6 Ways to Have More Productive Sales Calls

Jun 10, 2022

When it comes to prospect interactions, quantity certainly matters. If a seller isn’t interacting with their prospects, they’re not going to close enough business. But simply increasing the number of meetings and calls isn’t enough to guarantee more deals.

Instead, sellers must also master the skills needed to improve the quality of their interactions. Only then will more of their calls lead to closed deals.

Yet, most sellers are familiar with that sinking feeling that comes after a sales call has gone wrong. Maybe they ran out of time and didn’t have the chance to cover everything they’d hoped to. Perhaps the prospect barely spoke. Or, maybe the buyer raised objections the seller just wasn’t ready to handle – which left them fumbling.

Mindtickle-2022-State-of-Sales-Readiness

Usually, these calls leave reps (and their managers) wondering what they can do to improve the outcome the next time. While no two sales calls are the same, there are commonalities across all great calls. The first step is to take a closer look at what the best sales orgs are doing differently on their sales calls, which is exactly what we did.

Recently, we analyzed tens of thousands of sales calls recorded using Call AI, Mindtickle’s conversation intelligence solution. Based on this analysis, we’ve compiled our top six tips for getting more out of sales calls.

  1. Schedule more time for calls
  2. Share the mic – especially on discovery calls
  3. Keep monologues in check
  4. Equip sellers to handle objections
  5. Ask and invite questions
  6. Leverage conversation intelligence software

1. Schedule more time for calls

Have you ever scheduled a 30-minute sales call, only to run out of time before you’ve covered everything you hoped to? Maybe the customer had a lot of questions, or perhaps they took things in a different direction than you anticipated. As the end of your time approached, you likely felt a sense of panic kick in, and you may have come across as rushed or disorganized.

If you’ve been in this situation, you’re certainly not alone. Our analysis found that the average length of a sales call recorded, transcribed, and analyzed with Mindtickle is 39 minutes.

So if you scheduled 30 minutes, you have a few options. You can ask the prospect if it’s possible to run over (which it often isn’t, as prospects have busy schedules, too). Or, you can end the call without covering everything — and hope the prospect agrees to another call. Neither situation is ideal.

Rather than scheduling half-hour calls, schedule them for 40 minutes. If you don’t need the entire time, you can always give the prospect or customer some time back, which is preferable to going over your time.

2. Share the mic – especially on discovery calls

Sales calls, like any conversation, should be a give and take. Both parties should have an equal opportunity to share what’s on their mind – and ask and answer questions.

But oftentimes, that’s not the case. Instead, sales reps do the lion’s share of the talking – while prospects sit quietly and (hopefully) take it all in. On average, customers talk just 44% of the time on sales calls. During discovery stages, this number is slightly higher – 51%.

If you’re looking to get more out of your sales calls, coach your sellers to give prospects plenty of airtime on calls — especially in the discovery stages. What’s the ideal breakdown of prospect versus seller talk time? During discovery calls, top reps give prospects 57% of the airtime. If your team is struggling to get the prospect to talk more, this may be an opportunity to look at the discovery questions asked. Are they thought-provoking? Do they warrant more than a one-word answer? Curating a list of deep-dive discovery questions will get your prospects sharing more, so you can better prepare for the next conversation.

3. Keep monologues in check

Have you ever been in a situation where someone’s telling you a long, drawn-out story? Your eyes might glaze over, while your attention drifts to other things.

The same happens on sales calls. A prospect might ask a question — and the rep delivers a long, droning response. As a general rule, the longer the monologue, the more disengaged the prospect gets.

We found that on average, the longest monologue response delivered by reps is 1 minute and 37 seconds.

We found that on average, the longest monologue response delivered by reps is 1 minute and 37 seconds.

So if a seller finds themselves speaking for more than a minute and a half, it’s important to pause to check in and see if the prospect has any questions. Doing so helps ensure a mix of rep and prospect participation and engagement.

4. Equip sellers to handle objections

Ideally, every sales call will end on a positive note. The prospect will feel excited about the seller’s solution — and eager to move on to the next step of the sales process.

But that’s not reality.

Negative sentiment, such as uncertainty, hesitancy, competitive mentions, and objections, are extremely common on sales calls. In fact, 63% of sales calls contain more negative sentiment than positive.

In fact, 63% of sales calls contain more negative sentiment than positive.

But negative sentiment doesn’t mean the call is a lost cost – especially if the seller has been adequately trained and coached to expect resistance and overcome it. A prospect who is bringing up competitors and challenging statements made during the call often means they have done their research, indicating that they have prioritized this project or decision.

Of course, it’s important to provide enablement that ensures reps know your messaging inside and out and can differentiate you from your competitors. But be sure you’re also spending time on enablement topics that help reps build their confidence and overcome common objections.

5. Ask and invite questions

When a rep asks questions, it shows they’re clarifying deal information and deepening their discovery. On average, reps ask 11 questions during sales discovery.

On the other hand, when a rep receives a question from a prospect, it can be indicative of their needs and priorities. On average, sellers receive 13 questions from prospects during sales discovery.

On average, sellers receive 13 questions from prospects during sales discovery.

During the best sales calls, questions are asked by both parties. Ensure your reps are trained to ask the right questions – and encourage questions from their prospects. Consider challenging reps to ask one probing or discovery question for each question a prospect asks. By reviewing your top discovery calls, you can create a list of the best questions that uncovered additional deal information and got the prospect thinking about.

6. Leverage conversation intelligence software

Let’s be real: sales calls don’t always go well. And when they go south, reps often struggle to articulate what exactly went wrong. That makes it difficult (or even impossible) for the sales manager to provide coaching that’ll improve future outcomes.

Furthermore, front-line managers are busy and don’t have the bandwidth to sit in on every single call for every single rep. That’s why the best sales orgs use conversation intelligence software to bridge the gap.

Conversation intelligence software records sales calls and leverages AI to help managers identify where reps are excelling – and where there are skill gaps. Managers can use these insights to deliver personalized enablement, content, and coaching to close those gaps, improve key skills, and boost sales outcomes.

With all of your calls recorded, reps can better prepare for meetings. Conversation intelligence products, like Call AI, send digest emails with summaries and key action items from the last call with a prospect. In addition to call prep, sellers can collaborate and coach each other on key selling moments, soliciting feedback and viewing top call moments from their team members.

Start getting more out of your sales calls — make sales readiness a reality

With these tips, you can gain complete insight into your sales calls and make the most out of every prospect interaction.

Want to learn more about what winning revenue organizations are doing to ensure each member of the team is always ready to sell? Read the Mindtickle State of Sales Readiness 2022 Benchmark report.

MSIRobot