How Important is Call Length?

Call length is a key metric to measure when looking at sales success. But just how important is it?
Alexandra Kane

The beginning of every great sale starts with a great conversation. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true–poor conversations often lead to lost deals. What’s inarguable is this: the “conversation” is a keystone tool in any sales funnel, and its quality affects the outcome of the sale.

So far, we have gone through four metrics that sales managers should be monitoring in their reps calls: cadence mirroring, talk to listen ratio, filler word rate, and adherence to script. (Notice what’s missing? That’s right. Number of dials.)

While individually, each of these four metrics is incredibly important to monitor and train to, collectively they start fitting into the great puzzle of what makes a quality or productive conversation. Ultimately, however, these metrics are just part of what defines quality. There’s another metric that, even on its own, gives predictive insights into a conversation’s chance of making a deal. What’s that metric, you ask?

Call length.

Not quantity of dials. But call length. Looking into our customers’ data, we found that the average length of calls that led to lost deals were around 220 seconds long. The average length of calls that led to won deals was nearly 400 seconds long.

That’s right, calls that resulted in won deals were 1.8x longer than calls that resulted in lost deals.

That makes sense, right? If the call lasts longer, it typically means that the prospect is interested, which is associated with a higher probability of closing the deal. Chances are, longer calls go through several call stages, so you can prospect, demo, and negotiate all on one call as opposed to splitting it up into three.

So how do reps get to longer conversations?

That’s where the four measures of call quality come in! We don’t wants reps getting to longer calls by using filler words or rambling on. Reps speaking slowly to drag out calls is also likely to hurt more than it helps.

Longer calls mean that the average of the won deals’ conversations were longer than conversations that led to lost deals. This means that the conversations were meaningful, with reps using keywords and a call guide to engage the customer. It also likely means that the customer was interested and enthusiastic, leading to more questions for the rep and follow-up steps.

Here’s the twist though. The majority of calls in our database (60%) are under 120 seconds.120 seconds. These are often the prospecting calls your SDR team makes. If they’re cold calls, they’re short by definition. Customers don’t have a lot of time, or have been reached out to by many different organizations, so to get them to engage, you need to use your time wisely!

That’s where using keywords early in the pitch can really make a difference. Or, more simply, sticking to and using the best script possible to really grab the customer’s attention in the key first 30 seconds of the call.

When training your reps, longer calls should be the desired outcome, not the target. Find out what your best reps are doing to get to those longer calls and try to replicate their techniques across your organization. Once you can train your reps to keep prospects on the phone for longer, more wins should the natural next step.