Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
August 10, 2017

#536. Use AI on Sales Calls to Increase Rep Productivity. With Sabrina Atienza.

Sabrina Atienza, Founder and CEO of Qurious.io, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:27] Sabrina says the single biggest challenge sales reps are facing is an increased pressure in ramping quickly, combined with leaving companies faster than ever. Onboarding is increasingly difficult, as people switch companies all the time.

[5:10] Qurious is an AI platform that provides real-time feedback during sales calls. Questions, objections, or competitor references can be detected live, and useful bullet points are supplied for the rep to use in response.

[6:42] Qurious builds playbooks out of analysis of calls by ‘A players.’ Qurious gives accurate objective analysis of responses to triggers, better than the rep would remember them, if they had to report the conversation as it occurred.

[8:18] The Qurious playbooks are used in coaching to teach what questions to ask to get the most informative responses. Questions, trial closes, and transitioning are in the playbook.

[9:45] Qurious provides real-time suggestions on the rep’s screen, while they are engaging with the prospect on the phone, based on interpreting what the prospect says.

[10:07] Sabrina talks about the issue of focus. Some reps like to see a block of text. Others want bullet points. Each rep can personalize the appearance on the screen for optimal reading.

[12:04] One of the nudges is for the rep to stop talking. It is a customizable length of time, such as 60 seconds, up to five minutes. A rambling warning comes up. Qurious measures the ratio of rep to prospect talking, also, and tallies it at the end.

[14:17] It is difficult to determine what ‘A players’ do, that make them ‘A players,’ but Qurious’s analysis shows they already have a repeatable playbook. The variation in what reps say increases as they become lower performers.

[16:09] Qurious focuses the real-time feedback on reps that are new, onboarding, or struggling. ‘B players’ are enabled with data they can act upon, that comes from successful calls.

[19:20] The tools will help reps, if they are curious. If the rep doesn’t accept the proven input, that may need addressing by a manager.

[23:39] With AI you can A/B test messages across a range of reps. It is important for reps to come up with a playbook that works repeatedly for them, so ‘B players’ become ‘A players.’

[25:20] SDR churn is an industry problem. Getting a rep to success faster by reducing onboarding time is a great morale booster. Companies can take action on this today.

August 3, 2017

#529. Using Automation to Enhance the Human Element of Sales. With Kyle Porter.

Kyle Porter, CEO and Founder of SalesLoft, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:36] Kyle says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is distraction. They are distracted from the mission and what’s important. Reps must protect their time and engage in things that add value, but not be swayed by new shiny objects.

[4:52] In an organization that doesn’t have a set process, reps need to find their own way immediately. In an organization too strictly tied to the process reps have no leeway to find their own way.

[5:42] AI in sales is happening. Great AI makes salespeople more human. In sales, the human-to-human interaction is always needed.

[7:20] Kyle distinguishes between machine learning and process automation. SalesLoft, for example, logs emails into CRM, to free the rep’s time for prospect engagement. It does not analyze the email content to make decisions from it.

[9:08] SalesLoft uses advancements in technology to accelerate what sales reps do, by removing barriers to managing large lists of accounts. The rep prescribes SalesLoft actions to be triggered by specific events, and is notified to act.

[10:46] The mechanization of process tasks permits following the strategy more closely. Then the process can be measured, and sales success measured more accurately. It allows tweaking over time, based on the outcomes.

[11:58] The human portion of the strategy — person talking to person — is still unique. No two salespeople perform exactly the same way. Kyle notes that reps using a mechanized process have more time to engage, so they improve.

[17:41] Kyle says SalesLoft SDRs spend more time engaging than the industry average, because that’s the product they sell, so they’d better be good at it.

[18:20] There are many things SalesLoft can do. But all you need is to programs in the process you want to use, without sacrificing the authenticity of communication.

[20:45] Kyle notes some of the more complex features of AI in sales, and how they empower the salesperson. AI is just getting started.

[27:51] Close rates are so low because qualification is so mis-applied. Everyone wants more leads, but the leads they get are not the right ones, and the reps are not following up with them properly.

[29:43] Follow up is still a problem. Kyle says, “Not our customers.” Reps must manage all the contact points necessary. That’s what SalesLoft does.

August 2, 2017

#528. How to Fix the Failing Sales Model. With Jacco vanderKooij.

Jacco vanderKooij,  Founder and CEO of Winning by Design, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:56] Jacco says the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals is that they are unable to execute a proper sales process consistently. The process depends mostly on artistry.

Sales organizations are failing, and they have weak processes.

[6:32] Jacco notes that a procedure is not necessarily a sales process. A process is doing something that is proven to work, and doing more of it, while stopping what doesn’t work.

[8:11] Jacco Prepared a Prezi on the new sales process, “The Art of Making Love,” or doing sales right over and over again. If you don’t have any customers that ‘love’ you, you have not been doing it right.

[10:28] Jacco recently showed the Prezi at an event, “Flying Upside-Down.” People from various disciplines presented for startup founders.

[12:08] Jacco says to think of SaaS sales as a technology that has had no innovation over the past decade. Nothing has changed in the predictable revenue model in 10 years. It persistently fails today. Now we need an innovation.

[14:07] New tools have not produced increased levels of performance. A two-touch sales organization doesn’t work. Jacco explains the reasons. He calls it the triangle of death.

[18:29] Jacco urges changing from sales-centric to customer-centric. SaaS will evolve. Revenue is made as the customer is successful. The sales mindset is outdated. Think Committing, not closing; Trading, not negotiating.

[23:07] The trade in the heart of sales is the customer’s time for the salesperson’s value. Most business should come in the customer success system. The salesperson should work to make the customer happy. That flips the current model.

[24:25] Sales is service. Jeff Bezos said, “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.” The methodology must become customer-centric: experiences, not stages.

[28:11] The experiences are emotional steps. Salespeople need to recognize what experience the customer is having to know how to educate them. Don’t go to a pitch. Guide and inform.

[32:10] Jacco uses TALKER as an acronym for Tone, Ask questions, Listen actively, Keeping notes, Elaborate on the conversation, Repeat what you’ve heard. Don’t let there be problems from miscommunication.

[34:33] Qualification today is based on an old process. The salesperson gets all the value from BANT. The customer gets nothing. This needs to change. When organizations treat how they sell, as important as what they sell, then sales will work.

July 27, 2017

#522. How to Accelerate Sales with AI and Machine Learning. With Roy Raanani.

Roy Raanani, CEO and Co-Founder of Chorus.ai, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:43] Roy says the biggest challenge facing sales teams is how often things are changing, so, how fast they can learn, adapt and get that learning into the process.

[3:02] Many of the ideas for process change come from individuals up through management to the C-suite, and if there is buy-in, back down throughout the organization. This needs to happen quickly, to match changing circumstances.

[3:40] Chorus.ai came to be through the combination of the right technology and Roy’s experience in sales. Chorus focuses on reps’ conversations with prospects. The gap to fill was in knowing and documenting the content of conversations.

[6:31] Hearing the call gives clarity on what happens. This opens the way for analysis and next steps. Something to ask about competitors: “What other solutions are you looking at?” Most reps don’t ask this.

[8:24] Chorus.ai uses of machine learning. It gets smarter with more data. It gets better at identifying patterns and prediction. It identifies patterns in conversations to close deals effectively.

[12:47] Chorus.ai looks for the signal among the noise, to point out points of interest where a human follow-up would be needed. This supports managers who cannot listen to every call. The learning algorithms are evolving. The data is there.

[15:40] Roy shares key findings of research on discovery calls, from analysis of over 500K calls, measuring talk-to-listen ratio, number of questions, engaging questions, and so forth. There were some surprising insights about win rates.

[20:41] Asking too many questions, too quickly, tends to shut down the prospect. Open-ended questions work best early on. Factual questions that do not engage can be saved for another time, or the demo.

[22:32] Roy and Andy discuss the proper time for the demo, and why some reps rush it too early. They are just “checking the box,” in the playbook. Discovery is continual.

[29:12] Trish Bertuzzi writes about rep’s concern about sunk costs that prevents a rep from admitting a deal will not close. [30:33] There was something missed early on that indicates whether this customer is on track to make a decision. Roy notes that the data in the Chorus dashboards shows how effective the discovery stage has been.

[31:59] Discovery still focuses on pain points. This is not engaging to the customer. The customer is engaged by discussion on their goals, and plans. Focus discovery on aspirations.

July 26, 2017

#521. The True Measure of Sales Productivity. With Erol Toker.

Erol Toker, Founder and CEO of Truly, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:00] Erol says the biggest challenge facing sales professionals is how the nature of sales is changing underneath them. They need to take of their sales hat, and have an engineering approach to finding solutions.

[3:18] Product and domain expertise is essential to meeting the needs of the customer. The key is to add value that goes beyond the product. Willingness to learn and provide service is an advantage in sales.

[5:45] Truly is a sales communication platform. They build “the system of record for conversations.” For sales teams engaging buying teams, it is important to know who spoke to whom about what, by what channel. Truly gives that report.

[6:54] Truly records how much time you are spending in which stage of the opportunity, with which customer contact role, and what is being said in the conversation.

[9:22] Erol gives a client example on how Truly is used. In one company, among 80 reps, there was no common definition of a decision-maker conversation. Truly used quantitative metrics through analysis to formalize to a common definition.

[11:08] Truly’s ICP is a larger revenue organization, with at least 40 reps within a sales team, such as 40 SDRs, 40 Account Executives, or 40 Account Managers. The objective truths they measure are more important on large teams.

[12:02] Sales productivity is about understanding input and output. Truly looks at Customer Success. Outcome is more important than product. If a company does not understand their output, it is impossible to measure it against input.

[14:00] Order-of-magnitude increases in inputs (how many email messages are sent) do not produce order-of-magnitude increases in outputs (responses). Companies at different stages have different levels of productivity.

[17:46] Individual contributors need the data to learn whether they are productive or not. Reps need to know how to measure the right activities to enable productivity to go up over time.

[21:48] Andy gives an example of an agile company he has helped. Will conventional companies retain the same business model in ten years as they do today? Andy suggests that the current structure of sales no longer makes sense.

[24:33] There is a trend to think that technology will make you better, rather than to understand that making people more effective will make you better. Companies need to think long-term. Reps need the basic skills of human connection.

[28:47] The future of sales is about becoming more human, not less. Helping the customer quickly gather the information to help them make the good decision, is what matters in sales.

 

July 20, 2017

#515. Let AI Nudge You into Sales Relationships. With Paul Teshima.

Paul Teshima, Co-Founder and CEO of Nudge.ai, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:28] Paul says the biggest challenge facing sales reps is that buyers know more than ever, so a rep cannot add value just by holding information about their product or service.

[2:19] Paul gives an overview of Nudge. It is an AI platform that focuses on understanding the insights around relationships, and how those relationships can help you get into an account, or influence an account, for the buying process.

[4:41] The version of AI — that Nudge.ai follows — is to tackle problems that are repetitive, take some thought, and are behind-the-scenes. Paul gives an example. There is a lot of promise for this ‘grunt work’ type of AI.

[5:38] AI does more than analyze of Big Data. AI applies machine learning for continual improvement of the analysis process around the data. Paul explains by example, how topic modeling is used for Google Alerts.

[10:09] Relationships are being sacrificed to the sales stack. Paul talks about freeing up research time by moving research from the rep to AI. This gives reps time to build relationships, and focus on effectiveness while the ai works on efficiency.

[11:51] The more a role is process-oriented, such as SDR calling for appointments, the more AI can help ‘B’ players become ‘A’ players. In field sales, where the process varies, AI is less applicable for improving individual performance.

[13:35] The personal interaction is what makes ‘A’ players. AI can free up reps to get more training, and more customer time, which is how they may improve their performance.

[14:28] Sales automation tends to enforce conformity. Reps need more freedom to interact to fit the customer, and according to their own strengths. Paul sees deal sizes shrinking, which leads to less interaction and more process.

[17:00] SaaS allows for fast global reach. Startups are looking more toward the Enterprise, earlier, and Enterprise is more likely to look to a startup. Paul discusses changes in the sales force and strategies as the digital generation matures.

[22:00] Paul differentiates between insights that are actionable for an SDR, and information overload that goes over the top.  SDRs are not industry experts, and don’t need deep insights.

[23:27] Technology, tech, and sales stacks are not getting the sales force closer to quota. All the tech just helps you keep level, even with best practices. The competition is dense.

[27:17] A nudge is a push giving momentum. Sales is about restarting or maintaining momentum. Nudges keep you top-of-mind with prospects during low periods. AI suggests which prospects you should nudge today.

July 5, 2017

#500. Social Selling is Simply Selling. With Koka Sexton.

Koka Sexton, Global Industry Principal for Social Selling at Hootsuite, and formerly of LinkedIn, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:07] Koka says the single biggest challenge facing salespeople today is how to fill the pipeline for their quota; how to adapt to changing buyer behaviors.

[3:03] Koka considers the changing behavior of buyers to have significant effects on the sales process. Koka would like a name for the changes, to have resources applied to them.

[3:52] Andy recalls selling for startups, before the internet. Models have changed, but sales performance hasn’t improved. Koka notes that the data indicates how to acquire customers and renewals. There’s no excuse for not adapting.

[6:41] There is still some denial around the idea of social selling. Koka says some of the buzz is leveling out, but there is still migration to social selling. It is simply becoming sales.

[8:25] Modern sales requires tech, and social channels. Each industry is at a different stage of maturity in the modern sales model. Tech is mature, while manufacturing may be inexperienced. Koka cites an example.

[11:40] Education is a positive way to move industries. Sheer disruption is the other. Companies can get ahead by paying attention to trends in sales and marketing, and using them. Executives need to see where the world of sales is going.

[14:54] Koka campaigned for social selling, as they called it, in 2010, claiming for shock value that cold calling was dead. Whatever the medium, sales is still sales. Social selling needed a spotlight. An issue needs a name in order to get attention.

[18:35] Traditional cold calls alone are a path to failure. Warm calls work better. Social selling is a tool, along with warm calls, to get in front of customers. Use all the tools available. Every buyer has a different way in which they can be engaged.

[22:53] Social selling is the long game. It’s about how you are establishing yourself as an industry professional, with the idea of generating new opportunities and connecting with the right people. Visibility creates opportunity.

[23:50] Buyers want to connect with thought leaders, who post interesting content. Sales professionals want to be seen as industry experts. Don’t base your profile around how well you sell. Your online profile should be buyer-centric, not a resume.

[27:21] Post articles, not updates. LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter. If you tag someone, tag them in an article of interest and of value to them.

[28:33] What do 38% of sellers on social media not know about social? Koka explains. Andy has additional ideas. The point is to track activity and outcomes. Koka suggests how.

July 1, 2017

#499. Sales Behaviors That Make It Easier To Engage with Buyers. With Nancy Bleeke.

Nancy Bleeke, President and Chief Sales Officer of Sales Pro Insider, and author of a great book called, Conversations That Sell, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:58] Sales Pro Insider now has a completely virtual group facilitated offering, that is doing fantastically. 12 people and a facilitator meet by webcam, with breakout groups, for two days, with no travel cost.

[3:38] Nancy explains how to ‘ditch the pitch.’ Get over wanting to tell people everything that you can do without it being important to the prospect. Have conversations where the prospect speaks the most.

[4:38] The default sales behavior is to pitch. Have one or two sentences ready to give context to what you do. “We help companies to grow their sales. To find out if that’s something we can help you with, I have some questions for you.”

[7:19] Tim Wackel suggests asking, “Do you think we’re ready for a proposal?” This helps you when you know what their need is and they are willing to meet. Nancy had a client double their conversion by selecting the right time to give a proposal.

[11:36] An important commitment is to meet for the proposal and go over it. Don’t send it. Take them through it. Every conversation throughout the sales process needs to connect to what’s important to them, or it’s a pitch.

[13:54] A good story to tell is about a previous customer. The story answers four questions, within 30 seconds. The prospect gets involved in the story, and self-persuades. John Steinbeck said people only want to hear stories about them. Help them relate.

[16:17] Behaviors have a trigger, a process, and a reward. Even bad habits have a ‘reward.’ The reward for telling a story isn’t how good you feel about what you said, but the value the customer received from it, to continue the conversation.

[17:53] People you are selling with, don’t want to be handled or overcome. They want a solution, so they talk to you. You want a sale, so you talk to them. Collaborate with them, don’t handle them. Help them work through the decision process.

[20:03] An objection is just a question. It means, I don’t understand. It’s important to understand the question they are asking, which means that will take some questions in return. Both parties may need more information. It is not an adversarial situation.

[22:36] Michael Bungay Stanier says, listen without judgment. Don’t raise your defenses. Stop and listen to what they are saying. Don’t cut them off. Don’t interrupt.

[25:36] Pattern recognition leads us to jump to conclusions. Fight your bias. Ask questions before assuming. Train yourself to bypass the amygdala hijack. Prepare and practice asking for more information. Respect what they need to say.

[29:39] Don’t think about shutting the customer up. Collaborate. Find out what they’re asking, before discounting or changing scope. Take a breath and ask deliberate questions.

June 22, 2017

#491. A Pattern of Note-taking Drives Sales Success. With Derek Draper.

Derek Draper, CEO of Pattern, an application that’s an enterprise notepad for sales teams, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:59] Derek sees ‘overwhelm’ as the biggest single challenge sales professionals face today. Sales is increasingly complex, and sales reps are asked to manage a lot of relationships.

[4:14] Salespeople do not have the advantage today of controlling the buying process. Today the buyer controls it to a greater degree than ever before. They make price and value assumptions before they ever interact with a salesperson.

[6:11] The book Absolute Value asserts that the abundance of information online gives a buyer a much better idea of the experienced utility they can expect from a product.

[12:31] Hiring for Customer Success, Marketing, and Account Executives, and other non-technical roles from the SDR pool is better for company culture and success than hiring externally, in Derek’s experience.

[17:32] Pattern is in the form of a digital note, that puts information back into Salesforce. Instead of using an off-the-shelf took, use a tool that is fully interactive with Salesforce. This is a strong fit for account executives.

[20:31] Derek explains the Pattern process, compared to using Evernote or Apple Notes. Derek says users have reported a savings of five hours per week over other note apps they have used. They no longer block time to update pipeline.

[22:02] Making notes on site gives a more accurate account, and more data, than filling out call sheets at day’s end. Derek says some reps like to refer back to their notes; others get the value from recording them. Pattern helps with ‘overwhelm.’

[23:54] Pattern can help you recap a meeting for the customer. The best customers are those who are happy with the process. Your attention to their needs is a big part of their satisfaction.

[25:40] Derek’s vision for the future: at some point there will be a portal where the buyer and seller can communicate effectively, and work together; not against each other.

[28:23] Andy cites the Challenger Customer, about the buying process. Companies have a strong approval process, but a vague buying process. Derek recalls his sales trainer told him, “Buyers want to be led.”

[33:00] If you skip a step, you have to come back to it, and it’s hard to get a customer on a discovery call when you’ve already given them your proposal.

[33:24] The book Getting Things Done, offers a five-step process, but responding to an inbound lead takes 24 steps. It requires discipline and thought to organize them. The top salespeople do every step 1% better than anyone else.

June 8, 2017

#479. How to Understand and Use Sales Data. With Oleg Rogynskyy.

Oleg Rogynskyy, Founder and CEO of People.ai, a sales management platform based on hard data, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:45] Most of the decisions around managing a sales team are made on hunches and intuition, with little data. Oleg finds this to be the biggest challenge for sales managers today. If they use data, they use lagging indicators, such as revenue.

[2:26] Oleg comments on sales stacks, and how they generate silos of data that need to be managed. People.ai sets out to offer full transparency of activity information, and the ability to positively influence how sales is being done by the team.

[4:15] Multiple apps each cover their own piece of the stack. There is no unification of data between apps. People.ai makes sales management easier by making data accessible.

[7:45] Oleg says People.ai connects to 90 systems, and pulls in information in high-resolution about everything the sales reps do, and formats it to answer specific questions that sales directors have everyday.

[8:22] One example is ramp. People.ai tracks reps across multiple metrics, against successful or unsuccessful ramps. People.ai retrieves data about all the activity of the rep.

[10:03] Oleg addresses confirmation bias. He explains that People.ai will confirm or discredit a manager’s hunches, and reveal the factors behind their concerns.

[11:30] Oleg addresses the topic of correlation and causation and discusses People.ai’s use of AI, or “clever machine learning.” V2 will be more predictive.

[14:01] People.ai is attempting to add a layer of data to the interaction between manager and rep. Oleg explains why this is important to understand sales performance.

[18:44] There is a green field of opportunity for data impact outside of sales. Oleg considers sales to be the best data set to train the machine, in preparing to address other verticals.

[19:26] Other than revenue, it is hard for managers to know what makes a salesperson better. Oleg explains how this involves data issues, data education, Salesforce report limitations, and reluctance of sales managers to dig into data.

[23:07] Oleg points out that most people using Salesforce follow the same model of selling. People without CRM are still producing activities that are captured within systems. Data analysis can improve the performance.

[28:14] People.ai is ‘fully stack agnostic.’ They have customers who do not use CRM. The data sources are the email, phone, calendar and other systems they use to communicate.