If you're serious about getting the absolute best from your inside sales team and improving their sales results then this book is for you. Written for B2B telephone sales managers, owners and executives, Telesales Coaching is a practical, no-nonsense guide on how to help your sales reps sell smarter, sell better and sell more.
There are two fundamental reasons why your telephone sales reps don't sell as much as they could or should. The first reason is that many reps are not very good at selling despite formal (and ongoing) training. Over time, telephone reps dilute the fundamentals, cut corners, get complacent, forget techniques or fail to master the skill sets that will lead to increased sales.
The second reason is that the majority of telesales reps do not get the coaching and support that they need to excel at sales. Most telephone sales managers have been taught how to be managers, not coaches. Consequently, telesales reps do not get the proper constructive feedback and encouragement they need to change their selling behavior and improve. Until now.
Telesales Coaching provides you with a proven and practical four-step process on how to coach your telephone reps and help them increase their sales. It's extremely effective because it focuses on precisely how to get reps to overcome their natural resistance to change and to modify their behavior on a consistent basis. Easy to learn and easy to apply, the coaching techniques offered are based on common sense principles of learning and development.
Here is some of what you'll learn:
���� Why most companies don't coach
���� The six things coaching definitely is not
���� Why you can't coach without clearly defined standards
���� Understanding that telesales is not a numbers game, it's a results game
���� How often you should monitor your reps (the answer may surprise you)
���� Where, when, and how to monitor your reps
���� How to use an „analyzing algorithm‰ to avoid petty feedback
���� Who not to coach
���� Why the „sandwich feedback technique‰ is a waste of time and effort
���� Why numeric rating systems are destructive
���� The Socratic feedback model the absolute best way to provide feedback
���� Other methods to enhance the coaching process
Based on twenty-plus years of helping companies throughout North America implement successful telephone selling programs, this book gives you everything you need to turn your ordinary telesales reps into extraordinary telesales reps.
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Read an Excerpt
Telesales CoachingThe Ultimate Guide to Helping Your Inside Sales Team Sell Smarter, Sell Better and Sell MORE
By Jim Domanski
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Jim Domanski
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Coaching Solution
In this chapter:
Coaching Defined—Sing from the Same Songbook
A 4-Step Guide to How Coaching Really Works
Why Coach? 7 Compelling Reasons to Get Up from Your Desk, Get on the Floor, and Coach Your Telesales Reps
Coaching Myths and Legends—7 Things Coaching Definitely Is Not
The #1 Reason Why Companies and Managers Don't Coach
What's Your Excuse? 5 More Reasons Why Managers Don't Coach
The #1 Reason Why Coaching Programs Fail after They've Been Implemented
The Top 11 Traits of a Great Telesales Coach
Is Coaching the Miracle Cure for All Telesales Reps?
Coaching Defined—Sing from the Same Songbook
There are a good many interpretations and definitions of coaching. Let's make certain that we are singing from the same songbook right off the bat. It's vital to understand precisely what coaching is. If I can win your hearts and minds right here and right now, then coaching is a walk in the park.
Let's start with a basic definition.
Coaching is the process of helping reps sell smarter, sell better, and sell more.
It doesn't get much simpler than that. Coaching is a benefit-laden process. The words that should catch your eye are "sell smarter," "better," and "more" because those are the precise goals and outcomes of coaching if it's implemented correctly.
If you want to add a little meat to the definition, here's another angle.
Coaching is a way, a process, of helping your telesales reps sell more of your products and services by supporting, encouraging, and assisting them to sell more effectively.
This explanation adds another layer to the definition. Of particular note, the words "supporting, encouraging, and assisting" should jump out at you because that's what coaching is all about.
Adding another layer, the following definition provides a behavior-modification component that the previous two do not.
Coaching is a 4-Step process of setting sales-skills standards, monitoring or observing the telesales reps, analyzing their selling behaviors against those standards, and providing feedback in order to modify or change their behaviors to obtain positive results.
While somewhat more technical, this definition has one major component that the other two do not clearly delineate. This definition talks about modifying or changing the behaviors of the telesales reps.
The challenge of change
Bottom line? The power of coaching is that it can help your telesales reps change.
For telesales reps—or any sales reps—to get better at selling, typically they need to incorporate new skills, techniques, knowledge, processes, and methods. This is what training is all about: providing the skills and techniques to sell better.
It seems easy enough, but actually adopting these new skills is the tough part. Most reps resist change not because they are rebellious, but because they are human. It is human nature to resist change because change is usually uncomfortable, a least for a while.
When something is uncomfortable, we tend to avoid it, resist it, ignore it, and pretend it doesn't exist. But, here's the thing: we tend to go back to the old habits we had. Even if the old habits are ineffective, or the results are mediocre (or poor), many reps would rather feel comfortable than deal with the challenge and discomfort of change at the expense of becoming highly successful or highly paid.
Shocking isn't it? But it explains a lot about human behavior. It explains why training by itself rarely accomplishes much. It explains why great compensation plans don't seem to motivate to the degree we think they should. It explains why most reps linger in the middle of the pack or near the end.
So, if we know change is hard, it's up to us as managers, executives, and business owners to help make the transition easier from one skill set to another. It's up to us to help the reps change their behaviors so that they will be successful. If we don't, most will falter on their own. We should do this not simply for the sake of the poor telesales rep, but also for the improved sales results we are seeking.
Don't be afraid to be selfish here. Coach to help reps achieve the sales results you and your bosses want to see.
A 4-Step Guide to How Coaching Really Works
Telesales coaching is a process, a repeatable event consisting of clearly defined steps or components that can be defined and mastered with time and practice. The good news is that the process never changes. It is like riding a bike; once you've learned it, you'll never forget it. It becomes automatic.
There are four fundamental components to an effective coaching process. They are:
1. Establish the standards.
2. Monitor the calls and the reps.
3. Analyze what you have seen and heard.
4. Provide feedback.
The Telesales Coaching Model
The remainder of the book will delve into these components in detail, but for the moment, here is an overview of each.
Perhaps the single most important concept of the coaching process is the standard. A standard consists of one or all of the following:
A set of expectations
Clearly defined guidelines
An objective set of steps
A specific way of doing something
Something established for use as a rule or a basis of comparison or measurement
Please excuse the multiple definitions, but the standard is vital to the process of telesales coaching, and if there is a secret to good coaching, the standard is it. In the plainest of terms, you cannot coach a skill or technique if a standard has not been set.
To illustrate, here are a couple of examples.
In my telesales training workshops, we discuss that an effective, opening statement for prospecting should include five components.
1. A statement of the rep's full name
2. A statement of the rep's company name
3. The reasons for the call
4. The benefit the prospect/client might derive
5. A bridge to a question
These five parts create the standard by which the coach judges that portion of the call. Sales managers coach to these five parts and these five parts alone. Why? Because that is what the sales reps are taught in training. Coaching reinforces the skills (standards) that were taught.
These steps become the objective measure by which to monitor the call and provide feedback. If the telesales rep nails all five of these elements when being monitored, he or she is selling to-standard. That is, the rep is doing the right things. If he or she misses one of the elements, then the opening statement isn't to-standard, and coaching is required.
Here's another example. Again, in my sales training, there is a simple 3-step process for handling knee-jerk objections, such as "I'm in a meeting." The three steps are:
2. Ignore the objection.
3. Ask a question.
If you have a different way of handling this objection or a different way of opening a call, no problem; use it. The beauty of the standard is that it can be whatever you like, as long as it is clearly defined, taught, and supported. Assuming the telesales reps have been taught this process, you can coach to it until the reps have mastered it. If the reps don't empathize, or if they launch into a rebuttal rather than ask a question, you can provide feedback to help them remember and use the process. That's what coaching is.
To make coaching work, you need to define with precision those skills and techniques that you want your reps to use. If you do not do this, if your expectations are vague and unclear, your coaching will be subjective and inconsistent. Your reps will resist the coaching process if your feedback is based on a series of personal and ever-changing tips and tactics. So, if your feedback is not solidly grounded in a standard, your rep will be confused.
What this really means is that you have your work cut out for you. You need to define your sales model, identify the standards, and break them down into steps. After you have taught them in a formal setting, you need to coach those standards diligently.
You know as well as I do that selling requires flexibility and that a standard cannot be set for every single situation. But large portions of your sales model can and should be defined because those parts will be used regularly and consistently. Some skills that can be standardized include:
Making an opening statement
Getting past gatekeepers and knee-jerk objections
Presenting an offer
Dealing with smokescreen objections
Asking key qualifying questions
Leaving a proper voice mail
Closing a sale
Up-selling and cross-selling
Asking for a referral
Monitoring is easy to grasp once you've got a standard.
Monitoring is the process of listening and observing a telesales rep's level of selling relative to a given standard.
As a sales manager, this means you must listen to live or recorded calls and determine if the skills and techniques used by the rep were to the standard taught in training. The point here is obvious; before you can provide any feedback, you need to hear (and sometimes observe) a series of calls.
How, when, and who you monitor will be discussed in later chapters, but for the moment, that's all there is to it.
Analyzing is defined as the process of determining if the telesales rep is performing to the established standards and what if any action is required based on the analysis.
So, if monitoring is the act of listening, then analyzing is the act of determining if the rep is actually using the skills and techniques (i.e., the standards) that were taught. Analyzing is thinking about what you have heard. During analysis, one of three outcomes will become evident.
1. The call or technique is to-standard. For example, you monitor your telesales rep, and the opening statement contains the five steps that were taught in training. You listen and hear that they were presented correctly. They were to the standard you set. Et voila! The opening is to-standard, so no feedback is necessary for that part of the call.
2. The call or the technique is not to-standard. Carrying on from the above, you listen to the call, and for example, the rep encounters a knee-jerk objection. The prospect says, "I'm in a meeting right now." Slightly panicked, your reps blurts out, "Oh, sorry that I interrupted. When would be a better time to call?"
At this stage your analysis reveals that the handling of the objection was not to-standard. The standard for handling the objection was to empathize, ignore, and ask a question. Based on this analysis, you know that it is necessary to provide feedback in order for the rep to modify the behavior.
3. The call or the technique is above standard. This occurs when the sales rep's selling performance is above-standard. This usually means the sales rep not only applied the standard that you set, but also he or she has added a creative or unique twist to the technique, making it even better and more effective.
For example, suppose your monitoring and analysis reveals that the rep provided the 3-step process for pitching the product and added a metaphor to illustrate the benefit. The metaphor was not taught as a standard, but it certainly supplemented the effort.
Here is an opportunity to provide positive feedback. Your analysis revealed the rep has taken the standard to a higher level. You want him or her to continue that behavior, so you'll continue to provide positive feedback.
Feedback is the final step in the coaching process. Defined, feedback is the process used to recognize above-standard and below-standard performance as well as the steps taken to encourage, modify, or improve the selling behavior.
You will give feedback when you meet with the rep and verbally provide comments, suggestions, corrections, encouragement, and praise. It occurs only after you have monitored and analyzed what you've heard.
Note that feedback applies only to above—and below-standard situations. Unless the skills have just been learned by the telesales rep, feedback is not given for standard performance because, by definition, a standard performance meets the basic expectation.
I will write more on this later, but for now, understand that in the early stages of learning, feedback for standard behavior can and should be given in order to encourage the rep to continue to use the skill or technique. However, after a skill has been mastered, feedback is not required. Many mangers make the mistake of patting their reps on their shoulders when they perform the basic fundamentals. This is unnecessary and risky. Reps will often see this as pandering, and the coaching process can become diluted. If the sales rep becomes cynical of your coaching style, the coaching process will have lost its power.
Why Coach? 7 Compelling Reasons to Get Up from Your Desk, Get on the Floor, and Coach Your Telesales Reps
If you've read this far into the book, you probably have some pretty good reasons for why you think coaching might help you get the most out of your reps. But just in case you need to quantify the issue, here are seven reasons why you should make time to implement a coaching program.
1. Training is not enough
Training begins the formal process of learning. It imparts the knowledge necessary for the reps to sell. Whether it is related to knowledge, technology, or skills, training is vital. But here's the thing you'll want to guard against; it's called homeostasis.
Homeostasis is the tendency for something to go back to a pre-existing comfort zone. For example, have you ever been on a diet and lost a few pounds? What happens to those lost pounds over time? If you are like most people, you gain them back. You know why? Because we all tend to go back to our old eating habits. That's homeostasis at work.
Training usually means change. In selling-skills training, the rep may learn a new way to handle an objection or a new method of asking for a referral. It's different from what the rep has learned in the past. She or he has to change to make it work, and change, whether big or small, tends to be a challenge for the majority of people. So too with your telesales reps. After they have been trained, and no matter how enthusiastic they are, there is some sort of inner switch that tends to pull them back to their old behaviors; homeostasis kicks in.
Enter coaching. Coaching develops and reinforces the skill and ensures that knowledge is applied and used. It encourages the reps to use what they have learned before they give way to homeostasis. Coaching acts as a reminder. It corrects deviations. It encourages. It keeps them on the right track and prevents them from drifting from the skill set or knowledge base.
2. It improves retention
Here's the rational: if you develop the skill and ability of your reps, and they succeed at selling, they will be happy. Call it good morale. If they are successful and content because their needs are being met, they don't usually jump ship. This does two things for you. First, it ensures that sales continue to flow. That makes everyone happy. Second, it reduces costs because turnover stays low. Costs impact margin and profitability. Keeping your reps means spending less time and money recruiting, selecting, hiring, and training replacements. Your boss will love you. You'll look like a hero.
3. It attracts good candidates
When implemented well, a coaching program is like a magnet. It draws good people to your firm. Almost miraculously, better candidates begin to knock at your door because they want to be associated with a company that develops the skills and abilities of their reps. Your existing employees will tell their friends, and they will become instant recruiting agents. This means you can grow your company and your revenues. Again, you're the hero. If you do have turnover, no fears; the pool of applicants will be pretty good.
4. Carrots are not enough
There are companies and managers who truly believe that if you dangle a big enough carrot, sales reps will perform and succeed. Regrettably, the sales field is littered with discouraged sales reps who tried hard but failed.
Here's the fundamental problem with so-called carrots (contests, incentives, big commissions, etc.): they can get your reps to work harder for a period of time. But what they don't do is teach your reps to work smarter. Working hard is good and important. Elbow grease is part of the sales game. But shear hard work can still frustrate and discourage reps when they fail to get the sale.
Coaching teaches reps to combine a strong work ethic with smart work. If they learn and apply the techniques, they'll succeed in taking home the carrot.
5. Sales experience is not enough
Believe it or not, there are some companies who genuinely feel that hiring an experienced telesales rep is a strategy to sales success. Therein lies an assumption that hiring an experienced rep means that the company does not need to provide comprehensive training and that the rep can hit the ground running.
Do I need to elaborate on this one? Sales experience is no guarantee that the telesales rep will succeed at selling your product to your markets. If the rep does succeed without your intervention, great! You won! You picked the right horse! Congratulations.
Excerpted from Telesales Coaching by Jim Domanski Copyright © 2012 by Jim Domanski. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Coaching Solution: Everything You Need to Know about Coaching....................xv
What This Book Is About....................xv
Who Should Read This Book....................xvi
The #1 Reason Your Reps Don't Sell More of Your Products or Services....................xvi
What to Expect from This Book....................xix
Chapter One: The Coaching Solution....................1
Chapter Two: Step #1: Establishing Standards....................39
Chapter Three: Step #2: Monitoring the Calls....................59
Chapter Four: Step #3: The Analyzing Process....................94
Chapter Five: Step #4: Feedback....................108
Chapter Six: Other Approaches to Coaching....................151
About the Author....................177