In just 60 days, Household Bank -- a savings bank with 180 branches across the country gave more than 100 branch personnel telesales training courses. Armed with these new skills, the phone sales trainees immediately contributed to a highly successful telephone sales campaign. Since then, Household has continued to roll out the telephone training classes into all its business sectors.

The telephone skills training class effort was a natural extension of the drive by Household Bank -- a unit of Household International Corporation -- to expand the effectiveness of its internal sales culture.

In developing this telephone skills culture over the last seven years, the bank sought to ensure that account managers and other branch personnel approached their existing customers as potential new customers.

"A customer with a savings or checking account often also needs investment, loan or insurance products," explained Dennis Kelley, director of telesales training for Household Bank. "We want to match these needs with our services and create as many relationships as possible with the customer, so they stay with us instead of turning to a competitor."

To be successful, however, Household recognized that it wasn't enough to wait for customers to come through the door. It had to reach out through telemarketing training and providing employees with seminars and workshops demonstrating phone sales techniques.

But as the firm began implementing telemarketing training in its various divisions, the need for training in telesales became a top priority.
"We needed a telephone skills training course and workshop in telesales that complemented our existing sales culture," said Keley. "Our approach is based on relationship selling, on learning the customer's agenda and then matching our phone sale presentation to it. High-pressure phone sale techniques that might threaten our customers are inappropriate.

"We implemented a system -- Telesales Skills (TSS) -- that matched up well with our existing telephone sales training philosophy," said Kelley. "It is based on the customer and the customer's needs. It focuses on asking questions in a nonthreatening manner to determine the customer's needs. The overall idea behind the phone sales training course is to enhance the relationship between the bank and our customers."

The telephone training system employs video modules in which a top-notch telesales training instructor presents the content, e.g., establishing rapport, probing, matching services to meet different customers' needs, presenting value and triggering action. In the workshop, the facilitator's role is to lead the phone sale session so that learners interact effectively with each other while responding to the video content.

Facilitators learn a three-step model or pattern to use with the video modules. At Household, the facilitation skills as well as TSS itself were learned in a four-and-one-half-day seminar.

"The telephone skills training workshop is designed to enable facilitators to create an interactive learning environment focused on self-discovery," explained Kelley.

"You have to master a three-step pattern. In the 'uncover' phase, you learn various phone sales techniques for seizing learners' attention. In the second or 'discover' phase, you learn to present the video module, breaking it up with exercises and discussions. In the final or 'recover' phase you bring everyone into a discussion about what's been learned and how it can be applied.

"Each telephone training seminar concludes with an action commitment' where telephone sales participants personally undertake an assignment or task that implements, on the job, the material covered in a given module."
In the facilitation training course, telephone sales participants were introduced to the facilitation skills. Then they took turns doing the uncover, discover and recover phases for the various modules.

"Instead of observing a trainer present the telesales training and then imitating, which is the traditional train-the-trainer pattern, we jumped right in facilitating material we were seeing for the first time," Kelley explained. "The emphasis was on discussing and practicing telephone skills, not on mastering content."

The system is designed to transform line managers and others into telephone sales facilitators. In the process of learning to train each other and providing mutual support, they naturally form bonds and learn as a team.

According to Kelley, there was a similar effect at Household even though the telephone sales facilitators were largely telesales training managers selected from among the bank's various divisions. "We worked together and trained each other. We didn't always agree with the video material but felt free to disagree because no one's feelings were hurt. This led to discussions and sharing ideas as we worked out our own conclusions."

After the telephone skills session, the telesales training facilitators went back to their divisions and rolled out the program to selected account managers and other branch personnel who would be participating in a special telemarketing training campaign. Within 60 days, 100 telemarketers were trained in phone sales techniques in each of four geographical divisions -- Eastern, Central, Midwest, and Western. A smaller number were trained in the Mortgage Services group.

"The feedback was extremely positive," Kelley stated. "The telephone sales participants liked the system and were able to immediately use it on the job.

"It filled a critical need. They'd been asked to do telemarketing and needed telesales training so they'd have direction and specific skills. It gave our branch people who carried out the campaign a tremendous boost in confidence. It gave them telephone skills they could use and aligned telemarketing with our own culture. Everyone was very comfortable with the source: approach."

Source: Jim Strutton link

Related: Telephone Sales Training