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Worldwide Phone Pops
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Automotive Telephone Sales Training
Automotive Telephone Sales Training

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Soft Skills - Don't Take it Lightly
I have been in this field long enough to know that soft skills training does not get any respect from the client, the learner and the vendor. I seriously feel we are making a big mistake by taking this domain very lightly. Here's why...

Myth: Designing technical training is far more challenging than soft skills training. 
Technical training is challenging because of the content itself. You as an ID come from a completely different world and so you need to understand a whole lot of complicated stuff before you design the training. But, the challenge with soft skills training is to make it work. You may design a fun program that the learner may forget as soon as they are out of the classroom. But, how do you make the learning stick? How do you make an impact on their psyche? How do you change attitudes and behavior? You decide now which is more challenging.

Myth: Soft skills does not require any customization. Communication skills is communication skills regardless of who it is for.
What is customization? Customization is ensuring that learning happens in a defined context, which is typically the learner's reality. While I do believe that age old games have their space, I do think that customized cases/activities are far more effective. Training is a very common occurrence these days. You need newer and more effective ways of getting a message across. Case studies, games, group discussions can be designed to bring out effective learning. High impact learning makes the learner think.

Communication skills for a team leader is very different from communication skills for a CEO. Telephone etiquettes is very different for a receptionist vs for a call center executive. Presentation skills is very different for advertising than for design engineers. I don't believe in mixing a few existing slides and customizing it on the floor. I have seen this happen to and trust me it doesn't work. The minute you go with customized learning, the learner trusts you. Why? Because you have taken the effort to understand his world and so, he will help you through this process of transferring learning.

My dad keeps asking me 'How can a person who has spent 0 hours in the field, come and tell me how I am supposed to work?' While this opens several other debates, I think if the trainer had understood my dad's work environment, he wouldn't have let on that he has 0 experience in the field.

Myth: Embarrass the learner to make an impact and see the difference. It requires a highly skilled trainer with great charisma to get away with whatever they say. Otherwise, it requires a very good understanding of how your learners will react to this technique. These techniques may work wonderfully or scar the learning experience. I remember the trainer was conducting roles plays and he was being very rude. A learner got up and said 'Sir, we are not actors.' Therefore, the impact was negative and I doubt whether people bothered to listen after that. Soft skills are such that everyone has their own take on it. There is a lot of gray here. Therefore, you have to allow that space for the learner to think. And, make a convincing case of why what you are saying is relevant to them.

Myth: Theories define personalities. A trainer was explaining some model. A learner got up and asked why? Guess what the trainer said? 'Because that's is the way it is. This theory is age old and has been discussed by several experts.' Theories are just theories and are pretty much useless in soft skill programs. People don't buy the argument that some great soul said it so believe it! Give them a more solid reason to believe. This can happen only if they can see the trends in their daily experiences.

These are all the things people get wrong when they approach soft skills training. Make soft skill programs activity based. Let people learn from each other. Don't use ancient techniques. Try innovative, thought provoking stuff.  Soft skills is not an easy domain. Even learner who need these skills think they already have it. It requires the facilitator to bring about a self-realization and reflection on oneself. 

Multitasking




Is multitasking costing you time?

You're on the phone with a supplier, while quietly typing up notes about your previous phone call. As soon as you hang up, a colleague sends you an instant message, which you read over while dialing your manager's extension number. Then, during your phone conversation with her, you start updating your week's to-do-list.

To boost our productivity, many of us multitask like this to some degree. And, in a world where the pace of life is often frantic, people who can multitask are typically seen as efficient and effective. After all, don't we get more done when we do more than one thing at a time?

Actually, multitasking doesn't make us as productive as we think. What's more, it's likely that the quality of our work is worse when we multitask. In fact, it could actually be costing us time instead of creating it.

In this article we'll examine the issues associated with multitasking, and look at why we shouldn't do it. We'll also look at some suggestions to help you get out of the multitasking habit.

Multitasking and the Myth of Productivity

Many people have studied multitasking over the last decade, and most of them have come to the same conclusion: Multitasking doesn't make us more productive!

Several studies have found that multitasking can actually result in us wasting around 20-40 percent of our time, depending on what we're trying to do.

The simple reason that multitasking doesn't work is because we can't actually focus on more than one task at a time. But we think we can – so we multitask to try and get more done.

Imagine trying to talk to someone and write an email at the same time. Both of these tasks involve communication. You can't speak to someone and write a really clear and focused email at the same time. The tasks are too conflicting – your mind gets overloaded as you try to switch between the two tasks.

Now think about listening to someone as you try to write an email. These two tasks are a bit easier to do together because they involve different skills. But your attention to the person will fade in and out as you're writing. You simply can't fully focus on both things at once.

The biggest problem with multitasking is that it can lower the quality of our work – we try to do two things or more things at once, and the result is that we do everything less well than if we focused properly on each task in turn.

When we switch tasks, our minds must reorient to cope with the new information. If we do this rapidly, like when we're multitasking, we simply can't devote our full concentration and focus to every switch. So the quality of our work suffers. The more complex or technical the tasks we're switching between, the bigger the drop in quality is likely to be. For instance, it would be almost impossible to write a good-quality presentation while having an emotionally charged conversation with a co-worker!

Another major downside to multitasking is the effect it has on our stress levels. Dealing with multiple things at once makes us feel overwhelmed, drained and frazzled.

On the other hand, think of how satisfied you feel when you devote your full attention to one task. You're able to focus, and you'll probably finish it feeling as if you've not only completed something, but done it well. This is called being in flow  , and it's a skill that can be developed with some practice.

Spotting the Multitasking Tendency

It can be hard to identify when you're multitasking. But there are a few key indicators you can look for:

If you have several pages or tabs open on your computer, then you're probably multitasking. The same goes for your desk – if you have several file folders or papers out that you're working on, you might well be multitasking.
Multitasking is more likely when you're working on a project or task you're not excited about. For instance, creating a spreadsheet analysis might be an unwelcome task, so you might frequently check your email or do some research on a new assignment in order to lessen the pain of the current task.
Frequent interruptions can also cause you to multitask. For instance, you might be writing your department's budget when a colleague comes into your office with a question for you. You then carry on trying to tinker with the budget as you answer their question.

 improve your telephone skills training

1. Buddy up

When agents are performing below expectations, buddy them up with a high performer. This way they can hear what is working and learn in the real world how to change their approach.

2. Break up the day with regular short breaks

We never have sales agents calling for more than a 75-minute stretch. This helps maintain energy levels and stop agents getting lethargic.

3. Regular short briefings

Have regular short briefs during the day, not just a ‘gee-up’ session at the start of the shift; share results and get people to talk about what is working for them.

4. Feedback and praise

Always provide people with feedback and praise. It’s very easy for management to focus their time on agents who are not achieving and neglect those who are doing well.

Stephen Jacobs, Managing Director, Call Britannia (www.callbritannia.com)

5. Allow time out

It maybe counter-intuitive, but allowing call centre employees time out of the office and away from the phones can improve productivity. For example, automotive clients should consider offering test drives to their call centre employees so they can familiarise themselves with the features and benefits they are tasked with selling. This experience can bring sales calls to life with real enthusiasm for how a car handles, leading to better results; fewer calls and more sales.

Make your telephone skills training more effective

Telephone skills trainingLooking at the relationship between quality management, training and coaching can help you focus your efforts where it really counts – the customer experience.

1. Review your quality management procedure
Your call quality monitoring should be regular and consistent. But is it due for an overhaul?

Some evaluations we’ve seen focus too much on compliance and breaches. This pass/fail approach doesn’t give agents much to strive for.

A more motivating approach is to define the difference between a ‘good’ call and a merely satisfactory one. Some call centres even offer a bonus for agents who consistently reach higher quality targets, with powerful results.

Also, encourage buy-in by involving contact centre staff in setting the new criteria.

2. Make coaching collaborative
Obviously monitoring needs to be followed up with feedback, coaching and/or training to be effective. But do your agents see these as negative, Big Brother type sessions that could lead to a disciplinary?

Instead, make feedback sessions short, upbeat and fun. Have agents listen to their own calls and compare them to ‘Golden Calls’ by more skilled operators. 

3. Monitor the monitors
Quality will only be as good as the assessor. In one company I worked with, the quality assurance staff preferred to give negative feedback by email because it was ‘easier’ (for them, presumably). Not surprisingly, performance did not improve and attrition rates were high.

Quality monitoring involves analytical, feedback and coaching skills. It tends to work best as a dedicated role, leaving supervisors and team leaders free to manage.

4. Combine call recordings and role play
Using recorded calls can be more effective than side-by-side coaching, as agents will often perform better or worse with their manager next to them than they would normally.

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We are often asked the question: does Worldwide Phone Pops conduct phone skills "training" or "coaching"?  The answer is "both". Find out how Phone Pops can increase your sales with automotive dealership phone skills coaching that really works.

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