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10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Telemarketing Outsourcer

When it comes to business-to-business (B2B) lead generation and appointment setting, the choice of companies often seems limitless.  How do you know which company is right to set appointments for your sales team?

In the telemarketing industry, choosing a company simply on price can occasionally work, but like many other industries, you get what you pay for.  Above price, what is important to consider in your decision is the value the company will deliver to your organisation.

Remember: Choosing the right company lies not in their price, but what they can offer for that rate!

Here are 10 questions you need to ask before hiring a B2B telemarketing outsourcer:

1. Does the company have a good reputation in the industry?

Although it may seem like an obvious first question to ask, many people become so involved in the process that they often forget to ask it.  The company you choose to conduct business with must be a trustworthy company. This is the key to dealing with any business, not just telemarketers.  Do your research and find out if they are a member of any industry certifications such as the Customer Contact Association (CCA) or Investors in People. Dig deeper and search if the company has been featured in any publications in recognition for their work.

2. Do their agents have the skills and experience to match my company?

Again, this is an important question that often goes unasked.  Don’t be fooled by the “25 years collective experience” quotes you find on websites – this may be disguising the fact that their agents are inexperienced and new to their role. In B2B lead generation and appointment setting, experience is absolutely vital, so only deal with a company whose call centre agents have plenty of it!  Ask for examples and evidence of agent success. After all, it does help that the agents understand the value of a quality appointment.

3. Where are all of their agents?

Are they in-house or homeworkers?  Do they work in the UK or abroad?  These answers will have a significant impact on the costs and qualities associated with a calling campaign!  Typically, the most expensive companies will be those that have their agents in-house, because of the overheads associated with stations, computers etc.  In addition to that, companies located in rural areas are limited in terms of the agents that can commute into work each morning. Therefore, it may be worth researching the location of the call centre and surrounding transportation links.

Increasingly, call centres are implementing a virtual model, meaning their agents work from home throughout the UK or the World.  A company that uses the virtual model should try to use UK based agents as opposed to outsourcing overseas. In sales, understanding the people and cultures that you are calling into is imperative to your success.

4. Does the company have any previous relevant experience or case studies?

Not only do you need to find a company that understands your product or service, they must also have a proven track record ensuring the success of any campaign.  Always ask for case studies, testimonials or letters of recommendation before signing contracts with a company, and be very weary of ones that cannot provide this information!

5. Are there any guarantees?

Rather surprisingly in the B2B lead generation and appointment setting industry, a company that offers a guarantee on their service is the exception, not the rule.  You may find that many companies promise the sun, moon and stars to gain your potential business, only to over promise and under deliver, leaving your business with no appointments and a hefty bill.  To mitigate any risks involved with something such as an appointment setting campaign, you should look for a company that offers risk and reward models or shared risk models.  Not only does this protect your company from a potentially failed campaign, but is also a good sign of the company’s track record for success.

6. How much will it cost run a campaign?

This answer will give you a good understanding of how the company operates and you will be able to gauge the kind of quality of the appointments you will expect to receive. Companies that charge you on a per appointment basis might end up costing your business more in the long run and could provide your sales team with weaker appointments with lesser quality.  The safer alternative may be a flat rate campaign that charges on an hourly basis.  With a flat rate hourly campaign, the emphasis is on providing ROI and highly qualified appointments.

7. What is included in the cost? Are there any additional fees?

You will find that companies often charge a set-up fee in addition to the cost of their campaign.  This includes setting up the account, training agents and sometimes developing collateral, all of which is important to the success of the campaign. However, the most important part of this fee is the calling list (unless you are providing your own data!).

8. Will I receive reporting for this campaign?

Every company should be able to offer you detailed reporting of how the campaign is progressing. Avoid any company that will not provide you with this. The report should provide you with reports of all calls made during the campaign and the outcomes of each call.  Providing clear and concise analysis of the calls will also help you to understand the strengths as well as any shortcomings in the strategy and enable you to adjust accordingly.

9. Can I listen to recordings of calls?

Did you know that each country has its own laws regarding the recording of telephone calls? As such, there are a number of legal issues that must be addressed before implementing a recording program. However, it is still definitely a good idea to ask if call recordings are available, as you may have a question about a specific appointment. You might just like to listen to what your potential clients are hearing.  A company that can provide you with call recordings is worth their weight in gold and can help turn an appointment into a sale!

10. Will I have any input with scripting, training, sales strategies, etc.?

A compelling telephone script can really make a difference. Not only will your Agents sound more confident and knowledgeable, you can prepare important questions to ask in advance which could make or break a deal. A good company will welcome and encourage your input, building the script together with your core brand values in mind. Agent training as well as the sales strategy should be of the utmost importance in order to ensure success and more importantly create a return on your investment. Most companies will provide this, saving you hours of work developing this material. Bellcom strongly recommend that you utilise a company that can strategize the lead generation and appointment setting process in-house, or in conjunction with you.  During this process, they can uncover any potential pain points of a prospect and apply proven strategies to reach the decision maker, objection handle effectively and set the appointment.

Asking these 10 questions should give you a very good understanding of how a company operates and the type of quality you can expect to see in your appointments.

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