Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Keeping Outbound Sales Efforts Together During the Holidays

January 02, 2014

While the holidays are certainly a challenge for inbound customer service – no one who has ever worked in or near a contact center from Thanksgiving until early January could doubt this – it’s easy to forget that the holidays present huge challenges for outbound contact centers, as well.

Why? Nobody ever picks up the phone.

Inside sales departments, direct marketing people, outbound call centers and even dialer-based automated outbound efforts are often derailed by the fact that hardly anyone is at their desk to pick up the calls. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for sales quotas to slip significantly at the end of the year. And if by some chance you DO (by some miracle) get in touch with live human beings, chances are pretty good that your sales pitch isn’t exactly what they want to hear as they’re counting down the minutes to go make merry.

There are some things companies can do to use the time better during the holidays.

Skip the scripts. At this time of year, few people want to hear a robotic, scripted message from the other end of the phone. When you do get in touch with customers (or their voice mails), warm up the message a bit and wish then happy holidays and happy New Year, and express that you’re looking forward to meeting their needs in the new year ahead. You may even find that the customers you do contact are in a better mood and more likely to buy.

Go find them where they are. While your customers may not be on the phone, chances are good that they are on social media. If you’ve been meaning to branch out your outbound sales efforts into social media, now is the time to do it. But once again, use a light touch instead of a hard-sell approach.

Use the downtime to your advantage. If you’ve been meaning to schedule sales training for the outbound call center team or inside sales group, now is the time to do it. If outbound reps are twiddling their thumbs and dreaming of eggnog, you’re paying them for nothing. Instead, make use of the time to sharpen their skills, train them on new applications or run them through simulations.

Keep the team motivated. It’s easy for outbound sales personnel to lose their motivation during the holidays. But remember that it’s not only the holidays, it’s year-end, which means it’s critical to ensure that sales teams take advantage of all opportunities. If a customer reaches out to you during this time and you’re not there to respond quickly, you could wind up losing a sale and losing a customer. Consider tying meeting performance goals with the holiday party, or handing out prizes during the event itself.

Whatever method you choose, it’s critical that you don’t simply write the last two weeks of the year off as a lost cause. After all, new budgets are about to come into play on the first of the year, and customers will have more to spend. Staying engaged with customers and prospects during the holidays may be more difficult than during the rest of the year, but done right, the rewards could be greater than usual. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker