Why Your Sales Reps Don’t Adopt Talk Tracks

March 29, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

It was 2016 and I was managing a team of reps at InsightSquared during a period of rapid growth. At the time, I was a rookie manager with a lot on my plate who didn’t write much down and just expected my reps to listen to me crush a call then replicate the same talk track.

Pretty soon I was shadowing calls and meetings to find my reps saying all kinds of radically different things. It frustrated me.

“Are they just too lazy to adopt the talk track? Do they just not listen to me?” I'd wonder.

But I’d extensively vetted and hired these reps putting them through the wringer during interviews. I knew they were top performers capable of succeeding.

Clearly, though, there was a problem to solve.

66% of buyers report that consistent and relevant communications are a key factor in their decision to buy from you (Hubspot).

But why don’t reps adopt talk tracks? Why is this such a common challenge in sales?

Here are five common reasons why reps don’t adopt talk tracks:

1. You Didn’t Write it Down in a Place That’s Easily Accessible #

The first one’s a no-brainer, but it’s easily forgotten.

If you’re not giving your reps a written talk track that they can practice at each stage of the sales process during their first week on the job, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re not continuing to update this talk track, hosting it an easy-to-find place, and reminding reps to go back to it when they stray, you are making it too difficult for them to adopt, and the problem starts with you.

2. You Over-Engineered the Script #

The talk track is not meant to represent an entire 30-45 minute conversation with a prospect. It is meant to guide sellers through key parts of the conversation, including exploratory and qualification questions, how to handle common objections, and how to secure a next step.

As we know from our research at Chorus.ai, natural conversations vary incredibly. For example, a highly educated prospect needs to be handled differently than a prospect whose brand new to your category and product. Same for key verticals you sell.

You will not be able to represent all of these nuances in a talk track, and if you try, it will become too complicated to use.

3. You Never Enforced Compliance #

Maybe you did write a killer, simple, and easy-to-find talk track. But did you follow up to ensure reps were practicing with it?

Managers at all levels do a really poor job of compliance and coaching.

AE managers join calls only to take them over and aren’t really listening to see if the rep followed the talk track using a rubric or assessment system. BDR managers hardly ever hear a pitch since it can take so long for BDRs to make a connect by phone.

That’s why at Chorus, where I lead the sales team currently, we mandate that reps record all of their calls. They then self-coach themselves by listening to several calls a week and send 1-2 to me or a teammate for feedback. This system of continuous compliance ensures that keeping on-message is always top of mind for the team.

4. Your Reps Heard Too Many Different Talk Tracks During Onboarding #

It’s not uncommon for sales managers to have new reps shadow several of their teammates during their first few months on the job riding along on calls. However, this on-boarding process can be really confusing for new reps who then adopt a Frankenstein talk track that takes their personal favorite parts from each rep they shadowed.

At Chorus.ai rather than focusing on ride-a-long calls, we build playlists of call recordings for each stage that we think exemplify the best practices we want to use with prospects and highlight the appropriate talk track in action. We assign these playlists during onboarding and continue to send out new call recordings that do a good job of bringing our talk track to life.

5. You Have Selection Bias, and Your Talk Track is Still Untested #

There’s a good chance you still don’t even know if you talk track works. Maybe it works for you and the couple of reps you’ve been helping most often, but selection bias creeps into sales management decisions everywhere you look. Just because the talk track worked on one big deal doesn’t mean it will work on every account.

Back at InsightSquared when I tried to ensure that my own reps adopted our talk track I realized that I needed to gather and share real data supporting that the talk track. Instead of just forcing changes on the team I ran A/B tests in areas like messaging, value props, and target personas to show reps why they needed to adopt the talk track to win more.

I also used tools like ConnectAndSell to analyze talk track adoption on calls. When the results showed that reps who adopted the talk track had a 1.5X better connect to meeting conversion rate, it further inspired reps to get on board.

The talk track will certainly change over time, but to get reps to adopt it show them that you actually care by investing in the right resources, including content, training, tools, and data to make it work.

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