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5 reasons call recordings have surpassed shadowing for sales coaching

Sales Management

“What do you coach? You coach the gap. Build a bridge that takes your people from where they are today to where they want or need to be.”  – Keith Rosen

I love that quote. It brings a clear analogy to something that’s often vague: sales coaching. Almost every sales leader out there will agree coaching is important. But we don’t all agree on the best ways to go about coaching. While call coaching is only one aspect of sales coaching, this post will make the argument as to why call and demo recordings are a better method of call coaching than live call shadowing is. Here are the five reasons:

ONE: Live Shadowing Isn’t Coaching; It’s Co-Selling

The benefits of live shadowing – at least from a coaching perspective – are an illusion. There’s very little you can do as a coach in real-time as the call is happening. If you do happen to step in, you’re probably not coaching. You’re probably trying to save the deal, or sell in some other form. I’m not bagging on call shadowing altogether, I’m just bagging on it as a form of coaching. The skeptics out there may be asking “what about those live monitoring solutions with ‘whisper’ functionality?” Have you ever been on the receiving end of a “whisper?” If you have, enough said. If you haven’t, try listening  to your customer while your manager “whispers” in your other ear. Your next sales question will be “Sorry, can you repeat that?”

TWO: Time Management: You Can Coach More Calls in Less Time with Recordings

If you’re attempting to coach your sales team by shadowing their calls, you have one big problem: your own calendar. Sales managers are some of the most thinly spread people in the world. The stars have to align for you to consistently join your sales team’s calls for shadowing. Even if you’re really persistent about making this happen, you still only get to join the random call here and there. This is what I call “Random Acts of Coaching” (RAoC). By contrast, sales leaders who use call and demo recordings can “binge watch” a highlight reel of sales calls and demos – one after another – during any time block that’s convenient for them. The best part is they can make this a consistent cadence rather than a Random Act of Coaching. Are you consistently free between 4 pm and 6 pm on Tuesdays? Great! Block off your calendar and binge watch some demos. Are you consistently free at the times your reps schedule their clusters of calls and demos? No? Hmmm… Sales managers who use call recordings can coach more sales calls in a day than live shadowing managers get to in a week. I like to think of it as “coaching on-demand.”

THREE: Sales Call “No Shows”

I’m sure there are some rebels out there thinking… “I’ll show Chris. I’m going to shadow all of my team’s scheduled calls this week! That’ll teach him… “ And then it hits you. Sometimes… prospects don’t show up to scheduled sales calls (Gasp!). How often do recorded calls and demos bail on you?

FOUR: Being In the “Heat of the Moment” Skews Perceptions

Last Saturday I spent the day watching a football game on TV with my son. At one point, the referee called an important reception “in bounds.” Truthfully, it was really hard to tell whether the receiver was in bounds or not. The defensive coach was livid. He was so sure the receiver was out of bounds. Can you blame him? With that much emotional attachment in a heated situation, we as humans see what we want to see. Luckily, the ref had video playback and could prove very quickly that the receiver was – indeed – in bounds. When sales reps come off of a sales call hot from the heat of the moment, they are the opposite of introspective. There’s too much emotion to break down what just happened. But what if you revisited the recording after you’ve splashed a little water on your face and took some deep breaths? You’ll see your performance through objective, reflective eyes. And you’ll more clearly see what you can do to nail that next call or demo. Coaching feedback is a dish best served cold.

FIVE: The Facts Evaporate Forever If They Aren’t Captured

Our memories have a tendency to warp themselves. Last week, we conducted company-wide sales training here at Gong. My CEO – Amit Bendov – decided to conduct a sales role play situation. I played the buyer, one of our tenured reps played the seller, while Amit took copious notes during the role play. After the role play was done, Amit started giving feedback to the sales rep: letting him know what he did well, and what could’ve been better. Almost every time Amit delivered a point of criticism, the reps’ response was “I didn’t do that… you’re misremembering… here’s what I did…” But Amit documented everything with his notes, proving to the rep what he actually did each moment. After 10 minutes of this, Amit revealed his secret motive behind doing this role play exercise in the first place: We forget what actually happened very quickly. That highlighted the value of recording sales calls and demos like I had never seen before. Those who deliver their coaching feedback after a live call shadow are competing with the fickleness of memory. Reps may push back on each piece of feedback due to a fuzzy memory of what happened, and when. If that ever happens, one of you is misremembering (which reduces a coaching conversation into a petty argument). Those who use recorded calls and demos have facts and data at their fingertips so they can root their coaching discussions in reality.  Are you convinced? If you’re interested in using recorded sales calls and demos for coaching, check out Gong’s conversation intelligence platform today. More questions about using sales call recordings for your team? Get your answers here. If you liked this article you may also be interested in:  Sales calls schedule – Find out the worst time

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