A large metropolitan newspaper has a 300 seat call center.

Every 90 days, on average, it turns over every one of those seats. Its annual telesales representative turnover rate is 400%, costing an estimated six million dollars. Twelve hundred new people have to be recruited, trained, and terminated to enable this behemoth to simply keep going.

Internally, a large infrastructure of trainers and call monitors must be maintained, simply to service the demand for telephone-ready personnel. It is not in the interest of these people to tame the telesales turnover problem. It is this very problem that gives them ongoing employment and job security.

In fact, it serves their purpose to be incompetent, because if recruits are never sufficiently trained, they'll be more likely to come and go, feeding this lumbering labor machine again, and again. The remainder of the human resources staff also benefits from the incessant recruiting, interviewing, and related start-up tasks involved in bringing new people aboard, purging them, and replacing them.

There is a simple solution to the turnover problem: double the pay of the telesales representatives.

That's what six million dollars could do, overnight. People will not willingly leave a much better paying job.

Yet, this is the last thing that a company of this kind would consider.

(1) It wouldn't look good on the balance sheets. It is easier to justify large recruiting expenses, which appear temporary, than to have a higher, apparently permanent payroll. For a similar reason, outsourcing appears to the bean counters to be cheaper, though in reality it can be pricier than maintaining employees on your own books.

(2) There is a fundamental bias against paying telesales representatives more money. Because many of them are young, old, students, single parents, handicapped, they seem marginal, and so they're underpaid, under-rewarded. If you think I'm wrong, compare the pay of outside versus inside salespeople, and then try to logically justify the striking differences.

(3) There is the generalization in place that turnover and telesales simply go together: you can't have one without the other. Yet when you ask, as I did the other day, a manager how long the average rep stays aboard, he'll say one month. In the next breath, he'll tell you that his best producers have been with him two and three years, respectively. Why are they making it, while others aren't? Obviously, some people can do the job well, and like it.

(4) There is fear in management ranks that a bidding war for personnel will break out if one company pays above-average wages. This thinking is spurious. The money is already being spent, again on the lumbering labor machine. Higher pay simply redirects it, while staunching losses.
There are other ways to attack the turnover problem, including significantly better, professional training, and professional management. No matter how you slice it, these improvements also require redirected financial resources.

Telesales turnover can be tamed, and it will be, when senior management opens its eyes and starts to seriously address the problem.

Soruce: Dr. Gary S. Goodman