Sales calls' value extends beyond their main purpose. Yes, the endgame of any sales call is to move prospects through your sales process, but the information gathered through these kinds of conversations can be a big help in other ways as well.
Sales calls can provide a wealth of insight into how your team and the individual reps that compose it are performing, your prospects' general preferences, and key trends your organization should be staying on top of.
There's no denying that the planning and content of sales calls have tremendous utility, so the question becomes, "How can you document and capitalize on these conversations?"
One of the most tried-and-true, straightforward means of doing so is writing sales call reports — crucial business documents that track the most important aspects of sales calls for future reference.
Sales Call Reports
A sales call report summarizes an engagement with a prospect and includes meaningful analysis/reflection on the temperature of the call and where the prospect is at in the sales process. Done well, sales call reports help keep track of calls, increase the follow-up value, and gain valuable visibility into the sales process.
Sales call reports come in different shapes and sizes — with varying degrees of thoroughness. Here's an example of what one might look like:
While this example is useful in its own right, it's not necessarily the ultimate standard for what these reports need to be. The report template you use might wind up being more extensive, more streamlined, or formatted differently depending on your goals.
Why Reporting Sales Calls Is Important
One might argue that filling out reports is not a great use of reps' time, but a meaningful report is well worth that time. Here's why:
1. Tracking the duration of specific aspects of calls can expose flaws in your messaging and sales process.
Say your team's average sales call is running much longer than you'd like it to and producing mediocre results. If your reports reflect that trend, they give you cause to further analyze what might be going wrong.
If your team is conducting cold outreach and reporting excessively long call durations, you'd probably take the time to probe and observe how those calls are going. You might notice that certain parts of your messaging prompt more questions and objections than your reps are equipped to answer or address.
That would offer a starting point for addressing nagging flaws in your sales process. Without sales call reports, it could take you a lot longer to pin down that issue and set yourself in right direction.
2. They can help you adjust the way you train reps.
Like the previous point, this is an example of how sales call reports can be taken collectively to direct organizational change. By referring to report components like call summaries, you can identify particularly problematic concerns or skill gaps that your team could be having trouble with.
That kind of insight lets you know how you might need to adjust your training methods — providing what you need to find the points you need to stress or amend to get the most out of your team's sales calls.
3. They let you identify buyer, competitor, industry, and product trends.
The content of a sales call can be very telling into different trends beyond your company. Prospects might raise points about competitors they might be considering, shed light on shifting preferences in consumer behavior, or point out flaws in your product or service.
If your reps can document those kinds of points in call notes or summaries, you can translate them into legitimate, actionable insight for your company as a whole.
Prospects have a lot to say, and maintaining records of that correspondence can be an invaluable asset when you try to improve your company's overall direction.
4. They provide insight into why individual reps might be struggling.
In many cases, the problems you run into with your sales calls won't be team-wide. Individual reps often underperform, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to get to the bottom of their problems without some sort of context.
Tracking a rep's sales call reports can give you some of that insight. For instance, if you notice their preparation reporting is less than stellar, you can sit down with them and see if it's a legitimate area of concern that you can address with some extra attention.
One way or another, a sales call report can provide a jumping-off point for conversations and considerations that can ultimately help a struggling rep get the most out of their sales efforts.
Sales Call Report Example
Sales call reports don't have to be massive documents that your reps should be writing for hours on end, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored or glossed over. Ideally, your sales call reports will be actionable and thorough — without taking much away from your reps' day-to-day.
Though there's no definitive model for a sales call report, there are some action items, summaries, and information that yours should cover.
What should be included in sales call reporting?
Contact, Title, and Company
Contact Phone Number
Prep Notes, Call Plan, and Call Purpose
Call Date, Time, and Duration
Call Summary and Results
An Analysis of the Call
Required Materials for Follow-Up
1. Contact, Title, and Company
This is probably the most fundamental component of any sales call report. It goes without saying, but it's hard to get all that much out of a sales call report if you don't have any record of who your rep was speaking to. As hard as it might be to forget this one, it still warrants a mention on this list.
2. Contact Phone Number
In a similar vein to the point above, this one is fairly straightforward but still worth a mention. If you're interested in following up with a prospect, it helps to have their number on hand in their call's report.
In some respects, this is a matter of convenience. If you're looking over a sales call report and want to touch base with the prospect it covers, it might be nice to have their contact information readily accessible — so you don't have to track it down.
3. Prep Notes, Call Plan, and Call Purpose
This point is central to understanding individual reps' performance on sales calls. Always keep a pulse on how your reps are approaching calls and the degree of effort they're putting into that process.
If you see that reps aren't taking the time to thoroughly prepare for calls and foregoing clear goals or strategies, you might need to take some time to talk things over with them.
4. Call Date, Time, and Duration
This point is for both organizational and performance-gauging purposes. For one, it's important to know when calls were conducted. Understanding the day of the week and time of day a call was conducted is key to determining the most effective times for reaching and resonating with prospects.
Call duration is another factor that can help you get a better feel for a rep's performance. For instance, if you notice a rep is consistently conducting long but unsuccessful calls, it could be time to check in on the specific messaging and tactics they're using — letting you see if they're having trouble with hitches like long-windedness or being overly passive when handling objections.
5. Call Summary and Results
This might be the most important factor to consider in a sales call report. It's the clearest indicator of how well a sales call went, the issues that might have hindered it, and the most effective methods a rep employed to shape favorable results.
Looking over this component of sales call reports over time can show you trends in your team's collective performance. For example, you could notice your reps' summaries are constantly referencing trouble with objection-handling. In that case, those sales call reports would let you know that you might want to conduct or refine training on the topic.
6. Follow-Up Date
It's important for reps to note when they intend to follow up with prospects. It lets you track and monitor how they're moving through your sales process — all while keeping your team members on their toes and organized.
7. An Analysis of the Call
A solid sales call report typically involves some degree of analysis — how detailed it should be is ultimately up to you. This step can cover aspects of the sale like the names and roles of decision-makers, the potential long-term value of the account, and the probability of closing. All of those factors — and potentially many more — can provide invaluable insight to inform how the rep in question should approach next steps.
Again, there's no clear blueprint for what this element of the report should cover, but if you want your reps to tackle the rest of the sale as effectively as possible, they need to have some picture of what to expect — a thoughtful call analysis is one of the better ways to get there.
8. Required Materials for Next Steps
Here's where the analyses your reps conduct will come in handy — where they can apply the insight they pieced together in the previous step.
Follow-up calls will only go as far as your reps' preparation will take them — winging it is a recipe for disaster. Reps have to have a thorough understanding of what to expect, a carefully plotted course of action, and the necessary resources to carry it out effectively.
After your reps analyze their calls, they need to identify the materials their prospects will be most interested in and have them on hand. That starts with documenting what all of that might be in a sales call report.
How Conversational Intelligence Can Help Sales Call Reporting
Conversational intelligence software — resources that automatically record, transcribe, and analyze sales calls — can make for much more effective sales call reporting.
For one, having an accurate transcript of a sales call takes a lot of the guesswork and potential human error that stem from having to remember the details of a given call out of the equation.
Reps also stand to gain a lot from conversational intelligence software's capacity to identify and reveal particularly pertinent subjects, talking points, and points of contention. With that kind of information at their disposal, reps can better understand prospects' interests and make better educated, more thoughtful call analyses.
Sales call reports can provide excellent reference points for understanding a sales team's performance. The information they offer can shine a light on your reps' strengths and weaknesses, the soundness of your sales process, and the specific actions that you — as a manager — might need to take to make your sales efforts more effective and efficient.
Originally published Apr 21, 2021 1:30:00 PM, updated July 22 2021