Does this sound familiar? You've hired an hourly-employee. You spend a few shifts teaching them the ropes, they seem to get the idea, so you turn them loose and go back to all of your other tasks. After a couple of weeks, your employee is leaving sale opportunities on the table. You're frustrated because you feel like you taught them all these things when they first started.
Salesmanship is a skill. It can be taught, improved AND forgotten. Repetition and continuous coaching improve the skill, but lack of coaching will see the repetition start to result in bad habits. If you want a top performing sales team, you have to spend time and energy in that perpetual coaching.
Phone skills are similar. If you have the ability to record telephone conversations, that can be very helpful in providing feedback for your team. Listen to a few calls together. Ask your staff how they think it could have gone better. Provide them some feedback on ways to improve the conversation. Role-play with them. Get friends to call your business and pretend to be a customer. If you keep the feedback positive and consistent, you can see significant improvement.
Because of the increase in text message use and internet usage, many businesses are experiencing a decline in the number of telephone calls. There are owners who, incorrectly, think this means that phone skills are less important. However, the smaller volume of calls also means less repetition available for staff. Fewer repetitions makes it more difficult to master the skill.
That's why there has been a trend towards using call centers to support phone sales. Because they are consolidating call volume from multiple customers, they're staff can develop expertise much quicker. It does relinquish some control, but the value of the expertise can create a very compelling case for using those systems.