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Sales: the UX secret weapon you didn't know you had

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A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with a good friend, and UX researcher, Seneca Brandi. He shared a new technique he'd been experimenting with for gathering customer insights. At his job, he has access to countless hours of recorded conversations between customers and his colleagues in sales and support. As an alternative to scheduling and conducting customer interviews, he told me how he was listening to these calls to find the same kinds of insights he’d find if he interviewed the people himself.

While the approach was looking promising, he cautioned that it’s not an absolute replacement for running customer interviews. Depending on what you’re trying to learn, sometimes it makes more sense to set up a 1-on-1 interview so you can ask targeted questions.

Trying the approach for myself

Since that conversation with Seneca, I started poking around Gong, our internal tool for recording conversations, to see what I could learn. At first it was a bit overwhelming because we also have countless hours of recordings that span a variety of topics. Once I figured out how to navigate the sea of information, I got into the habit of listening to a couple calls a week and I found them insightful. It wasn’t until I had a very specific need that this approach really shon for me.

We had just concluded a test in our signup funnel and were seeing some anomalies in the data. One of the things we agreed to do, to verify the data, was listen to all the sales calls from the test group so we could validate their quality. With my notepad ready, I listened to over 30 calls and was really surprised about what I found. It was like one of those come for the movie stay for the popcorn moments! Not only did I verify the quality of the leads but I learned a lot about the problems our customers face, what they were looking for in a product like ours, and how we might be able to leverage that in our product and marketing.

What I learned

Apart from the insights, there were a number of benefits I noticed with this approach. One of the biggest is that you get to observe, or in this case listen, to someone in their natural environment. Customer interviews can be slightly contrived. Especially if you’re paying people to attend. On these calls, people aren’t looking to please you because you’re paying them to be there.

Next up, there’s something nice about making the most of what you already have. These calls happen. They’re recorded. Knowing now what they contain, it would be such a waste to only use them for quality assurance purposes. By leveraging these prerecorded calls, not only are we maximising our colleagues’ efforts and our subscription to Gong but we’re also saving! We don’t have to spend additional time recruiting and paying people to conduct separate customer interviews.

Speaking of recruiting. When you’re scheduling calls with a number of people throughout the week, you become hostage to your calendar. It can be disruptive to your workflow to break up your day with meetings or alternatively, it can be exhausting to do back to back calls. The beauty of listening to recorded calls is you can do it whenever you want. Whether you prefer to do a little bit each day, fill up your time between tasks, or do them all at once — it’s up to you!

Looking ahead

I’m thankful to Seneca for sharing this technique with me and feel like I’ve benefited from it already. I look forward to continuing using it and perhaps seeding my own questions into the sales process when the need arises.

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