If you’re currently in charge of managing a call center sales operation in this industry you know how important it is to forecast correctly and comply with the budget set by the company. Everyday actions must be in place and tied to a strategy if you hope to consistently surpass your quota and meet projections for the bottom line.
That, of course, is easier said than done. But there are some actions that I have found to work again and again for me personally or for the companies I’ve consulted for in the past. The following are some of the best ways to ensure daily sales stay on track — and your forecasts don’t end up being an unfulfilled hope.
Keep Up with the Numbers
Falling behind on sales one day could mean that you won’t meet your quota by the end of the month. At the very least, it will put pressure on recovering the gap. Your sales and key performance indicators (KPIs) should be measured and shared with involved staff and leaders in real time so that actions can be take immediately in order to adhere to — or, better still, surpass — the goal. Check all your numbers, specially conversion rate and sales per workstation. This will guarantee that you are reaching the goal in an efficient manner.
Beware of New Technologies
If you’re operating an outbound operation it’s very important to follow the contact rate carefully. There are some new call-blocking apps on smartphones that allow users to tag and share numbers as sales, fraud, spam, or other categories you don’t want to find yourself it. So when the user receives the call with a certain number their device’s display will let them know, with a pop-up or light up in red with the word “SALES,” suggesting they shouldn’t take the call. Some apps even give the user an option to permanently block the number.
In a world where people become more and more aware of the useful tools that smartphones have, this can backslash your contact rate if you don’t take actions. Thus, having several ANIs (numbers) that you can rotate randomly will help you increase contact rate when combined with a predictive dialer.
Smart Call Center Commission Plans
Come up with a creative, efficient, and attractive commission plan for your staff based on different levels of achievement in order to assure that the goal is met. If you give flat commissions, regardless of a minimum goal, or don’t incentivize an extra percentage of sales, then your staff won’t feel committed to the number and you’ll end up rowing against the tide.
Let me add that it’s extremely important that the supervisors and managers — not only the reps — get commissions. It’s common for contact centers to pay out commissions only to the frontline, and this is a big mistake. Because sometimes those worker end up earning more than the leadership team — leading to unattractive growth opportunities within the company or an unmotivated leadership team.
SPIFFs and Motivation
If you’re not familiar with the term SPIFF, it’s basically an immediate bonus for a sale. It doesn’t have to be cash — it can be even small things like a chocolate, a pen with the company logo, or an extra break each week. This SPIFFs can be given individually or for a team when certain goal is reached. For example, order pizzas for the first team that reaches a certain volume of sales in a certain time frame.
Some call center operators don’t like to give SPIFFs because they think that the staff will get used to it and demand it when there are none in place. This shouldn’t be an issue if used properly. If the sales are doing very well during the first hours of the day and you want to continue with that inertia, then it could be a good idea to place a SPIFF in place or after a couple bad intervals where sales stagnate. A SPIFF can bring a fast push and put you back in the game.
Forecasting the Proper Way
This is where almost all of us drop the ball: with a non-assertive way to budget yearly sales. I’ve seen it many times, executives finalizing their budgets despite not having all the necessary information and relying on a lot of assumptions while failing to consult the team. This typically had two outcomes. One will lead to an extremely positive scenario that will put you in a complicated situation next year when you’re far off the goal. But the other results is that the numbers barely move, and when questioned by upper management, you can’t really say how you came up with those numbers.
You have to consider several factors in order to forecast correctly:
- Historical reports: Here you can see how much you’ve grown month after month and versus previous years. Certain months will have significantly fewer sales due to temporalities. For example, depending on your product or service, December can be a really good month or a slow one.
- Economy: You have to consider the economic situation of the country, or countries, that you’re targeting. What are the projections for those countries for next year? These figures can impact your numbers by a couple percentage points at least.
- Call volume: Is incoming call volume increasing or decreasing? Are your outbound databases getting bigger or smaller? Will marketing budget more next year in ads or buy more DBs?
- Operational efficiency: Consider the improvements in the call center operation, such as a lower average handle time for incoming calls, a bump in the conversion rate, attrition reduction, and more experienced reps with more sales per workstation.