What’s Your Exit Strategy?
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
If you own a telephone answering service, you spend a lot of time thinking about the future. And if you’re not the owner, you should also consider what’s ahead. More on that later.
Future considerations for owners may include growth, acquisition, or new technology. However, when you think about the future, you should also plan your exit strategy. There are four options to consider when it’s time to scale back or retire.
Sell to Employees or Family: Look to those around you, to your staff and your family, for people who could take over your answering service and buy it from you. And if you sell to a family member, make sure they understand the industry and know how to run the business. Identify these potential people, and then groom them to take over.
Sell to Another Company: Aside from employees and family, you can also look to sell to another answering service or to an investor outside the industry. Going this route may produce the highest selling price, but it might be at the sacrifice of your legacy, staff, or clients. Balance the pros and cons.
Work Until the End: By intention, or sometimes not, business owners continue in their role until the day they die. This eliminates the need for an exit strategy, but it passes the burden on to their heirs. Do them a favor and leave them with a plan.
Shut Down the Business: Some answering services, especially small ones, assume the business has no value, so they close their doors. There’s no reason to do that. Though you may not have a big enough operation to attract high-dollar buyers, your accounts do have value and other services are anxious to buy them.
This discussion focuses on answering service owners, but what if you’re a manager? Then consider these four scenarios, and envision how you can be part of the business owner’s exit strategy. This may involve a direct discussion, or it may require a subtler approach. Either way the potential exists for you to end up as an answering service owner. And then you can form your own exit strategy.
The key is to make a plan, and then work the plan.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Do You Measure Up?
By Janet Livingston
In my presentation at the ATSI convention this year, I spoke about “High Performance Sales.” I shared some alarming stats to highlight the need for salespeople to diligently follow up with prospects.
Four Shocking Facts:
- 48 percent of salespeople never follow up with a prospect: This means almost half of all salespeople ignore leads. The survey didn’t say if this was because they were busy, lazy, or forgot. But any reason is inexcusable. It could also mean that salespeople make judgment calls about lead quality and cherry pick who to call. Shame on them. They’ll never know for sure if it’s a good lead until they pick up the phone and call.
- 25 percent of salespeople make a second call and then stop: Of the salespeople who bother to call prospects, one fourth stop after two contacts. Though this is better than nothing, it’s barely better. (More on this later.)
- 12 percent of salespeople make three contacts and then stop: One out of eight salespeople make three calls. This may seem good, but it’s not. (We’ll see why in a moment.)
- Only 10 percent of salespeople make more than three contacts: Just one out of ten salespeople bother to contact a prospect more than three times. Statistically these are when most sales occur. We’ll classify the outcomes for the other nine salespeople as failures. You don’t want them on your team.
Here’s Why Follow-up is So Critical:
- 2 percent of sales are made on the first contact.
- 3 percent of sales are made on the second contact.
- 5 percent of sales are made on the third contact.
- 10 percent of sales are made on the fourth contact.
- 80 percent of sales are closed after four calls, usually on the fifth to twelfth contact.
In combining these two sets of numbers, we see that 90 percent of salespeople make three calls or less and account for 10 percent of all sales. Now look at the other end of the spectrum. That one salesperson who makes more than three contacts closes 90 percent of the sales.
This shows why following up with prospects is so critical. This also shows why sales managers need a system to ensure their sales staff follow up an appropriate number of times. What’s that number? Not three, not two, and certainly not one, but at least twelve times.
Even more important is for sales managers to make sure their staff follow up with every prospect, and that they don’t dismiss a single one.
Follow up is the key to sales success. Anything less is sales failure.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier telephone answering service consultancy, which helps clients grow their revenue. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706.
Telephone Answering Service News
Startel Announces Merger with Alston Tascom
Startel Corporation announced that effective September 1, 2017, Alston Tascom is a wholly owned business unit of Startel. In September 2015, Startel also acquired Professional Teledata. “We are thrilled to combine three of the telephone answering service’s top providers to form the industry’s premier choice for on-premise and cloud contact center solutions and services,” said Brian Stewart, chairman and CEO of Startel and Professional Teledata.
“The synergies the combined company will generate will be of tremendous benefit to current and future customers,” said Wayne Scaggs, president of Alston Tascom. “I am excited for the opportunities the merger will bring.” Wayne Scaggs, will join the senior management team of Startel and Professional Teledata to help lead the combined company.
ASTAA Workshop a Success
Maryellen Pruitt became the new executive director of ASTAA just in time to support the supervisor workshop “You Can Move Mountains,” held in Baltimore. “There is nothing like trial by fire,” said Jim Reandeau, president of ASTAA.
“Maryellen was a delight to work with at the supervisor workshop,” said presenter Donna West. “She took care of a few issues before I even knew they existed. Her support was invaluable. I know this is going to be a great relationship.” Maryellen has been a part of the industry since 1997. She also recently accepted a position as the new executive director of the Telecommunications Users Network (TUNe).
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Quotes for the Month
“I want to walk through life instead of being dragged through it.” -Alanis Morissette
“Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation.” -Jack Nicklaus
“If you take a laptop for a run you could jog your memory.” -unknown