By Ryan Apodac, Operations Manager/Trainer
Congratulations! You oversee a team of outbound telemarketing appointment setters in a call center. The bad news is that for the past 3 months, booked appointments have steadily declined. As a result, you schedule a training session, then another training session, and finally when things aren’t improving, yet another training session. Things still aren’t improving, and you now begin to see your attrition increase, your employees are losing focus, and sales are dropping. What’s the problem? You trained them, didn’t you? The problem is that your issue may not require training at all. You may be contributing to the problem by over-training your outbound telemarketing appointment setters.
How do you know when you are over-training your outbound telemarketing appointment setters? Call center agents will start to exhibit some of the above signs when you have given them too much training. Over-training is an expensive mistake that too many in our industry make.
Issues Caused by Over-Training in Outbound Telemarketing
Over-training in the call center can create an entirely new set of problems to include budget concerns, loss of employee engagement, increased stress among employees, and worst of all, confusion around priorities. It can also aggravate an already existing issue by not addressing the original issue to begin with.
Is over-training really that big of a deal? Yes, it really is. According to the Associate for Talent Development’s 2014 State of the Industry Report, organizations spend an average of $1,208 per employee on training and development. For companies with less than 500 workers, it’s higher yet, at $1,888 per employee. By reacting to an issue with more training for your employees, you are essentially throwing money at a problem, without fully understanding it. This can create problems for your outbound telemarketing training budget and ultimately cause less budget available for true training needs. Your appointment setters may lose out on valuable sales training techniques because you spent all your allotted training budget on other less important training that may not have required training to begin with.
When employees are subjected to repeated training sessions, they can and do lose interest. Once you have an employee that is disengaged in learning, they will struggle to learn, especially when the training material is simply a repeat of information. You do know what the definition of insanity is, right? This could result in a disengaged outbound telemarketing appointment setter that isn’t overly eager to go above and beyond to nail that next appointment for your sales team. You may also end up with higher attrition rates as a result of your employees seeking out other opportunities.
Too Much Training Creates Stress in Outbound Telemarketing
Over-training your employees can also create additional stress for your outbound telemarketing employees. The goal of training is never to create stress, but when you over-train your employees you are doing exactly that. A never-ending barrage of training sessions in addition to the daily pressures of existing work can cause decreased production. The employees are stressed out and worrying how to accomplish everything that is required of them. You could also start to see quality drop as a result.
Conflicting priorities can arise from over-training your employees. When outbound telemarketing employees are constantly dragged into training, it can lead to confusion around which priority to focus on to obtain the best results. This is especially true when the training is reactive in nature rather than proactive. Employees will often develop the “Flavor of the Month” attitude and shift their focus to what’s currently in front of them. This will cause the call center agents to ultimately lose focus around mastering the knowledge and skill the training was designed to teach in the first place. This problem directly contributes to ineffective training and ultimately, directly impacts your training budget and your overall appointment setting goals.
How Can We Ensure We Aren’t Over-Training?
Recognizing any of the above symptoms is important because it can help you to identify that you may have over-trained your team. How do we stop the madness and ensure that we aren’t over-training our employees? The best way to stop the over-training cycle is to incorporate a training needs analysis. A good training needs analysis is going to flush out true training needs versus a performance issue. No amount of training can fix a performance issue.
A needs analysis can help to identify outbound telemarketing performance issues and allow you to determine the best route of action to take to address those issues. A good training needs analysis will also allow you to hyper focus on the true areas of training need. To eliminate the possibility of over-training and to help identify when you have reached maximum capacity for training your call center appointment setters, you should start with a solid training needs analysis. This will set you on the right path to ensure your training dollars are as effective as they can be.
The next time you have an outbound telemarketing appointment setting team that is showing signs of disengagement, attrition is high, appointments are low, and you are at a loss for what to do, I would recommend starting with a solid training needs analysis.
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Ryan Apodac is an Operations Manager/Trainer for Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing organization. With a background of more than a decade in sales, Ryan is passionate about developing and delivering training that ultimately results in improved performance for client programs. Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or 516-656-5127.