Managing a telesales team

“The world is flat” some have said recently and what they mean is it has never been easier to outsource your jobs across the world, making geography irrelevant for your business. And that has worked pretty well for many businesses, including us – yes, we have used and we still use freelancers across the globe in order to improve our product in a cost effective way that allows us to pass the cost efficiencies back to our customers.

Job positions that have been successfully outsourced in the past include virtual assistants, web designers, graphical designers, web and computer programmers, but also marketing jobs and telesales.

In telesales, it makes a lot of sense to outsource the lower end of the sales process, the pre-qualifying of leads. In most cases, it is an expensive and time consuming process, many times repetitive, boring and the rate of success can be quite low. Not something you’d want your star sales people to do. You’d like your star sales people to chase qualified leads, those leads that need the final nudge from an expert in closing deals.

It makes sense to outsource the pre-qualifying of leads to a team of telesales people, who can go through a list of leads you provide, make contact either by calling, emailing or using social media and determine the level of interest the lead shows and filter out the leads that are unlikely to buy and pass the rest, the qualified subset to your star people.
But just hiring a telesales team and leaving them to it will generally not work. And why not, you might ask?

Well, first of all, because outsourcing is still work, you just change the type of work you do. When you outsource, your main type of work is managing, rather than actually doing the work yourself. There is a strong misconception that outsourcing means you don’t have to do any work at all. We’ve done outsourcing here at Clevertim and we found out that never works. You need to actively manage your outsourced projects or face failure.

And here’s a simple truth: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And you can’t measure what you can’t see. Having visibility of what your telesales team is doing is critical in the success of your outsourcing telesales project. Are they being diligent in pre-qualifying your leads? Do they follow up always or do they “leave money on the table”? Do they follow the same rigorous processes for all your leads or does it all depend on the “mood” of the telesales person? Are they saying the wrong things to your leads which can affect not only your sales prospects, but also your brand – yes, the word of mouth can cut both ways.

The other aspect of “visibility” is seeing what the leads are saying. You can gain so much information from the feedback you get from your prospects, information that you can use to improve your products and services, feed back into product management, customer service, sales and marketing. It can give you an idea of what customers are looking for, what’s missing in your “recipe” and it can literally tell you how to sell more. It will also give you a fantastic insight into customer objections to selling. Dealing with customer objections is part of selling and mapping out what the common objections are will help you prepare for the next sale. Having answers ready for your customers looks very good when your sales people are trying to close the sale. Contrast that with the line “I will consult with the headquarters and get back to you with the information you need”, which delays the closing and gives your leads time to change their minds and shop around.

In a nutshell, you need to “see” what your telesales team is doing, how they communicate with the leads, what’s being said, how often, what the leads are saying. And that’s where a simple CRM solution can help greatly. Managing a telesales team becomes so much easier when all the data is in one place, you can see who’s doing what when and you can set tasks for the next steps to be followed with certain leads. It’s visibility that puts you in control and gives you the ability to manage the telesales effort.

From that point on you can choose your management style, you can be as micro or macro as you want, you can set individual tasks or general goals and monitor the progress and have meaningful conversations about the performance and improvements needed by your telesales team. It allows you to see whether the telesales team is ultimately working for you or whether you’d better off looking for another telesales team or even bring the whole project in-house.

If you don’t have a CRM system today, take a look at our Clevertim CRM which is a CRM and lead management solution designed for small businesses. Start getting on top of your telesales projects today!

What’s new

We’re continually working on improving Clevertim CRM in order to make it more user friendly, more intuitive and fix various snags. Here’s a list of items that we have delivered recently:

  • Filters in the “What’s new” screen – as you add more data, you will need to go back and filter by user who performed various operations, the operation type, the item type and the date when the action was performed. We also improved the navigation in the “What’s new” screen to allow users to jump to the first and last page (previously only navigating to the next and the previous page was supported). The time when the actions were performed is also now included.
  • User photos in comments. If the users upload a photo of themselves in the “My info & settings”, this will be shown in the comments section. The comments also now include a timestamp.
  • A link back to the company from the contact’s profile. A small arrow next to the company name on the right hand side of the contact edit details section allows for easy navigation from the contact to the company profile.
  • Further customization so that your own logo is shown on the upper right corner when you choose to upload one.
  • Under the bonnet performance improvements – we don’t want to bore you with the details

It’s our goal to continue to improve our CRM and make it one of the best CRM for small businesses, while at the same time keeping it simple, intuitive and less intimidating than other big CRM solutions out there.

Web based contact management

We often use the term “small business CRM” or “simple CRM” when we talk to some of our potential customers but when it comes to small businesses, most of them really need just a contact management solution. The reason we use the term CRM is because it conveys a bit more than contact management. It suggests that it comes with the required business processes to take small businesses to the next level. And this is what most small business owners are looking for. They are usually at the stage where they have managed to grow their businesses up to a point where they’ve outgrown the simple business processes they have used before. They have more employees or perhaps they outsource the sales or marketing to someone else and they need to have visibility of what’s going on in their business while ensuring that everyone in their team is up to the high standard they are looking for.

CRM though is generally just a tool that helps you implement your business processes, but these are something you, as the business owner, have to design because you know what’s best for your small business and how you want to grow it further. A business process is just a fancy way of saying “the way you’re doing things”. When you have employees or when you work with freelancers or outsource work, you need to think about the way you want these people to operate. It does help to write down a few sentences of what’s expected, a basic workflow they have to follow, especially when they need to interact with other employees or sub-contractors.

Once you have these few sentences, you can use a simple CRM or contact management app to implement these business processes. You can start using the CRM as a shared repository of customer intelligence, customer communications, previous sales history and general collaboration between your employees and contractors.

It’s not rocket science, but we feel the term CRM conveys more of the right attitude of understanding your own business, defining your business processes and be on take charge of your small business destiny. Ok, maybe without the melodrama.