of education for our custumer. It’s our responsibility to inform consumers about the laws and standards of the industry.

How quickly can you implement a campaign?

For a simple campaign, we can have it up and running within 24 hours.

Our most complex campaign brought in $2 million in annualized revenue. It was an extremely complex account and took 8 weeks for us to on-board it. The complexities of such a large account required more prep time, but Call Center Sales Pro was able to bring it to market 30 days faster than anyone else who quoted them.

Tell us about the common misconceptions in the call center industry.

Some people think call centers don’t do a good job. But that’s because they don’t know how to pick the right call center. Choices are often made based on best price instead of best match for their needs. At the end of the day, most call centers charge about the same amount, the difference is in the way they represent their pricing. Find out how the call center is going to facilitate your statement of work. You are looking for a partner, not a vendor. A good call center will be a seamless extension of your company.

“Every call center answers phones for a living, the difference is in how they do it.”

Janet Livingston, Founder and CEO

How can a client control their costs?

Most clients will have a marketing campaign budget. We show them how they can utilize non-live solutions, such as email, to keep costs down. 80% of anything a consumer needs can be accomplished through email. For example, you can cut costs dramatically and still have satisfied customers by implementing a non-live service as phase one, then adding live services in phase two.

What is your advice on pricing?

More does not always mean cheaper. The common notion is: I have a lot of calls, therefore I should get a discount. In some cases, that is true. But you need to also consider these factors:

  • How complex is the facilitation of the call?
  • What type of labor do I need to facilitate the call?
  • Do I need to hire people with more skills and knowledge for technical issues?
  • Or is this a more basic consumer call where information such as name, number, and problem are gathered then sent to the company?

The complexity of the call determines price, not just sheer call volume. That complexity is usually priced per minute or per hour.

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