4 Common Sales Cycle Myths - From Cold to Close

October 15, 2019

Sara Howshar

We used AI to analyze more than 5M recorded sales calls, including Cold Calls, Discovery Calls, Late-Stage Calls, and Post-Sale calls. With the data we established best practices to help you close more deals, coach your team to success, and run a more efficient sales process.

The report considers 5M calls taken by 300 companies between January and June of 2019. By customizing your findings, you can see how you team compares to benchmarks set by companies of a similar size and stage.

With data comes the standard question: So what?

Data is only useful within context and if it helps to paint a picture. Using the insights we found, there were a few that challenged our intuitive beliefs and old practices.

Below we’ve broken down four of the most surprising counter-intuitive findings. To access the full report and get insights customized to your company’s ACV, click here.

Here are the biggest stand outs:

2x More Competitive Mentions in Won Deals
2x More Competitive Mentions in Closed Won Deals

Sales Myth: Hearing About Your Competitors is Always a Bad Sign #

What The Data Shows: Embrace Competitor Mentions #

Your reps will be happy to hear that competitor mentions are generally a good sign. In fact, prospects who mention competitors early on tend to be highly educated on your market, and those prospects are more likely to close. As an example, competitors typically come up at least once per cold call and 5-6 times during Discovery Calls that turn into Closed Won deals.

When competitors do come up, focus on arming reps with stories around a customer who made the switch, or with engaging questions that get the prospect talking for 30 seconds or more.

Try saying, “Seems like you’re pretty familiar with X COMPETITOR. Was there something you particularly liked or didn’t like about their offerings?”

Or, “What motivated you to check us out too?

BDRs should also be prepared to speak to topics like pricing and discounts on Cold-Calls.

Pricing will come up an average of 1-2 times on a cold call and discounts are mentioned on 50% of calls.

What Good Discovery Looks Like

What Good Discovery Looks Like

Sales Myth: Shorter Calls Lead to Shorter Sales Cycles #

What The Data Shows: Slow Down to Speed Up #

Sales leaders are obsessed with shortening the sales cycle and closing quicker. But did you know that you can win more if you lengthen your discovery process by (4) days?

While other areas of your sales process might need tightening up, such as the time it takes to set a meeting with a key account, give reps time to do detail-oriented discovery. Signs indicate that it will pay off later on!

Discovery Tips to Consider: #

  • Lengthen your discovery calls. Discovery calls for Closed Won deals are 13% longer than the average call.
  • Extend discovery into a second call! In fact on Closed Won deals reps typically participate in (2) discovery calls.
  • Take the lead! While other calls have a more balanced talk to listen ratio, reps who win more talk more on discovery calls. One good way to do this is to prepare a relevant customer story.
  • Get good at asking questions. Reps typically ask 15 questions per discovery call and customers ask 7-8.
Pricing Comes Up 2 to 3 Times With Enterprise Buyers
Pricing Comes Up 2 to 3 Times With Enterprise Buyers

Sales Myth: Big Buyers are Less Concerned With Budgets #

What the Data Shows: Be Wary of Big Budgets #

It’s easy to think that enterprise buyers (deal sizes >100k) have plenty of room in their already large budgets, and are less likely to get caught up in the pricing details.

It is true that enterprise buyers tend to have bigger budgets, but they’re often the most price sensitive. In fact enterprise buyers will bring up pricing 2-3 times on a cold call.

One explanation for this is that enterprise companies have more rigorous procurement processes and trainings.

Another is that enterprise buyers are less exposed to your marketing content since you’re competing with so many other vendors. This means they’re not as familiar with your offering and unique POV when you join the first call.

Either way, don’t assume big budgets = less pricing-talk!

3 People on a Discovery Call for Higher Win Rates
3 People on a Discovery Call for Higher Win Rates

Sales Myth: Keep Discovery Calls Between the Rep and the POC #

What The Data Says: Bring Internal Experts In Early On #

Most discovery calls happen 1:1 with one rep speaking to a single customer.

We’ve found that Closed Won deals often include reps and another colleague on the call early on - typically managers or Sales Engineers.

What it Means: This seems to show that more investment in coaching is needed so that reps aren’t reliant on managers or other internal resources to close.

A second theory is that bringing in another expert helps build rapport and makes the customer feel special.

Consider bringing a ride-along on calls earlier on - especially for strategic or highly educated prospects.

What else can you find in our State of Conversation Intelligence Report? A lot. #


  • Industry close rates
  • Typical sales funnels by ACV
  • Ideal conversation maps for common scenarios, including pricing and competitor mentions
  • Benchmarks for rep and company performance
  • Tips to prepare higher-performing call scripts
  • Insights on the importance of video and screen-sharing

You can access the full State of Conversation Intelligence Report here. Don’t forget to customize your findings to your company’s ACV and see how you stack up to similar organizations!

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