Ever feel like the phone is broken when you’re communicating with your sales team? You talk, but the words just aren’t getting through — especially during conference calls.
Conference Calls Are the Worst
Everyone hates conference calls, but why? To have a “successful” call, we have to stop what we’re doing. None of us can be busy during the time we talk. Now, multiply that by the number of people on a conference call. Each person has to stop the clock, engage in the conversation, and eliminate distractions. That’s highly unlikely — especially if it’s just to hear everyone’s weekly updates.
During a typical conference call, everyone’s distracted. Because they only have to pay attention to the audio, they can continue multitasking during the call. So you’ll pick up the background noise of each person’s location. Some people may be taking their kids to school. Others are grabbing their breakfast at a restaurant before work. By the time an entire group dials in, you can expect plenty of audio distractions.
Plus, there’s no good way to take turns talking. So you’ll deal with the awkward interruptions people experience as they reply at the same time.
Even dialing in can be an obstacle. You dial the 800 number, but then you have to enter the access code. If you’re driving, then trying to find the email, copy the access code, and type it in is extremely difficult (and impairs your driving!). Then, once you’re in the call, the audio can malfunction or someone dials in late and needs a full recap.
Bottom line: conference calls are too hard to focus on. Even the best conference calls are a poor substitute for a face-to-face interaction when everyone’s engaged.
Marco Polo takes the age-old idea of the phone call and makes it better. Whether you’re calling a group or an individual, you get to respond face to face on your schedule, and avoid all that wasted time. Here are a few of the perks.
1. Works With Everyone’s Schedule
Instead of being stuck in a conference call, Marco Polo frees you up to enter the conversation on your timetable. So, rather than setting an alarm to dial in and going through inevitable hassle and distraction, you get the message and reply anytime.
It’s also a great alternative to individual calls. Phone calls trap us in endless loops of voicemail and call-backs. If I need to advise someone on my team, I can call, but often people can’t pick up. I leave a message, they try to return the call, I’m busy. And so the cycle begins. We end up playing phone tag until the message becomes more cumbersome than helpful.
But with Marco Polo, I plan what I’m going to say, then I say it to the person via video. They respond when ready. And if one of us forgets to respond, that app reminds us intermittently.
Related: Sales Managers: How To Get Over Micromanaging Your Salespeople
2. Offers the Insight of Face-to-Face Communication
True communication consists of more than words. As we interact face to face, we benefit from non-verbal cues. People can neutralize their voices to mask emotions, but it’s much more difficult to disguise facial expressions. If I have a conversation with an under-performing salesperson via video, I’m more likely to understand what’s going on than if we’d only talked on the phone. Audio simply doesn’t tell the whole story.
3. Reduces Wasted Time
People need time to think. When we don’t have to respond immediately, we form more developed ideas. In a conference call, there’s a pressure to reply right away. However, if you present a problem via Marco Polo, I can think through solutions and respond with more valuable input.
Video also encourages people to get to the point. Most people don’t want to send a video of themselves thinking and stalling for the right words. It makes them self-conscious. So they come to the conversation with their thoughts prepared and save everyone’s time in the process.
4. Motivates Your Team
As a sales manager, you should spend about 80% of your day motivating people. Your job is to remind your team of the obvious. Remind them what to focus on and praise them when they do a great job. Marco Polo gives you the opportunity to publicly praise them face to face.
When I look at sales data, I jump on my app and send a quick video saying, “Great job!” to my team. Then I name the people who really stood out in their sales. When I send this out to the team, the top performers feel great, while the people who weren’t named are usually motivated to win recognition the next day.
A lot of sales organizations send out emails to report their wins, but so much is lost in email. A video communicates much more.
How Do I Use Marco Polo?
1. Create a group with each member of your sales team.
Marco Polo identifies people by phone number. So just enter the numbers of salespeople to create your sales team group.
2. Check in with the team via the app.
Instead of a Monday morning conference, click on your Marco Polo app, get on the group, tap on the group, and say, “Good morning team! Looking forward to seeing your game plan today. Reply with your goals for the week!”
You can also use this to communicate other items on the sales meeting agenda, such as company updates or upcoming opportunities.
3. The team gets a message notification and replies.
Each person will get a notification when new messages come in. After they listen, they can make their own recording.
You’ll get replies like, “I’m ready to crush it today! I’ve got three appointments today and four more this week. I expect to close the Johnson deal by Thursday at 4:00.”
Related: 4 Simple Strategies for Becoming a Better Sales Manager
4. Listen when ready.
Just like that, you end up with a face-to-face report from each salesperson you can listen to right away, or when it’s convenient!
What About Reprimanding?
A good manager praises in public and reprimands in private.
With these recorded updates come extra levels of accountability. If someone isn’t meeting their numbers and closing expected deals, go back and listen to their reports. Then talk to those salespeople one on one. Marco Polo backs you up and directs your conversation. Maybe you say, “In your Monday report last week, you said you would close the Johnson deal on Thursday at 4:00. Why didn’t that happen?” You can even play back their report to fact-check.
Meanwhile, Marco Polo also gives you another way to praise your highest achievers. Give top salespeople kudos in the group thread. You want everyone to know they’re a rock star!
Why Does Marco Polo Work?
Give the app a try, and you’ll be hooked. Why? It’s a “time-shifting” app for meetings.
Meetings and conference calls force everyone to be on the boss’s schedule. Everyone stops what they’re doing to be in a meeting they don’t want to be in. Even your best sales meeting ideas keep people in the office when they want to be out selling. But with Marco Polo, you time-shift your agenda. You change the clock so meetings are convenient for the manager and the team.
But you don’t sacrifice the face-to-face benefit and can still set a schedule of expectations throughout the day. Set timelines for the meeting (maybe 8-4 on Monday) and set deadlines for status updates. Then the reps chime in anytime, and you listen when you’re ready.
Plus, if you want to emphasize something, use the text feature. You can easily overlay text on videos or pictures. Sometimes I’ll just type Goals? to remind everyone to send me an update.
Sure, traditional sales meetings and conference calls have their perks, but Marco Polo utilizes the best aspects of each.
On the surface, this app looks like an easy way to chat with family and friends. But it can also transform your business. You’ll be able to establish a higher level of accountability while giving everyone a little more flexibility in their schedule. Marco Polo frees up your salespeople to sell… while keeping you in the loop.