Why We Started Recording New Business Calls

Ways of Working

I wrote a post back in July about recording client calls and why I thought it would be worthwhile to implement across the agency. We've since gotten better about this and seen a positive impact on projects.

For whatever reason, we didn't consider recording new business calls at the time, but as of late December, we decided to instate the same practice using Grain. It hasn't been long, but it's already proving to be a worthwhile change.

We started recording calls when our Director of Business Development, Dan, was out on paternity leave. We were having conversations that we thought would be helpful for him to review when he returned. In doing this, we saw benefits in making this a standard practice:

Training opportunity. There are quirks to every new business call. Having never met the client (in most cases), you never know what to expect. Recording calls is a helpful way to reflect on and learn from these conversations, whether they go our way or not. For example, the team references a call recording as a model for how to lead, or the call lead reviews the recording to see how they could improve the dialogue. Last week, I led a chat with a prospective client who appeared to be on vacation and seemed impatient with me inquiring about their business. They were happy with the call by the end, but I left thinking it would be a great case study to review in the future. Luckily, we got it recorded.

Team onboarding. It's always important to take notes on calls, but notes only capture what the note-taker thought was worth writing down, which changes from person to person. When getting the team involved in working on proposals and scoping new projects, recording calls make it easy for them to go back and hear first-hand how the project began. I recently jumped in to help put together an approach for a project for a client who I hadn't met yet. I reviewed the initial call recording and saw the client mentioned challenges with the communication style of a former agency. When it came time to present our approach, I leaned into being upfront and open with them. After the call, they sent us an email to tell us we were frontrunners, noting our "transparency and authenticity."

Future reference. It can take weeks, sometimes months, or even years, to land a new deal. Having all calls with a prospective client recorded for reference can help eliminate gaps along the way and avoid us asking the same question twice. We're very close to signing a new project with a client we've been talking to since August 2022. Unfortunately, we don't have recordings of all the calls since then; however, since the scope has changed several times, I could see the benefit of having recorded calls as a reference.

For anyone thinking about recording new business calls, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • If you plan to get into potentially sensitive details about the client's business, it's worth getting an NDA signed before the call. I've had calls end early because the client didn't feel comfortable sharing much without an NDA. Recording the call can add another level of concern.
  • Ask everyone on the call if they're comfortable being recorded, and explain why you're recording. No one likes to hear a voiceover saying the call is being recorded without permission ahead of time.
  • Don't forget to record. This one seems obvious, but it's easy to forget! We've had it happen already.

For more on leading new business calls, I wrote a comprehensive guide (relating new business to speed dating) in a previous newsletter. You can read it here.

This post originally appeared in Edition No. 122 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

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