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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The "Golden Talk-Listen Ratio" and How It Will Help Close More Sales

Close a deal

Good salespeople know that you can’t close a deal without the prospect feeling good about it.

What is not as obvious is that what they feel has more to do with what they say than with what you tell them.

Why? Because what they really need is to feel understood, listened to, and reassured. And to do that, you have to actually listen to them.

How much is too much talking versus too much listening? After analyzing over 25k sales conversations, studies found that top-performing sales professionals speak an average of 43% of the time, while their clients speak for 57% of the conversation.

This is called the 43:57 ratio, the "golden talk-listen ratio," and Gong.io found that sales reps who achieve it see an improvement in their sales performance.

Talk Less, Listen More!

Keeping the golden ratio in mind and aiming for it will significantly help your business to grow by closing more deals than before.

Yet the “Talk less, listen more” aspect has one major pitfall that over-enthusiastic salespeople can fall into: Making the prospect feel interrogated by asking too many questions.

Remember, it's not a matter of asking a ton of questions. That will make your client feel uncomfortable. 

So how do you get your prospects to talk more without pressuring them? Here are a few techniques you should try.

How to Practice Active Listening in Sales

1. Emotional Labeling

This method, named by Chris Voss, is basically empathy on turbo mode.  

When you ask a targeted question, pay attention to the answer and just verbally “call out” a feeling that you found the prospect expressed while they were answering you.

You can do this in simple sentences like:

  • "It seems like you_________."
  • "It looks like you_________."
  • "It sounds like you_________."

For example, if you ask a well-formulated “problem” question and the client responds by showing a hint of frustration with the question, then you can try:

“It looks like you are frustrated by this challenge your organization is going through.”

If you get their emotions right, it's likely your prospect will feel so deeply understood they'll give you more helpful information.

To make sure it works the right way, follow these steps:

  • You need to listen carefully, so you'll be accurate with your emotional label.
  • You need to take a pause after the label and wait for the prospect to fill the void.

Pro-tip: If you speak quickly and desperately, then it will turn your positive technique into a negative one.

2. The Socially Awkward Pause

Take a pause of 3 to 4 seconds after the prospect has finished speaking. It will prompt the prospect to continue talking to avoid social awkwardness. You'll be surprised how much people will add to the end of their responses if you just give them a few extra seconds.

Pro-tip: This can be a little awkward initially, but if you persist, the results will be amazing.

3. Describe Their Problems Better Than They Do

This is an incredible technique for getting a successful deal closed. For this to work, you need to have the ability to understand your client's problems more deeply and accurately than themselves. 

Explain with words what they seem to be unable to do, and they'll be amazed. It is important to really understand the person on the other side of the table or phone. Be aware that you can never be generic with this tactic.

Pro-tip: Keep in mind that there is no shortcut for this. You have to understand and describe your prospect's problem thoroughly.


The best way to gain trust and confidence from another person is simply to listen and take a genuine interest in them. Through in-depth study and conversation, you'll gain an understanding of the problem the prospect is facing, and you'll be able to empathize in a way that enables you to present your solution in a more effective manner.

It’s important you don’t think of this as a cold and calculated way to gather information, but as techniques to resonate with your prospect’s concerns and get a better understanding of their needs.

When we let our customers do the talking, we gain access to the real problems they face and how they feel about their challenges, and the solutions they desire.

This builds trust.

Free Download: Needs Analysis Record Worksheet*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2017 and has since been updated.

Topics: active listening