Closing Time

How to Make Your Next Sales Call Better: Data-Backed Cold Call Openers, Pricing Phrases, & More!

The perfect sales call…does it really exist? The team at Gong Labs might be able to answer that question.

They have analyzed one billion sales calls across dozens of industries to help sellers like you optimize your time, build trust, keep buyers engaged, and, ultimately, close more deals.

On this episode of Closing Time, we welcome Udi Ledergor of Gong, who will provide data-backed (and actionable!) tips that you can start using tomorrow to make your next sales call better than your last. 

What is the best cold call opener, how should you talk about pricing, and is it OK to swear now and then? You learn all this and more, along with the data to prove it, in this episode of Closing Time!

Watch the video:
Key Moments:
Three Tips to Improve Your Cold Call Opening

Cold calling is not for the fainthearted. It requires confidence, practice, and skill – because that initial moment when you connect with a prospect can make or break the entire conversation and potential long-term relationship.

Thankfully, companies like Gong have analyzed data from millions of sales interactions to arm you with specific, proven tips for opening cold calls like a pro. Udi shares three of the most impactful tips with the Closing Time audience:

Tip #1: Start with “How have you been?”

If you’re opening your call with “How are you?” or “How’s your day going?” that ends today. It may seem polite, but it often elicits generic responses and fails to engage the prospect. Gong data reveals that using “How have you been?” as an opener can dramatically improve your results. In fact, it increases your chances of booking a meeting by 6.6x.

Here’s the psychology behind it: “How have you been?” is considered a pattern disruption, which is a deliberate and unexpected deviation from the typical sales process or conversation to capture the prospect’s interest. This question prompts the prospect to momentarily pause and question if they know you. Every additional second you can keep them on the line, the greater your chances of booking a meeting. 

Tip #2: Quickly Explain the Reason for Your Call.

Time is precious, especially for busy executives and leaders. Therefore, it’s essential to be clear and concise about the purpose of your call, and to do it quickly. Here’s how Udi recommends opening the cold call:

Seller opens with: “Hi, “X,” how have you been?” Prospect responds. Seller follows up with: “The reason for my call today is…”

Data indicates that when you provide a clear reason for your call, your chances of booking a meeting double (by 2.1x to be exact).

Why? Because executives appreciate it when you respect their time and get to the point. By swiftly explaining the reason for your call, you demonstrate professionalism and build rapport with them in just the first few seconds of your conversation.

Tip #3: Sell the Meeting, Not the Product or Service.

Your primary goal during a cold call is to schedule a meeting, not to dive into a full product or service pitch. Avoid asking unprompted discovery questions or providing an extensive overview. Instead, focus on explaining the purpose of your call and securing that crucial meeting. Less is more here, save the deep dives and details for the discovery call.

Talking About Price: Do's and Don'ts

The pricing discussion – debatably one of the most pivotal moments in the sales process. It’s where value and cost converge, and it’s also the point at which many sales reps tend to stumble. 

Pricing conversations often trigger anxiety, both for the seller and the prospect, and if not handled correctly, they can extend deal cycles and reduce the likelihood of a successful close.

Udi shares best (and worst) words and phrases to use when talking about price:

Phrases to Avoid: “List price,” “typical price,” and “standard price.” These terms invite negotiation and might make your prospect feel like they’re not getting a special deal. Well, this is your “standard price,” but I’m not a “standard” prospect, right? Gong’s data shows that using these words can extend your deal cycle unnecessarily by up to 19%.

A Better Alternative: Instead of those common terms, try using “approved price.” This phrase conveys that you’ve thought it through, and possibly consulted with your manager. Prospects will think this is the approved, customized price for them and the proposal is not open for negotiation. It’s essentially saying, “This is our best deal for you, take it or leave it.”  

Why Reps Should Stop Talking (& Listen More)

We’re going to quote directly from Udi here, “You have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that ratio.”

Sales pros are known for effective communication – they want to convey value and enthusiasm while articulating their pitch in the best way possible. But too much talking can be counterproductive, especially on cold calls. 

Here’s what the numbers tell us:

The 46% Rule: The most successful salespeople speak for approximately 46% of the conversation, leaving the remaining 54% for the customer to express themselves. This balance serves two key purposes:

It allows you to gather essential information during the discovery phase. By actively listening, you can understand the specific pain points your customer wants to address.

It also ensures the customer feels heard and actively engaged in the conversation, rather than feeling like they’re being pitched to constantly.

Embracing Silence: Often, salespeople fear awkward pauses, especially after discussing pricing. However, these moments of silence can be incredibly informative. Rather than jumping in with discounts or offers, simply remain silent and give the customer space to express their concerns or thoughts – it usually ends in your favor.

Higher Interaction Points, Higher Success: Maintaining a healthy balance between talking and listening correlates with a higher likelihood of closing deals. The more the customer participates in the conversation, the better the chances of sealing the deal.

Remember: Listening (not talking) is the key to gathering information and building rapport. 

Bad Words, Good Results?

Data for cursing during calls

Can swear words actually improve your outcomes on sales calls? According to Gong Labs data, they can. (Sorry grandma and grandpa, all that soap went to waste).

Data reveals that if a prospect comfortably uses colorful language, the salesperson’s win rate increases by 2%. This number goes up to 6% if the salesperson reciprocates with similar language, and it reaches an impressive 8% if both parties engage in such language.

This practice is related to mirroring techniques, aiming to align with the prospect’s preferences. It works effectively across all gender combinations in sales interactions, making it a valuable tool for building rapport.

So, if the prospect initiates it (we recommend waiting for them to do so first), feel free to participate, as it can significantly boost your win rate.



To explore all of the data discussed in this episode or to learn more data-backed tips for cold calling, emailing, and more, visit Gong Labs


Is it possible to have the perfect sales call?
If you learn from every call before it, the answer might be yes.
Let’s take a look at some research in this episode of Closing Time.
Thanks for tuning in to Closing time the show for Go to Market Leaders.
I’m Val Riley, head of content and digital marketing at Insightly CRM.
Today, I’m joined by Udi Ledergor.
He is chief evangelist at Gong, a Revenue Intelligence platform.
Welcome to the show, Udi.
Hi, Val. Happy to be here and thanks for having me. Great.
You want folks to walk away from this episode with actionable
tips that they can put into use on their next sales call.
And we’re going to be talking about some research that comes out of Gong Labs.
Can you explain to us what that is?
Gong Labs is the lovechild of our marketing team
and our data analytics team.
So back in late 2016,
we were looking at Amazon to see how many books on sales are out there.
It turns out there’s over 100,000 books on sales you can get on Amazon,
but we thought there’s room for some more.
Not necessarily in the form of books,
but in the form of actual data backed research that shows us
not just based on personal experiences, but what data says
based on billions of customer interactions.
What works and doesn’t work in sales.
And since then, we’ve produced hundreds of articles.
Some of them have been quoted
and used by Harvard Business. Review and Forester and others.
So there’s some really exciting learnings in there.
Got it.
So for today’s episode,. I’d like to focus on phone calls,
but Gong Labs also has tons of insights into emails.
So I’ll invite our audience to check that out on their own.
But let’s talk about call openers, because that seems
to be where a lot of sales folks have a little bit of anxiety.
So here are three quick tips for call openers.
You only asked for one.. I’ll give you two more as a bonus.
So the simplest one, if you take one away, is when you open the call.
Do not ask, How are you?
I know that that’s
what many of us have been taught and we kind of normally do with strangers.
Don’t ask how your day’s going.
Just ask, How have you been?
And here’s what we found.
I’ll start with the results and then I’ll talk about a bit
at the psychology behind it by asking,. How have you been?
You are increasing your chances of booking a meeting with that prospect
by almost 7x the exact number of 6.6x according to our data.
So if you use pretty much any other starter,
you have about a 1.5% chance of booking that meeting if you use.
How have you been?
You get a 10.01 just over 10%
success chance of booking that meeting.
And the psychology that we have understood from that
is that by saying how have you been that is a pattern disrupt, pattern
disrupts, make us freeze for a moment and think, wait, do I know this person?
He’s asking it or she’s asking it in a way
that alludes to us having spoken before or knowing each other.
And by the time they figure out that this is actually a cold call
and I’ll talk about what comes next in a moment,
they’re likely to stay on the call
about seven times more likely than if you had asked them, how are you?
So start with how have you been?
And then that’ll already give you a huge boost
in keeping the person online and potentially booking that meeting.
Wow. I mean, that’s fantastic.
It’s almost like how are you is like your current state and how have you been?
Kind of makes you think,
oh, I need to think about the answer as opposed to just saying good.
So I think that’s fantastic right off the bat.
So that my second tip would be to move on right after you get the answer from,
How have you been, to explaining the reason for your call.
The easiest way of doing that is starting by saying, the reason for my call today
is that and then explain why you think
this call is worth the prospect’s time.
And we found in data that quickly explaining
the reason for your call doubles your chances of booking the meeting.
It’s more precisely 2.1x versus
not using that talk track, so quickly explain the reason for your call.
You’re probably calling
someone who’s busy and executives don’t have a lot of time for nonsense.
Explain quickly the reason for your call.
If you do it well and it resonates, you are twice as likely to get that meeting
than if you start shooting the breeze and asking about those Yankees.
Gotcha. Okay.
So that’s two multipliers there that you’ve already given us,
which is fantastic. Right?
And then the third one, there’s obviously many more, which
I’ll give the link to our blog for those who want to do further reading later.
But the third tip is to sell the meeting and not the product or service.
You’re calling to book a meeting.
In that meeting, you will do discovery and demo,
but there’s this huge temptation to start asking discovery questions.
So how many people are on your team and what technologies do you use?
Don’t do that on the unprompted, unscheduled call.
You haven’t earned that permission yet.
Explain the reason you’re calling and book that meeting.
So quickly explain what you want to do.
Get out of there hair.
Just get them on your calendar and save all the discovery and demo stuff
for the meeting.
So sell the meeting, not the product.
Yeah, all that comes across as being, like, really respectful of their time
and the fact that, you know, appreciating the fact that they took your call.
So I love all of those, Udi.
I’d like to move on to another area where I feel
like salespeople have a little anxiety, and that’s around pricing.
So what are the words and phrases that are best to use around pricing?
Because sometimes you’ll hear like the investment
or the value or and I’m not sure if those really resonate.
So based on the research, what do you guys see? Awesome.
So let me give you a couple more bad ones.
You’ve already given me a few, but here are a few more that we found
that actually lengthen
your deal cycle and are detrimental to your chances of closing the deal.
So some of the very common examples we hear are list price
that might be the most common one that so many salespeople get wrong
and they just say, Well, our list price is so-and-so.
What’s the problem with list price?
It invites me to negotiate the moment you say list price.
When you walk into a supermarket, there’s a price on the toothpaste.
It doesn’t say list price.. That’s just the price.
So by saying list price, you’re inviting me to negotiate.
Another bad one, but very common one
is the typical price people pay or the typical price we charge.
And another one would be our standard price.
I’m not a standard prospect.
I’m going to pay your standard price. I’m a special prospect.
I expect the special price.
So using any of those words like list price, typical price or standard price
actually extend the deal cycle unnecessarily by up to 19%.
So instead of taking five months,
you’ve just added another month to that deal
because you use the wrong words for pricing.
Now, again, this is correlation, not causation.
So there’s other factors in the deal,
but with correlation being so strong, why would you ever use list price?
So you might want to know, well, what can I use that sounds friendly
and doesn’t invite for negotiation quite as much as something like list
or standard price.
And the answer that we found works very effectively is our approved price.
By saying approved price, it already sounds like I’ve given this some thought.
I may have even consulted and gotten permission from my manager,
and this is the approved price that I can offer you.
So this is another way of saying our best deal or our best price.
This is our approved price.
It is customized for you, Mrs. Customer.
So you should take it
or leave it right now, and that actually shortens deal cycles.
All right.. So approved price is where it’s at.
That’s fantastic.
I really do feel like these are actionable. So let’s keep going.
I’m going to put my marketing
on for a second because I love to think as marketers, we are providing
messaging, you know, words and phrases that are resonating with buyers.
But I hear there are tactics that you can use within a platform
to measure the use of those words and phrases and see
if they’re associated with success.
So one of the most exciting use cases for Revenue
Intelligence platform like Gong that I personally used as the CMO of Gong
and I’ve seen many successful CMO’s use is the following.
We roll out a new talk track.
It could be in a slide deck or it could be just a verbal talk track.
It could be about how we win against the competition.
It could even be a new product launch, it might even be a new price sheet
or a three year deal that we’re offering because it’s end of year.
And the first problem we have is we have no idea
who’s actually using the new talk track.
You walk out of the sales training, everyone’s
cheering and rallying around it.
Then they go to their cubicles
and you’re stuck there thinking, are they using it or not?
Did it land well with them or not?
And in the past we had to wait three or six months, see if any new deals
actually closed with the New Deal or a new product that we rolled out
and then go one by one and ask folks, Hey, have you been using that new talk track?
No, I hate it.
Why didn’t you come tell me like that was three months ago?
Oh, I was too busy.. I just used my old talk track.
Well, luckily now there’s a. AI technology that helps us get past
that and understand in real time the adoption of any new talk track.
So using a tool like Gong, you can track both who’s using the new deck,
because Gong has a pretty secretive feature that very few know about,
which actually reads the slides that your salesperson is displaying.
So if the slide title says new talk track,
Gong knows that they’re using the new deck,
and if the slide title says old talk track, I’m just using these
as placeholders, of course, then we know you’re using the old deck so I can get
real time information about the adoption of any go to market motion.
New product launch, new messaging, etc.
And then the final thing I’ll say about that is once we understood that
there’s technology to track the adoption of a new talk track, the bigger question
that begs to be answered is how good is the new talk track?
Is it better or worse than the old one?
Is Sarah using the new talk track selling
more than Udi, who’s using the old talk track, or is it the other way around?
And thankfully, Gong can provide that answer as well.
So customers. CMOs, CROs, Ops, VPs who are using Gong’s
initiative trackers can see based on that accurate transcription
and then smart trackers, the final Holy. Grail in tracking go to market motions.
Is that efficacy?
Is it better or worse or kind of the same as what we had before?
And now we can see that as well in real time.
So it might be November and I’m launching a new talk track about a three year deal.
Gong will allow me to track both the adoption of how quickly it’s
being used, by which teams, on what percentage of calls
and more importantly, the efficacy of the new talk track.
Are people offering this deal selling more or less, or about the same
as people using the old talk track?
And this allows go to market organizations to adapt their go to market
motions in real time and respond to what their market is needing of them.
I really love that feature because I will say as a marketer,
you know, like you said, you released the new deck or the new offer, etc.
and then
you listen to a sales call or three weeks later
and you see the salesperson not using that asset at all.
Or even worse, they’re using something like two or three years
old, like I call it their greatest hits, right?
Like, yeah,
so you just keep the five or six things or the five or six phrases and they just
keep using them over and over again because they’re working
and then we really have no idea if all the work we’ve done to launch
this new talk track or campaign or whatever has paid off.
So that feature is quite valuable.
It’s the nightmare of every product marketer and sales enablement
professional because you put all this work into crafting the perfect new asset,
you roll it out and then there is radio silence.
You have no idea who’s using it, and you always have that doubt.
Is it actually better than the old one?
But now there’s no excuse for not measuring and tracking all of this.
That’s fantastic.
So let’s shift gears a little bit, because we’ve talked a lot, a lot
about what to say.
But let’s talk about what not to say.
Like, when is it important to stop talking?
And what does your data say about the balance between talk and silence or
or prospect talk versus salesperson talk and the rate of success on calls?
So it turns out that our mom’s advice, our mom’s collective advice was correct. You
have two ears and one mouth
and you should use them in that ratio.
So if you roughly listen double what you speak,
you will do much better than if you did it the other way around.
The more accurate numbers that we actually found
are the best sellers talk about 46% of the time,
that’s less than half and they leave the rest for the customer.
And this does a couple of things.
One, you actually get information that you need to sell better because
if you’re doing discovery and you’re the only one talking,
how are you going to understand
what are the specific pain points that the customer is looking to solve for?
Two, If you don’t stop talking, you’re that annoying guy in the room.
It’s usually a guy.
We’ve actually found that women are much, much better listeners.
Big shocker there. I know.
But the second thing is that the customer does not feel heard.
The customer does not feel that she was part of the conversation.
If the salesperson was pitching the whole time.
So by shutting up and we’ve seen this in multiple instances,
you shut up after you offer pricing,
whereas most people, most salespeople, they are afraid of that awkward pause.
And if they name the price and 3 seconds of silence passed immediately,
they’ll jump in and say, Oh, but I can go look for a special discount for you,
or Let me talk to my manager if that’s too much for you, just shut up
and you will actually hear what the customer’s concerns are.
They might say, Oh, actually that’s reasonable,
but you’ve got to wait that awkward pause.
And as I said, in general, if you’re speaking more than 46% of the time,
the more you’re speaking, the lower
the chances of you getting the next call, let alone closing the deal.
So you should be, roughly
speaking, less than half the time, if you can get down to 40%, even better,
let the customer do a lot of that talking unless you’re actually giving the demo.
And then they expect you to be talking more.
But make sure you pause because the more points of interaction
that you have that is also correlated with a higher chance of closing that deal.
Got it. Okay.
So we want to talk for less than 50% of the time,
and we don’t want to be afraid of a little bit of silence.
So one other question I have is, is it okay to swear?
Because I’m wondering about, you know,
a well-placed curse word sometimes can build a little camaraderie.
I’m not sure if that’s just my perception.
And then you just mentioned where you had some data of female speakers
versus male speakers and is foul language spoken by men versus women?
Does it have a different reception?
So your intuition is right, val.
Using curse words or swearing in a measured,
thoughtful way can actually increase, you called it camaraderie.
We just call rapport or trust.
And here’s what we found.
If you’re on a call,
if I’m the salesperson and you’re the prospect and the prospect
is comfortable enough to throw an F-bomb or an S-word in the conversation,
I’ve just increased my win rate by 2%, which is huge.
Now it gets better if I, the salesperson, then respond in the same token
and start using similar colorful language, shall we call it?
Because I heard my customer start it,. I just increased my win rate by 6%
and the best is if both of us are doing it on the call.
So sorry, it’s 2% if only the prospect does it, it’s 6%
If only the salesperson does it and it’s up to 8% higher win rate,
if both the prospect and the seller are using the occasional swearword
and if anyone’s read Chris Voss’ amazing book Never Split the Difference.
He talks there about the mirroring technique,
and we think this is closely related to what Chris wrote about.
We were all taught at a younger age that if we go to a job interview
and our interviewers is sitting back and crossing her arms,
we should also sit that way
because people like people who look and act and sound like them.
So this is kind of falls into the same category.
And if the prospect has indicated that she prefers
this sort of language, you should respond in the same token,
even if it comes a little unnatural or feels a little unprofessional.
If she did it first, you’re more than invited to participate in that language.
By doing that, you’re indicating that you’re thinking
like her, that you’re kind of cut from the same cloth, and that actually has
an impact on your win rate, which can be quite startling. 8%.
I know a lot of salespeople who would love that boost to their win rates.
Oh, yeah, I’ll take that for sure.
So no difference between men and women.
It’s just about mirroring.
We’ve seen this work for both men and women, and in all combinations,
there can be a man selling to a woman or a woman
selling to the man or woman to woman or man to man.
It’s always effective, so go for it.
Especially if the prospect gives you the cue.
You can absolutely go for it. Fantastic.. I love that.
I love that building rapport with with maybe the occasional swear word.
So I’m on board.
Udi, That’s all the time we have for today.
I really appreciate you joining us.. Thank you so much, Val.
And thanks to all of you for tuning in to Closing Time.
Remember, you want to like this video, subscribe
to the channel and hit that button so you don’t miss an episode.
We will see you next week on Closing Time.

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