Too many call centers today are spending too much on leads.
Our lead vendor friends might not love to hear me say that, but it’s the truth. And anyway, most of the time the leads themselves aren’t the problem—it’s actually the contact centers’ approach to working with the leads.
So, instead of more leads, what contact centers need first is to shake up their old ways and come to the table with a new approach and improved solutions.
Simply buying more leads may not solve your problem
For as many different call centers as there are out there, you’d be surprised how many of them run into the same problem. Too many outbound sales teams are still working with an old mentality—one that says more leads are almost always the answer.
The impulse is understandable. After all, when something’s going wrong with dialing, many of our first instinct is to think it’s a problem with our leads. But this old way of thinking frequently leads teams into a trap. Rather than driving more sales, heading straight down the path of buying more leads usually just leaves sales teams wandering in circles.
We’ve seen it a thousand times. Maybe you’ve been there yourself. Maybe you’re there now.
Struggling to make connections and drive conversions, you buy more leads and add them to the hopper, thinking these new leads will lead you to the promised land.
But now, you’ve got so many leads that you can’t possibly make use of all of them. Either your new leads get stuck and you’re left dialing the old ones, or you only make it through some of the new ones, while your older leads go untouched.
It’s a mess. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Solutions that deliver lead efficiency and drive maximum ROI
In this situation, a lot of organizations wind up buying more leads because they think they’ve got their sales strategy figured out—or because, frankly, they’re not sure what else to change.
Adding more leads to the stockpile doesn’t address the root cause of their dwindling performance, though. All that’s going to be affected is their cost per lead that keeps going up and up. Instead, they need to implement better lead management and outreach strategies.
Better lead management strategies
Managing all of your leads can be tough. As your company scales and grows, usually the complexity of your data does, too.
You start buying and generating leads from more and more different sources. The size of your lead database gets bigger and bigger—and so does the problem of getting the most out of every single one of them.
But that’s exactly the problem your list management strategy should be looking to solve: Whether you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of leads, you should always be asking yourself and your team, “How do we make sure we take the best approach to each and every one of these leads?”
Asking this question is the first step toward achieving lead efficiency.
Get Granular with Your Reporting
The truth is though, you won’t unlock real lead efficiency without reporting. And not just any reporting.
For today’s call centers, having just the top-line metrics won’t do. You need total transparency into your sales operation’s performance, and that means getting granular.
How granular? Today’s best-in-class contact centers focus on their cost per acquisition and cost per lead metrics at a lead vendor and list-by-list level. Why? Because without this info being updated on a regular basis, you could go whole hours at a time without sales coming in.
In a high-volume call center, it doesn’t even take hours for serious damage to be done. Lose focus on your lists’ performance and suddenly you’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Tracking List Performance to Dial Leads at the Right Time
Understanding your performance on a lead vendor and list-by-list level empowers your business to call only from the right lists at the right time. It gives you the power to adapt and to change course toward profitability—in real time.
Honestly, we have some customers who are maniacs in this regard—and I mean that in the best possible way. Using this data, they’re literally turning lists on and off, on and off all day long. It might seem crazy to some, but that’s how they make things happen. It’s how they use every single list and lead they have at their disposal to drive maximum ROI.
The List Conversion Report: A Dial Manager’s ROI Tool
For these customers, our List Conversion Report is their dialer manager’s best friend. Because at the end of the day, this business intelligence report shines a light on the real-time profitability of all those lists you’re buying. If you could see which of your sales activities are profitable and which aren’t, wouldn’t you want to know?
Build Better Relationships with Your Vendors
Using this performance data to optimize your list management doesn’t just empower better decision-making and better results in real time, though. It also puts you in a position to make that performance sustainable.
Any lead vendor worth their salt and worth your time should have your best interest in mind—and that means, they should be interested in helping you get the best results. Just ask David Stodolak of Solar Direct Marketing, who I spoke to in August.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to help you move the needle,” he says. “Because if our clients are converting our leads better, they’re going to buy more leads from us.”
Importantly, Stodolak said this includes having honest conversations about industry benchmarks for metrics like contact and conversion rates, and then working together to find strategies that drive performance.
Keeping a close eye on how the leads you buy are performing over time—as well as how well they should be performing—gives you the ability to go to your lead vendor and say, “Hey, these leads aren’t quite working out. How can we change that?”
And if you’re working with the right vendors, they’ll partner with you to make sure it gets changed.
Better outreach strategies to drive lead efficiency
Making the most out of your leads is about so much more than managing them directly, of course. If your dialing and outreach tools and strategies aren’t up-to-date, there’s only so much you can expect from your data.
Caller ID Reputation Management
Talking to contact center leaders, it’s clear that call blocking and flagging is one of, if not the, top issues they’re facing right now. And it’s no wonder why: if your calls are showing up as “Spam Likely,” then not many people are going to be picking up the phone.
In this challenging environment, you need technology that gives you insights into your caller IDs’ health, letting you know which carriers are blocking or flagging them. And what’s even more important is learning about these flagging and blocking issues in as close to real time as possible, so that you can quickly fix it—meaning rest DIDs or swap them out with new numbers—before your bottom line takes a hit.
Speed to Lead
How fast can your call center contact a new lead? If your answer isn’t measured in minutes, or even seconds, then you’re likely missing out on a lot of conversions—and your lead costs are going to go up as a result.
Whether you’re dialing on exclusive or non-exclusive data, you need to have the ability to strike while the iron is hot.
You need speed to lead.
The stats around speed to lead couldn’t be clearer:
- Calling a lead in the first minute boosts conversion rates by 391 percent
- Leads called in the first five minutes are 100X more likely to connect and 21X more likely to convert compared with waiting one hour
- 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first.
How do you achieve speed to lead, though? Once again, it’s primarily a question of technology.
To get to leads as fast as possible, you need a dialer software that’s not only able to prioritize the newest, warmest leads with a “last in, first out” approach but is also powerful enough to fully penetrate your lists, even as your business scales. That way, you get maximum speed to lead, without leaving those older leads to languish.
Lead Recycling and Omnichannel
This last point is an important one. If you want to end that cycle of adding new leads to a database that’s not even being fully penetrated, then you need a truly powerful dialer.
However, you can’t just attack those cooler leads at will. Just as the mentality of “buy, buy, buy” needs to be a thing of the past, so does the strategy of “dial, dial, dial.”
It simply doesn’t work anymore, and yet it’s one of the most common mistakes we see at call centers. In the end, overdialing does more harm to your business’s reputation than it does good for your sales numbers.
As we like to say at Convoso, you need to dial smarter, not harder. And that means coupling powerful dialer software with the finesse of an intelligent lead recycle logic. So, while the speed of your first contact is most important, you need to develop smart follow-up cadences and mix in omnichannel outreach (SMS, email, smart voicemail drop) in order to extend the life of each of your leads.
Vary Your Strategy Based on Lead Source and Intent
I had the opportunity to ask outbound sales aficionado and contact center consultant Heather Griffin about her approach to recycling strategies and call cadences during a recent webinar. She said that, in her experience, companies she consults for always want to “set it and forget it” and adopt the same approach across all of their data sources.
“But the data just doesn’t work the same,” Griffin said, “so your dialing strategy has to be specific to the source and then adjusted in real time.” Let’s break that down:
- Specific to the source: That means first developing different workflows for each of your lead types—high-intent exclusive, semi-exclusive, low-intent—and creating separate, lead source-specific algorithms to automate your call cadence. (If your dialer doesn’t offer workflow automation, it should!)
- Adjusting in real time: Situations change. So does list performance. Going back to what we discussed above, you need a List Conversion Report to track in real time whether the approach you’re taking is successful.
True lead efficiency requires effective conversations
Everything we’ve discussed so far has been about making sure all of your leads are contacted efficiently. But there’s one thing that’s missing if you’re truly going to drive down your lead costs, and that’s effective sales conversations.
You can get as many leads on the phone as you want, but if your agents don’t say the right things, your leads aren’t going to convert.
To make sure leads are handled efficiently, I recommend incorporating two solutions into your sales process:
- Smart skills-based routing: At LeadsCon 2022, I sat down with two experts, Rob Bayer and Brian Roulstone to find out the most important questions to ask your dialer managers. Bayer cut to the chase with this one: “Can I send my leads to my top-performing agents?” If your dialer manager can’t say yes, then you’re leaving sales gains on the table—and you need a skills-based routing tool at your contact center.
- Dynamic scripting: Not every call can go to your very best agent, but you can help keep your entire sales team on message with dynamic scripting software that pops a personalized script and responds in real time based on customers’ responses.
Better lead efficiency and lower lead costs require a better dialer
Making the most of your leads is critical if you’re looking to take your organization to the next level. But hopefully it’s clear by now that you also can’t get there without the help of the right technology.
So, next time you’re tempted to go shopping for fresh leads because your performance is down, consider that maybe it’s not your leads that are lacking but your contact center’s technology stack.