August 24, 2017

#550. Account-based Orchestration for B2B Sales. With Srihari Kumar.

Srihari Kumar, CEO of ZenIQ, and AI-driven account-based orchestration system, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:37] Srihari says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps in B2B today is that data is being collected, but not organized, and at the fingertips of the reps. He called Salesforce a logpile, full of data that’s not being examined.

[4:18] Data often feeds our confirmation bias. The underlying assumptions need to be understood. We need the correct tools. Srihari discusses AI that finds the next best account action to take. Salesforce Einstein is headed in that direction.

[6:09] There are two plans for AI in sales: do repetitive tasks and free up reps, or provide signals for reps to follow. Srihari talks of the Gartner Hype Cycle: peak of inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, and the plateau of productivity.

[8:07] AI will not do the selling. Reps need to learn how to sell. There is a balance between massive data processing and sales informed by data. Srihari gives a concrete use case for AI data processing.

[10:41] Practical uses for AI do not involve inserting it between the rep and the customer. Srihari is still skeptical of automated email, but has seen convincing demos.

[12:48] Srihari founded a marketing automation company and sold it to CallidusCloud. He led the marketing division. It was marketing in a silo by automating leads. Next, came Marketing and Sales orchestration to buying centers, with multiple tools.

[15:22] ZenIQ is the result of building, from the ground up, an account hub and a people hub; one system of truth about all account data and external data, about people, companies, and activities. On top is the AI Next Best Account Action layer.

[16:50] Marketing and Sales Orchestration includes individual execution systems, such as ads, Marketing, and SDR emails, calling, and so on, all tied into one orchestration layer using a unified account view across the systems. Srihari explains it.

[19:18] Srihari, talks about software finding the right match for the person you want to contact, below the CXO.

[22:44] Marketing Automation is not moving the needle on B2B and SaaS sales. Srihari discusses ABM as it has changed since before automation. Srihari says orchestration is the missing piece.

[26:53] Sales technologies ought to be able to take a company to the next step. The tools need to be used to their best effect. The top companies have the right tools, but the smaller companies cannot afford all the pieces of the stack.

[29:30] Tools should help the buyer to make a better decision. All the emphasis is on how the tools help the seller. Srihari suggests there are tools for buying centers to access better data for their research. AI gets you to the buying center.