When we started Green Leads we set out to build the perfect Virtual Call Center. We accomplished it, and other than not seeing people face-to-face every day (they still are required to come in a few days a week), the way we work is identical to a traditional call center. We can see people's dials, what CRM records they modify, listen in for training, etc. Of the many benefits, here are but a few:
- Working from home
- Distributed resources for disaster recovery (this happened with last year's ice storm)
- Flexible hours, allowing for a better work/life balance
- Reduced overhead of an office
- The use of "work at home" as an incentive for performance
- No commute adding an hour or two to people's personal lives
- All the environmental beneifts -- no new computers, no commute, less waste
There were some issues, though. We lost two employees who wanted more of a team community. We lost another because he and his wife were unable to be home all day in the same house. We lost some borderline employees who we may have been able to save with better coaching and training. All that said, we grew 4X over three years. Things are booming. But we wanted to resolve these negatives.
The solution: a Virtual Hybrid. We built out an office with the "hotel" concept. We still use all the same cloud technologies, but if you want to call a desk home for a day, the office is available and it's got all the comforts of home.
Each person has a box to store personal belongings in (see photo). A picture of the family, a coffee mug, a special mousepad ... we even have someone storing his own flavored coffee creamer.
What has worked better than expected is the impact on new hire training. They can stay in-office for all the coaching and training we can give them. We can even use the work-at-home goal as an incentive to ramp up to speed. On the other hand, we've asked our veterans to schedule regular "in-office" days a couple times a month for project meetings and mentoring.
- Increased team community
- Faster training and ramp-up
- Continued virtual benefits
- Reduced overhead cost (facilities, and use of virtual technologies)
- A place to meet visitors
- Centralized location for the management team, who require more interraction
Ultimately, just during month one -- a holiday month to boot -- December's weeks have seen the highest appointment setting rates of the year. Linda and I drive a hybrid car...now we work in one.
How do you work?
We hear this all the time, even from our own reps when they are having a slow week: "December is terrible for lead gen. End of year and the holidays...."
True, people have other things on their minds. Some might be closing out the year, but many are willing to help those elves with their heads down making appointments. So I give you these thoughts to consider, and recommend you keep dialing with cheer:
- Prospects are thinking about next year
- Prospects are traveling less and possibly sitting next to their phones (especially during the week between Christmas and New Year's)
- Prospects' calendars are not as busy as normal and can accommodate an introductory meeting
- Prospects are thinking about the new year and a new beginning and may be more receptive to new ideas
- Prospects' admins may be on vacation and the prospects are answering their own phones
This past week a prospect commented that she wanted to explore a third-party lead gen program because their sales reps were spending too much time prospecting and not selling. She said that if they had enough leads they would be SELLING and CLOSING -- not having to do lead gen.
How many sales reps are caught in the prospecting grind and not closing? Sounded like a LinkedIn Poll to me.
The results seem to make sense, right? About half the people spend somewhere between one and two days a week doing lead gen.
Wrong. If I'm a salesperson who knows how to sell and close, why on earth would I be wasting up to half of my time doing lead gen?
Salespeople should spend their time on activities that result in more revenue:
- Talking to prospects
- Building rapport
- Handling issues
- Putting proposals together
- Negotiating and closing
All of these activities require prospects, and prospects start from leads, mind you. But salespeople shouldn't be the ones generating the leads. Inside sales teams, outsourced lead gen companies and other lead gen techniques that marketing or sales operations can run should be on the top of chosen lead gen strategies.
This is my desired curve. What is yours?