How to Create a Call Center for a Small Business

Ready to cut out the middle man and crank up your top and bottom line with a steady flow of hot, live leads? What if you were to create a call center?

Lead generation is easily the most important part of any small business today. Unfortunately, it can also be the most frustrating and confusing challenge facing most entrepreneurs. There is truly nothing better than a solid stream of live prospects to talk to every day to start bringing in real money. Sadly, building complex online marketing funnels can take a long time to pay off, and buying leads or live transfers can be incredibly expensive. However, there is another option.

Why not start your own call center? It can enable you to cut straight to speaking with real prospects and converting them into real dollars.

What is a call center?

A call center can be as small as a team of three people ready to make and receive calls. Today small businesses that already have a brick-and-mortar office can easily accommodate their own call center staff in-house, in their current facilities to begin with. However, even those who work from home or who utilize executive office suites can build their own call center using remote telesales staff and even outsourced phone reps offshore. With some good phones, a web-based phone system, and high-speed Internet you already have the basics to get started with.

What Other Tools Do I Need?

Of course, there are other features and tools you will want and need to create your call center. In order to develop a professional call center structure, one that presents the right image and results in real revenues.

This includes a professional on-hold message or at least music as well as toll-free numbers. Features like call recording and access to online call reports can also do wonders to help you improve training and tweak your campaigns from direct response pieces to scripts and pricing in order to maximize conversions. Taking advantage of all of the routing and forwarding features at your service will enable you to maintain the most freedom, keep overhead down, maximize customer service hours, and ensure business continuity. However, perhaps the most valuable tool in your arsenal should be CRM integration for streamlining lead generation, increasing productivity, and ease of tracking and projections.

Tips for Hiring Great Call Center Staff

Fortunately, there are a ton of phone pros on sale today thanks to the recent economic meltdown. You can now grab up strong closers for a little more than minimum wage in many cases or even outsource some of your call center staffing needs overseas.

However, it is essential to commit to creating a good training program and thoroughly screen candidates before letting them loose on your prospects. Watch out for strong accents and look for those who can think on their feet and go off script when needed. Great salespeople can normally sell anything but looking for those with experience in your industry will dramatically decrease training time and increase closing rates.

Offering some type of base pay is good but always tie in some performance-related incentives for call center staff to keep them motivated. Last but not least avoid the temptation to burn them out with long shifts. Consider hiring more staff for shorter shifts with plenty of breaks to keep them fresh. When you create a call center, you’re dependent on your team that is manning the phones for it to be a success.

Tips for Catapulting Conversions

Cold calling can produce good results but we all know it is a lot easier to close on warm calls. The same goes for ‘one call closes’ which can be impressive when accomplished but most businesses will find results amplified by breaking up the lead generation and sales process into phases.

Instead of spending money on junk lead lists, expensive targeted lists, or calling through the Yellow Pages consider generating warm leads via social media networks first. Hand those to lower-paid openers to set appointments and reserve the close for your strongest call center reps who will then only have to deal with hot, pre-qualified prospects who are expecting their calls.

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