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How Listening Can Impact Discovery Call Success

4 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Jun. 26, 2017

“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” — Diogenes

That quote is over 2000 years old, and yet listening more than you talk is still a struggle for today’s modern sales rep. This struggle was clearly illustrated in a post we wrote earlier this year highlighting new data from our partners at, focused on the impact of this conventional wisdom of speaking less and listening more. As a follow up to this initial research, conducted a new study of over 500,000 discovery calls to see how talk/listen ratios impact the success of a sales discovery call. We highlighted all the takeaways in a full report earlier this month.

Again, the data showed top performers all tend to listen more than they talk, with the ideal ratio of talking to listening hovering around 46:54.

discovery call success

Average performers spoke a lot more: 68% of the time. And the lowest performers? They spent over 72% of their discovery calls talking!

Looking at this data, it’s easy to see there is a clear correlation between listening more and success on discovery calls, but why? Here are three ways listening more helps you close the deal.

Listen More to Know More

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes during a discovery call for a minute. They didn’t set a call with you to hear a sales pitch. They have specific questions and paint points they need addressed before becoming a customer. While your impulse may be to lead with your sales pitch first, it’s more important to spend the discovery call learning. When you frame the discovery call in this light, it becomes pretty clear that you gain more knowledge by letting the prospect take the conversational reins.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R Covey

If you ask the right questions and listen to the reply, you can easily learn from the prospect what talking issues and areas are the most important for them. Your prospect will tell you exactly what they care about, what they want from your product, and how you can gain their business. All you have to do is listen to understand.

Customer’s Side of the Story

Think about the last time you went to buy a new phone. You go to your service provider, tell them exactly what you want, and they go on and on about other phones with better specs, pixels, and other bits you frankly didn’t care about.

These experiences are annoying. Maybe you had questions about the actual phone you are buying. But since the rep didn’t bother to listen to you, you will most likely turn to another source next time you have a question. If the rep selling you the phone had just listened to what you wanted, the sale would have been made smoothly and you would happily return with any other phone needs.

Your prospects have this exact same mindset during the discovery call. They are looking to spend money on your product, but have questions that need to be answered first. By taking the time to hear them out, you can build trust and the foundation for a solid customer relationship that will keep them coming back for more business.

A Relationship Based on Trust

Some people may underestimate just how important trust is in a business relationship. But if a prospect trust you as a sales rep they are likely to invest more in your company and product. Through actively listening to a prospects needs, you can turn the conversation into an extreme value for their company by addressing the concerns they have, and providing a solution to problems they may experience.

So taking the time to hear out a potential customer you can build trust and the foundation for a solid customer relationship that will keep them coming back for more business. By listening for over half the call and keeping their focus on the customer, top performers build trust with their prospects. These same reps are achieving more successes in their discovery calls. The prospect leaves the call feeling heard and knowledgeable and much more prepared to continue in the sales process.

Obviously for the average rep, who is still talking for the majority of their call, this change won’t happen over night. But you can slowly make adjustments, take pauses to hear more of what the prospect says, and keep making the effort to listen more than you speak.

Download your copy of the free report today and start turning every discovery call into a highly qualified opportunity.