A Common Sense Guide to Recording Sales Calls

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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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