Are talk tracks just a fancy new tech take on sales scripts? Not according to these sales and sales enablement experts. Software tools are constantly improving their platforms with new features, new product lines and new uses cases. Talk tracks are a helpful tool for sales reps, both new and experienced, to practice new pitches, share new info and have confident conversations with their prospects.
Hold up: What is a talk track?
A sales talk track is an outline for sales reps to follow during meetings with prospective customers. While strict call scripts constrain an SDRs ability to guide meaningful conversations, too little structure results in reps winging it, resulting in missed opportunities.
“The most important sales conversation your rep has is the first discovery call. It should be used to truly understand your prospects needs, timeline, and how you can help solve their problems. By having a great discovery call, you are set up for a successful follow up meeting. Talk tracks play a huge role in your new reps’ success by providing them an outline they can rely on, and more senior reps can feel confident when they have a new product to sell or a new industry to break into.
Sales leaders know that selling is all about having conversations. Talk tracks give these conversations structure so your reps can focus on creating value, controlling the process and winning deals.
Sales enablement leaders like Amy Looper, Founder of Relativity Sells, recommend creating talk tracks collaboratively. Make sure “everyone agrees on the messaging, stresses value and ensures an understanding of the ideal customer profile,” she recommends. “The format and questioning used helps to qualify and disqualify leads.”
Don’t make the call about who you are, your company, and your product features. Talk tracks resonate when you talk about the prospect, not yourself.
Leslie Venetz, New Business Development Director at Procurement Leaders says starting out on the right foot is critical. “Too often I see reps starting their sales conversation with a run down of how long they’ve been with the company, where the company has offices, or a list of product features. Why would your prospect care?” She compares this to pulling out a resume on a first date. “Without learning anything about your partner, you started with a list of everything about you that you believe a stranger should care about. It would be off-putting.”
Do try to understand your buyers and actively listen.
“REALLY listen, and then build your talk track around the buyer,” recommends David Weiss, Regional VP of Sales at Seismic, “It should sound different every time, but with some core themes that are expertly woven in based on what you heard.”
Haley Szelkowski, SDR Manager at Thomson Reuters, agrees saying that, “just like in sports you need to be on the balls of your feet actively listening and adapt your track to what the client has said and build from there. If you go in with a script and are not ready to deviate from it… it’s hard to win any game that way.”
Don’t wing it. You won’t get the answers you need or present the value to your prospect.
It’s all about practice, practice, practice. Jack Wilson, Sales Coach/Trainer and Mentor at The Sales Rebellion, advises practicing, “until you internalize them to the point that they come across as natural and conversational as opposed to overly rehearsed and prepared. Don’t memorize the words, instead understand at depth what you’re really talking about.”
Do come prepared with a clear objective. Matt Scheitle, Revenue Enablement Manager at Chorus.ai recommends building an objective or call to action into your talk tracks.
“Develop your objective or call to action, work with your product marketing team, and then A/B test your talk tracks at different levels. Most importantly make sure your talk tracks follow your customer journey and sales methodology.”
Talk tracks help SDRs succeed through thorough planning and enablement. But that can only happen if you create a centralized process for building, testing and training your reps on new talk tracks (with the right messaging). This ensures that reps are consistent and confident in presenting value to prospects.
The first step is to brainstorm the framework for talk tracks with your reps, according to the Director of Sales at ClearCut Analytics, Jake Bernstein. “Talk tracks are often derived from particular challenges or objections reps receive in their outreach,” he explains.
Next, let your sales teams personalize their talk track. Joe Latchaw, Outbound Specialist at NTT Data, adds that, “just presenting your team with a script comes off as demanding. If they are included in the process, it will truly be a team effort.” Successful sales teams need the freedom to make talk tracks their own. “Most reps don’t want to read off a script, and customers don’t want a robot selling to them,” says Rich Adams, Sales Enablement Manager at Zoom.
Finally, remember that talk track enablement is not just for the sales teams. Be sure to include other GTM teams when testing out a new talk track. Jen Ferguson, Director of Sales at Inside Out, explains that, “with weekly reviews this allows us to see what is working and what isn’t. We adapt based on the voice of our customer, always shifting our approach for better results.”
How do you funnel all of this information into an effective training program? Distill it. The goal of training is not for reps to remember everything. Practicing realistic scenarios through role playing new talk tracks is a great way for sellers to learn the material.
This approach focuses on building confidence with new material, rather than memorizing line by line. Alicia Avrach, Sr. Director of Sales Productivity at Workato, shares how her organization focuses, “not so much on AEs using the story as-is, but more about them learning the key points. When the differentiators and pains become muscle memory, they can really focus on the prospect conversation.”
Not surprisingly, the best advice is to practice. Matt Scheitle says to, “give them cues to engage with based on different market verticals and personas. We then evaluate the performance of reps and review calls regularly in Chorus to make sure the talk track is landing with customers.”
As a sales leader, you should understand the new talk track just as well as your reps. Kelli Coughlan, Enterprise Sales Team Lead at ZeroFox, says it’s important to,”critique your own phone calls as well as the team.” Everyone speaking to customers needs to lean in because, “we’re naturally resistant to change,” reminds Derek Jankowski, Creator at Next Level Sales Leadership Project. “So understanding the purpose and teaching them the ‘why’ behind a message, helps them buy into the change.”
New talk tracks are needed for many reasons and reps will want to understand the rationale of introducing something new. Brain Wool, VP of Growth at StorySlab, says it could be, “something that’s occurring internally, like messaging not resonating, or a shift in the marketplace, like COVID-19.”
Confident reps who understand the messaging will show their prospects how excited they are about these new changes. T. Melissa Madian, Founder and Author at TMM Enablement Services, likens a talk track to a performance saying, “just like a movie script, a talk track is useless without emotion, passion and practice! Give your sellers the opportunity to learn their script, then let them make it their own so the buyer can feel their passion.”
Sales reps should continue to practice their talk tracks even after they complete their sales certification. Jake Bernstein says that his team will “share highlights after the talk track is put into action in group settings, or via Slack. We work to zero in on specific words and phrases that might work.” What does a successful talk track look like? “I look for positive responses or creative tension. You know your talk track is working if you gain agreement, or if you get someone asking questions to learn more. If you are getting shut down, or lots of redirects, you’re off base and not active listening,” says David Weiss. To see how SDRs are performing at a team level, Brain Wool says, “measure, measure measure. If you’re introducing a new talk track, there is a reason. Are you trying to generate more opportunities? If so, what’s your current conversation rate to meetings booked? After introducing and training the new talk track, did your metric increase or decrease?” Jack Wilson takes a straightforward approach when asked how he measures success. “Easy peasy, increase in both conversions AND no’s. If your tracks are good you get the truth which is that they’re either interested or not.”
As Brian and Jack emphasized, it’s important to measure the success of your reps when using a new talk track. Sales tools can surface the fine details of a call and give much needed context for one-one-one coaching.
“Gong is a great tool to track these types of things. But more than anything I love to be with my reps in the trenches. Nothing replaces real coaching and ability to pivot in the moment,” says David Weiss.
Matt Scheitle and his team use their own platform, Chorus.ai, to effectively measure their success. He also finds that, “Outreach is great for emails, where their in-app reporting allows us to track and correlate success with the opportunities it’s tied to.”
In some cases, you can use a sales engagement platform, which Leslie Venetz says “helps build consistency into the talk tracks that are used for cold outreach.” Without a more active approach, it’s more limited but can get you on the right track.
So what about the more proactive options?
LeanData’s VP of Sales Development, Rob Simmons, uses Kaia, a new real-time conversational intelligence tool from Outreach. “Kaia gives me peace of mind knowing that every moment, note and next step is captured in every meeting. Not only does it help me coach after the fact, but there’s even a proactive element where content cards pop up to help the sales reps in the moment. “Conversational Intelligence is a huge benefit to any sales leader, as it helps us listen to recordings and coach after the fact. Kaia takes it one step further by helping in the moment, when coaching is needed most” says Rob.
Providing the best enablement for talk tracks is not just about preparing ahead of time — or improving after the fact. Reps will be asked questions about competitors, integrations, and pricing on calls. Be sure to give them the answers they need in the moment to drive home the value of your product and make an impression on their prospect. Kaia offers “content cards” that become available on cue during prospect calls. This lets reps respond in real time with confidence to questions like, how does your product compare with your competitors? Or, which tools do you integrate with or have extensions for? You’ll have the same on cue help with pricing cards to answer contract and licensing questions.
When you start building your new talk track, run these insights by your sales reps and collect feedback on what they need to see. Include your reps in the build out to increase their confidence and understanding of the upcoming changes. Get your tools ready and decide which metrics you’ll use to measure the success of a new talk track. For example, Kaia offers on cue coaching and then generates an email summary of the call. Michael Wilde, Account Executive at Honeycomb says it, “allows him to be more focused during meetings as I don’t have to spend my time writing down notes.” He’s able to follow up faster and build stronger relationships with his customers. The introduction of conversational intelligence is an exciting way for enablement teams to support their reps needs. By collecting intelligent insights from every single customer interaction, it’s straightforward to take that information to coach your reps.