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What are the differences between live and recorded sales call coaching?

5 min readJanuary 15, 2020

Like many things in life, the answer is “it depends.” Live or recorded sales calls are both a critical component of sales coaching. With inside sales teams becoming more prevalent, it’s no wonder that coaching is often at the top of a sales leader’s priority. And for good reason — CSO Insights found that a formalized sales coaching increases win rates by nearly 10% and quota attainment by 7.2%. The formula is simple, consistent sales coaching equals continuous performance improvement.

But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sales managers have packed schedules and coaching can sometimes be done on an ad hoc basis, leaving reps without the proper guidance they need on a regular basis. Coaching needs to fit into the schedule as a priority, so what’s the best way to handle sales call coaching — live or recorded calls?

Live call coaching

Often unpredictable, live sales call coaching isn’t always the most productive use of a manager’s time. Whether a cold call results in a conversation is impossible to know beforehand. While you can do the math, with average pick-up/answer rates hovering around 10%, 90% of the sales manager’s time will be wasted. In other words, the manager will spend more time watching the rep dial, and perform other activities, than actually hearing them speak to prospects.

If the coaching is planned around a scheduled call, such as a demo or discovery session, the outcome is more predictable but still flawed. Prospects don’t always attend scheduled meetings, and sometimes ghost the sales rep. The fluid nature of conversations makes it difficult to coach one particular skill at a time during a session. That doesn’t mean that it’s wasted time, but there are far more productive uses of a sales manager’s time.

That said, there are a few different variables that make or break a live coaching session:

Call barging: This may help a rep through a rough patch or help advance the sale. This is especially helpful, for example, when assisting a rep with calls where multiple prospect participants are attending a demo call. Make sure these calls are recorded so reps may listen to them later. This allows them to learn from what the manager actually did during the call.

In-person live coaching: Managers silently listening in is a common yet imperfect feedback vehicle for coaching. The manager’s physical presence can change the energy in the room, so giving feedback by sitting next to the rep, listening in to their calls with a headset connected to the phone via splitter can be very distracting and will likely make the rep quite nervous. In other words, their performance will not be the same in a live in-person coaching session as it might be if they were left to make calls on their own. They may not be able to focus as well or, worse yet, be more prone to making mistakes while being watched.

In this situation, the manager is also unable to give their full attention to the call content. They are often left frantically scribbling notes during the call to provide feedback afterword. Relying on memory to recall the details of the call reduces the effectiveness of the manager’s input.

Remote live coaching: Good dialing software allows sales managers and team members to listen in on live calls from their office or remotely where they won’t distract the rep. Ideally, the call is recorded so the sales manager does not have to be distracted by taking notes. Having a recording in this situation provides additional context and reinforcement for additional coaching.

Live coaching is often better with new reps. Managers may assist them if they get stuck. They’re able to help reps improve their workflow and productivity while confirming they’re doing everything they should, such as logging info in the CRM, and more.

Sales coaching based on call recordings

Call recordings allow managers to save time by listening to calls, as their schedule permits, in large or small blocks of time. This makes it easier for sales managers to do more coaching regardless of the size of their sales team. Recordings make it possible to provide more call feedback between individual and team coaching sessions. This may be positive reinforcement in addition to pointers where improvement is needed. Attaching comments to the specific call in Salesforce enables the rep to read it as time allows and continue to improve.

When it comes to one-on-one and team coaching sessions, call recordings are an excellent tool. They make it possible to review specific parts of or types of calls to identify individual or team coaching opportunities. Recordings also aid in identifying which prospect scenarios are most challenging for individual or multiple team members. Examples might be articulating a value prop or handling objections. These are great things to practice with reps individually, in groups or during team meetings.

Reporting functionality makes it easy to access all calls, by a particular rep or of a particular type, completed during a particular time period. Plus, Conversation AI makes it possible to search based on specific words and phrases to locate calls to review.

Coaching with recordings allows the building of a library of calls for the entire team to use at all stages of their development and on each step in the sales cycle. Tagging them accordingly makes it even easier for reps and managers to find the examples they need. Having such a library facilitates rep self-assessment and self-improvement as well as peer coaching. This multiplies coaching efforts while promoting continuous improvement.

With call recordings, onboarding is simplified by providing examples to share with new reps. No more dealing with the unpredictability of the type of call a new rep might hear while shadowing an experienced rep. Shadowing then becomes about seeing how to navigate the day in a life of an SDR, how to develop a good cadence and how to set a daily schedule for maximum efficiency.

At this point, there’s no doubt that call recordings are a more efficient and effective method of sales call coaching. They simplify skill building while streamlining efforts. Plus, they make it easy to track rep progress along the way.