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Anne McNamara
BPO and Talent Solutions Expert

We love working with Challengers.
They try harder, are more inventive, and offer more value to their customers.

A Big Box BPO typically spends $260 million per annum on sales and marketing. Challengers, with a fraction of the budget, lower brand awareness, and fewer logos, must prioritize sales and marketing channels to reach 10,000 employees.

The key is FOCUS. Target activity to what moves the needle. 

During the past five years, we have helped five Challenger BPOs scale up to 10,000 FTEs and most of them have been acquired or exited.

Here is our 10-point strategy for Challengers under 10,000 FTE.

1. Powerfully Position

Know your customer, know their pain points, know your competition, what they offer, and what they don’t. Use that to nail your positioning, your lifecycle, your value proposition, and your branding. 

Stand for something, find your voice, and bring value. The market is swimming in dull BPO websites that are “committed to delivering great customer experiences.” Move away from commodity providers by bringing out your authentic drivers – Start-up focused? Culture driven? Social impact? Know it. Name it. Drive it out in your brand and content.

2. Build your Sales Infrastructure

Build the best sales team you can afford:

First Recruit– Recruit an Individual Contributor responsible for prospecting through to closing. A USA based IC will attract a minimum $150k base with a commission of 3:2:1% over 3 years of closed deal value. OTE of $1m+. You are looking for a hungry closer who loves the chase.

Sales Leadership – Make the CRO your second recruit. After 2-3 years of successful deal closing find your CRO. Process-oriented, BPO background, min $200k – OTE $1m+.

SDR/ BDR – Start with 1 x SDR who is driving outbounding, research from your location territory. Build when CRO in place. They can also build out your back-of-house sales infrastructure from your own BPO centers.

Geography – USA. It’s where the biggest deals are.

Sales Cycle – To get the high volume of FTE deals these are Enterprise sales with slow, slow buying processes. Brace yourself for up to 18-month sales cycles. Be patient.

3. Run Targeted Pursuit

Challengers rarely start with more than a handful of clients and narrow verticals. You have to build from where you are.

To maximize impact, avoid casting a wide net. You can leverage your existing clients’ experiences to define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Build a tight list of prospects and increase your profile and awareness with them.

For example, if your main logo is a food delivery app with one Line of Business, create a targeted pursuit plan to:

  • Target 10 food delivery apps in non-competing territories or service lines.
  • Identify the buying committee and influencers per logo. 
  • Limit your pursuit per AE to a maximum of 40 individuals on the pursuit list.
  • Produce and leverage case studies, success stories, and testimonials multi-using the same client via different formats.
  • Support Client Services to promote other Lines Of Business into the existing food delivery app.
  • As deals close in the targeted verticals move to adjacent verticals. 

This will start to generate invitations to RFP lists and a warmer audience for proactive proposals.

4. SEO Your Way To The Top

Your website is the mothership of all your marketing activities. It’s your primary trust enforcer and drives home your positioning. It establishes your credibility with potential clients, partners, and even employees showcasing your services and facilitating communication. 

Simplify SEO – Find what resonates most with your target audiences in each vertical through keyword research. 

Next, create and share big rock, high-quality content to form a powerful strategy for lead generation. 

Then, strike a balance between general company information and feeding your vertical demographic with specific educational and nurture content. 

The finishing touches – call-to-action buttons, carefully positioned contact forms, and clear contact information to encourage visitors to get in touch.

5. Create Engaging Events

When you can’t afford Beyonce as your headline act bring originality to your events. Be bold, be original – invite external speakers as agent provocateurs, choose unusual locations, do cool stuff, and build a strong identity by sticking with your themes. 

Stay consistent in your event pipeline, add value, and stay relevant to current trends.

6. Love RFPs

Being invited to an RFP is a significant milestone. You have successfully captured the attention of a potential client and moved beyond the awareness stage. Participating in the RFP process can drive transformational change within your own organization, as it provides valuable insights into market demands and customer expectations. Additionally, the RFP process can catalyze internal improvements, accelerating the certification and accreditation process, realigning organizational structure, and expanding your arsenal of key responses to be in a better place for the next RFP. An RFP is a showcase of your offer, allowing you to spotlight and demonstrate your capabilities.

Do them, get good at them, and start winning them. Be patient. You rarely win the first RFP with a new logo – but now that you have their attention keep the lines of communication open and be ready to respond again.

7. Close the Credibility Gap

An enterprise client will have a high barrier to entry in systems, processes, accreditations, and experience. The fact that you don’t have everything they ask for/ require/ expect is NOT a reason to pull out of an RFP or a late-stage pursuit. They rarely have a disqualifying gate for lack of accreditation etc. But it is vital that you address the deficit in the RFP and not try to disguise it. For example no SOC 2 Compliance?  Show the timetable to secure it, and profile your IT leader’s credibility. 

Your gaps will bring scrutiny to all of your operating processes. So close the credibility gap with well-articulated end-to-end operating systems. Build it from your raw data. Having a great recruitment process/LMS/WFM does not matter unless it’s articulated. At ShineX, we say: If you do it, but can’t write it. You can’t win it.

8. Keep Pursuits Warm with Proactive Proposals

A proactive proposal is an excellent way to engage with warm prospects during their buying cycle. Once you’re certain of your verticals’ pain points, you can create tailored solutions and offers. This should be done when the relationship with the prospect is strong enough for them to engage with your ideas.

A thoughtful, unpriced proposal, presented as a solution, deepens the conversation. Even if they’re not ready to buy, you add value by providing solutions, paving the way for early conversations.

9. Run an Inspiring Site Visit

It’s showtime. Pull out all the stops on a site visit. The best challengers know that this is an event designed to demonstrate to the prospect that your BPO is the right choice for them. 

  • If they are new to your territory, bring the best of the local culture into the visit.
  • If you can have a satisfied client rep from an existing account in the office on the same day – even better!
  • Demonstrate how you will brand their offices – Have their products on site. At the very least develop CGI boards to show how you plan to make their space work.
  • Introduce them to the typical team members and leaders that you could recruit.
  • Introduce them to the ops team and show them your operations will deliver for them.
  • Demonstrate your local and social impact.

Make sure that they leave your offices confident in their choice and your vision for the partnership.

10. Better Contract Terms

Until you’re one of the Big Box BPOs, expect to be flexible on your contracts. Protect yourself on margin and payment terms but give as much flexibility as you can to close the first few deals. The more logos you have the more opportunity you have to spread risk.

How did two high-school buddies build a $500 million BPO business in 10 years?

Let’s Chat

Let us have a look under the hood and see if we can help you get to 10k faster.

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