Should Your Answering Service Sales Rep Job Shadow?

In the post “ How to Train Your Answering Service Sales Rep” we covered five options for training a telephone answering service sales associate. One of the ideas was job shadowing. While job shadowing in itself will not fully train a new sales representative, it can be a viable element of a comprehensive sales training program, provided it’s done correctly. Here are four tips to help make job shadowing a success: 1) Pick the Right Mentor: The key to successful job shadowing is selecting the right salesperson to follow. While the sales manager may come to mind as the ideal person for this, since they have a proven record of sales accomplishments, they have too many other responsibilities. When new salespeople job shadow their bosses, they will likely be exposed more to sales management issues than to sales techniques. This wastes time for the new hire and delays the completion of training. A second choice is often the most successful sales rep. After all, this person makes sales, and you have the same hope for your new salesperson. Not so fast. If your seasoned veteran gives full attention to the training, the likely result will be a drop in sales because of a divided focus and needing to answer questions and explain situations. That’s not good. The other possible result is that the sales expert curtails the job shadowing time or minimizes the experience in order to not lose sales commissions. Plus, to be honest, your most successful salesperson is likely a management nightmare and frequently cuts corners to close deals. Do you really want to duplicate that? Perhaps the best choice is a middle of the road sales associate who is easy to manage and fully follows your every expectation. Though their numbers may not be great, their attitude is. Plus they are dedicated and work hard. A person with these qualifications may be the best person for a new hire to job shadow. 2) Reward the Mentor: When you ask someone to let a newbie job shadow him or her, be sure to provide some incentive. Cover lost commissions and adjust for diminished results. This may be financial remuneration, public recognition, or a valued enticement such as time off, a trip, or a prize. Show your appreciation in a tangible way. 3) Share the Load: Involve other people in the company. Although job shadowing the sales manager doesn’t make sense on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to do so for one day that is set aside for sales calls. Also, if the new sales rep isn’t familiar with how an answering service functions, job shadowing a telephone receptionist will provide valuable insight. The HR and accounting staffs can also help out, covering needed paperwork and policies, while the operations manager, customer service manager, or account programmer can cover the client onboarding process. 4) Provide Other Training: In addition to tapping in house personnel to train the new sales associate, consider external sources, such as industry training resources and business sales training classes. This gives staff a break from the responsibility of providing job-shadowing opportunities. When done right and with intention, job shadowing can be a most effective way to train a new answering service sales rep. This is especially true when you select and appropriately reward the right employee to be the point person. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan  is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan and a longtime member of the TAS industry.