February 6th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

One proven way to get better at selling–or pretty much any activity, for that matter–is to review past performances and learn from recorded successes and failures. With modern technology, sales teams can easily tape their phone calls and play them back for reference, which can be especially convenient for managing purposes. Unless those organizations are dealing with great volume, in which case, it can become too much to handle.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many organizations, which is why Palo Alto-based startup Gong.io set out to tackle this business problem when it formed in 2015.

“We figured that sales leaders, in a perfect world, would love to be on every single sales call that one of their team members makes,” says Udi Ledergor, Gong’s vice president of marketing. The best way to coach reps, he says, is “to see what’s happening, to hear how the customer responds to the salesperson’s pitch, which competitors are mentioned, what kind of objections are received and how they’re handled by the salesperson. And then, of course, that information could be used to coach that specific sales person on his team, to ramp them up if they’re new, or just improve them if they’re not as good as the top performers.”

Gong’s technology–released last June–acts “as if the sales leader is sitting in on every call,” as it can record conversations, transcribe them, and analyze them for patterns and trends, Ledergor explains. Using the software, a manager can get a granular look at the elements that make up each phone-based interaction with a customer. Rather than requiring a sales coach to manually find the portion during which the speaker discussed prices or specific features, the tool can pick them out and label them by leveraging AI and machine learning. Then, “when the calls are over, [managers] can listen to highlights, because the player allows them to jump to where different topics were mentioned,” Ledergor explains.

According to Ledergor, users can get the gist of an hour-long call in about three minutes, and have reported 20% cuts in new-hire ramp-up time.

A major benefit to sales people is that it can reveal what percentage of each call they have spent listening compared to the amount of time they spend talking. Which is important, because, according to Ledergor, the ideal “pitch-to-listen ratio” is 33% to 67%.

“Ideally, if you talk about half the time your customer is talking to you, you have a much higher likelihood of advancing that sales opportunity,” Ledergor says. “If you’re listening to the client more than you’re talking, you’re going to get more information regarding what they’re looking to do with your product. That alone helps you, in the short amount of time that you are talking, show them the exact benefits related to the features of your product that they’re looking for.”

So far, companies who stand to benefit most from Gong are B2B technology firms who have upwards of 10-15 employees. These organizations, Ledergor says, tend to detect patterns because they have more call data to work with. While Gong won’t be branching out to target other markets anytime soon, it has seen some interest from business and financial services as well.

Gong’s technology integrates with popular web conferencing solutions such as GoToMeeting, Zoom, Join.me, Cisco’s WebEx, and with Salesforce.com’s CRM system. Ledergor says that the company will introduce integrations with other CRM systems, connections to telephony systems such as 8×8, and digital calendar synchronizations.

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