In this article you will find:
- Develop campaign objectives and strategy
- Data: sourcing, handling, using
- Write a call script
- Choose the dialing strategy
- The best dialing logic for your outbound campaign
- Deal with the management concerns
- Choose the right benchmarks
What is an outbound call?
The primary purpose of an outbound call is to reach the regular or prospective customers to achieve the business goals, such as ordering the product or service, making surveys, setting appointments, brand promotion, and debt collection. Outbound phone calls for lead generation, well known as cold calls.
Today, agents use detailed information about each customer to make the conversation more successful. As a part of telesales or telemarketing strategy, outbound sales calls are a proven way to increase the ROI of a company.
Inbound calls have a different purpose. In inbound calls prospects and customers reach the call center because of commercials, radio, advertising (both print and digital), and telemarketing.
What is an outbound call center campaign?
The supreme power of an outbound call is that a call center can be in any country in the world, and still agents reach prospects and customers via phone. Some of the call centers use a list of numbers and dial them one-by-one, manually.
A few decades ago it was the case, but not today. This is an obsolete technique that has lost value in modern business environments.
This is an unprofitable activity because an agent has to dial dozens of numbers per day. The other part of the story is that concentration on dialing and not on talking makes agents unproductive. To achieve the highest results, sophisticated call centers use outbound call center software to increase their effectiveness and revenue.
There are few types of outbound calling campaign:
- Telemarketing. Telemarketing is a direct marketing activity, which uses sources of communication such as telephone and internet. Among all well-known sources of communication, the phone is the most profitable.
The agents contact the prospect or customer and make a sales pitch to compel them to make an order. According to statista.com, spending on telemarketing, in the US, hit the mark of 61,4 billions of dollars annually.
- Telesales. Telesales is a part of telemarketing, which includes calling to a qualified and non-qualified audience. Call centers are the key players in telesales marketing. Call centers excel equally well in the private and government sector.
The audience call centers hit, usually qualified for the product with advertising, news, radio, commercials, etc. According to statista.com, call centers in Europe generated over 50 billion $ in revenue each year.
- Customer support. Sometimes, it’s necessary to reach out to the customers to provide proactive support. These situations include warnings about the temporary unavailability of the service, payment reminders, providing support, etc. Outbound campaigns used successfully for debt collection.
- Debt collection. One of the frequent activities of outbound call centers is a collection of money. Banks use their own staff or outsource this kind of job to collection agencies and call centers.
The agents call the people and provide information about payment obligations, timely payment information, and help in debt payments. Usually they use a predictive dialer, to eliminate manual dialing, and to call as many clients as possible.
Both the US and Europe have legal regulations for collection activities. Collectors got to be advised about these laws to make their strategy legal and effective. According to statista.com, 98% of the debt collections, used by a third party, call centers.
- Donations. Outbound call centers are successfully working on collecting donations for profitable and non-profitable organizations. Donations collect a tremendous amount of dollars all over the world.
According to authority resources Giving USA and statista.com, the overall amount of donations per year in the US hit the mark of 390 billion $ only for charity.
- Surveys. Outbound call centers provide fast and effective surveys. The surveys work in such areas as:
- Customer satisfaction survey. Agents call the clients and interview them about the company's products, services, quality, and satisfaction. This is vital data companies used to change or maintain their strategy to make the customers more satisfied.
- Market research. There are many companies that specialize in collecting data about consumers and how they buy a product or service. As a result, companies, which request this information, achieve comprehensive data about consumer's activity, desires, needs, trends, solvency, etc.
- Political surveys. Political parties use outbound calls to define their attitude towards political activity. This data used to define what the vast majority of people expect from the government, and how parties change their politics to satisfy their needs.
Why is a call center campaign important?
Prospects and customers expect that every company provides fast, timely and valuable support on his or her issues. To accomplish it, you need a call center campaign that satisfies all clients. Outbound campaign is important, when you need to generate leads, create image, provide support and do it fast and effectively.
Clients generate an opinion about the company, almost from the first conversation. So this is crucial to provide timely and valuable information to customers. It is also important to maintain a good relationship with them by providing constant support.
Successful inbound and outbound call center campaigns generate billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Call centers are effective equally in B2B and B2C calling. No matter how big the goal is or how long it should take, if the call center works properly, it is the single best source of new orders and leads.
Great call centers have experienced marketers and agents who know how to deliver a sales pitch or information to the prospect or customer. As a result, this intense effort drastically raises the bank account of companies.
Call center agents are more stress-tolerant than anyone else. The call center agents feel more confident in the intense effort of closing the sales, providing support, qualifying prospects, and listening to complaints.
The importance of a call center is huge for any kind of business. In fact, the more your business generates money and provides services, the more agents you need in call centers.
Challenges outbound call centers face
There are three biggest challenges for call centers. These challenges are a relevant list of customers, staff professionalism, dialing software and technologies.
Dozens of call centers failed their campaigns because of the wrong list of customers. This lists either obsolete or awkward. If the list is faulty, when a call center reaches the customers, they don’t want the product or service that agents want to deliver.
As a result, this is a tremendous loss of money and time. Great list brokers are the best friends of all companies. The bigger your company, the more savvy your list broker should be. A relevant list of customers is the greatest asset that a company can ever have. This is a gold mine.
The customers in this list are interested and willing to buy regularly a product or service. These days it’s difficult to achieve this kind of information. The relevant lists of customers are expensive and list brokers know that.
Outbound call center software and technologies are the second challenge. When call centers reach their customers manually, they are unproductive. For example, one person without dialing software can make 100-110 call attempts (including busy signals, no answers, etc.) per 8 hours by dialing numbers manually.
If the contact rate is 35%, he will have only 38 live calls. And to close one sale, an agent should make on average at least 3 calls to that one customer. But business can’t work that way.
Dialing software is the vital update for calling centers that triples the productivity of each agent. With specialized outbound call center software, it will do at least 250 dialing attempts for each agent. In the Predictive dialing mode and with a contact rate of 75% each agent will process 188 live calls. So the agent occupancy increases from 20 to 30% up to 70%, and with the average sales conversion of 1-2% 10 agents can make more sales during the same working shift - 62 instead of 11.
As a result, companies with software trash the competitors because they are more efficient and effective.
Staff professionalism. It’s better to hire the best sales agents that you can find. Those agents not only speak to clients yet create business relationships. Yet there is an opportunity to train staff and make them better salespeople.
The great importance of success is providing regular training sessions, both for experienced and newbies agents. When staff trained to deliver the information to the customers, they earn more. Other parts of this activity include training of speech, voice, thank you note, etc. If staff are knowledgeable and prepared technically, it makes astonishing results.
Experience is important for the staff to make hard-hitting sales. Successful people expect the best performance from agents when they call to them and vice versa. They quickly define the newbies or an inexperienced salesperson. The result is a loss of those rich clients, which is not good.
In this business, it’s important to understand legal issues. No one should break the law and telemarketing regulations compliance unless they want to have multiple money and reputation losses and lawsuits.
How to create a successful outbound call campaign
Develop campaign objectives and strategy
The first thing you need to do is to set objectives for your outbound campaign and then develop a strategy on how to achieve them. DMA experts recommend you consider the following questions while setting your campaign objectives:
- What do you want from your campaign?
- Will your campaign benefit your customer?
- Are your objectives profitable?
- Are your objectives achievable?
- How is your telemarketing agent going to achieve these objectives?
- Is there a secondary objective?
- How many dials and decision-making contacts (DMCs) does it take?
- What conversion rates are achievable?
- What objectives do you want to establish to increase ROI?
- What information do you want to collect from a customer?
- How will this information be useful in the future?
- How to handle outbound calls?
- What are the most effective outbound calls tips you should apply?
Now it’s time to think about your campaign strategy. Specifics depend on your business goals, but there are key principles that DMA recommends:
- Put your customer first. Indeed, customers are not interested in your company's problems or personal needs. Customers don't even care about the success of your company. What the client wants to achieve is a product or service that solves his or her problems.
- Take everything the customer says from the perspective of a professional. By doing so, you achieve more money and fewer complaints. Treat customers as friends and partners, and you achieve more sales.
- Be sincere. Сlear, honest, and sincere communication has to be at the center of all your practices.
- Foster excellent communication. Share the information that enables you to provide first-class communication. Be consistent, easily understood, relevant, and up-to-date.
- Encourage conversation over conversion. You need to find some balance when setting time frames for outbound calling. Choose wisely the time for conversation. Use push and pull techniques.
- Deliver what you promise. Make only those promises, which you can deliver. Over-promising is harmful to business relations at any stage, both for agents and customers. It also can cause lawsuits and money loss for your company.
Data: sourcing, handling, using
There are many other vital factors that you need to consider when using your potential customers’ data. DMA recommendations cover the following aspects of this field.
Make a difference between “warm” and “cold” data. Warm data means that the brand on whose behalf your agents are calling has established some sort of the previous contact with a prospective customer.
For example, they have reached the company via a website or social media and left their phone number, email, personal data, questions, etc.
Storing cold data without previous contact information is an obvious situation. Telemarketers buy them from data owners or list brokers as a list rental. In both cases, DMA recommends constantly check the information in the list before using it.
Warm data is more relevant than cold, but it is not always possible to use only warm data for your campaign. At some stage, you will need cold data, anyway. The good news is that they can be as effective as warm data if you select them intelligently and appropriately. If you distinguish what clients are more relevant and what not for calling, you significantly increase your effectiveness in cold calling.
Legal compliance. Make sure that your data complies with relevant legislation. Check if some of your purchased contacts aren’t in the Do Not Call (DNC) list, Telephone Preference Service (TPS), or some other registry for customers who do not want to receive unsolicited or marketing calls.
Remember, such agencies in the US like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) are ready to cut you down for breaking the law, in your calling campaign. Every country, especially in West Europe, has an agency or institution for cutting down illegal call activities. The result is multiple lawsuits, money losses, damaged image, and wasted time.
Check your data accuracy. We strongly recommend you check if your data is accurate before importing database information into your call center software. All the phone numbers have to be written in the international format and without extra characters. Make a check for missed digits: it happens when the database is filled manually by people.
Care about data security. It is crucial at the COVID-19 pandemic impact when the vast majority of contact centers switched to remote mode. When your agents work from home, it is harder to control access to customer data.
With the Voiptime Cloud call center solution, you can hide phone numbers from your agents both partially and completely. It will help you prevent any data breaches from the agent’s side.
Define your target customers. It makes little sense to contact customers who are inappropriate for your product or service. You will only waste your time and money and annoy some people.
Use detailed data. The more detailed dataset you use, the more likely you are to hit your target audience.
Continually improve scripts. Refine your call scripts as your campaign unfolds. Test and adapt original scripts to suit different datasets.
Write a call script
A call script is one of the vital ingredients of a successful outbound campaign. If you know your prospect’s needs, have structured and clarified messages, as well as answers to potential questions and objections, then you are more likely to close the sale.
In our article The Ultimate Guide to Cold Calling Scripts 2020, we have described the process of cold call scripting in more detail.
Let’s look at DMA’s recommendations about telemarketing calls.
It should contain 4 key components:
- Disclosure. An agent introduces themselves to a prospect and informs them about the purpose of their call. Ensure that agents use a real first and second name. If you work in outsourcing, provide your client with a regularly updated list of agents’ names. Also, your call opening must include brief and clear information about who you are, where you are calling from. Don’t forget to mention the reason for your call. Your agents must ask prospects if this is a convenient time for them to speak. And perhaps tell them that the call will take only 3 minutes. DMA recommends completing any relevant security checks quickly where appropriate.
- Call structure. A good call structure should look like this:
- Ask relevant questions
- Find out if your product/service can satisfy their needs or desires.
- Explain to your prospect how your product/service will meet their needs.
- Answer the prospect’s questions or overcome objections, but without pushing or exaggerating.
- Discuss any sales opportunities (cross-sell or up-sell) ONLY if appropriate.
- Close your call, summarizing what you have discussed or agreed.
- Summary. An agent has to make sure that the customer understands the outcome of the call and to ensure there has been no misunderstanding about what will happen next. That’s why it is important to summarize what the call has achieved.
- Post-call process. At this stage, your agent fulfills commitments and promises they made during the call (for example, email them with more detailed information on a product or service). Ensure that your agents don’t make promises you cannot deliver.
Choose the dialing strategy
The first thing to consider is the choice of an outbound calling strategy, which must contain two factors ‒ your outbound contact list, and the type of dialing technology to use for the campaign.
The strategic issue is to have a relevant campaign list. All of your efforts will depend on the relevancy of the contact list and the number of prospects and clients being called. These factors define the following issues:
- How many agents do you need to involve?
- What technology will you use?
- What data do you need to accommodate the agents?
- How much time do you need to dedicate to reach your goals?
Make sure that the chosen dial strategy helps you in achieving your business goals.
The best dialing logic for your outbound campaign
A few decades ago, the practice of dialing numbers manually was quite common. It was a slow and exhausting process for agents that dialed numbers manually. Agents concentrated on the dialing process, verifying information, and preparing data. These days, call centers have advanced technologies and outbound call center software with Power and Predictive dialers. Agents must provide vital information for customers and not dial numbers. Because of the proper outbound calling planning, they drastically raise the bank accounts of companies and partners. Depending on your goals and strategy, you need to pick up the most suitable type of dialing mode.
What is dialing mode?
Dialing mode is a type of dialer with certain software, which is used by call centers to accomplish their goals. There are three main outbound dialer types:
Each case has its specifics. For example, for lead generation and debt collection (working with the cold base, when there is a low probability of reaching the contact), it’s better to use a predictive dialer. It will enable agents to use their time more effectively. Such conversations can be pretty short, and the contact rate might be very low.
In debt collection, collectors often work with an old base, so the contact rate can be as low as 6%.
Meanwhile, upsell and cross-sell, as well as proactive customer support often require preliminary work as the agent should prepare for such conversations. In this case, it is better to use a preview or power dialer (power is suitable when there is a long list of clients, who should receive a standardized offer).
Such conversations can last longer as the agent should lead a prospect through the sales funnel (get their attention, engage them in a conversation, qualify them, and sometimes transfer them to the sales rep who will close the sale).
The agent should be qualified enough to answer all the prospect’s questions without putting the person on hold too often.
Surveys are often standardized. The agent usually works with a prepared script and the duration of the conversation depends upon the average length of the questionnaire or survey. For such campaigns, autodialer could be a suitable option, especially if the IVR is involved.
Power dialer dials phone numbers one by one and passes the live calls to agents. The power dialer calls the next number only after the agent has finished the previous call.
You use this dialer when you need to dial the list of existing customers (where the probability of an answer is very high), or you don't want to apply predictive dialing yet.
Things to consider: This mode dials the next number after the agent becomes free, so the contact list won’t process as fast as it would with predictive dialing. Be advised that dialers without an answering machine detection system will be transited directly to agents. Productivity of the agents, in this case, will be lower because of a faulty connection with the answering machine or voicemail. What is predictive and preview dialing, anyway?
Predictive dialer can be a key to success in your outbound dialing campaign.
This is the dialing technology that estimates the talking time for each conversation and starts dialing the next number when the agent is about to end the call.
This significantly reduces the time between calls and increases agents’ productivity since They instantly jump on the subsequent call without waiting for the next person to connect.
Things to consider: It is a great dialing mode for cold calls, debt collection if you have at least 5-10+ agents in your team. If you decide to go for predictive dialing, you’ll have to pay special attention to abandoned calls rate (the system has to control the maximum abandon rate for your country) and provide enough agents / ensure an optimal wait time for the connection of calls to agents.
This dialing mode differs from the previous two. It shows agents the relevant information about each client before the call. Depending on the relevance of information, agents have to consider dialing a particular number.
Preview dialing is useful for outbound campaigns, during which an agent needs to know exactly who the customers are, and how they need to build a conversation.
Things to consider: Preview dialing gives an agent some extra time to know who they will talk to. In comparison with power and a predictive dialer, the time for talking in this mode will be shorter. This type of dialer is not suitable for fast dialing in a short time.
This is the pre-configured automated dialer. During the call, the customer connected the IVR system with pre-recorded messages and the ability to connect with the agent after selecting.
Things to consider: There are many legal restrictions imposed on robodialing, so you need to make sure that the campaign follows all the local rules and telemarketing laws.
Deal with the management concerns
There are crucial management considerations you need to know about. Before the start of the campaign, it’s crucial to make sure there are no procedural issues that might stand in the way. You got to attend to the following outbound campaign management needs:
- database administration and data management (making sure that resources necessary for a campaign are up to date);
- management information (a detailed analysis of the campaign intelligence, such as the data use, dialer performance in relation to the campaign results. This information will be a direction for ongoing campaign management and strategy alignment);
- dialer management (making sure that the dialer technology is up to date, to ensure the highest agent productivity and the best campaign results);
- legal compliance (checking in with the legal requirements and making sure that the dialer technology complies up under telemarketing laws and regulations of the particular region).
Choose the right benchmarks
There is no universal view as to the optimal productivity of an outbound campaign as the efficiency of agents will depend upon many aspects, which will influence the number of calls.
You need to remember that quantity does not automatically presume quality. Therefore, before the campaign starts, you need to pay attention to the following factors.
- Quality of the contact campaign list. The contact list with outdated or wrong contacts will inevitably affect the outcomes of the campaign. The call volumes might be higher, but the call duration will be much shorter.
- Dialing logic. The dialing logic will influence on the time your agents will spend talking and waiting for a call. Likewise, the features and settings of the dialer will influence agents’ productivity.
- Average talk time. Talk time will differ for each type of campaign (sales, survey, or service). Knowing the talk time with non-decision makers and decision-makers will help you get more accurate campaign statistics.
- Calling environment. If the environment is noisy, the call duration may be longer as the agents will have to speak louder and slower. Also, the quality of agents’ work will decrease if they will have to deal with more calls than they can physically handle.
Keep in mind all those factors while determining the call center KPIs and campaign benchmarks.
This will help you reach the objective stats and achieve the desired results. We highly recommend you test the accuracy and relevance of chosen metrics so that you could identify tendencies and make adjustments.
To learn more about call center KPIs and metrics, check out our guide Call Center KPIs and Metrics 2020.
Best practices for a successful calling campaign strategy
To accomplish your goals, you need to pick up the most effective and proven strategy according to your specific company. You will define what’s profitable and what's not while your strategy works. Here are the most proven and profitable strategies that you should apply:
- Set a goal for your outbound call management and strategy and reach them by using the strategy in practice. Don’t do something blindly, you need a clear direction. Your goal is generating leads, sales, awareness, image, surveys, etc. Put an actual date of the year, month, week for accomplishing goals. Let KPI metrics help you track more results in less time. KPI (Key Performance Indicator) metrics are one of the most advanced and effective tools for tracking the activity of your staff and success. You need to define the most relevant metrics of your goals and track them.
- Set regular training sessions and financial incentives. The hiring of a skilled agent is a good idea. And the great idea is to improve your staff by providing training sessions. Whether you have an experienced or newbie staff, you need to keep them in shape. Make yourself and your staff savvier in sales. The most successful agents are skilled at marketing first. Make your staff study the psychology of the sale. Ask them to train USP (Unique Selling Proposition) when they talk with the customer. Do it once a week, and your staff will be much more profitable. Don’t forget to motivate your staff with financial incentives. Place a doable plan for sales each month. If your team reaches this mark, give a decent reward for that. The staff will appreciate the extra money that they can make by reaching sales goals. It will soar productivity by tenfold.
- Engaging the prospects and customers during the call. No matter how good your product is, the first conversation with the client must be amazing. Your agents literally must grab your customers by the ears with a simple, sincere, and positive talk. Even if your product is not in the best interest of the prospects today, they’re likely to return to you, as soon as it does. Sometimes you can turn prospects into customers from the first conversation. It depends on how you want to provide a great service to the client.
- The call is not the only reason why successful outbound calls strategy excels. You need to keep regular clients as friends. If someone gives you the money for your services, this is a great business relationship. Don’t come up with the idea that customers are dead meat once they give you money or make an order. Call them from time to time. Make sure that your services are on the top level by asking the questions. Follow up the sales if the customer doesn’t even ask for it. Call for the thank you note. By the way, the thank you note is the feature that most of the companies lost. As a result, they lost clients, reputation, and money. And if you make those small calls from time to time, you will trash the competitors by that. Because today, almost nobody treats the customers like this. Search for feedbacks to understand how customers think about the company, and what they want to see in the future from you.
These are the most effective outbound call tips that convert prospects into customers. There are more strategies on the internet, in fact, there are dozens of them.
And we told you about those that work and proven by the billions of dollars in revenue and millions of satisfied customers. When you apply one of these strategies, make sure it suits your goal. Don’t apply any marketing approaches that are uncertain or unproven.
The importance of the right software
You can thoroughly plan your strategy and have your agents prepared for each call, but all the efforts will be in vain if you don’t have the right software in place. Our Voiptime Cloud call center solution designed to get the most of your outbound campaign. It combines efficient dialing, tracking of the most crucial call center metrics, following legal compliance, and more.
This software developed by top-notch programmers with experience in IP telephony, call center industry, and dialing technologies. Also, they work to improve it by adding timely features that increase the effectiveness of the software.
Before the pandemic, we successfully delivered software to call centers that wished to improve their profit. During the COVID-19 impact, Voiptime helped painlessly switch businesses and call centers to remote work as fast as possible.
This software is timely for call centers and allows them to reduce the work of agents. It allows them to talk with clients and don’t get bothered by anything else. Order it now to ensure your agents are working as much productively as possible.
Published May 30, 2019, updated Jun, 9, 2021.