Do you ever get that peculiar feeling that your outbound tele-sales reps would have gotten most of their sales even if they hadn’t picked up the phone and dialed? That the customer would have place the order anyway?
The implications are enormous. Is your revenue growth being hampered because of a non-producing rep? Are you paying too much for a glorified order taker? Are your customers getting less than stellar service? Do you risk losing them?
This article will reveal the 5 tell-tales signs that you have an outbound order taker and 11 things you can do to remedy the situation.
5 Tell-Tale Signs That You Have an Outbound Order Taker
Do you have an outbound order taker? Here are some tell-tale clues:
1. The revenue in the territory has not grown. Look at your reps territory, year over year. Has it grown? By how much? Unless there is a significant legitimate business reason, your spider senses should start tingling if you haven’t seen growth. It suggests that your rep is not looking for opportunities.
2. The number of new customer acquisition is low or non-existent. How many new customers have been acquired year over the year? If you see ‘new blood’ it suggests your rep is picking up the phone and is prospecting. And that’s a good thing. But be sure to scratch the surface and ask yourself: are these new customers truly a result of business development by your rep or did they fall into his/her lap based on an inbound inquiry or lead.
3. New products are not moving off the shelf. Is your rep selling the ‘same old, same old’ or are there new products and services going out the door. If not, complacency may have set in.
4. You monitor calls and hear, “Need anything today?” or “The truck will be by on Thursday, need anything?” Over the next 3 -4 days sit down and monitor a pile of calls. If the extent of your rep’s selling is limited to “need anything today?” you’ve got an order taker, not a sales rep.
5. Sales are declining. It is one thing not to see sales growing. It’s quite another to see them going the opposite way. If sales are declining chances are a competitor is picking away at your client base because your rep is not protecting it.
11 Tips to Help Convert Your Outbound Order Takers to and Outbound Tele-Sales Reps
Here are 11 ways that you can tackle outbound order takers:
Tip #1: Train your reps how to sell. All too often, outbound order takers were once inbound order takers who were given new roles. They were told to make ‘proactive’ calls but never given proper training. If this sounds like your firm, fix it. Give them a fighting chance.
Tip #2: Monitor the heck out of your calls. Listen to live calls. Listen to recorded calls. Sit beside your reps and use a y-jack. Monitor from you desk. Monitor till your blue in your face. Your mere presence will get them to start pushing themselves to be more proactive. Let them know that your mandate isn’t going to go away at anytime … so they might as well comply.
Tip #3: Coach until you drop. Getting reps to change from passive to assertive is not easy. You are asking people to change a fundamental behaviour trait. Training gets them started but coaching keeps them at it. Coach the skills until your reps master them. Provide feedback. Constructive feedback. Give them the confidence to perform.
Tip #4: Communicate the importance of the proactive sell. Tell your reps why you need them to be more assertive and proactive. Let them know the benefits. Let them know the consequences. Don’t hide anything. Be the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.
Tip #5: Get your reps to post their results. Get a big whiteboard and set it up in the calling area. At 10:00, 2:00 and 5:00, get the reps to publicly post their calling efforts. Post their cumulative dials, contacts, presentations, leads, sales and the value of the sales. This holds them personally accountable.
Tip #6: Change the compensation plan. If necessary, change the way you pay. Provide a higher commission for new business or new product growth. Provide a lower commission for repeat sales. Reward what you want done.
Tip #7: Motivate your reps. Implement games, prizes, contests and recognition programs geared towards new sales, new acquisitions, new products. Use these incentives to direct their behavior.
Tip #8: Build account plans. Teach, train and coach your reps on how to build an account and/or territory plan. Show them how to look for opportunities; how to develop them; how to approach the client. Give them the tools to help the plan and implement.
Tip #9: Hire new blood. Go out and hire a PHD – a ‘poor’, ‘hungry’ and ‘driven’ rep . A fresh new hire brings a whole new perspective. Once he or she starts selling, the old salts tend to follow in line.
Tip #10: Terminate if necessary. Termination is not a lot of fun but sometime it is necessary if a company is to survive. Terminate only after you’ve tried all of the above. If the rep is still not cutting the mustard, it is time for him/her to move on.
Tip #11: Hire a new manager. When a sports team is losing, sometimes the solution is a new manager. If the incumbent won’t or can’t change/implement the new proactive sales approach then maybe you need someone who can. In fact, the key to your success is the tele-sales managers. It is the manager who will implement some or all of these tips… or they won’t …or they will do it reluctantly. But the stronger your manager, the better your results.
Your outbound order takers CAN become outbound tele-sales reps and increase revenues for your company. You need two things. First, you need a game plan. Select some or all of the tips presented above to get you started. Second, you need discipline. Implementing the action items is one thing but maintaining them is another. It’ll take about 3 months of relentless monitoring and implementation but once there, your team will start generating proactive sales