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Contact Centers Focusing on Sales Help to Drive Success in the Enterprise
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Contact Centers Focusing on Sales Help to Drive Success in the Enterprise

May 15, 2008
By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor

In the call and contact center industries, one of the biggest challenges that these centers have to face is transforming the traditional inbound call center into an outbound, multichannel contact center that has a sales focus. Often, very skilled call center agents lack the necessary skills to effectively sell, making the challenge to change even more cumbersome.

The flipside of this argument is that recent research has determined that inside sales representatives are actually more successful than outside sales professionals. In a new study from IDC (News - Alert), “Best Practices in Sales Performance Improvement: The Changing Nature of Inside Sales,” the firm found that inside sales is playing a significant role in maintaining the customer base.

Such findings only strengthen the argument for turning the call center into a sales center. The report highlighted that inside sales reps are now on equal footing with outside reps. These divisions – such as the contact center – are now being modeled to ensure they are supporting the tasks of the outside rep.
"Since the 1980s, when BMC first soldIBM mainframe software exclusively over the phone to sophisticated and demanding customers, inside sales has been a strategy considered by many and properly adopted by few,” said Lee Levitt the program director of IDC Sales Advisory Practice, in a company statement. “Some companies continue to shun the strategy, believing that it won't work for their business.”

According to the IDC report, an inside sales professionals can reach out roughly four to eight times more to buyers than an outside sales rep. These inside professionals can also produce higher customer satisfaction and sales productivity. Customers often find inside sales professionals to be the preferred medium, lessening the pressure while managing the relationship.

The study also notes that inside sales have the ability to be highly consultative in the approach and can reach fragmented markets and bring new views on both accountability and capability. This group of individuals has the benefit of working together as a team and thriving in that environment, as opposed to an outside sales rep that often must work alone.
"Best practice leaders focus more on making sure that teaming is optimized, emphasizing communication, and striving to drive revenue rather than focusing on cost management. They also see the efficiency and effectiveness inside sales can and does have," added Levitt.

"Inside sales plays a leading role at best practice companies in closing new business and extending the reach of a company deeper and more broadly within existing accounts and territories. Improved customer intimacy and increased sophistication in territory management are perhaps the largest areas of continued evolution among inside sales teams."

While not all contact centers were designed to function as a sales center, the reality is that many are moving in this direction in order to drive sales, protect the customer base, and enable the contact center to drive more value for the company.

As this report proves, there is much value to be gained from an inside sales approach, it is the successful transformation that must be accomplished first, before selling in the contact center can thrive.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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