Think about a recent sales call you had. They were likely using some kind of sales coaching software.
And they’ve likely recorded you without your explicit knowledge using that sales coaching software.
How does that make you feel?
Maybe you’re not bothered by the idea of being recorded without your consent or knowledge. We’ve all grown increasingly complacent in the knowledge that business and government tracks us online and on our phones.
Still, it is this author’s opinion that the individual should be given the option to be comfortable, or not comfortable, with being recorded without their knowledge or consent.
To clarify, the trouble is not whether the practice of recording a sales call is legal or not (legality of the practice ranges greatly depending on each state’s or country’s laws). The trouble is that you should be told if you might be recorded by sales coaching software.
It’s best if customers are fully informed and proceed with what they’re comfortable with.
How do you feel about a salesperson starting a relationship with this deception?
I can tell you, from my own experience as a salesperson, that being upfront and respectful of customers is fundamental in establishing good-will and a client base that returns to your company for further business and refers your company to others.
For the entirety of this article, by “call” I am referring to phone calls, as well as meetings via Zoom, Hangouts, or any other web conferencing software.
Is Sales Coaching Software Recording You?
Ever get on a virtual meeting with a salesperson and notice their name twice or the name of the company in the participants list along with their name (example below). Boo. This likely means you’re being recorded.
(Even if you don’t see anything on the screen that says “Recording.”)
Do you really want to buy from someone who kicks off a call by deceiving you?
What Is Sales Coaching Software?
Sales coaching software are tools that salespeople use to record and analyze sales calls/meetings. A lot of them will record the audio from a call then analyze it. The analysis might include an overview of questions asked and how you answered them, length, and other data points that would be important for salespeople and managers to optimize their efforts. Two popular sales coaching software include Gong and Chorus (which I have personal experience using).
When Is It Legal To Record A Sales Call?
Before I go on, please note: I am not a lawyer, things change in the law frequently, you must check things for yourself, I take no legal responsibility or liability for the information below and what you may do with it, I am not providing legal advice. Do your own homework!
The legality of recording a sales call varies from country to country, and the rules are based on what country you are calling to, not which country you are calling from.
There are also specific laws based on states in the US that can be more stringent than federal regulations when recording a sales call.
To comply with varying regulations for the 50 US states, people are legally able to record sales calls when they have permission from the person they are calling.
Federal law in the US only requires that one party of the conversation is aware of the recording and has consented to be recorded.
That means under the federal “one-party consent” rule, the salesperson who initiated the call can be the one party to the conversation who has consented to have the call recorded. Keep in mind that many states have more stringent, “two-party consent” laws that require both parties to the conversation to have agreed to the recording.
In the US, most states have adopted the federal one-party rule, which only requires that one party be aware of the call being recorded. As of October 15, 2020, the following states and territories in the United States have adopted their own recording laws, some of which require two-party consent:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
The folks over at Recording Law have a great overview of all party (two party) consent states.
When Is It Not Legal To Record A Sales Call?
While legalities vary state-by-state in the US, and each country has its own rules, salespeople should check the laws of locations they plan to call, as well as the laws for their region when deciding if it is legal or not to record a sales call.
If they, or their organization, do this, that’s a different question.
The most stringent of recording rules and regulations are in California.
This information is important for any company that conducts sales calls to residents of California, since the consent rules apply to where you are calling, not where you are calling from, as mentioned above.
In California, there is a two-party consent law, so both parties on the phone must be aware of, and consent to, the recording. California has already hit companies that do not abide by this rule with lawsuits. By the simple act of having a salesperson ask for permission to record the call with the customer, you ensure that your company is within it’s legal limits everywhere, even when calling California.
Beyond Legality: When Is It Ethical To Record A Sales Call?
Still, beyond whether it is legal or illegal to record a sales call, when is it ethical to record a sales call?
Note: If someone’s response to whether you should be doing something or not is that “it’s legal,” it should raise eyebrows.
The best practice industry-wide recommends telling the person you are calling that their call is being recorded.
Is this really happening though?
The salespeople that do are covering their company legally, and they’re also building trust with customers by advising them of a call’s recording process when they are not legally obligated to let them know.
Quick sidebar on medical:
When it comes to medical sales calls, HIPAA and privacy regulations do not prohibit recording, but the recorded conversations related to medical information must be protected in the same way any other protected health information (PHI) is handled.
So, salespeople could not send this recorded conversation to a third-party without the consent of the patient. Salespeople, let your medical sales customers know you are recording the call, the purpose of the recording, and how you will use the recorded conversation. Give them the option to opt-out of the recording to protect their health information.
The ethics also comes down to how the salesperson will use the recording. If the salesperson plans to use the recorded sales call to defame you (the customer), they are crossing both the ethical line in the sand, and touching on illegal use of recorded calls.
It is this author’s opinion that the salesperson should use the golden rule when thinking of recording calls in terms of ethics. If it were them on the other end of the line, would they want this call recorded and used for training or other purposes?
The best salespeople build trust and rapport; they certainly do not lie or deceive.
What Do Sales Coaching Software Companies Say About Privacy?
Sales coaching software companies like Gong recommend having salespeople notify customers that the sales call is being recorded. They go on further to say that prospects agree to recorded phone conversations 95% of the time when given an option.
When it comes to concerns about sales representatives feeling like they are being micromanaged by having their sales calls recorded, Gong reports that individual representatives are their most enthusiastic users. They get the chance to learn from their calls, while also learning from their peers’ sales call experiences.
AirCall, which provides call recording and customer data collection, creates tools for managers to protect customer privacy. They allow for easy deletion of sales calls recording and memory wiping when a customer elects their “right to be forgotten” under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for European residents.
Because they are based in France, AirCall adheres to privacy regulations for both Europe and the United States, giving customers of their clients a high level of protection for their personal data.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
There are a few things you can do:
- Before you get on a call, ask the salesperson if they plan on recording the call.
- Always double-check before the call (even if you emailed), by asking on the call, “Are you recording this? How will this recording be used?
Below is a sample email/conversation to support you:
I wanted to confirm the meeting we scheduled for XYZ. Before we get on, I wanted to ask if you will be recording this call? If so, I’d like to respectfully ask that we not record it, because I….(options below)
1 – Don’t feel comfortable
2 – I have sensitive information I must share and though we have an NDA, it is my responsibility to protect this information as best as possible
I hope you understand and can confirm with me that the call will not be recorded before we proceed.
Your fabulous self
If someone is recording you and you do not want to be for any reason, you have power: Cancel the call.
I wrote this article with the intention that it supports everyone – salespeople, customers, and organizations. I’ve been in sales and on the buyer side, I know things are moving fast and mistakes happen.
Hopefully, this article will make you, regardless of who you are or what you do, more mindful and thoughtful, so all can do better and make positive connections.