This is the third installment of the conversation I had with Fred.
In Part 3, Fred and I cover:
- Contact Center turnover rates
- Meeting your customers where they are at to buy
- Consultative selling in the right way
- Bots don’t change us
- Sales people who actually listen and provide solutions
Fred Stacey is the General Manager and Co-Founder of Cloud Call Center Search which is a division of Outsource Consultants. Fred has been in the contact center industry for over 25 years, starting out manning the phones as an agent before moving to the operations side where he worked to recover failing call centers and start new ones. During that time he worked in leadership roles, involved in technology acquisitions and center build outs while overseeing the ongoing center operations and selecting future leadership.
Prior to joining Corey Kotlarz to start Cloud Call Center Search, Fred held executive level roles in contact center and debt collections software companies. He has managed every aspect of a software company, from running Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific operations to co-founding startups where he served as COO. Fred specializes in contact center and debt collections software, selection, business operations and strategy.
As General Manager of Cloud Call Center Search he assists companies in identifying the right technologies for their contact center needs, and is constantly evaluating products from artificial intelligence to workforce optimization – and everything in between.
E140 – Transcripts
Jason: Welcome back to the sales experience podcast. Welcome to the final part of the three part series of conversations I had with Fred Stacy. Now make sure if you haven’t already listened to part one and part two in the last two days so that you can hear the buildup to where we are on this conversation. And as I mentioned in yesterday’s episode in the beginning, listen for different ways that this technology conversation could apply to you no matter where you are in the business. Now obviously if you’re an owner and you have a contact center inside sales call center team or a marketing department that’s looking at different ways to outreach and find customers and optimize that whole experience, make sure to listen closely to the type of things that Fred is suggesting. There’s so much value in so many things that you can do now for your team, for your business, as well as emerging technology, AI and things that are coming soon. So here is part three of my conversation with Fred. Enjoy
Fred: Renewals, basic stuff like that. You’re going to do it online or through an app or however, you know, you’re, that particular company allows you to have your digital journey, but if you’ve got a problem on your phone, on your bill, if you’ve got, you know, a serious problem that you know, you know, is needs to be resolved right now or is complex, the automatic assumption is that the only way they’re going to get it resolved quickly is to make a phone call. Right? Right now though, you have to expect that inside the center, you know, sales agents, the even customer service doing up sales cross-sales have to be better equipped with the tools to have visibility into, you know, what’s going on. They need to be able to handle those more complex problems, you know, and it just means that you need to, it traditionally contact centers have been high overturn or you know, I mean, you know, the way this goes, right?
Fred: You know, in sales, especially in contact center sales, their turnover is ridiculous. The costs that they pay relatively lower speaking, those things have to shift, right? We’re already seeing it in the industry that focus on the agent experience, employee experience, AIX X, whatever you want to call it, it’s definitely gone. You know, it has increased significantly, you know, with the additions of gamification, some performance management systems combining LMS learning management systems with performance management and actually tying those KPIs back to their learning exercises. You know, as it adult learning a people we in the contact center market, especially if they are traditionally not really good about forward thinking and adopting change, right? We’re not, you know, you can go out and I mean look at the technology landscape as a whole and 70% of the, the contact center market is premise-based. You know, they haven’t even moved to cloud, let alone, you know, move to any type of automation or these are all things that is driving this significant shift in the way we focus.
Fred: But I think it comes down to we’re looking for a way to create an effortless experience for the customer. And the only way we can do, whether it’s in sales, you know, customer service or collections, the only way you can make it effortless is through technology. You know, and whether that technology is enabling your agent to be better at answering the phones or providing your customer with the information that they need at their fingertips when they need it. I mean bottom line is the only way to make it effortless is through technology. So we’ve got a lot of catching up to do, you know, as an industry, as a whole sales. Yeah. It doesn’t matter any segment inside the market, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to get done.
Jason: I think that’s important is to leverage the technology. Cause as you’re talking I’m thinking about sales kind of environments or sales processes that I’ve seen or built or been a part of where there’s a lot of the conversation. Let’s say it’s a, it’s a complete sale that’s done over the phone or you know, some kind of interaction with uh, you know, telesales type department and there’s a bunch of information needs to be gathered that normally you would like, you know, address and phone number and social and all these different points of data that are needed for this sale to be completed back in the day. That’d be fine. They people expect it. And what I’ve seen is that when people call, they don’t want to have to give all that. Like they know how easy that is to put online. Now again, this is saying in coming from the point of view where it’s still a phone goal, it’s still telesales, they need the help, right?
Jason: It’s a consultative type of transaction and or sale, not a transactional one. And so there is still an interaction, but people’s kind of threshold or patience is not necessarily going through their information. It’s, you know, solving the problem. And then how do you make it easy with technology to get that data from them? Even if it’s them filling it out, it’s like, Hey, I’m going to send you a form. You fill it out now that we solved your problem, here’s the order form. Right? And so it’s a mix and a balance of, you know, people wanting to be able to fill out a form and an order, something on Amazon and have it delivered as quickly as possible to the help and handholding and the relationship and the conversation. So I think that’s part of it, which is, um, you know, when you balance that and not go too heavy one way or another to heavy old school, let’s make this a long, painful phone call and not too heavy on the let’s go all digital and technology and then, you know, there’s no relationship depending on what you’re selling.
Fred: Yeah. And that’s the balance. Right? You know, I think most of the AI implementations that I’ve seen that have been successful are the ones that are leveraged to drive either the agent experience, you know, to better help the customer faster or you know, the stuff on the front end that handles the, the very basics of, you know, questions and answers using natural language processing and bots. Right? And bots can be voice bots can be digital, they can be text bots, they can be chatbots. It doesn’t really matter. Bots are bots. They’re the front end that’s handling the initial part of the communications. But the companies that do really well at that are the ones that recognize that there is certain things that shouldn’t be automated and that their customers don’t want automated. They want to be able to talk about billing. And I bring that up again because billing questions are often something that somebody wants to get resolved and you know, they don’t believe that they can get it done through robot. Even if you can. And you, right. I mean the technology is there. You could figure out a way to resolve it through even logic base. But nonetheless, you know, I think that, um, you know, the technology doesn’t change what you said earlier. I mean it’s still humans and people still want that. Yeah. It just makes it easy. The technology should enhance our ability to make it effortless.
Jason: Yeah. And um, you know, kind of like the argument where some people say, you know, social media is changing people you know, and making different people, Oh, like all of these things, the technology are all tools that magnify who you are and what you would do anyway. Like if you’re a good person and you believe in relationships, you’re going to do that with social media. Social media is going to be a way to build relationships and network and do positive things. If you’re a negative person or you’d like to gossip or you just like drama, social media, all technology, any of that will just magnify who you are. Like they say about money too, right? Like money doesn’t change you, it just magnifies and you know, grows, whatever, whoever you are, it just makes you a, a bigger version of that. And so it’s the same thing with technology is like with your organization, with what you do, what you focus on, like at a telesales letter, uh, level contact center, you know, use technology to enhance what you’re doing and not replace it. And then for the sales people, this thing and, or the managers and owners, you know, really what you want to do is technology take care of the easy stuff that you know is the robots of the present and the future can handle and then focus on the relationships, the conversations, the conversion, and you know, building that client base if you’re going down the telesales route.
Fred: Yeah, exactly. Well, and you know, you look at the way that this successful social media sales people in the market, they’re leveraging it to create deeper, wider relationships, deliver more content about, you’re not asking for things. I mean, you know, the, the world is shifting, right? And you know, the technology are critical tools like you said, but I mean, just like a hammer, that tool can be used for some great things, but it can also be used for some horrible things. So these are right
Jason: And you know, a hammer is a great tool. Unless you have a screw, right? Then it’s the wrong tool, right? Not even talking like good versus evil. Sometimes you’ve got to have the right tool in the toolbox which goes along with, you know, whatever the company’s focus is, what you sell, the engagement with your customers expect, you know, and how you piece that together. You know, and obviously you being in the space that you are the master of having all of those items in the toolbox and then you know, consultatively figuring out, right, which is what I appreciate about you and all of our conversations with clients is, okay, so here’s the scenario. Like what piece needs to be brought in? What’s the specific application of the right tech instead of like the one size fits all. It’s like, okay, you know, how do you solve this? And it’s, you know, obviously it’s the same thing you would do as a salesperson for anyone else. That’s what you do. It’s what I do for, you know, business is, okay, so what do you need? How can we get you there? And how can we do it in the right way that’s also profitable and not just a, okay, let’s put this big expensive thing in place and habit wastes a whole bunch of time and money. But how does it magnify what the company’s doing?
Fred: Yeah. And, and that’s the cool thing about my model. You see, I’ve, I’ve never, it was interesting when you first asked me to be on, I’ve never considered myself that great at sales, you know, and, and there’s a lot of reasons I could go into, but I had been great at building people, you know, in building sales people around me. And you know, this particular company that we’re building is the perfect fit for a guy like me because I don’t, I’ve never liked putting a square peg in a round hole. And sometimes when you’re selling software, you know, or selling any individual one product, you have to do that. And I’ve always struggled with that because I want to do, I want to do right by my clients. I’ve always believed that, you know, why would I sell you something that a year down the road you’re going to hate?
Fred: And you’re going to change anyways and it’s going to cause you more pain. And especially in our world, I, you know, dealing, living in the contact center market, it’s a finite market. Even when you look at it from a global scale, it always amazes me how many people are interconnected in my network, you know? So I’ve always hated that. But today I get to go in and say, all right, let’s talk about your business. Let’s talk about what actual problems from business perspective we’re going to solve and how can we fill those gaps with those technology tools and what are the right tools to look at? Even so, I get to come in with, you know, a hundred plus products in my quiver and say, let’s talk about business outcomes. You know, let’s really take a look at this holistically. Instead of saying, wow, you know, my board told me I need an AI strategy. Great. We’ll get there. You know? And it gives, just gives me ability to be hyper consultative and which is what the modern salesperson has to be anyways, right? But I’ve never really fundamentally saw myself as a great salesperson. I just haven’t because there’s a lot of reasons we can go into that
Jason: Well, but anybody, anybody who’s listened to this show, especially season one or has or knows me at all is I think the fact that you don’t think you’re a great salesperson, but you want to help people and you see that as a solution based thing is what makes you so great and what I think the world needs more of and really kind of my focus with the sales experience podcast is leveraging those kind of focuses instead of the, you know, that’s why I don’t spend a lot of time on this show or anything. I do have like, okay, here’s the closing strategies, here’s the closing lines, let’s beat into you these types of strategies, which is, Hey, if I can do this, would you do this? Like I think those have a place and I think those work, but fundamentally who are you? Do you want to solve problems?
Jason: And when you do it from that place, you don’t even have to think of yourself as a good person. A salesperson because you just will be, because you’re actually solving problems and listening to you talk. You know, some people might think, well, but I don’t sell long term, you know, long sales cycle solutions, you know, I’m not selling one thing and then I have an upsell and then all these other things. You can be a short, even one call, you know kind of B to C closer. But the goal is solving problems for that person, square peg, square hole, thinking long term. Even if you have an ultra short sales cycle, but thinking long term and wanting the success of somebody longterm and then you’ll, in my experience, you’ll always win if you’re doing that and moving, you know, your pipeline, your prospects for,
Fred: Yeah, and I think that’s a shift that’s been happening. I mean, you know, because of the noise, because of all the things we’ve already talked about, social media, all the things. I think the ones that are good at that side of the business, no matter what, and you’re right, it can happen in a short sale cycle or a long sale cycle. B2C, B2B, it’s still about building a relationship and helping them solve whatever problem they’re having, whatever problem they have with what you have to offer. But nonetheless, It doesn’t change my mind. I still don’t believe on the best day. I do know that I’m good at training and building people
Jason: Well and, and for some people listening to that, uh, might be the place, you know, maybe not great sales, but, uh, you know, help other people and you know, how it can be done and you know, there’s a way to use whatever strengths and abilities you have, but I’m pretty sure you’re really good at selling or getting people to buy and helping them buy, which is different than selling or sales or, you know, trying to push something on somebody.
Fred: I appreciate it. We’ll agree to disagree on that.
Jason: So where is the best place for people to find you? Whether, let’s say they’re a company and they’re looking at something for their contact center, their telesales, anything tech related, like where would they find you if they’re a salesperson, you know, and maybe their com they want something for their company, what’s the best place? Where can people find you? Especially LinkedIn obviously cause you accept all requests there.
Fred: Yeah, exactly. I already spilled the beans. You know, you of course LinkedIn, anytime, you know our website is cloudcallcentersearch.com you know you can reach out anytime. Yeah. A I leave and yeah, people think I’m crazy for doing this but I have my contact information open on LinkedIn. I have my email address, my cell phone. Yeah. I put all that stuff out there and I do that very much on purpose because you know this about me. I, you know, I, I believe that a network you serve your network and your network will, you know, eventually serve you, but you do it in a way that, you know, you just don’t expect anything. So people call me all the time asking what’s going on in the industry, you know, from partners to asking me about what events I’m going to, to, you know, running scenarios by me.
Fred: The one thing I always try to do is I always try to help. I try to be of service to the market. After 26 years in contact centers, I’ve realized that I’ve got some value to provide to people. And you know, somebody meant, a couple of people mentored me growing up. I got lucky, I found a few mentors and I, I pretty much, you know, constantly be down the door of them to teach me and, and drag it out of them, you know? But, uh, I love returning now. Oh man. You know, that’s what I enjoy to do and it just helps. My business model is based on, on a, you know, certain part of referrals, you know, being a master agent. Yeah. We’ve got sub agents, all those things, you know, but even if that’s not part of your business model, you should be looking to referrals because they’re the best closing percentage. You know, there’s all kinds of reasons I could tell you why. Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re in sales for any period of time, you know that referrals are the best leads you could possibly get. Yeah. And the way you do that, it’s not that I expect that from anybody. It just happens.
Jason: You plant enough seeds and you do the right thing and you nurture relationships and it will always happen. Uh, I spend a lot of time talking about that as well. Previous season, you know, I covered that. I fully agree with you on that.
Fred: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So reach out any, any way they can. They can always touch and through you. Um, you know, of course you know how to get ahold of me, you know, it’s so any way they want. I’m always open.
Jason: That’s awesome. And just so everyone knows, cutterconsultinggroup.com a podcast will be on there. This episode will be on there with the full transcript conversation plus all of Fred’s links and information, ways to find him in case you didn’t catch it. And you want to go on there. Uh, Fred, thank you for being on season two with me and talking about tech and either freaking people out or helping people, uh, with their, uh, thoughts around, you know, call center tech.
Fred: Well, hopefully I didn’t scare anybody too much. I appreciate it. It’s awesome. It’s always great to talk to you. That’s why I love, uh, you know, listening and you know, the conversations are always awesome. So hopefully, you know, they, your audience finds some value from this. I am guessing they probably will if nothing else. Um, you know, they make geek out with me and with alongside us
Jason: A hundred percent, make sure that, uh, that they enjoy it and, uh, we’ll preface it with the, a big geek outside on that. So thank you Frank for being here and for everyone else, again, cutterconsultinggroup.com/podcast find the episode transcripts and all of Fred’s information. And as always, keep in mind that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.