Tag Teaming

A unique approach to new employee training in a telemarketing enviroment.

OK, so you just spent a few hundred dollars on advertisements to get some new reps in the door. Human resources, or somebody, maybe you, just spent about 4 hours interviewing the potential applicants and you finally ended up with a training class of about 10 reps. Yep, 2 or 3 days of training 10 reps for 4-5 hours per day is going to cost some dough.
How many will leave or not show up after their first day of calling?
Would you like to have a little built in career path for some of your 'stellar performing', existing reps?
Would you like to decrease your turn-over a little?
Would you like to see some of your existing guns do a little better?

If you've read and implemented many of the ideas found in, 'interviewing tips', 8 of the 10 reps should be with you for some time. However, now you can insure that this will happen by implementing some portion, or all, of the tag-teamer concept.
By the way, would you like to keep some of your 'rising stars' (that have been with you for 2-3 months only) on the phone but doing a lot better? .... and have them remain employed with YOU a lot longer? Simple. Make them tag-teamers.

I once managed a Sitel ROPS site and had a sophmore and a junior in high school that were 2 of the best employees I ever had. They were always on time. They took direction well. They gave good, enthusiastic presentations and as a result, they were nearly always in the top ten reps every day (out of 60-75). But after about 2 months their performance started to wane a little. You've seen this happen right?
The rep is getting a little bored saying the same thing a couple of hundred times per day. I didn't want to lose them from the phones, but I needed to stimulate and motivate them somehow. The tag-teamer concept was a solution for them too!
In fact, one night at the grocery store a couple nights after I promoted these 2 girls to 'tag-teamers' the father, with a very serious face, asked me what the hell was going on at that telemarketing company that I managed. I was briefly stunned until I saw his smile--and realized that he was joking. He said his daughters had come home from work 2 nights ago on cloud 9!!! They were all agog and re-enthused about their job because they were given the opportunity to help new reps for 2 hours!!!

The principle of 'tag-teaming' is to have qualified peers help new trainees perform well in their first few hours of live calling. The information you're about to read assumes that you're using a predictive dialer and that the script is in the system with all responses.

FYI: I'm finding that more and more clients want a 'verbatim' script to help control the quality of sales and for all sorts of control, and list segmentation measurements.


How you select a tag-teamer is up to you. But it has to be viewed as a promotion within the TSR ranks (and still remain a TSR).
However, for a couple of hours per week, you lose the tag-teamers dialing time.
A huge cost you're thinking, right? Wrong.
When executed properly, the tag teamer will stay with you longer, do a better job, and be more motivated.
Plus, if production is a real concern when you add new reps to the phone, just have the tag-teamers make sure that their seat is at goal.

The person selected as a 'tag-teamer' must very patiently assist the new employee in the transition from training to live calling. This transitional period is critical to your retention of the new employee--short and long term. When 'tag-teaming' the 'leader' and the 'trainee' alternate calling every 15-20 minutes. The 'leader' calls for 15 minutes while the 'trainee' listens to his calls for 15 minutes. It is assumed that you have a portable monitoring phone available or have a 'sup' plug-in available at each station. After about 15 minutes of calling they switch. the trainee now becomes the caller and the tag-teamer/leader listens and helps the trainee with a few calls. If you're tape recording your sales, let the leader show the trainee how to do tape tests and do a tape test every time they switch. The leader/tag-teamer needs to be acutely aware of these very important factors when they help a new trainee:

  • 1. Confidence. A new employee will probably lack confidence as they make their first few live calls so it is imperative that the leader compliment them on something they did right on every call...no matter how bad they might have been. Never criticize the first few calls. Only praise them for something they did right. This will play a very important part in the ongoing coaching and monitoring process that should happen on daily basis later.

  • 2. Problems. A new employee will have some problems and after you've praised the employee for something they did right on their first couple of calls, you can begin the coaching process right in the booth between calls. The sandwich approach is usually best.
  • a. Praise the trainee for something they did well on the last call.
  • b. Point out an area they could improve on (the problem).
  • c. Show them how to fix the problem and practice a solution.
  • d. Praise them when they get the solution right.
  • Item c is probably the most important step in the coaching process because anyone can identify a problem, but fixing it is a different story. Have the traineee practice the solution a few times to be sure they got it right and remember to praise them every time they do something right.

    Here are some of the problems that a tag-teamer might encounter with a new trainee.

    • 1. Doesn't know how to run the tape recorder or do a tape test. Let the tag teamers show new reps how to do this in their first 15 minutes. It would take about 15 minutes for 1 trainer to teach this to one trainee (thoroughly) so what do the other 9 trainees do? Let the tag-teamers cover this!
    • 2. Trouble getting into the computer and/or logging out. I've trained about a thousand reps on several types of predictive dialers and I can spend 20-30 minutes with 20 reps on this or I can spend about 8 minutes and let the tag-teamers fine tune it.
    • 3. Trouble using the computer. This is really just a matter of 'what button to push'. With a tag-teamer right there, a 'lay-down sale' won't be lost because the trainer was somewhere else trying to help someone log in!
    • 4. Sounds scripted or like they're reading. The solution to this very common problem is to just practice a few lines at a time...Inch by inch and its a cinch! Don't practice conversationalizing the sales screen if they can't get through the first page! There really isn't any point in spending dozens of training hours trying to perfect a perfect presentation before the trainee makes their first live call because half the class will be bored to tears, and the other half will goof off. Besides, if you gave a reading test, (see interviewi tips) you know they can read! Granted, this works well with a script and responses and a 'call guide' will require more practice, but that's what a tag-teamer can do!
    • 5. Pausing between screens to find answers to questions or responses. Just teach them the power of a transition! (see sales hints)
    • 6. Not using transitions well enough. Hang standard transitions in the booth.
    • 7. Nervous and/or lacking confidence. Praise them for something they did right and remind them that everyone felt the same way their first day and that they'll be a pro in no time! Really takes about 3 days depending on the product or service sold.
    • 8. Taking rejection personally. If the interview was done correctly, this should really be a non-issue. However, it still needs to be addressed. People are saying 'NO' to the product or service--NOT THE REP. (see sales hints for more info about this.)
    • 9. Confused. This could be for a number of reasons. Give them confidence one paragraph at time.
    • 10. Forgetting to release the pause button to record a sale. Thankfully, a tag-teamer was there! FYI: Many clients require that the entire permission to tape phrase be read--and that if any part is missing, it is not sale.
    • 11. Sounds monotone. Ask why. Is their pace exactly the same? Do they lack inflection? Both? Easy solution. Practice over-emphasizing key words and phrases. (see sales hints)
    • 12. Reads too fast. GOOD! Because I've NEVER BEEN ABLE SPEED UP A SLOW READER! This is usually a product of nervousness and the solutions could be to pause a little at commas, a little longer at periods (as long as its not an interupt point) and to over-emphasize certain words and phrases.
    • 13. Reads too slow. Fire the interviewer that gave the reading test.
    • CAUTION, CAUTION--Don't fire the trainer--you still need one! You probably liked some of the information here but don't fire the trainer! You still need a real good trainer to teach the reps all the basics, but the trainer can now coordinate the toughest transition--live to the phones--with experienced tag-teamers.

      Tag-teaming is a method of 'critical care'. You've just spent a small fortune training some reps and the tag-teamer concept can assimilate new trainees with everyone else very quickly and easily. They'll be a productive part of your team in no time! Depending on the size of your organization, you might even make sure that a training class breaks with the reps at the same time.

      'Critical Care' should be implemented with any training class because of the costs involved. What does your class do after the first few nights of calling? Are they just shown the time clock when their shift is over? See ya! No way! Pull them back into the training class for a few days at the end of their shift for about 10 minutes. Ask them how its going. Pick out some good stats and praise EVERYONE. Tell them how they're doing as a team. Most importantly, tell them when these 'critical care' meetings will end.

      Dan Seliger, Stellar Performance Marketing, Inc.
      PO Box 354
      Cherokee, IA 51012
      (712) 225-1288

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