Think about the amount of performance metrics and data that you have access to at any given moment. For salespeople, sales managers, sales leaders, and other business people, there is an enormous amount of metric; so much so that CRM systems and other organizational software are prioritized as one of the most important things that you can do for your business. But there is one very important thing that we’re not collecting data on: the conversation. In sales, the conversation has always been this black box where no one really knows what is going on. But now, with the advances of speech to text and AI technologies, we can analyze one of the most important pieces of selling. These insights can help to close the performance gap if we use the insights to change behavior through training and coaching.
Understanding how to use conversational insights to improve sales is all about noticing the gaps in the conversation, and where your sales conversations might be lacking, and using that information to change your behavior and become a better conversationalist. However, changing behavior is one of the hardest things to do. You can train people, give them the skills, and they can be super enthusiastic about learning, but embedding the information into their brain and applying it to work practices can be very difficult, and takes a lot of reinforcement. Positive behaviors are even more difficult to cement, because the brain is wired to purge that kind of content. Many salespeople, if asked what their biggest sale is, would perhaps have a vague idea of what it was and the details surrounding it. But if you asked them about the biggest sale that they lost, they’d likely be able to remember it in great detail. The brain remembers this kind of information because historically, we needed to remember the bad things (like the fact that sabertooth tigers don’t make good pets) so that we could avoid it in the future because some of these bad things were life-threatening. In today’s world, even though there are no sabertooth tigers, we still struggle to change behavior because our brain is still wired to purge the good and store the bad. The key to overcoming this is repetition, and continued practice.
Before you can change behavior, you have to identify what behaviors you want to change. Many salespeople are hesitant to change their behavior, especially when it comes to conversations because so much of their personality and unique selling style is wrapped up in the conversation. But identifying behaviors and changing them doesn’t mean that you have to read from a script, or have a robotic, boring structure to your sales calls. It’s more like playing jazz. You want to find 7 to 10 gaps in your conversation to improve, and then make sure you hit those points throughout the call. It doesn’t matter what order you do them in, or what you fill in the rest of the conversation with, the key is to change your conversation by identifying behaviors that are missing, and ensuring that you integrate them into the conversation. The rest of it is all up to you and how you improvise. The improvisational parts of the conversation is where your personality and intuition come into play, but if you hit on those certain behaviors, you have the structure and foundation of a great conversation.