Train your sales agents like a pro: the value of onboarding and training
By Natalia Mraz
| 3. September 2019 |
Call Center
By N. MrazNatalia Mraz
| 3 Sep 2019 |
Call Center
    By N. MrazNatalia Mraz
    | 3 Sep 2019
    Call Center

    Train your sales agents like a pro: the value of onboarding and training

    photo handshake

    Call centers tend to hire new agents constantly. Since an aspiring salesperson doesn’t need any specific qualifications to land the job, it might be difficult to find top talents at the beginning of their journey.

    However, if you offer all your agents proper onboarding, support, and constant training, you can build a successful sales team in no time. In fact, a strategic and consistent onboarding process can provide your company with higher rates of employee engagement, performance, and retention.

    Why are onboarding and training so valuable?

    New employees always need some help at the beginning, especially if they have little experience in the specific career field. The main goals of onboarding are to socialize new hires within the organization and shorten new hire time to productivity. Training allows your agents to reach their full potential by teaching them the appropriate skills and handling every task they are assigned in the best manner possible. How you handle difficult situations and how well you train your agents can make the biggest difference between creating a loyal customer base and losing customers.

    You might be wondering how exactly can you properly train your agents – well, we’ve got a lot of useful tips that will make the process super easy and will also have your agents become pros at what they do.

    Teach how to handle calls properly from the beginning

    This should be taught from the very start. Handling calls during the first training session is something that is a crucial part of the curriculum. The most basic training is teaching new hires how to handle real-time calls. Role-play isn’t as effective as real call handling. Trainers are required to check equipment if everything works properly and if everything is available and ready for each “real-time” call handling session. This should always be the number one priority!

    Empower and support your agents

    Having agents make decisions in the name of the company is a big deal. Make sure they know how important their role is. Basically, a well-trained agent can leave customers feeling satisfied with services. Make sure your sales agents truly feel like a part of the company, as they will be more likely to give their best. Also, you can empower your agents by giving them the right set of tools. Once you’re at it, you might want to give CloudTalk a chance.

    Make training sessions engaging and interesting

    Monotonous training is boring and unoriginal. Agents that aren’t engaged won’t learn anything new and only waste time. This, in turn, affects the support they provide to your customers. Basically, if your agents don’t know much, then your customers will often feel left in the dark as well.

    Give feedback that is clear and actionable

    Delivering feedback that agents can respond to is very crucial.  All feedback should be actionable and clear. Create various opportunities for agents to discuss with their peers and help them learn from each other. They should have the chance to discuss matters with one another and share insights. Quality shouldn’t be determined or driven only by manager-to-agent conversations.

    Include customer feedback and create instant “shout outs” 

    If you have great customer support, a good idea would be to recognize it in a public way. For example, when your customer emails you about a great experience they had, you can announce it online and post it on an overhead call board monitor. Put it on the ‘shout out’ bulletin board in your open space and have others see how great your service is.

    Encourage upper management to participate

    Upper management always plays an important role. It should take some time each week to listen to calls and praise the recognized agents with some small gift (gift card, certificate, etc.) This will have an agent feeling motivated to do their best always.

    Host monthly meetings

    Keeping track of your work and strategies is essential. Try to schedule a monthly meeting with representatives from all of your different departments to review calls, discuss progress and tweak your methods or strategy in accordance with common insights. 

    Discuss, brainstorm and share thoughts

    Some discussion sessions where staff can elect to deliver a session on their topic of choice is a good idea to include everyone and get them involved. This also shows you what needs to be improved and what is going well. It doesn’t always have to be work-specific, though. Various topics will show you different sides of colleagues. This also allows everyone to show their enthusiasm and energy for things they enjoy and are passionate about.

    Use speech analytics

    Being able to analyze large volumes of agent/customer interactions releases information on specific calls with problems and trends across the whole agent population, which creates the opportunity to coach staff using examples from the past to improve standards across the contact centre. The resulting information not only creates training opportunities but also enables refinement of scripts, improving the general performance of the contact center. If you use a call center software, you can also access relevant data and take advantage of the analytics.

    Improve knowledge management

    Knowledge is power. The only long-term competitive advantage for any organization is the collective brainpower of its people. The smarter staff works, the more effective the results.

    Offer incentives for achieving team goals                        

    Another good practice is to offer incentives each month to agents who are the most effective and successfully meet their team goals. This motivates agents and keeps them looking forward to receiving praise.

    Focus on company culture

    Being open and transparent with your agents over time will build a culture where feedback and coaching is the norm. There’s no reason to keep information from your colleagues. Honesty and talking through topics can bring your whole team a lot of benefits in the long run.

    Create an agent workgroup to set targets and KPIs

    This helps you set realistic and achievable targets and goals that staff will buy into, as well as help change the perception of your senior management team as to the definition of high performers

    Separate customer service from call accuracy

    It’s best to break your quality measures down to address specific focus areas for agents. For example, split call accuracy from customer service, as someone could be great at one but not to great at the other. This will give you a greater ability to give agents praise where it’s deserved, but also address any areas that are in need of development.

    Help each other out                

    Your best agents are the proper examples for starters. If possible, they should support the training of new agents. Building relationships early with the top performers will make new agents want to follow their footsteps.

    Align performance management with a wider strategy

    Your whole approach to performance management should be aligned with a wider customer service strategy and employee engagement program. To put it simply, your call center agents can then see the bigger picture and are more likely to buy in.

    Make your agents identify with your values

    Someone who doesn’t share your values during the training process can be a problem for you in the future. Concentrate on how agents bond with the supervisors and identify with your core values. Skills can always be taught but values can’t be changed.

    It might not seem like it at first, but onboarding and training set the future for your call center. After all, the trained agents will be representing your business, which is why it’s important that everyone is on the same page. Follow our advice and make sure you train your team to be pros!