“How can this be?” you might ask. “This information is absolutely necessary for the success of my company” you might say. For many companies, the thought of abandoning call reports is a paradigm shift of epic proportions, but those companies are the most likely to benefit from doing so.
I would be averse to this concept myself if I haven’t experienced both ends of the Call Report spectrum. Imagine “Company A”, where a minimum number of weekly call reports are mandatory. “Company A” has very good products and a solid sales force. Compare that to “Company B”, where there is no requirement for salespeople to file call reports of any type. “Company B” also has very good products and a professional sales force. Now, if I told you that one of these companies enjoyed annual sales growth in excess of 10% while the other struggles commercially, you would probably guess that “Company A” is the more successful company, but you would be wrong. Again, you might ask “How can this be?”
If your salespeople are organized and responsive, what is the value of these reports? If they are not organized and responsive, why are they working for you? They are hurting YOUR Company’s brand. If your salespeople are being scrutinized through an evaluation of the quantity and/or quality of their call reports, why are they working for you? They are either putting up sales results or they are not. Effective salespeople are not effective because they enter call reports, and effective sales organizations are not effective based on the information in call reports. Customers are willing to pay for what they consider to be “value added” aspects, and equally unwilling to pay for “non-value added” activities. Customers do not care about call reports, nor should they. Customers do care about YOUR Company’s brand, though. They want to connect with it, so spend your energy helping them.
This is not to be confused with your organization having accurate customer contact information. All organizations should have current contact information for their existing and prospective customers. This information is invaluable for marketing initiatives, so sales management is right to stress the importance of having up-to-date information in their company’s database.
However, I know of no good argument for call reports when everything else is being done correctly, and THAT is the real issue. Many companies try to compensate for their “brand awareness” shortcomings by collecting information, and the irony is that those same companies do not know what to do with the very information that they are asking their salespeople to collect.
When you consider the total time spent entering call reports that may not ever see the light of day again, it is considerable. Companies are far better off working with their salespeople on how best to strengthen the Company’s brand. You have hired your salespeople because you believe that they are worth the investment for YOUR Company. Coaching for sales excellence is time well spent. Having them enter call reports for the sake of entering them, however, is not.