Why Inside Sales Call Centers Fail

Carl Erickson

In Beacon’s worldwide inside sales call center experiences, there are consistent failure points. However, these failure points are sometimes clouded by what functional area may have responsibility for various points of the revenue generation cycle. This leads us to one of the top failure points.

All revenue generating call centers must have well-defined inputs and crystal clear outputs. When they fail to do this, inside sales teams can be overwhelmed with what they perceive to be useless lists or “leads.” This can distract the inside team from effectively focusing on what is most important and, just as importantly, crash their efficiency because they’re spending too much time on things that don’t make a difference.

Clumsy Hand-Offs

A second very common point of failure is in hand-offs. Lead generation efforts often come from marketing as they strive to identify potential prospects. However, many of these leads arrive in a disorganized manner with missing information and no prioritization. This can be frustrating for the inside team, and can be a major demotivating factor, as they can end up spending more time on admin than on the phone.

A third issue we regularly see is how a contact it is being handed off. In one large client that was handling thousands of calls per month, the hand-offs were via email. While there are times that method is appropriate, there was no ranking of the level of qualification. Therefore, the personal rapport and urgency to the call was lost. Hand-offs must be very efficient, and although technology can play a role in hand-offs, it’s vital to take into consideration the client’s needs and communication expectations.

Misunderstanding the Client’s Business

The fourth issue we see is a failure to fully understand the business value of the product or service being brought to the market. In one large global effort, we saw large disparities in call center effectiveness across different countries. People blamed it on cultural differences, and while that may have some relevance to our work in Asia, it is not as relevant in other places.

After exploring the disparities, it was very clear some centers were only focused on technology and failed to position business value into the conversation. The predictable result was increased cost pressure and less deals won. The internal sales cycle must mirror the client’s business buying cycle.

It’s More than Just Closing the Deal

In centers where there was a steady stream of incoming opportunities, there was a fifth item that was highly relevant. Management highlighted some of their best performers, but when we reviewed the data, we realized that the close rates of the best performers were high, but how they got there was devastating. The best people were touching 60 percent less incoming deals and hitting similar numbers. Call centers are not just about the deals closed or flipped, it is also about how you got there and the qualification process along the way.

The Importance of Tracking Metrics

The final item we would like to mention is how the call center is setup in the first place. In many cases, there are critical metrics that are not being tracked both in the call center as well as across the internal systems. Good technology and knowing how to use it can dramatically impact a center’s efficiency.