Sales agents spend much of their time on the phone, so it’s important for this time to be used effectively. While some may be natural at selling, everyone can stand to have at least a little training to help them out. There are some areas of phone etiquette that you should be focusing on to help them be the most effective.
Active listening is one of the most important things a sales professional can focus on. Not only will it help them understand what the customer’s actual concerns and needs are, but it also helps the customer feel validated, which in turn helps them have a better experience and a more favorable impression of your dealership. However, active listening over the phone requires different skills than active listening in person. Because body language can’t play a role here, sales agents need to get comfortable with vocalizing affirmations and conversational cues. Active listening can also involve asking clarifying questions and restating what the customer has said to show understanding. One of the best ways to train on this is through Active Coaching. Not only should you be evaluating how your sales agents perform on actual phone calls, but you should also give them opportunities to roleplay and learn to verbalize what they may normally use visual clues for.
If there is one thing that sales agents can count on, it’s that there will be angry customers that they have to deal with over the phone. No one really enjoys dealing with it, but it is a fact of life when you work on the phone. Active listening can play a huge role in fending off conflict, but when it rears its ugly head, you need to have the plan to deal with it. The number one thing you need to train into your sales agents for these situations is the ability to stay calm and roll with the situation. Nothing is worse than having a sales agent lose their cool and fight with a customer. They should also be given resources to resolve the conflict and the necessary information on what they can and can’t do to resolve the conflict. This is where phone scripts and other resources become incredibly valuable. Not only will they give your sales agents the path, but they also help them determine when the phone call needs to be escalated because they are out of options.
Information Gathering and Research
In order to answer any questions your customers have, your sales agents need to be experts in gathering information and researching any questions they aren’t familiar with. This is best accomplished if they can stay on the phone with the customer and give them the answer quickly, but it may occasionally require putting a customer on hold and searching out the information needed. Your sales agents need to be intimately familiar with the knowledge database and how to look things up in order to make sure they find the needed information as quickly as possible. Phone scripts can be incredibly helpful in this area, but you should also make sure that your knowledge database is well organized so they are able to search for any answers they may be unfamiliar with. Make sure you give your sales agents, especially any newer ones, adequate time to become familiar with how any search functions work and what the organization is. The less time a customer has to spend on hold, the better.
No matter how much time a sales agent spends on the phone with a customer, if they aren’t able to set appointments and commitments, then they aren’t being effective. While sales agents won’t be successful 100% of the time, it is important for them to be effective at setting commitments and appointments with the people to whom they speak. Phone scripts are helpful for this, mainly because they prompt the necessary parts of the conversation. Still, you should also employ active coaching and stealth testing to see how each agent is doing and whether they use their resources appropriately to set commitments.
Good phone etiquette training is an integral part of helping your sales agents to be effective employees and to see success in their phone conversations. These sales agents are a large part of the overall impression of your dealership, so make sure you prioritize helping them find success.
As the Vice President of Phone Ninjas, Chris delivers leadership, coaching, and mentorship to 55 team members providing software sales and phone skills coaching. He fosters powerful partnerships and collaborations with leaders across various business sectors, establishing expectations, communicating vision, and escalating performance to maximize productivity and effectiveness.