We started as part of the business development team at a HR SaaS company in London, selling solutions into large British, American and Australian brands. We generated new business meetings via email and telephone mainly.
The management tasked us with making 50 phone calls per day, which is quite a small amount of calls to do and would often lead only to 2 or 3 conversations.
We found that many of our business development team would procrastinate the making of the phone calls until after lunchtime, and then would push it back till 3pm, and then 4pm. When they were finally ready to make the calls, they would do about 20-30 calls and complain that 'well nobody is answering today so I'll go back to LinkedIn'.
This is not a new story, we've seen this attitude replicated across every sales team we've ever worked in, and many that we've heard about. We began to wonder, why does the procrastination exist? Is it that they find speaking to senior people uncomfortable?.
Is it that they do not believe their products/services were saleable? Perhaps it's both of those things. But there was a third observation - making cold calls is fatiguing. A salesperson needs to log into the CRM system, make a decision on who to call, (often based on nothing more than who has a phone number assigned to them), think about what they are going to say to that person if they ask, pick up their phone, dial the number and wait for it to ring. Then, usually, nobody will answer and the call will go to Voicemail. They then have to go through the dance of leaving a voicemail they know for sure nobody will reply to, put the phone down and start again. If the call is answered, it's often answered by a switchboard or a gatekeeper, who have a sixth sense for salespeople & the chances of them being put through were probably in single digits. And again, 90%+ of the time they are hanging up the phone with zero discernible constructive output, and it was back to the CRM system, finding the next person to call.
We wondered, what about if we could eliminate the fatiguing elements of making the cold call? Instead of going into the CRM system to find somebody who has a number, what about if we just called everybody in a particular CRM sequence/campaign each time we did a call session? and when they answered, they would be marked as replied and removed from the sequence. What about if we downloaded the entire list and put the list into an AutoDialer? What about if that AutoDialer rang through the list automatically, at set time intervals (say 20 seconds), until the salesperson hears a prospect answer and stops the countdown timer? And what about if the notes from the call could be entered into the AutoDialer to be dealt with later? What about if we gave the AutoDialer keyboard (and mouse) shortcuts, so that the salesperson could continue doing whatever they were doing whilst they were dialling and then when somebody answers, they would pause the AutoDialer and have the conversation? And how do we make this AutoDialer different from other tools on the market that just outsource the making of the dials to somebody else (see agent-assisted dialling)?
With these ideas, we sat down and created the first versions of what is now called OutDial - our seriously simple desktop AutoDialer.
We went from making 50 calls a day to being able to make 300+. We went from having 2 or 3 conversations to having 12 or 13, and from booking 1 or 2 meetings a week to booking 7 or 8. The potential of our business to grow, and therefore the business of our clients, tripled overnight.
We decided then yo find a developer who could build OutDial into what it is today and we could introduce other sales teams to it. They would still need a solid general pitch, that could be confidently delivered to a C-Level executive, and a salesperson who relishes the challenge of having conversations with busy people, they could now count on their salespeople not being able to blame fatigue as a reason they were not making the calls.