Bill Rice is hosting the Leads2007 conference in Florida in mid-August (I'm 90% certain I'll get there). I am looking forward to speaking with other companies that are using an upfront telemarketing team (or the lead vendor Double Positive) to transfer hot leads to their sales team. Despite all its advantages, a hot transfer environment does make lead allocation a much more challenging task. After implementing such a system, I have laid out 5 Keys to success below:
- Beware the Inverted Pyramid. In a traditional push system, where reps are assigned leads, many companies assign the most leads to their highest performing reps and the least to their lowest performing reps.It is easy, in a hot transfer environment, for this to become inverted. Your worst reps likely have the lowest average handle time and, if proper controls are not in place, will take the most transfers. I challenge each of you using hot transfers to stack rank your sales force by conversion rate - I'd bet your top performers take the fewest transfers and your low performers are burning through leads.
- Avoid "Cherry Picking" by Setting Clear KPIs for Management and Sales Reps. The sales team is likely used to getting judged on absolute number of sales - in education, the metric is enrollments. I cannot stress how important it is to change this to reflect conversion rate - otherwise, the incentive is in place for a sales rep to take as many transfers as possible and "cherry pick" the easy sells
- Mandate that low performers take only a prescribed number of transfers per day. If you have the technology for intelligent routing, build this into your business rules; if not, at least put manual rules/processes in place
- Aggressive performance management. By design, each lead is more valuable in a hot transfer environment (you probably pay 3-4 times more per transfer than you do per lead). As such, your low performers in this environment are far more harmful to your bottom line than bad performers in a traditional push environment. So make a quick call on letting people go - if it is clear someone, once fully trained, will at best be a mediocre performer, let them go quickly
- The corollary to aggressive performance management is aggressive and constant hiring. Aggressively recruit top talent constantly, from staffing agencies, competitors, local universities and elsewhere in the local business community. And make sure you have a rigorous hiring process - this is not just using a behavioral profile to screen upfront, but also encompasses the interview process as well. As an example, when I hire admissions advisors, they have three interviews: (i) standard behavioral; (ii) a roleplay over the phone using a sample call flow and (iii) they get 20 minutes to prepare a ten minute presentation on a topic of my choosing. If they pass these three tests, I'll put them out on the floor for a half hour next to one of my best reps so they can see what the job is like (also, it''s amazing what candidates might say to someone they view as a peer).
I'm curious to hear from others their experiences in implementing hot transfers - lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid.