Moving into telesales can often be a turbulent experience. Here we look at some of the best ways to give agents a much-needed confidence boost.
1. Set performance targets low (to begin with)
New agents can easily be demoralised by the high sales figures that their more experienced colleagues are hitting.
It can help to give them an easily attainable goal, letting them develop their style without the pressure of competing with their peers.
Make a celebration of their first sale, their first five sales, or even their first ten sales.
“I always set a lower than usual sales target for the first few weeks an agent is with us. It means we suffer in total sales numbers, but it also makes sure that the new guys don’t get disappointed.
“In fact, in most cases they hit target sooner than they thought and start building stronger confidence in their skills, which is invaluable when the target increases.”
2. Understand that criticism is not a motivational tool
Developing really effective workers is one of the key responsibilities of managers, and it’s achieved by helping staff to reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement.
Some managers confuse ‘reflection’ with ‘criticism’. Rather than engaging in a dialogue, they tell their staff that their work is not good enough. This is broken approach for two reasons.
Firstly, for staff to really learn, they need to be involved in the process of discovering their development areas. This is the only way to be sure that they understand why change is important.
Secondly, criticism almost always makes people defensive. The natural response to being criticised is to defy the critic – not necessarily by starting an argument, but by privately questioning their logic.
“An encouraging word when the agent has had a no-sales day is not always expected, but it’s always appreciated. The agent who appreciates the environment, the work, and their manager will start performing sooner or later.
“Yes, in a sales department we are all results oriented, but if you want sustainability you have to reach your target the right way – not through immense pressure and fireworks!”
3. Adopt the method of self-fulfilling prophecy
The idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy is simple psychology. People are prone to develop a sense of themselves and their abilities, be it positive or negative, which influences how they behave.
If someone thinks they are going to fail they will work to that theory, and are unlikely to build to success.
However, this can be used for their benefit too, simply by reinforcing the idea that they are talented and capable.
“What you think you are becomes your own self-fulfilling prophecy. The manager has to help the agent believe they are a great salesperson.
“In sales, you have to master the art of unwavering confidence, because sales are rejection-dense. If you don’t, you fail.
“Tell your agents that you consider them successful, intelligent, sharp and confident – and they will start to believe it.”
With thanks to Iakovos Amygdalos, Telesales Manager at Greek Yellow Pages
4. Balance sales skills with product knowledge
There’s no doubt about it, selling is a specialist skill that requires a great deal of ongoing training. Unfortunately, some training regimes put so much emphasis on sales skills that other core abilities get left behind.
With limited time and resources for training, it’s understandable that some areas get less attention. Nonetheless, it is vital for agents to know what they’re selling, not just how to sell it.
“Agent confidence stems from knowledge. They need a solid understanding of their product, their industry, their target customer, and their role. They also need to understand the tools and resources they work with, and the outcomes they are tasked with achieving.
“As sales leaders and coaches, we can enable our teams to perform at their peak by ensuring their knowledge base is current and relevant. Confident agents are open-minded, easy going and great to communicate with.
“With a focus on training and a bit of encouragement, it’s possible for all agents to have confidence in their role.”
With thanks to Head of Enrolments B2C at Study Network Australia
5. Focus on dealing with rejection
No matter the quality of the pitch, there are situations where a sale is simply not going to happen. Contact centre leaders don’t like to dwell on this, because a mentality of ‘not meant to be’ is less than helpful for motivating agents.
On the other hand, if agents aren’t prepared to deal with no-sale situations, they can easily take rejection to heart.
“Frustration is among the main enemies of a telesales agent – it’s the nature of the job, especially for those working from a cold list. Customer rejection, insults and even foul language are everyday realities.”
With thanks to Iakovos Amygdalos
6. ‘No’ is an opportunity to learn
Coping with inevitable rejections might be some of the most important training offered to sales staff.
Ensure that agents understand that every ‘no’ is an opportunity to learn and not a failure on their part. The longer they work at it, the fewer rejections they will encounter.
A positive approach is to ask agents to take notes on why the sale didn’t happen. This can help them to visualise trends in success, and is a useful asset for coaching that puts rejection into context.
“My advice for new starters is not to be afraid of rejection. A good salesperson hears rejection and looks for a way to overcome it. The more calls you make, the more confident you become; getting more talk time is crucial in honing a true sales pitch.”
With thanks to Raymond Amadi, Sales Account Manager at Rema Tip Top
For more on the topic of building confidence and empowering employees, read our articles: