VST have recently launched a sales support and training incubator, which looks at teaching everything our sales professionals have learned in 16 years of telemarketing to in-house sales teams. When Andrew Smart founded Virtual Sales Team in 2007, it was born out of the determination to enhance the reputation of the call centre industry and turn the typical model on its head, using his industry experience and a team of part time call centre operatives with exceptional business and life experience VST have successfully delivered on this ambition. Lead generation is outsourced for many reasons, to ‘let the experts do it’, because it is ‘unpopular’ with inhouse teams or managers don’t have the appetite to manage an inhouse outbound team, it provides flexibility, and it is a hard job! 

However, there is no escaping that many companies still favour the control an in house team can give over the outsourced model.  So the VSTincubator was born, this service will allow us to pass on best practice and training from 16 years of delivering quality lead generation services, helping internal sales teams adopt the most efficient processes and telemarketing techniques.

In this month’s Q&A style discussion Louise Howson (Managing Director) and Andrew Smart (Founder of VST and now Solutions Director) take us through exactly what inspired the ‘VSTincubator’, who it can help, and just how the incubator scheme works.

What sparked the idea to launch your new VSTincubator?

Andrew Smart (Founder & Solutions Director), when asked what fuelled the idea for the VSTincubator, said:

“Part of what sparked the idea for the VSTincubator was when we were recently approached to see if we did telemarketing training. Which we have done for companies in the past, but it has never been one of our core services. 

But when we were approached this time it made us think, now is the time to launch this concept properly and pass on the learning we have gained from successfully training VST sales staff daily for the last 16 years. We knew the best way to do this was launch our own, thorough, incubator scheme”.

Then, when asked more about the business that approached VST for sales training, Andrew went on to explain the organisation’s scenario:

“The company that approached us has 15 inbound callers that they wanted to develop into proactive outbound callers. So we felt that we can add a lot of value and pass on what we’ve learned over the years.”. 

Louise Howson (Managing Director) then detailed just why an incubator scheme was introduced, rather than your typical outsourced training approach, 

“As you can imagine we have tried many sales training providers over the years, many of whom are very successful in their industries, many of whom our team really gelled with and got a lot of great information from. Time after time however, what let the training down was the follow up, we all know that to really adopt new ways of working you need to practice the skills continuously. Effective sales training is more than just a classroom session. We are in the unique position to be able to grant people access to a real life, successful calling floor, the opportunity to learn from people doing the job your employers are asking you to do.”

Louise also touched on how VST want to improve the perception of the telemarketing industry, and the ‘cold calling’ process in particular.

“One of the goals when VST was first set up was to enhance the perception of the telemarketing industry. Our culture, our callers and the way we do business are different to your standard agency. We want to enhance the ‘cold callers’ reputation. 

The incubator sits hand in hand with this. It also sits perfectly with our partnership approach to business, helping organisations truly succeed rather than just being a service provider.”

Andrew then went on to discuss how VST can be your go-to for all stages of the sales process:

“With the incubator, we wanted to encompass all the elements we know lead to building successful lead generation campaigns and team. From how to recruit, how to sell and call, how to set KPIs, incentives and the actual office setup and the environment. With our 16 years experience we can add value to other businesses looking to improve internal sales functions.

VST aim to offer a true consultancy process for all stages of the sales process.”

How is the incubator structured?

“With the incubator, we more often than not set up a lead generation programme at VST to learn how to call into your industry. From here we can find out what works, and more importantly what doesn’t. Once we see success with the campaign, we bring the businesses’ own staff into the process and train them in the VST offices based in real working environments, with access to real call recordings and data” – Andrew Smart.

Louise added to this by saying: 

“And we take it even further than this. The whole process actually starts with a scoping exercise at our customers office. To look at the environment, incentives, level of knowledge, and identify any gaps we need to fill. We carry out surveys with the people that we will be training. These results are always invaluable to the client as they get to see what challenges the business and sales individual is facing in the role.

From here we craft a full proposal in terms of what training is needed. That’s when they come to us and get to learn and train in a live environment, with people that know the campaigns and company inside and out, given a successful campaign has already been live and performing.”

Andrew then closed the discussion with the fact each incubator programme is individual to the client. 

“Each incubator is bespoke, developed with the senior leadership teams of the client, to ensure all company objectives and core values are built into the process.

And these incubators can help teach a range of services, from outreach calling to qualifying leads, and even database cleaning and management. Everything we do and offer our clients, we’ll be teaching the client and their staff”.  

What companies have you found yourselves typically working with?

“Our incubator service has no specific or ‘target’ company profile. Other than that, we want to work with companies that are a reasonable size that can commit to the 12 month process, given the depth the project reaches. In short, we’re wanting to work with those businesses that are looking to scale, with a true strategic mindset” – Andrew Smart. 

Louise then added to this by saying: 

“We typically find ourselves working with (and looking to work with) companies that are committed to investing in the development of an internal team and establishing solid sales processes. We prioritise long-term partnerships rather than seeking quick wins or short-term gains in lead generation and pipeline building. However, if clients do approach us for a tactical boost in their sales pipeline we do provide consultation services whereby we can connect our clients with the most suitable telemarketing partners who can effectively cater to their specific requirements.

Our focus lies in assisting organisations that share our vision for sustainable growth and are willing to dedicate resources towards achieving it.”. 

Andrew then echoed this point and added: 

“We’re especially excited to work with companies within the circular economy or sustainability, given we place a large focus on this concept ourselves.”

What value can companies get from VST’s Sales Incubator service? 

“The value of our VSTincubator service extends to a diverse range of professionals, companies and industries.” – Andrew Smart 

Louise then expanded on this by saying just how big of a role a company’s culture can play on not only the sales team performance, but whole organisation – given the VSTincubator places a large focus on culture and working environments: 

“The importance of cultivating the right culture within a sales team, recognising that it permeates throughout the entire organisation and positively impacts all employees. We understand the significance of this cultural aspect from the very beginning, and it serves as an integral foundation for success.”

Andrew then added to this by saying:

“Our recognition as a recipient of the Best Place to Work award helps showcase our credentials in building an exceptional working environment and culture. We have gained external validation from esteemed sources such as the Sunday Times, and we aim to share this valuable experience with our clients.

In a competitive environment, we foster a supportive atmosphere where individuals genuinely celebrate each other’s achievements and collectively share in the success. From core salespeople to team leaders and sales operations, our service benefits the entire sales function by ensuring its cohesive and efficient.” – Andrew Smart

Louise then goes on to say: 

“Once you get the culture right, it’s the foundation and an integral part to building a solid sales team. This culture then trickles down the business affecting all employees, current and future.”

Why they feel an incubator approach is better than traditional training?

“The incubator approach we employ offers distinct advantages over traditional training methods. By embracing the concept of incubation, we provide continuous support and nurturing to cultivate and grow the seedling of sales training.

This approach ensures that we not only impart knowledge but also actively engage in the development of skills. Rather than relying solely on telling or instructing, we focus on working with individuals, demonstrating techniques, and fostering skill development in a real-world context.” – Andrew Smart

Louise then builds on this by saying:

“Unlike traditional training that often takes place in artificial settings, such as hotels or boardrooms, our approach emphasises learning on the job. We prioritise customised, actionable strategies tailored specifically to each company and industry. These strategies are derived from real data and our own experience, allowing us to provide bespoke guidance that can be readily implemented.

Having achieved success through this approach ourselves, we are equipped to empower our clients to achieve similar outcomes, sharing proven methodologies and insights that enable their growth and success.”

Want to find out more about the VSTincubator?

We’re set to launch new literature and material covering all you need to know around the service. But until then, contact Louise or Andrew for more information.

Do you want to join a future Q&A?   

At VST we love collaborating with like-minded businesses and professionals. If you wish to participate in a future Q&A session, or have a topic you want VST to cover, be sure to contact us on LinkedIn or via our Contact Us page

Don’t forget to connect with those involved in the Q&A on LinkedIn and share your thoughts on the discussion: