Data from 1 Million Sales Calls Explains the Difference Between Top Reps and Everyone Else

November 30, 2017

The most decisive factor separating your superstar reps from everyone else on your team comes down to their sales conversations. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can begin closing the quota attainment gap between the two groups.’s data science team has used our conversation intelligence platform to analyze almost one million conversations between B2B salespeople and buyers. And no matter which way you slice the data, it’s clear: There are almost always major differences between how “A-players” and “B-players” run sales conversations.

Try to find obvious differentiators in other aspects of sales — like activity volume and metrics — and you’ll likely be unsuccessful. Apart from sales conversations, amazing reps and average reps look pretty similar. They send out the same quantity of emails. They run the same number of calls and schedule the same amount of demos. They spend a comparable time at work.

But, when you look for statistically significant variances in how they do their sales conversations, you don’t have to look for long.

To illustrate that point with data, here are just a few of the many insights we’ve found from the analysis of nearly one million analyzed sales conversations:

Top reps talk about price at completely different times (and for different durations) during the demo.

When to talk about price

That’s not a minor variation. It’s a huge, unmistakable difference.

The percentage of time star performers spend talking versus listening during discovery calls also varies dramatically from average ones.

Discovery call talk listen ratios

Furthermore, the most successful salespeople ask more and better questions than their peers (probably why they spend more time listening). And rather than asking all of their questions at the start of the call, like average performers do, top reps ask questions periodically throughout. This makes the meeting feel like a back-and-forth dialogue rather than an interrogation.

Even though this data is inherently interesting, my point in presenting it to you is to illustrate that top salespeople do sales conversations differently than their peers. This is the most decisive difference between top-and-average reps.

There’s more data that could further illustrate this point. A lot more. But I’m not going to give you every data point we’ve found (you can go to our blog for that.)

The Reason Quota Attainment Is “All Over the Place”

This leads us back to the beginning of this article. One of the biggest challenges modern sales leaders face is the quota attainment gap between their few “star performers” and the rest of the team. If sales conversations are what differentiate those two groups, then there is one key root cause to this quota attainment gap:

sales team conversations

If you don’t have visibility and insight into the most decisive separator between top and average reps, closing the performance gap between them is guesswork. Sales coaching and training efforts become fumbles in the dark. And while the data I presented above is interesting and can be useful, these patterns are generalized across many companies.

Your company’s sales conversations will be unique. Without understanding exactly what those individual, specific differences are, you can’t close the quota attainment gap. Without visibility into sales conversations, the normal methods for driving higher quota attainment fall short. In my next post, I’ll explain why.

Check out the next post here.

Senior Director of Product Marketing

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at - the #1 B2B sales conversation AI platform. Gong automatically records your sales team's conference calls and uses AI and NLP technology to help you understand what's happening in the sales conversations across your team. Learn more at