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 executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teams to 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'm your host, Chad Sanderson, and today we're going to be talking about AI and content creation. How there are new tools out there that are helping sales reps cut down the amount of time it takes for them to find the right content, organize it put it into a pitch that is going to be both compelling and move a sales cycle forward. In order to do that, we have with us a ruined law cofounder and CEO at Contiak, a new start up out of the bay area, which is bringing to market a product that is going to help drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for sales reps to create content. And so let's begin by welcoming a room to the show today. Thank you very much for taking the time. It's great to have you on great to be here. Excellent. So we always start with a kind off the wall question just so our audience you get to know you a little bit better. Would love to hear about kind of a defining moment in your career, something that happened that you took lessons away from and maybe go back 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 Week v Cloud suite or the software to fine data center, and we were in a 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 center that was built on V and, where's latest technology, which is the software to find data center. So we were at the Va ware briefing center and there 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 was about two weeks before the quarter was about to close about seven million dollar deal was on the line and it was December fifteen and we were in the last stages and everybody was getting excited close the deal. And here comes the CEE. I was there, and he asks, Hey, guys, I love what you guys are doing with we've always loved me and where products we and we love your vision for the software to find data center. But can you give me some reference architectures from deployments that you might have done in Europe in other telecom companies? And then he asks...

...another question. You know, the software defined data center is so modern and such a new technology. Can you give me some best practices for my organization and the kind of reskilling I need to do to, you know, to get the most impact and benefit of out of this new architecture? And the third question he asked was, you know, I went to Microsoft a few days ago and I heard I heard a 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 Microsoft Tag, and what the key metrics would look like across these tags, what those bench marks would be? So he asked all these three tricky questions and I was looking at the sales guy and the sales guy was looking at me and as soon as the meeting ended, he asked how do you have this information and said no, and I asked the the sales get do you have some of this information? He said No. And essentially all help row loose after the meeting because we started to scramble to get all the information needed to to answer these questions and given it was December fifteen, half the people were on vacation. We tried reaching out to the professional services guy in a MEA and asking if you had some deployments and some details around deployments. But at the end of the day, what happened at the end of the quarter was we lost the deal and and that caught me to a very pivotal point in my career and I sort of a defining moment, and that moment was I felt like you know, we aware is a company that's trying to grow from many billions dollars to the next billion of dollar, billions of dollars, and the most important function of a company is to create revenue. Yet all the salespeople have such a hard time getting to the information that they need to go and close deals and need the information needs of their customers, and I was all I was started wandering why are the enterprise sales people who are at the tip of the sphere for, you know, the strategy of a company, why are they so unsupported? And that pivotal moment kind of led to the birth of Contique, the startup I'm working on. Is How can we enameble the salesperson to deliver highly personalized, highly tailored fresentations and pitches to their customers and get the information needs that they have to meet the needs of their client met in in the most efficient and automated way? So that was kind of the birth of countaken. That was a pretty important moment in my career which led me to start the company with my...

...cofounder, who else, who I also met at being aware. So that's what story nasally and so that I mean that there's a lot there right. I mean there's the whole content curation part, but I also know you recently gave a talkt sales three entitled Pitch Perfect and it deals with ai in it. So could you help me understand where the where the AI interest came from and how you started to layer that in? Yeah, absolutely so. Fundamentally, I am proud to admit I am a geek. I I've been absolutely fascinated with the AI computer programming since as a as a teenager, and I've been reading more and more literature about Ai and I got super fascinated with the AI in the last about five to six years when the breakthroughs with deep learning and came about. So things like Danser flow. I think tensor flow came out a little bit later, but the programming language are came into being in a more dramatic way. The computers got to a point that where they were fast enough to do a lot of the processing and and I've always been taking classes in Ai on course era or any of the other online courts, and I took a course with the University of Washington, my Alma Mater, on the AI and over appeared about six weeks. I was able to write a simple program that was doing a text classification. So what the program did was it could identify if a speech was delivered by one of the you know about about ten precedents. So essentially the program was you would give it a speech and I would try and decide which precedent 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 just text. Was Startup texts. So I was able to do that. Got Very fascinated with text classification and and and concept search. wrote a simple algorithm where you can search for a concept, let's say, competitive differentiation and or value proposition, and and then I went back to my experience at amware where we have a having such a hard time, you know, finding the right content that we needed. The idea that we came up with was, what if he pulled all the content that existed in the enterprise and got people to connect their silos of content and if you could run concept search on top of all that content, then you could very precisely and quickly locate the content that you need, for example, Best Practices...

...for the software defined data center deployments, stuff like that. And so okay, so this is a this is a very focused application of ai, but a has a huge topic. Right. A lot of sales people out there, I mean, let's just put it bluntly, a lot of them freak out because it right really understand what it is or no. You go from everything from hey, hey, I is going to replace me to how do I leverage it? You know those that like, in this instance, how do I leverage it to make my job 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 these enterprise reps be freaking out or not? Yeah, so I think there's absolutely no, no credits to being alarmed with a I at all. In fact, the state of AI, in spite of all the whope lie, AI is pretty bad at solving generic problems that most salespeople have and a it's very good at solving problems with a large data set of outcomes and learning very narrowly for a specific use case or a specific problem, providing very good, good sort of results or outcomes when the use cases are very narrow or the decision points are very narrow. But AI is not good at general common sense or general 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 intelligence of salespeople in tasks which are fairly narrow. But I mean, given what sales people do, which is so broad and complex and such so much of it as relationship based, I think ai is far from it. In fact, every sale enterprise, sales person or even sales people should embrace ai and start using them for the narrow tasks where lots of data exists and they can use AI to get to a smaller set of possibilities which are more applicable to the 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 not be ready for. Value Prime solutions enables you to focus on sales, on the prospects and customers, not the noise, and the sales framework you implement with them is simple, scalable, improven. CHECK OUT VALUE PRIME SOLUTIONSCOM and ask how they can help you beat your target it. But there's three, three general classifications of a machine learning, deep learning and neural networks, and so yeah, you give considering there.

Our audience is typically, you know, revenue, exact CMOS, lea, sure, stuff like that. Can you 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 helpful at cocktail party, that dinner party with what have you. So the first one is Aiai simply, you know, a machine or essentially a machine or a computer replicating what human intelligence can do, and we're really talking about rational human intelligence. So that's that's the simple definition for artificial intelligence, basically replicating what human intelligence can do. And then there's machine learning. Machine learning is a 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 that led to those outcomes, machine learning is simply a way of fairly predictably getting from those inputs to those outcomes. Essentially, the program is or the machine is learning to predict the outcomes, learning from a large pool of inputs and outcomes. I hope that's clear. Yep. And the deep learning is simply a model or a machine that mimics how human intelligence works, or the human brain works. Essentially, humans have lots of neurons and the layers of neurons work together to remember things and learn things, and that same thing being replicated by a computer is what deep learning is at a very high level. Okay, and neural networks, Oh yeah, neural networks are essentially a subset or technique of for deep learning, and essentially it's a representation of the human brain based on the neurons that we have in our brains. Neural networks are essentially the programmatic or computers way of mimicking what the brain does. Okay, excellent. And so we talked a little bit about you know, where Ai is today and you think we should be embraced. I'm curious, what do you see in the next five years? Is there, you know, everybody's hearing about, you know, Elon Musk and and build. Yeah, it's in their time, about the end of the world and all this stuff, and it seems a little over the top to me. But I'm just kind of curious 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 think what we have visibility into is what AI is good at. In two thousand and seventeen and I can make some estimates...

...about two thousand and eighteen. That's as far as we can go because this technology is rapidly involved evolving. So I think the future beyond that seems pretty I mean the probability of the variability is pretty high. So for two thousand and seventeen, you know, generally speaking, as good at for broad categories. The first broad category is natural language processing and text classification. So things like Siri, even Google search are good 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 getting very good at, you know, like driving and perceiving objects. Just things like computer vision and perception of objects is improving constantly. So that's a big area where AI is showing a lot of promise. The third big areas around robotics. You know, the work that's being done at Boston Dynamics is showing that AI is getting pretty good at doing simple tasks with which involves some manual labor. And then finally, I think decisions and decision making, as well as 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 think ai for sales is going to be most effective at areas where there's large pools of 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 which set of customers are most likely to churn. But you need to provide the machine with a lot of data about inputs or the facets that go into figuring out, you know, what are the attributes of a customer for that determine a certain outcome. So so we're large pools of data are available and the problems 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 and eighteen, for sure. Okay, and we talked a little bit about how, you know, the idea for county came around. I'm curious you can you give us a little bit more understanding how you're marrying those two things right there, the content, the data and a yeah, what help our audience understand the breath of the problem? I mean, I think anybody who works in an enterprise understands you really can't find anything right, but how are you combining 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 thirty five million B tob sales people out there in the world and we done some good 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, much higher if the deal complexity or the deal size is much larger. So that's the amount of time they take to create a pitch or put together all the information required for a very tailored or personalized pitch, and on an average they're going through at least seven systems or to collect all this information. This information can be in crm systems, it can be in sales enablement systems, learning management 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 lot of manual searching around or processing that a salesperson has to do just to get the 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 time to go and edit and refactor this information into a pitch deck and get the getting all the fonts right, getting all the you know, the pictures to size 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 look like 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 tribal knowledge in most companies. Essentially, that knowledge is not easily available. The content that's one the most is also tribal knowledge to a large extent. So especially these are the three problems that most sales people face while creating pitches and that's where a lot of the three to seven hours goes. And what we're trying to do with contigue is take the process of creating a pitch down to thirty minutes from three hours and then eventually to thirty seconds and and and and at the same quality that sales people are used to. You know, the content is available, all the content that they need is recommended to them or suggested to them, and the way we do it is in this way that going back to the idea that if we could pool all the content that exists in an enterprise, and basically we put we create what we call the enterprise content lake. The Enterprise Content Lake is essentially where all the silos of relevant sales and marketing content can be pooled, and then we run concept search or ai based concept search on top of that.

So discovery of precise slides, precise sentences is very easily available. The second thing we do is we've created essentially a simple editor, a lot like powerpoint, and you know it's the fifteen percent of power point that sales people use. We made it even easier so they can, you know, get the right slides together, they can team them. There's one click logo changes, one click teeming changes. And the third thing we've done with contigue is we also enable the salesperson to present through contaque and they can capture insights like how much time was spent on a slide. By the way, every pitch is connected to a sales force opportunity or any whichever se arm system you use. So we also track whether the pitch was part actually one or was part of a winning, winning opportunity or not, and all this information, all these insights, are basically fed back into the enterprise content lake and the essentially what we're doing is we're really scoring the enterprise content lake based on the performance of the content. So what happens that 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, as a result, you can now create pitches in thirty seconds or thirty minutes to thirty seconds, but based on how complex the deal is, and your wind rates improve because you're now using the most effective content which is getting presented in your entire company and learning from it. Well, I mean that's a huge savings. I mean I can see speak for my own experience when we would do complex BTB pitches. I mean seven hours seems kind of light for some of the time that we would put in and granted. On my sales team I was kind of known because I actually knew how to use powerpoint or keynote or whichever one it was. But the vast majority of sales people, I mean you hear marketing complain about it all the time. You don't want sales people putting together those presentations because they never are, you know, thematically consistent throughout. You will have fons that are screwed up. To be able to really 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 it while reducing the amount of time it takes to put them together. Yes, absolutely, absolutely. In fact, marketing plays a key role in this whole sort of ecosystem by making sure that the content that they're creating is available in the content lake. But what essentially wins in an enterprise is is is the most effective content, and that being making...

...that content available as a learning tool for other salespeople is a pretty powerful way of improving the outcomes for the entire company. Nice. So and so the company is a whole. I mean, you guys were in Stell Moone for a while. Obviously, since we're tapping publicly, you know you're not now, but yeah, kind of. Where are you guys? On the on the growth path, and one of the biggest challenges you're facing right now. Yeah, we are just launched a Beta so you can go try it out and most of the discovery capabilities for content care out now and we are expecting to have a lot of the editing and 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 able to take it for a test drive, create pitches and hopefully in thirty thirty seconds in some cases, but definitely in thirty minutes or so, which are highly personalized and tailor and and have the insights from other salespeople within their company and 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 next year, sometime in January, and the biggest challenge has been just, you know, I guess people are a little bit reluctant to try something new and their little skeptical and they have the prove it kind of mentality and we totally embrace 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, getting people 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 that Beta, where does it start? To pull content from my just use my machine. In the Beta you can upload content from your machine from Google drive and drop box. So you just need to enter your credentials and all your 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 see the AI based concept search capabilities. And then we're adding new content repositories such as box and one drive and share point in the next few months. And so I know there's a little of track, but we's so I'm because I'm deeply curious 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'm a rep I'm providing access to all of my content. So I guess maybe it's more like a data pond. And so yeah, we get that point. But for rolling it out to an enterprise, how long, like how long would it take this system? You...

...guys? I guess you guys would set up a day to lake point everything at that and then tell everybody to dump their content into it, because you know, sales reps are all carrying around, you know, multiple versions of decks and stuff. How long writ that 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 less than thirty minutes. It's really the time it takes for the content to sink is the time we need. We've sinked a pool of about a hundredzero decks in less than a day. But really, the I mean really, you need a couple of hooks. Right. One is you need a hook to the company content repository. That that really takes a few minutes. If you have the right credentials, then that's all you need. And then you need a hook to the sales force system. Individual reps can do them or the company Adman can do it for them, but really, set up and deployment is less than five minutes. The data sink can take a while based on how much content you have. But yeah, we're s we just deployed for a customer called the armor team of about sixty salespeople and they were up and running in less than a day with all their content SINCD. They were using contique to prepare their pitches and the head of sales enablement is already reporting that eighty percent of time in discovering the right content is is disappeared. They've really in fact, they've taken there's discovery time down from thirty from about three hours on 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 Direction here a little bit. Sure ask all of our guests kind of the two standard questions towards the end of each interview. Now you as a cofounder and CEO of 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 front of you, and I'm curious, from your perspective, what's the best way for 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 little bit of research about the company and about me to know I'm at least have a pretty good hypothesis on things like what I care about. Just that level of preparation and creating a vision for how they can potentially add value to my business 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 done their 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. There was one thing, one piece of advice or insight, you could give the sales marketing consultants, one piece of advice that you believe would help them hit 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 lot and one thing I've noticed that seems to work really well is just what I talked about doing a lot of preparation and building a as complete as a picture of of the person as you can. So I fundamentally believe that all selling is person to person. So one thing I've started to do is beyond the linkedin and looking at their website and looking at their twitter post or blog posts. I also started going starting to go to their like essentially to their facebook page or not, not in a creepy way, but just to get a better understanding of, you know, what are they all about? Like, what do they really care about as a person? And and then even talking 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 really well is taking a very thoughtful gift, not in the first meeting, but maybe as the conversation keeps progressing, that that's very tailored and personalized to their interests. That seems to do a do quite a bit of magic. In fact, one of our prospects, you know, not prospect, one of our VC's who's who did invest in us. He had a huge passion for books and learning and based on some of the talking and some discovery conversations we had, 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 impact business in the next twenty years in a big way and I gifted him that and he was absolutely thrilled to get it and he read he's he told me he read it within a week or two. And you want to discuss the findings and 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 they know 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, and take a huge amount of time. It just takes some focus. I see 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 the show today. If people want to get in touch with you or talk more about the topics that we've touched on, what's the best way to get in touch with you? Yeah, just emailed me a Runa CONTACOM. Excellent. All right. Well, again, thank you very much for being on the show. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. All right, everyone that does it for this episode. Please check us out a be to be REV exaccom. Share the episode with your friends, Family's co workers. If you like what you here, please write a review on itunes. We do use that being put to determine who we bring on the show. And until next time, we have value prime solutions. With you all, nothing but 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 for your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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