“Instead of having participants make calls, we’re interested in having two or three calls made and recording them so they can be analyzed and discussed in training.”

That seems like a reasonable compromise but the bottom line is an even stronger “no” because recording involves the issue of consent.

If you ask for consent before you hit the record button:

That step adds more time, which means less time for far more valuable activities.

Many people will not consent. Those that do tend to be overly-easy or overly-tough as they play a role instead of being themselves. This is even less realistic than participants playing the role.

If you do not ask for and receive consent before you hit the record button:

Liability exposure for myself (Shawn) as owner of the training company, as well as any subcontractors we’re using, is such that we will not deliver training.

The liability issues for your organization are equally significant, even when calling your existing customers.

However, if you’re intent on exploring using recording, be sure to look carefully at one-party, two-party, all-party consent laws on the Federal, State, and even local level. Do that for every state that may be involved as you roll out training. Clarify the nature of parties involved; including but not limited to the prospect/customer, the caller, the trainer, every single person in the class, as well as your organization…which a plaintiff’s attorney may regard as having nicely-deep pockets.

One more thing: Before you take a vendor’s word they’ve dealt with liability issues, ask yourself what your favorite compliance officer would say if he knew you were recording without permission.

Added Information (answering questions asked after initial post)

“I know telemarketing firms record calls. Why shouldn’t we?”

Reputable firms record in two cases: (1) They record as part of monitoring, which is defensible because it can be used to detect employee wrongdoing. (2) Callers record only the order portion of the call, either receiving permission at that moment or using that order as implied consent. Neither of those cases apply to recording in training.

“Won’t listening to recordings help training participants to work on their tone?”

Another reasonable thought but no, it won’t. We do not hear ourselves the way others hear us, even using excellent recording and playback devices. In addition, purposely manipulating our tone makes calls sound (and feel) more canned and awkward – not less.

Building an effective tone is driven from the inside: by using our own regular way of talking, consultative wording, various fine tunes (e.g., shorter sentences, not using “just”), and practice.