Sales Tip Two

Speak less and Listen more

I have asked thousands of sales professionals this question over the past 12 years.

How much time should you speak during a sales meeting and how much time should your customer speak, as a percentage?

The answers I receive are as high as 80% the customer and 20% the sales person.

I then follow this question up with a second question.

Explore your last ten sales meetings with prospects. How much time did you speak and how much time did your customer speak?

The answers here are very different. In most cases the sales people speak far more than their customers do.

To get a definitive answer to this question, we have conducted research to try to answer this question, with meaningful quantitative numbers.

Our Research

Over the past two years, we have analysed the sales conversations of the top and bottom performers in 22 different organisations, to try to see what the optimal amount of time a sales professional should talk during sales encounters.

When conducting the research, we assumed that the top sales performers were operating optimally and as such we used the amount of time they spoke as the optimum. Conversely, we assumed that the bottom performers were not operating optimally and used the amount of time they spoke as the worst-case scenario.


The results were not at the high end of 80% listening and 20% speaking, as proposed by most sales people during training sessions, but in the case of the top sales performers, they always listened more than they spoke.


Sales Person Spoke

Customer Spoke


Bottom Performers



Middle Performers



Top Performers

As you can see from the research above, the top performers spoke about 40 % of the time and the customers spoke about 60 % of the time.

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