Listen more than you speak. Do You Know The Golden Ratio Between Speaking and Listening in Sales?

Research has shown that the quality of a sales conversation is related to how much you talk. So, if your goal is better win rates and more successful conversations, then try talking less and listening in sales more.

The first insight we discovered in the analysis was that people who talk more than they listen are less likely to be successful.

As it turned out, the highest yielding B2B sales conversations hovered around a 43:57 talk-to-listen ratio.

Data showed that the best B2B salespeople speak 43% of the time, and let more prospects talk 57%.

When you read this data, be aware that correlation does not always equal causation.

But what they don’t realize is that on average, most sales reps talk more than their clients.


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  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
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Increasing my Talk to Listen Ratio

Gongs analytics told me that I was spending too much time talking and not enough listening in sales. My average talk-to-listen ratio was 72:28!

I used to think that listening in sales was an important skill. I would constantly try and remember how much time people were talking, but it turns out there are other ways of measuring talk-to-listen ratio.

It’s hard to know what motivates customers without questioning them, but it can be done by asking a few pointed questions and then backing off.

When most sales professionals hear the data about how many questions they are asking compared to their customers, it can feel like an interrogation.

Asking questions is a great way to get your customer talking, but don’t be afraid of asking them about the things you want. It’s sad when you talk but no one listens.

Here are four different ways to help create more conversation.

4 Unusual Ways To Talking Less, Listening in Sales More

How to talk less and listen more?

#1: Say, It Seems Like You ________________________

Chris Voss, in his book Never Split the Difference, suggests that this technique of identifying emotions is an empathy on steroids.

If youve asked your prospect a good question, and they give an answer that shows them feeling anything from anger to fear or excitement, verbally “call out” the emotion.

One way to

  • When I first started hiring salespeople, I made the mistake of assuming that ___________ would be enough motivation.
  • I can see that you are _________________
  • It sounds like you might be feeling ________________

For example, if the prospect is struggling with a problem and you offer an insight that seems to resonate, say something like:

  • You seem to be frustrated by the challenge your company is going through.

If you can get your prospect to identify with a feeling, they will be more likely to release new emotional information.

When I first began hiring salespeople, the two things that helped me to do this successfully were:

  • It is important to be able to accurately label your emotions.
  • When you’re trying to engage with your prospect, it’s important that they feel comfortable. One way of doing this is by pausing after the label and letting them speak for four seconds before continuing.

This technique will only work if you give your team time to develop before reviewing their performance.

#2: The Socially Awkward Pause

I learned that I was talking a lot and listening in sales less when Amit Bendov, the CEO of Gong.com gave me some advice about how to change my style. Before, I just talk less and say more. But it should be speak less hear more.

Chris, you are so eager to respond after the other person is done speaking that you begin speaking as soon as theyre done. Try letting an awkward three seconds go by between the time theyre done speaking, and the time you respond.

At first, I found it hard to adjust and implement this new strategy.

I found this advice from Amit to be very helpful.

I am still surprised at how often I get to the end of a sentence and my prospect will continue with their response. This is something that happens more than what feels natural.

And I have found that they are more likely to share information with me when the situation is not as dire.

The bottom line is that it takes discipline to develop listening in sales more and talking less. But with a little focus, you will be amazed by the results.

#3: Characterize Their Problem Better Than They Can Themselves

When you can describe your prospects problem more accurately than they can, they will automatically trust you and assume you know the best way to solve it.

When a prospect doesnt understand their needs, they will often have something that is bothering them but they can’t put their finger on it.

When you are able to articulate the problem they have been struggling with, it will help them find a solution.

I had a sales call with Gong, and I found that they did not value my offer because it didnt have enough base pay. This is why the offer was rejected.

Most of the sales managers I speak with, deep down, are afraid of having too many bad months in a row. They do deal reviews with their reps to try to stay on top of things, but they dont truly know whats going on in deals since they are blind to whats happening at the sales call-level. To what extent does this resonate with you?

If you can accurately and passionately describe their problem, they will be entranced on the other side of the phone.

Most people are not able to go beyond the surface of someone else’s life.

If you want to be the “one-eyed man in a land of blind people,” then go ahead and do it.

Understanding your buyers is a complex process that requires not only the work of market research, but also an understanding of how people think and what they want.

There is no shortcut.

#4: Ask Questions That Imply You are Aware of the Answer to Their Problem

This is a technique I also use.

When you ask a question that is spot on and taps into their problem, they will lean forward emotionally.

In order to motivate our salespeople, we have a few things in place here at Gong.

  • When is the last time your account executives forgot to hit “record” on a GoToMeeting?
  • Do you find it difficult to get recordings of your sales calls?
  • Have you ever considered what is happening on the front lines of your sales organization?

These questions are carefully chosen to help us find a solution.

The questions are not generic, but rather designed to see if the applicant has a personality that matches with what I am looking for.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? Iā€™d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.