February 20, 2018
We’ve all heard the well-worn cliché that buyers have become more powerful.
They aren’t at the mercy of a salesperson to get the information they need to make a purchase. They can find almost everything they need online, now.
They hold the cards.
As a result of this power shift, B2B sales organizations can’t afford to slip up and make rookie mistakes during their sales conversations anymore. Buyers simply won’t tolerate it.
These precious conversations are the one chance sales reps have to interact with (and influence) a potential buyer. Buyers don’t need to sit through a sloppy sales pitch or interrogative discovery call to get their needs met anymore.
And here’s the tragedy behind all of this…
Despite the fact that sales conversations are the most delicate and influential activity when it comes to driving revenue, sales leaders are blind to almost every sales conversation that takes place across their sales floor.
Here are seven reasons why that matters now more than ever before.
1. The Delta Between Your Top Reps and Everyone Else Stubbornly Remains
Blindness to sales conversations is solely responsible for the delta between your “A” and “B” players (though it’s not responsible for your “C” players; that would be a hiring issue).
If you don’t know how your top reps sell differently than the “middle of the pack,” it becomes impossible to replicate their behavior across the rest of the team. You’re forced to forego the huge returns of shifting “the core” of your team into top performers status.
2. Leaks and Bottlenecks in Your Pipeline Persist
Your CRM data can tell you which stage in your sales cycle has the bottlenecks and leaks.
But without visibility into what’s happening during the sales calls in this “problem stage,” you can’t answer why that bottleneck is happening.
You can’t diagnose the problem, and therefore, you cannot address its root cause and solve it.
Maybe your reps are getting too technical too early?
Maybe they’re messaging key features wrong?
Either way, without knowledge of what actually happens in conversations during your bottlenecked stage, the bottleneck persists. They continue to “drop off” at the same stage over and over, without you being able to pinpoint why or address the problem.
3. Poor Sales Execution Becomes Tolerated
Are your reps pitching value, or just feature dumping?
Are they unearthing painful problems during discovery, or asking generic questions that annoy your prospect?
Are they following the sales process you’ve worked so hard to refine, or are they “doing their own thing”?
Every one of the above questions is at risk of being answered in an unfavorable way if there’s no window to your team’s sales conversations.
4. Inconsistency Reigns, Making Predictable Revenue Elusive
When you have 10 reps handling 10 sales calls in 10 different ways, predictable revenue becomes extremely elusive.
That is a very common state of affairs for sales organizations that don’t pull back the curtain on their sales calls.
Everyone starts marching in scattered directions.
Messaging becomes inconsistent, and everyone starts telling their own stories. Before you know it, it’s as though you don’t have a team. You just have a group of individualists.
5. Your Sales Strategy is Based on Guesswork
If you don’t have meaningful visibility into frontline sales conversations, you can’t put your finger on what’s working and what’s not. You can see the final results (or lack thereof), but it’s not possible pinpoint what caused those results (this is why sales success can seem so mysterious). As a result, your sales playbooks, your battle cards, and the rest of your sales strategy and execution documents remain unrooted from reality, largely based on guesswork instead of evidence.
6. That Expensive Sales Training You Invested in Gets Wasted
Sales leaders spend a lot on professional sales training. Almost every day, I hear some VP of Sales explain “we’re a Sandler shop,” (or fill in whatever sales methodology is hot).But if you are in the dark when it comes to sales conversations, I hate to say it, but you’re flying on blind faith that your sales training is being adopted in a live environment.
Hint: it’s probably not.
The tough reality is that people (not just salespeople) revert back to their old, low-performing habits almost immediately following training.
Training adoption requires reinforcement.
True reinforcement requires visibility.
7. You Lose Deals That Could’ve Been Closed
When you don’t know what happens during critical, deal-defining sales calls, “easy wins” slip from your grasp. How often do your reps forecast a deal that never comes to fruition?
Often, these deals go off the rails because of a sales conversation earlier in the sales cycle went off the rails, changing the trajectory of the deal for the worse.
Had you known that happened in time, you (or your sales manager) could have inserted themselves into the deal, changing the trajectory before it was too late.
Instead, that call one of your reps just had with the $385,000 deal they’re forecasting for this quarter slipped out of their control without you knowing, and the deal is starting to slip away.
Three Ways to Get Visibility
You might be thinking “This is all well and good, but it’s just the cost of doing business. How am I supposed to get visibility?”
Getting visibility into sales conversations can be done in three ways:
1. Live shadowing sales calls – This is great for small sales teams with low rep-to-manager ratios
2. Raw call recordings – This option works well for SDR teams looking to do one-off call reviews (account executive teams can rarely pull this option off)
3. Conversation intelligence technology – If any of the above problems resonate with you, and if the above two options won’t fit the bill, definitely research this type of technology.
Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io Gong.io - the #1 conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams. Gong helps you convert more of your pipeline into revenue by shining the light on your sales conversations. It records, transcribes, and analyzes every sale.