20 Tips to train productive telemarketers!
Telemarketing panel of experts came out with some advice on training telemarketers or telesales people to be more productive. There are quite a number of tips on improving their individual telemarketing skills and in turn boost the entire telesales team. Except those obvious things around like incentives, motivation and coaching, here’s a few of the simple measures that can make a major change and impact on the sales results.
1. Lead the sales team to be the decision maker
It is crucial for skilled and productive telemarketers to be able to make decisions that represent what the customers want. It would pose a great challenge during decision making if they just follow the script rigidly, which can bring in unnecessary trivia that prolonged the interaction.
Thus, place trust in your telesales team in making calls relevant and useful instead of debating on insignificant issues to the matter at hand.
It might be difficult initially, but telemarketers will learn through their mistakes if there’s enough time. Leading the sales team involves self learning, one-to-one coaching, learning from mistakes, involvement in order to help the telesales team to search for better solutions and boost their productivity.
2. Encourage and manage the use of empathy
It is proven profitability is linked to customers' relationship with the sales team. There is evidence from research to prove the direct correlation between productivity, empathy and average handling time (AHT).
The empathetic relationship with customers enables callers to build up trust with the customers. Once a trustworthy relationship is built, it allows callers to tackle the issue much quicker and resolve it effectively.
On the other hand, customers are more willing to open up and converse with the salesperson on a full story instead of giving limited information.
3. Encourage telemarketing team to share their advice
It can be highly beneficial in terms of productivity by involving the telesales team since they know it better than everyone else as they handle customers on a daily basis.
Salesperson is able to locate the problems, where the processes are disjointed and which part of the system performs poorly. There are insufficient instances where the telesales team are involved in mapping out new procedures or realigning processes that improve performance and productivity.
Credit to Martin Jukes at Mpathy Plus.
4. Contests are a marvellous way to obtain an instant productivity boost.
Creating a healthy competition can be highly beneficial in the contact centre, so why not pit teams together in a head to head contest?
One month it could be a contest of time management and the next month it could be about up-sell opportunities. Encourage the telesales team to be proud of their stats and engage other teams in playful banter.
By doing this, it can really enhance a team’s morale and definitely a productivity booster in order to attain their sales goals. This works particularly well in outbound telemarketing.
5. Relate everything that is measurable to an incentive
Great incentives can be a vacation approval, parties or work shift preferences. Telemarketers tend to be more motivated if something is on the line along with healthy competition for reward incentives that boost productivity.
In addition, an incentive scheme is a great way to recognise hard work, spreading the feeling of appreciation consistently that in turn improves sales team morale and productivity.
6. Implement a phone call blueprint
The key approach to improve outbound telesales productivity is to implement a blueprint strategy. A call blueprint should not be mixed up with a script. A script presents a set of phrases and questions for the agent to use during a call, this can affect the conversation flow as it deviates aways from the customer’s need to the agent introducing specific terms and phrases which may not always be in the context.
A blueprint on the other hand provides a call structure with checkpoints along the route. As part of this approach, the telemarketer should first complete pre-call planning, ensuring clear call objectives and understanding what they are promoting and why customers need the proposition and helping them to maintain a positive attitude.
Checkpoints forming the blueprint approach are:
Clear introduction - it must stimulate interest
Effective questioning - ask leading and probing questions to ensure the conversation goes in the direction you intend.
Summarise - clarify to make sure a full understanding of customer’s needs and situation.
Present the solution - it must be clear and link to the customer’s need; highlight on how your solutions solve the problems.
Handle objection - anticipate possible objections to the proposition and articulate how the solution works around those issues vividly.
Close - ask for the order if it is appropriate but always ensure that you summarise the next steps and who will do what by when.
Credit to Julie Kerman at Business Systems
7. Don’t pressure telemarketers by squeezing wrap time
It is likely that telemarketers make notes from the previous call while greeting the next caller if you pressure staff during wrap time by focusing on time based metrics.
Telemarketers tend to miss information from the first 20 seconds or so from the beginning of the call, they might also fail to gauge the customer’s mood or personality at that point of time. Worst case scenario is the telemarketers can miss information they were not quite ready for. It causes customers to repeat themselves which is something they will not appreciate doing and the AHT time would also increase.
Thus, empower telemarketers with enough wrap time to ensure they are at their peak performance during calls.
8. Use signposting to control the calls
Using phrases like “in a moment” and incorporating it into the calls will give the customers a heads up for the next action and may help to save time in calls and improve productivity.
For instance, saying: “In a moment I am going to give you a voucher code, you are going to need a pen”, will help notify the customer regarding the next step and stopping them from dragging out the interaction whilst rummaging around their house for writing materials.
9. Let the telemarketers to work from home
A 20% increase in contact centre productivity may be viewed as the staff of dreams. However, this is typical average for telemarketing contact centre advisors who are based at home rather than in a centralised contact centre.
Traditional psychology stated a job with high demand and low control will result in stress. This was one of the major causes of churn in contact centres- a major issue impacting productivity.
Home based advisors prove what can be achieved if trust and control are placed with them and that's an advice that any contact centre can learn.
Credit to Dr Nicola Millard at BT
10. Measure the right things and feedback
Providing a motivational and appropriate target seems like a way to enhance productivity. But what are the right things?
Companies should focus on only measuring things that will be reviewed, analysed and acted on. It is crucial to measure what is relevant to the need which changes over time. If you have taken an approach on the productivity issue and are confident that it has been resolved, then stop focusing on the metric and switch your focus on measuring something else.
Look at the bigger picture, look for and act on trends rather than one particular issue. There are some companies who get everybody to “jump up” to look for answers in order to resolve one customer’s question or doubt. Instead, look at the trends, especially those that can be fixed.
11. Telemarketers should have the chance of moving around and sound energised
It is important to sound positive, energised and authoritative about the services or products you are promoting.
Wireless headsets enable advisors to stand up and move around the contact centre which indirectly aided the telemarketing agents to open up their lungs and project their voices more effectively. It also gets the blood pumping to keep them more awake and lively during calls.
Credit to Richard Kenny at Plantronics
12. Keep in mind how human nature affects productivity
If you randomly set a target for your telesales team without having a real reason for implementing it, telemarketers will mark them as more important compared to customers and they will find ways to get around proper procedures, especially when the target set is linked to pay.
These “ways” or also called “cheats” will likely cause lower sales per contact ratio as advisors start to find shortcuts to introduction, rapport building, finding empathy and etc. This may be beneficial in lowering talk time but certainly not in maximising performance.
13. Enhance team contact
Productivity of the workforce can be improved through implementing a positive strategy of staff engagement.
It is developed to optimise the total time invested among the employees and via the use of leading edge workforce management technology, it has increased the amount of one to one and team contact with staff tremendously. This built a super positive environment which caused employees to understand their vital role in the success of the company's business.
Turns out, companies will benefit from enhanced productivity in terms of conformance, schedule adherence, other productivity metrics, improvement in employee engagement and finally customer satisfaction.
Credit to Andrew Harvey
14. Match the best with the best
We used to adhere to the practice of putting the best team leaders with the poorest performer in the hope that one will bring up the other. The approach was changed lately after realising productivity is boosted when the best is paired with the best.
People tend to add enjoyment and are more productive if they are good at what they do. It has been long proven that if you build on your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you will be more successful. Playing to the strengths of each team leader and positioning them according to their skills is a tried and tested way to boost performance.
Credit to Paul Lane
15. Ask your telemarketers team to state their schedule preferences
Encouraging and allowing advisors to establish their preferred work schedule has proven to increase employee, customer satisfaction, improve employee morale and key operational metrics in the call centre.
Thus, telesales people should find ways to communicate their preferred work times and available times with prior consent and also unavailable times.
One way to take these preferences into account during creating agents schedules is to implement a feature rich workforce (not necessarily expensive) management system.
16. Reduce the administrative burden on advisors
Telemarketing agents typically spend 10-40% of their time managing customers' data or trying to extract the information required from various applications or databases all running on the desktops.
The agents are able to focus on talking to the customer through automating sales and telemarketing management, as well as bringing customer relationship management (CRM) into the contact handling system as a single agent desktop. Data across the front and back office system can be aggregated in real time and presented to the agent with relevant cross sell and up sell data.
Through incorporating CRM and contact handling, the system can become self learning and discover which agents are best at closing certain types of lead and can route future leads, calls, or emails accordingly.
This automation in a simple desktop can result in a huge impact on the sales based contact centre, as demonstrated at Babcock International where their success rate has increased by 30 - 40% as their agents spend more time with the customers.
Credit to Susannah Richardson at mplsystems
17. Reward with experiences
A call centre manager needs to offer long term prizes of large value like a holiday trip or experience in order to maintain the telemarketing team’s momentum. All of these can be tailored around a season or theme to add extra interest and keep the reward programme timely.
This ongoing approach needs to be interspersed with surprise short term prizes and rewards taking place daily or weekly. It results in an instant positive impact on morale as experiences help to create positive memories that are associated with the workplace and it makes a big difference to the level of motivation and energy within a room.
Credit to Andy Philpott at Edenred
18. Focus on issues solving
Advisors need to understand the reason for calling before the calls. Figure out what is best in providing value and offer customers something useful such as free samples, no string attached trial and etc if possible. Try to put yourself in their shoes, what difference could your product or service make to their lives?
Then put the message across with positive energy in order to persuade the individual that you believe in what you are selling.
Credit to Mark King at Aspect
19. Improve on internal communication
Internal communication is the key in a productive telemarketing environment. Hence, make sure teams and individuals got the latest updates on deadlines and targets, as well as information about deals, so everyone is focused on the same results.
It can also help by running regular debriefs and sharing of information, so employees can continue to learn and improve.
Credit to Mark Brown
20. Offer banked hours to provide down time
The banked hours scheme allows staff to enjoy sunny summer afternoons by banking hours. These owed hours can be utilised during the peak period. It had led to saving on training, recruitment and enabled companies to retain experienced workforce.
Down time is encouraged following a difficult call, allowing the operator to feel refreshed and energised ahead of the next call, which also reduces days lost to sickness.
Credit to Neil Picton