Today's post is by Lina Eroh, director of marketing and communications at Accuvit. Accuvit provides "conversation science" for inside sales teams, unearthing the data hidden in sales calls and using it to improve the quality of conversations.
You’ve hired the best reps. You’ve trained them on your script and armed them with the latest sales tools in the industry – yet close rates are still lagging.
What’s the deal?
What if I told you that your focus on quantity of dials was hurting your team? Would you believe that?
It might seem counterintuitive, especially to sales managers who have staked their careers on a faithful adherence to the philosophy that more calls will lead to more deals and higher revenue. At Accuvit, however, we theorized that call quantity was not necessarily the defining factor of success for sales teams. So we performed an interesting experiment at two different sales organizations, both aiming for 100-plus dials a day, to see whether we could find proof that quantity hurts win rates.
The short answer: both organizations saw diminishing returns after 65 dials and a sweet spot of 40 to 60 dials a day. Reps who “failed” to meet the quantity target actually closed the most deals and brought in the most revenue.
Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. Longer calls by definition take more time, which means fewer calls a day.
Longer calls also lead to more deals. When we calculated the total length of calls that led to closed versus lost deals, we saw that “winning” calls lasted 1.8 times longer than “losing” calls. In other words, reps making winning calls should be making only half the number of calls that other reps make, since they’re on the phone for double the length of time. Of course, it’s not just the call that counts but what’s said on the phone, or as we like to think of it, the quality of the conversation.
Call quality is the mystery variable in sales analytics, because measuring the quality of a conversation is far from straightforward. Outside of listening to each call, it’s nearly impossible to train reps to have better conversations. Yet quality is a key metric when it comes to improving sales efficiency. Ignoring it affects your bottom line.
That’s where we come in. Using a process we call Conversation Science™, we make it easy for managers to measure and track the quality of a pitch. We look at several measures to compute the quality score, including cadence mirroring and filler words, but today we’ll focus on adherence to scripts or call guides. After all, you spend tons of time writing these for your reps. Do they actually work to increase win rates?
The answer is a resounding yes. Our data shows the following:
- Using keywords from a well-written script leads to longer conversations.
- Calls that progress through the funnel use 2.5 times the number of keywords!
- The best conversations use 3.8 keywords a minute.
- Using keywords at the very beginning of calls leads to longer calls (which lead to more wins).
The bad news: our data showed that more than 30 percent of callers did not use any keywords. Considering that using keywords triples your chances of closing a deal, that’s nothing short of a fail.
One of the key benefits of Accuvit is that we can quickly show you who among your reps are using keywords and who are not. A side benefit is that you can see exactly what your best reps are doing – and saying.
After one month on Accuvit, leaders at one of our client companies noticed that their best salespeople were not the ones using the most keywords. When they looked at the transcripts, they also noticed that they were not sticking to the call guide. So they took a gamble and rewrote the guide to better mirror the tactics used by the best reps.
The results were astonishing. The close rate increased 41 percent when reps used the new script versus the old one, yet the managers wouldn’t have known to change the script had they not seen the stark contrast.
What would you do for a 40 percent increase in win rates? Here’s our answer: stop focusing on call quantity.