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This Bad Habit Keeps Your “Average Reps” Below Quota

The key difference between your superstar sales reps and your average reps comes down to sales conversations. But… how exactly are their sales conversations different? Dozens of ways. Many of which are specific to you and your team. But here’s one BIG difference we found through our data analysis research: Superstar reps have business- and value-related discussions far more often than their below-quota peers. These stats are pulled from analyzing nearly 1 million sales calls with natural language processing (NLP). The calls in this study were recorded using conversation intelligence technology, transcribed from speech-to-text, and analyzed with machine learning to detect key patterns and topics that were discussed. As you can see in the above chart, superstar reps talk about “business and value” a whopping 52 percent more often than their peers do. For context, here’s an example list of topics that fit into the “business and value” category:
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • The buyer’s business challenges
  • The buyer’s business environment
  • The buyer’s decision-making ecosystem
  • Ongoing support and project implementation
This leads us back to the point of this post: What keeps your average reps below quota? Two things… One: they address business value far less often than their quota-crushing peers do (as illustrated above). Two: they latch onto product features and technical discussions far too often: Notice that top reps (those above 120 percent of quota) address product feature and technical discussions 39 percent less often than their quota-missing teammates. This, ladies and gentleman, summarizes one of the key factors that keeps your “average” reps below quota: They are feature-heavy rather than business value-heavy.

Making the Transition from One to the Other

Fortunately, there’s more to the story. In this study, we tracked each reps’ rank-order on their team in terms of performance. Who was #1 on the team? Who was in 2nd place, 3rd place, etc.? We also kept track of movement up and down the leaderboard. What were the commonalities of reps that moved up from 5th place to 4th place, or from 8th place to 6th place, for example? There are many factors that influenced this. But the most glaring commonality was this: Reps that moved up in rankings transitioned from being “feature heavy” to “business- and value-heavy.” Reps that did not move up the rankings, stayed “feature heavy.” Coaching your reps to go from one to the other is key to shifting your “middle of the pack” reps up a notch.

Here’s What to Do with These Stats

The takeaway from this data is simple yet difficult to implement: Coach your “feature-heavy” reps to have value-driven business conversations. Easier said than done… especially if you’re blind to their sales conversations. Business- and value-level conversations usually look easy. But in reality, conducting a valuable sales conversation is an incredibly difficult skill to acquire. As a sales leader, you’re going to have to take ownership of coaching your “average” reps to be able to make this transition. Team selling or call coaching must become part of your routine. Most reps won’t be able to do it without you. But if you can pull it off, you’re well on your way to closing the gap between your superstars, and your average reps.

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