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Here are the 7 BEST Data-Backed Sales Tips of 2019

Gong Labs Devin Reed December 19, 2019

This article is part of the Gong Labs series, where I publish findings from our data research team. We analyze sales conversations and deals using AI, then share the results to help you win more deals. Follow me to read upcoming research.

There’s no shortage of sales tips online.

In fact, Google returns 1,370,000,000 results when you search “sales tips”.

Yeah. That’s 1.37 BILLION articles.

Some of those results are Gong’s articles, and what sets them apart is our focus on data-backed sales tips. Toss anecdotes and opinions out the window and let data tell the REAL story.

As you know, Gong lives — check that, thrives — on (big) data. It’s our lifeblood.

So when we share an article that includes the “7 best data-backed sales tips,” we mean business.

But before we continue …

Where Does Gong’s Data Come From?

We analyze sales interactions from our product users (anonymized, of course). That’s everything captured using Gong during web conference meetings, phone calls, and emails. Then we look for patterns to see how they impact deal success.

This is Revenue Intelligence in action, and it’s the new way of operating based on customer reality – not opinions.

So if you’re looking for the best data-backed tips to improve sales performance, let’s dive in with Tip #1.

(In a rush? Want all the tips in one easy-to-find-and-use location? Download our 2019 Sales Tips Cheat Sheet.)

Sales Tip #1: Don’t Use ROI to Persuade. Use Before/After Stories.

Presenting ROI to your customers awakens the wrong part of their brains.

Your goal as a seller is to push the right buttons in their emotional brain. That’s where buying decisions happen.

When you calculate ROI, you stimulate the logical brain.

But wait, logic’s important, right? Of course it is… once your future customer is already emotionally “sold.” Logic helps them rationalize their decision as “good business.”

A graph showing best sales practices: the correlation between ROI and losing deals.

As you see above, presenting ROI at any point in your sales process correlates with a 27% drop in close rates.

What should you do instead? Tell a before-and-after customer story. This neutralizes your buyer’s logical brain and engages its emotional side. Read the full analysis in ROI is Dead. Great People Are Now Doing This Instead. 

REMEMBER: People buy on emotion and justify with logic.

Sales Tip #2: Stop Using Enterprise Logos

You’re dropping logos like dimes. You’re feeling great. Marketing has given you killer case studies. 

Then the VP of your next big deal shakes her head and says, “But we’re nothing like [enter biggest logo you’ve landed].”

Ugh. Deal. Dead

Here’s why that happened (steady yourself for some bad news, my friend): Using social proof techniques during early-stage calls plummets eventual close rates by 47%.

A graph showing sales best practices: Social proof techniques during early-stage calls plummets eventual close rates.

It’s painful, but true. Social proof can backfire if you don’t use it properly.

Want to learn how to increase sales by using social proof the right way? Head over to How to Use Social Proof to Close More Deals.

Sales Tip #3: Respond to Objections with Questions

Nobody likes being told no.

Objections are tough. Buyers’ objections can throw salespeople off their game. They might even panic over the unexpected conversational redirect. 

Your job as a salesperson is to be in control of the conversation. And if there’s one part of the discussion you’ll want to steer with a strong arm, it’s objection handling.

The best way to do that?

Respond to objections by asking questions. 

According to our data, it’s one of the most effective objection handling techniques.

Our analysis shows that top reps ask questions 54.3% of the time when they hear an objection, compared with only 31% for average sales reps:

A graph showing sales best practices: Respond to objections with questions.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in the 54.3% camp.

This is just one of the 7 Tips for Insanely Persuasive Demos you should read about. (Yes, we’ve gone meta and shared a post with 7 tips inside a post with 7 tips.)

Prefer all 7 tips in one easy-to-find-and-use location? Download the 2019 Sales Tips Cheat Sheet.)

Sales Tip #4: Use Email Velocity in Your Deal Forecasting

We’re not going to bury the lede in this tip. 

The best indicator of whether your deal will close is email velocity.

Put another way, the number of emails exchanged between a sales rep and a prospect over a given period of time (aka, “email velocity”) is the best indicator of whether your deal will close or not.

Here’s what we found when we analyzed more than 500,000 emails sent during sales opportunities:

A graph showing sales best practices: Increased email velocity leads to more deals.

Seems simple and straightforward, right?


There’s one more detail that makes all the difference – that’s how often your prospect emails you. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as sending your prospect a daily email then waiting for a signature (though that would be sweet).

Get the full scoop on email velocity and how to use it to improve sales forecasting here: #1 Indicator That Your Deal Will Close.

Sales Tip #5: Include AT LEAST 3 Stakeholders in Your Deals

Car insurance? Check.

Health insurance? Check.

Home insurance? Check.

One type of insurance you don’t have — and the one that’s most critical for salespeople — is deal insurance.

As it turns out, deal insurance is right at your fingertips. We call it multi-threading, a simple solution that gets incredible results. 

What is multi-threading?

Simply put: Multi-threading is building relationships with multiple stakeholders within your deal.

Winning deals have (on average) at least 3 people from the buyer’s side participate in meetings. That’s true across the sales cycle (phone/web conferencing):

A graph showing sales best practices: Include multiple stakeholders in your deals.

Additionally, winning deals (on average) involve 8 points of contact via email. Losing deals only make it to 3 points of contact via email:

A graph showing best sales practices: High email engagement leads to more closed-won opportunities.

Multi-threading is necessary when it comes to improving your sales process. But there’s more here than we have room for in this article! Be sure to check out An Army of Champions is a MUST, And Now There’s Data To Prove It to learn how multi-threading helps you win (and win and win).


Sales Tip #6: Discuss Your Competitors Early

The first rule of Fight Club SELLING is this: Different strategies win in different competitive scenarios.

The skill does not lie in knowing the strategies; it lies in knowing which strategies to apply to which situations.

We looked at the impact of competitor discussions in 24,077 competitive deals, specifically when such discussions occurred in new vs. mature markets. For new markets, it’s all about winning early and often:

A graph showing sales best practices: Win early and win often.

Our data shows that in new markets, discussing your competitors at the beginning of the sales cycle correlates with a 24% higher likelihood of closing the deal, compared with not discussing the competition at all

Read the full blog post on how to sell against the competition for some other juicy takeaways around the impact of competitor discussions in new and mature markets.

Bonus: We also introduce the “Clinger Strategy.”

Sales Tip #7: Avoid Discovery on Cold Calls

Everyone has their opinion on how to rock a cold call. 

But how many of those are backed by science? Very few (maybe none?).

At Gong.io, we have the largest database of recorded sales calls in the world — with over 100,000 of those calls categorized as “cold.”

So what did the data tell us?

A lot.

One takeaway to improve sales effectiveness is this: Avoid discovery on cold calls. The “listen twice as much as you talk” mantra does not apply to cold calling:

A graph showing sales best practices: Top reps own more of the cold calling convo.

As it turns out, cold calling isn’t about discovery, it’s about selling the meeting

But that’s just one of the top cold calling tips you’ll need for 2019. Get ‘em all now.

Grab your FREE Cheat Sheet

Now that you’ve read the 7 best data-backed sales tips of 2019, it’s time to print them out, pin them up, and put them to work.

Download your cheat sheet here (or click on the banner below).

Devin Reed

Devin Reed is the Head of Content Strategy at Gong - the #1 Revenue Intelligence Platform for Sales.

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