Call Coaching and Monitoring: How to Improve Agent Performance with Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge

Will Schmidt

April 25, 2024

12 min

Table of Contents

Summary:

  • PhoneBurner’s Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge features give sales leaders tools to coach their teams effectively, especially in remote work settings.
  • Listen-in enables sales leaders to discreetly monitor live calls, assess rep performance, and identify coaching opportunities without being detected by the rep or the prospect.
  • Whisper allows leaders to offer real-time, private guidance to reps during a call, ensuring immediate correction and support without the prospect hearing the interaction.
  • Barge provides the ability for coaches to join the conversation actively, addressing complex queries or objections directly with both the rep and the prospect, crucial for closing deals or providing expert input.
  • Using PhoneBurner gives you access to these features so you can monitor your team in real-time and give feedback for better call preparation, support during calls, and post-call analysis.

As a sales leader, it’s your job to be the coach and activate the star power of your sales team to close more deals. That means preparing your team before they start dialing, supporting them during calls, and providing meaningful feedback afterward.

We recognize live sales coaching can be difficult, especially in today’s world of remote work environments. That’s why PhoneBurner's product team created Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge. These tools will help you monitor all of your reps’ active calls, and then give you the option to provide feedback while they’re on the call. And the best part is that it happens right inside PhoneBurner—no extra add-ons or apps are required.

The Benefits of Call Monitoring & Call Coaching

The best sales leaders and managers dedicate time to listen to their reps’ calls (either live or recorded) because this practice helps:

  • Gauge the quality of service being delivered
  • Identify problems and solve them quickly
  • Determine potential training needs
  • Provide training opportunities
  • Improve employee professional development
  • Understand friction points with prospects

Aside from those high-level benefits, call coaching also presents an opportunity for your reps to communicate directly with you when they need your expertise the most. Like any good coach, you can watch them perform in the moment and then help them adjust on the go. 

Not only can this increase their overall success, but your call coaching can have a direct, tangible impact on retention. Better Buys ran a survey about access to professional development opportunities—like call coaching. Their results show that:

  • 9 out of 10 respondents said professional development is crucial for them
  • 4 out of 10 respondents want in-house professional development opportunities
  • 75% of respondents with professional development said they would stay at their company for five more years

If call coaching isn’t a part of your sales strategy, it needs to be. But it’s also important you have the right tools for effective call coaching. That’s where our Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge features come into play.

Meet Listen-in, Whisper, & Barge

Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge were designed specifically for team admins who manage a team of reps who use PhoneBurner to make calls. We’ll dive into more details below, but here’s a quick overview:

Listen-in: Silently listen to live conversations your reps have with prospects

Whisper: Speak to only your rep while they’re on a call 

Barge: Join the conversation to speak with both your rep and their prospect

We recognize that everyone, from new hires to seasoned pros, needs a little nurturing and encouragement here and there. Our goal with this release is to make it easy for you to provide that sales coaching and train your team for success.

How to Use Listen-in, Whisper, & Barge

When you log into PhoneBurner, under the “Team” tab you’ll see “Live Calls.” Click that, and it will take you to a list of all your team members. The display will show who is and isn’t actively making calls.

Pro Tip: If you have a large team, you may want to click “Hide Inactive,” which will hide all your inactive users. That makes it easy to focus only on the reps making calls.

As your reps make calls, you’ll notice the status of their call will change from “Waiting” to “Dialing” and ultimately to a live call clock. Often, when a rep is sitting on “Waiting” it means they’re wrapping up notes and dispositioning the previous call.

Listen, Whisper, and Barge dashboard

When your reps connect, a call duration clock will display.  At this point, you’re able to take advantage of Listen-in, Whisper, or Barge.

The coolest part about these options is that you can instantaneously swap between all three. You can go from Listen-in, right into Whisper, or Barge the split-second you need to.

This allows you to be the best sales coach you can be, quickly hopping between calls to deliver assistance ASAP. Here are a few examples of how you might consider using each individual tool:

Sales manager listening in on call with PhoneBurner's Listen-in feature

Listen-in

If you click “Listen,” you’ll be tapped into the call audio. You’ll hear everything, and can make as much noise as you want—neither your rep nor the prospect will be able to hear anything you say.

Example Use Case

Listen-in is best used to monitor your rep's calls and see how they’re performing on the phones, in real-time. Are they comfortable with the cold calling script, are they talking too much, are they effectively handling objections?

Answering these questions allows you to provide your rep with better coaching for future interactions. There are many common sales mistakes you can help them avoid, and then debrief with them after their call is over.

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Sales manager giving advice to rep with Whisper feature on PhoneBurner

Whisper

Whisper allows you to connect to the active dial session, but also communicate directly with the rep making the call. The prospect will not hear anything you say—only your rep.

Example Use Case

You might want to use Whisper for situations where newer reps make common sales mistakes that need immediate correction. For example, if they quote the price at $69 but it’s really $89, you can pop in and help your rep course correct before the deal goes off the rails and they mistakenly promise something that’s not true.

Or, consider the ability to help veteran reps close large deals with real-time advice and special incentives. For example, you might whisper “Let’s double our guarantee to 60 days to try and get this deal sealed.”

Sales manager joining sales call with Barge feature on PhoneBurner

Barge

When you use Barge, you’ll be connected to the call and have the ability to speak with both your rep and the prospect. They’ll both be able to hear anything you say, so be careful not to disrupt or distract from the active call.

Example Use Case

More often than not, you won’t want to Barge unless explicitly asked. If the prospect asks a question or has objections during the sales call that need to be addressed by a superior, your rep can ask you to join and help answer it. Similarly, you can Barge if you’re needed to help finalize a few points that will ultimately close a deal.

How Listen-in, Whisper, & Barge Work Together

To show you what Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge look like in action, we put together a short example for you. This is hypothetical, but you can use it to influence your own use of our new feature:

  • Sally is the sales manager on her team, and she wants to ensure that all her reps are getting the call coaching they deserve. So, she looks at her Live Calls dashboard to view all of the active calls happening in PhoneBurner and begins to Listen-in to each rep, one at a time, starting with a rep named Angela.
  • While listening to Angela’s call, Sally decides to Whisper and let her know that she’s listening and can provide any assistance if needed. Sure enough, the prospect gives Angela a question that she needs help answering.
  • Angela says: “Please wait for one second while I get my manager on the line to help with that.”
  • At that point, Sally knows she can Barge on the line and begin talking with both Angela and the Prospect. When Sally starts to wrap up the conversation, another rep named Jose pings her asking for help.
  • Sally says, “Goodbye,” and instantly transfers to Whisper on Jose’s call. She lets him know she’s here and is actively listening. If Jose needs it, she can Barge that conversation and help with whatever he needs.
  • When she’s done, Sally can go back and start to Listen-in on all the calls, one by one, until she’s needed again. Switching between calls, as well as Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge, is quick and easy.‍

4 Quick Sales Coaching Techniques & Tips

Before we sign off, we wanted to leave you with a few rapid-fire sales call coaching tips. Use these to help ensure you’re getting the most out of Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge.

1. Distribute Your Attention Evenly

There will always be reps on your team who need more or less sales coaching than others. Don’t get too caught up trying to take your grade-A superstars to A+ that you forget about investing in your C+ reps.

Similarly, don’t focus so much on your top and bottom performers that you neglect the middle of the pack—Your B- to A- reps—entirely. The best sales coach will ensure everyone gets the requisite amount of support at a time when they need it most.

2. Know Your Team

Every rep on your team is motivated differently. It’s easy to fall back on money as the primary driver here, but there are countless ways you can motivate your sales team without money.

Some want glory, recognition, or maybe they just love the competition of sales. And, yes, some will be motivated by money. As the sales coach, you have to know what makes each rep tick, and then deliver.

3. Be Deliberate with Your Feedback 

The best sales coaches aren’t afraid to let their reps know when and where they need to improve. Conversely, they also don’t always harp on the negatives. Strike a healthy balance between positive and negative, but always be deliberate with what you say.

For example, if a rep isn’t performing well don’t just tell them they need to improve. Give them specific instances where you’ve noticed them fall short, and then provide a clear-cut action plan for how you two are going to get better, together.

4. Foster a Culture of Self-Evaluation

As you dish out your strategic sales coaching, one of your goals should be to spark a desire to self-evaluate within your reps. There will be times when you simply won’t be able to immediately connect with every rep.

In those situations, it can help to have a framework they can fall back on to gauge their efficiency on prospect calls. Encourage them to set aside a few minutes after a big win or loss and write down things like:

  • What went well? 
  • What could be improved?
  • Were objections handled properly? 
  • What’s your biggest takeaway from this call?

Learn even more about effective sales coaching here: 7 Sales Leadership Lessons from Rams Coach Sean McVay.

Smiling sales manager in call center

Unlock Your Sales & Call Coaching Potential

We’re only as good as the people and partners who surround us. As you refine your sales call coaching technique, remember that you’re not in this fight alone. You have the wisdom of peers, VPs, and C-suite executives to help improve your own sales coaching skills.

You also have a dedicated partner in PhoneBurner, and we’re always happy to be your assistant sales coach with Listen-in, Whisper, and Barge. Aside from that, we have a whole host of features native to our power dialer software that can help you be your best.

Sign up for a free trial today and find out how PhoneBurner can set your team up for success.

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