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Monday, July 17, 2006

With the spread of broadband, low-cost telephony and VoIP, there have been a growing number of experienced telemarketing & sales people striking out on their own as free agents.

Many are disillusioned with the large call-centres, or perhaps their job was outsourced overseas. Some have decided to take a career break, perhaps to raise a family, and want a new, home-based, flexible working arrangement. Whatever the circumstances, there is a growing pool of talented home-workers that you can leverage to expand your business.

Some key advantages of using freelance telesales & telemarketing people are:

Freelancers come pre-loaded with experience - on average most freelance sales & marketing people have at least 5 years experience. Using a freelancer gives you access to highly skilled knowledge workers on an "as needed" basis, which means they can hit the ground running and start delivering results for you.

In contrast, call-centres have large overheads. If you're paying 250 GBP a day per agent, they need to pay their agent less than 80 GBP per day to cover overheads, management, down-time, etc. This means they usually employ young and inexperienced people compared to a freelancer.

Freelancers are flexible - you don't have to use them full-time for large projects. In fact, they probably don't want to work full-time, that's why they're freelancing. Maybe you just want them to work a few days a month? If you're a small consultancy operating in a niche market, maybe you just want someone to target a short list of 50 companies.

A call-centre could never handle this type of work; they want volume. Call-centres, of 20+ seats, have overheads that dictate they need volume. All those people need to be fed regular work. If you're a corporate and need a campaign to hit 10,000 companies in 2 weeks, then you need a call-centre. Even a distributed freelance network like ours could not scale to handle that type of project.

Freelancers can operate as if they're part of your company
- freelancers can send emails from your company domain, work with your marketing collateral, and operate as if they're part of your team. With collaborate online tools, such as Salesforce.com, or Microsoft's new Office Live, it's easy to share customer contact details, diaries, etc. Many freelancers operate like Virtual "Sales" PA's, setting up appointments for you and chasing quotes on your behalf. Because you engage a freelancer direct, you can build a relationship with them over time. They learn more about your business and develop as part of your team.

By comparison, whilst call centres can place outbound calls as if they're from your company, typically that's all they're set up for. They don't send information by email and call back, their model is all about crunching through high volume. Plus, they have terrible churn rates (employee turnover), which means building any long-term relationship with an individual is almost impossible.

Freelancers are doing this work because they want to - if you've ever been called by some 18 year old in a call-centre reading a canned script for the 100th time that day, you'll understand this point immediately. Freelancers do this work because they're good at it and they enjoy it. This point alone makes all the difference.

In summary, for directors of small businesses or companies operating in niche markets, hiring freelance telesales professionals can be an ideal fit. For most small businesses, as little as 30 hours a month can deliver real results. Their costs are comparable with most telemarketing agencies and call-centres, they're experienced, and can work on an appropriate scale for your needs.

If you need to feed a hungry team of 20 sales people with "leads" then, I'm afraid, you'll still have to work with the big boys.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 8:24 am |   | Links to this post  

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Being the Go-to-Guy

Avoiding the Human SPAM Filter

So You Built It & They Didn't Come. Now What?

Drive-Thru or Counter?

It's business...dude ;-)

Outsourcing Telesales To Support The Sales Cycle

One-On-One Marketing

Email vs Cold Calling

Elicitation...Go To The Source

The internet is just the start of it...

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