Measuring "talk vs. listen" time

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Bob London
Bob London Member Posts: 54 Expert
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edited April 2021 in Metrics & Analytics
Greetings, all.

Wondering if anyone has tracked average CSM talk vs. listen time on customer calls. Basically the % of the call each one is talking.

Here's why I'm asking:

I was interested to see a Gong.io study of 1M sales (not CS!) calls that found:




  • Top sales performers have a 46% to 54% talk-to-listen ratio, meaning they speak less than 50% of the time.
  • Average sales performers talk for up to 68% of the time and low performers speak for 72% of the conversation.






All of which makes sense to me.

I then compared to my own customer discovery calls where I only talk about 20 - 30% of the time, which makes sense since my goal is to get them to open up about their 3 P's (problems, priorities and perceptions) not sell them something.

Which led me to back to the point of the post: Is anyone tracking talk vs. listen ratios for CS, especially on calls that are more discovery-oriented? Or do you have any other thoughts on this?

Thanks very much.

Bob London




Source: https://www.gong.io/blog/elements-of-effective-sales-conversations/
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Comments

  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 186 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Very interesting stuff from Gong. Their numbers certainly jibe with my experience, @Bob London. The best salespeople I've ever met aren't flashy and don't 'show up and throw up.' They ask very good questions and spend much more time listening than talking.

    There may be some advantages using AI systems and metrics, but I would suggest supervisors simply spend more time listening in on calls and debriefing CSMs after the fact.  When I was new to sales, my manager did ride-alongs and we did this in the car between appointments. I learned a tremendous amount in a short period of time. Close supervision and high feedback in the early stages helps to set the right habits quickly and effectively, yet surprisingly few managers do it.
  • Bob London
    Bob London Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Ed, thanks for the reply and I definitely agree. With that said, it can be a challenge to extract "scalable" insights from individual convos. Gong's ability to study 1M sales calls was pretty cool and I found their report useful.
  • Ben Simms
    Ben Simms Member Posts: 3 Seeker
    edited April 2021
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    We've been measuring this for the last 3 years and it's very helpful in coaching your team. We also have our CSMs send two calls per week to their manager for coaching, one great call that can be shared with the entire team and one call that went sideways for constructive feedback from the manager.  Managers use these calls during weekly 1 on 1 meetings.  

    We use ExecVision because we found their pricing to be better than Gong and Chorus but the functionality the same.  So if you haven't finished vetting you may want to check them out.  I'm not affiliated with them other than being a customer.

    Regards,
    Ben Simms
  • Bob London
    Bob London Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Thanks, Ben. I know ExecVision well and am glad to hear you're having success with the platform.

    I'm not actually in the market for a solution but more interested in seeing if you or others have any baseline "talk vs. listen" metrics you're willing to share.

    Even just high level %'s?

    Best,
     - Bob
  • Carl Hoffmann
    Carl Hoffmann Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited April 2021
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    Great stuff, Bob.  Very telling is that the numbers you referenced come in the section headlined "Employ Therapist-Grade Listening Skills", something that we all know to be a prime CSM skill!  As such, I would imagine that CSMs would generally have a higher listening ratio.

    The article mentions "sales conversations" as a general term, but it would also be interesting to see how this would break out for:
    1. Other customer-facing roles, like Sales Engineer, Professional Services, and Support.  
    2. Different types of calls: QBR, Renewal, Escalation, etc.

    Looping in @Erika Villarreal to see this, being the data lover that she is. :)

    Finally, I noticed that in both talking rate examples, the sales rep's is higher than the prospect.  While I get that excitement about the product and adressing all the positive talking points can do that, it does kinda project an image of the "fast talking salesman".  Hahaha
  • Bob London
    Bob London Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Carl, totally agree! And also love the "therapist-grade listening" descriptor.

    Don't know that there are breakouts but yes, that's what I'm seeking, particularly for CS calls.

    One note: I actually think the data for top sales reps shows they listen (54%) a wee bit more than they talk (46%).

     - Bob
  • Nicholas Ciambrello
    Nicholas Ciambrello Member Posts: 27 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Hey we just started doing this recently. Our Onboarding and CSM teams had talk ratios of more than 80% some even had calls that were 90%. It was straight info dumps every call we had. We didnt care what the customer wanted we just went through our spiel. It was a painful transition but were finally getting through to the team on how to have engaging and impactful communications. Our Talk Ratios are still 65% but our goal is for everyone to get under 60 by the end of this quarter. We had to create some different frameworks to go by throughout the call.
  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 75 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Firstly, well done, Nicholas, on instituting a painful-yet-important shift. That's not easy! I'm curious as well what tool are you using to track the calls and therefore extract the percentages. Thanks.
  • Nicholas Ciambrello
    Nicholas Ciambrello Member Posts: 27 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Hey Brian, we were using Gong then made the switch to Chorus. It was a better price point and the bells and whistles for Chirus were more useful for us then Gong was
  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 75 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Excellent. Thanks for the info!
  • Bob London
    Bob London Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    This is very helpful and glad you're making progress in the transition! Thanks,

     - Bob
  • Erika Villarreal
    Erika Villarreal Member Posts: 41 Expert
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    edited April 2021
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    Hii!! Sorry to jump late into this discussion and thanks so much @Carl Hoffmann for the tag!! Yes, in fact, because I love data I also I'm a huge fan of Gong, follow closely their articles and I had already bumped into this one here @Bob London!! It is actually pretty interesting article, that makes complete sense to me! At the stage I am at in my company, it still does not make a lot of sense to get Gong, but with growth down the road I will be the first to advocate for the tool.

    As far as tracking this type of data goes, I do not have much information. In fact, our kickoff calls I feel its mainly 80% CSM talk vs 20% customer talk. Our kickoff call is super oriented in learning as much as we can from the customer, noting down their goals and challenges, but most of the conversation is controlled by the CSM. I wonder how we can swift the focus and still cover all that needs to be done in 1 hour call we have with them.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

    If it comes down to measuring other types of numbers, I'm here for you.

    Have a great weekend all!
    Erika