Strategy: On Sales & Support

Last week I opened a new call center to manage the sales & customer support for one of our lead gen offers.  For most direct response projects, it makes sense to outsource sales and support.  i.e. If you’re selling a muscle offer, there’s really good turnkey call centers such as Focus.   Focus can handle standard Q&A’s, such as when the product was shipped or how to cancel recurring billing.  It’s daft to vertically integrate projects like that when turnkey solutions exist.

On this project, we have no other option but to vertically integrate.  The project has an average ticket price of $32,000.   The demographic for our clients is an almost all white male, $200k+ household income.   It’s a great demographic and one that I’m ultra proud to serve, however we’re going to need to run it inhouse. 

White males with $200k+ household incomes typically do not have time to chat.   Their dip shit radar is always on full alert – they don’t suffer fools gladly.  Hence outsourcing calls to the Phillipines or to a call center with a “Lakesha” is a no go!  When these white males call us, we want other razor sharp white males picking up the phones.  In order to attract those reps, we’re offering positions that start off paying $150k annually.  The caliber of these sales agents is second to none.

Based on our tests so far, we’ll bring on an average of 10 accounts a day running at a 60% margin on 30 day media buys.  The office we locked in is 4,500 square feet with 2 partitioned rooms.   Having the rooms partitioned is key, here’s why:

A common mistake new advertisers make is mixing sales and support.  The general thought is that if sales guys can close the deal, they can keep the deal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The best sales guys are Glen Gary/Glen Ross ABC Closers – Alec Baldwin style.  They earn 900k+ a year and their focus is on one thing: getting the client to sign on the line in which is dotted.  You don’t find top notch sales guys by placing an add on Craigslist or opening up a position via  No sir. 

You bring on the top notch sales gurus by stealing them from other companies.   One of the best places to look is a high end car lot, such as Mercedes or BMW.  The guys walking these lots are SHARKS!  You never see them coming.  They already have you felt out before you’ve had the opportunity to glance their way.  They know to never underestimate a potential client based upon his dress or current vehicle.  They know people that drive Hondas are the biggest buyers as they’ve been economical with their money.   They identify that guy in the suit that pulled up in a Toyota as pretentious – he wants to believe he has money yet suffers from delusions of grandeur. 

My colleague and I are going to roll up to these lots donned in Armani and flashy watches.  We’ll pull out our $10.00 metal business cards and offer them a 2 week trial run in our call center.  Then we’ll pull out a roll of hundreds and give it to them right there on the spot if they say “yes”.  Money talks.  No, there are no contracts and sure they might fuck us over and keep the money – but at the end of the day that is written off as a cost of finding the right sales agents.

These top sales guns need to focus on one thing – sales.  The moment a customer support call hits their desk, they will immediately forward it to the second half of the call center, support.   We do not want our superstar sales agents dealing with technical aspects of the project, knitty-gritty details, billing, and ESPECIALLY disgruntled cusomers.   To do so is akin to eating fruit off of the poisonous tree.  It causes distraction from their one and only goal – sales.  Additionally we will fire them on the spot.

Our sales and support staff are given 1 strict guideline – they cannot speak to each other.  We want support focused on support, and sales focused on sales.

With regards to support, we are using Salesforce CRM to manage each account.  Every single interaction with the customer, including calls, emails, invoices, and proposals, are appended to their accounts.   When progress is made on the account, it’s added to Salesforce. 

Why are we so anal about documenting everything?  We create systems where employees are expendable.   If an employee that spent 10 hours on an account gets hit by a car, we don’t want the customer to get penalized.  The entire history of conversations with that employee will not go with our employee Heaven (hopefully that’s where she’ll go).  No, we want the next agent to spend 5 minutes reviewing the notes on the account and pick up as if nothing happened.

Our clients support and service is the pinnacle of our long-term success.  When bringing on support agents, we look for 4 things:

1.  Pays close attention to detail.
2.  Is able to completely focus on 1 task at a time.
3.  Is a constructive listener.
4.  Does not have ambitions or an entrepreneurial spirit.

Does not have ambitions?  Did you really just let put that out there dude?  Yes – I did.  We look for people that are happy to make 50 grand a year at the top of their career.   We want steady eddies that love habit.   Their job is to follow directions to the letter of the law.  That way client accounts are never misappropriated and we don’t have to spend time training people.  Remember, it costs a lot more money to train someone new than it does to keep your current staff happy.

This is a really exciting project.   Like all projects we enter, this project does not have a ceiling.  Once things are in place, we will scale the campaign.