By Parth Mukherjee
If you care about improving your sales cycle, you’ll want to look into conversation intelligence (CI) quickly. (On October 26th at the Sales 3.0 Conference, Roy Raanani, CEO of Chorus.ai, will present “The Future of Sales Meetings.”)
Why exactly do sales teams need CI? If you think of all the steps involved in your sales cycle – demand generation, lead qualification, meetings, deal life cycle – you’re probably capturing key metrics at each stage in order to optimize the activities in that stage. For example, you probably closely follow things like MQL-to-SQL or opportunity conversion rates, sales cycle time, and forecast accuracy to drive improvements through all those stages.
But sales reps spend more than a third of their time in direct selling activities with customers and prospects. At a time when around 57 percent of reps missed their quota, can we really afford to not know what they are conveying to customers?
Without automatically collecting and analyzing conversation data, you are depending on your managers to be on every call a rep does. And that’s never going to happen.
Four Ways Your Sales Cycle Can Benefit from CI
Once you collect conversation data, you can start optimizing the content that reps deliver verbally during their meetings. Some of the top benefits include:
- Faster sales rep ramp time because you are training them based on real conversations
- More deals won through analyzing and improving talk tracks used by reps
- More deals won against competitors since you know what works and what doesn’t
- More reps hit quota because they learn what the top performing reps are doing right
- Greatly improved team morale because they are now continuously coached and enabled
The Chorus Science team has put together some sample insights from the millions of calls we’ve recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the Chorus AI-based platform.
Insight #1: Increase the number of qualified conversations your sales reps have with prospects.
One of the major areas of improvement is the number of qualified conversations your reps actually have each week. Often reps complain, “I do not have enough meetings” or, “Most of my prospects do not show up.” CI data easily helps you capture no-shows and measure the amount of time your team wasted on waiting on these meetings. This can help tighten up your lead qualification process and improve rep productivity. Data from Chorus Science shows about 21 percent of all first meetings are no-shows and the rep spends an average of 11 minutes waiting on the call.
If we add 10 minutes for meeting preparation and time sunk before next available slot, we easily reach 30 minutes of wasted time per no-show. Assuming a rep has 40 weekly meetings, this would amount to between two and six hours a week entirely wasted on no-shows. If you can identify how much time your team is wasting, you can go about reducing it.
Insight #2: Get your sales reps to ask between two and five engaging questions on initial sales calls.
It is not just about how many questions a rep asks – in fact, Chorus Science data suggests no verifiable pattern in the number of questions a rep should ask in order to win more deals. As always, quality trumps quantity.
So how many engaging questions do your reps ask prospects? Engaging questions are open ended and framed so prospects are encouraged to talk for an extended period of time compared to questions that only have a yes/no answer. Our data shows calls with two to five engaging questions are 60 percent more likely to advance.
Our analysis also revealed that open questions like the following help break the ice and generate high prospect engagement:
- What do your top performers do during sales calls that contribute to their high win rates?
- How do you currently ramp up new hires?
- How would you evaluate a solution like ours?
- What else is on your priority list for 2018?
Insight #3: Help your sales reps understand how to handle competitive threats during sales calls.
Many, if not all of us, are always up against one or more competitors in the sales cycle. But in how many instances do we really think a deal is competitive? We looked at more than 10,000 calls that were longer than 10 minutes and had names of competitors pop up more than once during the call. However, only 8.5 percent of the CRM records for those deals had competitive information in them.
Which means your CRM could be under-reporting the competitive nature of your calls by about 10x. This is akin to flying blind if you use the CRM information to build the competitive risk in your forecasting model. Chorus Science also gave us some insights into when best to bring up the name of the competitor and how to bring it up. Roy will be covering some of this in his keynote.
Insight #4: Get sales reps on a single call with multiple stakeholders.
In 2017, HBR reported that “the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.” So, do you try to do one-to-ones with as many people as you can? Or should you get more people on the same call? Chorus Science insights from across 18,000 opportunities showed that won deals have an average of 50 percent more prospects on calls as compared to lost deals.
The inability to get every stakeholder onto the calls can be a limiting factor in your deals. Do you know how many people you have on calls and how many of your critical deals still rely on one person on the call with your rep?
Parth Mukherjee is the head of product marketing at Chorus.ai, the conversation intelligence platform used by the fastest growing B2B businesses. Chorus.ai is a conversation intelligence platform that records, transcribes, and analyzes business conversations in real time to coach reps on how to become top performers. Come meet Chorus at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas on October 25-26.