How To Sell More Using DATA

Amit Bendov is the CEO and founder of Gong.io, a company that analyzes sales conversations using AI. to improve sales automations. In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Amit explains how we can use data collected by Gong.io to build better relationships and ultimately win more business with our prospects.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Amit Bendov
CEO and Founder of Gong.io

Resources:

Transcript

Speaker 1:

The biggest problem is that a lot of the things that we have been taught are true, but people aren't practising them.

 

Speaker 1:

The star sales people spoke about the company much less than the new hire. By and large more questions means more business.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, I am Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast. On today's show we have Amit Bendov. He is the co-founder and CEO of gong.io. On today's show we're diving into data. Huge amount of sales call data, what it means for you, best practise, what you should be doing, what you shouldn't be doing, and a whole lot more. We even dive into whether AI is going to take over sales roles and whether AI is going to take over the whole planet and screw it up as we know it. So with that all said, let's jump right in.

 

Gong.io in a Nutshell · [00:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Without this being a huge adverse right at the beginning of the show, tell us a little bit about gong.io. What you do, what data you collect, how the data's processed in a nutshell, and then we'll come onto how we can take some actionable insights and actionable steps from that data.

 

Speaker 1:

So gong is an AI system that helps sales people have better conversation with customers that ultimately leads to more closed deals and less frustration. The way that it does that, it analyses the sales conversation, mostly spoken conversations. It records, transcribes, and then analyses the calls, finds patterns like what questions are being asked, what objections are being handled and hundreds of parameters on every call. And then it starts to identifying the patterns that characterise the more successful calls. And then it starts to coach the salespeople how they can improve their performance by adopting some of the best practises. We're now approaching close to a hundred thousand sales calls per week. Just think about the amounts of data and what you can learn from it. It's incredible. And those are the insight that we share with our user community.

 

What the Data From Gong.io Reveals About Salespeople · [02:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So at a high level before we perhaps get into some specifics here, is the data you're collecting, does it suggest that salespeople are doing it wrong? That there's some fundamental things that salespeople are screwing up on or does it suggest that all the things that we've been taught in sales training for the past 20 years that all works and we should just be doing that?

 

“I'd say the biggest problem is that a lot of the things that we have been taught are true but people aren't practising them.” – Amit Bendov · [02:26] 

 

Speaker 1:

Well, it's a mixed bag. I'd say the biggest problems that a lot of the things that we have been taught are true but people aren't practising them. So when I started my sales career, I was taught by one of my mentors that you have two ears and one mouth and that should be the listen to talk ratio on calls. It turns out, analysing close to a million calls, that actually the reality isn't too far, the optimal ratio is about 46% talk versus listen. But a lot of sales people, especially if they're new, either new in their career or new at a job, would speak as easily as much as 85% totally being unaware.

 

Most Salespeople Are Unaware That They Talk More Than They Listen. And That’s a Problem · [03:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Is this something that when you say unaware, we are conscious that we should be listening for more than we're talking, but we don't do it, or is it that we just kind of get lost in the moment and we get wrapped up and we just dive in.

 

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's just self-awareness. A lot of it has to do with stress, eagerness, not thinking, and it's hard to know. What's your clock percentage right now, Will? It's hard to know without action measurement. So what professional sports teams do, they have the game tape and they have game stats, right? I think in the UK it's like footballers, right? How many kilometres do they run? If it's like 9.2 or 9.8 per game, right? It's hard to tell unless you have a system that measures that. We might think that we run 10K, but we only run 8, right? It's hard to measure so many things. There are lots of nuances. There are dozens of parameters that make a difference. It's just hard for anyone to be self aware and monitor as those dozens of parameters.

 

How Salespeople React When They See Data From Gong.io About Their Sales Conversations · [04:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So I want to get into some of these parameters, the questions that we should be asking, how long a call should be, things like this in a second. But this is interesting to me. With that said, do you find that sales people, when they get the feedback from gong.io, when they get the feedback from the sales manager, perhaps on the conversations that have been going on, they go, “That wasn't me. That can't be true. That isn't right.” Because they're so unaware of what's going on in these calls?

 

“A lot of people don't like to hear their own voice when it's being recorded just because it sounds different and then you tend to also notice all the little flaws, like the word wasn't perfect or this answer was a bit too long. So it is a little uncomfortable.” – Amit Bendov · [04:54] 

 

Speaker 1:

First, there are a few interesting phenomenons. A lot of people don't like to hear their own voice when it's being recorded just because it sounds different and then you tend to also notice all the little flaws, like the word wasn't perfect or this answer was a bit too long. So it is a little uncomfortable. Most people are pretty good-spirited about it. And so, “I can't believe that I spoke so much.”

 

“If you want to be a top athlete you have to know. The truth is there. You can know about it and do something about it or not know.” – Amit Bendov · [05:20] 

 

Speaker 1:

If you want to be a top athlete you have to know. The truth is there. You can know about it and do something about it or not know. So most salespeople rave about the system.

 

Common Trends in Most Salespeople’s Sales Conversations · [05:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Are there any trends then that stand out, whether that be call length, whether that be number of questions asked, or I guess even types or questions asked or trending of questions? Is there anything that we should definitely cover that is kind of a big bang for buck that has a big leverage point for the audience?

 

“By and large, more questions means more business. So asking more questions is good practise, and that’s what some of the star salespeople do. Second, there's almost like an anti-pattern that we're seeing. If you front load a lot of the questions, that actually hurts your win rate.” – Amit Bendov · [06:18] 

 

Speaker 1:

I'll say it depends. There's no one answer, it depends. I'll say like a few general truths, but it depends on your company, the situation, the type of call. Is this an introductory call or is it a negotiation call? Is this an outbound prospecting or an inbound fulfilment call? So there's no one number. I can say a few things that are true. By and large, more questions means more business so asking more questions, the good practise that what some of the star sales people do. Second, there's almost like an anti-pattern that we're seeing. If you front load a lot of the questions that actually hurts your win rate. So going through questionnaires like full thing, like all the qualification care of that's a pretty annoying situation.

 

Speaker 1:

What you see that with the professional sales people, the questions are spread throughout the call and it's not just front loaded. For everything I'm going to say right now, there are lots of resources on our website. If you go to gong.io/research there are dozens of tidbits and data points about questions, about objections handling, and more than I can remember right now, and more than we can discuss, and they're all available for free.

 

Top Traits That Define a Star Salesperson According to Data From Gong.io · [07:32] 

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I'll link to all those over at salesman.org. So you mentioned the word star salesperson. When you have the data of an organisation, if it's so kind of different from call to call from situation to situation, from product to product, if you look at a specific organisation and the data within there, do you have trends within those as you use star salespeople, or again, can you be a star salesperson and do things differently to another star salesperson within the data?

 

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely. So you can see trending within the organisation. Who's trending up, who's trending down or on subject matter. Sometimes the company will change the message or there is the new product being introduced so you can see how that's trending as a percentage of the conversations. But also the differences between the people. If you take the top 5% people in your company and you start analysing, what is it that they're doing differently versus the other 95%? And you pick the five or 10 most impactful differences you could kind of level the playing ground. Just educate everybody in some of the best practises. They may not be the rock star, but you can improve performance substantially if you focus on the middle of the pack.

 

“In one company that we've worked with, we've noticed that there's a big difference between how much the star people talk about their company. We saw that the star sales people spoke about the company much less than the new hire. Now the speculation is that the new hires aren't as confident as salespeople like some of the veterans. They use the power of the brand to do the selling for them versus the veterans who are more relaxed, ask good questions, discover the customer's problem and solve it and use their salesmanship versus the power of the brand to win more deals.” – Amit Bendov · [09:02] 

 

Speaker 1:

There are lots of patterns and it depends on the company but for example, one company that we've worked with, we've noticed that there's a big difference between how much the star people talk about their company who we are and we're the best things in slice bread, and we have offices in the 122 locations and yada, yada, all those things. So we saw that the star sales people spoke about the company much less than the new hire.

 

Speaker 1:

Now what we show and what you find is correlation, it's not necessarily causation, so we can't say it's because, but the speculation is that because the new hires aren't as confident as salespeople, some of the veterans, they use the power of the brand to do the selling for them versus the veterans, they are a more relaxed, ask good question, discover the customer's problem and solve it and use their salesmanship versus the power of the brand to win more deals.

 

How Gong.io Measures Things Like Being Relaxed on a Call · [10:11]

 

Will Barron:

This is fascinating to me. How do you measure things like being relaxed on a call? How do you measure things like, because what you're describing here, it seems like is the ability to build rapport and ask questions versus go blah, blah, blah, blah, pitch product, and just spam someone down the phone. How do you measure these things if you can, and how do you differentiate between someone who's good at building a rapport, for example, and is relaxed on the phone call, and someone who is stressed, sweating and is a total mess and clearly that comes across to the customer?

 

“A good practise is to let the customer finish, count to three, and then respond. The combinations of long monologues, lack of patience, interruptions, or customers are less than engaged are usually indicative of stressful situations.” – Amit Bendov · [11:07] 

 

Speaker 1:

There's no stress factor, but there are a lot of parameters that might indicate that stress is an issue. There are several dozens of parameters about the voice metrics. For example, how long are your monologues? We measure how much time do you speak without a pause versus second interruptions. Three, patience. A good practise is let the customer finish, count to three, and then respond. We measure it. You wait one second, half a second or negative which you don't even let them finish. The combinations of long monologues, lack of patience and interrupts, and customers less than engaged are usually indicative of stressful situation.

 

Speaker 1:

We also measure the customer sentiment. They're tied together. It's kinda like a chicken and egg. A customer with negative sentiments does cause more stress. Usually after objections, you could see with the less experienced sales people much longer monologues because they get defensive.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Okay.

 

Speaker 1:

So it's hard to say if it's a negative sentiment that is causing the stress or the stress is causing the negative sentiment. It like a tanger, right? They both miss the match.

 

The Difference Between the Top and Average Salespeople in the Number of Objections They Face and How They Handle It · [12:26] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. I've got so many questions on this, and I appreciate, and for the audience, we've not prepped before this. I've throwing a lot at you so I apologise for that but I'm going to continue doing it. Is there a difference between the top salespeople and middle of the pack or lower the pack salespeople with the number of objections that they get? Are they getting the same number of objections, but the top salespeople will be able to break through them or do the top salespeople get less objections? How does that look?

 

Speaker 1:

Definitely much fewer objections. I don't have the numbers in front of me right now but it's all on the blog. Definitely the top salespeople get fewer objections and their handling is actually very different than the [inaudible 00:12:58] sales people.

 

Will Barron:

How does that look? How do they handle it different?

 

“One of the best objection handling techniques we see is patience. Don't jump, ask a question or just pause. Just wait. We call it the socially awkward silence technique. Customer says, “Well, I don't think we can afford this. It's way more than I thought.” And a lot of the sales people just jump, “Yeah, but it's an incredible deal and we're the best thing since sliced bread.” Versus a good response would be to say absolutely nothing. Just sit back, wait. It gets a little awkward and then the customer says, “But maybe if we do it now…” They'll start handling their own objections. Sometimes, not always but a good tactic would be to wait. But definitely there's a clear difference that the best sales people actually do less. They get fewer objections and when they handle them, it's much more subtle. They wait, they might ask the questions or let the customer handle the objections on their own.” – Amit Bendov · [13:10] 

 

Speaker 1:

They say less. One of the best objection handling… So we see patience, don't jump, ask a question or just pause. Just wait. We call it the socially awkward silence technique. Customer says, “Well, I don't think we can afford this. It's like way more than I thought.” And a lot of the sales people just jump, “Yeah, but it's an incredible deal and we're the best thing since sliced bread, and then they go on and on and on and on versus a good response would be, say absolutely nothing. Just sit back, wait. It gets a little awkward and then the customer says, “But maybe if we do it now…” They'll start handling their own objections. Sometimes not always but a good tactic would be to wait, but definitely there's a clear difference that the best sales people actually do less. They get fewer objections and when they handle them, it's much more subtle. They wait, they might ask the questions or let the customer handle the objections on their own.

 

Proven Objection Handling Techniques · [14:40] 

 

Will Barron:

I love this. That's super practical advice. I never really thought about it that way around that you can pull techniques from the data as opposed just give feedback on the right or wrong that you're doing. Are there any other standout techniques before we jump into the future of AI and the future of everything that you're doing over at gong.io, are there other techniques that come to mind? Are there any other strategies that the data shows are useful and are effective?

 

“Every sales book will tell you that you should focus on value but the reality is that almost all salespeople just don't do it. They just lack self awareness, lack practise, and lack of visibility.” – Amit Bendov · [15:33] 

 

Speaker 1:

There're literally dozens but here are a few. First, the top sales people tend to discuss pricing later in a call a little bit, just to mention early on, versus discuss it early on, do more business discovery, business related conversation versus features and technicalities. Now we all know that, we've all been taught that, right? This is not a shocking revelation. Every sales book will tell you that you should focus on value but the reality is that all of sales people just don't do it. Just lack of self awareness, lack of practise and lack of visibility. There's no game tape. There's no game stats. That's a very clear pattern that differentiate the top sales people from everyone else.

 

Business Versus Non-Business Conversation: What Should Salespeople Focus on at the Beginning of a Sales Conversation? · [16:01] 

 

Will Barron:

And final one, I'm going to quiz you on, is there a ratio between amount of business conversation versus rapport building conversation or non-business conversation. I have trouble with this sometimes myself. I'll be either on a call or I'll be getting sold to, for whatever reason, and some people pull it off amazingly. They're asking about the GTR on my desk. They're quizzing me on one thing. Then the conversation naturally goes to a sale, to a nice pleasant business conversation. Other times people try and do that, it's really freaking awkward. They take can up more of my time, the sucking value from me by having a weird conversation that they've probably been told to do rather than kind of practised and have built this skill of doing it. So I'm interested, is the data on whether we should jump straight into business or whether we should butter them up a little bit first and make that relationship a bit stronger before we talk about the finances and anything else as well?

 

Speaker 1:

Now I'm concerned because I need to ask you about the mug and the car and the stupid… But the recent number, I don't remember on top of my head, so when we said non-business conversation, there are three parts. What I meant is more like features like we are like GTX technology that is like three times faster and all of these things versus like we consume less energy. More of the business conversations. But there's also this small talk at the beginning of the call, rapport building. And there is a number there. I think it's like two minutes is good. You want to have some of that, but not a lot more. Most professional people they'll have a little bit early on and then go straight to business.

 

Will Barron:

Cool. So I guess it's a balance of being polite-

 

Speaker 1:

The numbers are on our research lab. So again, go to our site, go to the research section, it's there. I don't remember off the top of my head what's the sweet spot. And again, I should actually qualify, this is true across a lot of calls. Your mileage may vary, right? What's right for you isn't necessarily right for everybody. That means there's some generalities out there.

 

How Long Before AI Takes Over the Sales Industry · [18:15]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So next up and where we'll end the show here is, the future of AI. We've covered this on the show a couple of times, but I know you guys have actual data on this. You are pushing it. It is the business, I guess. First one, how long before, and I know you are not necessarily pushing for this specifically, but how long before all the SDRs that listen to the show are out of a job because using voice synthesis, clearly Siri sounds ridiculous, doesn't sound like an actual person so there's some work to do on this, but how long before [inaudible 00:18:46] can use all this data, can make the perfect phone call, the person on the other end either doesn't know that it's a robot or they don't care, how long before that, if it ever will happen, how long before that happens?

 

Speaker 1:

I think we're very far from that if at all and I don't think that the idea is to replace sales people. I think you can automate a lot of the stuff that they hate doing anyway, right? Who likes dialling, right? Who likes leaving voicemails? Who likes navigating the IVR menu and finding the extension numbers? There are a lot of things that you can do that will allow sales people to be more productive and focused on the quality conversations that are nuanced and at a high level. But if all you're doing just hitting numbers then you're not doing high value work.

 

Why Amit Believes We Still Have a Long Way To Go Before AI Replaces Salespeople · [19:42] 

 

Will Barron:

And why is this so far off? Is it the consultative element to it? Is that difficult to process and emulates using computer software?

 

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that is hard. It's not impossible that one day it'll happen but those discussion very human and I think frankly the best conversation are an enjoyable experience. Buyers, right? I mean, we're having a good conversation versus I'm being sold to. I think the human touch is important. At least at this point. Maybe like in 10 years computers can have better conversation but for now for things that are, again, for things that are not very repeatable, that are one off, especially in B2B, people do not buy the same product. They buy solutions to different problems that they have and they're all different. That's why the conversation is important versus just an automated system that provides some canned responses.

 

Why the Human Element is a Salesperson’s Competitive Advantage in B2B Sales ·  [20:55]

 

Will Barron:

Is this then our competitive advantage as B2B salespeople, because we're competing against marketing optimizer automation, we're competing against big data and free information on the websites of whatever company we're trying to get in touch with or trying to buy from us, is the ability to have a consultive phone call in person meeting, whatever it is, and add value by being, this sounds ridiculous and it might sound even more ridiculous in 10 years time, but is the value that we're giving that we can actually have an interesting conversation with someone? Is that half the value versus just the number and the data and the facilitation of a deal?

 

“I don't think sales people are competing with websites or marketing automation. These are things that are actually getting off your plate. You're getting the core of the issues, being consultative, solving problems, providing customers with information and valuable advice. Why would you want to deal with all the little emails and the nudging and the little things, right? It just makes you more productive. You can focus on the core and not on things that are technicalities.” – Amit Bendov · [21:33] 

 

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I don't think sales people are competing with websites or marketing automation. These are things that are actually getting off your plate. You're getting the core of the issues, being consultative, solving problems, providing customer the information and valuable advice. Why would you want to deal with all the little emails and the nudging and little things, right? It just makes you more productive. You can focus on the core and not on things that are technicalities.

 

When Should We Start Being Worried About AI? · [22:06] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Final one on this and I think you've got some insights for this I'm sure. This has nothing to do with sales, this is just to stroke my own interest into and the audience here. When should we be worried about AI in the business world, in just the socioeconomic world, just in general? Because I don't even know if it will ever truly exist, you can inform me on that but, how far off until we need to actually be nervous about AI and what it brings to the table?

 

Speaker 1:

We shouldn't be nervous. We should be excited about AI. This is a change in historical dimensions like we haven't seen before. It starts in new chapter in human history. As always like any technology can be used like in phenomenal ways like improving our health or lives or wellbeing or in destructive way. Think about nuclear energy, could be used in a number of ways to save the energy problem or to destroy the world. Let's hope for the best. But I don't think we should be worried.

 

Amit’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [23:20] 

 

Will Barron:

You're not filling me with confidence when you use the word hope but we'll leave it at that. We'll leave it. Okay. I've got one final question asked of others on the show and that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, just before we click record, we were discussing your younger days working as a sales professional, what's one piece of advice you'd give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Speaker 1:

Chill out, relax, enjoy the conversation. It's just between two people, just have a regular conversation. Don't try to sell. Just relax, enjoy, converts.

 

Why You Need to Chill Out, Relax and Just Enjoy Every Sales Conversation Pressure Free · [24:10]

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you one final thing on this because I agree, I was far more stressy in my sales role in medical device sales than I am now. I've got a lot more hats on and the company elements of it, selling the ad space, the production, and I'm far more chilled out and I feel more in control and it's a mindset shift as opposed to anything else because I was way more secure in a job than I am as an entrepreneur and probably always will be. How did you come to that conclusion and how would you advise a 23, 24, 25 year old who's in field sales driving like a [inaudible 00:24:26] like I was, to embrace it and to enjoy it more?

 

Speaker 1:

Well, we got those insights when I started seeing the data patterns from gong, when I did a good body of calls and we saw the behaviours that were all taught aren't good for you, but we're still all doing them. We started looking at the root causes and we see a lot of it is stress, over-eagerness, anxiety that they're not going to buy from me or buy from… It's a very stressful situation but that actually does the opposite. So relaxing is like the best way. Just have a conversation, when you're having a four minute monologue it's usually a response. I can almost guarantee that it's a response to some kind of an objection or something negative that was said and it completely changes the course of the conversation and it doesn't get any better. So if I could distil it, just chill out.

 

Parting Thoughts · [25:30]

 

Will Barron:

Amazing that'd be the title of this show or the subtitle. AI isn't going to take over the world. Just chill out. And with that, tell us a little bit more where we can find, I guess gong.io for anyone who hasn't clicked the URL that I've been saying repeatedly throughout the show and tell us where we can find that a little bit more about you as well, mate.

 

Speaker 1:

You can find me on LinkedIn. My name is Amit Bendov. There aren't a lot of us out there at gong and you could reach out, connect me, I'm pretty responsive. Again, the research section has a tonne of resources. They're great.

 

Will Barron:

I'll link to all that and some of the blog posts as well that go back over the data that we talked about. Today's episode [inaudible 00:26:14] over at salesman.org. And with that, Amit I want to thank you for your time and I've given you a bit of a grilling today so I appreciate that mate. I have not prepared these questions beforehand and that's kind of how these conversations go and their better off for that. So I appreciate that. And I want to thank you for joining us on the salesman podcast.

 

Speaker 1:

Hey, thanks for having me. My pleasure.

Table of contents
Get your free book today:
Untitled-4
Selling Made Simple
Find and close more sales, like clockwork, using 15 proven, step-by-step frameworks.
100% Free sales skill quiz:
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sellers?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Don't get left behind.
illustration-web-4 1
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sales people?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1