Tag Archive: OutSourcing

Aug 25

Increase Sales – Clean Your Customer Database!

In the course of business activity companies collect a variety of data regarding their existing clients and potential sales prospects. This data has relative value as a means of executing marketing and sales strategies based on the quality of the data, that is, its accuracy and consistency. The cleansing of your company´s client database should be done on a regular basis, analogous to “spring cleaning” to leverage its potential value as a source of future revenue.

The process of cleaning up data in a database is called “data scrubbing” or “data cleansing”. This consists of amending or removing data in the database that is incorrect, incomplete, improperly formatted or duplicated. Companies with data-intensive needs such as banking, insurance or retail may use a variety of automated tools to examine the data for errors or inconsistencies, for example duplicates, missing zip codes or email addresses. These tools however do not serve to determine whether the consumer client data has qualitatively changed (address, telephone number, death, interest level in the relationship, etc.) through the normal passage of time.

For a company to ensure that the consumer data is accurate requires that it periodically “touch” its clients using some type of manual process(s). This requires the company to invest time and resources, which is often low in the “to-do-list” of priorities. However this investment will reduce costs and increase profits for your company by improving the productivity of your marketing and sales efforts by focusing on high potential sales prospects.

Data Cleansing Tips

  1. Start At The Beginning – How does the initial client data get into your company database? This normally is by a low wage staff member tasked with the responsibility, a customer service representative in contact with a client or a self-administered online auto registration process. In all instances there is little incentive to ensure the 100% accuracy of the data. Adjust the process to incentivize the quality at the very beginning. For example, establish an explicit understanding that there is a verification process (telemarketing follow-up) in place to verify the client data, which may be selective or 100%.
  2. Bad Data Means Wasted Resources – If the client data is incorrectly entered (inadvertently or explicitly), it will cause problems down the line for your company´s marketing and sales teams. If the client data is entered more than once (remember the age span of a company´s database), this will waste resources, irritate you clients and confuse your sales team. If your company relies on online auto-registrations, it is inherently a process with poor quality since the consumer often intentionally falsifies the data (especially telephone and Email) due to privacy issues and fear of abuse. Bottom line, if your company is going to request consumer information, you need to anticipate investing resources in its clean up.
  3. Let Your Clients Help Themselves – Your company can outsource a portion of the database administration directly to its clients. Provide various means to allow the clients to auto-update their information. You can send an Email “blast” to all accounts with the goal of “re-registering” with updated information. Normally you will need to provide some type of incentive or benefit. As part of this process you can provide a toll-free telephone number to process their update requests directly. What do you do with those clients that don´t respond or those that you receive Email bounce-backs? You many choose to purge them from your client database or alternatively you may choose to do an outbound “reach” telephone call by a customer service representative that may serve for multiple purposes.
  4. Outsource Database Maintenance – Your company can outsource the client database maintenance as an integrated component in its marketing and sales process. Using outbound telemarketing representatives, the client “touch-call” serves a variety of purposes: determine the value of the current relationship, verify the contact data, identify sales opportunities, resolve unvoiced complaints, solicit new potential customers, etc. This outsourcing process essentially becomes a secondary component of the sales lead generation process that all companies need to ensure future sales revenue and growth.
  5. Sales Generation Process – As part of the data cleansing process, this can be translated into distinct steps for sales generation:
  • The initial “client touch” identifies potential sales leads.
  • Follow up contact increases the conversion of sales leads to sales opportunities.
  • Update sales prospects with relevant information to help move them through the purchasing cycle.
  • Eliminate unqualified sales prospects quickly to focus sales resources on the most promising opportunities.
  • Nurture most qualified sales prospects through the purchasing process until the timing is right for closure by the sales team.
  1. Your Company Client Database Is Like Ice – There are very few companies that do not have competition. Hence your competition is constantly looking for your clients which reside in your database   Your company database, like ice, loses value each day if it is not properly maintained and well used. As your client database is continuously “touched,” your company becomes “top of mind” (rather than your competition) when your clients need your products and services.   Client data maintenance evolves to be ongoing sales lead nurturing and future business development. Rather than a cost, it becomes a profit center.

 

For more information, please visit: http://www.NexusTeleservices.com/

Aug 23

Outsourcing Telemarketing Cold Calling Services

You’re in business to make money. Maybe the business is simply you and your business card. Maybe it’s all in the family. Maybe it’s of average size (less than 10 employees), maybe it’s larger. Regardless of its size, you need new customers and need to maintain your existing customers. You have limited resources: time, capital, personnel, inventory, etc. You have competition, locally and probably nationally. The economy is in the dumpster. You’re in a tough spot. Your competition is in the same situation. Your competition may have more physical resources, but certainly not time and business savvy. So what to do? Increase your business revenue, reduce your costs, get stronger, and grow. Your business has to grow or it will die.

How? Start by reducing costs that do not contribute to revenue growth. Ask yourself “if I were to do it over again, would I make that investment, that purchase, which personnel hire all over again, knowing what I know now”? It´s time for you to make some cold decisions. On the revenue side you need to review the volume and profitability by product or customer type. You may need to streamline (i.e., cut) your product/customer set to focus of your resources to make the major impact on the bottom line. You may also need to reevaluate your business relationship with your customers. Your customers may be taking you in a direction that you do not want to or shouldn’t go. Remember Eastman Kodak? It was the dominant company in photographic film technology for generations. They were wed to their film development business customers. Then in like an instant the business vanished. Where are they now?

Your business has made some type of investment in marketing and sales resources. For example, Internet site, Email, advertisement, telemarketing, promotions, etc. Time to evaluate what is working and in what time frame it should be evaluated (short, medium and long term). Your Internet site is a long term investment and may be a simple online brochure or a direct selling tool. Regardless it should be kept “fresh” to keep the visitors interested. Email and advertisement usually require a series of “impressions” to spur an action from your target audience. That’s assuming you have the right message, the right timing, the right audience. Maybe it is time for you to refresh the content. For telemarketing (B2B or B2C), the more contacts and frequency will increase a buy decision from your target audience. It’s time to reevaluate how you are doing this as well.

Yes it is a good time to determine your “bang for your buck” in dialing for dollars. If your sales staff is doing the initial telemarketing prospecting, it is engaged in a “cold-calling” process. Regardless of the source of the prospect telephone number (yellow pages, membership directories, telemarketing list, etc.), this is the first time they are receiving a call from your business. Since there is no prior relationship, the reception from the prospect is probably cold and indifferent, not unlike the experience of a blind date. Add to this the uncomfortable reality that most sales reps HATE to make cold calls. It literally turns their stomachs. While sales reps know they need to make cold calls to feed their sales channel there are a multitude of reasons why they can find excuses for delaying this process. It takes a special type of sales rep to withstand 50-100 telephone hang-ups a day, every day and still have a positive attitude for the 10 really interested prospects, which with time get converted into customers. What is the general advice to the sales rep to get through a day of rejection? “They aren’t rejecting you, they are rejecting your proposition.” That is easier said then done.

If your company is in B2B there is less telemarketing hang-ups since businesses hire and pay people to answer the phone. They also pay these people to screen, block and filter sales reps from talking with the decision makers. So while it is easier to get in it takes generally multiple calls to get to the contact that you desire to begin a meaningful dialogue. It then generally requires a waiting period while your offer is evaluated before a decision is made. If your company is in B2C there is a lot of telemarketing hang-ups, but if you get past the first 15 seconds, you generally get to the decision maker, can discuss your offer and usually have some type of decision: yes, no, I’ll think about it, call me tomorrow. In either scenario your internal sales personnel, spend a lot of time (remember you can’t buy this) and physical and emotional energy getting rejected and abused by the universe of potential customers. This is not a good way to use your company’s resources. Stop doing this.

Instead outsource your cold-calling, sales prospecting to a telemarketing company or buy qualified sales prospect leads that have been verified via telemarketing (third party outsourced). Want more control of process? Have the telemarketing call-center provide your sales personnel live transfers to interested prospects, who want to discuss the product now. While a good sales prospect lead list is filtering a lot of sales noise, your sales team still has to get in contact with them. This is time-consuming and takes resources away from closing business. You will find that the cost of a live transfer sales lead is probably double that of telemarketing verified sales lead. You will find however that the conversion rate to a sale is much higher with the live transfers, generally resulting in a lower cost per sale conversion. In either case, you will improve the productivity of your sales personnel, increase revenue and reduce your cost per sale.

For any business today this translates into higher revenue and lower costs. That’s the name of the game.

Nexus Teleservices

Jul 21

Business Lead Generation Alternatives

With the US economy on life support mode, your business should be thinking “outside the box” with a variety of strategies to survive, grow and prosper. This is important since the US economy is in a long-term, structural recession, implying that business growth will likely come from a combination of increased revenue per existing customer and taking business away from the competition. It is not likely that the “economic pie” will grow substantionally (1-2% per annum), forcing businesses to adopt an eat thy neighber mentality or be eaten first.

Let´s start with existing customers, the hanging fruit. Whether they purchase a little or a lot from your business, you probably need to “touch” them with more frequency and tell them how much you love them. They are keeping you and your employees with paychecks and keeping the lights on. It is pretty rare that a customer will say “Man, abc company is always contacting me about something, I wish they would take a break.” If your business has gotten that type of feedback, congratulations, you´re probably one of the first and you can mark that customer´s file as “contacted enough”, for a while. Remember your customers are what your competition is hunting for, to woo, to begin dancing with, to consumate, to get a first purchase. to get a second purchase, to get your business thrown out of the account. Face it, your competition wants to eat your lunch by getting your customers. So, you better protect your customers by reminding them all the time why they are so important to your company and why your company is best for them, now and in the future.

But we haven´t discussed how you contact your existing customers, or why you haven´t been loving them to death as you should. Yes, we know that most businesses are too busy focusing on getting new customers, but that is really an excuse for not prioritizing resources to leverage the current customer base. Since your current customers have names, addresses and telephone numbers, its prudent to start with the basics. Send them a note (regular mail or fax has more impact but an Email will also suffice) or make a telephone call letting them know that their business is appreciated. Let them know about something new about your company´s products or services and ASK THEM them if is there anything that your company could do to improve the relationship with them and then listen. Amazing what the human voice will discern that a chat, tweet, an Email will not provide.

So your time and resources are limited to make this outgoing touching excercise? Then hire a call-center outsourcing company to do this under your direction. The cost versus benefit is easily justified. As an example, assume that your company has 1000 custromers, an average sale is $500, with a 30% margin and via an outbound telemarketing campaign you increase sales 5% within a 30 day period. This corresponds to $25,000 in additional revenue (1000 x 0.05 x $500) and $7,500 in gross profit ($25,000 x .3). However, if you have a longer view of your marketing investment, some percentage of those existing customers that you “touched” will make purchasing decisions with a 3 to 6 month timeframe. Also, you will likely lose less customers to your competition (remember they are out there all the time trying to find the crumbs of where you last ate your lunch), since your customers have you positioned in a positive, warm and fuzzy light.

Remember all those existing customers that did not purchase in that initial 30 days? That is, the 95% that were not sufficiently motivated or needed to make a purchasing decision at that time? If you planned well, you also took the time to ask them for a referral, that is a potential new customer. This is probably the least expensive means of prospecting for new customers and one of the most effective since there is tremendous credibility when you subsequently do the not so cold, cold call. Don´t want to do the cold call at this stage? Ok, then hire the call-center outsourcing company to do the follow up cold call and simply pass back to you the “hot leads” for your internal staff to close. By the way, these potential new customers are some of the crumbs left behind by your competition where they last ate lunch.

What are you having for lunch tomorrow?

Nexus Teleservices

Jul 06

Outsourcing and Cultural Affinity

When a US company chooses to outsource some portion of it´s business activitiies, there is an implicit interchange of trade activities between the two parties. The level of trade activity will reflect a variety of factors, including a hard to quantify cultural affinity. That is, the cultural distance or trust between the US and another country will be a factor in the level of trade activities. Given that companies rather than individuals determine the level of international trade, what factors influence this level of “cultural trust”? These would include: race, nationality, networks, recognized group associations, with attributes as reliability, good communications, references, etc. In many instances these are the result of cultural lore and personal experiences, that is, public perceptions and beliefs.

In a study of US public attitude of cultural affinity with other countries, factors that influence this (in declining importance) are: political, ethnic and religious similarity, per capita income and English as a language. The political axis ranges from most democratic (+10) to least democratic (-10) reflecting the openness and competitiveness of political participation and whether it is a Communist regime. Other factors that negatively influence the perception of cultural affinity and the corresponding the degree of business activity are both physical distance and genetic distance (correlate negatively).

What might be driving this? This might be attributed to greater trust and reduced assessment of risks and costs between the parties (company and outsourcer).

How does the cultural affinity fare for Nexus Teleservices as a provider of offshore call-center outsourcing services for a US company?

Nexus Teleservices is located in Nicaragua, Central America. Politically Nicaragua has been democratic since the early 1990´s with various issues related to stability and governability as to be expected in a new democracy. Ethnically its population is heavily Hispanic, with a large US and European influence due to population emigration in the 1980´s. This can be contrasted with the US as it increasingly has a greater Hispanic cultural footprint given the rapid growth in the Hispanic population. Nicaragua´s population is predominately Christian, similar to the US. Per capita income is much lower than US, with the labor cost differential allowing Nicaragua to offer competitive outsourcing services. Spanish is the dominant language in Nicaragua, with increased English usage due to growing emphasis in educational programs and influx of returning expats from the US. However, in Nexus Teleservices it is the reverse. More than 85% of Nexus employees have previously lived in the US, with English being their primary language. Since Nexus Teleservices offers a US nearshore location, the distance by air is roughly 2.5 hours from Miami, FL, shorter than a commute from Chicago to LA. And while electronic communication is now “instant” there is much to be said for communicating between business parties in the same US time zone (MST). Genetically Nicaragua is a mixture of races and cultures, very similar to the US Hispanic communities.

When all is considered, Nexus Teleservices demonstrates a high cultural affinity with the US and is well positioned to offer companies a successful outsourcing business strategy.

Nexus Teleservices

Jun 27

Leverage Sales Lead Generation

A company´s sales organization is constantly challenged with the search for new potential customers, their conversion to actual buying customers and the maintenance of the existing customer base. Each of these aspects of the sales process are distinct and requires the investment of time and company resources. An organization can implement a strategy of totally “inhouse” or a mixed strategy where portions of the sales process are outsourced to third-party providers. The former strategy offers high control of the sales process, with inherent high costs of personnel given the trend of US Federal government imposed higher regulations and taxes. The latter strategy, in contrast, reduces control of the sales process, leveraging a balance of costs versus benefits related to the cost of acquiring new buying customers. Let us discuss this further.

The majority of US companies have less than twenty-five (25) employees. These small companies are the primary source of new job growth in the US, not Fortune 500 companies. More than 50% of such companies fail within five years for a variety of reasons. Such companies are generally challenged by limited experience, capital, resources and most importantly customers. A small company in such a competitive environment needs to “leverage” its strengths and focus resources to increase its chances of economic survival.

This leveraging often takes the form of outsourcing. Various examples include:

  • Use of external legal and bookkeeping services (third-party providers rather than employees).
  • Use of external documentation processing rather than capital purchases.
  • Use of external advertisement and marketing services (third-party providers rather than employees).
  • Use of external sales prospect lead services (third-party providers rather than employees).

In the case of outsourcing sales prospect lead services the sales organization can either: purchase the sales leads or work with an onshore (local) or offshore call-center to generate the sales leads. If the decision is to purchase the sales leads, these are in turn generated by a third-party company via a combination of Internet responses (forms or Email) and inbound or outbound call-center telemarketing. Such sales leads may either be exclusive to the purchasing sales organization or shared with multiple customers.

Which is the best strategy for an organization? This should largely depend on the quality and the conversion rate of the sales leads over a normal sales cycle period. That is, sales prospect leads are converted by the company into new customers during an established period of time (1 week, 1 month, 3 months, etc.) Ultimately what is the relative cost of converting a sales prospect into a new customer? In addition to the direct “cost per sales lead” the organization needs to factor the associated savings of personnel time and resources and the additional revenue generated (or prevented from being lost) due to increased maintenance (leverage) of the existing customer base.

For many companies, the cost for generating new customers is difficult to quantify, with sales prospect leads being only one component in the process.

For additional information, contact Nexus Teleservices.