The 7 Pillars of Great Sales Conversations

Traits of the Best Discovery Calls

Drawing from over 200,000 sales conversations, our data scientists have isolated the traits of the very best software discovery calls.

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On a great call: More questions tend to be asked during the third quarter of the conversation, the majority by the rep.

Our analysis: We found a consistent spread of questions throughout calls, probably in line with what you might expect of great discovery calls. Interestingly though, we saw an increase in the frequency of questions towards the third quarter, suggesting that asking questions to engage the prospect and clarify assumptions shouldn’t be something that’s exclusive to fact finding.

On a great call: The prospect speaks more than the sales rep during the first half of the call.

Our analysis: Creating an environment where the customer is at ease early in the conversation makes a huge difference according to our data. Relevant, focused, and probing questioning particularly at the start of the call (and throughout) will open up the communication.


On a great call: Reps speak around 52% of the time on average.

Our analysis: The immediate expectation for healthy sales conversations is that sales reps should talk far less than the prospect. Our data challenges the assumption that the art of being a more effective sales person is listening more than you talk.

On a great call: Each switch in the conversation lasts about 2 sentences on average, indicating good back and forth interaction.

On a great call: The agent asks, on average, 1 question every 5 sentences.

Our analysis: Don’t bombard a prospect with questions, no one wants to feel as though they’re being interrogated. Our data suggests that a good call should have plenty of questions peppered throughout to check in, gauge the temperature, and keep the conversation progressing.


On a great call: Each switch in the conversation lasts about 2 sentences on average, indicating good back and forth interaction.

Our analysis: The normal expectation is that you might want prospects to talk for long blocks of time. However our analysis suggests that, on average, a higher quality conversation results in more focused shorter form answers.

On a great call: Prospects tend to speak slightly slower than reps. In our study reps spoke 11% faster than them, showing good rapport and pacing.

Our analysis: This suggests that within the sales conversation there are ‘normal’ pacing parameters and that good reps generally stay within these. However the slightly quicker pace from the rep may well translate to a slightly greater sense of excitement or enthusiasm (or nerves in poor calls).


On a great call: The agent initiates the greater proportion of positive switches in the conversation.

Our analysis: When the conversation switches from rep talking to prospect talking these are generally affirmations or the prospect imparting more information – suggesting the rep, having paced the prospect is now leading the direction of the conversation.

Want to know how you stack up?

We’ve compiled this checklist to help you listen to and coach your team’s discovery conversations.

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