December 18, 2008

Lessons in Setting Up A Telesales / Telesupport Desk

Lessons learned by managers who have set up and operated their own in-house telesales/service desk initiatives.

1. Set an objective - the level of revenue and profitability of the same for repeat customers as well as for the results of any outbound telesales activity.

Ensure you have some benchmark in place to track your results against. Track metrics & calculate the activity levels required based on the metrics.

Use metrics to focus attention on sales effectiveness, including testing new scripts/service offerings, approaches, etc. in order to increase success rates.

For service develop account plans for individual accounts, or categories of accounts, together with account targets.

2. Preparation of materials. Have scripts, materials and call flow scenarios in place. These are the vital ingredients of success. If the desk is going to do outbound calls don't waste time chasing people that should not be on the list in the first place. Make sure you have a reason to call - some useful information to convey, etc. to the prospect.

3. Stay focused in particular on a specific sales proposition/message and target markets. That allows you to experiment and vary your approach, to measure what works best and to incentivize particular initiatives.

4. Hire somebody who has telesales background and is happy doing that work – marketing grads are generally poor at it.

5. Provide rewards for results achieved - just as in any other area incentives are key. Celebrate success whether it be a compliment from a customer, or a sales win. Major on training, providing ongoing support and encouragement - it can be a lonely and frustrating job.

6. Make the telesales/service desk staff feel part of the team - this is often not the case in many organizations with service desk often looked down upon by sales

7. Test your systems rigorously before the service desk is rolled out to all the customers. It goes without saying central access to all contact information is key

8. Set targets for activity as well as results, including the number of calls made/taken in a typical day, etc. View calls as results, not just the more obvious results, such as; up-selling, appointments, as well as the gathering of information, building awareness, educating potential customers, etc.

9. For telesales develop pre-qualification criteria in respect of when a prospect should be met by a salesperson, etc. In most organizations this can become an area of contention.

10. Develop a KIT (keep in touch) process to nurture prospects to sales readiness - the first call is only that - the first step in a process of relationship building.

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