What is an outbound call?
What is an inbound call vs an outbound call?
An inbound call is initiated by the customer or prospect. An outbound call is initiated by a call center representative.
Inbound call centers handle incoming calls to a business or organization. These tend to come from existing customers experiencing issues with a product or service, or individuals wanting to place an order.
Outbound call center agents make outgoing phone calls to existing and potential customers.
Inbound services include:
- Telephone answering
- Order processing
- Dispatch services
- Help desk services
Outgoing calls are made by sales teams for various interactions, including:
- Telesales activities
- Telemarketing sales services
- Market research
- Nonprofit or charity fundraising
- Appointment setting
- Survey outreach
- Customer notifications
- Post-sale follow-upsCollections
What is outbound cold calling?
Often, outbound calls are classified as ‘cold calls’, as this is one of the most common reasons sales teams make outgoing calls.
Cold calling occurs when an agent reaches out to a list of prospective customers who haven’t previously expressed interest in a company’s product or services. It gets its name because contacts are not expecting the call. They aren’t “warmed” up to the idea of receiving a call from a caller, or the business or company they represent.
This type of calling is carried out to engage prospects in targeted conversations to generate interest in a product or service, close sales, or achieve other business goals. When done well, it is a cost-effective and efficient means for businesses to engage prospects one-on-one, and encourage them to move to the next stage in their buyer journey.
Example of cold calls
A business might use cold calling scripts to reach out to prospects about a new product or service they’re offering. The aim here is to expand its customer base and boost sales.
How do you handle outbound calls?
When it comes to handling outbound calls, it all depends on the reason why the call is being made in the first place. If you’re part of a sales team who is calling prospects about a new product or service, then you’ll need to take a different approach than if the purpose of your call is fundraising for a charity.
Remember, the contact didn’t make the call, nor did they expect to receive the call. That means agents need to follow some best practices to ensure their calls effectively target prospects and achieve results.
How do you make an outbound call effective?
Use a call flow to understand what your customer experiences
A call flow acts as an agent’s road map to the customer experience. It outlines the direction they need to follow. What’s more, it details what questions to ask, actions to take, and whether a call needs to be passed to someone else. Using a call flow can save businesses time and resources by ensuring a positive customer experience.
An effective call flow is simple, offering clear resolutions and answers for every kind of call. It empowers agents with the tools and information they need to achieve results and transform prospects into happy customers. Moreover, a call flow eliminates guesswork so agents can effectively solve problems and address pain points without having to consult managers or team leaders to handle phone call scenarios that didn’t come up in training.
Using an outbound sales calls script
Most prospects prefer unscripted calls as they’re natural and make people feel more valued as human beings. However, making outbound calls can be stressful for agents, and is rendered ineffective when agents aren’t fully prepared or make poor judgment calls under pressure.
Scripts are useful for guiding agents, increasing their confidence levels, and keeping them on the right track. However, they can also be the reason why a call strategy doesn’t translate to sales. Calling scripts must be flexible, so that agents can lean on them when they are struggling, without following them in a way that sounds unnatural.
Benefits of outbound calling services
Outbound calling has many benefits ranging from lead generation to improving customer satisfaction.
Lead generation and qualification
Increase customer satisfaction and retention rates
More cost-effective than traditional sales teams
Tips to improve your outbound calling strategy
1. Outline your goals and KPIs
Every effective strategy needs to have well-defined goals and clearly outlined metrics to track progress towards achieving them.
Think about the reason for your outbound call. Is the objective of the call to set up an appointment with a prospect? Is it to sell a product or service? Or perhaps you want to encourage the prospect to take further action?
Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be consistently tracked and updated as your business grows and evolves. Clearly defined goals and established KPIs will enable you to measure the outbound call success of your strategy, and inform any future improvements you can make.
Important KPIs include:
- Average handle time
Length of calls relative to the number of calls; long average handle time may indicate poor closing skills or insufficient prospect comprehension
- Conversion rate
The number of sales vs the total number of outbound calls
- First call close rate
Number of closes that occur after the first call, relative to the number of calls made
- Occupancy rate
How much time sales reps spend calling vs not on calls
2. Draft worthwhile call lists
It’s important to outline lists that are made up of qualified leads to ensure outbound agents are more likely to succeed in transforming potential customers into paying customers.
Researching prospects is an important part of any outbound calling strategy. When agents are aware of product needs, the prospect’s location, industry, etc, they will be armed with more information that can be used to inform calls and guide prospects towards a sale.
The proper tools, like a customer relationship management solution, can help agents to keep track of leads and target their calling efforts, and rank leads. What’s more, CRM software tracks and centralizes customer data which, when integrated with an outbound call center platform, can streamline proactive communication across teams and departments.
The first phone call an agent makes to a prospect is a defining moment in their future with your business - that is, if they have one. Agents need to be trained satisfactorily on the best communication practices for making cold calls, warm calls, survey calls, etc.
There’s a fine line drawn between engaging a prospect with valuable information, and bothering them when they don’t want to be bothered. To effectively engage prospects, agents should follow these general outbound calling steps:
- Pique their interest: Make a good first impression by using their name, using information about them to your benefit, and keeping the conversation about them.
- Make them feel valued: Do your homework and show them that they’re not just another name on your call list by mentioning something you know about their business or goals.
- Don’t waste their time: Be direct, showing them that you value their time.
- Set a follow-up appointment: End the call on a high and pave the way for continuing your journey with that client.
4. Implement outbound call management software
Choosing the right outbound call management system will ensure that you’re reaching out to prospects at the right time. The best software will offer tools for managing multiple campaigns simultaneously. They’ll include intelligent routing and dialing solutions, transfers and automatic call distributor tools, and CRM integrations.
Businesses operating call centers or outsourcing call center operations can optimize agent performance with robust and scalable call management software. These solutions improve agent efficiency and productivity by enabling them to proactively engage with leads and customers with personalized data.
How to choose the right outbound call center software for your business
There are plenty of outbound call center solutions on the market, so how do you know which one is right for your business?
The solution you choose should enhance agent productivity and efficiency by streamlining operations and empowering teams with the tools they need to succeed. It should be scalable and able to integrate with other platforms that are essential to your business activities. We’ve outlined some key features that are crucial to excellent call center software.
- Integrated CRM: This feature enables agents to consolidate vital customer data and quickly access all the information they need to communicate effectively. With access to previous voicemails, call recordings, and previous interactions, agents get a 360-degree view of the prospect or customer’s journey so far.
- Automatic dialers: If your business makes a large number of calls each day, these tools can streamline tasks. Progressive, preview, and predictive dialers can be utilized depending on your business’ needs.
- Reporting and analytics: Get real-time insights into agent performance and better understand the experience of your customers. This feature can inform training sessions, improve performance quality, and help you to make better, data-driven decisions.
- Call recording and monitoring: This feature allows managers to track agent performance and make suggestions during live calls (call barging) to ensure customer’s needs are being met.
Which type of outbound dialer is best for my contact center?
Automatic dialers automate the outbound dialing process, thus increasing agent efficiency and giving them control over call flows and routing. This means agents can spend more time conversing with contacts, and less time dialing numbers. Dialer capabilities can vary, so it’s important to think about your call center goals when choosing the right one for your business. The different types include:
- Preview: Presents information about a call to an agent so they can preview information, then automatically dials the phone number after a specified time.
- Progressive: Makes ongoing calls to phone numbers one after the other. Calls that don’t ring or aren’t answered are disconnected immediately.
- Predictive: The most productive dialing automation tool. It makes multiple calls at once and connects callers as soon as an agent is free.
- Power dialer: Makes large numbers of calls at once with little to no control.
Manual dialers are also an option for businesses that have the time to dial contact numbers individually. A business that’s just starting out might not have enough data to require an automatic dialler. Equally, a large business that rarely makes outbound calls might find it easier to manually dial as needed. Whichever dialer you choose should be based on the scale of your business.
Choosing the right dialer depends on the goals of your business. Many of the most progressive contact center solutions feature more than one kind of dialer, giving you the freedom to choose which one best suits your needs.
Outbound contact center software like the one offered by RingCentral can improve the way your business reaches out to customers. It empowers users with outbound campaign management tools to streamline calling and boost agent productivity.
With dialers for all kinds of campaigns, flexible scripting, and real-time and historical reporting, RingCentral’s outbound solution provides everything you need to take your outreach to the next level.