I recently came across an article that described the analysis of 1,000,000 sales calls by some new Artificial Intelligence technology.  Recording business conversations is not unusual – How many times have you heard “This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes”?  In 2004 I led a worldwide customer service organization of over 100 reps across 5 locations.  We occasionally reviewed call recordings to assess rep’s levels of empathy, politeness and ability to diagnose the root cause of an issue.  People don’t’ call customer service when they are happy.  I was always amazed at the patience and skills of my reps.  Some days even I wanted to scream RTFM into the phone.  Recording and analyzing software sales calls is new and fascinating.

Openview Labs, the research arm of Openview Partners – a growth and expansion stage VC — published the article.  Gong.io is conversation intelligence software for sales teams that uses AI to record, transcribe, and analyze sales conversations recently completed an acquisition that extended their coverage from calls to emails and texts as well.  Gong.io analyzed 1,000,000 sales calls between B2B salespeople and buyers and came up with some fascinating results.

There was little difference in closing sales calls between closing sales calls, but huge differences amongst discovery calls.  One metric is the ratio of time reps spent talking versus listening:

talk listen ratio sales calls

This trend was further reinforced by looking at the difference between top and low performing reps:


Another interesting fact was when top performing reps talked about price vs low performing reps:


Another metric involves discussing competitors early in the sales cycle versus at the end.

competitor mentions

“If you discuss your competitors early on, you have the opportunity to set the rules of the game in your favor. But when you’re trying to convince your buyer away from the competition at the final hour, your efforts are futile. You’ve already missed your chance.”

Another key metric is when the prospect discusses what makes the nervous about making the buying decision:


This data is very interesting but there are a lot of hurdles to applying it in your situation.  Gong.io is not the only player in this space.  There are several others like Chorus.ai, One hurdle is cost – anywhere from $800 to $1,000 a seat/year.  The benefits of an effectively implementing a solution like this are large.  Perhaps the biggest challenge is cultural.  Another is culture.  Salespeople do not enjoy having every aspect of their work inspected and graded.  CRM adoption like SalesForce is tough.  I have managed several sales teams leveraging CRM technology like SalesForce.  I remember one low performing rep boasting during a weekly review that he had completed 108 SalesForce actions in the past week.  No new lead, no pipeline growth, no opportunity progression, and no closed deals.  I was not impressed.

Like it or not, the power of AI-enabled technology to study and improve sales performance is here and readily available.  Effective sales teams are going to leverage it to win more deals and pummel the competition.  The question is will your team be the ones wielding the hammer or will you be the stone that gets pummeled.

Also published on Medium.

By John Mecke

John is a 25 year veteran of the enterprise technology market. He has led six global product management organizations for three public companies and three private equity-backed firms. He played a key role in delivering a $115 million dividend for his private equity backers – a 2.8x return in less than three years. He has led five acquisitions for a total consideration of over $175 million. He has led eight divestitures for a total consideration of $24.5 million in cash. John regularly blogs about product management and mergers/acquisitions.