Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Making 'Call Coaching' Scale

Posted by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Dec 04, 2012

Last month a Sales Manager who had recently downloaded our Inside Sales research report sent me this note: 


I saw in your report, that 69% of Managers aren’t hitting the target of 3-5 coaching hours per rep per month. Guilty as charged.

The issue for me is that when I do live coaching I’m either a) listening to my reps leave voicemail after voicemail or b) joining a pre-scheduled call. It is rare that I actually get to hear something in-between (meaning a live connect and how it plays out).

What are you seeing other Managers do about this?

To be honest, I didn’t have a great answer. I’m a huge fan of call recording & review for scheduled calls (discovery calls, demos, proposal reviews, etc.). I’ve seen companies build great coaching process around those. Kim Reisman from OpenView Venture Partners recently offered advice on this topic.

Three Big Issues

But in terms of live (side-by-side) coaching, three big issues remain:

#1 - If focusing on outbound prospecting, at best, you are looking at 1 maybe 2 live connects in that hour. Taking 60 minutes from a Rep & Manager for what amounts to 6 minutes of coachable selling just isn't efficient.

#2 - When a Rep does connect with a prospect, there’s little chance they’ll remember exactly what they said that resonated.
-and finally-

#3 - There’s no way to institutionalize what great sounds like. If a Rep knocks it out of the park with a customer story, there is no way to share that example with the wider team.

A Potential Solution

With that as the backdrop, I had a call the other day with Josh Freeman, CEO of TeamVisibility. Steve Richard had introduced us and spoken very highly of their technology in allowing Managers to “Better see, hear and coach their teams.”

Being a proud and true New Englander, I was skeptical.

But 10 minutes into the demo I was thinking about the email above. “What are you seeing other Managers do about this?”

Josh presented the concept of what I’ve come to think of as time-shifted call coaching. He calls it "reviewing the game tape."

Time-Shifted Call Coaching

The idea makes perfect sense to me. A Manager spending an hour sitting side-by-side, and waiting for a coachable moment, doesn't scale. Why not capture the 'game tape' as it happens and review after the fact?

I asked Josh to share a few clips to illustrate what it sounds like. (Note: Massachusetts is a two-party consent state, so you’ll only hear one side of the call)

Sales Managers, would you rather spend precious coaching time reviewing voicemails & live connects or wading through dial tones, gatekeepers & automated greetings?

Towards a Call Library

For me, the real power comes from Reps being able to select their own clips for review by the group - either in looking for constructive feedback or in disseminating a sales moment worth sharing.

I asked Josh how his team uses their technology internally. He shared:

We built out a Library as part of our normal review of game tape. Whenever we hear a call that we feel is Best Practice, we simply tag it and it’s shared with the entire team. That same clip also is archived to build a training library for new reps to use during the on-boarding process.

In addition to entire calls, we went a step further and broke down each call into key elements (intro, making a connection, elevator pitch, etc.). So we now have Best Practices for each individual element as well. It has been a very powerful tool for helping our reps get up to speed.

I see some real promise in time-shifted call coaching. For most, 69% according to our research, the current way of doing things just isn't getting it done.

I’d love to hear what others are doing.

Sales Managers, how are you call coaching today? What processes and/or tools are helping you scale your efforts?

Find Matt on Twitter and Google+ 
(Photo credit: National Football Post) 


Trish - we're big fans of TeamVis (that's what we call it). The key to gaining rep adoption is ensuring that someone who is competent reviews their game film with them. If the rep improves and makes more money, they will embrace it.  
Lesson: if you use TeamVis be sure that "time shifted call coaching" (nice one Trish) is part of your routine and that you have good people doing it. If you do you will get ROI from faster rep ramp up times and better average performance from tenured reps.

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:05 AM by Steve Richard

Thanks, Steve! [btw, I actually wrote this one. Trish is always trying to steal my bylines ;) ] 
You make a HUGE point I had missed. 
"The key to gaining rep adoption is ensuring that someone who is competent reviews their game film with them." 
Thanks for the valuable addition!

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:07 AM by Matt Bertuzzi

Good post Matt. I think side by side coaching still has huge value, but I do agree that sitting in a cubicle for an hour of voicemails is a waste of time. If live convos is what you require then go to the "game tape" as Josh suggests. 
To get the most out of your one on one sessions, focus on process when you are sitting in with your reps. Pay special attention to pre-and post call planning, crm usage, phone tree navigation, call plan adherence. Focus your time on their habits and coach them on how those things are helping and hurting them in terms of getting more people on the phones.

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:23 AM by Peter Gracey

You make a great point, Pete.  
Side-by-side coaching can't be beat if a Manager is looking to develop prospecting skills like the ones you mentioned (pre-and post call planning, crm usage, phone tree navigation, call plan adherence). 
Thanks for the awesome feedback.

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:53 AM by Matt Bertuzzi

Sorry about that Matt. Now I know how she comes up with all these great one liners. Man behind the scenes no more.

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:03 AM by Steve Richard

I agree with your comment that side-by-side coaching offers a huge value. Using tools like ConnectandSell offer a better chance of having those live moments. Following-up on inbound leads may also offer a better hit rate. I would imagine in a perfect sales world having both practices in play would allow for the strongest coaching opportunities. Think about it from the perspective of being the person coached. When I did my stint smiling and dialing, having a mentor in my area offered me a live / immediate coach to help me either during the call or immediately after for feedback, brainstorming, etc.  
Great conversation guys! 

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:07 AM by Noreen Vincent

We use a combination of side by side coaching and follow up call review sessions to manage and develop sales competencies with our Inside Sales Reps. I find a balance of the 2 helps provide live in the moment coaching and ensure implementation and/or development.  
One of the items we do to minimize wasted time is to have our sales reps schedule 3 to 4 appointments during a half day side by side coaching to ensure you are able to have coaching moments.  
Based on the live coaching we create a coaching continuum with actionable skills to focus on and develop. We schedule a follow up call review to listen to the specific coaching areas we worked on during our prevous live coaching session with the rep identifying calls to review. This helps ensure accountability and further support for areas the rep is working to develop. 
On a side note one of my favorite parts of using call reviews for coaching is highly skilled or aware reps will self report or identify areas. Many times they are harder on themselves than I would be as the coach and it allows me to point out specific strengths to provide positive re-enforcement.

posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 12:21 PM by Chris

Tools: I used enterprise CRM and Powerdialer add-on to Salesforce CRM. 
This let me do exactly what you're talking about above for the first time. As a manager of a team of callers this is exactly how I fixed the problem of listening for a long time with little real action (live connects) to listen to. Those tools allowed my callers to mark it in salesforce as A Live Connect, Salesforce and the Dialer stored the call recording in The Cloud, and then at any time I could go in to the Salesforce Report of 'Live Connects', download my reps calls recordings as compute audio files, put in my ear buds, and listen to a call from first dial to a company to hang up controlling fast forwarding/rewinding.  
Great for training on Gate Keeper tips and Key Decision Maker call training. I played the good ones and the ones needing improvement over loud speakers in team trainings and individual trainings pausing when a point needed to be made of good and bad performance. 
I never was coached or listened to when I was a cold caller and I can only imagine how much further and faster along my career and results would have come if any of my sales managers had these tools or done the same coaching and training for me. I've seen my reps go from 0 voice mail call backs and just 1-5 so so appointments a month to 10+ voicemail call backs and quality appointments a month with my coaching made possible by these software tool implementations.

posted @ Wednesday, December 05, 2012 9:17 AM by Ben Favier

Noreen, Chris & Ben - Thanks for your comments. It looks like the consensus is: 
a) live coaching = still valuable, especially so when the focus is on process 
b) time-shifted coaching - huge value lies in best using the managers time + breaking down calls one-on-one as a groups.

posted @ Wednesday, December 05, 2012 12:17 PM by Matt Bertuzzi

I remember in my younger years when I was doing call coaching before, I usually listen on recorded calls and then do the coaching, instead of the live side by side coaching.  
The reps gets to bring out their real attitude (be it good or bad) or their natural ability, skills and talent - - when there's nobody listening to them side by side, and then I give them coaching afterwards when we're both finish listening to the recorded call. Compared to live side by side coaching, they are conscious of what they're going to say, they're not themselves, and they get tense or stiff as a board, because they know someone is listening beside them.

posted @ Thursday, December 06, 2012 9:36 PM by Ayeen Benoza

Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics