When you're selling a product, the way you communicate - whether that's online or offline, indirectly or face to face - is crucial. Which is why we're thrilled to get some insight into the language that people use while having selling conversations from Chris Orlob, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io, a conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales treams. Gong records, transcribes, and analyzes every sales call so you can drive sales effectiveness, and figure out what’s working and what’s not. Here Chris shares with us five key lessons that their research has discovered.

Startup sales can be tough. You’re likely trying to sell an unproven product into a market that meets it with brutal skepticism. I’ve been there. Selling can be so painful that on your worst days, you secretly hope the prospect just doesn’t even show up to the sales call so you don’t have to deal with it.

But selling doesn’t have to be like this. Many startup leaders and founders don’t have years and years of sales experience to make this process easier for them. Fortunately, they don’t have to.

5 data-driven sales techniques for startups - Chris Orlob

At Gong.io, we’ve analyzed nearly one million B2B sales call recordings with machine learning and natural language processing to reveal what works, and what doesn’t work during sales conversations. So whether you’re a technical co-founder trying to wrap your head around selling, or you have some sales experience under your belt, here are five data-validated sales best practices to help you sell more for your startup.

1. Establish value before you bring up price

It’s one of the cardinal rules of sales: Only discuss pricing after the prospect understands the value of your solution. Studies show people use cost to gauge quality; in other words, they’re far likelier to assume an expensive product is higher-quality than an inexpensive one. That means bringing up price early in your sales call will lead the buyer to believe A) your product is out of their reach or B) it’s too cheap to do the job. Neither helps your chances of winning the deal.

5 data-driven sales techniques for startups - Chris Orlob

Gong’s research underscores this idea. Top-selling reps consistently “talk price” during the 38 - 46 minute window of their sales conversations — after they’ve had the chance to establish ROI. Average performers are much less likely to discuss pricing at this point.

The takeaway is, don’t jump the gun. If you want your startup to get the business, delay the pricing conversation until later on the call.

2. Get your co-founder on the sales call

Selling shouldn’t be a solo sport. After analyzing 21,392 B2B sales opportunities, we found there’s a staggering 258% higher probability of closing the deal when two-plus people from the seller’s organization were on the call.

5 data-driven sales techniques for startups - Chris Orlob

It makes sense, as bringing multiple people to the meeting shows a greater level of commitment and service. This is especially useful for startups. You’re probably competing with more established and resourced companies, so highlighting the benefits of your size (more responsive, invested, etc.) will help convince buyers to bet on you.

Next time you’re working a promising deal, ask your cofounder, technical director, or other relevant stakeholder to along. (Just don’t invite them to the discovery call — that’s the only stage of the sales process where heaving multiple participants may actually harm your chances of winning the deal.)

3. Use powerful language

It turns out that there are magic words. An analysis of 519,000-plus sales calls identified seven words that the most successful reps use again and again on their sales calls.

Here they are:

  • “Imagine”: This helps the prospect visualize how much easier, better, more productive, etc. their life will be with your product.

  • Action verbs: These give the buyer clear context around what your product enables them to do.

  • “Successful”: Thinking about “success” may make your prospect more confident in your solution.

  • "Fair”: Use this word sparingly to get you and your prospect on the same page.

  • The prospect’s name: Everyone loves the sound of their own name.

  • "Decisive language: Words like “certainly” and “definitely” reassure the buyer and project confidence.

  • “Client” (not “customer”): While “customer” sounds a little mercenary, “client” evokes feelings of trust.

4. Leave time for a discussion of next steps

If you always struggle to get through everything on the agenda before time is up, bad news: Demos that lead to deals spend 12.7% more time on “next steps” than unsuccessful ones. On average, four minutes of winning demos are devoted to planning what comes next. That’s probably because getting your prospect to commit to a course of action is far more important than rushing through one last feature.

So shorten your pitch, and get to the next steps portion of the call while there’s still plenty of time (and they’re not anxiously thinking about their next meeting).

5. Listen more

Your sales conversations shouldn’t sound like monologues. They should sound like two-way dialogues: You talk for a little bit, the buyer responds, you ask a follow-up question, they answer, and so on.

Our analysis of sales discovery calls revealed top-performing reps spend around 46% of the time talking and 54% listening. Average reps, in comparison, spend 68% of the time talking, while the worst-performing ones spend 72% of the time talking.

5 data-driven sales techniques for startups - Chris Orlob

Not only are prospects turned off by salespeople who drone on and on, they also end up providing less information about their company, situation, and needs. That means the rep has a harder time developing a business case. If you want to flip the script, begin asking more questions.


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