Getting more clients for your call center part 1
Call centers are everywhere!
There are many call centers throughout the world. The United States and Canada are filled with them. The Philippines is the most popular outsourcing location for call centers, while Kenya and South Africa offer a good command of British English and are in the same time zone as Europeans. But… not all call centers are created equal. Many new companies want more clients, but they don’t know where to start.
It’s about relationships!
BPO Companies typically get business because they have the right contacts. No contacts; No contracts; But, how do you get connections when you don’t know anyone? A call center might know a potential client, or could be referred to a client from someone who knows them. Often, they will know other people in the business, who give them their overflow or take a commission on BPO business sent their way. But, what if you are sitting in a building in Navi Mumbai, or Cebu, and you see others succeeding in the call center business when your phone is not ringing with interested prospective clients?
How do you get to know people when you don’t know anyone?
We all start out with empty Rolodexes in this life unless we are born into the right family.
But, how many of us are born into a well connected family? I’m from America which is a meritocracy. Your success is still based heavily on “who you know”, but we generally are not born with good connections like the upper class British or Indian families might have. We make it based on merit and hustling — otherwise we don’t make it. Some of us are talented, while others are average but work harder than our competitors. In America, many of my friends were from affluent families, but didn’t have the drive or dedication to achieve, and they are working for minimum wage in many cases. By the same token, many people who were raised in slums are now prospering. So, get out there and hustle and get to know people. You can meet prospects through cold calling, Linked In, networking meetings, or through existing contacts.
Getting to know people
If you want to drum up BPO business, you have to contact companies who might be able to use your service, as well as contacting competitors. Competitors might be able to refer you jobs that they don’t want or don’t have time for. They might charge a commission for offering you work. You could get to know agents and brokers as well, but be careful as many of them charge up front and don’t deliver! You can get listed on outsourcing directories and have a broad social media presence as well. In terms of contacting prospective clients, who do you call, when, and where? Pounding the payment is on my perpetual to do list — my company contacts 400 new companies per month every month, on schedule at the beginning of the month whether we need new clients or not, just to keep the momentum going.
Email is a wonderful tool, and it has its place in society. It’s a very practical way to contact people who already know you and are happy (smiley face or not) to hear from you. However, if you send emails to strangers that are trying to sell them something, you will get ignored. If you use email to contact people, you might get a 0-1% return rate if you offer them some sort of free trial period. If it is just an introduction to your company, you will be ignored 9999 out of 10,000 emails which makes the whole process futile. Writing to a specific contact person and perceptively addressing their unique needs increases the chance of you getting noticed 100 fold!
Calling companies is a royal pain in the neck. It’s often like pulling teeth to reach the decision maker, and each phone call can carve 10 minutes out of your day only to be put on hold and then ultimately rejected. Phone calls are tedious, so plan on having someone who is patient and dedicated to manning this essential lifeline. On a brighter note, a dedicated caller can realistically reach up to 30 decision makers on a busy day of cold calling.
Meeting people’s needs
The mentality that separates a salesman from a pest is their ability to anticipate their prospective client’s needs. If you call someone trying to force your service down their unwilling throat, you will have wasted your call. Even if they need your service, they won’t like your style. If you are polite, make nice conversation, and ask them about their needs, you will get your foot in the door. My experience has shown that a female with a nice voice, an even nicer personality, and a good technical understanding of call center work will excel at this type of cold-calling. Gentleness and suave are the keys that open the doors. On the other hand, my personal experience running my own call operations is that a man with a very feminine voice is just as effective as a girl. My best caller was a guy with a folksy high voice, and everyone liked “her”. I hired him to offer free listings on one of my directories, and he got seven listings per hour, while the other male caller averaged only four! Of course — everybody thought that he was a she!!!
Smoothness and getting to know people
People hire other people they know. Its not about what BPO company you work for, or even what company they work for. If a person at a particular company likes a person at another company and gets to know them, you establish trust. Trust = Sales or at least has the potential to lead to sales. People entrust their money to people they like and trust. If your salesgirl cannot only sell, but makes great chit-chat with the decision makers, they will develop a type of relationship with your company. In five minutes, you went from a non-relationship, to having a warm and fuzzy relationship. You are no longer doing a cold-sell now. You are working in a warm market. Your sales girl melted the proverbial ice!!! One sales lady conveys such charm, that clients who have never laid eyes on her are regularly sending her flowers. When you interview your salesgirl, ask how many flowers her clients sent her on her last job. There’s your clue as to how successful she will be!
Many people are stingy and selfish and don’t want to give away even a minute of their time for free. But, if you are starting out, you have to establish a reputation. If nobody knows you, then the only fast way to GET people to know you is to offer a few hours of work at either no cost, or at a reduced cost if the person will commit to a contract once they are satisfied. If you have a star employee who will impress your potential clients, you will gain many others from offering free work. Not all of them will hire you. But, always remember that business is about relationships, ideally long term ones. If you sacrificed a few hours of a star employee’s time, but got a client who stuck with you for twenty years and referred you to ten other companies who used you, do you feel that your sacrifice was worth it? You give away a penny, and get a million in return. I like that exchange very much.
Have a professional web site
People judge a book by its cover and a web site by its professionalism. A professional web site that clearly states all of your specialties and contact information will attract business, especially if it is easy to find on Google. Please see our article about having a professional web site for your business.
An astute web marketer will be an expert at using pay-per-click programs. Google’s adwords is the most effective in this category. Pick the keywords and keyword variations that are well targeted to your business and geographical terms mixed with professional terms, i.e. “Bangalore Web Design”. Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In also have PPC programs that can help you grow your social media presence quickly and effectively providing that you have popular content. Going to a $100 party wearing a $3 shirt is the equivalent of spending hundreds promoting poorly written blogs or web pages. Write good content and promote it using PPC. However, you should track your results and terminate promotions that don’t yield positive results. Using PPC involves a lot of trial and error, so try many approaches and keep your eyes open. Please read our article on Pay-Per-Click promotion of call centers.
Hire a nice girl who makes smooth conversation, knows her technical stuff, and can anticipate her prospective client’s needs. Get to know companies and offer them a certain amount of free work if you think they are serious. That way, they will be confident about working with you in the future since they had a good experience with your company. On the other hand, if you hire the worst staff, your free sample will just be a waste, because nobody wants to work with a rotten bunch of employees!!
Stay tuned for part 2 of getting call center work. You will see a completely different point of view on marketing in that blog entry.
You might also like:
How to get more clients for your call center (compilation)
How to get clients for call center — contracts!
Marketing your BPO from A to Z
How to find clients for call centers — good salespeople
How to get more clients for your call center — get an agent!
How to get more clients for your call center using Pay-Per-Click
(a) When it comes to business, it is about who you know.
How well do you know yourself?
(b) In business it is about who you know. How well do you hustle to get to know new people?
(c) In business, it is not who you know — it is who knows you and thinks highly of you.
(d) Get to know prospective clients by calling them.
Interact with existing clients by emailing them.
(e) Emailing prospective clients has a really low response rate. Ask your Nigerian uncle. Try cold-calling prospects.
(f) Hire the right girl to talk to decision makers & they will develop a warm & fuzzy relationship w/your company.
(g) 1 sales lady conveys such charm: clients who’ve never seen her regularly send her flowers.
(h) When u interview a salesgirl, ask how many flowers her clients sent her on her last job. There’s your clue as to how successful she will be!
(i) The best things in life are free. Give a free sample to a prospect, do great work, and win a client!