Callers have higher expectations for customer service than ever before. Studies show that most customers will cut ties with a brand they love after a single poor experience. That means phone calls are make-or-break moments in the buying journey, and each sales agent is a representative of your brand. To succeed, your agents need to develop the right phone skills to build rapport with leads and ultimately convert them. And as a sales manager, you need the right tools to track their progress and coach them to their highest potential. Here are six phone skills that will help your sales team convert more leads.
Rapport lays the foundation for any conversation. When the agent is able to establish a relationship with a caller, the customer feels heard and gains confidence in their decision to do business with you. On the other hand, poor rapport strains the dialogue, negatively impacting the sales close rate.
A friendly voice is welcoming, relaxing, and engaging. Agents should always share their first names to build rapport on the phone. Remaining patient and calm, addressing the customer by name, asking their opinion, and being personable are other great ways to put a potential customer at ease and spark a more natural conversation.
Banal greetings such as "how are you today?" are automatic and impersonal. So agents should build rapport using personalized interactions instead. Unique questions let the customer know they are talking to a human being. For example, the agent can say, "I see you're calling from Denver. I loved skiing there as a kid. Do you get to do much skiing?" Immediately the caller is engaged on a personalized topic and realizes that you know who they are.
Building rapport is much easier when agents understand the larger context of the call. As customers browse your company's website, they create a trail of digital intent data that can inform a conversation when they call. By using a conversation intelligence solution like Invoca, agents can receive information about the customer's digital journey before the call starts so they can spend more time building the relationship and less time asking for basic information. Agents can use this data to personalize the conversation and build rapport. Invoca can provide real-time information like which page the client viewed, what campaign they engaged with, and what products are in their cart. With information at their fingertips, agents can create exceptional experiences based on the sales lead's unique needs, improving customer satisfaction and sales close rates.
The sales team needs to know your products and services inside and out. Callers expect the customer service representative to be able to answer their questions. So, agents require training on your products and services during onboarding and ongoing training to keep them up-to-date with the latest products, services, and changing customer needs. Some representatives may have personal skill sets that make them better equipped to handle certain calls. For example, say a sales lead has questions about a high-value item. In an ideal world, this call would get answered immediately by a sales representative who has deep knowledge of the item and excels at closing deals.
People get frustrated by waiting on hold and then being shuffled to different departments and having to repeat themselves. In fact, 74% of people report having hung up after being placed on hold. Many people even avoid calling certain businesses altogether because they expect long wait times or too many transfers. They want the first person they talk with to provide prompt assistance.
This is where Invoca's inbound call handling with dynamic routing comes in. For example, say a customer has a high-value cart open on the website. Invoca can identify that high-intent call and immediately route the lead to the most appropriate sales team member or department. Real-time data will pop up on the agent's screen, allowing them to address the caller's immediate need and move one step closer to closing the sale.
Empathy is one of the most crucial selling skills. Empathizing with the customer helps build rapport. It also focuses the agent's mindset on assisting the customer. When a sales rep is single-mindedly determined to close the deal, they may lose sight of what the customer wants. By cultivating empathy, the representative listens and works with them to build agreeable solutions.
The good news is, that these are phone sales skills that people can learn. Train employees to listen actively. Stay quiet and let the caller have their say. Next, ask questions about their opinions and desires? "What are your thoughts?" "What would help you the most right now?"
Unfortunately, angry callers are a part of the job, and they may take their frustration out on the sales representative. However, empathy helps agents and customers avoid becoming mad or defensive. It's essential to train employees to remain calm on the phone and respond in a neutral tone. Another way to show empathy is by repeating some of the caller's exact words along with verbal affirmations such as "I understand where you're coming from" or "That sounds frustrating."
Empathy comes from understanding the larger context of the caller's world. Using a conversation intelligence platform like Invoca provides agents with information about the customer's digital journey that led to the call. This gives them the information they need to make the call feel more personal and the context to develop deeper empathy with the customer.
Empathy goes hand-in-hand with active listening. Agents can show customers that they are listening by repeating and paraphrasing what the other says. Reflecting the customer's sentiments tells them you're following what they say. As a result, the customer feels heard, and they have a chance to correct any misunderstandings.
Salespeople have a reputation for being overly talkative. In contrast, an active listener listens more than they talk. They never cut the caller off. Instead, they listen and acknowledge what the other says with brief statements such as "I see" or "right." Being an active listener also means asking pointed questions to clear up issues. For example, repeat what you hear and ask, "Is that what you meant?" or "Did I miss anything."
Active listeners focus their attention on the topic at hand. If they get distracted, they may miss something the client says. So, creating a distraction-free environment in the contact center or your agent's home office is crucial.
With Invoca, while the agent is listening, the AI is too. Your agents will inevitably make mistakes. They may mishear or misunderstand and forget important parts of their scripts. In addition, humans are often unaware of their implicit biases, which makes manual call scoring tricky. Invoca's conversation intelligence automatically scores calls, presenting an accurate, objective view of every customer conversation. Contact center managers and agents can then harness this information to tailor their future responses. After the call, the salesperson can instantly review their own performance and reflect on how to be a more effective listener, and managers can @mention agents in call scripts to show them exactly where and how they can improve.
Preparation is the first step to keeping a conversation in check. Proper planning allows the agent to speak succinctly and to the point. Sales reps who ramble often provide too much information and overwhelm or bore the customer. Either way, they're likely to tune out the conversation.
A well-prepared agent is more confident. The salesperson needs to be sure of themselves and their product. Authentic confidence reflects in the voice and infects the listener. So, train employees on the value of the product they are selling. If they believe it, so will the customer.
It also helps to be professional, but not servile. It's natural for a salesperson to want to ingratiate themselves with the client. However, fawning banter puts the other person in a position of power. For example, sales reps should avoid expressing overly sentimental appreciation. Saying "Thank you" three or four times in one call shifts the balance of power to the customer. Instead of "Thank you for your time," or try "I enjoyed talking with you."
When sales reps have caller information readily available, they can better control the call. It also makes it much easier for them to prep for outbound calls. Agents can do their homework on a customer before making a cold call. However, inbound calls are a different story. Invoca's conversation intelligence gives representatives a leg up on the conversation with data and insights based on their digital journey. Automatically identifying the callers makes every agent more effective. For example, say the caller searched "how to cancel my service" before calling. With Invoca, the representative knows what they're getting into based on the screen pop. That way, they can effectively guide the conversation.
Tactfully responding to customer objections is a culmination of all the most important sales call skills. Meeting objections head-on involves building rapport, listening, empathizing, investigating, and rebutting. The agent and customer have built rapport through active listening and empathy. If the client objects to the sale, the salesperson has the insight to investigate the reason behind the objection. Then, when the rep hears hesitation in the lead's voice, they can offer a sound rebuttal that drives the deal forward.
Invoca gives you insights into the buying experience from digital interactions to phone conversations. With this valuable information, agents can find sound rebuttals and overcome objections. For example, say a caller is hesitant about a specific product or service due to a lack of information. They say, "This seems too complicated." The agent needs to simplify and explain. But some callers have difficulty expressing what they are confused about. That's where data on recent search terms and website paths holds valuable insight. The extra information is enough to clarify the caller's needs so the agent can close the deal.
Training and feedback are crucial parts of developing these phone sales skills. Sales coaching is most effective when it is personalized, actionable, and immediate. Conversation intelligence takes agent feedback to the next level by letting you quickly identify teachable moments. So, you spend less time identifying issues and more time solving them. The visual dashboard lets you see which interactions need review and which agents need coaching. AI and automation give you a complete picture of agent call handling, quality, and compliance.
With Invoca, you can automate Quality Assurance (QA) based on your unique criteria. Contact center managers set automatic scoring parameters to quantify agent performance. Records, transcripts, and score cards are immediately available after each call, leading to instant feedback. As a result, the software provides unbiased data on each agent's quality and compliance. In addition, you can give personalized feedback to each agent to help them improve their sales call skills.
Automated call scoring gives agents access to their scorecards as soon as the call ends for self-coaching. This process means you spend less time listening to conversations to find problems and more time empowering agents through targeted coaching.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can automate your call QA and improve coaching? Request your demo today.