While setting up your own call center may seem like an overwhelming task, all you need are a few key ingredients: some knowledge, a solid sales process, a good team and the right technology. This article will walk you through the process of setting up a call center for your business.
Managing a call center is very much like running a sales team: you have to set realistic yet ambitious sales goals, keep an eye on reps’ performance and stay accountable to your organization’s leadership.
But there is one big difference: working in a call center is a high-stress job, and reps tend to quit... often.
Case in point: a report done by CSO Insights puts the annual attrition rate for salespeople at 16%. Depending on your source, call center turnover rates are between 30% and 45%. According to Forrester, however, some contact centers have an annual turnover rate of 100%!
Call center attrition is, on some levels, a fact of life. You won’t be able to prevent it, but you can manage it by managing your team well.
In this guide to telesales we cover:
When you’re setting up a call center, you can’t just throw a bunch of reps in a room with some telephones. The first thing you’ll want to do is come up with a plan.
In fact, you’re going to want to do a lot of planning. You’ll need to figure out how many reps you’ll need, what tools they’ll be using to do their jobs and where your call center will be located. Set aside a lot of time for the planning phase because you’re going to have to answer a lot of questions before your reps can dial out for the first time.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll need to develop a plan for finding and developing the best talent to staff your center. Try to build a retention plan in advance to keep your employees onboard for the long haul. This will mean plenty of ongoing training and development for reps, and hopefully some upward mobility within the team.
You’ll also want to create a structured reporting process, so you’re able to turn the data generated by your CRM and phone system into insights that will help you grow and improve your telesales.
Once all your plans are in place, it’s time to move ahead and find your crack team of telesales pros!
Just as there are various ways to set up a sales team, there are a number of ways to set up a call center team. You can have everyone making the same kinds of calls and working through their own sales funnels—this team structure is referred to as the ‘island’ because, well, every rep is an island—or you can go with the ‘assembly line’ team structure, assigning everyone a different role that caters to one of the stages in your sales process.
We recommend an assembly line method because having each agent own one step in the sales funnel helps spread out the load of the team and boost productivity. After all, if everyone is working together, everyone is pulling towards the team’s sales targets, rather than their own.
Here are the roles you may want to hire for:
Once you decide on your structure, it’s time to fill the roles.
Where do you find your team of crack sales callers? The trick is not to look for telesales pros. Instead, you want to find and train the sort of employees who will be successful in a call center.
What are the call center representative skills you should you look for when you’re building your team? Keep an eye out for the following soft skills while you’re interviewing:
Because people buy for emotional reasons, you’re going to want people capable of forming emotional connections with prospects. Your hires should like talking to people. They should be able to listen to the needs of your customers, hear their frustrations and respond with empathy. They should also be able to handle rejection. Sales is a numbers game, so they’ll need to be able to power through every ‘no’ until they get a ‘yes.’
Your interview process for new candidates will differ based on your company culture and how established your contact center is. If you’re just setting up the call center, you might not have the staff for a team interview, for example, but your interview process should include the following elements:
But exactly what call center skills are you looking for in an agent?
Well, it’s a role that requires great versatility. They need to:
If you need a more detailed guide to finding and hiring the best team for your call center, we have a blog post all about that here: The call center hiring guide: required skills, training and duties.
Despite the benefits of telesales, it’s hard to find a young person who likes making calls in their personal lives. One study reveals that 81% of millennials feel that they have to summon up the courage to make a call, even if it’s just to family or friends.
Even if your new hires like talking to people, you’ll need to provide them with a clear process so they can excel at sales calls. This means training, coaching and cold calling scripts. It also means using technology that lets you know how callers are performing and what can be changed to improve performance.
So how do you train your team to be cold calling pros? The first step is an onboarding plan, which will help your new hires to understand your organization, your sales process and the hires’ own responsibilities—the activities they must complete on a daily basis.
Once your new hires are onboarded, you can begin training them to make calls. Your training program should be focused on both your sales process and your sales script. (We’ll go into more detail on the script itself a little later.)
What are the components of a solid training program?
Need more detailed information on training your reps? You can find our guide here: Call Center Training: Get the Most out of your Sales Team.
As well as having a sales process prepared, it’s also important to have a process for your team before they even start dialing and reciting your script.
A sales call process might look something like this:
Your script is one of the most important tools in a call center’s arsenal. “Script” can be a misleading term, however, because a cold calling script is a living document rather than a script that tells reps exactly what to say on every single call. (If that approach worked, telesales could be done by robots.)
Instead, a cold calling script is a template that tells your reps how each call should be formatted. As with cold emails, your reps will fill in the specific details based on the research they’ve done on each prospect, and write up their own specific questions for each prospect based on their research.
A cold calling script often includes the following elements:
You probably won’t just have one script. You may have one for talking with the gatekeepers who answer the phone, one for being sent to voicemail, or, if your call center team is organized based on the Assembly Line model, you might have a script for every stage of your sales pipeline.
Need some ideas for cold-calling scripts? Take a look at Pipedrive’s 25 customizable cold calling scripts, prepared by telesales experts.
Because burnout is so high for call center agents, you’ll want to make sure you’re constantly monitoring your team, keeping an eye on morale as well as their progress toward sales targets.
What do you want your call center to achieve and how are you planning to measure success? Good call center management relies on a few very important metrics to focus on.
Don’t try to measure everything—burnout is real for managers, too—just choose the KPIs that you think will tell you the most about your team’s success. If it turns out that you need to measure different KPIs in the future, no worries, you can change direction then.
However, there are a few metrics you may want to consider measuring.
The best way to improve your call center’s performance is to track, analyze and enhance your team’s performance. This means you’re constantly collecting data from your CRM and phone systems, and using that information to streamline your sales process, training and scripts.
But to collect data you first need to make sure you have tools that will generate data. Are your reps, for example, entering information into the CRM with every call? What about your phone system? If you don’t have historical data that helps you understand your team’s past performance, you’ll be flying blind when it comes to their future success.
That’s where Pipedrive comes in. Pipedrive is a CRM designed for sales reps by sales reps. Because it’s designed to help salespeople do their job the more they utilize its features, they’re more likely to enter their data, which will give you a wealth of information to help you analyze their performance. Pipedrive’s customizable analytics dashboard will let you track the metrics that are important to your sales organization, information that will allow you to tweak your sales process and your training so that you can improve your results.
Your call center will also benefit from a cloud-based phone system that will let you track calls, record conversations and analyze patterns, so you can better understand the reasons your reps are winning and losing on calls.
What features should you look for?
Aircall is a cloud-based phone system designed to help streamline sales calls for reps that integrates seamlessly with Pipedrive. Reps can access all their contacts, even when they’re not at their desk, and call data is automatically stored and linked to contacts in their pipeline.
Want an example of features that will help you optimize call workflows and enhance your team’s productivity?
The wealth of call data this software provides enables you to assess call quality and identify patterns. Use the analytics dashboards for a simple, visual overview of your data, eliminating the guesswork when it comes to finding out where the rough patches in your sales pipeline are.
You’ll know exactly where to focus your energy to improve sales.
Need more information about how to use Pipedrive and Aircall to boost sales? Check out our call center management tools guide: Master your Sales Call Management Using Pipedrive and Aircall.
In an age of texts, email campaigns and social selling, it’s easy to overlook phone calls as a sales tool. Google “sales calling” and you’re likely to get a page of results telling you that cold calls are dead. While sales calls are certainly changing, those articles only tell part of the story.
While some customers may usually enter a sales funnel through inbound marketing, via social media or from an email, when it comes to closing deals, sales calls are the most effective weapons in a rep’s sales arsenal.
Case in point: the call center industry is expanding. In 2018, 301 call centers were grown or expanded globally, creating 145,847 jobs worldwide.
Why? Because sales is all about human contact.
Good salespeople listen to a prospect’s concerns, take time to answer questions, and then have the information needed to overcome objections. That’s hard to do over email or social media, but phone calls allow salespeople to hear the emotion in a prospect’s voice, to hear the things that might be left unsaid in an email or tweet. By connecting in a one-to-one call, salespeople have real, meaningful conversations where they can better identify pain points and tailor a product or service offering that a customer is more likely to want.
Customers buy for emotional reasons. By starting your own call center, you’re building an entire team devoted to making human contact with your prospective buyers.
To learn more about how you can build a contact center from scratch and increase your revenue with Pipedrive and Aircall, download our ebook. It will help you plan every aspect of your call center, from finding the right space to identifying your key KPIs.
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