Trending This Week: Conversational Hallmarks of High-Performing Sales Pros

Sales analytics can provide enlightening insights on the habits conducive to sales conversations that produce the desired result. These three traits stand out.

July 21, 2017

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Sales analytics continue to refine the ways in which companies identify and score their leads. But some of the most compelling aspects of sales AI relate to granular breakdowns of conversations between reps and prospects.

At one time, we had to craft our approaches for these crucial interactions based on intuition and convention; now, we have data to guide us.

Analyzing sales meetings is the core function of Chorus.ai, a conversation intelligence firm out of San Francisco that closed a $16 million Series A funding round earlier this year.

Recently, the company’s cofounder and CEO, Roy Raanani, penned an article for Entrepreneur in which he shares insights on patterns emerging from an evaluation of 500,000 B2B sales conversations.

By matching the contents of these convos against outcomes, the team at Chorus.ai was able to call attention to a trio of traits consistently displayed by top-performing reps.

Three Keys to Sales Conversations that Convert

The study from Chorus.ai revealed three primary conversational tendencies that yield superior results. They are as follows:

●      Say what you need to say, and no more

●      Be intentional and precise with questions

●      Keep the conversation flowing and give prospects the floor often

To summarize these practices collectively, the bottom line is that high performers are purposeful and concise, more intent on listening than speaking.

On the flip side, lower performers frequently fall into bad habits. If you ramble on for any length of time, you can quickly lose the interest and attention of the person on the other end, especially if it’s a busy business executive or corporate buyer. “Question stacking” is another (sometimes subconscious) occurrence in which we ask three or more questions at once, causing the responder to get lost and confused.

Here’s the thing, though: Being talkative isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s quite natural.

The Psychology of Talking Too Much

Most of us recognize the aforementioned habits as missteps hindering our effectiveness in sales, but the tricky part is that they’re tough to control. See, we as human beings are innately wired to talk a lot -- about ourselves, specifically. Fast Company covered this topic a few years ago.

The challenge is particularly weighty in sales. In most cases, we have much to say and little time to say it. To some extent, we need to talk about ourselves in order to establish credibility, and we need to make a pitch around our offering while we have the chance.

So the objective is to strike the proper balance, and to always be cognizant of how the conversation is flowing.

When it comes to suppressing our inner id, the best bet is preparation. Some people find it helpful to head into calls with a script of sorts, including self-reminders and go-to questions you can ask when it’s time to pass the ball back to the prospect. Others even use a stopwatch while on the phone, so as to ensure they never overtake discussions for prolonged periods.

In the Fast Company article linked earlier, psychologist and career coach Marty Nemko suggested a traffic light strategy that goes like this:

●      You get a green light during the first 20 seconds. “Your listener is liking you, as long as your statement is relevant to the conversation and hopefully in service of the other person.”

●      Yellow light for the next 20 seconds. “Now the risk is increasing that the other person is beginning to lose interest or think you’re long-winded.”

●      At the 40-second mark, your light is red. “Yes, there’s an occasional time you want to run that red light and keep talking, but the vast majority of the time, you’d better stop or you’re in danger.”

In the words of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, “Trust is established by dialogue.” But when dialogue turns into monologue, this imperative can quickly move in the wrong direction.  

Whatever the methodology, it’s important to be mindful of our own mental predispositions, and to take control of them for maximized performance.

Keep your dialogues dialed in by subscribing to the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog for more tips on mastering sales conversations.