Conversation Intelligence: A Crucial Tool for Sales Managers

By Steve Richard | August 15, 2023

As a sales manager, it’s tough to maintain consistent performance among your entire team. When you’re split in a million different directions, making time to listen to critical conversations between reps and prospects can seem like a luxury. Forrester found that sales managers only spend 14% of their time on coaching activities. However, monitoring your reps’ best (and worst) sales conversations is crucial to decide what is or isn’t working, so you can improve your overall team performance.  With so little time available it’s easier said than done. That’s where true conversation intelligence (CI) comes in. 

Conversation intelligence is a critical technological advancement that enables sales managers to coach their teams at scale. CI analyzes sales calls & automatically surfaces key insights, allowing managers to coach to the unique gaps of each seller. This, in turn, boosts your team’s effectiveness, develops insights, and enables a predictable pipeline.

Conversation intelligence vs. call tracking or recording

Nearly every sales manager is familiar with call recording. It’s a great way to have a record of sales performance, but it was possible decades ago. It’s essentially “game tape” to help identify areas for improvement. But, when you manage a large sales team—especially if you have multiple levels of managers—other things take priority over call reviews. Eventually, you end up with a ballooning library of recordings that no one is reviewing. CI helps solve this problem. Consider it a step up from simple call recording: it’s an AI-powered technology that surfaces insights that would be impossible to process on your own.  Call intelligence tools automatically transcribe and analyze sales calls, pinpointing key moments that could be “red” or “green” flags in team performance. These could include: 

Using CI also enables you to share these insights with other team members—like front-line managers, peer coaches, and other sellers. With this information at your disposal, you can streamline rep performance at scale, enabling more predictable pipelines and consistent quotas.

Why your sales team needs call intelligence

Missed quotas and languishing pipelines usually result from engagements much earlier in the sales cycle. The rep may have misqualified the lead, ignored red flags during the conversation that indicated this prospect wasn’t a good fit, or simply didn’t understand how to address key concerns. Sometimes, something as simple as how a rep opens a call can have major ramifications on the success of that relationship. If you can identify these problems early, you can make simple fixes that have major ramifications down the line in the deal, and set sellers up for success in future deals. However, if you don’t know what your reps are doing and saying on calls, how will you know what to fix? This is why CI isn’t a “nice to have.” When used correctly it’s an essential capability to improve your team’s effectiveness and drive revenue.

Some reps, especially more senior reps, may be uncomfortable with “Big Brother” watching. But for most reps, the minute that they can see and understand how call intelligence helps them improve their performance (and, as a result, their quotas), they’ll jump on board. So, if you want your team to get onboard, you need to understand and communicate the benefits clearly. Here are some that you should definitely keep top of mind: 

Sales teams are not used to having all their interactions tracked and analyzed, but neither were the athletes they are so often compared to. Nowadays, there is very little that isn’t tracked on a playing field. Insights from tracking are taking athlete performance to new heights. Today’s athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster. The same performance improvement is going to happen in sales. Top sellers need to not only embrace interaction capture but also leverage it to maintain their top-performer status.” – “Time To Track Sellers Like Athletes” by Forrester Principal Analyst, Seth Marrs

Objective benchmarking

One of the great things about sales as a profession is that success isn’t in the eye of the beholder. Numbers don’t lie. Reps either make quota or they don’t. If they do, they’re good. If they don’t, they’re found lacking.  Of course, if benchmarking was that simple, we’d all be experts at it. However, waiting to analyze rep performance until you get to the end of the month, quarter, or year means that you’re letting poor performance persist longer than it needs to. CI helps solve this problem by analyzing conversations in real time to identify whether reps are on the path to meeting their benchmarks. CI allows managers to scale those successful behaviors if they are, and coach reps to fill their gaps if they aren’t. CI is really part of “coaching intelligence.

To learn more about how to get the most out of your conversation intelligence tool check out Mediafly’s “101 Ways to get more from your conversation intelligence” guide here!

Steve Richard is the founder of ExecVision & Vorsight (sold in 2021).  Steve’s mission and life’s work is to help as many sales teams as possible become wildly successful.  He has been featured in numerous publications including The Harvard Business ReviewThe Washington Business Journal, and The Washington Post.  Outside of work, Steve enjoys scuba diving, skiing, running, and watching lots of football.  He lives in Arlington, VA with his wife Ellen and their four kids ages 6, 8, 10, and 12.

Follow Steve’s one minute sales tips of the day on LinkedIn.

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