Guest Post by Chris Orlob
You’d be surprised by how many major breakthroughs we take for granted today that were completely discovered by accident. From gunpowder to post-its, many discoveries happen while trying to find something entirely different.
And that’s exactly how we uncovered the single best closing question to use in sales.
Earlier this year, we analyzed one million sales calls with machine learning to determine if the phrase “Does that make sense?” has a positive correlation with negative sales outcomes as traditional sales logic has long-held. The data showed that using the phrase actually had little-to-no impact on close rates, but can result in a small increase in conversion rates from stage to stage.
However, while we analyzed the data, an interesting trend appeared that was more significant than the original question we sought to answer.
We discovered that that top reps— those in the top 10% of the performance rings at their company— use a very specific variation of the question on a majority of their sales calls, and at a very specific time.
The phrase they use is “Does it make sense to _____?”
Superstar salespeople use this language twice as often as “average” reps, and 3x as often as “low performing reps” (those in the bottom 20% of the leaderboard).
And top performers are very strategic about when and where they deploy this phrase. We found that they use the phrase “Does it make sense to ________?” most often during two specific topics of conversation:
- Agenda Setting
- Next steps
The average occurrences per hour during other topics for these reps is 1.14, so you can see usage during agenda setting and next steps is well above normal.
So, why are top performers seeing so much success when they use this phrase? How does a question that most sales reps are warned never to use become such a useful tool for top performers?
The answer lies in simple human psychology.
As we’ve seen before, most sales reps treat their calls like monologues more than dialogues, speaking far more than they listen. This trait hurts them in the long run because it doesn’t allow their prospect to play an active role in the process. If the prospect is not engaged and involved, they’re less likely to be responsive or take actions that push a deal forward.
Top performers bring their prospects into the process right away by simply using the phrase “Does it make sense to _____?”
Does it make sense to cover these areas on this call? Does it make sense to follow up next week? Every variation of this question works to engage a prospect and get them saying “yes” to the process. They’re no longer a passive party — they’ve been asked for their input and are actively engaging in the call. They’re responsible for the direction and steps of the sales process.
While getting a prospect’s buy-in is key, asking “Does it make sense to _____?” serves another important purpose as well: getting a yes. There are a number of psychological principles every sales reps should know, and commitment and consistency are near the top of that list. In the simplest terms, the principle states that we, as humans, will act in ways that we view as consistent with our past actions. We’ve evolved to hate inconsistency and will go to great lengths to avoid any hypocrisy (real or imagined) in our actions.
This is a handy bit of information to have for sales reps and is the framework behind the tactic of getting a prospect to say “yes” early and often. Using the phrase “Does it make sense to _____?” is an easy way to get prospects to say “yes” and actively move the sales process forward. The more sales reps can reinforce this buy-in as a deal progresses, the more momentum they’ll have as they move towards a closed deal.
So, before you jump on your next sales call, think about using some of that self control you’ve been dedicating to not saying “Does that makes sense?” and use it toward the variation “Does it make sense to _____?” at the start and end of your calls.
The numbers and science don’t lie. Using this one little phrase will have a big impact on your sales success.
Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io. – the #1 conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams. Gong helps you convert more of your pipeline into revenue by shining the light on your sales conversations. It records, transcribes, and analyzes every sales call so you can drive sales effectiveness, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and ramp new hires faster.