The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 4 years ago

Lessons Learned From Analyzing Over 2 Million B2B Sales Calls

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Max chats to Chris Orlob, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io, about what it takes to make innovative and effective sales calls that work, even at the C-Suite level. Tune in!

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot I oh, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engage with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Max Ouchler here with the sales engagement podcast and I'm talking to Chris or lab today from Gong Dot Ioh. And Chris, you have some amazing intelligence on call recording data and BB sales calls. So what are we talking about today? Yeah, skinny is and if you've even heard of it, hopefully you can get out of the Rock you've been living in for the last couple of years. But we have this giant pole of research that we continually look at and it's a poll of over two million Bab sales call recordings. That numbers continually growing. I'm sure it'll be updated by the time people here this podcast, but we analyze those conversations with ai when we separate the speaker so that we can tell who's the seller who's the buyer. We tie everything to the crm so that we can analyze song buyer behaviors against outcomes, and then we published data about what is actually working in sales conversations, according to hard data rather than just intuition. That's awesome. So guys have a ton of killer that's so. What do you want to talk about me? I think the one that's been on my mind lately is the differences between successful question asking in Discovery Calls and how that changes depending on who you're talking to. Your solved. So probably a fifteen months ago or so, it's like the summer of two thousand and seventeen, we did this big analysis of five hundred and Nineteenzero discovery calls and we found a few really interesting stats like the quote unquote, ideal number of questions to ask is between eleven and fourteen questions, which seems to make sense. You know, that seems like the right range you should be shooting for a discovery call. But then we published this new analysis we did just a couple months ago, I was at the beginning of August, where the results pretty much flew in the face of the research we did in the previous year and we found that there was a sharp decrease in wind rates after you ask about four questions. And the difference between these two research pools, the the one we did where we're essentially suggesting you ask fewer questions, and the one where we're suggesting you ask between eleven fourteen questions, is the database for the new one. It was exclusively sales calls for the seller was selling to a sea sweet executive, somebody who's very high in the decisionmaking hierarchy is probably the economic buyer, and we found that essentially they have little patience for generic lines of questioning or discovery calls,...

...and I think there are a lot of nuances to unpack from that data. I think it can be very dangerous to jump to conclusions. You know, the last thing I would suggest as the winning formula to winning deals in the sea sweet is to ask for questions. That's not at all what I'm saying. What I would conclude from that are a couple things, though. The first is that I think what that means is not that sea sweet executives hate being asked questions. I think it's we as a profession just do not ask good questions because we weren't really you know, we couldn't analyze the exact content of every single question that was asked in this database. And what's most likely happening is that some sales rep shows up to this meeting after they've been trying to get it for months, and they start rattling off these you know, kind of generic discovery questions that just make people cringe, like tell me about your biggest strategic initiatives for two thousand and nineteen or what keeps you up at night? And after a few of those, most sellers are going to get kicked in the teeth, they're going to be walked out of the room or, in a good case scenario, the sea sweet executive is going to politely pretend they're interested and then just go dark on you. So I think that's the first conclusion you draw from that. It's not necessarily it's a horrible thing to ask a bunch of questions, but you have to be really good with your questions when you get in front of Somebody who's in the CEA sweet or VP level. You have to be your questions have to be valuable, not just seller oriented information gathering tools. And I think the second thing that I would conclude from this is that CEA sweet executives would rather be taught. They would rather have a seller come to them alerting them to unforeseen problems and obstacles or maybe big opportunities that have been setting right under their nose exploited. They'd rather an intelligence seller come into a meeting teach them about a trend or problem or opportunity that they had previously not considered or maybe just undervalued, rather than being asked a bunch of questions, such as the sales reps do you have, and a bunch of stuff that they could have found lower in the organization or on the Internet or by reading coming reports. So that's probably the most interesting research we have. That's been on my mind lately, just kind of this juxtaposition between these two discovery call analyzes, and that's what's been on my mind. That's really interesting. What how are you collecting this data? How you analyzing with data? So the way it works, and it's slightly different depending on we which research study were conducting, but in general we're recording sales meetings that are usually conducted on what conferencing platforms, like zoom, outreach, not not out reaches, soon webacs go to meeting, and we're also collecting call recordings from sales engagement platforms like outreach for pulling those into calm. So we recording those, were transcribing them from speech to text and then we're...

...running these transcriptions through what we call UN supervised machine learning, and that is essentially ai that can identify seller and bier behaviors, like questions that are being asked, topics that are being discussed. Stop that. And how many calls do you think you've analyzed? We crossed the two million mark. I don't even know how long ago. Is probably a couple months ago. Yeah, and that numbers, you know, just increasing. That the way we get hold of these calls is there are anonymized sales calls from our customer base and, as you know, Gong is just growing like a weed. So it's like we have thousands of more users every week, which, you know, they're making thousands more calls, like I said, but I'm sure by the time of somebody listens to this, two million is going to be outdated. So let's do let's just call it the millions of sales calls. Eventually tens of have enough to make all this, you know, credible. Two million, whether it's a one million or more, definitely incredible. There's some more best practices that you seem like give us your top five or ten kind of either mindbowing discoveries or best practice, as in doing discovery calls or having sales conversations. Yeah, I'll give you a few of them. So demo flow. This is one of my favorite topics. How, in what order, do you present certain things to can during your demo? What we found is that most sales reps are doing the worst thing possible. They think it's the right thing and I could see the logic behind us, but they're saving the quote unquote, best for last. They're showing kind of trivial features during their demo and their quote unquote, building up so that they end with like this brand slam feature that, frankly, the buyers been waiting to see since they shared their screen on soup. And what we found is that the best demos, the most successful demos, the demos that have the highest advanced rates and eventually the highest close rates at the end of the sale cycle, start with the thing that was talked about most during discovery. So instead of like building this anticipatory demo where you end with the most interesting thing at the last or at the end. You start with exactly what the buyer wants to see. You just hit them over the head with it and then you slowly unkill the rest of the demo to their interest level, and demos can be very short in those cases. You know, if the buyer is interested only in one or two things, you just showing that and kind of let them tell you how far into the demo they want you to go. And frankly, it's usually a lot shorter than what most sales people are doing. So that's definitely one. You know, we correlated the topics that were being discussed or discussed during discovery to the pops that were being discussed during Demos and we've found that it's it should almost be like the subside down premid. Start with the last thing first, turn your demo on. It's had whatever catchphrase. You need to do your demos right. A couple more that come to mind are talking about pricing. So in the same vein in terms of demo calls, we found that the most successful sales people talk about pricing late in the call.

It's usually between pick the numbers, between the thirty eight minute and forty six minute work on average, and average performing sales reps don't really have a rhymer reason as to when they discuss pricing during their demo calls. So the takeaway there is that the best sales people, at least in the data set that we've looked at, are focusing on establishing value first before they're so eager to introduce pricing or answer the buyers pricing questions and what have you. So that's another kind of like a magical piece of having a successful sales presentation or demo is, you know, go through this demo call I suggested earlier and end by talking about pricing. Don't just be so eager to answer your customers pricing questions, maybe at the beginning of the call or at the end. And then the final one that I'll touch on at least on this roff. I'm sure we can get into more stats as we go here, but is this idea of the next steps? So this one, this is data that's yet to be published as well. It should be coming out this week and if you're hearing this so it's probably the previous week or maybe a couple weeks ago, but we found that and I can't remember the exact numbers because I'm, you know, still kind of familiarizing myself with this data. But first meetings with a qualified opportunity. If you discuss the next steps at the end of your call, I think it was for like twice as long than an average perform on salesperson does, then you're much more likely to have a very short sales cycle. And some of the reasons behind that you know, besides from it being very obvious sales hygiene, is buyers on a first intro sales meeting are not mentally checked into a sales cycle yet. They don't consider themselves being part of an active evaluation. They are using that introductory sales meeting as a way to evaluate whether or not they want to be part of a sales cycle or buying cycle, and so the implications on that are they do not have next steps all map out in their mind because they don't even see this as a project yet. So if you get to the end of that call and you only have a few Satns, you know, twenty or thirty seconds that just discuss next steps, your buyers probably going to be at a loss because they maybe just decided a few seconds ago that they actively want to evaluate this and now their mind is kind of spinning a little bit trying to figure out, well, what do we do from here? So, as a seller, you really have to put yourself in the leadership position. You have to manage your time well during this intro call to make sure there's plenty of time to discuss the next steps at the end of this first meeting so that you can kind of chart the course from there to and on this riff, we found that spending a lot of time during on, quote unquote, Next Steps through subsequent calls in the sales process, you know, second call, third call, the fine call. It doesn't matter that much as ones. You just do it, but spend a lot of time on it. Had A new correlation. Where there was a really big impact is spending time on next...

...steps at the end of that first meeting. And again it's because you have to bring clarity to the project with your buyer. You have to talk through next steps, suggest next steps, unpack what this project would look like for them to kind of mentally sink their teeth in through. I love this. So there's people have been in sales for a long time, you know kind of already do these best practices because they've seen what works on what does in and it's been kind of drilled into them. But the having data that backs it up is so, so, so important, especially in this modern era of sales where we have all the technology at our fingertips, whether it's, you know, outreach and connecting to Gong and being at being able to Ab test things as you do your Omni Channel outreach, your different touches, Du noil call and everything else. So you guys have some really amazing information on. So the best practice, I really like the upside down pyramid, coming from the outcome first, then working words instead of like telling the story in the actually how I like to approach problems in general. So great job on that. Yeah, and it's how it's how you approach writing to like if you're writing an article, instead of hedging and spending the first like two or three paragraphs, like every content market on the planet does, kind of leading up to the point, you should just hit the reader over the head with like what the point is and then let them read the rests are, the rest of the article, down to their interest level, because you never know, whatever it's going to like jump off the page. Maybe they just want to read the first few paragraphs. And it's the same thing with self, like start with value, unpack until you see your buy, your kind of losing interests, and wrap things up from there. And I see you, guys. You measure so many different calls, some of the first call, some of the pretty far down the the sales cycle. Right, it's not all just the first call and discovery call. So many different types of phone calls that you're measuring, right. Yeah, yeah, first call, closing calls. Fun fact, we analyzed a bunch of closing calls to try to understand the differences between a closing call that actually closes or reads to a closed sale and then one that loses, and when we looked at the data we couldn't tell any difference. There was no difference between a winding closing call and a losing closing call, at least from a scientific level, you know, without diving into hearing what these calls actually sound like. And the way I would interpret that is what you do early on or in the middle of the sales cycle generally carries a lot more confluence than what we're doing later in the game because that's where the trajectory of the deal is set. Right the buyers just starting to look at things. Their preferences are not solidified, their impressionable, their malleable, but as they start to go through this evaluation, things start to crystallize, things start to firm up and if you get to a closing call and suddenly you're trying to convince your buyer of why you're better than your competitor instead of having address that early on in the buying process, you still might close the deal, but it's not a great position to win.

Selling is very much a profession of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Yeah, that's interesting that you're doing closing calls. The majority of the calls of you analyze where prospecting, discovery, mostly discovery, and demo calls, like the first or second sales meeting. That's like done over web conferencing. We actually have not done a ton of prospecting calls. We have done a few of them and we found some interesting stuff. You know about cold calls and order the best cold call opening lines and what are some of the attributes of the successful cold call, but by far the majority of what we've done has been opportunity sales me because after like a a meetings already been set and in account executive is marshaling that deal through the byting process. Talk about talk time. So this isn't what is said, this is what isn't said. So you're around how long your reps should be talking for versus the prospect. So the first thing, the first caveat I'll give is every company's a little bit different. But given that, we have found some generalized charts, and this one is probably most dependent on the stage of the sales cycle. So if you have like a dedicated discovery call, we found out the best talk to listen ratios forty three fifty seven, meaning the REP is talking for forty three percent of the time and, quote unquote, listening for the rest of the time, with fifty seven percent of the time. But that number tends to change depending on different stages and the sales cycle. So like a demo call or sales presentation as a higher one. Naturally it's the hours around sixty five or sixty six percent of the time because you're presenting. And then cold calls also have ire one. I can't remember the exact number, but it was in like the high fift these or low s and you know, the takeaway there is starting a cold call. You really have to sell the meeting. You're not third or do discovery. But what we found is that, despite the fact that different sales cycle stages have the different talk to listen ratios, it's usually going to be the lower one that's going to win the day. It's just that at the low end of each of those stages in the sales processes different. And by the way, you actually interviewed somebody in your other podcast, a career packing podcast, that has some of the best tips for achieving a low talk to with some ratio. Chris boss, the guy who wrote never split the difference, because when people hear when sales ups here they should have a low talk to list some ratio, what are they do? They tend to ask a bunch of questions, and a lot of those questions are not as well thought out as they should be. So, while you should ask questions in a great way to get your buyer talking, more is to use Chris boss as technique called emotional label, and that is basically where, instead of asking question, you make a statement and it is a statement about an emotion you observed your buyer express, and the best way to do that is simply to fill in this sentence. It seems...

...like you fill in the link. It seems like you're really excited about your new job at our Riach Max, and then you just shut up. And if you've label their emotion accurately, like if that's actually what they're feeling inside, you actually stop talking, then they open the flood get. They'll talk for thirty seconds, sixty seconds, ninety seconds. And the best part is you didn't have to use a pick act of a question, you didn't have to dig get them. You just said something that seems casual and you start record and now they're letting you know all of this is valuable emotional information. I like that a lot. It seems like you're hitting on the just the conversational tone and understanding the person across from you instead of coming with all these the old bullet points and talking points and things like that. Right, yeah, exactly. There's a there are two negative extremes and a sales conversation. There is pitching, which means like you just don't shut up, keep talking, your spewing features and benefits. But the other negative extreme that most people don't really realize is interrogating. They just ask generic question after question. It's like they're going through a checklist and the buyer quickly becomes frustrated. So you really have to find the happy medium between those two. You have to ask questions, but they should be well thought out and targeted and you also have to make statements that they should be about your buyer most of the time rather than about you. Awesome. So let's talk one more thing, and one of my favorite topics personally pricing. Where are some best practices around talking about pricing on a call? Yeah, that the best thing to do is to talk about pricing forward the end of the call, back to end. It's just after you've established value, because pricing without demonstrated value is kind of meaningless on its own and it just scares buyers away. They instantly rationalize that they can't afford it. But if you've established pricing and then you introduce the exact same price that they would have atalized themselves out of, now they're rationalizing themselves into the pricing because you've given them a reason to. So it's like, you know, if you start a sales call, the buyer does not have an active need, they're not sold on your solution, but they ask about price and you answer it. Now the rest of the sales called, they are thinking to themselves in their mind of why they cannot afford this or why they should not move forward but something like this, or why they should just eject from the buying process. Entirely versus when you create the emotions of need and solution, and now those are firmed up as a preference for the buyer like it's part of their psychology. And then you introduce pricing. Now they are in a totally different frame of mind where they are justifying to themselves and to other people why they can't afford this. So you really have to create value before you introduce price. And let me just unpack what value means. So I'm not using, you know, some sales buzzword. It is creating an emotional meet, whether that is the resolution of pain or the entertainment of...

...some sort of pleasure or something more benefits or something positive. There you have to create one of those. That's the states of mind before pricing is introduced, or most of the time, not always, but most of the time they will try to rationalize themselves out of the price, even if you have the best Roy argument on the place of fear. Awesome that. I think that's a crew show, one that I think people further down the phone of the funnel and different types of sale cycles will be interested in. Thanks a ton for the knowledge bombs today, Chris. That was amazing, and I know your blog is chalk full of other statistical gems in the sales and sales engagement and call analysis a sphere. But where else can people find is that the Gong Dot i? Oh the best place to go? Yeah, good. Connected with me on Linkedin to good. If you want to read all this stuff on our blog, go to gonk IO blog. But I also publish all of our for US fresh research as an article on my own linkedin profile. That's our trade work sees the light of day first. So connect with me on linkedin again. My name is Chris or law H or looe as Eloy. I'm pretty sure I'm the only Christ or lab on Linkedin, let alone the face of the earth. So happy to connect. Yeah, awesome. Thanks a lot. This was awesome. Thanks, Chris. Thanks so much for having us this was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach. I own the leading sales and esement plot. See you on the next episode.

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