Observing Sales Calls – “The Moment of Truth”

For both the Sales Manager and Salesperson, an observed sales call can be stressful. However, with the correct approach, this “moment of truth” can be a beneficial learning experience for both parties, and strengthen the relationship between the manager and salesperson in the process.   There are three steps to Sales Call Observation:

The Pre-Call Briefing: Before you make a call or the client is called, the manager asks the salesperson to describe the client and the objective of this call, and to suggest the best role that the manager could play in this interaction. This encourages call preparation, goal-oriented communication, and allows some control over what the manager will do. At the same time, the manager can see how thoroughly the salesperson prepared for the call, and whether he or she has a natural tendency to shoot from the hip.

The 2nd step is Call Observation. At this stage, the manager’s purpose is to observe and not participate in the call.  If a customer directs questions to the manager, then defer the question to the salesperson to address. By doing so, you are in essence saying to the customer that the salesperson is in control of the call.  Throughout the call, the manager should take some simple notes on strengths and weaknesses of the call, but should not jump in and take over the call. Doing so will undermine the salesperson’s confidence and confuse the client.

Post-Call Debrief: Managers can start the debrief with, “How do you think the call went?” and follow up with, “Tell me some things that you feel you did well,” and, “Where do you feel that you struggled?” This makes the salesperson identify his or her own strengths and weaknesses. After all, during unobserved work time in the future, the salesperson must be able to grow from self-observations alone.

To follow up, the manager should offer observations that only a third party might notice, such as verbal mannerism. The manager should also consider ways to strengthen their team member, by pairing him or her with another salesperson that excels in one of the noted weaknesses. Teaching self-observation and offering continuing support is sure to improve team performance, even if chances for formal observation are few and far between.

Happy Selling!