How to Prepare the Effective Outbound Calling Campaign?

The success or failure of the outbound call campaign depends on many factors. Luckily, it’s possible to turn them into your advantage. All you need is the right planning and preparation. How to effectively prepare for an outbound campaign? Here are some expert tips from Voiptime Cloud and Data & Marketing Association (DMA).

In this article you will find:

Developing campaign objectives and strategy
Writing a call script
Choosing the dialing strategy
Dealing with the management concerns
Data: sourcing, handling, using
Choosing the dialing logic
What dialing mode to use?
Choosing the right benchmarks
The importance of the right software

Developing 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 that you should consider the following questions while setting your campaign objectives:

  • What do you want to achieve from your campaign?
  • How will your campaign benefit your customer?
  • Are your objectives measurable?
  • Are your objectives achievable?
  • How, in detail, is your telemarketing agent going to help achieve the objectives?
  • Is there a secondary objective to your agent’s call?
  • How many dials and decision-making contacts (DMCs) will be required?
  • What conversion rates are achievable?
  • What quality objectives should you establish, in addition to the financials?
  • What valuable customer insight can you collect during the call?
  • How will this insight be used to help improve your customer’s experience in future campaigns?

Now it’s time to think about your campaign strategy. Its specifics depend on your business goals but there are key principles that DMA recommends taking into account:

  • Put your customer first. This principle is often placed in the mission statement but not all companies stick to it in real life. Your customer has to be at the heart of the calling process. Their rights and requests should be important for your employees, especially their right to say NO. They have to accept the fact that sometimes “no” really means “no” and try not to be too intrusive. Putting your customers first also means that you should see and test your processes and practices from their perspective. Also, it means that you should understand how your service is perceived and remove the practices you would find inappropriate. 
  • Be honest and fair. Сlear, honest, and open two-way communication should be at the center of all your practices. 
  • Foster excellent communication. Share the information that enables you to provide first-class communication. Be consistent, clear, easily understood, relevant, and up-to-date.
  • Encourage conversation over conversion. You need to find some balance when setting time frames for outbound calling. Your talk time shouldn’t be too long because it may make your customers feel “hostage” on the phone. On the other hand, too short talk time may well be counterproductive.
  • Deliver what you promise. Make only promises you can keep. Overpromising isn’t good at any stage both for agents and customers.

Writing a call script

A call script is one of the most important ingredients of a successful outbound campaign. If you know your prospect’s needs, have a structured and clarified message as well as answers to potential questions and objections then you are more likely to close the deal.

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 take a look at DMA’s recommendations about telemarketing calls. 

It should contain 4 key components:

  1. Disclosure. An agent introduces themselves to a prospect and informs them about the purpose of their call. Ensure that they use real names. If you work as an outsourcer, provide your client with a regularly updated list of agents’ names. Also, your call opening should include brief and clear information about who you are, where you are calling from, the reason for your call. Also, your agents should ask prospects if this is a convenient time for them to speak and perhaps add that the call will take just X minutes and be sure it takes no longer. Also, DMA recommends completing any relevant security checks quickly where appropriate.
  1. Call structure. A good call structure should look like this:
    1. Ask a question to a prospect
    2. Find out if your product/service can satisfy some of their need or desire
    3. Explain to your prospect in more detail how your product/service will meet their needs
    4. Answer the prospect’s questions or overcome objections but without pushing or exaggerating
    5. Discuss any sales opportunities (cross-sell or up-sell) ONLY if appropriate
    6. Close your call, summarizing what you have discussed or agreed
  1. Summary. This part is important as well. 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.
  2. Post-call process. At this stage, your agent fulfills commitments and promises they made during the call (for example, to send an email with more detailed information on a product or service). It is also important to ensure that your agents don’t make promises that cannot be delivered.

Choosing the dialing strategy

The first thing to consider is the choice of an outbound dialing strategy, which should be determined by two factors ‒ your outbound contact list and the type of dialing technology to use for the campaign.

In an outbound calling campaign, all your efforts will depend on the size of your contact list, which will determine:

  • how many agents you need to involve,
  • what technology you will use,
  • what data you’ll need to accommodate for the agents,
  • how much time you should dedicate to the campaign.

You will also have to make sure that the chosen dialing strategy helps you to achieve your business goals, whether it is able to secure the level of agent productivity that you want to achieve, etc.

Dealing with the management concerns

There are also some management considerations you shouldn’t ignore. Before the start of the campaign, it’s important to make sure there are no procedural issues that might stand in the way. Namely, you should attend to the following outbound campaign management needs:

  • database administration and data management (making sure that resources necessary for a campaign are fully optimized);
  • management information (a detailed analysis of the campaign intelligence, such as the data use, dialer performance in relation to the campaign results, etc. This information will be used as a direction for ongoing campaign management and strategy alignment);
  • dialer management (making sure that the dialer technology is fully optimized 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 is set up under telemarketing laws and regulations of the particular region).

Data: sourcing, handling, using

There are many factors that you should consider when using your potential customers’ data. DMA recommendations cover the following aspects of this field.

Sourcing

First of all, 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. Cold data are sourced without any previous contact. Telemarketers buy them from data owners or list brokers as a list rental. In both cases, DMA recommends doing thorough due diligence. 

For obvious reasons, warm data are preferred over cold ones but the reality is that 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.

Handling

Legal compliance. Make sure that your data is compliant with relevant legislation. You have to check if some of your purchased contacts aren’t included 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. 

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 any extra characters. Also, check if there are no missed digits: it happens when the database is maintained manually and by different people. 

Care about data security. It is especially important at the time of pandemic when the majority of contact centers switched to remote mode. When your agents work from home, it is harder to control access to customer data. With Voiptime Cloud call center solution, you can hide phone numbers from your agents both partially and completely. It will help you to prevent any data breaches from the agent’s side. 

Using

Define your target customers. It doesn’t make 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 different scripts to suit different datasets.

Choosing the dialing logic

Generally, there are four types of dialing logic you can choose for the campaign ‒ power dialing, predictive dialing, preview dialing, auto-dialing. The final decision will depend upon your resources, your budget, the goals of your campaign, and data availability.

Predictive dialing

This is the dialing technology that estimates the agent’s 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: If you decide to go for predictive dialing, you’ll have to pay special attention to abandoned calls rate and provide a sufficient number of agents / ensure an optimal wait time for the connection of calls to agents.

Power dialing

Power dialer dials phone numbers one by one and passes the live calls to available agents. Yet, the power dialer calls the next number only after the agent has finished the previous call. It is often favored by the organizations that are planning an outbound campaign for the first time, need to dial the list of existing customers (where the probability of an answer is very high), or don’t want to implement predictive dialing yet.

Things to consider: This mode dials the next number after the agent becomes free, so the contact list won’t be processed as fast as it would with predictive dialing. Also, power dialers without answering machine detection transition all calls are to agents, which can have a negative influence on agents’ productivity.

Preview dialing

This dialing mode is a bit different from the previous two. It shows agents the relevant information about each callee before the call and lets them decide whether to dial. Preview dialing is useful for outbound campaigns, during which an agent needs to know exactly who they are about to call to prepare for the conversation.

Things to consider: Preview dialing gives an agent some extra time to get to know who they will be talking to. However, the talking time per hour will inevitably be shorter compared to the power and predictive dialers. That’s why it might not be suitable for the campaigns, the goal of which is to contact as many people as possible over a short period.

Robodialing

This is the pre-configured automated dialing of the contact list, during which the contacts are connected either with the agent or with the answering machine that plays a pre-recorded message. Auto-dialing doesn’t require any special planning.

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.

The best dialing logic for your outbound campaign

To determine the most suitable dialing logic, you need to set your business goals first. Outbound campaigns can be used for the following purposes:

Telemarketing. Outbound campaigns are great for providing information to existing customers. This includes up-sales, cross-sales, informing about new services and special offers, etc. They are also used for building brand awareness and generating leads.

Audience research and surveys. Whereas outbound campaigns are often used in sales, it’s not their sole application. Organizations can reach out to customers for doing audience research, conducting customer satisfaction surveys, etc.

Customer support. In some cases, 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 in cases when the problem was reported by the customer earlier, etc. Outbound campaigns are also used for debt collection.

What dialing mode to use?

Each case has its specifics. For example, when it comes to 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.

Say, in the case of debt collection, collectors often work with a very 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.

Choosing 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 in turn will influence the number of calls. That being said, you should remember that quantity does not automatically presume quality. Therefore, before the campaign starts, pay attention to the following factors.

  1. Quality of the contact 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.

  1. Dialing logic

The dialing logic will influence the amount of time your agents will spend talking and waiting for a call. Likewise, the features and settings of the dialer will influence agents’ productivity.

  1. 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 to get more accurate campaign statistics.

  1. 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 obtain the objective stats and achieve the desired results. It is also recommended to 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.

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 was designed to get the most of your outbound campaign. It combines efficient dialing, tracking of the most important metrics, following legal compliance, and more.

Contact us to see how Voiptime Cloud can improve your business!

 

Published May 30, 2019, updated Dec, 9, 2020.

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