After you spend enough time on the phone with prospects, you can usually tell when a call is going well. Some reps can even gauge how likely a specific buyer is to close by the time they hang up.
However, knowing exactly what you did to make the call successful is trickier. Was it your tone of voice? The time of day you called? The questions you asked? All or none of the above?
Thanks to TalkIQ and other tools that use AI to analyze sales calls, now it’s much easier to identify the key characteristics of sales conversations that lead to deals. Follow these four data-backed guidelines to start running better calls.
1) Use Your Organization’s Keywords
Using the right words can make or break your chances of getting the buyer’s attention -- and ultimately, their business. TalkIQ found that using keywords in the beginning of a sales call dramatically increases the length of the conversation.
In addition, using keywords make salespeople 60% more likely to close. Yet reps only use five or more keywords on less than 5% of calls -- a huge missed opportunity.
TalkIQ defines a keyword as one of an organization’s top 10 most important terms or phrases. These keywords typically link back to your company’s value proposition and your product’s main benefits; for example, a salesperson who sells a vendor management system might use the following keywords: “Secure,” “simple,” “efficient,” and so on. If you don’t know your keywords, hold a brainstorming session with your team or ask Marketing for their suggestions. Your sales emails may also hold clues: Review your most successful subject lines and messages to see if they contain any common words.
Try to use at least two or three keywords in the first 30 seconds of your calls. If you’re reaching out to a buyer for the first time, craft your surprising insight or value-adding suggestion around a few keywords.
Here’s an example:
“Hi Travis, it’s Gloria from Stabyle. I saw on LinkedIn your company hires a lot of freelancers -- my clients in similar situations say it’s hard to manage freelance teams securely and efficiently. Would you be interested in hearing a couple suggestions about how to simplify this process?”
2) Speak a Little Faster
The psychological principle of mirroring suggests that imitating the buyer’s speed of delivery subconsciously makes them like you more.
But according to TalkIQ’s research, salespeople should aim to talk more quickly than their prospects. Sales conversations lasted nine times longer when reps spoke 20% faster.
One explanation might be speaking quickly makes you seem more enthusiastic and engaged. Try listening to your last calls and gauging how passionate you sound. Although you never want to come across as cheesy or fake, you might be suggesting boredom or indifference without realizing it.
3) Take Your Time
You might be speeding up your rate of delivery, but don’t rush through the call itself. Conversations that led to closed deals were approximately 1.8 times longer than those resulting in lost deals.
This statistic highlights the importance of asking prospects questions. When you engage them with thoughtful, relevant, and specific inquiries, they’re far likelier to stay on the line. After all, few buyers are interested in drawing out a one-sided discussion or listening to a dry recitation of your sales pitch.
With this in mind, prepare two or more questions for every call. These should either challenge your prospect’s worldview, delve into a challenge they’re likely facing, or help you identify an area for adding value.
Periodically check in with the other salespeople on your team to see which questions they’re having the most success with. This will help you keep your arsenal of questions up-to-date and effective.
4) Cut Down on Filler Words
Ridding your speech of “um,” “like,” “ah,” and other filler words is easier said than done. But it might be worth it: TalkIQ’s analysis found longer sales calls included 30% less filler words than shorter calls.
Saying filler words can make you seem less confident, which harms your credibility and may damage your rapport with the buyer. Try to pause instead -- not only will you sound more collected, you’ll also project thoughtfulness. It’s a double win.
Incorporate these takeaways into your sales call strategy, and you should see the impact on your win rate.
Originally published Feb 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated February 21 2017