Article: Consultative Selling

Does Consultative Selling work through a Call Centre?

Most organizations will consider the use of Call Centres for highly transactional, B2C sales processes, such as credit card sales, insurance sales and other fast paced sales processes.

Automated dialler systems will initiate a new call the moment another call ends, and 90% of the calls are scripted. One of the most important indicators for such calls is the call duration, as people who stay on the phone for more than 3 minutes, are very likely to make a purchase during that call!

So what if your product or service requires a more sophisticated and consultative sales approach?

Such an approach requires the seller to:

  • Think much more on their feet and not just to read off a script
  • Have a high degree of knowledge and understanding of your complex offerings
  • Be able to have ‘peer-to-peer’ conversations with senior prospect buyers, and to sound credible over the phone
  • Be able to extract needs from senior industry professionals (potential clients) and understand how they fit in with the products and services the organization offers

And most of all, it requires time, as sales cycles may be as long as a year, before they close.

So does it make business sense to consider a Call Centre for more complex sales processes?

The main reasons for outsourcing your sales operations are to save cost, increase productivity, and to actively develop new business.

The experienced and established sales consultants have the quality to focus on their existing business/clients, and make sure they are looked after well. Making the tedious cold calls, and mapping new prospects is probably very low on their priority list, and in all honesty, their value to the company probably lies more with looking after the existing clients.

It is therefore possible that organizations are very comfortable, thinking they are doing well, with several large clients and senior key account managers, who are staying very busy and who are on the road most of the time.

The risk however is, with the lifecycle of some clients coming to an inevitable end, if there is not enough effort being made on new business coming in, that organizations will struggle and will have to downsize due to a lack of new business coming in.

It is too late to realize this once, clients move away. Especially with complex services and products, where sales cycles are much longer, this issue needs to be addressed early, when business is going well and the organization fairs comfortably.

So, does it make sense to outsource a consultative sales process to a Call Centre, when most companies making use of Call Centres do it for the more transactional sales processes?

A good way to go about this question is to break down the entire sales cycle:

  • Qualification and cold calling
  • Meet & Present
  • Follow up, further discussion
  • Proposal and Negotiate
  • Closed deal

Even though your product/service requires consultative and complex sales approach, by breaking it down, you can assess what parts can be standardized to make it applicable for a Call Centre environment.

If this can be done, then you can consider outsourcing at least this portion of the sales cycle to create a more cost effective sales operation that will have a higher productivity (if managed correctly).

From here, the in-house consultants can get involved and get in touch after the potential new prospects have been pre-qualified.

This can indeed be a very attractive option for organizations who are struggling with developing new business for their complex products or services that require the involvement of highly specialized staff which has little or no time to focus on the early stage of new business sales cycle.