The Weekly Briefing

Chorus CEO, Jim Benton, discusses exclusive sales research with GTM executives 

The Weekly Briefing

Chorus CEO, Jim Benton, discusses exclusive sales research with GTM executives 

Sales Call Report: Reviving an Often Overlooked Process to Close More Deals

January 31, 2020

Sara Howshar

As SaaS has flourished over the last 10 years, one of its most universal benefits has been helping us turn over difficult, tedious, or time-consuming tasks to automation. We’ve seen solutions for everything from customer management, data management, and marketing to office admin and the sales process.

Those automations are important because a salesperson’s time is now more valuable than ever. The fact that reps still spend only 36% of their time actually selling suggests there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s for that reason that prior fixtures of the sales process, like the sales call report, are less popular than ever. And they weren’t that popular to begin with.

Sales call reports should be a fundamental component of your sales process. But often, reps feel that these reports are an unnecessary burden on their time or that they represent over-management on the part of their sales lead. Still, sales call reports carry tremendous potential as a sales coaching tool. All you need to unlock it are the right tools and a change in approach on the part of your sales management.

Why We Still Need Sales Call Reports #

Before we can go into detail about how to create great, useful sales call reports, we need to understand the value they drive.

Over the course of a sales cycle, there is more data to make sense of than ever before. Our research suggests that the average SaaS sales cycle lasts around 96 days. And within the distinct phases of that sales cycle, you may need new approaches and strategies to close that sale with a win.

Your sales reps are at the front lines of everything in a sales cycle, but it’s no good to anyone if they’re the only ones with visibility into the developing deal. Instead of confining responsibility to your reps, you can leverage reports to maintain accountability for deals throughout the various levels of your sales organization.

If you take sales call reports seriously and handle the data in them with care, these documents can also point toward larger trends in your market. From collated sales call data, you can gauge what kind of customers your product is a hit with, how long each phase of the sales cycle is taking, how successful your targeting is, and more.

Why Sales Reps Dislike Sales Call Reports #

To understand how you can improve sales call reporting in your company, it helps to understand why a lot of sales reps are sometimes resistant to create them.

They Take Time #

As noted above, a sales rep’s time is always in demand. When they’re not selling, they’re helping with prospecting. When they’re not prospecting, they’re updating the CRM. When they’re not updating the CRM, they’re managing accounts. You get the picture.

It’s no wonder, then, that additional reporting can seem like an unneeded burden. Crafting a report that’s informative takes time. For a rep’s work to be useful, they’ll want to talk about things like:

  • Why a change in the prospect’s plan or feeling toward your product came about
  • Why they’re forecasting a delay in moving to buy
  • The new competitor that has come to battle for the prospect’s attention
  • The introduction of new decision-makers, complicating the sales cycle

This information will take time to collect, analyze, and make presentable.

They Seem Distracting #

Sales call reports can feel time-consuming, and reps may feel that having to report actively makes the quality of their calls worse. We’ve spoken before on the virtues of active listening and careful engagement with your prospect on a call. In fact, engagement and active listening are all-important factors in sales success.

It would appear highly counterproductive, then, for a rep to also have to occupy themselves with collecting all the data they need for a sales call report.

Their Value is Not Always Obvious #

Some reps may feel few of the benefits from the reporting they deliver. If your company approaches sales call reporting incorrectly, then your reps might even be right. If your sales management team isn’t careful about collecting, cleaning, and using sales call reporting data — if you just use them as a token gesture or to check up on your sales reps — then they’re likely doing more harm than good.

How to Make Sales Call Reports Easier for Your Reps #

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! With the right tools and approach, sales call reporting can be made into an easy, low-lift task that can directly benefit both your reps’ individual performance and your sales process as a whole.

Here’s how you can tackle your reps’ objections to reporting and streamline the entire process.

Make Reporting Time-Efficient and Seamless #

The best place to start is to onboard a new tool for your tech stack that sales reps can use to make collecting data for a sales call report easier. Use a solution, such as Chorus’ Conversation Intelligence AI platform, that easily enables your rep to get a full transcript of every call they conduct. The transcripts eliminate the need for on-call note-taking, and there are built-in automations to help you deal with client-side follow-up.

A tool like Conversation Intelligence helps your reps directly identify next steps and high-risk mentions to include in reporting. Instead of digging through incomplete notes or even a whole transcript, Chorus’ solution helps your reps find key information and present it in a CRM-friendly manner.

(It helps, of course, to have a good CRM, too.)

Make Reporting Valuable for Your Reps #

By helping your rep isolate engaging moments within a call and report back in finer detail, a tool like Conversation Intelligence makes the process of sales call reporting easier. It also actively allows those reports to form part of your reps’ coaching plan.

This potential extends to the sales management side. Don’t just collect sales call reports for the sake of it — review a rep’s call log and the content of their sales call reports weekly. Make them a pillar of your coaching strategy. Once your reps see the benefits, both on their win-rate on deals and in their personal bottom line, they’ll commit to your reporting plan with gusto.

A New Approach to Sales Call Reporting #

Once upon a time, an article like this would’ve finished with a new sales call report template for you to use. Now, given the number of new tools at our disposal to make things more straightforward, we can think about a more holistic approach to sales call reporting. Done right, you can turn into a pillar of improvement that will benefit your whole sales process.

Agree on a Reporting Cadence #

Depending on the stage of a deal and the size and nature of the prospect, agree on a reporting cadence with your reps. Calibrate it so that it makes sense for them individually while serving the interests of the deal. If the deal is at a sensitive stage, with multiple calls weekly, make reporting a bi-weekly thing. If your rep is dealing with a personal area of improvement that needs constant attention, tailor the report content to address this specifically, and schedule shorter reports daily.

Make the Most Out of Your Current Tech Stack #

Of course, your new tech solution should be well integrated with your existing CRM and even your learning management software (LMS). Ensure your reps are well acquainted with how much easier their lives can be if they’re proactive about using it with your Conversation Intelligence to automate follow-up. Introduce them to the scorecard feature, and invite them to begin building a self-coaching curriculum.

Align Reporting Content With Coaching Goals #

You’re bound to have a good stock of data from any sales call alongside the useful metadata from Conversation Intelligence. To give sales call reporting an added dimension for coaching purposes, have reps include their own qualitative impressions about key stages in the call. You might build these from prompts, similar to what you might use in any coaching document, including:

  • Do you feel you’re building a strong rapport with your prospect?
  • Do you feel a sense of enthusiasm from the prospect about progressing the deal?
  • Were there questions that the prospect asked that you felt unable to answer authoritatively?

There are certain kinds of data that not even a highly sophisticated tech solution can catch on a call. It’s important to tap your rep’s own impressions in order to filter these out into a report.

Meet to discuss information gained through reporting #

Perhaps the key factor that unlocks the usefulness of sales call reporting is actually meeting face-to-face, rep to manager. Get together at regular, convenient intervals to discuss impressions from the last week, two weeks, or month of reporting. Establish that the goal of sales call reporting is to improve both the sales process approach and each rep’s performance. This allows your rep to feel comfortable with being candid about things and opens up the fast track to improvement.

Plenty to Report #

There can be a goldmine of information in a sales call report — not only in how things are progressing with your prospect but also in how your rep is faring. The best way to get all parties to feel the benefits is to make reporting as much about improving your reps’ skillset as it is about monitoring newly developing deals.

The key is getting all this together in a way that dovetails with your existing coaching program without giving your reps additional administrative headaches. But judiciously selecting the right tools is half the battle when you’re trying to make improvements anywhere in SaaS.

The rest concerns something as simple as just seeing value in those reports. As a sales lead, reports like these are like telescopes with two front ends. When you carefully adjust the focus, you can get a closer look at both sides of a deal to the benefit of both parties.

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