The phone is ringing off the hook, a signal that your marketing campaign is successful. Leads are pouring in on your website from your last ebook offer. This is your dream. But there’s a problem. Phone calls are going unanswered and it’s taking too long to follow up on web leads.

You could find yourself in this situation. After all, you don’t have a crystal ball, and sometimes it’s difficult to forecast the response you’ll receive to a campaign. Also, your staff may be too busy closing deals and following up on existing opportunities. Meanwhile, new leads evaporate because response isn’t prompt.

As a result of business uncertainties, the ebb and flow of demand for managing responses, and the high expectations of Internet-age customers for rapid response, more and more companies are outsourcing response handling. Also, when these organizations provide quick response, they project an image of an efficient business that cares about their customers.

Are you ready to outsource response handling? If so, ask prospective vendors these questions to ensure success:

1. How Do You Qualify and Prioritize Leads?

Not all inquiries are qualified leads. So, you don’t want to hire a response management company that’s simply going to answer the phone. You want one that qualifies leads and uses your criteria to find and prioritize the golden nuggets. They must be able to probe effectively and answer questions thoroughly. After all, the sooner top-rated leads get into your pipeline, the more you can accelerate sales.

2. What Response Times Can You Guarantee?

The hotter the lead, the quicker you need to respond. If you don’t get back to someone in a reasonable window of time, they’ll be contacting your competitor. So, what’s reasonable? Here are some benchmarks:

  • If someone downloads a white paper, ebook or other content and provides their contact information, get back to them within 24 hours
  • If a lead requests a sales call, get back to them within an hour
  • And, if someone is using your ‘Chat’ feature or calling you, he or she expects help NOW

3. How Will You Manage Calls from Our Inbound Numbers?

Depending on your business’ needs, you want to know whether a teleservices company will be answering your inbound numbers during regular business hours or 24/7. The easier they are for prospects or customers to reach, the more likely they can offer fast, easy access to sales literature and answer questions.

4. Do You Handle Online Chat Sessions?

For increased response, you want to give your audience multiple ways to contact you. Some people prefer online chat to a telephone conversation. So, make sure your response handling company can take care of chat as well as phone calls.

5. What Do You Do to Build Ongoing Relationships?

Maybe you want to take the relationship further than the first inquiry response. If so, you want your teleservices vendor to be able to set up email and tele-nurturing programs that help your prospects get to know, like and trust your company.

6. How Do You Distribute the Qualified Leads?

If your response handling company just qualifies leads but does not connect them to the next link in your sales chain, you’ve gained little. Ask the vendor how they distribute leads to different channels such as Inside Sales and Partners. How will they ensure leads go to the right people? How do they communicate to make sure everyone involved—marketing managers, territory managers, partners and inside sales associates—are aware of the opportunity and are aligned as a team?

7. What Else Can Your Response Handling Company Do to Make You More

As you build your relationship with your teleservices company, you may want them to take care of some other tasks that just never get done in-house. Perhaps they can:

  • Cold call to prospective companies you have been itching to get into
  • Clean up data
  • Perform research studies
  • Invite people to events and follow-up afterwards

You’re better off starting up with a vendor that has a multitude of capabilities just in case you need them.

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