It's no secret that there's no better time to sell to your customers than when they're already calling to order from you. When they call to place orders, they're open to you initiating a consultative selling conversation. It's also no surprise that you have some reps who do a better job at this than others. But do you know exactly how much better some inbound reps are than others?
I visited a call center the other day where, after some discussion and preliminary analysis, I found the variance in sales and average order value between the very best two to three reps and the worst two to three reps was greater than 100 percent. At the same time, the variance in their salaries was minimal. So there's a huge opportunity cost of lost sales by not having all your sales reps perform within an acceptable range. If you haven't studied this, you'll want to.
Measure the following metrics for each rep:
- time available to receive calls vs. time paid;
- calls answered;
- orders taken;
- conversion (orders taken/calls answered);
- average order value;
- line items per order average;
- units per order average; and
- returns — transactions and credit dollars.
Over the course of a month, there shouldn't be any incoming call variations. Check to see if any logical differences exist between shifts or regular reps and tech support-type reps. You want to get all of your reps performing within a 30 percent range of each other. You also want to extrapolate how many more sales dollars you might achieve if all your reps performed like your best reps. Then ask yourself, “Can your best reps produce more?”
Try hiring a “racehorse” rep. This is someone with more product knowledge, industry experience and/or sales experience that would produce a marked increase in performance. Even if you have to pay this person 50 percent more than your average rep, it's often a good investment if the rep can increase conversion and average order value by even 5 percent. Often, however, the rep can deliver a 15 percent to 20 percent increase.
Also, don’t assume that length of service makes for a better rep. While on-the-job experience certainly helps, many companies operate with reps who are set in their ways and find it hard to adapt to changing market conditions, like we have now. Sometimes, you need to give rigid employees a chance to be successful somewhere else.
Now more than ever, you need to produce more with limited or less resources. Improving your inbound call-center reps' productivity is one of the best ways to do that.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at email@example.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).
Comments or questions are welcome.