“The telephone is dead!”
We’ve been hearing this declaration for years, yet phone-based selling continues to anchor all sales organizations’ strategies. While new integrated communications strategies like omni-channel marketing have been incorporated with phone activities to further enhance business results, the phone is very much alive and well. The only thing that’s changed is how we can now use it with analytics to drive more desired results.
Part of Hollywood lore -- and still effective
As a CEO of a sales technology company, I can’t help but think of some of the most notorious sales movies that showcase not only the effectiveness of phone-based selling, but also remind us that managing to a proven standard of selling activity hasn’t changed.
Consider the small sales room in Glengarry Glen Ross, where the real-estate executives hit the phones hard to live up to the iconic “ABC…Always Be Closing” mantra. Or, in Boiler Room, where the managing broker remarks how one month’s phone bill was $400,000 and its employees are driving outrageous cars. And most recently, The Wolf of Wall Street, where the protagonist runs a classic boiler-room sales floor occupied with phone salespeople marketing penny stocks. Of course, these movies are riddled with illegal trades and questionable ethics, but despite the decades that separate the time at which each movie took place, one very important thing remains constant -- the telephone was integral in selling, and each sales executive is measured based on activity and results.
But the traditional call center and centralized sales floors represented in the movies above, where managers and supervisors can easily monitor sales activity and ensure compliance and quality, are no longer the norm in today’s world.
From the centralized floor to the remote field
According to Aberdeen’s Sales Performance Management research, 43 percent of business-to-business sellers are now primarily remote or field-based.
With the advent of contemporary sales mobility technologies, the reality of modern selling is that few manager-representative relationships exist in the same physical location. People working in branches, home offices, headquarters and even road warriors are connected virtually like never before. The very definition of an agent is being rewritten to include anyone who touches a customer on behalf of the firm.
As a result, sales managers supervise distributed sales forces, and the real-time ability for enterprises to monitor call quality is reduced. This lack of insight into sales rep activities develops into a significant barrier to effective managing and coaching.
The rules have changed and thus, the strategies and processes available to manage agents have changed as well. If every representative hit his number every month, then visibility into his activities may not be that important. But the reality is that this scenario is rare, and sales managers need a way to view and manage what levels and types of activities are likely to deliver the desired results. With technologies to measure phone, email and other sales activities, modern sales managers can obtain and use this sales intelligence to improve forecasting and establish quantifiable standards of actions they know are likely to bread success.
Sales call analytics
The explosion of data analysis tools within sales effectiveness platforms -- speech analytics, contact center, training, assessments, etc. -- allow managers to understand how past sales activities generated specific results and to apply these lessons learned to today’s front-line sellers. How we hire, onboard, train and manage sales representatives is no longer defined by gut instinct. Moneyball-style sales management is now a reality.
Analytics takes the guess work out of what agents are doing by interpreting call audio from mobile devices and turning it into accurate, actionable insight. In the 21st century sales world, analytics extends beyond the four walls of the sales floor and turns unstructured audio data into intelligence so sales managers can monitor the performance of their distributed teams to determine which agents are performing well and why -- and which require training.
If your reps are saying the wrong things when engaging with clients, it can be detrimental to your business -- resulting in lost deals, potentially enormous fines, and brand damage. Analytics can process call transcripts, conversational acoustics and behaviors to help managers monitor conversational call activity across dispersed sales teams. Call recording captures acoustic indicators from both parties on a call such as excitement, silence or agitation and uses these measures to score thresholds.
This enables agents to qualify a sales campaign based on the prospect’s tone and managers to evaluate an agent based on their level of enthusiasm. This technology empowers managers to enforce script compliance, troubleshoot issues, benchmark successful behaviors and quickly capitalize on new opportunities like cross- and up-selling.
Though the idea of phone-based selling sounds antiquated, companies that incorporate new methods and technologies such as analytics into their phone activities are better at managing and forecasting sales activities. So keep dialing for dollars, and see how analytics will help your organization dial for success.