How to keep your remote telesales team connected

If like many, your telesales team is now working remotely, you’ll probably have noticed that creating a feeling of connectedness isn’t easy, especially where teams are young or holding entry-level positions. This can be bad news for the business, not just for sales figures or company growth, but also for staff retention.

Arguably, however, more important than the business impacts of your telesales underperforming, is the potential cost of staff wellbeing, especially for younger workers. The current pandemic has caused a widespread spike in mental health problems but according to the Mental Health Foundation, the UK’s leading charity for mental health, young people are particularly at risk. “Our study has consistently found that young adults were more likely to report stress arising from the pandemic than the population as a whole. Findings from the third week of June show that 18-24 year olds were still more likely than any other age group to report hopelessness, loneliness, not coping well and suicidal thoughts/feelings”.

So how can you bring your telesales team together ‘under one roof’ when you’re all in different places? We’ve pulled together some of our strategies for team bonding, and remote management for you below. Not forgetting that whether your team are outbound or inbound, their objective to win sales, or generate potential doesn’t change just because there’s a pandemic, if anything, they need to be even more able to win customers away from the competition as conditions get tighter.

Happy staff make happy customers

As managers, we have a vested interest to make sure our staff feel happy and secure. Not only does this have a positive effect on telesales figures, it also makes for an environment that buzzes with energy and motivation so your customers or potential customers benefit from a good impression of your brand. You can help the energy flow by setting smaller targets and goals, and then having a brief recap after each is reached. Set milestones, and ask your team to contribute their thoughts and feelings freely on email, or online chat facilities. Be clear about goals so everyone knows what is expected of them. Assign buddies to support each other, encourage focus on the positives, and have your telesales team report the highs, lows, and any suggestions for improvement in a morning meeting session.

Zoom

You can’t manage a team without contact, so in the absence of a shared building, video meetings, such as Zoom or Teams should be a regular feature of how you connect with your telesales team. Clearly, this form of communication is not ideal. We’re all familiar with the expression Zoom fatigue, this is because this type of meeting forces us to focus more intently in order to understand what’s being said. Additionally, the only way to show you’re listening in a video call is to stare at the screen, however, this kind of fixed stare is tiring and not natural, you certainly wouldn’t do it face to face.

To make your meeting more relaxing and engaging, consider going around the room to ask friendly questions, or recall small details about individuals, their day, or telesales outcomes. Using graphics, cartoons, charts, etc will help break the monotony. As the meeting host, try not to ‘read’ people’s faces, and if you think someone looks bored or dejected, don’t pick them up on it. It might make you feel uncomfortable to be jollifying a team of blank faces, but hey tough times!

Private chats

It’s absolutely possible to cultivate a happy team remotely, provided you can all learn to tolerate and thrive, despite strange conditions. Managers must attune to the unique needs of each member of their team, so if someone seems a little subdued or bored in your morning team meeting, have a private video call/meeting. Don’t pull them up on how they seemed in your morning team session, the last thing you want is for your team to feel somehow judged or threatened by your meetings. Instead, try opening with, you wondered how they were and wanted to say a quick hello. Then you can gently address anything else that needs to be discussed. Have a plan to follow up, try giving them a spot in one of your morning meetings to voice their ideas on how to do something.

Always look to highlight positive events, contributions, or news. The more you can bring individual ideas and contributions to the team, the better they will function. Making people feel like they matter is especially key to the wellbeing of individuals, teams, and whole businesses right now. We all need to know we make a difference.

Catch people doing good

When people feel strained or anxious they may naturally underperform to some extent. This is probably inevitable. However, the more robust your quality management system, the better you will be at picking up potential problems quickly. Given telesales is fairly high on the spectrum of stressful jobs anyway, you won’t want to jump in with a criticism of your team member’s performance. So instead of pulling them up on a bad thing, pull them up on a good one.

Look for opportunities to praise and congratulate and use this to highlight what good looks like. This is often referred to as the ‘sandwich technique’. The sandwich method is a form of feedback that wraps negative feedback in praise. This means that the feedback discussion starts with positive comments about some element of the staff member’s performance, and is followed by negative criticism before appreciative words are again used. The lasting impression is one of positivity, even though the shortcoming was clearly addressed and understood.

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