Getting Your Team In The Zone


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I was watching one of the press conferences at the Masters and a reporter asked the Round 2 leader, Lee Westwood, if he was worried that Phil Mickelson had caught up with him. He answered that he could only worry about his own shots that he hit.

This got me thinking of two different types of employees: those who focus on what they can control and those who focus on what they cannot.

Have you ever worked with someone who always had a reason why he did not hit his production levels? When you speak to people like this, they usually give you excuses why they could not be successful, sounding something like the following:

“It was the list of people you gave me to call.”

“I’m getting the people who just want information.”

“No one listens.”

“It’s just not my day.”

Just as any great golfer may tell you they get in the “Zone” (which means they focus on what they are doing and block out everyone else), you can help your employees get into their own “Zone” and what to do to stay there.

So how do you change the focus of these employees?

To improve the training and performance of any employee – be it customer service training, sales training, or management training – you need to add in a section that helps your employees focus on what they can control instead of the what they can’t so they will be more successful.

Let’s say you are supervising a team of callers in a call center. Here is what you can tell them that they can control on the phones:

Tone of voice: They need to make sure their tone in pleasant, and clear, and their volume matches that of the person to whom they are speaking.

Attitude: Are they focused on the call they are taking and on how best to serve this customer? Or are they still focused on the call they had three calls previous, in which the caller frustrated them? Carrying that aggravation over into your current call will kill any chance of delivering great service.

Focus: Where are they looking when speaking to the customer? Are they focused on their computer screens, as if the person was sitting right across from them? Or are they more concerned with what is happening next to them or across the room? You may not realize it, but if you are looking across the room, a distracted tone will come across in your voice, and the customer will feel that you are not listening or giving them your full attention.

Listening skills: Nothing frustrates customers more than having to repeat themselves. Make sure your team is taking the time to listen and ask the correct questions to make sure they get all of the information they need the first time.

Pace: It is very easy to speak to someone over the phone at the same pace as you would face to face. The problem is that people understand a good deal of what you are saying by your body language. Over the phone you do not have that benefit. I recommend speaking at half speed. It will slow down the pace of the conversation enough so people on the other side of the phone can follow along more easily.

Making sure you are understood: Agents read their scripts over and over during the course of a day. Many of them will begin to go into an “autopilot” mode in which they are not focused on making sure the person fully understands what is being asked. Take the time to repeat information back to the person or summarize the information you took before ending the call.

Here are things your agents cannot control on the phones:

You are the 5th person to call the person today.

The person’s child just spilled its milk.

The person just sat down to dinner.

The person was just walking out the door.

You, as your employee’s’ coach/supervisor, must listen in, and give them your feedback to point out when they are focusing correctly. This will help to train them to monitor their own progress.

A helpful tip: To aid my sales teams, I created and posted these five questions at the workstations of my agents. To this day, some of my friends who worked for me still remember using these questions to help their agents and have used the same when managing their own employees. Here they are:

1. Did you open the call correctly?

2. Did you present the body of the script correctly?

3. Did you present the offer correctly or get the correct information needed?

4. Did you listen to the customer and present the correct response?

5. Did you do everything you could on the call?

If my people answered yes to all five questions, then each of their calls was as good as a sale. They did everything they could control. So many times we focus on results instead of the effort.

It may take a lot of encouragement to convince employees that excellent effort will turn into sales, but the end result will create a more productive and motivated work force.

Let me know your thoughts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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