Once Reps Master Call Handling, Sales Volume Takes Off

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported, which means we earn commissions from links on Crazy Egg. Commissions do not affect our editorial evaluations or opinions.

Call centers with high conversion rates and sales numbers have one thing in common: they all have well-trained agents with solid call handling skills.

Whether agents are handling incoming customer service calls or placing outbound sales calls, good call handling skills are the foundation for call center excellence.

Call Handling vs Call Handling Technology

Talking about great call handling skills involves two separate yet related things. 

The first is call handling itself, where agents are on the phone. 

The second is the call handling technology that supports agents before, during, and after each call.

Call Handling

Call handling is the day-to-day, nitty-gritty of call center activity. It’s when agents are on the phone, either performing customer service tasks or selling a company’s products or services.

  • Customer service calls include resolving issues, answering questions, and helping customers manage their accounts.
  • Sales calls involve nurturing leads, overcoming objections, and closing deals.

Regardless of the type of calls an agent makes, their performance is always measured and evaluated. One of the most common call center metrics used is average handle time. This is the average time it takes for an agent to resolve a call and perform any post-call tasks. 

Call centers focus heavily on average handle time to gauge overall call center efficiency, monitor service quality, and determine individual agent performance. 

Call Handling Technology

Behind every successful call center agent is technology that makes their jobs easier. This technology is sometimes also referenced as “call handling.” Makes things a bit confusing, right?

The phrase “call handling” is not interchangeable. Keep things crystal clear by including “technology” to the phrase.

Call handling technology is all about phone system capabilities that make a call center agent’s job easier. VoIP phone systems offer the most options, which is why this type of phone system is so popular with call centers.

There are other options, sure. But using a call center service is one of the easiest ways to get access to this technology. Most include functions like call routing, voicemail, call parking, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). 

All call centers will need a phone system, obviously. The good call centers will incorporate a system that offers this technology and implement some of it. A really great call center implements all the tech solutions wherever possible.

Can You Train Good Call Handling?

As the saying goes, the best way to learn is by doing. That is especially true in a call center. There is no substitute for experience. 

The best way to improve at sales call handling is to, you guessed it, make lots of sales calls.

But agents shouldn’t have to do it alone. Managers also have a role.

These are some strategies call center leadership can implement to support agents on the path to success.

Organize role-playing activities

Make role playing a standard part of the call center training program. Set aside an hour each week and pair up agents to take turns role-playing common call scenarios. 

The scenarios should include the most common objections agents hear plus strategies to implement to overcome those objections. Each agent gets a chance to practice in a safe environment, and peer and manager feedback can be provided on the spot.

Provide recordings of successful sales calls

Choose call recordings made by experienced agents that demonstrate the sales skills and strategies you want other agents to model. Have newer agents listen to these recordings and do a post-listening debrief to go over why the calls were so successful.

This is a great way to have newer agents start modeling their call skills to mirror the more senior (and successful) agents on the team. 

Offer post-call coaching

This is more time-intensive, but worth the extra effort required. Call center managers or senior agents listen in on newer agent calls with customers or prospects. After the call is completed, feedback is provided.

This feedback is especially helpful because it happens in real time. It quickly and concisely addresses strengths and areas for improvement on the spot, allowing agents to implement improvement strategies on their very next call.

Train Agents on Effective Sales Techniques

Successful sales calls don’t happen by magic. The most effective ones rely on proven sales strategies to achieve desired outcomes. Whether it is consultative selling, solution-oriented selling, upselling, or cross-selling, agents should know the different techniques and how and when to use each.

Be sure your agents also know how to uncover customer pain points and tailor solutions to best solve them. This is where having in-depth awareness of your products or services is essential, so be sure every agent has that knowledge, too.

5 Tips for Improving Call Handling

When it comes to agents themselves, there are certain skills and strategies that will help them nail the call process. These are essential for sales success.

1. Treat each contact as an individual

The fast-track to a solid “no” from an existing or future customer is making them feel like a number. When people feel that way, they usually won’t give you the time of day, let alone buy something from you.

Agents may talk to hundreds of people every day, making it hard to keep one call straight from another. But it’s essential to master the basics, especially a person’s name. 

When the person on the other end of the line tells you their name, remember it. Write it down if you have to. Calling someone by the wrong name can be fatal to any conversation, but especially so in a sales call.

Luckily, there are CRM tools that put customer and prospect details at your fingertips. Not just basics like name and address, either. These systems can store a lot of information, including previous orders and past contact with the company. With just a few clicks, you have in-depth insights into the person on the line.

Make the most of these tools and watch success rates soar.

2. Build relationships

Making sure you get a customer’s name right is just the start. What you really need to succeed in sales is the ability to build rapport and strong relationships with customers.

You can’t simply focus on closing the sale. That strategy is disingenuous and easily recognized. It is also a huge turn-off for customers. 

Instead, genuinely connect with the person on the other end of the line. Do more listening than talking. Find out what problem the customer has. Wait until you have a 360° understanding of the problem, and only then offer a tailored solution to solve it.

This approach helps you build trust and rapport with the person you’re talking to. Once the customer trusts you, it’s a lot easier to close the deal and do so in a way that keeps the door open for future sales.

3. Practice active listening

Nurturing a new relationship with a customer requires you to actively listen to them. This means less talking by you and more talking by the customer. 

It also means you need to be flexible, since no two calls are identical. Scripts are a go-to for many call centers, but they should be used sparingly and under specific circumstances only. The bottom line is use common sense. Don’t blindly follow prescribed scripts.

You should ask open-ended questions that elicit responses beyond yes or no. When customers engage in dialogue, they usually reveal lots of great information. Rephrase back to them what you heard them say to make sure you didn’t misunderstand anything. 

When you’re both on the same page, you’re well-positioned to offer targeted solutions. You can also identify upselling or cross-selling opportunities.

4. Know your sales tools

Every great call center has a library of tools agents can use to support sales calls. CRM software is one. Marketing and sales collateral, including product spec sheets and demos are others.

Be sure to know how to use these tools in detail before a sales call. Mastering the CRM puts customer data at your fingertips, so you can personalize the call.

Likewise, understanding your company’s product or services inside out means you won’t be fumbling to provide information or answer questions in the middle of a call.

5. Be consistent and persistent

Not even the savviest sales agent will close every deal on the first call. This is especially true for products or services that are more complex or have a long sales cycle.

This is why call follow-up is critical. You need to keep nurturing those warm leads, whether through well-timed follow-up calls or check-in emails. Having a system in place to track these activities is essential.

You also want to know what the most common objections are about your service or product, and have responses ready to provide for each. This makes it easier to address customer concerns on the spot instead of fumbling around with an “I’ll get back to you on that” statement.

Make your website better. Instantly.

Over 300,000 websites use Crazy Egg to improve what's working, fix what isn't and test new ideas.

Free 30-day Trial