Outsource Prospecting and Sales Calls

How Much Does It Cost to Outsource Prospecting and Sales Calls?

Many companies are considering outsourcing their B2B Lead Generation services. This is a logical consideration and one that will allow you to leverage additional resources to help regain sales traction lost during these past months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most frequently asked question I hear from CEOs and Sales Professionals considering this option is: How much will it cost to outsource my prospecting and sales calls?

Although many variables go into the answer, I will do my best to explain these factors and compare & contrast the different options for you to consider.

In addition to the question of cost, there are two more important questions you should be asking. I will address them both at the end of this article. One caveat – Before we begin comparing options you must realize, regardless of the price charged, not all B2B lead generation companies or options are created equal.

What Factors Affect The Cost Of Prospecting Cold Calls And Appointment Setting?

  • The volume of calls required
  • The timeframe these calls need to be made within
  • The number of call attempts requested
  • The amount of follow-up required
  • The quality of the prospect or contact list
  • The average call duration of your prospecting calls
  • The average contact-rate
  • The average appointment setting rate
  • The type of call:
    • Introductory – Cold-calls with no existing relationship
    • Nurture – To nurture an already existing relationship
    • Follow-up – In a follow-up to previous interaction(s); to provide branded sales & marketing collateral; etc.
    • Update information – To update contact information in an out-of-date contact database
    • Up-sell/Cross-sell – To introduce additional or supplemental products or services
    • Customer/Client Satisfaction survey – An unbiased survey or your products or services
  • The complexity of your product or service.

As you can see, there are many different variables to consider!

To be successful, you need to start by examining your business’s sales goals & objectives. Then you need to identify and prioritize each variable’s importance with respect to the success of the overall project. To paraphrase Stephen Covey, you must begin with the end in mind. When someone has a conversation with us at Leads at Scale about outsourcing sales, prospecting & cold calls, and appointment setting, for example, we spend a great deal of time thoroughly exploring all of their goals and objectives to develop a recommendation tailored to their specific needs.

Comparing Your Options For Lead Generation, Sales Prospecting, And Qualified Appointment Setting

Campaign-based lead generation tends to be much more encompassing and provides a true 1:1 interaction between a Business Development Specialist and your prospect. As a result, due to multiple moving parts, strategies, shifting tactics, and fine-tuning the follow-up, live person campaigns tend to be more expensive than automated campaigns (i.e. bots; email blasts; social media posts or ads; etc.) They are inherently much more personal, targeted, and interactive. And they are far more effective than blind, automated campaigns! Let’s explore a few of the options you have available for consideration:

Offshoring

Offshoring your lead generation, sales prospecting and appointment setting cold calls is typically the cheapest option available. Be very cautious, however! Remember, you get what you pay for! Offshore companies not only do not do a good job pre-qualifying your sales leads but they also undoubtedly alienate and turn off your prospects by conveying a poor image of your company brand!

Typical price range:  $800 – $2,000 per FTE per month (depending upon the region the Business Development Specialists are in)

Pros:

  • Cheap, compared to other options, on a cost per call basis

Cons:

  • Voice & accent issues
  • Cannot match the cultural knowledge and soft skills found with US-based calls
  • Can alienate prospects because the calls are outsourced overseas
  • Very low lead quality
  • Rarely involves lead nurturing and follow-up functions
  • Typically, not much background or context behind the calls – heavily reliant on scripts
  • Poor representation of your company brand and messaging

Telemarketers

For obvious reasons, using a telemarketing company will often be the cheapest onshore option. Telemarketing is not viewed in the professional sales arena as a permanent solution, however. It is often a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Although its initial costs are normally less than outsourcing to a professional Business Development company, its long-term cost is often much greater. When your sales team cannot make enough prospecting cold calls, the immediate thought is to increase the number of calls. This ignores the importance of the quality of the calls; the value of nurturing your prospects; and the value of qualifying your prospects. This drives up incremental costs and greatly increases your opportunity costs!

While there may be a time and place for using telemarketing, B2B sales are not one of them. Telemarketing is typically a boiler-room type of environment; is very heavily scripted; is transactional; and it is driven by quantity versus quality.

Typical price range:  $1,500+ per month, depending on how many calls are required each month, the length/term of your contract, and the complexity of your product or service.

Pros:

  • (Typically) Less expensive compared to other options on a cost per call basis
  • Potential to generate a high volume of calls

Cons:

  • Very ‘transactional’ in nature vs. conversational in tone
  • Focused on churning through high-volumes of calls – quantity vs. quality
  • Rarely involves lead nurturing and/or follow-up functions
  • No dedicated resource – Since this is script-based, whoever is on the clock can be utilized on the campaign
  • Can alienate prospects because the calls are, and sound, heavily scripted
  • Not much background or context behind the calls – again, heavily reliant on scripts
  • Low lead quality – historically a high percentage of appointments fall through as not being valid or qualified

In-house Inside Sales Team/Business Development Team

Many think the easiest option is to handle their Inside Sales or Business Development in-house. In certain cases, this may be true. There are two key considerations to think through with this option. First, the obvious – If this was truly a viable option, why explore outsourcing? And, Second, the ROI achieved by internal teams is typically much less than outsourcing due to a lack of consistency; standard processes/procedures; and lack of software & tools which improve efficiency. In addition, these functions are typically performed on a part-time basis in addition to multiple other job functions required of the inside and outside sales team, thereby limiting the volume of prospecting sales calls you can achieve on a weekly or monthly basis.

Typical price range:  The average Inside Sales Representative salary in the United States is $47,757 as of October 2020, but the range typically falls between $41,108 and $55,464. (before bonuses and benefits)

Pros:

  • Internal employees – deeper product knowledge
  • On-site – face-to-face
  • (Potentially) Higher lead quality than offshore or telemarketing options

Cons:

  • Hands-on management time and effort required
  • Time off requirements – vacation time, sick time, PTO, etc.
  • Other responsibilities when the internal person is not dedicated to making prospecting sales cold calls as their primary job function
  • Typically, the most expensive of the available options
  • Less efficient – Studies show Inside Sales Teams typically make 5-7 calls per hour
  • Less effective – Studies show Inside Sales Teams typically cease following up after 4 unsuccessful attempts to reach a prospect. Studies further show prospects typically take 9.2 touches before seriously engaging with a new vendor/supplier.

Outsourced Business Development Team

Lastly, an outsourced Business Development Team can easily become an extension of your sales team! Everyone internally and externally should be on the same page and moving in the same direction! This option typically checks the greatest number of boxes in your consideration. And, because of the ‘shared services’ nature of this model, this option typically provides the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ with the shortest ramp-up and delivery time.

Typical price range:  $2,000 to $7,500 per month (depending on the type of project; time frame; the volume of calls to be made monthly; etc.)

Pros:

  • Typically, well trained and positioned for success
  • Greater efficiencies than inside sales teams – 15-20 calls per hour on average
  • High lead quality
  • Better qualified prospects, which lead to a higher close ratio for your sales team
  • Lower cost per FTE due to the ‘shared services’ or ‘Uber/Netflix model’
  • Additional annual revenue generated from greater efficiencies, better-qualified prospects, and lower cost per FTE, which leads to,
  • Greater ROI
  • Scalable – due to the shared services nature of this model you can ramp up quickly and easily
  • The ability to flex volumes up/down to meet short turnaround timeframes or deadlines (i.e., upcoming trade shows or events; a survey project; etc.)
  • The ability to leverage dedicated FTEs to meet shifting project priorities (i.e., easily shift from lead generation campaign; to lead nurturing campaign; to database clean-up campaign; to up-sell/cross-sell campaign; to a customer/client satisfaction survey; etc.)

Cons:

  • Off-site – Easy for on-site mgmt. team to fall into the ‘out of sight/out of mind’ trap

Two More Very Important Questions To Ask

Unfortunately, many companies only focus on the initial price when considering outsourcing their appointment setting and sales prospecting calls and equate that with total costs. This, therefore, creates poor quality, lost time, lost opportunities, and low lead quality. This inevitably leads to frustration, lost sales opportunities, and slower growth.

There are two additional critical questions to ask:

  1. What are the opportunity costs of not being able to make 100’s or 1,000’s of prospecting sales cold calls or generating a steady stream of warm sales appointments each month for your sales team? As we move out of 2020 and attempt to regain the traction lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical we position ourselves for growth in 2021! What are you going to do differently next year to achieve different results and grow your business?
  2. What is your return on investment (ROI)? For every dollar invested in sales and prospecting cold calls (internally or externally), how much will I get in return from well-qualified leads and warm sales appointments set for my sales team? Studies and experience show the ROI achieved from internal teams is typically much less due to a lack of consistency; standard processes/procedures; and lack of software & tools which improve efficiency. In addition, these functions are typically performed on a part-time basis in addition to multiple other job functions required of your inside and outside sales teams, thereby limiting the volume of prospecting sales calls you can attain on a weekly or monthly basis.

Would you like to compare your current situation with the ROI you could achieve by outsourcing your sales prospecting cold calls and appointment setting?

To help better understand how your own inside sales team compares with outsourcing your prospecting cold calls and sales appointment setting, we have developed an online ROI Calculator. This tool will help you assess what your internal sales team is currently doing and will provide you with an estimated ROI achieved by outsourcing your sales prospecting cold calls and appointment setting!

John Dubay

John Dubay is the Managing Partner at Leads at Scale, an outsourced sales support company that helps B2B companies generate well-qualified leads at scale, ready to be closed.

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