Business process outsourcing of teleservices—lead generation, lead qualification and lead nurturing—generally goes in one of two directions: north or south.
North is good. A best-practice teleservices firm closes the gap between marketing and sales to create demand, qualify leads, and fill the client’s pipeline with the rock-solid, sales-ready opportunities needed to drive revenue.
South is not so good. Unfortunately, many companies have had negative experiences with teleservices firms that deliver so-called “leads” when they lack agreed-upon qualifying criteria and only serve to waste sales reps’ time. This leads to sales and marketing executives feeling they haven’t gotten the results and ROI they expected, and they are reluctant to consider teleservices outsourcing as a viable option.
I’d like to take this opportunity to differentiate between “north” (best-practice) firms and these “south” (low-result) experiences to affirm the value of teleservices outsourcing when executed correctly.
First, let’s head south.
Teleservices BPO: Why we shouldn’t / can’t / won’t consider outsourcing
Sales and marketing executives share a variety of reasons for not considering teleservices outsourcing.
1. History of poor results
Executives have contracted with teleservices firms in the past and have been disappointed with results. They report sales lead quality or lead volume has not met expectations, and sales reps share these frustrations.
2. Costs are too high and ROI is too low
Based on poor results, executives report low ROI and have come to believe teleservices outsourcing is too expensive. In desperation, they sometimes contract with less expensive vendors and struggle for months to get results that never occur. Alternately, they believe it would be less expensive to hire internal staff to do qualifying and nurturing but eventually are overwhelmed by investment costs, training, ramp time, turnover and much more.
3. Lack of knowledge about our company, our space and our selling
Based on previous experiences or comments from colleagues, executives do not see teleservices firms having the knowledge or expertise needed to achieve results. These beliefs can be grouped into the following three areas:
Our company and our solutions
Executives do not believe the teleservices firm and its representatives on the phone can fully understand their companies, their solutions, their messaging, their cultures or their marketing and sales processes. They believe the learning curve required to bring a teleservices firm up to speed would be prohibitive.
Our space: customers, market or verticals
Executives want to feel—but don’t—that a teleservices firm has industry-specific expertise and a deep understanding of their customers and market.
Our selling: professional sales expertise
Executives report experiences where a teleservices firm’s representatives making the calls “just sound like telemarketers.” They are frustrated that they cannot find a firm with representatives who come out of sales backgrounds and have professional expertise qualifying and developing prospects. Instead, they find firms with representatives who are not equipped to handle unscripted, high-level conversations with C-level executives.
4. Lack of control
Sales and marketing executives sometimes have a difficult time believing an outside company could (or should) handle high-value prospects and proprietary information about the company. They believe these are best handled by internal company resources. Sales representatives can be apprehensive that they will lose control of an account or there will be a misstep by an outside resource.
Teleservices BPO: Why we should / can / will consider outsourcing
OK, let’s turn around and take a look north at best-practice BPO teleservices firms. Using the same framework as the discussion above, we look at the positive reasons for outsourcing teleservices. We can easily get a sense that partnering with a best-practice firm successfully addresses concerns and results in achieving desire results.
1. History of proven results
A best-practice teleservices firm gets to be that way by partnering with great clients to consistently deliver on agreed-upon metrics. These metrics are based on the nature of the engagement whether it is inbound response, lead generation, lead qualification or lead nurturing. Case studies for best-practice partners describe the client’s up-front challenges, the teleservices solutions deployed, and results that frequently included millions of dollars in closed business and addition of high-value, sales-ready buyers to the pipeline.
2. Costs are a planned investment and measured against ROI
Costs are seen as a planned and negotiated investment aligned with expected results. As programs progress, activity is measured and adjustments are made to assure metric targets are hit. Best-practice firms leverage their track records to provide surety in the form of deliverability guarantees.
From a broader perspective, savings ensue as lead generation, lead qualification and lead nurturing are off-loaded from marketing and sales resources that are now fully able to focus on their core competencies and capture previously-missed opportunities.
Sales and marketing management achieves results without adding headcount, overhead and capital expenditures. There is an added sense of peace of mind that it’s not necessary to invest in a bigger organization in this tough economy.
3. Proven fast ramp/deep knowledge around company, space & selling
Best-practice teleservices firms stand out when it comes to partnering and providing needed expertise.
Understanding the client company, its solutions and its culture
Over many successful engagements, a best-practice firm has developed a proven methodology for engaging with new clients and quickly getting to program roll out. This methodology will include recommendations and flexibility to integrate with the client’s sales and marketing people, processes and technology.
Experience with the client’s customers, market, and verticals
A best-practices teleservices frequently focuses in specific areas like technology, finance, healthcare or business services. This focus enables the firm to leverage successful engagements in spaces that are identical or similar to that of a new client. These experiences provide a deep understanding of nuances related to decision maker buying journeys, competitive offerings and market dynamics.
Expertise with professional sales processes and techniques
Professional business development associates, the people who make the high-level calls at a best-practices teleservices firm, most frequently come out of sales backgrounds. They bring with them—or gain from provided training—years of experience in the top B2B selling processes and techniques.
Access to best-practice proprietary processes
Sales and marketing executives often report gains from gaining access to the best proprietary practices of their teleservices partner. These practices and processes can include refinement of market parameters, recommendations on modifying the offer, database segmentation, program testing, new list recommendations and prospect contact methodologies.
4. Enhanced control
It’s ironic—but not unusual—that executives and sales representatives frequently report they actually have more control with their programs and prospects after engaging with a best practices teleservices partner.
Executive action is focused on reviewing reporting and meeting with the partner’s team to assure the program and results are on track. Sales representatives no longer make calls to unqualified prospects and focus on working on sales-ready opportunities. They also provide feedback to the partner team about the types of opportunities they’d like to see more of and about “no contact” parameters on their named accounts.
Some final thoughts
It’s no wonder that many sales and marketing executives think twice before giving serious consideration to business process outsourcing with a teleservices partner. Many have had unproductive experiences and have valid reservations.
Selecting the wrong partner is a faster, easier way to waste marketing dollars. Most know that partnering with best-practices firm is the best business decision. However, they believe that it will be more expensive (incorrectly) and opt to go with what looks on the surface to be less expensive options, struggle for months, and have nothing to show for it. Sometimes it feels like there is never enough budget to do it the right way, but ironically there is always enough to do it over.
The rich benefit—a pipeline filled with the highly-qualified, high-value, sales-ready buyers needed to drive new revenue—of partnering with a proven, best-practices teleservices partner cannot be overstated.