Understanding is more important than metrics
Sellers are learning to love metrics. You just have to be careful not to love them
Let me give you an example. In any sales conversation with a buyer, such as
a phone call. video call or in-person meeting, it is considered bad form if the salesperson
monopolizes the conversation.
Based on metrics about the distribution of “talk time”
between the seller and the buyer on a call, the presumption of most sales managers is that
if a sales rep talks more than 50% of the time then they are exhibiting bad sales behavior.
In other words, the conventional wisdom is that the seller should talk less than the
Is that conventional wisdom right? Or, perhaps more to the point, is it asking
the right question?
Now if you believe the primary purpose of a sales conversation is
to learn about your buyer’s requirements to determine if they are a fit for your product,
then it stands to reason that the buyer should be doing most of the talking. After all, it
was Buddha who wisely said: “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.”
yourself this: why does a buyer take your call? Why does a buyer agree to talk with you?
Again, that is asking the wrong question. Ask yourself instead why it is that often a buyer
needs to talk with you.
It’s because there’s something they need to learn from you in
order to move forward with their buying process. It could be they need to learn your
product. It could be they need to better understand what your solution can do for them,
above and beyond whatever they’ve gleaned from the content you’ve provided them. It could be
they need your help to better understand how your solution can help them achieve their
specified outcomes. In short, buyers exchange information with you in order to learn and
So, instead of fixating on “talk time” in a call, what if you focused on
“learning time” instead? That’s fundamentally what’s happening in a sales conversation.
Either you’re learning about the buyer. Or they’re learning about you.
you could say that on your discovery calls that you’re only going to ask questions and
listen. But that would make for a bad discovery call. Because isn’t it also an understanding
call? And a value delivering call? And isn’t the buyer going to ask you to explain the
purpose behind some of your questions?
Keep in mind that in every conversation you have with a
buyer, regardless of the stage in your process where the opportunity sits, there are four
key responsibilities for the seller:
A successful sales interaction is measured by whether the buyer learned something that
enabled them to progress closer to making their purchase decision.
- Deepen your connection with your buyer(s.)
The greater the insight you have into
the persons involved with the decision, the better you’ll be able to understand
their motivations and aspirations. The deeper the buyer’s insight into you the more
likely you are to build critical trust with them. This means they’ll be asking you
the questions and requiring you to do the talking.
- Deepen your discovery.
Discovery is not a one and done activity. Every single
time you interact with a buyer you’re trying to learn something more about their
requirements and desired outcomes. Just like the announcement from flight attendants
to be careful opening the overhead bin after you land because “things may shift in
flight” so, too, does your buyer’s vision of what they can achieve “shift” during
their buying process as they educate themselves about their options.
- Deepen your understanding.
Understanding the buyer, and making sure that they
feel understood, is a key source of value for them. One of the great sources of
frustration that buyers report about their buying experiences is that sellers don’t
truly understand their needs and how to best help them achieve their desired
outcomes. But understanding is not based upon assumptions. Understanding has to be
confirmed. Which requires you to talk.
- Deepen the value you provide.
Every conversation you have with a buyer needs to
be a knowledge-based interaction that your buyers agree has value for them. Who has
that knowledge? You do. How do you transfer that knowledge to your buyers? By
29, 2020 Blog