A.B.C. – Always Be Coaching
It’s fairly safe to assume all you sales professionals out there have heard the phrase “A.B.C. – Always Be Closing”. Even if you haven’t seen the movie it’s from, it’s quoted enough in the sales world that nearly everyone in our industry has heard it. It’s solid advice, but there’s a lot that goes into closing a sale, and it all starts with coaching. Training, coaching, skill development – whatever you want to call it – is crucial not only during the first few weeks or months on the job, but throughout a salesperson’s career.
The problem is most sales managers barely have time to train new hires, much less conduct ongoing coaching and training sessions with the more experienced members of their team. A 2019 report by Data Dwell showed that 65% of sales managers cite lack of time and resources as their two largest barriers to closing more deals.
There are a variety of solutions to help free up time for sales managers and reps alike, some of which we’ve already discussed in previous installments of this series. This installment will focus on the tools and techniques to make coaching less time consuming and more effective. If you’re still skeptical about the benefits of coaching tools, consider this: teams that invest in technology for sales training and development are 57% more effective than teams that don’t.
We touched on the importance of built-in coaching tools in sales dialers briefly in part two of this series, but now we’re going to do a deeper dive into the specifics of what features and tools to look for.
Call recording is a fairly standard feature across dialer platforms, which is good because it is instrumental in using conversation analytics tools like Gong or Avoma (more details on these later on). Depending on your business, you may need to make sure some calls are not recorded, you might want a recording notifying incoming calls that they are being recorded, or you might want to only record outbound calls to people in two-party consent states. If any of these are the case for your business, you’ll want to make sure your dialer provides you with the necessary options to stay compliant.
Live Call Coaching
Listening to call recordings is good, but sometimes you might want to listen in on a call in real time – whether you’re training a new hire, coaching a rep who’s been struggling lately, or just making sure an important call goes well. And in most cases, you’ll also want to be able to butt in on these calls, either to quickly whisper something in the rep’s ear, or barge in and make it a three-way call if you really need to save the day.
We’ll get into the importance of having dashboard reporting on overall team performance for a given time period in a minute, but having live dashboards are important for you and your team as well. A good sales dialer will have a live dashboard you can look at to see which reps are on a call, who they’re on a call with, and how long the call has been going on for. It’s also useful to see if a rep has been offline for a while or hasn’t made a call recently – especially in remote work scenarios.
Having a live call leaderboard is a good tool for managers to keep track of daily metrics, but it’s even more effective when the whole team can see it. Putting up a live leaderboard of daily call stats on a TV or monitor on the sales floor fosters friendly competition amongst the members of your team. This isn’t, strictly speaking, a coaching tool, but it’s a simple and effective tool for keeping your team motivated and engaged.
Ok, now for the fun stuff. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, but when it comes to conversational intelligence it’s one of the most important recent developments in sales technology. Platforms like Gong, Avoma, Balto, or (to a lesser extent) Fireflies.ai are creating tools to analyze call data in ways that were impossible just a decade ago. At the most basic, rudimentary level, these are all tools for automatic call transcription. Having searchable transcripts for all of your calls is a huge asset all by itself. But these tools go further than that – much further.
Beyond just creating a transcript of a call, tools such as Gong and Avoma allow you to see key metrics on talking speed, talking points, number of questions asked, and even compliance and script adherence. The possibilities are endless, really, and you’ll want to sit down and think about what metrics are important for your sales model. A 2017 report by Gong highlights some great examples of the kind of insights a conversational intelligence platform can provide:
- Using the phrase “let me show you how” repeatedly during a call can decrease close rates by 13%. (This is especially true for B2B sales.)
- Using your company name 4+ times in one sales call will hurt close rates by 14%
- Using the term “free trial” can lower close rates by 5%
- You can increase the chances of closing sale by 74% if you ask a minimum of 11 questions during the initial call
In terms of recommending specific products, let’s just start by saying it’s always important to consider your specific use case and what tools will be the most impactful for your team. Having said that, there are a few pointers we can offer.
Gong is the clear frontrunner of the space, and rightfully so. It has a wide variety of integrations, is easy to use, and has been around for a (relatively) long time. That said, it’s on the higher end price-wise as well. If you’re looking for a platform similar to Gong but you’re on a tighter budget, Avoma may be your best bet. It’s more budget friendly, without sacrificing too much functionality. Lastly, the most budget-friendly option is Fireflies.ai, which hovers around $10-$20 per user per month, depending on the plan you choose.
Real-time call intelligence is a newer space than post-call intelligence, but that doesn’t make it any less important. If anything, it’s even more cutting edge than it’s big cousins in post-call analytics. It’s exactly what it sounds like; it allows you (and/or your reps) to see important quantitative and qualitative data for the call they are currently on. Like post-call intelligence tools, this allows you to make sure a script is being followed, qualifying questions are being asked, and reps are staying compliant. But unlike post-call tools, real-time tools like Balto allow you to monitor – and correct – while the rep is still on the call.
In our next installment…
There are few, if any, tools as important as a CRM. Your CRM is your team’s single point of truth for everything pertaining to sales, and should be treated as such. Picking a CRM is not a choice that should be made lightly, and so in our next installment we will do a deep dive into four of the leading CRMs on the market today, and analyze the pros and cons of each.