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Telemarketing: A Buyer’s Guide

What is an Outbound Call Center?

Would you like to grow your business with sales and lead-generating calls but don’t have the resources to do it effectively? Maybe you have put off cleaning and updating your customer database because you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you need to conduct a survey but don’t know how to obtain objective results. An outbound telemarketing service provider can handle all these issues and more. They can bring their line of expertise to your business by helping it grow in the right way, for the right price.

An outbound call center, also known as a telemarketing call center, is a company that specializes in making multiple sales, survey, or service calls on your behalf. Typically, telemarketing companies make calls pertaining to direct sales, lead generation, appointment scheduling, information verification, and research and surveys. Depending upon the contract between the telemarketing call center and your business, telemarketers can follow scripts or ad-lib when dealing with customers – in short, their response to your potential customers is completely customizable to your business campaign.

How Will an Outbound Call Center Benefit my Business?

In most cases, outsourcing your telemarketing campaign is a much more effective business solution than opening your own in-house call center (unless you are exempt from Do Not Call legislation). If you try to create an in-house call center you miss out on the key benefits an outbound telemarketing service provider can provide.

The main benefits of hiring an outbound call center include:

  • Timeliness

Outbound call centers are able to start working for your business overnight—without the time and hassle it would take for you to equip your own telemarketing center. Once a service agreement is reached, you can get out of the way and let the telemarketers do their thing!

  • Expertise

Because of their experience in the field, telemarketers can anticipate and cope with business developments that an inexperienced, in-house call center might find challenging. Plus, they know how to handle inconveniences in a cost-effective way. Telemarketing agents have been trained both in the “classroom” and in the field on how to diffuse a number of problematic situations (irate customers, unanticipated call volume spikes, linguistic and time differences, etc.).

  • Flexibility

Whether you need a multilingual call center, a consolidated staff for a few months of surveying, or anything in between, outbound call centers are a great solution. Because they have a large, well-trained staff at their disposal, telemarketing call centers are equipped to serve a wide variety of needs that will not only fit your time frame, but also your budget.

  • Cost

There is much less overhead cost for an outbound call center. No telemarketing equipment to purchase. No hiring and training representatives. In-house only makes sense if you have the financial resources to pay for it.

Are Custom Options Available?

Many providers offer additional services to supplement your telemarketing campaign.

  • Sales/Service Script Development

Many telemarketing firms can help you develop sales and service scripts for the telephone sales representatives (TSRs) to use when making calls for your business. It is imperative that you and your outbound call center agree on the level of involvement you will have with the sales and service process. Script development is a great way to stay involved with the sales process while allowing the outbound telemarketing center to utilize their expertise.

  • Results Reporting

In order to gauge the efficacy of your telemarketing, you will need to have quantifiable reports delivered to your office at regular intervals. Before deciding on a provider, discuss the kind of statistics they provide and how often they will provide them.

Some common statistics to look for in a report include:

    • total sales and revenue over time
    • sales and revenue per list
    • sales and revenue per representative
    • call duration
    • handling time
    • calls per time
    • revenue
  • Monitoring Solutions

To get a true sense of how your potential customers are being handled on the phone, many telemarketing service providers offer you the ability to listen in on actual calls. Depending on the company, and depending on your contract, you can do this several ways; 1) you may have the power to listen in at any time without informing the telephone sales representative, 2) you may have to go through the outbound call center manager or, 3) you may only be able to listen to recordings. If the ability to directly monitor your telephone sales representatives is important to you, discuss it with your service provider before making any decisions.

How Do I Choose a Provider?

Once you have a clear outline of your telemarketing requirements, it is time to begin your search for the right call center. Choosing the right telemarketing service provider can be an intimidating process if you are unsure about what to look for in a provider.

Company listings are available on the web or you may want to ask others for recommendations. Look for firms that match the needs of your campaign. You want an experienced telemarketing company, and if they have expertise in your industry, that’s a bonus. Once you have a few providers in mind, meet with them in person. Explain your requirements and listen to their suggestions for your campaign and what services they offer. A face-to-face meeting (although a phone meeting can also be telling) gives you an initial impression of what the provider can do for you. After all, you want a call center that will function as an extension of your own company, not as a separate entity.

Finally, ask for references. By speaking to former or current customers, you can get a better understanding of how the telemarketing firm caters to its clients.

When searching for the right telemarketing services, learn the right questions to ask.

How Do I Get the Best Price?

How much should you expect to pay for telemarketing? Pricing will depend on the telemarketing company and the services they provide. The best way to get the best price on telemarketing services is to shop around and let telemarketers compete for your business. And, while price shouldn’t be the deciding factor, it does play an important role. For example, an offshore telemarketing firm can be significantly cheaper, but you may run into communication or cultural issues if you choose to go that route.

There are four standard pricing structures that most telemarketers offer. A good telemarketing company will evaluate your campaign and help you decide which pricing method is most cost effective.

  1. Hourly Pay – Most telemarketers charge an hourly rate based on the actual amount of time spent on calls. Some firms require a minimum project size (say, a minimum of 1,000 man hours). As the number of hours in service level agreement increases, the cost per hour decreases.
  2. Dedicated Payment – A dedicated payment can come in two forms: 1) A client wants a certain number of leads followed up and pays a flat fee per contact, or 2) a flat fee is agreed upon in return for sales representatives that are solely dedicated to your account.
  3. Pay for Performance – Also known as commission or incentive based pay. Agents are compensated based on sales performance. Expect to pay more per hour, but results may increase.
  4. Contact List – If you can provide the telemarketing firm with a ready list of contacts, you will drastically cut your costs. In return, some telemarketing firms provide contact lists only, meaning, you can choose to price shop not only for telemarketing services but also contact list service providers.

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