Don’t Paralyze Sales Reps: 5 Tips for Coaching Live Sales Calls

Remember the days of home phone lines? When you could listen in on mom and dad’s conversation just by picking up the phone at the same time? That’s the popular perception of live sales call coaching, but the truth is that when it is used tactfully and correctly, DialSource Denali’s Real-Time Call Monitoring can be a powerful training tool.

Sales experts have debated the proper use of real-time monitoring for sales training. How beneficial is it to coach live sales calls? How do you utilize the feature without being too distracting or taking over?

DialSource supports the idea that sales training process never ends, and any sales rep from the newest to the most seasoned can benefit from live coaching. Here are 5 best practices to get the most out of real-time monitoring whether you’re using DialSource or another service.

Have a Game Plan

Just like no cold call should really be that cold, you should have a plan when it comes to live coaching your reps. Kyle Martin of SalesLoft recommends “pre and post-call coaching” in addition to live coaching.

He utilizes the analogy of the NFL. A coach or manager can “see the whole field of play,” while the quarterback, or sales rep, “may only see what’s directly in front of them.” Bolstering live-call coaching with establishing goals and providing feedback means that no one is left without a game plan.

Document the Coaching Session

Real-time monitoring gives you the option to offer feedback in real time, but actually talking to a rep during their call is a rather distracting tactic.

Steve Ainslie, who has been managing and coaching sales teams for over 20 years, describes “whispering, barging in, or real-time interruptions” as “intrusive and unhelpful,” because the rep’s attention becomes divided. Instead, make sure to document call feedback directly, especially if there is a feature in your CRM for you to do so.

Documenting coaching sessions also requires what Ainslie refers to as “no sneaky call monitoring.” A rep should always be aware that you will be listening in and coaching a call, even if you’re just performing a random call check on an experienced salesperson.

Live-call coaching isn’t about trying to catch reps at their worst, but to help them perform at their best.

Include Focus Areas

Going into a coaching session without an understanding of focus areas is like giving an exam without telling the student what they should study. Focusing on specific aspects of a call not only helps the coaching session go smoother for the rep by easing their nerves but also makes it easier for you to make an accurate and precise evaluation.

When you coach a call, consider what it is you are looking for. Is it call efficiency? Phone etiquette? Closing a sale? Having specific skill sets in mind will make giving and taking advice hundreds of times easier. Consider making a grading rubric that you can share with sales reps to help align expectations.

Watch the Process

You can use real-time monitoring from your office, but Steve Ainslie notes that there are a number of benefits to actually being present as the call is taking place. He explains his method of actually sitting next to the rep in his or her space, and providing brief feedback after each call and conversation.

This option will naturally be a little awkward at first, but Ainslie insists that the benefits outweigh any disadvantages, especially considering that you can not only give feedback to improve calls but also praise the trainee and provide positive reinforcement as the good calls go along too.

Brian Zang of reminds us that watching the rep’s process also allows you to ensure that they are using their software correctly. This helps to encourage efficiency and good task management habits.

Keep Your Cool

Coaching sales calls can feel like an awkward, bumbling process at first, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Remember that training sessions will probably mean a brief slow down in productivity for that day, and a few moments of letting the rep flounder (but not totally sink), but it will pay off dividends in the long-run as sales reps improve.

Experience has still proven to be the best teacher, so keep your cool as you listen, and allow the experience of coaching live calls transform your sales team.