The U.S. economy has been chugging along despite numerous challenges over the past couple years. But make no mistake, economic uncertainty is already here.
For those that sell products and services to customers, a recession is particularly troublesome. After all, economic uncertainty means customers are spending less and saving more. How do contact centers with telesales teams keep their conversion rates high and revenue flowing?
The post-pandemic rise in remote work and proliferation of hybrid telesales teams only add to the complexity. Coaching and maintaining morale are harder in a remote environment. How do you manage these teams across the board and ensure they have a seamless experience? How do you ensure the hybrid team is doing their work in the best possible way?
Luckily, there are some tried-and-true tricks for keeping performance and conversions high, even in a challenging economic environment.
Tips for driving contact center sales conversions and boosting rep performance in a recession
There are four primary ways that managers and sellers can ensure that their performance thrives, even during a recession.
#1: More revenue per call by prioritizing consistency in call execution
One of the keys to driving conversions and boosting performance in any environment is to ensure consistency. You want all your sellers to be working off the same, great talk tracks that your top reps use day in and day out.
The first step to ensuring this consistency is to identify and create that quality talk track. You’ll want to use the performance and behaviors of your top sellers as your guide.
How can you replicate their success for other reps?
Conversation intelligence can really help here, as top performers’ language choices, tone, pacing, execution, and other best practice behaviors are automatically captured and recorded, making it easy to identify and reproduce them.
AI can also quickly surface where reps are falling short in their performance, allowing managers to jump in quickly and course-correct to ensure consistent call execution across the team.
Once you know what works, ongoing coaching and training is key to instilling these best practices. For more immediate results, contact centers can leverage real-time AI so you can serve up the most effective talk tracks at the right time, while calls are happening.
#2: Follow sales processes and methodologies
How do you do your best work, regardless of external pressures? By following your established sales processes and methodologies, of course.
The right sales process or methodology will depend on your line of business, but some examples may include ensuring your reps and agents are asking all of the essential discovery questions, responding to customer objections with the right talk tracks, or knowing which triggers mean it’s time for an upsell talk track.
Then, of course, you have to make sure that your sellers follow these guidelines.
Once the conversation is over, you can use conversation intelligence tools like Observe.AI, which analyzes and evaluates 100% of calls so it can quickly surface every single instance of script adherence (or deviation). Managers and reps can then review and target coaching for those trouble spots to drive conversions and improve performance.
Even better, with Observe.AI’s Real-Time AI, best practices can be served up to individual agents or teams at the right moments on live calls. For example, if call evaluations suggest an agent forgets to upsell, a timely upsell reminder can serve the right talk tracks to the agent just as they prepare to collect credit card details.
#3: Faster new rep onboarding
At any point one in three agents taking customer calls are in their ramp phase. There is a dire need to ramp new agents faster so they can hit the ground running. Ramping agents need close guidance and hand holding from team leads and supervisors.
The more time sellers spend onboarding and learning their scripts, the less time they’re spending working on hitting their number.
Streamline the amount of scripts new reps have to master by starting them off with only the most common and most effective talk tracks.
Sellers can only succeed when they understand their customers’ needs. It’s therefore critical for contact centers to provide sellers with contextual information on products so they can easily answer customer questions—and upsell or cross-sell on perceived customer needs during the call. This additional information can also help sellers handle any anticipated customer objections quickly and gracefully, because they have readily available answers.
Ongoing training and enablement is key here, as is the ability to surface key prompts and starter scripts when reps need them most—as conversations happen.
In addition, live supervisor monitoring is equally important to helping guide reps as they’re engaging with customers for the first time.
#4: Streamline and enhance note-taking
On any given customer call, reps typically have to spend a significant portion of their time typing up notes. These notes—which document everything from a customer’s initial query and the actions taken to rectify a problem to customer sentiment and tech issues—are critical for ensuring peak performance and surfacing other insights, such as recurring complaints, that can help the sales team tweak strategy and drive more revenue.
But taking these notes means that reps can’t be 100% focused on the customer during the call, and they may not be able to pick up important cues regarding customer needs and feelings—ultimately missing out on opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, and track trends that can help them improve performance. Editing these notes and adding them into CRM also takes up valuable rep time, leaving them pressured to do it quickly—and possibly inaccurately—and giving them little down time between calls.
By streamlining the note-taking process, contact centers can help reps reduce outside work and focus more exclusively on their customer interactions. One way to do this is to automate the process—use AI to capture the conversation and important elements of the interaction in real time, freeing agents up to listen to the customer. Automating the process also gives sellers more time to decompress between calls.
How AI and Conversation Intelligence Can Help Improve Contact Center Sales
AI can provide critical support for all four of these important areas. Here’s how.
Real-time AI, or AI that functions during actual calls, is a powerful tool to not only keep reps’ performance high, but also for driving more conversions. For example, Observe.AI’s Agent Assist keeps sellers on script, compliant, and top-performing by checking script adherence, offering recommendations on how to handle customer objections, popping up suggested knowledge-base articles, and showing alerts for hold time, customer sentiment, call duration, and speech rate—all during the call itself.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Assist keeps remote and hybrid teams in sync by giving supervisors a line of sight into all active conversations, allowing them to immediately surface coachable moments and respond to agents seeking assistance in real time.
With Automated Actions, you can vastly reduce after-call work and increase productivity by letting AI automatically take notes in real time so sellers can spend more time listening to the customer and strategizing. Automations easily summarize key moments accurately from the call, extract key entities like names, dollar amounts, etc, and make editing the notes and CRM updates after the call quick and easy.
Post-interaction AI is equally as important because it provides the deeper call analysis needed to ensure consistency across teams, target seller coaching, and track important sales team and customer trends.
For example, Observe.AI’s Auto QA automatically analyzes 100% of customer conversations and quickly surfaces recurring trends and issues better and more effectively than manual QA.
This allows contact center leaders to gain more insight into what’s actually happening on the front lines faster, so they can put in place the operations needed to drive more conversions, improve compliance, and provide additional opportunities for improvement in the sales process.
Advantage of Post-Interaction and Real-Time AI on One Platform
Ultimately, when contact centers leverage both real-time and post-interaction AI in an end-to-end conversation intelligence platform, you unlock the critical visibility required to drive business-altering actions across your entire workforce, faster.
Let’s take two examples to show you how an end-to-end conversation intelligence platform can work to your advantage:
Using post-interaction data to create a personalized Real-time experience: Let's take the example of a sales rep, Nancy, whose supervisor is looking at the Auto QA and manual evaluation data from her call history. It shows that Nancy frequently fails to counter a price objection. Nancy's supervisor can create a real-time prompt that will show her the step-by-step process she can follow to counter a price objection. This prompt will get triggered on live calls whenever a customer brings up a price objection and Nancy will have the right response flash right on her desktop.
Using real-time insights to define QA or coaching strategy: Let’s say real-time trends reports suggest that another rep, Samuel, hasn't been sticking to the objection handling script he’s being shown in Agent Assist. Their supervisor can use this insight to set up an urgent coaching session with Samuel. In the session they can guide him on how to handle the objection or even do a role play together. This will ensure that Samuel changes his behavior in subsequent calls.
Even in a challenging economic environment, where sales can often struggle, there are some tried-and-true ways to boost performance and drive more conversions. And the power of contact center AI can help you reap the greatest rewards.
Visit Observe.ai to learn how AI can uplevel your contact center’s performance and to schedule a demo.