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February 20, 2013

Boost Outbound Telemarketing Agent Coaching with the Right Technology

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While hiring the right contact center agents has always been a chore (retaining them is an even bigger one!), it’s particularly difficult for call centers engaging in outbound work. Let’s face it…not everyone is cut out for outbound telemarketing, and those that can do it need all the support they can get. Despite restrictive legislation and low response rates on outbound telemarketing, many companies still use it in addition to related software because, in the long run, it still works.

So while it may be a task to recruit and hire outbound call center agents, once they are on board, how do you help them become better telephone salespeople?

According to a recent blog post from lead management and CRM solutions provider VanillaSoft, coaching is one of the most critical elements of creating excellent outbound telemarketers. It’s often bypassed, because call center managers usually have too much to do and too little time to do it in, but it’s very important not to skimp on, writes VanillaSoft’s President and CEO David Hood. He  argues that coaching and training is even more important in sales than in other jobs, and perhaps most important in outbound telephone sales.

“It is a job where you put yourself on the line with every call, and that is not an easy thing to do,” writes Hood. “We talk about someone being a born salesperson, but the best salespeople have a lot of mileage under their belt and have had the opportunity to learn from others. We shouldn’t forget that when we put together a sales team and give them the ultimate responsibility of all – to bring in money.”

Coaching in a vacuum is difficult, particularly for a manager who is not an expert in outbound telemarketing. This is where technology comes in. Training, coaching and technology in conjunction can become greater than the sum of their parts when it comes to making a great outbound agent. Hood says the right software solution is a good place to start.

“When you are coaching and training salespeople you need to give them the tools to standardize best practices,” he writes. “Functionality such as call scripting with logical branches gives salespeople the opportunity to work on tried-and-true messages, and the feedback from calling can easily be fed back into improvements to the script for everyone.”

Intelligent call recording plays a part, too, because it can help managers find the best material on which to coach an agent, and can generate actionable feedback for both the call center as a whole and the agent on a personal level.

While it’s certainly important to properly coach all agents in a contact center environment, outbound agents are often the revenue-generators for a company. They support customers’ just as much as inbound agents, but they need to go above and beyond and do it in a way that can lead directly to making a sale. Such an important job requires a solid foundation, both in the form of the human touch (coaching) and in the automated environment (software).

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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