ResponsePoint gets a lot of inquiries from companies that have attempted and failed to build their own internal telemarketing group. The story usually starts with; “Things started out great, but the results simply weren’t there.” That’s a common refrain, particularly for B2B lead generation programs that support a complex sale. It’s also one of the big reasons ResponsePoint offers telemarketing within our complete suite of marketing services.
On the surface, internal telemarketing teams and in-house call centers are a great investment. They can be the low-cost option for adding a dedicated team of people to manage inbound and outbound communications. Integrated into your sales department and staffed with gifted, call center professionals, internal call centers can be wildly successful. When trouble sets in, it more often than not has to do with poor management, planning and motivation.
First and foremost, making internal telemarketing work requires hiring the right people. Similar to playing the piano, effectively communicating over the phone is a skill that need to be sharpened through practice and repetition. Some people can do it but most cannot. There’s a common misconception that you can hire anyone off the street and teach them to call your prospects. This is simply not true. Having the right people is a critical element and one that cannot be emphasized enough.
Another critical element for success is planning. When launching an internal telemarketing program, companies spend a great deal of time thinking about where to put people, how much they’ll be paid and the type of headsets they’ll need to free up their hands to type. What is often overlooked is the long-term feasibility of the program and the details that go into keeping those individuals active on the phone. This includes:
- Managing and prioritizing your database
- Accounting for variances such as time zones and holidays
- Balancing call volumes across individuals
- Scheduling follow-up calls and maintaining consistency of your message across individuals
- On-going training to support new campaigns and turn-over
To overcome these challenges, good project management is essential. Your project manager needs to understand the ins-and-outs of a call center operations as well as be available to answer questions and deal with those little unforeseen issues that arise daily. They also need to monitor and evaluate the progress of the team to ensure objectives are being met and that the reputation of your organization does not suffer. Most importantly, they need to be looking to the future to avoid downtime and keep your call center active.
If you’ve added the right people to call and manage your program and your call center still isn’t producing the results you want, it usually comes down to motivation. Motivation issues are hard to resolve because they are harder to control. Particularly in organizations that have only one or two call center representatives. This happens because even in the most well run organizations resources are tight and there is more work to do than people to do it. When that happens, telemarketers are often pulled off the phones to help stuff envelopes, do data entry or work the reception desk. This often happens at the direction of senior management who think they are solving a problem by encouraging departments to multitask when in reality they are simply transferring an issue from one group to another.Another motivational issue for small teams is attitude. Call centers professionals need the support of others who know and understand what they are doing. The larger your call center teams, the better chance each individual has of succeeding. Unfortunately, for smaller companies, the volume of calls necessary may not support multiple people. This can typically be identified by a higher than expect turn-over in call center representatives or low call volumes.
With the right preparation, planning and support, making an internal telemarketing program work can be done. It can also produce excellent results and a great training ground for developing your internal sales team. The key is balancing all of these factors, developing a solid process and estimating the extra overhead (facilities, benefits, training, etc.) against the more flexible and scalable cost of outsourcing. Once you’ve evaluated all your options and identified which scenario (internal or outsourced) provides you with the right conditions for success, the choice should be simple. For more information on how to evaluate your alternatives, give us a call.