What 500,000 Sales Calls Reveal About How Sales Reps Should Ask Questions

Sales Calls

chorusTrish Bertuzzi from the Bridge Group once told me, “a great marriage begins with the first date, and a quality sales process originates with the discovery call.”

A discovery call is a two-way call for the prospect to understand your solution and whether it can help them solve a real problem, and an opportunity for a sales rep to determine whether they should invest more time to develop the account. As a sales rep, time is your limiting resource.

A good discovery builds rapport, establishes trust, qualifies a prospect, surfaces pain, and arms you with the information you need to overcome the organizational inertia that might prevent a close.

If you could only look at one data point to evaluate whether a discovery call was effective, what would it be? Analyzing more than 500,000 calls with our artificial intelligence system, the answer appears to be asking Engaging Questions.

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Engaging Moments Drive Conversions.

Calls with two to five engaging questions are 60 percent more likely to advance.

Engaging questions are open-ended and framed so that prospects are encouraged to talk for an extended period of time compared to questions that only have a Yes / No answer.

An engaged prospect that shares information about their business and challenges is also an indicator they are open to a conversation.

Our analysis revealed that open questions like the following help break the ice and generate high prospect engagement:

  • What do your top performers do during sales calls that contribute to their high win rates?
  • “How do you currently ramp up new hires?“
  • “How would you evaluate a solution like ours?“
  • “What else is on your priority list for 2018?“

If you’re on a call and can’t get high prospect engagement through open-ended questions, think hard about putting more effort into the account.

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Questions Are Good, Interrogation Is Bad

Our data shows that engagement decreases when reps ask more than two questions per minute.

Engagement measurement is based on how long prospects respond to a question and how excited they are about it.

Managers describe this as “interrogating a potential customer.” and those questions are typically factual questions that may be better asked in writing in preparation of a call or by the Sales Development Rep when qualifying the prospect.

From Discovery to Conversion

The bottom line: After your next Discovery call, think back to the few questions that really got the prospect to open up and help you understand their business and challenges. Write them down and ask your colleagues to do the same.

What are the five Engaging Questions that will help you identify the opportunities and prospects you should invest your time?

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