What makes a successful outbound call center?
If you ask outbound sales expert David Stodolak, there’s much more than one ingredient in the recipe for call center success. And he would certainly know, given that Solar Direct Marketing, where Stodolak is President, has landed on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies two years in a row.
To pick his brain and better understand his businesses’ formula for growth, Convoso CEO and Co-Founder Nima Hakimi sat down with Stodolak during a recent webinar, “How My Contact Center Wins: Best Practices For A Successful Outbound Operation.”
Over the course of their hour-long conversation, the pair walked through a 5-point call center checklist for sales and lead gen success. Watch the enlightening discussion in full here, or continue reading to see all the highlights.
The 5-Point Checklist for a Winning Outbound Call Center
In an outbound call center, there are nearly endless moving parts. Make sense of the complexity—and make sure all those parts are working in sync—by zeroing in on these five key points.
1. Evaluate Lead Sources and Partners
Without the right leads, any outbound call center is bound to struggle. But according to Stodolak, finding the right lead source and partners should start with a look inward. Ask yourself: What kind of call center are we? What is your team capable of? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Next, look to your lead sources for information on industry benchmarking. What are other call centers like yours getting out of their leads? The right lead sources should be able to provide you with this information. More than that, though, Stodolak says your data sources should also serve as your partner.
Beyond benchmarking, the best lead partners are those that are interested in your success. (After all, your success should lead to you buying more leads from them!) If you’re not getting the results you want out of your leads, work with lead partners to determine the source of the issue and come up with the best strategies for contacting different types of leads.
Partnering with lead sources to make the most out of costly leads is important. But ultimately, low-quality leads or a sub-optimal outreach approach can still derail your shot at success. Make sure you have robust call center reporting tools that help you understand outbound performance at the list level and are employing effective call center strategies.
2. Use the Right Dialer
Even with the best leads, you’ll be leaving lots of sales on the table without the right dialer software on your side. Stodolak discussed the key factors and dialer features to look for.
The first component you need in a dialer is reliability: “You obviously need to have a dialer that’s going to be reliable, that’s going to be up for you. Because if your dialer is down, your whole operation is down.”
Of course, Stodolak says, even with the most stable dialers, it’s a matter of when, not if, something might happen. That’s why you also need a dialer with a top-notch customer service team that will be there as soon as you need them.
At the end of the day, though, there’s one thing that sets the best dialer software apart from the rest:
“Really what it comes down to is contact rate. You’ve got to have a dialer that optimizes your contact rates and conversions.”
For this, you need a dialer with powerful reporting, the fastest possible speed to lead, and other crucial features.
3. Get the Most Out of (and Empower) Your Dialer Manager
As important as the role is, finding a reliable and effective dialer manager is no easy task. “If you go on Google and you try to find dialer managers, you don’t find anyone available,” says Stodolak. “They’re out there, but you have to dig for them—and most of the good ones are taken, they’re already working for someone else.” So, while the ideal is to find someone with experience as a dialer manager, call centers are often in the position of needing to train somebody for the role.
What do you look for in a candidate? For his part, Stodolak says his businesses have had the most success identifying candidates who excel at pattern recognition:
“They’re going to recognize something’s off here [in the reporting], or something’s good…There’s probably like 50 or even 70 different variables [they need to look at]. Someone that’s very adept at identifying and recognizing patterns, and can adapt to them and take charge, that’s the kind of person you want.”
With the right person in the role, it’s also essential that they’re given the right tools to make the most of their skills. Nima Hakimi says that automation is really key for this. With so much going on in the call center, a dialer manager’s eyes can’t be everywhere at once. Call center automation tools like true predictive dialing mode, workflow automation, and more.
4. Implement Effective Quality Assurance
“Quality assurance is huge,” says Stodolak. In his experience, implementing effective quality assurance practices allows your call center to be proactive and get out ahead of potential issues—issues which can be quite costly. It also actually helps drive sales: when agents are equipped with transparency tools and are held accountable to best practices, they’re more likely to perform at their best.
“The goal is for everyone to be singing from the same sheet of music. That’s what QA does—it makes sure that we’re consistent, we’re uniform.”
But how do you get there? For one, Stodolak recommends incentivizing both QA team members and agents to maintain QA standards. But more and more, there are high-quality AI-based QA solutions that can both monitor calls and free up agents’ time to focus on driving more sales.
5. Build and Motivate the Right Team
Last, but surely not least, Stodolak and Hakimi discussed how having a unified team pulling in the same direction is what brings together all the other points in this checklist.
Why? Well, it might sound simple, but according to Stodolak, what team-built success comes down to in every good organization is vision. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in debt settlement, solar, Medicare—whatever you’re doing, you need to have a vision that goes beyond just making money. And that vision needs to be shared by the whole organization, from top to bottom. Stodolak says that he impresses upon his agents that they’re not selling products but delivering value to customers on the phone.
“Having the right team, with the right leader that can articulate that vision and get people to buy into that, I think that’s huge. Because once you do that, your team members are ready to run through brick walls for you. They’re ready to do whatever it takes to help you hit your goals.”
While we’ve hit all the highlights in this recap, there was plenty more under discussion during the webinar’s packed discussion. Tune into the full video to make sure you don’t miss a thing—including a Q&A session covering call center metrics, lead disposition data, and more hot-button items.