In the last four years, InfoCision has developed a customized model for its Business Services Division, the horizontal business-to-business unit that serves all of InfoCision’s vertical industry groups. The Business Account Manager model, or BAM, was developed in response to a growing realization within InfoCision’s Business Services division that the model it was using to serve its business-to-business accounts was essentially the same one used to serve its business-to-consumer accounts and some fine-tuning was necessary.
A client-centered, customized B2B approach
It was becoming increasingly evident that a more sophisticated, custom-tailored approach was needed to help InfoCision’s B2B unit grow more quickly.
Early on, we started to see that doing B2B with a B2C model wasn’t the most effective way to do business in the B2B world. We also started to realize that you can’t just use your typical call center solution – B2C agents and predictive-dialer technologies – in a B2B capacity. So we developed the BAM model to address that problem.
What sets InfoCision’s BAM model apart from the rest of operations is the fact that it employs high-caliber sales agents with extensive sales pipeline management experience. BAM agents are tasked with cultivating relationships within the targets in their book of business, while in a B2C model and a typical call-center approach; it’s more of a one-touch approach, in the form of a call, a close, a sale or a donation.
Another key aspect that sets InfoCision’s model apart is the amount of time invested by the BAM agents in cultivating the business of each client.
Building a relationship in the B2B space takes time. You need to call and talk to the gatekeeper first; you need to warm up that gatekeeper and ultimately get that person to give you some information about the decision-maker. Then you call back maybe the next day and talk to the decision-maker, and he or she may tell you to call back next week. It’s always the same BAM agent making these calls. It’s the BAM’s record; they own it.
Agents are given the tools and they have the ability to cultivate those relationships and ultimately get what they need from the contact. InfoCision acknowledges that this is a slower process, but the key is the development of the relationship with the client’s customer.
Highly trained personnel make the difference
InfoCision bases its value proposition with clients on return on investment, and the company believes that its BAM agents drive that return. Thus, the company regards its highly trained, commission-driven sales experts as its most important asset. More than 60 percent of them have four-year college degrees, and they are hand selected to ensure they have the appropriate skills and experience to succeed. The company looks for individuals with an extensive background in sales because it is a difficult skill to teach, and it’s more efficient to find someone who is already equipped with that ability.
That’s not to say that InfoCision doesn’t provide any training. Its in-house training excels at teaching BAM agents the workings of the specific industries and market sectors in which they will specialize. It’s their background in sales that matters, not the specific industry. Client-specific and product-specific information can be imparted; sales skills sometimes can be another story. If the company hires an agent who’s been successfully selling in the telecom industry for 10 years and it has an opportunity in the pharma industry, it has found success in crossing people over into different industry types and training them.
Another aspect that distinguishes the model from the typical business-to-consumer call-center approach is that InfoCision encourages its BAM agents to use their own personalized sales styles to cultivate relationships with clients.
Whereas in a B2C call center you have a highly scripted approach, this isn’t that. Some of the BAM agents have a more aggressive sales approach, while others are oriented more toward customer service. Ultimately, we want our agents to feel comfortable with their own sales styles and tactics, and they are encouraged to use their own personality characteristics to achieve the desired outcome.
To complement their own sales styles, employees are given the tools they need to succeed – through ongoing training and mentoring. Their deep level of product and client knowledge enhances the value of each call because they are a true extension of the client’s brand. They are going to be able to understand what questions to ask and what benefits and needs their product or service have to create that need for the customer. They excel because they are able to connect with the customer from the first phone call.
As long as InfoCision’s BAM agents are achieving results, the company gives them wide latitude to go off-script and approach prospective clients in whatever manner they are most comfortable.
If agents are doing really well, they have the freedom to do pretty much their own thing, as long as they’re doing it within the boundaries of the program.
But what about agents who are not doing as well?
Providing the tools to succeed
In situations when agents struggle to hit the desired results, they are given the tools that will help them to be successful. Perhaps that might include role-playing or using a more scripted approach. So, for example, by using a script that has been proven successful, they can see what works and how to overcome objections, or how to move through a presentation more effectively. It’s key that they are provided with the tools that have been proven successful.
If agents are willing to follow the script and work toward the goals, they usually begin to develop the traits that the company is looking for. However, sometimes B2B sales isn’t a good fit, and that’s OK.
InfoCision is an organization that is dedicated to a successful team environment and believes a happy employee is a better employee, even if that means moving a team member to a different client or division where they can reach their potential. It’s important that everyone is happy and feels comfortable in their roles. If you’re not a good B2B agent, that’s OK. We can put you in a B2C program, or in a customer service capacity and you can be successful there.
Ultimately, InfoCision attributes the success of the BAM model to its versatility and to the freedom it provides the company’s agents to inject their personal styles into the process.
This is not a one-call kind of approach; it’s not a call-center solution. It’s a multitouch, multichannel solution that enables agents to use their personalities to be successful. That’s what drives the success of the program.
Josh Gordon is director of client services at InfoCision Management Corp. InfoCision is a leading provider of contact center solutions for many verticals including direct response, consumer services, B2B, financial services, pharmaceutical and telecommunications, as well as providing inbound and outbound marketing for nonprofit, religious and political organizations. You can reach Josh at [email protected] or visit www.infocision.com
Edited by Stefania Viscusi