Article : What High Quality Outbound Sales Reps Look Like
Having an amazing outbound sales rep working can be a game changer. As he or she turns warm leads into opportunities, your sales team finalizes deals faster. That rare person not only greases the wheels of your sales mechanism, but gels with your culture too. The impact on your business is undeniable.
Unfortunately, anyone who has screened applicants for outbound sales positions knows that not just any old warm body will do the trick. Instead of resorting to trial and error staffing, partnering with an outsourced contact center can give you a readymade team to augment or act as your outbound sales team.
However, how do you vet your outsourced partner to ensure that outbound sales reps operating under your name are lean, mean lead converting machines? Find out the criteria that a prospective contact center partner is using to find their people. Here are the personality traits, qualities, and experiences we’ve seen deliver the best results.
What Personality Traits Make Outbound Sales Reps Great
A candidate is more than the sum of his or her experience. In fact, a good portion of human personality is intrinsic or adopted at an early age. Just like you can’t train an alligator to go vegan, you can’t train certain personalities to thrive as outbound sales reps. Your outsourced contact center partner reflects that mentality in the way they hire.
For example, we try to find the perfect outbound sales reps by testing and evaluating a candidate’s neurolinguistic profile. That means we try to identify and predict the way a candidate best comprehends information and shares that information with others. Once we’ve measured their neurolinguistic strengths and weaknesses, we can gauge whether or not they have the right natural tendencies and preferences for outbound sales.
Which blend of neurolinguistic traits should your outbound contact center search for? We score all of our candidates on four core attributes:
- Auditory (How Well They Listen): High scores in auditory perception are essential for outbound sales reps. Over the phone, they need to be able to pick up the nuance of a customer’s tone and listen to key phrases to respond accordingly. Their ability to qualify leads depends on what they hear and internalize.
- Kinesthetic (How They Connect With Others Emotionally): Though a strong kinesthetic score matters for many contact center roles, outbound sales teams are different. Primarily, they need just enough kinesthetic awareness to build rapport with customers. Scores on the upper end of the spectrum can be detrimental, leaving them dissatisfied with their lack of perceived impact or dejected from the volume of rejection.
- Visual (How They Problem-Solve): Strong visual scores are not necessary for outbound sales reps. Most outbound sales agents will not need to visualize problems (unlike a tech support team). Their work tends to be heavily weighted to the auditory and kinesthetic strengths and doesn’t require specific visual preferences. We’ve seen trends that indicated outbound sales reps with high visual scores tend to have lower retention results than those with lower V scores. In a job that doesn’t require that part of the brain to be engaged, a person with a high V score can end up feeling less stimulated by the nature of the work than their peers.
- Digital (How They Follow Procedure and Adapt to Repetitive Work): We look for a mid to mid-high D score for our outbound sales agents. Repetition is a fundamental element of this work. Being willing, able, and enthusiastic about handling the same kind of call every day is vital to success. And any sales leader will tell you, sales is a process and successful sales people work the process diligently. For a candidate with a mid to mid-high D score following the necessary steps, procedures, and sequences falls naturally in their wheelhouse.
On top of those traits, outbound sales teams need to be adaptable, changing quickly with shifting metrics and objectives. New changes can come monthly, weekly, or daily. An outsourced partner needs to provide outbound sales reps who can go with the flow, and rise to new challenges on a regular basis.
Where Future Outbound Sales Reps Are
The trick to outbound sales is that it’s very process driven work. Effective outsourced contact centers will have a solid plan for attracting and recruiting qualified candidates with the right natural attributes to drive your sales results up.
What experience is the best fit? There is no single answer to that question. Previous outbound call center experience might seem like a no-brainer and sometimes it is. An aptitude and penchant for sales is key and can be highly beneficial.
We’ve also seen great results from people who don’t have any call center experience or even "sales" experience.
- Retail Work - Retail experience obviously equals sales experience. But not all retailers are created equal. Some positions, especially at tech retailers like Best Buy and the now defunct Future Shop, have an edge as outbound sales reps. These candidates have been trained to qualify customers, upsell, and track store metrics. Most have even been coached by supervisors and know how to improve on sales objectives.
- Food Service - Great food service experience is a blend of both sales and consumer experience. Candidates who have been on the frontlines in food service often bring diplomacy and problem-solving – adapting as they workwith customers to make choices that fit their mood and budget is part of the job, after all. And food service experience tends to breed employees who can handle the pressure of high call volumes and fearlessly make sales recommendations – great for identifying and working upsell opportunities.
- Athletes - Candidates who were competitive athletes during their school years often excel as outbound sales reps because of their training and competitive instincts. Throughout practices, they have had to repeat forms and techniques until they become ingrained habits. Moreover, their competitive nature helps as they push themselves and their teammates to achieve sales objectives.
Industry Experience Not Required
Outbound sales requires the right aptitude, the right attitude, the right attributes, but not necessarily preexisting skills. The reason being? That age old cliché: you can teach skills, you can’t teach attitude happens to be true. There is also the issue of cultural fit. Previous outbound sales experience on ahard-sell, high pressure, make the conversion at all costs team may not be the best fit for a warm lead, relationship selling model.
There is a balance, where a good outbound rep needs to be persuasive and convincing in order to advance the lead as far as possible prior to handing it off to the field. There’s no room for fumbling. You want to make sure that any previous experience created sales habits mesh with your program’s core values and brand voice.
On the outbound sales accounts that we handle, barely anyone enters their first day with deep knowledge of home energy assessments, auto loans, or the other core industries they’re working. Yet our agents consistently hit the goals set in our service level agreements.
Why? The answer is we scrutinize each candidate for the right qualities and values that align with our client and the nature of the work, and then we meticulously train them. During the interview process, we also test their abilities to come up with rebuttals and evaluate their response to the sales-based role play situations in the interview.
Applying the 80/20 rule, our training equips outbound sales reps for 80 percent of the hurdles they will encounter. Agents are exposed to proven classroom tutorials, roleplaying sessions, and best-practices by Y-Cording into outbound sales calls in the progress.
For the other 20 percent of less common challenges, our network of experienced agents and leaders act as resources to help facilitate answers. While still in training, they are selling to customers and applying their craft first-hand. Quick acclimation is a key differentiator for high energy, competitive candidates. We want to train them well, challenge them hard to demonstrate their competency, and then get them on the floor. Death by PowerPoint in a classroom for weeks on end is not the way to go with these teams.
What Your Outbound Sales Reps Need in Return
Building an outbound sales team capable of success requires more than finding people who fit the traits necessary. An outsourced contact center needs to provide agents with the right atmosphere to launch them into success.
With the ideal personalities of outbound sales reps, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of healthy competition. Clear, measurable metrics should be presented to the team so they can internalize it and use it to propel their action. Plus, commission and incentives further boost results.
Additionally, we are of the belief that empowering your agents to take action gets better results. When they know you’ll trust them to make the right decision, you get creative and effective responses to the 20 percent of challenges, often in ways that you may not have thought about.
Want an outsourced partner that can fulfill all that criteria? Our experience building two vastly different, wildly successful outbound sales teams can give your business the push it needs to rapidly grow.
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About Kim Campbell:
Kim Campbell joined Blue Ocean in 2002 and she has had senior project management responsibilities for many of Blue Ocean’s top clients. In her role as Vice President, Operations, Kim is responsible for overall project management structure and the delivery of Blue Ocean’s value proposition with a focus on shared resources and financial metrics.
About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
At Blue Ocean Contact Centers, we’re at the front lines of customer service. We know we play a key role in building brand loyalty for your organization, and we recognize how essential it is to deliver truly comprehensive customer support across all channels. If you need customized, high-quality customer experience solutions for mission-critical customers, you’re in the right place. We have an unwavering commitment to seamless customer service and efficient resolution. At Blue Ocean Contact Centers, our agents become your agents.
Published: Friday, November 27, 2015