Lead with your Ears: Driving Performance with Speech Analytics was written by Eric Esfahanian for MarTech Advisor and published June 23, 2017.

Thought exercise:  Ask your nearest sales manager if they record their sales reps’ phone conversations.  What reaction do you think you will get? Regardless, you will probably be met with a questioning look. Recording your agent’s phone calls sounds a bit “Big Brother-ish,” so that reaction is understandable, at first blush.

Previously relegated to the confines of large (mostly inbound) call centers, call recording and speech analytics are is no longer just centralized IT services that bring with them high overhead and an even higher learning curve for business users.

More often than not, when asked, speech analytics neophytes exhibit reactions ranging from of “That is creepy, to “I can’t listen to my reps’ conversations” or “Isn’t that illegal?” But, the reality is managers who do not use speech analytics for their reps, regardless of whether they are in the office or not, are missing the boat.

More than that, a case can be made that they are not meeting their obligations as a coach, supervisor, and mentor to their team members. Why would you manage based on what you think is being said when you can manage on what is happening or has happened already? And it is no longer enough to just know how many calls your team is making and think you are on top of things.

It’s 2017! Analytics is headed to being almost $2.0B industry for good reason. Speech analytics is the wave of the future. But it’s also a wave of the present and your ticket to creating a successful sales team that’s built to last through market cycles year after year. After all, almost everything you need to understand about your sales rep’s performance lies in the intelligence generated from the actual conversations with customers and prospects.

There are some speech analytics tools on the market that offer the bare minimum (i.e. call recording and transcription). This is helpful in some ways, but frankly, who has the time to sift through hundreds or thousands of audio files in search of something notable or actionable? Instead, consider the impact on your team performance if you could be alerted proactively with important stats or conversational insights whenever they occur, so you can remediate and act decisively with a high degree of accuracy.

Today’s speech analytics tools allow you to interpret your rep’s (and your customer’s) tone of voice, monitor whether they are mentioning your company’s competitors, your newest products, identify up/cross selling opportunities and how well they adhere to their script. These simple, intuitive “dashboard” views of your reps’ conversational performance make it extremely simple for you to understand what happens each time one of your agents picks up the phone, with precision and context. With targeted speech analytics readily available, there are endless coaching and training opportunities that can’t be overlooked. Simple, real-time and intuitive widgets of conversational KPIs for calls made by reps from any phone, any location. NO hardware, no software, no IT involvement. No kidding!

During this process, you may find some reps are not receptive to coaching and ultimately be forced to take action, which will save your company money in the long run. You are also able to bridge the visibility gap between your reps and revenue by understanding what the top performers are saying to win deals and emulate that behavior throughout. Again, you might get some resistance in the beginning but the benefits far outweigh any skepticism you encounter.

Utilizing speech analytics in a targeted way, to capture and interpret customer insight and agent behaviors, has become a JOB REQUIREMENT for B2B and B2C sales managers exactly because they allow you to manage to an accurate standard, drive two-way accountability between you and your reps, and capitalize on your leadership abilities and ability to grow revenue consistently.

The world is NOW your call center, and every phone-based interaction should be treated like a company asset. Either use it to drive your team’s performance, or you are wasting an opportunity that your competitors will not.

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