Increasing Sales Efficiency in a Call Center

BY C. Lee Smith
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Have you been tasked with increasing sales efficiency in a call center? Some efficiency improvements are easier to implement than others. For example, making sure your equipment is up to date is as simple as reviewing your options with an external vendor and perhaps paying a bit more. The biggest line item in most call center budgets is salaries. If you want to see a difference in your bottom-​line numbers, you must get the most out of your sales reps and that also means reducing turnover.

Hiring the Right Kind of Reps

What distinguishes one call center from another often comes down to the quality of its sales reps. Staffing a call center can feel like a never-​ending challenge because of the industry’s high turnover rates.

You may be doing a great job onboarding and training your new reps. These practices will help you maintain the current sales levels. If you want to reach the next milestone, you can start by matching the right kinds of candidates to your open positions.

Increasingly, sales managers are giving candidates sales skills assessment tests. Up to 59% of sales managers use these kinds of tests, according to the results of our Voice of the Sales Manager survey. The results of these tests can tell you which candidates may be best suited to a call center environment.

To find the best candidates for your call center, use a telecommunications sales hiring test that measures aspects such as motivation, workplace tendencies and on-​the-​job behavior. Only about 40% of sales managers use behavioral assessments. Even fewer, 22%, use motivation assessments.

When we asked sales managers to list personal characteristics that reps need to succeed, resilience ranked near the bottom, 32%. Similarly, about 33% of sales reps listed resilience as a key characteristic needed for successful selling. However, in some sales situations, there’s no substitute for resilience. 

For example, the average call center conversation across all industries lasts between four and six minutes. With so many calls handled in a single day, and an expected high rejection rate, call center agents can start to feel burned out. Agents with resilience will be more likely to bring their A game to the phones every day.

Matching Candidates to the Right Position

Beyond resilience, you must understand, with the help of a sales skills assessment profile, how a person matches the position you’re hiring for. Some reps may be well suited to make outbound calls all day and handle the frequent rejections. They may enjoy the challenge of getting someone to say yes to their pitch. Like true hunters, they will continue until they succeed. 

Other reps, those with more of a farmer profile, excel when they have a chance to work with an existing client to ensure their success. These natural account managers will increase sales to those clients over time. You can improve your call center efficiency by having the rep with natural account management skills spend 50% of their time taking calls from current clients.

Gamification and Call Center Sales Efficiency

Some analysts suggest that gamification is important to increasing sales efficiency in a call center. That may be true, especially if your reps sell a commodity. But before you implement a change that incorporates gamification into your culture, learn what motivates your reps. Review the profiles from the initial sales assessment your reps took when they were hired. 

Competition has long been a focus of the sales industry. Yet only 38% of sales reps say that a person must be competitive to succeed in sales. Sales managers feel slightly differently, with about 53% believing that a competitive nature is required to succeed in the profession.

Your gamification efforts may drive better sales efficiency if they appeal to the fun factor instead of the competitive aspect of reps’ personalities. Some reps may be more motivated to succeed if they know they’ll be publicly recognized for their achievement or if they’ll be given a chance to develop other skills in operational or managerial areas.

Increasing Sales Efficiency in a Call Center

To increase call center sales efficiency, managers should hire the kinds of sales reps who do well in that work environment. Results from sales skills assessment provide critical information to managers who need to know how to hire the right people and motivate them to do their best.