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How Managers Can Become Great Coaches

How Managers Can Become Great Coaches

When we observe sports coaches at work, we see that a significant amount of their time is spent on the practice field.  They run repetitive practice drills, bark out orders, correct mistakes and have their teams do it again and again and again.  They are on the alert to recognize and appreciate improvement and are direct when mistakes need to be corrected.  Of course they spend time planning, strategizing, watching recorded action and looking at numbers, but their results depend on how their players play and they take training and improvement very seriously.

Managers that want to become better coaches can learn from this.

TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TEAM SO THEY CAN WIN.

Managers often get trapped into thinking their role is to evaluate, analyze, write reports, make recommendations and handle problems as they come up.  That is part of the job, but that is not what coaching is all about, not even close.  Here are some very practical things the best sales and customer service coaches should do:

  1. They make sure that each team member can verbalize, from memory EXACTLY what the coach wants more of and less of in terms of good and bad habits to form and break.
  2. They know how to conduct simulation selling drills that allow them to hear their team members verbalizing the key sales information and then they coach them on how to improve and insist on more repetition until they hear it done right.
  3. A great coach can give effective demonstrations of all steps of the sales process or, can tap other team members to give those demonstrations. Teams learn more quickly when they see and hear a good demonstration live.
  4. Good coaches are on the lookout for team members that are improving. They notice it and give them appreciation and recognition for progress made.
  5. The best coaches plan time into their meetings to conduct training and refresher drills.
  6. Great coaches keep up relationships with customers and call them from time to time to get their evaluation of their sales team. This is a very effective way to get honest feedback from the field.
  7. Always end coaching sessions with questions like “what did you learn today and how will you apply it on your next customer interaction?”
  8. Look at their schedule and plan training and skill development time into it the same way a sports coach would
  9. Begin each meeting by asking each participant to, in 30-seconds, share a situation where they created something positive and special for a customer.
  10. End team meetings with a recap of action steps and start meetings with a review of the action steps from the last meeting with reports on progress made.

These are basic steps that will help turn a manager into an effective coach.  Consilio is the sales manager’s coach.  We have the expertise, practice drills and coaching experience to transform sales managers into coaches that can create a rigorous coaching culture that continuously improves the performance of their sales teams.

 

First Impressions: Confidence And Trustworthiness

First Impressions: Confidence And Trustworthiness

“I usually make up my mind about a man in 10 seconds, and I very rarely change it.”

― Margaret Thatcher, Former British Prime Minister

Lady Thatcher was generous to withhold judgment for a full 10 seconds. Research shows people form first impressions almost immediately. A 2006 Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person based on their facial appearance alone. People consciously and unconsciously form knee-jerk opinions about others based on a long list of factors: posture, eye contact, facial expression, clothing, handshake, voice, etc.

While all of these factors can come into play, social psychologist and Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy says the intangible traits of trustworthiness and confidence account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression.

Cuddy told Wired, “When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, ‘What are this person’s intentions toward me?’ And we’re also asking ourselves, ‘How strong and competent is this person?’ That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions.”

So, by all means, stand straight, make eye contact, smile, dress well, shake with a firm hand, speak with a confident voice, but consider Cuddy’s tip to cultivate trust when you meet someone for the first time: give the other person the floor first. Let them speak first or ask them a question.

“Warmth is really about making the other person feel understood,” added Cuddy. “They want to know that you understand them. And doing that is incredibly disarming.”

Employee Appreciation: Keep It Real

Employee Appreciation: Keep It Real

If you want to get the best out of somebody, you first have to see the best in them.

recent study commissioned by the O.C. Tanner Institute sought out the greatest driver of ‘great work’, defined as “work that is productive, innovative, and makes a difference that people care about”. Don’t you want to know what will get that kind of work out of your team?

In responses gathered from almost 1,000 survey respondents spread across all industries, respondents cited “recognition” as the most important factor three times more frequently than they cited any other factor. Great recognition and appreciation drives great work.

If you want to recognize and appreciate employees more effectively, here are a few things to consider:

System vs. Culture

Just like you can’t buy great macaroni and cheese in a box at the store, you can’t purchase great employee recognition off the shelf. It has to be a part of what your organization believes in order for anybody in the organization to believe it is sincere.

Monetary vs. Motivational

Amazingly, money is not the biggest driving factor of great work. Instead of investing money to show employee appreciation, try investing the time to provide simple things like hand written notes. Try something simple like giving every manager a package of simple Thank You cards to write thoughtful notes in and distribute to their team over the month. Maybe a box of Kudos bars to give to employees personally to recognize great work.

Personal vs. Organizational

People want to be recognized for something particular that they do. While it is easier to provide general appreciation to all employees, providing personal recognition to individual employees as they do great work is more effective at promoting positive behaviors.

Ultimately, effective employee recognition comes down to sincerity. Leaders must sincerely recognize and appreciate the greatness in the people who work for them. If they have that much, the rest is just a matter of expressing what they already feel.

Take a few minutes today to think about some great work or great qualities you have seen in people around you. Take out a pen and write a note telling somebody about that great thing that you appreciate about them, or walk up to somebody and tell them how they did a great job at something. You will feel better, and so will they! Then just repeat weekly and see what a difference you can make!

Elements Of An Effective And Rigorous “Coaching Culture”

Elements Of An Effective And Rigorous “Coaching Culture”

It is difficult to build top performing sales and customer service teams without an effective coaching culture in place.

In far too many companies, when we really examine what the people designated as “coaches” do, what we really find is:

  • Very little coaching in terms of skills development and training actually happens
  • Most coaching time is really spent talking about goals, problems areas inhibiting results and trying to motivate team members. This simply is not what coaching truly is.
  • Many managers that are supposed to be coaching truly believe they are too busy to spend much time coaching. Other tasks they have are believed to be more important.
  • The Managers/Executives that the front line Coaches report to are rarely insistent that effective coaching takes place. They don’t inspect much of what they expect and, often, are not very good at coaching themselves.
  • Coaching training focuses way too much on team building and goal setting and not nearly enough on how to use customer interaction drills and repetition with the team to raise skill levels
  • Most Managers have never reported to a good coach so they’ve never experienced what it’s like to be on a team that is rigorously coached

Consilio can change this fast.  We have worked with many companies that are serious about the customer, the sales process and how their people interact with customers.  We have coached their coaches to break their bad habits that often discourage and de-motivate team members.  We train them on how to handle resistant and difficult employees.  Coaches learn how to use drills, meetings and feedback to get better results than endlessly gazing into data screens.

 

Call Control And Decreasing Average Handle Time

Call Control And Decreasing Average Handle Time

Many contact center professionals consider Average Handle Time (AHT) an important metric to measure.

Supervisors, managers and agents often work to decrease AHT as a way to improve efficiency, but are often unsuccessful for a number of reasons:

  • Agents don’t always apply a proven process that streamlines interactions in a natural, effective and positive way. When they do use a process it’s often in the form of an awkward script they read word for word.
  • Agents fail to make customer’s feel heard and valued. Customers will repeat themselves over and over, they’ll ask question after question when they are not comfortable with the service they are receiving.
  • Agent’s may have poor communication skills. This leads to misunderstandings and extra time added to the call in order to explain the same point to a customer several times. For example, the root of a caller’s problem or situation may not be immediately understood because of an agent’s poor listening and questioning skills.

These reasons all point to a lack of effective communication skills and sub-par training, which leads to a lack of call control. Whether you’re a manager/supervisor or an agent trying to get AHT on track, let us share a secret with you; if you handle the customer and the call properly in the first place, AHT will take care of itself. The best contact center agents take control of their calls and take care of their customers by doing the following:

  • Focusing on clear, effective communication. This includes asking great questions and actively listening.
  • Acknowledging the customer to create a feeling of trust and lower their resistance. This comes naturally when an agent truly cares about helping the customer.
  • Following a proven process that allows for freedom based on the particulars of the customer’s situation.
  • Thoroughly understanding their company’s products and services.

Create a contact center culture that focuses on these best practices to decrease AHT and increase positive customer experiences. Instead of a rigid script, consider implementing what we call “freedom within a framework” where a call flow allows for flexibility to best serve the customer. This allows agents to address each customer and their particular situation as the unique interaction it is, but also provides guidelines and best practices so agents know they are executing to a high standard. For example, agents should begin each call with an Agenda Statement, which breaks down what the agent plans to discuss. It sets an open tone and clearly communicates what the customer can expect from the conversation. This simple technique removes the customer’s fear of the unknown and lowers resistance immediately – paving the way for a more productive interaction.

Creating a contact center culture that focuses on clear communication and “freedom within a framework” can’t happen overnight though. This requires planning and rigorous training and practice. This is where Consilio can help.

Consilio effectively and intensely trains agents on communication skills like acknowledging customers, voice tone, listening, questioning, summarizing customer issues, tailoring recommendations, and vocalizing customer success stories and competitive advantages. Many sales professionals claim they already know these Bedrock Sales Communication Tools skills, but we’ve learned that knowing what to do and actually being able to execute under pressure are two different things completely.

Our training programs close that gap. Our trainers and coaches rigorously work with agents to develop these skills while simultaneously creating a positive buying experience for their customers. We can also train your managers and supervisors to become more effective coaches. See for yourself how our approach can ensure that your company’s calls are resolved as quickly as possible with the customer feeling as good as possible about the experience.