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Posts Tagged ‘improve sales performance’

How to Achieve Sales Success in Your Center: Part 5

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Success Factor Number Five: Every Call Matters

This is the fifth post in our series: How to Achieve Sales Success in Your Center.

Successful sales people recognize that every call matters.  Every call has a chance for a sale.  Less successful sales people usually  write off certain potential buyers too quickly, based on any number of factors.


We call it  profiling when a sales agent decides to work hard or hardly work, based specifically on the caller­s personal characteristics. Maybe they are too old.  Maybe they have an accent that is harder to understand.  Maybe they are not friendly enough or patient enough for the sales agent.

Following the Wrong Trends

Profiling of any kind leads to lower sales results, so why would sales people ever profile?  Trends.  In some sales environments, senior citizens rarely buy, even when we sell effectively.  Some will buy, however, and that is why it is worth trying on every call.  Some sales people immediately stop selling when they hear a buyer with a heavy accent.  Perhaps they feel it will take too long to explain the product details or be too difficult.  Clients who are a little pushy or sound impatient are often profiled, too.

There is another reason why profiling is a bad idea.  If we keep doing it, over time, we will add more and more clients into the  don­t bother selling to category.   I didn­t like that type of buyer and I never seem to sell any of them, so I am not going to try.  Sales people generally do not think about this until a call comes along that they do not like.  Before you know it, half your calls are going to be filled with buyers you do not make a strong effort to sell.

Why do successful sales people try selling on every call?  If not, before you know it, you will be saying things like,  I get all the bad calls.  And that is just not logical.

Eliminating Profiling

So how do we get back on track and stop profiling?  Begin by setting some easy goals.   For the next hour, I am going to work very hard on every call, no matter who I am speaking with.  After a successful hour, try two hours, and then a half-day.  Before you know it, you will forget all about profiling and all your calls will matter to you.  That is going to translate into higher sales very quickly.

Selling on every call is one of the easiest ways to increase your sales and a key contributor to the results and wallets of successful sales people.  The bottom line is this.  The more leads you have, the greater your opportunity.  If you believe a sale is possible on every call, you will sell more of those buyers than the sales people who write them off before the call really gets started.

How To Get Your Agents to ¬Remember Your Coaching

Monday, March 14th, 2011

When we are in our clients­ call centers, one of the most common supervisor concerns is,  How do I get my agents to remember what we talked about when I coached them, so I don­t have to have the same conversation next week and the week after that?

The remembering part should be easy, but it does seem that many agents have bad memories when supervisors introduce new coaching. Having to remind an agent about a previous conversation would not be that big of a deal except that another week will go by with little or no change in agent behavior.  After dealing with this two or three times, the supervisor must either fix the memory problem or expect that more memories will begin to deteriorate.  Your other agents will begin to experience memory loss if it means they, too, can remain unchanged and comfortable in their current skill sets.

If you are facing this dilemma, here are a few things you can do right away.  We recommend taking this new approach as soon as possible and fixing up those memories so agents will prosper.

1) Get Buy-In During Coaching

One of the most common reasons for temporary memory loss is that the agent had no say and no involvement during the coaching.   Mike, I noticed that you didn­t close for the sale on that last call.  In the future you really need to do it because, for every call on which you don­t make the attempt, it is like making the decision, a  No decision, for the client.  In the future, you really need to start doing this.  I am counting on it.  Your numbers will go up if you do and we can both get back to focusing on great sales results.

In the example above, the sales agent is a lot less likely to buy in and agree with the supervisor because he/she was only involved in a passive way.  The supervisor does not know if the agent agrees and whether or not the agent understands how important closing for the sale really is.  The agent only knows that the supervisor believes it is important.  By not involving the agent, the supervisor is encouraging the agent to forget.  Why?  No involvement translates into low importance.

Adding some questions will change that dialogue and increase the buy-in, and the memory.

  •   Why is closing important?
  •  How do you think not closing impacts your sales?
  •  What can you do to commit to using this skill on every call?
  •  How will you know when you­ve been successful in making the improvements you need to make?

By involving the agent, we improve our chances that the agent will take the coaching seriously and go apply the skills on the phones.

2) Recap After Every Coaching Discussion

Many coaching discussions end with,  Does that make sense?  Great.  Let­s see how it goes for you.  I am looking forward to seeing your results on future calls.  Sounds nice, but how do you know exactly what the agent is walking away with?  What will he/she remember?  The only way to know for sure is to ask, right at the end of every coaching session.   So Terry, just to make sure we are on the same page, and to make sure that you are prepared in the future, what will you do ± next time – when you come to this screen/field and you get stuck?

This is the agent­s chance to Recap the dialogue and your chance to evaluate the agent­s listening skills and retention.  When agents say,  In the future, I will– they have made a commitment that they are much more likely to remember.

3) Offer Specific Formative Feedback and Require a Plan of Action

If the degree of forgetfulness is very serious, hit them straight between the eyes and find out what they are going to do to fix this situation immediately. 

Formative Feedback is a specific, critical feedback tool.  Coaches provide their specific observed behavior as well as the expectations previously agreed to by the agent.  After laying out your  evidence, ask the agent what they are going to do to eliminate this situation in the future.   Tom, let­s talk about the coaching from this morning.  When I commented on your not asking enough open-ended questions, it was actually the third time in a month that we have had this dialogue.  You know very well that you need to use this important question on every call.  I need to know, for today and for the future, what you are going to do to remember to ask open-ended questions on every call?

After speaking with the agent, many supervisors will also introduce future consequences.  Here is what will happen if it happens again.   Some supervisors also try using motivational coaching to encourage the agent to remember.  This is a great idea when it comes to general coaching situations.  At this point, however, more formative coaching is usually better and most agents will respond quickly.

There are many other ways to make your coaching stick.  These three tips should work very well for you.  Once you see the improvement in memory that you are looking for, remember to praise your agents and thank them for their willingness to make changes.  This will pay dividends for a long time to come.