One of the largest trends seen on the employment front, is businesses choosing to hire Virtual Assistants (VA's) in order to sharpen their competitive edge in sales. The primary benefits come down to flexibility and huge savings financially, especially with recent changes to the U.S. Tax code requiring businesses of 100+ employees to provide health coverage for at least 70% of full time individuals.
Research predicts that by 2020, VA's and freelancers will make up close to 50% of the working economy. As a business owner, you may find it beneficial to hire a dedicated sales staff that doesn't have to work full-time, and can be hired from anywhere in the country. As you build this virtual team, you're going to look for employees that are self-starters, trustworthy and can get the ball rolling with minimal training.
Where do such employees exist?
Related Article: The Virtual Office: Is It Worth the Money You Save?
Your Virtual Sales Staff Lives Online
The best place to start the hiring process is by using resources that have already been vetted as trustworthy and effective. Some of the largest growing websites include:
- Freelancer.com- A place where you can post your request for the sales position and get bids from anyone who feels qualified for the position. You get to compare proposals and resumes.
- Elance.com- Same process, with over 1 million users worldwide
- You can also try Odesk.com and Twago.com which do virtually the same thing.
Once the Ad is posted...
… take as much time as you need to filter out the best employees! The ability to hire someone 3,000 miles away is fantastic, but getting to know them is equally important if you're to develop a strong team dynamic. Before ever hiring a sales employee:
- Make Face-To-Face Contact: Chances are one of the resumes that caught your eye, do not live close by. If so, try and arrange a meeting on the web via Skype or Google Hangouts to get the same perception of the applicant you would in person. There are many non-verbal cues to assess you would otherwise be missing out on by relying on text communication. If an applicant indicates one of their strengths to be outgoing, make sure that shows in the way they communicate.
Ask The Hard Questions: Working from home is an amazing capability, but not everyone ends up fulfilling what they promised upon getting hired. Ask the questions pertinent to behavioral traits and time management, such as:
- What is your primary source of motivation? (If Freelancing is their only income, chances are they'll take it seriously)
- Ask them to tell you about a time they set difficult goals. If they can show they are results driven and put in a lot of effort, that's a great sign they'd do the same for your sales team.
- Ask them what they're passionate about, and why they got into sales. This question acts as an exclamation point on the list of reasons why you would hire someone. People are undeniably better and more successful at what they're good at, and what they love doing. If an applicant can show you that they're passionate about sales, they're not going to start hating their job and losing your clients a few weeks into the job.
Related Article: Prior to Hire: Things to Consider When Bringing in Freelancers
Once The Team Is Built, Use The Modern Tools To Maintain It
Part of measuring the success of your inbound/outbound sales team is being able to monitor their performance history. Since hiring a virtual sales team entails working remotely, as a manager it is imperative you can see how many calls your staff has made, and have the ability to listen to past calls so you can help your team improve. In order to do so, it's wise to invest in dialing software complete with industry standard capabilities, features such as:
- Inbound/Outbound Dialer: Many dialers allow you to make outbound calls, but few will make a priority for inbound calls. It's important to be able to take an inbound call and transfer it to one of your qualified representatives that can handle it in a blended environment.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Essential for when staff isn't available to direct prospects to account information, surveys, products and more.
- Lead Studio CRM: An efficient way to contact customers based on criteria, while also eliminating the need for call center supervisors and costly management. Stop wasting time by having an all in one application to track your sale team's progress.
One of the most capable dialers on the market is being sold by ChaseDataCorp.com, as what they are referring to as Call Center Now Blended Technology. If you're serious about increasing the efficiency of your sales operation, while also saving time and money, hiring VA's could be the best decision you've made all year.