Business Challenges in Economic Recession and Outsourcing

There are a variety of economic indicators hat suggest the US is entering a recession.  This poses challenges for businesses to maintain their existing and future revenue streams.  A business will generally review opportunities to reduce costs, including the elimination of personnel or reductions in their labor costs.  Often discretionary investments, such as advertisement and marketing promotion are also reduced as a short term savings until things “get better”.

Touching existing and potential customers is key during a period when a business is in competition with many others, all in survival mode trying to last out the recession.  (This recession period is normally a period of two quarters, assuming that the normal business cycle holds true to form.  It is more likely that this business cycle will be different in my opinion given the critical events that are taking place in the world today.  E.g., BREXIT, US presidential elections, China instability, potential military conflicts and central banks impotency and others.)

A business client base requires protection and leveraging during this recessionary period.  A business should be in constant contact to determine whether new business opportunities are available as well as to solicit potential new customer referrals.  Whether the client base is Business or Consumer, generally the same process should be used to “touch” and “mine” the client base.  The process may include a combination of  telemarketing, Email, social networking.  Likely this process will be performed by an outsourcing provider as part of the business reduction in labor costs rather than in-house.  The fastest and most direct is telemarketing since it provides an immediacy of impact and response with little filtering of the response.  As part of this telemarketing response is the opportunity to do a quick survey, drop a note of appreciation, request a referral and clean up the client list for other related followup marketing activities.

A business should have some idea as to the value of a new “sales lead”.  If not, the business should be able to respond to the general question of “How much would you pay for a new client, based on $XXXX revenue in the first year of the relationship?”   What is the conversion rate of sales leads during a reasonable period of time (e.g. 6 months)?  The math is not complicated to draw a conclusion to determine the level of investment required in telemarketing along with other marketing activities.

Nexus Teleservices would like to offer your business the means to generate new clients in an affordable, easy to understand, measurable process with limited risk.

The Reality of Outsourcing Sales Lead Generation

Ok. You know the importance of generating qualified sales leads for your internal sales staff. Good, quality sales leads are the life blood of any sales operation.  Generate more sales leads should keep your internal staff busy closing more sales and generating more revenue.  Do you keep the sales lead generation process completely in-house or do you outsource some or all of the process?  By whatever evaluation criteria you use, it is likely that you will decide at some point to outsource a portion of the lead generation process.  Depending upon how you manage your outsourcing vendor and the lead generation process will significantly affect the results, good or bad.

Listed below are recommendations on how your company´s investment of time and resources with your outsourcing partner can result in a successful sales lead generation program.

  1. Set the proper expectations. Be pragmatic.  Your decision to outsource the sales lead generation process reflects a variety of factors.  If this process has not been meeting expectations internally for your company, what suggests your outsourcing partner will be more successful?  Perhaps more experience, better infrastructure, greater focus of resources, whatever the reason, your outsource provider needs to be able to deliver.  How will your company deem the outsourcing relationship a success?  Lower sales lead cost?  Lower cost per sale?  Shorten time from sales lead contact to sale conversion.  Average sales leads generated per agent hour?  Improved quality of sales leads versus internally staff generated?  This list can be extensive.  It is better at the outset to provide your outsourcing partner some type of guidance as to how your company will judge the project success or failure to avoid surprises.
  2. Start with baby steps. Your company knows its market.  Your outsourcing partner knows how to generate sales leads.  (If it doesn´t you already made your first mistake and it is better to gracefully exit as quickly as possible.  No harm, no foul – just some damaged credibility with your internal staff.)  This may be in the form of a pilot-project, with a limited commitment of resources to minimize risk.  Alternatively you can limit the amount of resources (hours, personnel, daily sales lead caps) until both parties are satisfied with the results and it moves to the next phase of growth.
  3. Frequent communication. Since this is a new relationship between your company and your outsourcing partner, be prepared to invest the time to respond to the volume of questions as the sales lead generation program starts off.  Notwithstanding how well you know your market, your outsourcing partner is guaranteed to have first-time questions that were not anticipated.  The sooner doubts are eliminated, the sooner the outsourcing representatives will improve their ability to promote your product or service.  You want to get the outsourcing reps to “speak your language” as soon as possible.  This “teething period” will provide your company valuable real-time, market feedback that will help your company fine-tune the sales lead generation program.
  4. Do Your Job (Well). Clearly understand what will be your company´s role.  You define what will be the criteria for a qualified sales lead.  You define the characteristics of the calling list data that the outsourcing reps will use.  You define the telephone script.  You define the sale lead contact information to be captured.  You define key benefits that need to be communicated by the outsourcing reps to get the sales lead.  You define how your internal sales staff will follow up and work the sales leads.  You define how best to communicate with your outsourcing partner.  If you do not do your job (well), you are setting up your outsourcing partner to fail and not meet your company´s goals.
  5. Quantity versus Quality. Is your company´s internal sales staff starving for leads of any type or is it more of too little quality?  If your outsourcing partner´s sales representatives are the “fronters” pre-qualifying sales leads, is your internal staff ready to act as “closers” and turn that sales lead into a sale?  If your internal closers are not converting enough sales over a reasonable period of time for the sales cycle, is it the quality of the sales leads being received or the quality of your closers?
  6. Prepare the Back-End. If your outsourcing partner hits a home run, is your company prepared to convert the sales leads into sales?  There is a process from initial contact to sales close that may span several days to many months.  Depending upon the product or service and whether it is Business-to-Business (B2B) versus Business-to-Consumer (B2C), the sales lead can take many different forms and timeframes.   Is it a “call-back” from your internal staff (the experts), an appointment, an on-line sales presentation, sending an Email or fax then follow up call, etc.?  You really don´t want to tell your outsourcing partner that you need to “pause” the sales lead generation program because your company is having problems with the follow up back-end process.  (You did NOT do your job well.)
  7. Listen. Your outsourcing partner is talking to your potential market on a daily basis.  In a very short span of time, the outsourcing representatives will have heard many, many things:  the perception of your company´s offer versus the competition, whether this is the right market for your offer, whether the presentation of your company offer is hitting the “sweet spot” of the customer, etc.  Invest the time to listen to the sales representatives and their conversations with potential customers.  You will learn from the experience, allow for adjustments and improve the results of the sales lead generation program.

To paraphrase a movie from the ´90s:  “Help me…help you.  Help me, help you.”  Help your outsourcing partner to help your company to be successful.


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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.


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Outsourcing and Network Marketing

Nexus Teleservices was recently involved with a client related to network marketing. The client had an interest in using our outsourcing services of telemarketing to promote their business opportunity to “network prospects”. That is, promoting the business opportunity to potential distributors, not to consumers. The results of this effort were somewhat “mixed” from our perspective. From the client´s viewpoint the results were generally positive. Why the discrepancy between the two? Let me explain.

Network marketers generally promote the business opportunity, not the product or services. The network marketer´s income is primarily derived from the size and depth of his/her reseller network, not the amount of product sales of the network. Where does the income come from if it is not primarily related to the purchase of a product or service? It comes from the initial recruitment fees of and monthly follow up purchases of the reseller network. So in order to make money, a network marketer needs to grow the network (recruitment) and help the network grow (downline recruitment).

Our company´s outsourcing services were exclusively focused on network reseller recruitment (sales prospects). The client would do the follow up and closure. This was a very limiting and shortsighted view by the client of the potential in the oursourcing relationship. Maybe this was a client budget issue, maybe not. This was probably not the first outsourcing relationship by the client. For example the client´s lead tracking system (CRM) that we used had been outsourced via a third party vendor. Since Nexus was not privy to the client follow up process, the level of resources dedicated to convert the sales prospects into resellers in the network downline, or other activities after conversion to a reseller, we do not know the return on investment.

We do know that as a trial test we listed ourselves as a “reseller prospect” and received lots of follow up emails from the client´s CRM system using an auto-responder. The emails were nice and informative, but lacked any personal telephone follow up to “motivate” us to make a decision to join the business opportunity. Additionally no thought had been made after sale conversion as to how to make the new network reseller “productive” by aiding his efforts in recruitment and sales.

Maybe because this was a new business relationship the client simply wanted to “maintain control” of the follow up sales lead process.

What should the client have done? The client should have outsourced to Nexus the basic follow up after identifying the sales prospect. After the reseller prospect had received 3-4 emails from the CRM autoresponder system, the Nexus representative would have done a follow up call to confirm receipt of the email, determine what questions or concerns were lingering and if ready for a “close”, Nexus would have scheduled a conference call with the client as the “expert” to answer anything else to bring the sales prospect into the network family. Afterwards our client could also have considered “remarketing” our outsourcing services to the new network reseller to help in sales lead prospecting and conversion, helping the network downline.

If we continue with this client in the future we will provide an update as to the outsourcing results.

For additional information contact us.

How to Build a Better Business with Outsourcing

When Laura Lee Sparks left her job as a law firm manager to launch her own business, she knew from the beginning that there were certain tasks she didn’t want to handle. The owner of Legal Marketing Maven–a firm that helps law firms streamline their practices through outsourcing–Sparks practiced what she preached from the start, hiring an outside bookkeeper and slowly adding to her virtual team of contractors. Within months, her business revenues reached six figures.

“Most entrepreneurs have great talents but many times they think they can do it all,” Sparks says. “That can really stall the growth of the business. By outsourcing the day to day back-office tasks, the business owner has more time to focus on generating income.”

To read more

Jun 13

Make Your Customer Feel Special

Every business has customers, whether external or internal. By one means or another every business employee provides services (i.e., work) to others (i.e., customers). Often it is the external customer that receives the most visibility and attention (from the sales, marketing and production departments) since they ultimately pay the bills. Internal groups (Administration, HR, IT) …

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Jun 08

Offshore Call-Center Outsourcing

As the US economy continues to struggle, with limited short-term prospect for domestic growth and employment, businesses increasingly look to maintain profitability by stingent cost management since increasing prices for products and services are difficult to pass on to the US wage-strapped consumer. One means for cost management is the continuing trend of offshore call-center …

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May 30

Listen-Live To Our Reps

Ever wonder about the personnel assigned to your account/project when you decide to outsource to a third party call-center? Well, so have we. Ever wonder how your reps and your clients interact? Well, so have we. While we are an outsourcing company (call-center), we also outsource services to third-party providers. Things like telecom services, facility …

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May 26

Sex, Lies & Telemarketing

We are in an age of increasing distrust of politicians, communication medias, our neighbors and what we believe in as a society. We have the head of the IMF and the former governor of California in various level of public disgrace. We still haven´t seen photos of Usama Bin Laden´s end of days. Are we …

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May 24

Another F#$%& Telemarketing Call!

You sit down to relax at the end of the day with family when the telephone rings. “Hello, my name is John and I´m calling on behalf of….” We get them all the time. Why? There is a very simply reason: these telemarketing calls are VERY EFFECTIVE at generating business. Similar to TV infocommercials, telemarketing …

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May 23

Sales Lead Generation

The US economy is in very bad shape.  It is likely to get worse as Fed stimulus programs are schedule to end.  Businesses need to find new customers, retain their current ones and increase their average revenue and profitability, all the while holding or reducing their costs of doing business.  For small to medium size …

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May 20

Hiring call-center agents

We are currently hiring call-center agents for new clients. Visit our Internet site for contact details.

May 20

Nexus Teleservices

Nexus Teleservices is an offshore (English/Spanish) call-center outsourcing, telemarketing, sales lead generation and customer services provider.

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