Call Coaching… Feeling Comfortable with Surveillance?
There have been a number of tools from the beginning of modern sales to help coaches listen to and aid in call coaching. Tools like Y-connects, recordings, scripts, and even remote monitoring. They are designed to give salespeople the “edge” to help them train and ramp more quickly. Some of the best tools help to “duplicate” the “Top Dog”, fluent in all the best talk tracks. If deployed incorrectly these tools can leave salespeople feeling nervous. Their performance is closely observed, graded, and critiqued critically. Have you ever had someone you are coaching say that they perform worse (because they are not comfortable) when you are watching? How about in sports? The truth? – It happens all of the time and there is something to it.
Coaching during calls and after calls
When I was younger and working for a startup, I would get constant coaching both during and after a call from my manager. Instant messages, handwaves, sticky notes, mouthed words; all meant to be helpful on the call, still trying to help sharpen the “proverbial sword”. As if saying this one thing in this one way (that I often couldn’t understand because it was mouthed to me) would make the prospect more inclined to buy from me. BUT there were 2 competing forces creating enormous pressure and stress:
- The Customer – I’m literally in the midst of having a conversation and the outcome of this call with this person has some impact on my income. Of course I want to do everything I can to close the deal.
- The Manager – Someone who has a major say on if I still have a job; if I don’t understand or don’t implement the live queues, what will he/she think about me?
After the call (and sometimes during) I would see the dreaded “Call Review” calendar invite come through. The pressure of the customer and the manager had not helped me to get the deal closed. Rather, my abilities had been severely impacted. The “edge” that I was trying to have “smithed”, had not been sharpened at all, but rather it has been dulled.
Dual Slit Experiment – It’s a Thing
Even Atoms (yes Atoms like back in science class – those little things that make up literally everything) react differently when they are being watched. Don’t believe me? Check out the Dual Slit Experiment which demonstrates how Atoms (monochromatic light- yes I’m a nerd…) literally behave differently when they are recorded or watched. Without getting too deep in the world of quantum physics, let’s just say this rationale has yet to be explained.
3 Traditional challenges with coaching –
- Live person to person coaching (pokes/prods/messages/hand signals/sticky notes) – the problem here is that Sales Managers are not able to properly convey the intended message and are more likely to distract the speaker. This makes the conversation go poorly and as you would expect, less than optimal results occur. Think “You are being watched by someone that is judging you, and the outcome matters, just don’t mess up, ok?”.
- Availability of Manager – Can a manager even be on every call? 4 or 5 calls a day across 5-10 reps… not possible. So, in the best-case scenario, the manager is only doing live call coaching on rare occasions.
- After the Call Coaching – Based on a recording or notes taken during an observed call, the Manager goes back and provides feedback that he/she thinks will help next time. The problem here is one recognized by all great sales coaches; 95% of feedback is either not implemented or doesn’t stick. Literally, in one ear, and out the other.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these are not valid forms of elevating sales success. However, they are inefficient at best.
So how should we coach?
If we can’t do it on recordings and can’t do it on the call? Are we just down a river without a paddle?
What if the coach was an AI that had best practices programmed in? What if the salesperson could get the information they need right when they need it? And from something that isn’t judging them like a human will?
Being able to deliver consistent coaching without the impression of an overbearing and judging person has proven to create better call results. Coaches no longer have to listen and aid in call coaching. In short, it could produce faster ramp times, and more closed-won deals. No more hand signals, no more whispers across the phone line.
Long story short – get ABSTRAKT and give your people the edge that sticks.