If you’ve been following this series, then you’ve learned two things about sales effectiveness:

  1. The #1 reason sales leaders miss their numbers is due to the “gap” between their top performers and the rest of the team
  2. The root cause of this “gap” is lack of visibility into your team’s sales conversations

In other words, visibility into frontline sales conversations is the key ingredient to making it all work.

Here’s the third lesson: You can’t close this gap with conventional solutions if you don’t have visibility into sales conversations.

They will fail.

Let’s talk about why…

1) Why Sales Training Fails Without Visibility

Every sales shop I’ve ever seen has one form of sales training or another.

This means everyone in your company has likely received the same training.

And yet… “the gap” still exists.

This is a clear indicator that formal sales training will not close the gap. It’s just a “ticket to play the game.”

Without visibility into sales conversations, you can’t identify your sales team’s areas of improvement to base your training around.

As a result, sales training often defaults to coming across as generic and not rooted in reality.

Executives spend a lot of money on sales training programs. But without visibility into frontline sales conversations, they are flying on blind faith that the training is actually being implemented in a live setting.

The reality is that your middle-of-the-pack reps are likely reverting back to their old behaviors almost immediately after training.

Without visibility, uplift in new behaviors are impossible to monitor, measure, and therefore, reinforce.

2) Why Sales Coaching Fails Without Visibility

Coaching suffers from the same afflictions as sales training:

You cannot coach effectively without an understanding of how each rep conducts their sales conversations.

Identifying each reps’ coaching needs becomes guesswork.

In fact, coaching without visibility is dangerous. It can leave your reps worse off than before.

That’s because coaching is a diagnostic discipline.

Think of a doctor prescribing a remedy without understanding the problem.

Coaching works the same way. Addressing the wrong things in the wrong ways with your reps might just make them better at doing things incorrectly (or send them into a tailspin of frustration).

Coaching without visibility into a rep’s sales conversations is like going into surgery without an x-ray.

You’re better off with no coaching at all than coaching that isn’t based on facts, reality, and data.

Even if you somehow manage to address the right issues and conduct targeted coaching, how do you know your coaching is being acted upon and implemented if you don’t have visibility?

After all, the problem that coaching is designed to solve is that 87% of sales training is forgotten within 30 days.

Coaching exists to reinforce effective behavior and correct poor behavior.

Reinforcement can’t happen if you’re wearing a blindfold.

3) Why “We Only Hire A-Players” Inevitably Fails

The first problem with “we only hire A-players” is it’s an incredibly elusive goal.

Hiring is fundamentally a prediction you’re making about people.

And people are inherently unpredictable.

So getting this right is hard to pull off. Against your best intentions, you’ll still find yourself hiring “average” people much of the time.

Even if you “know” you have an A-Player candidate, hiring these people in abundance is expensive and frustrating.

Your success rate is probably pretty low because “A-Players” are those who have the most career options, and you’ll often lose out to other offers.

For a fast-growing company with a sales headcount number to hit, that’s a tough approach to be exclusive to.

The second issue with refusing to settle for anyone who doesn’t have a $300k W2 is that you’re leaving tons of talent on table.

“Middle-of-the-pack” sales reps are – by definition – reps that have high potential, but haven’t yet figured out a way to operate at that potential with consistency.

“Average reps” will become your top-notch reps given the right development.

4) Why a “Repeatable Sales Process” Fails Without Visibility

In theory, having a repeatable sales process that everyone follows should make everyone star performers (as long as your sales process is effective).

If everyone is taking the same steps and following the same behaviors, shouldn’t they all have the same results?

The short short answers is “yes, but…”

And here’s the “but…”

If you are blind to your sales team’s execution of that process, you have zero assurance that your sales process is actually being executed against.

The only visibility you have is the activity metrics that are taking place throughout the sales process.

But the most pivotal moments during the sales process – sales conversations themselves – are a black box.

Your sales process also may be a lot less “optimized” than you think it is.

If you are blind to the sales conversations that happen at each stage of your sales process, there are probably a handful of bottlenecks that you don’t even know exist.

Knowing how your sales process plays out on calls is critical to making the process better.

Here’s the Good News

The good news is that when you have visibility, conventional solutions stop failing and become extremely effective.


Sales training becomes surgically precise and firmly rooted in reality.

You can make sure it’s actually being implemented, which means the ROI you get from what you spent on training will skyrocket.

Coaching with visibility becomes a powerhouse.

Each individual’s coaching needs can be understood, addressed, and followed-through with over time to drive lasting behavioral change.

And not only can you ensure your sales process is executed with discipline, you can constantly refine it.

Three Ways to Get Visibility Into Sales Conversations

At this point,  you may be wondering “How do I get this visibility??”

There are three ways to do it:

  1. Live shadowing
  2. Raw call recordings
  3. Conversation intelligence technology

In my next post, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each approach, and which one is best for your situation.

Or if you’re the type who likes to skip ahead…

check out a live demo of Gong, the #1 conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams.


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Chris Orlob

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io

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