Inbound Call Monitoring Creates Your Best (and Most Important) Sales Training Opportunities

If your business takes inbound sales calls, it’s imperative that someone be reviewing those recorded calls on a daily basis. That “someone” could be a manager in your organization or an outside company like us. Not sure why it’s important to make time for this?  Keep Reading.

Here are some of the reasons it's so important to monitor and train with recorded inbound calls

  • You don’t know what your employees don’t know
    It’s near impossible to train every employee on every facet of your product. However, there are probably parts of your product that you’d swear everyone is clear on… but they’re not. You need to know this information so you can train on the best, most necessary pressing elements of your offering.

    Listening back on phone calls helps you identify areas where your employees are unclear on product features, services, and company policies. If one of your employees is unclear on, say, your delivery radius, it’s best to get everyone together for a morning meeting to discuss this information. The fact that one employee has it wrong probably means others do, too… and it’s costing you money somewhere.

    The same is true for product features. If one employee gives a prospect misinformation about a product you stock, then that prospect might purchase from you based on that incorrect information; this will surely cause problems down the line. Best to fix the issue now, clear things up with the prospect, and make sure your team has all the correct information.

  • Your “1 minute maximum hold time” policy is not being adhered to… and your employees might not understand how long a 2 minute hold feels to a customer
    It’s pretty common for prospects to be put on hold for over 2 minutes while an employee searches for information or finishes other another call.  If you’ve ever reviewed a “prolonged hold” (or experienced one firsthand), you know 2 minutes feels like an eternity. However, your employees might not be aware of this so they’re likely to ask prospects to hold for extended periods of time.

    Reviewing recorded phone calls gives you (and your employees) an opportunity to experience how long 2 minutes really feels when you’re on hold. It also gives you a chance to hear what the customer says during that hold time, and chances are it will be, “Jeez, this is taking forever” or “I’m just looking for an answer to a simple question, you’d think this would be easy.” Those are some of the nicer, more gentle things I’ve heard customers say while on hold.

    Here are some things my employees have said to me when we listen to “holds” together:

    “How long does this go on for?”

    “This is a long hold time.”


    “I’d have hung up by now.”

    “I’m surprised this poor guy is still on the phone.”

    When you review recorded phone calls, you make yourself aware of this behavior so you can bring it to your staff’s attention and fix the problem. My guideline has always been, “It’s OK to put someone on hold for 30 seconds. Sometimes it’s even advisable to do so, because it allows you an opportunity to get control of your thoughts and of the conversation. But 30 seconds… that’s it. If you’re putting someone on hold longer than 30 seconds, you should be calling them back instead. Get a phone number, and tell them you’ll call them back in 5 minutes. And call them back in 2 minutes max.”

  • Your employees might be saying “no” too early and too often

Are you an electrician with a “50 mile service radius?” Great! But let’s face it, guidelines like this are rarely strict. You are a business owner with the ability to make decisions and modifications to policy based on the realities of a situation, and if a prospect needs some serious work done you’ll bend the rules. However, the people taking your calls might not feel empowered to make exceptions in this manner. Reviewing inbound sales calls gives you an opportunity to coach them on what to do in situations that are less straightforward than the norm.

Employees taking your calls are sometimes unprepared to make suggestions based on the realities of the customer’s request. For instance, say you’re a motorcycle dealership and a customer says, “Do you guys have a first time buyers’ program?” Your employee might say, “No,” and leave it at that… and you will cringe when you listen to that call, right? You’ll cringe because you know “first time buyer” is an arbitrary term that can mean many different things, and does not necessarily disqualify anyone. A customer’s credit profile might qualify her for a new bike loan even if she has never had one before.  She’s technically a “first time buyer,” but can still be approved. The employee who gave a flat “No” could be coached to say any of the following:

  • We actually do have programs for customers of many credit types.  When can you come in and fill out an application?

  • Credit’s typically the easy part here.  Let’s have you meet directly with a business manager to go over all of your options. How’s later today look for you?

  • Every application’s a bit different and, while there are no guarantees, I can tell you we have had great success helping customers with many different profiles. What’s your schedule looking like this week?

  • Your employees perform better when they know you’re listening

    There can be multiple reasons for this, but we’ll cover 3 here.

    • The Hawthorne Effect
      According to Wikipedia: The Hawthorne effect (also referred to as the observer effect) is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

      Applied to the subject of phone coaching, your team’s performance improves simply because your employees know you’re taking an interest in their success.

    • Your team members tend to place importance on those things you (their boss) deem important. The fact that you take time to improve phone performance will likely inspire them to follow suit. This is known as “inspecting what you expect.”

    • We all slow down when a police officer is sitting on the side of the road. Sometimes, we need that extra inspiration to do the right thing, and avoiding a ticket can be that inspiration. For the same reason, your employees might take extra precautions on their inbound phone sales opportunities if they know you’re likely to hear those calls.

    Whatever the reason, reporting and coaching on sales calls an invaluable activity that has massive implications for your bottom line.

  • You can catch opportunities to sell more products

    If you’ve ever spent an hour listening to inbound phone calls, you probably identified at least a couple missed opportunities. The question your rep forgot to ask, the suggestion she didn’t think to make… these are missed opportunities that can be recaptured if a manager intervenes quickly enough.

    Continuing with our motorcycle shop example, say a customer calls in on a particular unit that was sold an hour prior to their phone call. Your salesperson might say something like, “I’m sorry, that one was just sold. Can I help you find something else?” The customer might say yes, but will more likely be disappointed and say, “No thanks, I’m not into the bait an switch.”

    When you review this scenario, you can give the salesperson a different word track, such as, “That one was sold a few minutes ago, but I actually have the same model, same color, but a higher trim level at the same price. Can I tell you about that one?”

    Now that you’ve heard the phone call, someone should contact the customer and tell him about the opportunity to spend less and get more. Hopefully your salesperson got a phone number!

  • You find opportunities to praise your employees

    This is possibly the most important reason of them all. Your employees need to be praised by their managers in order to feel good about the job they’re doing. Hearing both sides of an lengthy inbound phone call should give you, the manager, plenty of praiseworthy content. Furthermore, since you’re hearing the entire conversation, you’re able to tie specific facets of what the employee did well to the desired results that hopefully came from the call. Finally, you’re able to praise your people for the specific things they did on the call instead of simply saying, “You did a nice job on that call.” When I’m offering feedback on one of my “Proactive Call Reviews,” I like to include verbiage like, “There was a point where she asked you if the price was negotiable, at about 3:30 in the call. You did a great job of explaining our pricing options and attempting to close on the question.”

  • You can identify inefficiencies in your process

    Are your customers being unnecessarily passed to multiple employees before being connected to someone who can help? Are your people uncomfortable answering basic customer questions? Are different employees offering contradictory information? Are inbound calls being missed because you’re understaffed at popular times during the day? These issues plague organizations of all sizes, and listening to recorded phone calls gives you the “bird’s eye view” necessary to learn what’s really happening in your company. Fix these minor problems before they add up and cost you too much business.

  • It gives you insight about your customers’ real questions and needs

    Inbound call monitoring helps you understand your customers’ current tastes and preferences. Are you hearing lots of people calling in asking for “that blueish/gray color?” Better think of that next time you’re placing factory orders. Are your customers asking for home delivery? Might be time to consider adding this to your offering.

    Monitoring inbound calls can offer you a staggering amount of valuable information, and coaching on these calls is time extremely well spent. If finding time to perform these duties seems like a daunting task, check out “Phone Up Coach” and have it done for you.

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