Driving Peak Sales Performance

1 Nov, 2005

By: Dan Coen

Review by Dan Coen

Driving Peak Sales Performance in Call Centers

By Mary Murcott

Call Center Press, 2005

Do you believe the contact center is a scalable engine that provides great opportunities to increase sales? In Driving Peak Sales Performance in Call Centers, Mary Murcott, founder of Performance Transformations Inc., has written an engrossing 315-page book on this very topic. Her key premise: Your call center is a sales enhancer. There are “hidden opportunities” for additional revenue, if your organization embarks on a strategy of tools and practices for driving large-scale performance improvements.

It is refreshing to have read such a detailed book about the sales and revenue opportunities that contact centers offer companies. I have felt for a long time that the contact center has moved beyond your parent’s center. It is not a cost center designed to simply react to customer complaints. The contact center is a remarkable communication channel of energy and proactive opportunity for companies of all sizes. It is a place where missed opportunities become wins.

By using your people and technology to deliver sales and marketing programs to customers, the contact center can become the pre-eminent lightening rod for your company. I stress to my clients that most contact centers are, by and large, an underutilized function of an organization’s strategic sales and marketing program. Driving Peak Sales Performance in Call Centers provides a roadmap for engineering your contact center the right way by capitalizing on the missed opportunities.

Murcott makes this book easy to read by blending a simple, storytelling writing style with real world charts, graphs and action-plans. In effect, she has mastered the art of teaching while entertaining, which is no small feat. It is refreshing to see a book that talks to the reader, and Murcott has done well. For instance, her blending of teaching and entertaining can be read early on, when she describes the importance of “the Hum” and “the Buzz.”

“The Hum” is the actual sound heard when you enter a contact center. Any contact center manager has knowledge about “sound.” I equate a manager’s knowledge of sound to a chef’s knowledge of the cook’s kitchen. Murcott explains it best: “It is not the sound of managers screaming across a center…. It is not phone reps wandering the floor looking for management… It is not seeing paper airplanes flying across the call center…, rather it is the low-key sound—a real hum—which occurs when service levels are being hit and employees are being very productive but not overworked.”

“The Buzz” is a similar sound only higher, louder and more impacted. It occurs primarily in peak performance sales centers. Murcott makes the case that “the Buzz” is an explosion—that sound of sales makers on the telephone, creating great opportunities for customers and future customers alike. In essence, I see “the Buzz” as a successful “Win-Win” of energy. Great things happening, from contests and awards to meeting and exceed goals. Every contact center manager of a sales center knows that good things happen when “the Buzz” is functioning well.

Driving Peak Sales Performance in Call Centers has an added benefit that makes it a must-read. It is not your typical contact center book because it focuses entirely on a critical area of contact center operations: increasing sales performance and unlocking new sales and revenues programs. Have you noticed how most books focus on service level metrics, benchmarking or management performance? This book touches on those topics, but stresses improving return on investment and revenue through contact center sales and marketing.

Today, so many contact centers consider themselves an inbound shop, or a customer care division. Others view themselves as an outbound sales organization. Those centers miss the key ingredient, which is that the contact center can and should be everything. Each incoming call is a customer “touch,” and that touch should be capitalized on by the contact center. Integrate your touches: direct mail, e-mail, web site, telephone and so much more.

Murcott writes that, “Once you begin to hear ‘the Buzz’ in your call center, you’ll find that the profit from increased sales potential is so compelling, all cost-cutting initiatives pale in comparison.” I second that statement. Too many companies are leaving money on the table. Murcott’s book helps solve the challenge.

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