Have you ever recorded a new voicemail greeting only to re-record it multiple times because the words were not right, your tonality was off, the flow was bad or you just didn’t like how you sounded?
When we call a business for customer support, virtually every major company has a “This call may be recorded for coaching” message. Many technology companies with inside sales organizations use call recording software, yet many don’t leverage these tools for coaching. When I ask a group of salespeople how often they listen to their own sales calls less than 10% typically say yes. When I ask about the frequency of calls they record the number is even lower. If salespeople simply asked more and better questions and more relevant questions their success rate would rise, yet almost no one reviews and improves their single biggest asset - how they sound on the phone.
The reasons for not recording and listening include:
- I don’t know how
- It will take a lot of time
- I’m not sure what to coach people on
- People don’t like listening to themselves
- I don't think it will really help?
Salespeople frequently struggle with transitions because they spend too much time in some areas and not enough in others. If you break a call into simple parts; the introduction, rapport, expectations, questioning, summary and next steps you can identify the areas that need the most work.
One of the biggest obstacles to being effective on the phone is expectations. Identifying a clear, appropriate, desired outcome and getting the prospect to agree to this upfront helps enormously. Pre-call strategy helps but what actually happens on the call is usually quite different from what was strategized and practiced. Without hearing the actual call, sales managers must coach to the outcome instead of what caused the outcome.
To have real impact on their salespeople, sales leaders must help their salespeople identify what they could have done differently and how this will improve their conversations and their outcomes.
Common opportunities for improvement are:
- Did the salesperson ask one question or three at a time?
- Did the prospect answer the question?
- Did the salesperson repeat the question if necessary?
- Are salespeople asking for clarification on the “labels” used, i.e. happy, fast or expensive?
- Do salespeople allow their prospects to finish?
- Are they interrupting?
- How often are they summarizing?
- Are they saying things to keep their prospects comfortable?
- What was said that your salespeople missed?
A simple way to get started is to have a salesperson pick a call they want to review. Using the questions above as a guide, listen to it and make notes on the challenges / opportunities for improvement. Then, listen to the call with the salesperson and stop at the point(s) where you heard something important. Ask them what they heard. Your goal is to get them to identify the areas for improvement. Ask them what may have caused the challenge identified and what would have happened if they had done something different.
You may have to tell people what you heard, but resist your desire to explain. When salespeople self-discover their challenges it sticks, when you tell them, it may not.
As for those who don’t use audio coaching enough, the question you need to ask yourself is, am I going to continue to accept my own rationalization for not leveraging this powerful tool? Can you imagine elite athletes not watching game film? I can’t!
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