How to Coach When You Can’t Hear Both Sides of the Story–A Guide to One-Sided Call Coaching



Call recording laws vary state by state in the U.S. and country by country around the world. While it’s relatively easy to record calls in a manner compliant with the law, sometimes that means only capturing what your reps are saying.

I’ve had conversations with revenue leaders across all industries and verticals and I often hear things like:

“Call recordings where I can only hear our rep aren’t valuable.”

“My managers don’t know how to coach one-sided recordings.”

“One-sided call recordings don’t tell us any useful information.”

“Why bother if I can only hear one side of the conversation?”

The real opportunity lies in the fact that one-sided call recordings are valuable if you know how to coach them

Best Practices for Leveraging 1-Sided Recordings for Training & Coaching

The first time you listen to a one-sided call recording, it’s going to be frustrating because you can’t hear what the buyer is saying. Your knee-jerk reaction will probably be something like:

“This is pointless! How can I help the rep get better if I can’t hear how the buyer responded?”

Trust me, I understand. Without question, one-sided recordings are inferior to two-sided recordings for call coaching. However, experienced coaches know how to impact rep behavior change with a one-sided call recording the same way they would with a two-sided recording. Here is how they do it:

Imagine What the Buyer is Saying

If you’ve ever watched a football game where they break down plays, you my have seen the commentators electronically remove the defense from the screen. This helps viewers focus more closely on the offense’s movements. After seeing this a few times, it becomes pretty easy to imagine what the defense is doing.

As a leader of a revenue-generating team, you know your call flow better than anyone. You know what buyers typically say, what questions they ask, and the objections they raise. Use your imagination and knowledge to envision what’s happening on the buyer’s end of the call. With some practice, you’ll find yourself almost able to hear exactly what the buyer said.

Focus on the Key Behaviors

Most sales require more than one call and more than one type of call to close the deal. Call types include cold calls, warm calls to inbound leads, follow-ups, negotiation calls, customer check-ins, etc.

Each type of call has 5-10 key behaviors. These behaviors are the skills your reps need to execute in a repeatable fashion. Some examples of key behaviors include:

  • Opening the call
  • Sharing the value proposition/elevator pitch
  • Asking discovery questions
  • Qualifying the prospect
  • Sharing relevant customer stories
  • Following compliance steps, such as giving call recording disclaimers
  • Closing for next steps
  • Closing the sale
Coach’s Tip: Once you have identified the key behaviors for your team’s different call types, it’s pretty easy to tell if the reps are exhibiting them if you use scorecards.

Scorecards or call quality forms allow reps, managers, trainers, and quality assurance to measure how the rep performed those key behaviors against a model call.

Key behaviors are the hallmark of what ‘good’ looks like in your organization. No matter what the prospect said, your reps need to exhibit the right behaviors for a successful call.

Suspend Judgment & Ask Questions

Our CRO, Scott Shaul, is a huge Dale Carnegie fan–and he applies some of Carnegie’s principles to call coaching programs. Coaches cannot and should not criticize, condemn, or complain. Reps do not get better through negative feedback.

The goal of every coaching session is to improve performance. Reps get better through a positive, productive call review session. Call scores do not matter. Consistency of the reps and their managers reviewing and scoring calls is what matters. Self-awareness and improvement comes via objective observation and repetition.

When you listen to a one-sided recording, be patient. Ask questions. Use the observe, describe, prescribe coaching model and suspend judgment. Note what you hear and talk about what DID happen instead of what didn’t happen.

Encourage and Allow Reps to Self-Diagnose

Even though you don’t know exactly what happened on the other side of the one-sided recording, your rep sure does. Let them tell you the story. Most of the time, they will readily self-diagnose and self-correct. This is hugely valuable for your coaching efforts because people value what they conclude for themselves much more than what they are told.

One-sided recordings are a great way to reactivate your reps’ memory of the call. Sit and listen with them, then ask “What could you have done differently that would have increased the probability of a successful outcome?”

Know When You Need a Different Call

Calls where you can only hear your rep can be particularly challenging to follow, especially when the buyer is doing almost all of the talking. Don’t try to force coaching where there isn’t enough information to be effective. Know when to stop and seek out alternative calls with coachable moments.

Coach’s Tip: Optimize your coaching sessions by asking reps to nominate 2 calls they’d like you to review. These calls will almost always have coachable moments.

These best practices will help you get coaching value from one-sided recordings. For more tips, check out this Call Camp with Truly where we break down one-sided calls.

Remember that the goal of any coaching program is to change rep behavior. Your reps will be great at some skills and not so great at others. Through call reviews and coaching sessions, you’ll be able to identify and improve on lagging skills for every rep.