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How can a call center offshore outsourcing firm attract new clients?

It's difficult for call center outsourcing firms to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Donna Fluss gives tips for call center outsourcers looking to attract new business in this expert tip.

We are a call center outsourcing firm based in India. We are planning to expand our business and are looking for...

new clients who can outsource their projects (inbound or outbound) to us. What is the best way to solicit new clients and projects?

Because the call center outsourcing market is highly commoditized, finding new customers is a classic marketing problem. In a crowded and mature market, it is always difficult for a company to differentiate itself. There are over 80 North America-based outsourcers that I am aware of, and even more internationally-based competitors. I am assuming that you want to keep your call center operations in India and that you want to attract North American customers.

The simple answer to your question is that you need to get leads and then convert these leads into customers. Of course, the next question is how to go about doing this. The first step is to set up a sales force that really knows the market and business. It's even better to set up a sales force that has experience with the same services you plan to offer to your customers. You can set up a direct sales force or find partners to sell for you. There are pros and cons to both approaches. The biggest mistake that I continue to see companies with international ambitions make – whether they are non-U.S. companies entering the U.S. market, or U.S.-based companies trying to enter non-U.S. markets – is assuming that the best practices for building a business in one geography will work just as well in another. They generally do not.

Once you have sales resources you need to decide if you want to sell on a direct or indirect basis. While there are many considerations affecting this decision, there are two primary factors to consider: cost and access.

To get leads, your sales force will need to be supported by marketing, whether they are competing on a direct or indirect basis. Your marketing organization will need to make a few strategic decisions before they can put together effective programs, for example:

1. What is your value proposition? Clearly, the market does not need just another outsourcer. So what are you going to bring to the table that allows you to provide a differentiated service and attract business? Are you going to compete based on value or price?

a. If you are competing on value, what is your value proposition? Is there something that you do today that makes your company special? Do you have a strategic differentiator?
b. If you are competing on price, what are the appropriate rates? You will need to conduct a pricing analysis to determine if you can successfully compete on price and remain profitable.

2. What is your niche? What verticals and/or specialties are you going to pursue?

It's very difficult to penetrate a market when you are totally unknown. If you have any existing customers in North America that are willing to act as reference accounts that will help.

It's important to get your name in the call center outsourcing market as soon as possible. You can achieve this by attending a trade show and participating in their awards program with the goal of being voted "best in class," which will enable you to publicize this information to the market. Alternatively, you can try to get invited to participate in panel discussions at trade shows. A third idea is to publish articles and white papers. All three of these initiatives will help you establish a presence in a region.

Once you find your niche and value proposition, you will need to do what every business does to attract customers – constantly prove your value. Good luck.

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