Every manager of a phone sales operation struggles with how to make the job fun. Representative burnout is a definite occupational hazard. The field salesperson travels from place to place, seeing different sights and having the escape of travel time. The phone salesperson sees the inside of a cubicle, day after seemingly endless day. The only travel time is from keyboard to phone. But I’ve known telephone salespeople who have been on the job longer than twenty years, and they and their managers have learned a few secrets along the way, so here is my advice for the telephone sales rep.
First, batch your calls. Nothing is more exhausting than making a call, running around taking care of any issues from the call, and then sitting down and starting to dial again. Do at least 10 dials, talk to at least two customers, and spend at least 50 minutes focused on calling before you get up and handle details. Mentally engaging and disengaging is taxing. Batch your work, then take a break.
Second, treasure your favorite customers. We all have customers who bond with us, who gladly take our calls, who brighten our day. Keep a list of your conversational favorites, and give them a call when you need a pick-me-up. Maybe you aren’t a morning person, call a favorite first thing. Perhaps your energy lags right after lunch, call another favorite. These calls are treats, treat yourself when you need it.
Third, take time to train and keep fresh. If possible, managers should provide time each month for you to train and learn. Products and services are always changing, sales techniques can be honed and refined. Take time to shadow the product or service factory, and see how customers are served.
Fourth, gather as a team. Nothing drives out burnout like sharing as a team. “What objections are you hearing Joe, and how do you overcome them? Sue, how are you presenting the new product we introduced last month? And Bill, how did you land that big sale, I’d like to know.” Sales meeting can be either incredibly creative or numbingly boring. Avoid just data dumping and download. Take time during sales meetings for dialogue, about things that really matter. Like how the job is going, and what is working and why.
Fifth, read. This blog contains dozens of entries, and the web is full of others. Spend a little time each day reading about your profession, and try to incorporate one new thing a week. All of us get bored with our sales conversations. How many times have you said the same thing? Burnout evaporates when we mentality stretch.
Sixth, take vacation. I’ve managed some reps who take every day they are allotted, and push the boundaries for more. Others must be pried off their chairs, and pushed out the door. Whatever vacation you have, save a few days to scatter between summer vacations and winter holidays. Take a Friday off occasionally, just to do something totally fun. The sales profession is a marathon, not a sprint. Although you are only as good as your last sale, you’ll need another one tomorrow. Take a day now and again to raise your spirits, and to remind yourself of how much fun sales can be. And unlike your friend the field salesperson, you won’t be hours away from home at the end of the day, and you won’t be out in the rain. See, you feel better already!