The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 4 years ago

Arun Lal on How Salespeople Can Utilize AI for Content Creation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

There are new tools out there to help sales reps cut down the amount of time it takes to find the right content, organize it, and put it into a pitch that is going to be compelling and move a sales cycle forward.

Today’s guest is Arun Lal, cofounder and CEO at Contiq, a new startup in the bay area that’s bringing a product to market that should drastically reduce the time it takes sales reps to create content.

Find a breakdown of this episode here.

You're listening to the BB revenue executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teamsto optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three,two, one. Welcome everyone to the B Tob Revenue Executive Experience. I'myour host, Chad Sanderson, and today we're going to be talking about AIand content creation. How there are new tools out there that are helping salesreps cut down the amount of time it takes for them to find the rightcontent, organize it put it into a pitch that is going to be bothcompelling and move a sales cycle forward. In order to do that, wehave with us a ruined law cofounder and CEO at Contiak, a new startup out of the bay area, which is bringing to market a product thatis going to help drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for sales repsto create content. And so let's begin by welcoming a room to the showtoday. Thank you very much for taking the time. It's great to haveyou on great to be here. Excellent. So we always start with a kindoff the wall question just so our audience you get to know you alittle bit better. Would love to hear about kind of a defining moment inyour career, something that happened that you took lessons away from and maybe goback to over and over, something that was really impressionable. MMM sure so. Yeah, Chad. One experience that comes to mind is, you know, I was at V and, where I led product marketing for the Weekv Cloud suite or the software to fine data center, and we were ina meeting with the CIO British Telecom and pitching him on consolidating all his data, all the data centers they had into a very new, modern data centerthat was built on V and, where's latest technology, which is the softwareto find data center. So we were at the Va ware briefing center andthere was a group of about fifteen people from British Telecom, including the CIO, in the room. The AE, the account exact, was there.I was there and very interestingly, the the CIO British Telecom asks, Hey, I am by the way. Just to set some context, there wasabout two weeks before the quarter was about to close about seven million dollar dealwas on the line and it was December fifteen and we were in the laststages and everybody was getting excited close the deal. And here comes the CEE. I was there, and he asks, Hey, guys, I love whatyou guys are doing with we've always loved me and where products we andwe love your vision for the software to find data center. But can yougive me some reference architectures from deployments that you might have done in Europe inother telecom companies? And then he asks...

...another question. You know, thesoftware defined data center is so modern and such a new technology. Can yougive me some best practices for my organization and the kind of reskilling I needto do to, you know, to get the most impact and benefit ofout of this new architecture? And the third question he asked was, youknow, I went to Microsoft a few days ago and I heard I hearda very similar pitch and can you give me some benchmarks on, you know, if a similar stack was developed on V and ware Stag versus a MicrosoftTag, and what the key metrics would look like across these tags, whatthose bench marks would be? So he asked all these three tricky questions andI was looking at the sales guy and the sales guy was looking at meand as soon as the meeting ended, he asked how do you have thisinformation and said no, and I asked the the sales get do you havesome of this information? He said No. And essentially all help row loose afterthe meeting because we started to scramble to get all the information needed toto answer these questions and given it was December fifteen, half the people wereon vacation. We tried reaching out to the professional services guy in a MEAand asking if you had some deployments and some details around deployments. But atthe end of the day, what happened at the end of the quarter waswe lost the deal and and that caught me to a very pivotal point inmy career and I sort of a defining moment, and that moment was Ifelt like you know, we aware is a company that's trying to grow frommany billions dollars to the next billion of dollar, billions of dollars, andthe most important function of a company is to create revenue. Yet all thesalespeople have such a hard time getting to the information that they need to goand close deals and need the information needs of their customers, and I wasall I was started wandering why are the enterprise sales people who are at thetip of the sphere for, you know, the strategy of a company, whyare they so unsupported? And that pivotal moment kind of led to thebirth of Contique, the startup I'm working on. Is How can we enameblethe salesperson to deliver highly personalized, highly tailored fresentations and pitches to their customersand get the information needs that they have to meet the needs of their clientmet in in the most efficient and automated way? So that was kind ofthe birth of countaken. That was a pretty important moment in my career whichled me to start the company with my...

...cofounder, who else, who Ialso met at being aware. So that's what story nasally and so that Imean that there's a lot there right. I mean there's the whole content curationpart, but I also know you recently gave a talkt sales three entitled PitchPerfect and it deals with ai in it. So could you help me understand wherethe where the AI interest came from and how you started to layer thatin? Yeah, absolutely so. Fundamentally, I am proud to admit I ama geek. I I've been absolutely fascinated with the AI computer programming sinceas a as a teenager, and I've been reading more and more literature aboutAi and I got super fascinated with the AI in the last about five tosix years when the breakthroughs with deep learning and came about. So things likeDanser flow. I think tensor flow came out a little bit later, butthe programming language are came into being in a more dramatic way. The computersgot to a point that where they were fast enough to do a lot ofthe processing and and I've always been taking classes in Ai on course era orany of the other online courts, and I took a course with the Universityof Washington, my Alma Mater, on the AI and over appeared about sixweeks. I was able to write a simple program that was doing a textclassification. So what the program did was it could identify if a speech wasdelivered by one of the you know about about ten precedents. So essentially theprogram was you would give it a speech and I would try and decide whichprecedent gave that speech without knowing which precedent wrote that speech to begin with.So is it processing audio or is it processing just the text? It justtext. Was Startup texts. So I was able to do that. GotVery fascinated with text classification and and and concept search. wrote a simple algorithmwhere you can search for a concept, let's say, competitive differentiation and orvalue proposition, and and then I went back to my experience at amware wherewe have a having such a hard time, you know, finding the right contentthat we needed. The idea that we came up with was, whatif he pulled all the content that existed in the enterprise and got people toconnect their silos of content and if you could run concept search on top ofall that content, then you could very precisely and quickly locate the content thatyou need, for example, Best Practices...

...for the software defined data center deployments, stuff like that. And so okay, so this is a this is avery focused application of ai, but a has a huge topic. Right. A lot of sales people out there, I mean, let's just put itbluntly, a lot of them freak out because it right really understand whatit is or no. You go from everything from hey, hey, Iis going to replace me to how do I leverage it? You know thosethat like, in this instance, how do I leverage it to make myjob easier or to help an organization be more efficient? I'm kind of heres. I would love your take on, you know, AI and sales,like. What's your kind of view on it, and should some of theseenterprise reps be freaking out or not? Yeah, so I think there's absolutelyno, no credits to being alarmed with a I at all. In fact, the state of AI, in spite of all the whope lie, AIis pretty bad at solving generic problems that most salespeople have and a it's verygood at solving problems with a large data set of outcomes and learning very narrowlyfor a specific use case or a specific problem, providing very good, goodsort of results or outcomes when the use cases are very narrow or the decisionpoints are very narrow. But AI is not good at general common sense orgeneral intelligence, and they're no algorithms out there that kind of support that.So essentially AI, the way I see it, is great for augmenting intelligenceof salespeople in tasks which are fairly narrow. But I mean, given what salespeople do, which is so broad and complex and such so much ofit as relationship based, I think ai is far from it. In fact, every sale enterprise, sales person or even sales people should embrace ai andstart using them for the narrow tasks where lots of data exists and they canuse AI to get to a smaller set of possibilities which are more applicable tothe problem they might be solving. Even if you've been in sales for decades, new technology, new buyers and new dynamics create challenges your team may notbe ready for. Value Prime solutions enables you to focus on sales, onthe prospects and customers, not the noise, and the sales framework you implement withthem is simple, scalable, improven. CHECK OUT VALUE PRIME SOLUTIONSCOM and askhow they can help you beat your target it. But there's three,three general classifications of a machine learning, deep learning and neural networks, andso yeah, you give considering there.

Our audience is typically, you know, revenue, exact CMOS, lea, sure, stuff like that. Canyou give us kind of a quick summary that my small brain will remember?Sure. Yeah, these tend to be these summaries tend to be very helpfulat cocktail party, that dinner party with what have you. So the firstone is Aiai simply, you know, a machine or essentially a machine ora computer replicating what human intelligence can do, and we're really talking about rational humanintelligence. So that's that's the simple definition for artificial intelligence, basically replicatingwhat human intelligence can do. And then there's machine learning. Machine learning isa subset of artificial intelligence and what it's essentially trying to do is that,given a large pool of results or outcomes and a large set of inputs thatled to those outcomes, machine learning is simply a way of fairly predictably gettingfrom those inputs to those outcomes. Essentially, the program is or the machine islearning to predict the outcomes, learning from a large pool of inputs andoutcomes. I hope that's clear. Yep. And the deep learning is simply amodel or a machine that mimics how human intelligence works, or the humanbrain works. Essentially, humans have lots of neurons and the layers of neuronswork together to remember things and learn things, and that same thing being replicated bya computer is what deep learning is at a very high level. Okay, and neural networks, Oh yeah, neural networks are essentially a subset ortechnique of for deep learning, and essentially it's a representation of the human brainbased on the neurons that we have in our brains. Neural networks are essentiallythe programmatic or computers way of mimicking what the brain does. Okay, excellent. And so we talked a little bit about you know, where Ai istoday and you think we should be embraced. I'm curious, what do you seein the next five years? Is there, you know, everybody's hearingabout, you know, Elon Musk and and build. Yeah, it's intheir time, about the end of the world and all this stuff, andit seems a little over the top to me. But I'm just kind ofcurious from a from a general ai standpoint, more specifically from a sales standpoint,where do you see it going in the next five years? Yeah,so the next for five years, or so, I would say. Well, first about five years were pretty hard to predict. So really I thinkwhat we have visibility into is what AI is good at. In two thousandand seventeen and I can make some estimates...

...about two thousand and eighteen. That'sas far as we can go because this technology is rapidly involved evolving. SoI think the future beyond that seems pretty I mean the probability of the variabilityis pretty high. So for two thousand and seventeen, you know, generallyspeaking, as good at for broad categories. The first broad category is natural languageprocessing and text classification. So things like Siri, even Google search aregood examples of natural language processing and text classification and machine learning all combined.The second area is perception. So I think ai and machine learning is gettingvery good at, you know, like driving and perceiving objects. Just thingslike computer vision and perception of objects is improving constantly. So that's a bigarea where AI is showing a lot of promise. The third big areas aroundrobotics. You know, the work that's being done at Boston Dynamics is showingthat AI is getting pretty good at doing simple tasks with which involves some manuallabor. And then finally, I think decisions and decision making, as wellas game playing, is in a broad area where it is showing cored promise. But coming back to what how all this matters for sales. I thinkai for sales is going to be most effective at areas where there's large poolsof content which become the basis for a machine to learn on. For example, you know which which such a customers become the most highpaying customers or whichset of customers are most likely to churn. But you need to provide the machinewith a lot of data about inputs or the facets that go into figuringout, you know, what are the attributes of a customer for that determinea certain outcome. So so we're large pools of data are available and theproblems are fairly narrow in the context of those four categories I talked about.That's where we can see ai for sales really picking up in two thousand andeighteen, for sure. Okay, and we talked a little bit about how, you know, the idea for county came around. I'm curious you canyou give us a little bit more understanding how you're marrying those two things rightthere, the content, the data and a yeah, what help our audienceunderstand the breath of the problem? I mean, I think anybody who worksin an enterprise understands you really can't find anything right, but how are youcombining that into a solution? Gives a little bear detail on that. Yeah, sure, what left to so what...

...we noticed was that they're about thirtyfive million B tob sales people out there in the world and we done somegood research and we found that, based on the complexity of the deal,they spend anywhere from three hours to seven hours. And, by the way, this seven arc goes to be met many, many, much, muchhigher if the deal complexity or the deal size is much larger. So that'sthe amount of time they take to create a pitch or put together all theinformation required for a very tailored or personalized pitch, and on an average they'regoing through at least seven systems or to collect all this information. This informationcan be in crm systems, it can be in sales enablement systems, learningmanagement systems, it can be in, you know it in people's head.So you talked to content creators to get the right information and that's a lotof manual searching around or processing that a salesperson has to do just to getthe right information to create a compelling pitch for their customer. And then once, let's say, you get all this information, that takes a long timeto go and edit and refactor this information into a pitch deck and get thegetting all the fonts right, getting all the you know, the pictures tosize correctly. There's a lot of like time wasted by a salesperson in frankly, nonproductive tasks like editing and theming to make the pitch or the presentation looklike right. And the third big problem we're looking at is, you know, the biggest insights about what works with a customer are are they become tribalknowledge in most companies. Essentially, that knowledge is not easily available. Thecontent that's one the most is also tribal knowledge to a large extent. Soespecially these are the three problems that most sales people face while creating pitches andthat's where a lot of the three to seven hours goes. And what we'retrying to do with contigue is take the process of creating a pitch down tothirty minutes from three hours and then eventually to thirty seconds and and and andat the same quality that sales people are used to. You know, thecontent is available, all the content that they need is recommended to them orsuggested to them, and the way we do it is in this way thatgoing back to the idea that if we could pool all the content that existsin an enterprise, and basically we put we create what we call the enterprisecontent lake. The Enterprise Content Lake is essentially where all the silos of relevantsales and marketing content can be pooled, and then we run concept search orai based concept search on top of that.

So discovery of precise slides, precisesentences is very easily available. The second thing we do is we've createdessentially a simple editor, a lot like powerpoint, and you know it's thefifteen percent of power point that sales people use. We made it even easierso they can, you know, get the right slides together, they canteam them. There's one click logo changes, one click teeming changes. And thethird thing we've done with contigue is we also enable the salesperson to presentthrough contaque and they can capture insights like how much time was spent on aslide. By the way, every pitch is connected to a sales force opportunityor any whichever se arm system you use. So we also track whether the pitchwas part actually one or was part of a winning, winning opportunity ornot, and all this information, all these insights, are basically fed backinto the enterprise content lake and the essentially what we're doing is we're really scoringthe enterprise content lake based on the performance of the content. So what happensthat we're learning from each pitch. We're learning what content is performing the best, and your most effective content keeps bubbling to the top. So, asa result, you can now create pitches in thirty seconds or thirty minutes tothirty seconds, but based on how complex the deal is, and your windrates improve because you're now using the most effective content which is getting presented inyour entire company and learning from it. Well, I mean that's a hugesavings. I mean I can see speak for my own experience when we woulddo complex BTB pitches. I mean seven hours seems kind of light for someof the time that we would put in and granted. On my sales teamI was kind of known because I actually knew how to use powerpoint or keynoteor whichever one it was. But the vast majority of sales people, Imean you hear marketing complain about it all the time. You don't want salespeople putting together those presentations because they never are, you know, thematically consistentthroughout. You will have fons that are screwed up. To be able toreally see what works from your top performers and what pitches to have that Desaly, that's a that's a powerful return, especially if you can also do itwhile reducing the amount of time it takes to put them together. Yes,absolutely, absolutely. In fact, marketing plays a key role in this wholesort of ecosystem by making sure that the content that they're creating is available inthe content lake. But what essentially wins in an enterprise is is is themost effective content, and that being making...

...that content available as a learning toolfor other salespeople is a pretty powerful way of improving the outcomes for the entirecompany. Nice. So and so the company is a whole. I mean, you guys were in Stell Moone for a while. Obviously, since we'retapping publicly, you know you're not now, but yeah, kind of. Whereare you guys? On the on the growth path, and one ofthe biggest challenges you're facing right now. Yeah, we are just launched aBeta so you can go try it out and most of the discovery capabilities forcontent care out now and we are expecting to have a lot of the editingand theming as well as the inside's capability is available in no in the November, late November time frame, right after Thanksgiving, so salespeople will be ableto take it for a test drive, create pitches and hopefully in thirty thirtyseconds in some cases, but definitely in thirty minutes or so, which arehighly personalized and tailor and and have the insights from other salespeople within their companyand see what's winning and what's not winning. So that's kind of where we are. So we're going to go from Beta to full production in early nextyear, sometime in January, and the biggest challenge has been just, youknow, I guess people are a little bit reluctant to try something new andtheir little skeptical and they have the prove it kind of mentality and we totallyembrace it. And bringing out anything that's innovative and new has its own challenges. That's I would say that's the biggest challenge is, you know, gettingpeople to look at things slightly differently and proving to them that it really works. And so, for my own edification, if I were to go do thatBeta, where does it start? To pull content from my just usemy machine. In the Beta you can upload content from your machine from Googledrive and drop box. So you just need to enter your credentials and allyour content is sincd and then you can search across Google drive and drop box. You can see the visual capable, visual search capabilities, you can seethe AI based concept search capabilities. And then we're adding new content repositories suchas box and one drive and share point in the next few months. Andso I know there's a little of track, but we's so I'm because I'm deeplycurious about this because I spend way too much time doing presentations. Yeah, so in that instance, okay, I'm providing I'm an individual, I'ma rep I'm providing access to all of my content. So I guess maybeit's more like a data pond. And so yeah, we get that point. But for rolling it out to an enterprise, how long, like howlong would it take this system? You...

...guys? I guess you guys wouldset up a day to lake point everything at that and then tell everybody todump their content into it, because you know, sales reps are all carryingaround, you know, multiple versions of decks and stuff. How long writthat type of are you guys astimate that type of implementation would take? Well, what we're noticing so all our implementation is actually up and running in lessthan thirty minutes. It's really the time it takes for the content to sinkis the time we need. We've sinked a pool of about a hundredzero decksin less than a day. But really, the I mean really, you needa couple of hooks. Right. One is you need a hook tothe company content repository. That that really takes a few minutes. If youhave the right credentials, then that's all you need. And then you needa hook to the sales force system. Individual reps can do them or thecompany Adman can do it for them, but really, set up and deploymentis less than five minutes. The data sink can take a while based onhow much content you have. But yeah, we're s we just deployed for acustomer called the armor team of about sixty salespeople and they were up andrunning in less than a day with all their content SINCD. They were usingcontique to prepare their pitches and the head of sales enablement is already reporting thateighty percent of time in discovering the right content is is disappeared. They've reallyin fact, they've taken there's discovery time down from thirty from about three hourson an average to less than twenty minutes right now. So that's randy savings. Nicely you'd saving and nicely done. Ex sorry. So let's Change Directionhere a little bit. Sure ask all of our guests kind of the twostandard questions towards the end of each interview. Now you as a cofounder and CEOof a funded startup. That makes you, in the politically correct term, is a prospect. I like to just call it like I see it. That makes you a target for other salespeople who want to get in frontof you, and I'm curious, from your perspective, what's the best wayfor somebody to capture your attention build credibility with you that you've never met before? Great Question. I think I absolutely appreciate somebody who has done a littlebit of research about the company and about me to know I'm at least havea pretty good hypothesis on things like what I care about. Just that levelof preparation and creating a vision for how they can potentially add value to mybusiness or, you know, whatever aspect...

...of my life they might be targeting. If they can show a vision around that and it seems like they've donetheir homework and they're not pushy and that, that would definitely get my attention.Okay, and so let ask question. We call our acceleration inside. Therewas one thing, one piece of advice or insight, you could givethe sales marketing consultants, one piece of advice that you believe would help themhit their targets or be more successful, what would it be and why?So I'll give an example. I mean, I bitch to V sees a lotand one thing I've noticed that seems to work really well is just whatI talked about doing a lot of preparation and building a as complete as apicture of of the person as you can. So I fundamentally believe that all sellingis person to person. So one thing I've started to do is beyondthe linkedin and looking at their website and looking at their twitter post or blogposts. I also started going starting to go to their like essentially to theirfacebook page or not, not in a creepy way, but just to geta better understanding of, you know, what are they all about? Like, what do they really care about as a person? And and then eventalking to some common connections and trying to better understand what they care about.And Not in the first meeting, but one thing that seems to work reallywell is taking a very thoughtful gift, not in the first meeting, butmaybe as the conversation keeps progressing, that that's very tailored and personalized to theirinterests. That seems to do a do quite a bit of magic. Infact, one of our prospects, you know, not prospect, one ofour VC's who's who did invest in us. He had a huge passion for booksand learning and based on some of the talking and some discovery conversations wehad, I discovered that he had a passion for ai and and machine learning. And there's this book called the I think it's called a big out,the big algorithm or the mega algorithm. I'll try and dig it up,but this was this foundational book about how and machine learning is going to impactbusiness in the next twenty years in a big way and I gifted him thatand he was absolutely thrilled to get it and he read he's he told mehe read it within a week or two. And you want to discuss the findingsand just discuss, like how I viewed the impact of a and technology, a technology and on business overalls. So those are a few suggestions.That's perfect. I mean that, the personalization, the making sure that theyknow you're paying attention to them and trying...

...to see the world through their eyes. It's extremely powerful. It doesn't take, at least in my experience, andtake a huge amount of time. It just takes some focus. Isee a lot of people struggle with that. So I think that's some great advice. So thank you and I can't think you're enough for beating on theshow today. If people want to get in touch with you or talk moreabout the topics that we've touched on, what's the best way to get intouch with you? Yeah, just emailed me a Runa CONTACOM. Excellent.All right. Well, again, thank you very much for being on theshow. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. All right,everyone that does it for this episode. Please check us out a be tobe REV exaccom. Share the episode with your friends, Family's co workers.If you like what you here, please write a review on itunes. Wedo use that being put to determine who we bring on the show. Anduntil next time, we have value prime solutions. With you all, nothingbut the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience.To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes foryour favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until nexttime,.

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