Revenue Intelligence vendor Gong unveiled Gong Engage, its entry into the Sales Engagement space. SEPs have been adding Conversational Sales tools for several years, so Gong adding SEP functionality should not be surprising. After all, Gong began as a conversational sales solution before widening its scope to Revenue Intelligence. Also, one of Gong’s top rivals, Chorus, is owned by ZoomInfo, which has been building ZoomInfo Engage for several years.
“Gong Engage serves as a single solution to streamline sales engagement for revenue teams by delivering AI-based sales guidance from the first touchpoint with a prospect to deal close,” wrote the firm. “Engage helps teams create and accelerate pipeline by delivering increased productivity with AI-driven automation and guidance, high-quality outreach to engage entire accounts, and a single sales engagement solution to streamline revenue workflows. Gong’s proprietary AI delivers three times more accuracy than off-the-shelf AI models.”
Engage supports core SEP features, including a web-based dialer, workflows, and email templates. It also sports generative AI models for deal prioritization and extracting call highlights, action items, and outcomes. AI features include:
Call Spotlight, Gong’s generative AI functionality that composes call briefs, account highlights, and action items from sales conversations
Automated call outcomes and email response classification that automatically categorizes calls and emails and syncs these insights with the CRM
Assisted writing, which helps reps personalize their outreach based on persona
“Engage’s contextual, account-based approach for prospecting and selling exceeds the limitations of traditional lead-based tools that encourage mass outreach with little targeting. Instead, it delivers a complete understanding of an account, including all touchpoints, relevant CRM information, and conversational history,” stated Gong.
Gong emphasized that it didn’t jump on the generative AI bandwagon following the breakout success of ChatGPT but has been working to integrate generative tools into its platform for over a year. Furthermore, its focus on sales-focused NLP offers it a leg up on vendors marketing generic ChatGPT tools or lacking years of AI expertise and product development.
“Gong launched in 2016 to harness the power of AI to rid customer-facing people of their day-to-day drudgery. We have been working with LLMs for over a year and see it as a major breakthrough. But highly accurate, domain-specific AI that delivers a deep understanding of what’s going on within a sales organization and the next steps needed to win deals is more elusive,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov. “AI is the core of Gong’s platform, and our new models exemplify the sales-driven advancements we’re bringing to market to help our customers transform their teams and accelerate revenue growth.”
Along with conversational sales expertise, Gong offers Smart Trackers, a set of AI-based customized signals. Launched last year, Smart Trackers help revenue teams “identify deal risks and opportunities, understand the effectiveness of strategic initiatives, replicate best practices, and get ahead of emerging market needs.”
Engage’s Recommended Contacts feature analyzes historical deal data to recommend contacts for outreach. It feeds contact data from LeadIQ, Cognism, and Apollo based on target personas. Recommended contacts may be added to flows (cadences), or sales reps can reach out via email, phone, or LinkedIn.
Engage also displays buying signals from over 120 Gong Collective integrations “to help teams stay on top of their pipeline, no matter where signals are coming from.”
Along with consolidating conversational sales, sales engagement, and revenue intelligence in a common platform, Engage supports partnerships that include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Chili Piper, and Calendly.
Engage workflow and dashboard features include Pipeline Views for viewing key tasks and insights across open opportunities, an Analytics Dashboard for sales management, and team collaboration tools for sharing and assigning tasks across teams.
“Gong changed how revenue teams build pipeline with our customer-centric AI – now we’re changing how they engage with customers at every stage,” said Bendov. “We have leveraged our market-leading AI technology as the foundation for Gong Engage, which sets the entire revenue team up for success. Engage is the only solution that harnesses customer interactions at scale to drive high-quality engagement and ultimately, grow revenue.”
Cloud Communications vendor RingCentral entered the Conversational Sales space with RingSense for Sales. The new service employs generative AI to summarize meetings and calls. Initially, RingSense supports the sales function, but RingCentral plans to extend the service to other roles, including support and marketing.
“We’re going to be helping businesses make their voice, their meetings, their email interactions more intelligent, so they can automatically uncover new, actionable insights that help reduce errors, overhead, and improve performance,” said RingCentral COO Mo Katibeh. “I think of it as a force multiplier for every single employee.”
RingSense for Sales analyzes customer interactions with sales reps and surfaces insights and performance metrics. These insights are also delivered to sales managers to assist with training and mentoring.
“Today marks an important step forward in our journey. Generative AI is a game-changing technology that will fundamentally transform communications and collaboration. Natural language, and voice in particular, has always been a universal interface for information, intent, and emotion that has been largely untapped,” said RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis. “Now with RingSense, we have the opportunity to inject cutting-edge AI across the entire RingCentral portfolio and make communications a powerful resource for businesses to unlock new potential and quickly extract meaningful information and insights.”
RingSense for Sales supports:
Automated follow-ups to drive productivity: RingSense’s AI gathers interaction summaries, notes, and follow-ups. It then syncs them with the CRM.
AI-generated summary scoring: Interaction-level scoring and reporting call out which conversations should be prioritized by managers, helping them identify coaching opportunities.
Integrations with 3rd party apps: RingSense for Sales integrates with Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho, Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and call and video meeting providers.
Ability to track keywords and phrases (trackers): Sales admins can set RingSense to track keywords and phrases such as competitor names, objections, trends, or product features. RingSense can also focus on relevant concepts instead of just keywords and calls out positive and negative deal signals.
“Over the last few years, RingCentral has developed a rich set of AI models that delivers conversational speech analysis and emotional sentiment recognition to the RingCentral platform,” explained the firm. “Last year, RingCentral rolled out numerous AI-powered video meetings capabilities and was first to market with Advanced Meeting Insights and Summaries, which uses AI to enable a user to quickly catch up on a missed meeting or use the tool for automated note taking.”
RingCentral also rolled out a set of AI APIs for accessing RingCentral transcriptions, summarizations, sentiment analysis, and interaction analysis for voice, video, and chat. These APIs will be available to their 85,000 registered developers and 350 third-party applications. RingSense, like RingCentral, is an open platform.
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the fuel that will fundamentally transform how we think about digital transformation today. The era of deploying enterprise AI in isolation while wrestling with outcome uncertainty is over,” said Aragon Research CEO Jim Lundy. “RingCentral has created an enterprise-grade AI with a results-based design. Last year, they embedded this unique AI into their MVP platform to help make employees more productive. Now, with RingSense, they’ve taken it to a whole new level by focusing on bespoke use cases the industry truly needs.”
RingCentral has long partnered with incumbent Conversational Sales vendors such as Gong, Chorus, Wingman (Clari), ExecVision (Mediafly), and Outreach. Many of these vendors have been offering conversational sales tools for three to five years. In addressing their delayed entry into Conversational Sales, Senior Product Marketing Manager Keith Renison listed the following advantages of the RingSense offering:
RingSense is easy to purchase, deploy, and configure. Get ready for faster time-to-value without the expensive startup, platform fees, and model retraining costs.
AI-generated summaries, topics, and follow-ups are automatic. This accelerates the disposition of customer interactions creating huge efficiency gains.
Out-of-the-box “trackers” with higher quality pattern matching. Trackers can be customized or created from scratch. Tune your system to what you’re listening for and make adjustments along the way. AI does the rest.
AI-generated summary scoring at the top level helps find the important conversations without sifting through conversations manually.
RingSense is built by a trusted leader in cloud communications.
RingSense is not industry specific but can be leveraged broadly across industries for analyzing digitized sales calls and meetings, said Chief Innovation Officer Kira Makagon.
RingCentral, which has built a customer base of five million customers over the past two decades, can deploy RingSense to “empower person-to-person communications.” RingSense helps “make sense” and “find patterns in these interactions.”
Due to the large breadth of business conversations hosted on its digital platforms, RingCentral is “in a unique position to make sense of all of the wealth of information that is flowing through our platform,” said Shmunis. “By applying these ultra-modern AI techniques, we can really empower users of our system to make better sense as to what is happening in their own employee bases, whether it be sales agents, customer service agents, and, in certain cases, even just knowledge workers who are communicating and interacting with the outside World.”
Shmunis emphasized that RingSense is a platform with RingSense for Sales as the first offering. As an open platform, partners can build verticalized solutions. Shmunis suggested applications in legal, finance, and healthcare. Open RingSense APIs are already available.
Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research, argued that businesses suffer from poor data quality in their CRMs, with reps often limiting the information they key into Salesforce to “Met with customer.” Thus, AI’s most significant initial impact will be improving “data discipline” in organizations. The initial benefit of AI will be as an “input mechanism.”
“So, when I do a call with you, an AI can listen to it, summarize the meaning, put it in [the] CRM [and] update the record. You have contact center agents. You can do that with salespeople and customer success,” argued Kerravala. “You could actually use AI to create a better dataset and so, in theory, good AI leads to better AI.”
Kerravala sees AI improving the pre- and post-meeting experience due to its ability to create, manage, and refine meeting data. “Most of the vendors do a pretty good job mid-meeting. We have virtual backgrounds, transcription, and translation capabilities. But what happens when the meeting is over? Help me get the meeting minutes out to people and help me prep for meetings. That’s where I see this stuff having a pretty big impact.”
RingSense is available in three packages based on function: Observer for Marketers helps them track customer and competitive trends, Coach supports managers, and Professional provides the full complement of deal intelligence and CRM synchronization. RingCentral did not provide any pricing details.
Revenue Intelligence vendor Clari announced Automatic Call Summaries to its Wingman Conversational Sales module. The new RevGPT functionality, powered by ChatGPT, supports call summaries, next steps, and suggested actions in Slack in a conversational format. Users can view the call or send follow-up emails from Slack.
Wingman already offers real-time cues and battle cards for overcoming objections during calls. Furthermore, it alerts managers to “high-impact coaching moments that define deal outcomes, like pricing hurdles, competitor mentions, and more.”
“Are you going to meet, beat, or miss on revenue? That’s the single most important question in business — and today’s introduction of RevGPT represents a quantum leap forward in helping companies get revenue answers. By training generative AI to harness the industry-leading store of conversational intelligence and historical revenue data contained in RevDB, we’re giving revenue teams the ability to identify sources of revenue leak and take corrective action at scale and with extraordinary speed. RevGPT will quickly become the indispensable guidance system that empowers every revenue-impacting employee to achieve more.”
Clari CEO Andy Byrne
By combining RevGPT and RevDB, Clari’s database of revenue under management, RevGPT will enjoy a feedback loop that continuously improves Clari’s recommendations. This “flywheel effect” will offer “better answers, better actions, better outcomes, and faster time to revenue.” Future functionality includes “recommended prompts for every revenue-critical team — sales, revenue operations, customer success, marketing, finance, and leadership — enabling even greater productivity gains and revenue outcomes.”
RevGPT will soon recommend and automatically assist with follow-up actions, including drafting emails, scheduling meetings, updating CRM systems, and revising forecasts.
Wingman supports the following integrations:
Syncs with HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive
Records, transcribes, analyzes/summarizes Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet
Alerts via Slack and Teams. Alerts and guidance are also displayed in its desktop app.
“This is just the beginning of Clari’s RevGPT generative AI capabilities that are purpose-built to run revenue,” said the firm. “And we’re not stopping here. Soon you’ll be able to ask RevGPT to compose an email follow-up for you with just one click.”
Clari promises to address “revenue leaks,” including the difficulty of “combing through mountains of data buried in legacy systems — CRM software, spreadsheets, BI tools — to find, analyze, and take action on the information that can help them in revenue-critical moments.” By combining RevGPT and RevDB, Clari reduces “time to answers and action,” resulting in greater revenue precision and reduced time performing revenue-based search and analysis.
Last year, Clari identified $26 billion in annual revenue leakage across its 550 customers. Overall, the Boston Consulting Group estimates companies suffer $2 trillion in annual revenue leaks due to missed revenue capture, sales waste, and lost enterprise value.
Clari is offering thirty-day free trials to RevGPT, “ChatGPT’s cousin with a quota,” to revenue leaders. The functionality is live.
Wingman offers three packages: Growth ($60/user/month), Accelerator ($90/user/month), and Enterprise (starting at $110/user/month), with the firm planning on including RevGPT in the Accelerator and Enterprise editions.
Sales Execution Platform Outreach unveiled a series of product enhancements and dashboards at its Explore+ web conference earlier this month. New features include Smart Email Assist with Generative AI, a Create Pipeline Calculator, Buyer Topics and Reactions in Kaia, Deal Grid, Deal Overview, Success Plan Methodologies, and Data Sharing with Outreach.
“The industry has never had a single place to generate and manage pipeline, run sales cycles from creation to close, coach reps, and forecast – until now,” said the firm.
Over the past decade, sales teams have acquired a set of SalesTech solutions that create a “hairball” of point solutions that work poorly together and suffer from siloed data and regular system switching. Furthermore, a unified data platform supports advanced workflows, AI models, and account insights for sales coaching and deal management.
Outreach has enjoyed solid adoption of its new platform since launching it ten months ago. Multi-product adoption is strong, with over 400 customers using two or more products. Furthermore, multi-product adoption is driving platform ARR, which has grown by over 100% in the past two quarters. Since the platform was launched, Outreach’s new logo deal size has increased by 16%.
“Today, Chief Revenue Officers are facing two major problems: pipeline coverage and conversion. They need to create an adequate amount of pipeline, and close it at a greater rate,” said CEO Manny Medina. “That’s why Outreach has been on a journey to expand our offerings to solve our customers’ biggest problems today. Our goal is to provide sales leaders with a single platform to manage all of their deals – from creating more pipeline to closing more deals. Today’s announcements at Explore+ are an important milestone in our platform journey, and we look forward to continue innovating for the 30 million B2B salespeople around the world to help them unleash their selling potential.”
The Smart Email Assistant generates automated email replies that go beyond email templates. AI factors in previous conversations between the buyer and seller when generating responses. By automating email responses, “sales reps can focus their time on editing and personalizing the AI-generated content, instead of drafting these emails from scratch.”
A new Pipeline Calculator recommends prospecting activities to fill pipeline gaps. The calculator utilizes historical pipeline data to determine the number of prospects that should be added to sequences to meet their quota. In addition, the historical conversion rate assumptions are displayed and adjustable. Thus, the assumed conversion or win rates can be adjusted to accommodate market shifts or new processes or messaging that boost historical results.
Outreach continues to develop Kaia, its conversational sales module, with the addition of Buyer Topics and Reactions. AEs and sales managers can revisit meeting recordings and review the buyer’s reaction to fourteen relevant sales topics, such as budget, legal, or support.
“Using AI, Outreach is able to understand the contextual utterance of relevant sales topics in any meeting or email – ranging from pricing to product to next steps to support – and can understand when the buyer raised an objection at any point in the meeting,” explained the firm. “It delivers invaluable insight into what is really happening in meetings, down to each moment, and at scale across all meetings.”
Success Plans now support popular sales methodologies, including MEDDIC, MEDDPICC, and SPIN Selling, helping reps “consistently and continuously qualify deals and align with champions to mitigate deal risk.”
Outreach added a single-pane-of-glass opportunity viewer called Deal Grid. Reps can view their deals sorted by health score and value to focus on their best opportunities. They can also edit fields such as Close Date, Amount, Stage, and Forecast status (e.g., omitted, commit, best case, most likely) with information synced to the CRM and forecasts updated.
Opportunity Viewers are a common feature of Revenue Intelligence platforms (e.g., Clari, RevenueGrid, People.AI), but with Sales Execution and Revenue Intelligence platforms expanding into each other’s domain, Deal Grid was an anticipated new feature. Opportunity viewers help reps review their deal status, update the CRM, and prepare for meetings with sales managers. They solve the problem of serially jumping between Opportunity records in Salesforce (which the firm has moved to resolve with similar functionality).
Outreach released several new reports and dashboards:
Create and Close Dashboard: Provides AEs and sales managers with a high-level forecasted revenue summary of the existing pipeline and highlights pipeline gaps and risks.
“The insight-laden dashboard shows the forecasted revenue from existing pipeline, and highlights pipeline coverage gaps for the current and future quarter, which helps reps proactively mitigate risk earlier and drive to success,” said Outreach.
Deal Overview: An overview of open opportunities with a deal summary, an engagement timeline, deal health, sales methodology insights, next steps, and the shared plan. The engagement timeline displays all sales activities and a heat map detailing customer engagement trends.
Pipeline Dashboard: Displays all “relevant pipeline details to life in a single, sortable view, allowing sales managers to stay on top of their quarter.” The dashboard includes a pipeline activity summary by stage, projected finish, revenue to date, quota, and top deals with deal health scores.
Outreach also announced bi-directional syncing with HubSpot. Earlier this month, it unveiled expanded Outreach Data Sharing with Snowflake.
Despite recent layoffs, Outreach continues to build its customer base. FY 2023 revenue (FYE Jan 2023) passed $200 million across 6000 customers. Outreach’s scale benefits its clients as it records over 25 million action/outcome pairings per week, helping refine its machine learning insights and recommendations.
Microsoft announced Microsoft Dynamics Copilot, an interactive, AI-powered assistance tool for sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and supply-chain management. Microsoft is positioning Copilot as an AI that helps businesspeople “create ideas and content faster, complete time-consuming tasks, and get insights and next best actions.”
CEO Satya Nadella promised that Copilot will “transform every business process and function with interactive, AI-powered collaboration.”
In the short run, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s Cloud & AI EVP, believes that “the fastest way to get some of this AI value” will be via “finished app” integrations like Copilot. Microsoft can tailor integrations into apps that “people are already trained on.” This augmentation strategy lets Microsoft “move faster,” so there is a “huge opportunity.”
Few people outside of the AI community had heard of ChatGPT, much less experimented with it, until a few months ago, but now it is being widely tested by end users, noted Guthrie. “People are looking for solutions that integrate with their workflows that they already have and help them kind of accelerate even more.”
“And then, I think, we’re also going to see the next generation of apps that are going to be built on the raw APIs and the services around it that are going to re-envision pretty much every experience that we see,” continued Guthrie.
Copilot operates within Dynamics CRM and ERPs to reduce mundane tasks such as manual data entry, content generation, and note-taking.
And such tools are welcome by front-line workers. According to a recent Microsoft survey, nearly ninety percent of workers hope AI will reduce repetitive tasks.
Dynamics 365 Copilot offers generative AI to automate tedious tasks and “accelerate their pace of innovation and improve business outcomes.”
Copilot is natively built into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales. AI helps sales reps respond to customers and includes email summaries of Teams meetings along with action items, follow-up dates, and voiced concerns. Additionally, summaries are available for different meeting types, including multi-participant and internal calls.
“The meeting summary pulls in details from the seller’s CRM such as product and pricing information, as well as insights from the recorded Teams call,” wrote Charles Lamanna, CVP Business Applications and Platform. “With sellers spending as much as 66% of their day checking and responding to emails, this presents a significant business upside to give the seller more time with their customers.”
Email replies are generally available in Viva Sales, and customizable emails will be added on March 15. “For example, a seller can generate an email that proposes a meeting time with a customer, complete with a proposed meeting date and time based on availability on the seller’s Outlook calendar,” blogged Emily He, CVP Business Applications Marketing.
Sellers will also be able to rate generated content with a thumbs up or thumbs down to help refine replies. And if the response needs to be tweaked, sales reps can provide a follow-on prompt that updates the response based on the additional context.
Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing simplifies data exploration, audience segmentation, and content creation.
Marketers can curate “highly personalized and targeted customer segments by having a dialogue with their customer data platform using natural language,” wrote Lamanna. Marketers do not need to be SQL experts or wait for an operations specialist to build the query. Instead, they can build segments in near real-time using Copilot’s Query Assist feature.
“With a few clicks, Copilot produces the results, along with information such as the customers’ average age, product preferences, or average purchase price,” wrote He. “These insights can then be configured into a segment to support a campaign.”
Copilot also suggests additional segments.
Using Copilot in Dynamics 365 Marketing, marketers can describe their customer segment to a query assist feature and look for inspiration for fresh email campaign content based. “Copilot makes suggestions based on key topics entered by the marketer, the organization’s existing marketing emails, as well as from a range of internet sources to increase the relevance of generated ideas,” blogged Lamanna.
Marketers can enter up to five bullet points in Content Ideas, which generates an email via Azure OpenAI Service.
“Unique content can be used as a starting point when composing marketing emails,” explained He. “It can analyze the organization’s existing emails, in addition to a range of internet sources, to increase the relevance of generated ideas. With Copilot, marketers can save hours of time brainstorming and editing while keeping content fresh and engaging.”
Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Service drafts contextual answers to queries in both chat and email. It also supports an “interactive chat experience over knowledge bases and case history, so this AI-powered expertise is always available to answer questions.”
Other generative AI tools support product descriptions and supply chain disruption forecasts based on weather, financial, and geopolitical news.
Copilot is in preview across Dynamics 365 and Viva Sales.
TruVoice can also be used for customer experience, competitive analysis, and churn analysis.
Primary Intelligence has collected win/loss intelligence through manual post-mortem deal interviews for twenty years. Automating the process both lowers the cost of intelligence collection and widens the scope of intelligence collected. Survey response rates are between 25% and 35% due to the request coming from the sales rep. Online surveys run ten to fifteen minutes and are dynamically adjusted based on the responses. TruVoice collects both qualitative and quantitative responses.
“We’ve taken the live interview model that we have honed over our entire existence and turned it into an online experience, where we call it an online interview. But it really is something that a respondent can do in ten minutes on a mobile device. There are some quantitative questions for them to record voice responses, which we then transcribe and…publish that data. And then we still do the live interview.”
“The value of win-loss-no decision analysis at scale is that you have continuous, near real-time feedback on a higher percentage of accounts for improved insights and confident strategy adjustments across all of your revenue teams,” said Primary Intelligence CEO Ken Allred. “But the biggest breakthrough is having the ongoing rep-by-rep, deal-by-deal intelligence to drive situational training and enablement. This eliminates the bias of reps providing their own feedback or requiring managers to review hundreds of hours of call recordings.”
Gong and Crayon Partnerships
Primary Intelligence recently partnered with conversational sales platform Gong to integrate in-cycle deal intelligence. Primary Intelligence delivers a daily log of competitive mentions to sales reps, providing them with battlecard links and links to call transcripts that help them write follow-on messaging that parries competitive statements. The Gong integration ensures that conversational intelligence from deals is available alongside post-deal analysis, providing a clearer view of why deals are won or lost, comparative strengths and weaknesses versus competitors, and improved messaging.
“Our approach in the last five years or so has been [asking] ‘How can we take the operational lift and automate as much as possible?” explained Primary Intelligence President Nick Siddoway to GZ Consulting. “Now it’s a process that begins in Salesforce or whatever CRM you’re using.”
Primary Intelligence also recently partnered with Competitive Intelligence Platform Crayon, marrying competitive and win/loss intelligence in a common platform. The joint solution “helps teams better understand their competitors.”
“In today’s competitive climate, competitive intelligence and win-loss analysis are essential for B2B companies looking to increase win rates,” stated the firms. “While win-loss interviews and surveys with buyers are filled with critical competitive insights, getting these insights updated into competitive intelligence deliverables, such as battlecards, has traditionally been a slow, manual process — until now.”
Crayon and Primary Intelligence highlight competitor offerings’ relative strengths and weaknesses, providing improved positioning for sales and marketing teams. A separate pricing module helps debunk sales rep claims that deals are regularly lost on price, providing a more accurate view of deal loss. By helping differentiate offerings and identify why deals are won or lost, vendor offerings become less price sensitive.
Primary Intelligence also provides views at the rep level, providing insights into the strengths and weaknesses of reps and where they would benefit from coaching.
“The future of sales enablement is providing custom, rep-specific coaching in the flow of work. Ideally, those recommendations are based on actual performance feedback from real customers,” said Erik Peterson, Chief Executive Officer of Corporate Visions. “The acquisition of Primary Intelligence will enable us to make invisible problems visible and then provide personalized coaching to individual reps and revenue teams based on how buyers and customers respond.”
“What better evidence that your strategies and spend are actually working as intended than actual customer feedback connected to wins, losses, and no decisions, as well as renewals and expansion cycles?” Peterson added.
The acquisition provides Corporate Visions with 100,000 buying decisions spanning twenty years, which will be incorporated into its B2B DecisionLabsresearch and advisory business. Corporate Visions, which positions itself as a Decision Science company, calls Primary Intelligence its “fourth lab.” B2B DecisionLabs incorporates behavioral research, brain studies, and field trials, alongside customer feedback.
“We will engage our B2B DecisionLabs research director, Dr. Leff Bonney, co-founder of the Florida State University Sales Institute, to effectively leverage the incoming data points into insights using all applicable and appropriate academic research-based approaches, tools, and techniques,” explained Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer at Corporate Visions and Chief Visionary at B2B DecisionLabs, to GZ Consulting.
“Our expectation is that this steady flow of buyer-driven deal insights will completely distinguish B2B DecisionLabs among other research and advisory firms who rely on their subscriber clients to provide data snapshots and self-reported survey responses to formulate their industry insights,” continued Riesterer. “This will be in addition to our completely unique brain study lab and ongoing field trials with actual clients.”
The Primary Intelligence dataset provides a deep set of historical and cross-industry data that captures deals both in progress and after closing. This research complements its other three research laboratories.
“This will give our advisory clients even more confidence in the B2B DecisionLabs recommendations compared to opinion surveys and moment-in-time snapshots of data,” said Riesterer. “It will also mean we can provide more reliable tools than you otherwise get from peer communities that only curate unexamined personal experiences and unsubstantiated claims of expertise.”
“This ongoing flow of customer-sourced data will also be used to continually expand and enhance our revenue growth services to ensure Corporate Visions’ clients always have access to the industry’s best and most updated intellectual property,” Riesterer added.
Corporate Visions offers science-backed revenue growth services for sales, marketing, and customer success. Along with hosting conferences and training, Corporate Visions helps firms “articulate value and promote growth” in three ways:
Make Value Situational by distinguishing your commercial programs between customer acquisition, retention, and expansion.
Make Value Specific by creating and delivering customer conversations that communicate concrete value, change behavior, and motivate buying decisions.
Make Value Systematic by equipping your commercial engine to deliver consistent and persistent touches across the entire Customer Deciding Journey.
By April, Corporate Visions plans to combine automated win-loss-no decision customer feedback with automated skills coaching and customer messaging content from Corporate Visions. Riesterer intends to launch the “first fully automated, situational enablement solution that identifies rep-by-rep weaknesses based on actual customer feedback, to direct specific, custom coaching videos to help address these challenges – in the rep’s flow of work.”
This vision shifts sales rep training from “just-in-case” event-based generic classroom training to “just-in-time” situational coaching and enablement that is customized to each rep and deal. This training will be “always on, deficit-based situational coaching and enablement” that does not require managers to “listen to a bunch of calls or read a lot of feedback and then formulate a custom coaching plan.”
Corporate Visions has already considered which data can be employed for aggregate analytics. Research protocols are subject to Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval. Data will only be available for aggregate analysis with the consent of customers. Unique identifiers are stripped from the data and replaced with arbitrary data identifiers, and no individual customer’s data will be published.
B2B DecisionLabs has “partnered with Florida State University as the primary means of data analysis and have taken the steps as outlined in GDPR protocols regarding ‘Information Processors’ to ensure that data is passed to FSU without any unique respondent identifiers,” explained Bonney. “To decrease any risk of inadvertent identification of a customer in the data, Primary Intelligence will assign the ‘ID number’ to customer data and then pass [it] to the B2B DecisionLabs and FSU research team, who will have no input or insight into how data ID numbers are assigned. Additionally, Primary Intelligence will remove any data fields that may be used to ascertain the identity of any one customer.”
The FSU IRB will review Primary Intelligence’s anonymization protocols.
Managerial deal coaching “just doesn’t happen and won’t happen at scale,” remarked Riesterer. Furthermore, “because the system continues to run and generate customer deal feedback, you will be able to monitor, measure, and modify enablement interventions on the fly to see the impact and make continuous appropriate adjustments.”
Thus, the merged company will combine neural research concerning purchasing behavior and buyer studies, with in-the-moment situational coaching tailored to each rep and deal.
Kyle Porter, who founded and led Salesloft for the past dozen years, stepped down from the CEO role and was named Salesloft’s Chairman last week. In his place, the firm named SaaS veteran David Obrand its new CEO. Obrand is also joining Salesloft’s board.
I’ve known Kyle Porter for around a decade. I was impressed when he mothballed his first email guessing product because it wasn’t aligned with his belief in sales authenticity. It was a gutsy move. While he didn’t burn his boats (i.e., immediately remove the product from the market), he stopped selling the service and phased out the product while fulfilling current contracts.
Porter is also a gifted storyteller, which he emphasizes as a skill that sales reps should hone. His personal story is embedded into his management style.
I had the opportunity to interview Kyle on Friday. The conversation below was edited for length.
Why have you chosen to move upstairs?
There are two major reasons. The first is for the greater good of the business. I’ve seen this market unfold and the opportunity that we have in front of us just open up. It’s unlimited what we can do in sales and revenue generation. And our mission has always been to fundamentally change the profession of sales forever and really build a world where sellers are loved by the buyers they serve. I want every Lofter to have our mission as their primary focus within this business. And that means I need to have it as well. My goal is to always do that. And when I looked out to the future of everything that we could achieve, the biggest fear I had was that I wouldn’t be the right person to help us get there – that I would leave something on the table.
My skills are always growing, always developing. I consider myself a lifelong learner. And I’ve worked really hard to be just as good as I can at this stage as I was when there were zero people at the company. That evolution, however, is hard work. And that self-development is a deep investment.
The second piece of this is more of a personal perspective. On my very first date with my now wife…she asked me what my dream was, and I told her it was to run a technology company that makes a dent in the universe. I asked her hers, and she said it was to restore the glory that was the Florida citrus industry…
Now with someone like David, he’s already gained that wisdom, experience, know-how, and recall. It’s so natural for him. And I felt like we could accelerate the development of the CEO’s capability to take us to the next level by bringing in someone like David. So really, it’s based on my limitations as CEO. The opportunity ahead of us is just so big. And we have an amazing future in this business. We do the right things, and we serve our customers with excellence. There’s no limit to what we can achieve, so I wanted to accelerate the office of the CEO’s capabilities and really improve the handicapped chances to achieve our mission.
Some opportunities came up to really achieve that mission that she’s been on. And I realized that my talents and resources could greatly assist her just as she sat on the sidelines and helped me achieve my mission for over twelve years. I realized that it’s not right for this organization with so much growth ahead to have a CEO that’s not singularly focused on the mission of the business…I’m going to do tangerines with my wife, and that meant that it was the best decision to have someone that would be singularly focused on the mission of this business…
Of course, there are also my three children. While my daughter Brooklyn (8) is still going through the change curve of me no longer being CEO, I’m incredibly excited to pour more time and attention into her, my son Clark (5), and daughter Abby (1) as well!
How active will you be as the chairman?
Pretty active. We have a founder lunch that I’m going to continue. I’ve been corresponding with many customers this week, and I will retain those relationships and meet with them continuously. I’ll be a board member. David has asked for a once-a-week meeting indefinitely with him.
I just have really deep relationships with so many people inside the organization and with so many of our customers and partners. My enjoyment and my passion are to continue to work with those people. So customer meetings, board meetings, and one-on-ones with the CEO.
We got some really fun content projects that we’re working on. We’re going to be doing some work together to really show the market what’s happening and what’s changed and how to be more effective in this new world of modern sales.
What were the top criteria for selecting your successor?
Number one is that they are aligned with the mission of the business. When we talk about fundamentally transforming sales and revenue forever, this person that we brought on board had to have that in their heart already. Number two is they have to realize and understand that organizational health is the biggest sustainable differentiating advantage that any company can have. So when we love on our Lofters, they turn around and love on our customers, and the CEO needed to understand those dynamics and be willing to continue running this business with that framework and mindset. Three, I wanted someone that was well-rounded functionally. Not just a sales leader, but someone that understood product engineering, finance, marketing, [and] customer success.
I saw it firsthand when David Obrand got up and spoke with the product and engineering team. I sat, and I listened to someone say things that I wish I had thought of saying to them in the past. Things that I didn’t know and didn’t experience. And the way he connected with them was on a very deep level. And it was really refreshing for them to see someone that understands them even better than I did. So that was really cool.
When you think about succession as a founder, there’s a point at which your skillset, knowledge, or experience isn’t the right fit for taking the company to the next level. And many executives, out of hubris, choose to continue in that role, even though they may not be the best person for that role.
I believe exactly what you said. But I also believe that we really don’t have any limits except for those imposed upon us by ourselves. I’ve always believed that we can grow and develop into that next stage, and I’ve always believed that for myself, but that investment sometimes takes time. And if you have other things that you’re focused on, it’s more difficult to get down that development path.
You had a quiet layoff last week. Usually, you’re more transparent about these things. Why the shift away from the prior transparency, and why was it necessary to do so?
Necessary is an interesting word. I teach our leadership team that they don’t need to do anything; they always choose to do certain things.
On the transparency front, we did have a layoff after COVID. And we didn’t make a public announcement on that, as well. We believe that’s a private thing for the people that are part of the organization. We want to be super transparent internally about everything that happened. And if someone goes out and posts something, we don’t stop them or send them a note saying, don’t write that by any means. But that is a private kind of situation for the people who are impacted and affected.
Now, I am certainly helping people to find jobs. And we’ve assembled a list. And I’ve made many introductions. I’ve brought a lot of investors in, And we are helping those folks to find their next path.
SalesLoft, like many companies, saw lots of growth in the market and then saw some headwinds in front of us. And the way we think about it is that you’re in an airplane, and when the headwinds come, you can do two things: you can accelerate through and burn all your fuel, or you can lay back a little bit, let the headwinds pass, and pick back up. The decision we made was to lay back a little bit, let the headwinds pass, and then pick back up with the business.
What advice would you give founders of technology startups?
Really obsessing over the problem you solve is the first and foremost most critical thing that founders need to do. And when I say obsessed, I mean you need to get everybody in the organization on board with caring so much that they love their customer; they love solving the pains for them. And the company that cares the most is the one that’s going to win. Number one is that customer obsession and a really deep focus on the problem that you solve to the point where it becomes just a daily rhythm of your life.
The second one is aligning your organization to go after your mission. The mission statement is something where you’re one stop short of changing the world. We want to fundamentally transform sales forever. And that’s what we’re here to do. And so we need to hire people who believe in that mission, even down to the engineer.
We’ve created this whole community of people from every walk of life who love sellers and who understand the beauty of what sales is and how it transforms economies and markets. How it helps companies hire, invent, bring new products to life, and really change the fabric of our society. Making sure that your team is focused on that mission is critical. Then you got to have the rhythms in place where they’re being held accountable [and] where you’re achieving your goals.
You’ve emphasized the importance of culture. How did Salesloft benefit from your five core values?
What we’re looking for when we hire people is not that they’re five out of five A+, but that they have many of the core values [and] also believe that the other ones that maybe they’re not as strong in are important enough to work towards.
The other thing is that core values are a way to stop yourself before you make a mistake. Once a mentor told me [that] a good leader makes a mistake and quickly fixes it, [but] a great leader is about to make a mistake and fixes it before they do. And for me, that’s what the core values are. If we say that we want to be glass half-full, and I find myself about to say something negative. In the old days, I would say it, learn it, and fix it. But now, before it even comes out of my mouth, my head says, “glass half-full,” and I change the way I deliver that message.
Or if I’ve got a decision where I can go left, and it’s maybe better for money and then go right, and it’s better for customer experience. Then, customer obsession comes into my mind before I make that decision so that I can go right for the customer. We look at core values as triggering mnemonic messages in your head that help you to be the person you want to be.
As a CEO, you’ve got to repeat those [values] over and over again. Reward people who exhibit it. You’ve got to praise those who showcase it. Repetition is persuasion in that regard.
What is one mistake you wish you could have avoided?
We never anticipated the market would come back so fast post-COVID. Nobody did. Had I understood that, we wouldn’t have slowed down like we did. But then, we also never anticipated that the SaaS market would crash the way that it did. Had we understood that, we would have slowed down a little bit more before we did. Hindsight is 20/20. If you can predict those things, you can be a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund manager.
We’re always trying to align market demand with the resource supply of the organization. So that’s a continual trade-off that we’re working to make.
Are you looking forward to more time on the citrus farm?
I’m really excited. One of the things we do is send tangerines out to our customers. Every single year we do it, and I’m not going to miss that. We’ve got to keep producing great tangerines, so we can keep getting them into the hands of our customers. It is a joy and a passion of mine and my wife’s. She’s been so helpful to me on this journey, and I’m excited to help her follow her dreams.
Any last thoughts?
Yeah, we’re in a great spot. As a company, even with what we’ve seen in the downturn in the marketplace, we saw a really strong end to our Q4, and Q1 is off to a great start. Our CEO is highly capable. He’s wise. He’s been welcomed with a huge Salesloft hug inside the organization, and I’ve seen our customers and market participants really appreciate who he is and what he’s going to do. We’ve got a big opportunity to fundamentally transform the sales profession ahead of us. And we’re going to do it.
The combined solution will provide “greater visibility into buyer engagements, enabling go-to-market teams to access previously buried insights,” said the firms. “Sellers will have the ability to engage the right people in the right accounts, resulting in pipeline predictability and revenue.”
Revenue teams will enjoy greater pipeline visibility, helping de-risk deals and drive revenue growth. During calls, a side panel will provide an “unparalleled understanding of ‘who is who’ within accounts and opportunities, empowering your sales teams to strategically plot next steps with the right people and personas to grow pipeline, drive larger deals, shorten sales cycles, and improve win rate.”
“Zoom has been a customer of ours since 2017 and a business we’ve always admired,” said Thomas Wyatt, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at People.ai. “Our joint customers will soon be able to leverage Zoom’s world-class conversation intelligence solution enriched by buyer and relationship intelligence that only People.ai can provide.”
Zoom IQ for Sales was launched in April and provides a host of standard conversational sales capabilities, including sentiment analysis, engagement scores, talk-listen ratios, the longest monologue, filler word frequency, a snippets library, and competitor and feature mentions. Furthermore, it includes a few differentiators:
Engaging Questions – Analyzes questions posed to determine the frequency with which customers respond to queries.
Next Steps – Assesses whether clear next steps are outlined during the meeting.
Patience – Determines whether reps wait for a response after asking a question.
Post-deal analytics include which topics arose most frequently, time spent in each stage, and which negotiators made the final purchasing decision. General Deal analytics include the number of conversations per deal and the duration of conversations per deal.
Zoom IQ for Sales is available for Zoom and Zoom Phone. It is “tightly integrated” with Salesforce, Google Calendar, Office 365, and Exchange. Zoom IQ for Sales is priced at $79 per month per seat.
Seismic and Microsoft announced an integration partnership that will embed Seismic’s sales enablement workflows within Microsoft Viva Sales. Seismic will provide “content production, collaboration, task automation, and engagement intelligence for Viva Sales users across the meeting experience to help drive deals and relationships forward.” The goal is to “streamline” buyer engagement at relationship-based sales teams.
Microsoft Viva Sales became generally available on October 3. Viva Sales is “a new seller experience application that brings together any customer relationship management technology (CRM), Microsoft 365, and Teams to provide a more streamlined and AI-powered selling experience.” The new solution is designed for the hybrid work environment where reps leverage video conferences, chats, emails, and documents to close deals.
“We’re united with Seismic in our commitment to empowering sellers through relevant content and an improved seller experience. Our plan to integrate Seismic with Viva Sales will help sellers have more personalized customer engagements whether they are in the office or on the road, with a helpful assist from the AI-driven insights and content,” said Lori Lamkin, CVP, Dynamics 365 Customer Experience Applications.
Viva Sales customers include Adobe, Crayon, and PwC.
Avoma Scheduler supports multiple links for “various purposes and durations based on your availability, time zone, [the] context you want to capture, and more.”
Avoma supports Outlook and Google Calendar using an OAuth integration.
According to Avoma, no-shows and cancelation rates average up to 40% of meetings, resulting in wasted time, longer deal cycles, and reduced conversion rates. Thus, reminders allow for fewer no-shows and automated rescheduling.
Avoma argues that the meeting process is disjointed with separate tools for
Taking notes during meetings
Recording, transcribing, and analyzing the call
Sharing meeting notes after the call
Syncing meeting intelligence with the CRM
Different departments and customers have different tech stacks, so meeting intelligence can end up siloed. Furthermore, juggling multiple tools leads to lost context and action items slipping between the cracks.
“There are already several scheduling tools available, but they are point solutions, requiring people to navigate several tools before, during, and after a meeting. Our approach is to help you save costs as well as avoid the multiple tool fatigue by simplifying end-to-end meeting workflows. This helps you offer a seamless experience to your customers.”
Avoma CEO Aditya Kothadiya
SEPs Outreach and Salesloft and chatbots from Drift and ZoomInfo also offer integrated meeting scheduling within their conversational AI platforms.