A Common Sense Guide to Recording Sales Calls


With this common sense approach, recording sales calls doesn’t have to be a legal drama.

When recording sales calls, it is always a good idea to tell the person on the other line that the call is being recorded. This is not just for legal reasons, it’s also about building (or maintaining) trust and rapport. If you start your call by first informing and then asking politely if you can record a call, you are legal in all US states.

This process is as simple as saying: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, Christine. I would like to record our call today so I can focus on our conversation rather than taking notes during it. Is that OK with you?”

Don’t worry about people abandoning a phone call just because you’re recording it. Call recording is a common occurrence these days, particularly in sales and customer service interactions. People have come to expect it. Your odds of getting struck by lightning are better than the person on the other line saying no (a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).

Alternatives to Recording Sales Calls

If your organization has a policy against recorded calls, or if many of your sales interactions take place in person, there are common sense alternatives. One tried-and-true approach is a joint call with manager and rep. Their presence on a call should still be announced, but this allows coaching to occur without recording the call.

You can also practice sales calls, to be submitted and reviewed by management prior to making live client or prospecting calls. Common practice interactions include practicing voicemails, first pitches, walking through a demo, and roleplaying with a colleague. Practicing sales interactions improves seller performance without throwing leads away.

Recording Sales Calls – The Fine Print

Recording Sales Calls in the U.S.

recording sales calls - sales repsBefore we get into the legalities of sales call recording, let me be up-front in telling you that I am not a lawyer and you should by no means consider this legal advice. Please consult your own general counsel if you have specific questions or concerns regarding recording sales calls.

California has the most stringent regulations regarding recording sales calls (real shocker there). Ever litigious, California courts have ruled over several call recording cases brought forward by its citizens over the years. The California Supreme Court has even gone so far as to rule (more than once) that a company that is not located in the state of California but is speaking with a California resident, must comply with California call recording law. In effect, making California law the law of the land, unless you don’t intend to do business in California.

This ties back to the first section of this blog. If you simply inform all participants that the call is being recorded as previously described, you are on the right side of the law in all 50 states without needing to worry about the specifics of each state. Most webinar and conference providers automatically inform participants that a call is being recorded when they join. This is something that you will want to check on with your service provider. Even when you have an automatic announcement in place, it’s still a good idea to reinforce the message at the beginning of the call. Again, your main goal is to avoid the potential “yuck” feeling your prospects or clients might get by just being upfront with them.

Luckily, things only get easier from there. Simply put, U.S. federal law permits the recording of telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one party. Technically speaking, this means that if you are party to the sales call and you consent to you recording the call, you’re not going to be raided by the FBI or the NSA.

Legal complications do enter the picture when you start looking at state call recording laws. Believe it or not, 38 states and the District of Columbia have all adopted the federal “one-party” requirement (that is a lot higher than I was expecting). The rest require varying degrees of what is called “two-party” consent but what actually means “all-party” consent. In other words, all parties involved in the sales call or in-person conversation need to consent to the conversation being recorded.

Click here for a full list of laws governing recording sales calls by state.

Recording International Sales Calls

As you might imagine, laws governing call recording vary widely from one country to another. Generally speaking, if you’re making sales calls into Canada and/or Europe you need to make sure you are getting consent from all parties involved in the conversation being recorded.

My 2nd best advice in this matter (again, 1st best advice is given in the first section of this blog!) is to simply do a Google search for the country you are calling to educate yourself and make sure you are finding information that has been updated recently, as laws do change.

The legality of recording sales calls comes up fairly often when we’re talking with clients and contacts here at CommercialTribe. The answer does not need to be as complicated as one might think. There is no law that flatly prohibits recording inbound and outbound interactions with your clients or potential clients. The complexities are in who needs to be involved in consenting to the recording.

In any case, it is simply best practice to be open about the fact that you are recording the call and gain the other party’s consent in the first place. This will not only protect you from potential legal repercussions but will also ensure you are not doing anything that will harm the relationship you are building with the other party.

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Why the Sales Environment is Unique: Reflections from ATD 2016


The sales environment is fundamentally unique from other functional areas of your business.

The sales function has always been different. Those who have grown up in sales organizations and are now responsible for Sales Enablement know this. Think about it – only in the sales function have we stood up an entire training and development team focused on making that specific function better. We don’t have finance enablement, legal enablement, or marketing enablement. That would be downright ridiculous!

So what makes sales different? It is the environment.

At the ATD International Conference and Exposition held this past week here in Denver, Simon Sinek, most well known for his Top 5 most viewed TED Talk on leadership, taught us that we are social animals and ultimately products of our environment. Take the average person and move them from one environment to another, and their behavior will change. Good environments foster trust and cooperation. Bad environments foster cynicism and paranoia.

When it comes to the sales environment versus other business functions, some of the basic structural tenants that make sales unique have not changed for some time.

Sales is the only function that:

  1. …is truly market facing. Because sales is continually coming in contact with the market and the market is dynamic, the pace of change is much faster than anywhere else. Learning must also be more dynamic to be relevant.
  2. …is built primarily on a variable compensation model. As a result, salespeople are often called “coin-operated,” meaning they are wired to focus their time on selling activity. A higher burden of impact on learning activity exists than elsewhere.
  3. …is organized as a classic hierarchy. Hierarchies create walls between managers and reps, blocking free-flow of information, as each part of the hierarchy considers its own self-interest first and foremost. Barriers are more significant, which can block trust and cooperation.

If you live and breathe sales, none of this is news to you, but these fundamental differences that actually create a very different environment may not be as clear to others. With the revolution going on in enterprise learning technology, many would like to think that the same innovative approaches being implemented across the business involving micro-learning and knowledge on-demand will work for sales as they work for other business functions. Right?

Wrong! While the concepts are sound, a deep understanding of how to apply them to the sales environment is critical if they are to work.

Miss the ATD Conference this year? Contact us to get a recap of the sessions and content!

And as Sinek shared, the key to leadership that has the power to create the environment is consistency, not intensity.

You don’t wake up one day, go to the gym for 10 hours, then proclaim yourself in shape. It happens over time. Yet, most of our change efforts for sales today are still based on intensity – The Sales Kickoff the clearest example. Real change takes more than a week and less than a year. In other words, it takes commitment and inherent belief that what you are doing the right thing.

If you are, despite the inevitable bumps in the road, results will follow.

Troubling Turnover: 34% of SaaS Sales Reps Will Not Finish 2015


Recent research by The Bridge Group and For Entrepreneurs shares an ongoing shift in 2015’s SaaS inside sales organizations, data that together tell a story of declining returns and growth in training.

The Bridge Group surveyed 342 B2B SaaS companies to build their report. The numbers tell a stark story: the average rep turnover rate (excluding promotions) is now 34%, with “involuntary turnover [making] up nearly two-thirds of that number.” The same research suggests that one in ten companies experience turnover rates above 55%. The new average time for reps to ramp to productivity has reached 5.3 months. On average, only 67% of reps are making quota, “down from 74% in 2012.” From any angle, the story reveals trends that sales leadership hoped would be going in the other direction, and ineffective training is one of the primary root causes of the problem.

Read the full report by The Bridge Group and For Entrepreneurs here

The data tells a familiar story for sales leaders watching the past decade of change within sales teams: relying purely on traditional training and onboarding remains expensive while failing to onboard new reps quickly and effectively and ramp them to productivity as soon as possible leads to turnover. We’re simply not catering to how a majority of reps learn and grow.

Turnover rates near 35% can be expensive in any organization, requiring not only the costs of wasted training and investment but also of acquiring a replacement. The results can be dramatic – with the average rep receiving $3,400 in training per year, turning over even 10 reps can cost more than an entire new hire.

You need to get more out of your existing sales force while increasing the success of onboarding. How do you beat the odds and normalize the impact of sales training back toward growth? Three key strategies can help.

1. Better Onboarding

Onboarding can be the single most important time in a rep’s tenure. The bulk of the information, training, and coaching that a rep gets is usually concentrated in their first two weeks. The problem, however, is that only so much can be done in such a short period of time.

Extending the onboarding effort can be a way to get after the problem. Reps who experience 30, 60, or even 90-day onboarding programs, supplemented by continuous training and practice, stand a much better chance at quickly ramping and reaching quota. Reps tend to forget content and strategy not because they are bad learners, but because they don’t have all the context in their first 90 days. This is precisely why some form of onboarding should continue during the first year.

2. Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice is the idea that, in order to get better at something, you need to purposely practice it as much as possible. It’s the philosophy that drives star athletes to success, and it works just as well in sales training. Reps can’t be expected to pick up the phone and drive a perfect conversation if they haven’t done so in practice many times before.

Give reps opportunities to practice new and existing techniques and messages as much as possible, and push them to complete lessons. Often, sparking exclusivity around the training can help drive interest in the practice, increasing rep interest in participation. Segment your reps and build treatments where needed. Three common segments are high performers, the core, and underperformers.

Align managers behind continuous training efforts that promote coaching as a significant part of their job.

3. Engaging with Technology

In 2015 and beyond, your average new hire is likely to be a Millennial. The children of the 2000s, these reps are very experienced in technology and are adept learners. Yet, many of our existing training relies on slideshows, printed guides, and binders of materials, as opposed to more interactive learning that’s now possible with technology.

It’s time to make the change to new technologies. Instead of ripping off the band-aid, make a gradual shift by combining your traditional curriculum with concepts like the flipped classroom that require the learner to be more prepared when they enter a live training environment. The availability of video and practice-based technology means reps can get “trained” on their own time as opposed to just your time – the reality is that you probably don’t have enough of it.