The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

How Business Conversations Are Changing w/ Jim Benton


Has the pandemic made you worried to say the wrong thing?


How has it changed how you talk with clients?


When the world changes, business conversations change. And it helps to know how others are successfully adapting their conversations to these uncertain times.


That’s why I’m excited to be joined today by Jim Benton, CEO at He is an expert on how COVID has changed our conversations — and he brought the data to back it up. 


In this episode, he explains:


- How works


- How COVID-19 is affecting engagement


- What to do with this wealth of data


This blogpost includes highlights of our podcast interview with Jim Benton, CEO at 


For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

There's more time being spent on empathy, on coming to agreement, on understanding folks. That's impacting how demos arebeing used in the sales experience. Today you're listening to the BB revenue executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams tooptimize 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 BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about how the current state of the world'simpacting business conversations. It's a little crazy out there, and everything from prospectingto sales calls to communications with existing clients, things are changing, and fortunately thereis data that allows us to stay ahead of the curve if we're willingto listen. To help us, we have with US Jim Beten, CEO, of course, dot a I, a conversation intelligence platform. Jim,thank you for taking the time and welcome to the show, Chad. Thanksexcited to be here. So, before we jump in, we always liketo ask kind of a random questions or so the audience gets to know youa little bit better and with the way the world is right now, itprovides an opportunity to dive into maybe something you know in this new work fromhome reality, that you've been able to reconnect with, whether it be ahobby of passion, a pastime, family time, just something you've been ableto explore, some positive element that's come out of this for you. Wouldlove to understand what that is for you and why it's so important. Minemight not be that original, but the idea of just walking around the neighborhood, you know, taken a few kids out after dinner and you just meeta ton of neighbors and Audi know before totally, but it's been just awesome, you know, getting around and seeing people and you're kind of craving thoseinteractions and quality time with the kids. So it's a new new hobby.Excellent, excellent. Right. So let's start with a quick overview. Ofcourse, that Ai. For those that...

...may not be familiar, especially whenyou use the phrase conversation intelligence platform, help us understand what course does andwhat that what that phrase means. Yeah, so we we are, you know, capturing the conversations that sales teams are having with the customers probably themost important aspect of building up relationships. So we have a native integration intozoom. We work with all different meeting platforms, but it's about deeply understandingwhether your team is bringing its best and what works best to drive conversations forwardand goals forward. How do we deeply understand what happens in those conversations andthe key topics and whether competitors mentioned a pricing and unlock that voice of thecustomer, bringing it back to the rest of the company and getting this kindof truth into the rest of the stale the sales tack get rid of thesales story that we all tell ourselves, right, you know, we nowknow what actually happened and how do we deeply hear it straight from the Voiceof the customer? Excellent. And so with this, with this platform,you're obviously you're getting a lot of data. There's a lot of data coming inand I'm curious right now, just given the current state of things,how often are you hearing we're seeing covid or coronavirus source related drivatives showing upin calls or what trends have you seen? Are Impacts? Yea, it's beeninteresting. We started looking at specifically the covid nineteen mentions back in earlyFebruary, so i February twenty three. We saw it jump up to eightpercent of calls had a mention of covid in a week later, is twentynine percent by March, eighth of the sixty three percent and it jumped upto ninety eight percent by March sixteen. So we saw a significant increase.It's dipped clearly since then. We're seeing kind of new trends in terms ofhow people are engaging, but it was fascinating to watch that, you know, go up and that was in some ways just a beat ahead of eventhe new cycle on it. Well, and so and now or so we'rejust for the audience, you know where...'s middle of June when we're recordingthis. And now the news is, you know, everybody's trying to reopenand there's a whole bunch of new stuff. But when you say that you sawthe spike and then there's new trends coming out, what kind of newtrends ideally are you seeing? Yeah, today it's interesting. I'm looking atsome of our most recent day to to is sort of what is this allmean now that we're reopening and it just dealing with this this new normal andinteresting things like demos are eight percent shorter now, and why? Because Demosare starting later. They used to start right after the ten minute of acall and now they start around the twelve minute of a call. So there'smore time being spent on empathy, on coming to agreement, on understanding folks. That's impacting how demos are being used in the sales experience today and andother other so, like funt, let's think fundamentals, right. So everybody, everybody has an opinion on you know, should I be emailing more, coldcalling more or things like that, but are there fundamental changes that you'reseeing? Is a taking more calls to get ahold of a prospect or lesscalls? Or people is their call fatigue because everybody's working from home? oror maybe, like myself, they're looking for a reason to talk to anotherhuman being that isn't someone I'm living with twenty seven. Hey, look,I know the feeling, but I one thing we've noticed on just looking atcold calls overall, cold called dolls are down twenty seven percent since January.That's as of kind of mid February data point. So cold calls did takeit Dept. they dropped dramatically the week of March twenty three and that makessense. That's when sheltering place really kicked in and they've kind of stayed lower. You've got, you know, people not in the office, so thosephone numbers aren't active. Of Your more reliant on cell phone numbers. Butwhat's interesting is that those making calls are connecting at almost the same rate.So we've seen connect rates hold steady around the ten percent mark. So wedidn't see a big drop and that we basically have been seen is that ifyou're willing to make the calls, people...

...will pick them up. Wow,and and so anyway, the system can provide insight into just like overall meetingvolume, for all of the same reasons that I think about. You know, why I picked the phone now more when I get cod calls. ArePeople booking more meetings? And maybe it's a trend that you know, asCovid and shelter and play started happened, we saw something different than maybe whatyou're seeing now. Yeah, the IT's interesting on the overall meeting volume,it is held incredibly steady since pre covid levels. You know it is essentiallyit's been down about nine percent from what we were seeing maybe in the Januarytime frame, but that was a surprise to us. I would have expectedto see a much bigger drop. But the other too. Yeah, Imean everybody shifting and working from home. And when we peeled the onion back, what we've noticed is that certain segments, certain verticals, are significantly up onmeeting volume. So if it's a collaboration project management companies, you knowthey are up forty five percent since pre covid. Sales Tech companies up sixpercent, in tech up ten, security up seven. But there's companies thatare significantly down. So HR tech and recruiting companies are down twenty eight percent, Databi Down Twenty and so when you put that together, although it lookssort of even and flat, there's a wider variance by segments. For sure. Definitely would base a lot of industries that we're going stronger. I havescreeched to a halt and and some of those that were just, you know, doing well have taken off. Like I was talking to the president ofthe one of the fitness galleries here in town, not a gym, butthey sell home gym equipment. His businesses is up three hundred and sixty eightpercent. He says his phones running off the hook. Isn't enough time inhis day to take the meetings because everybody wants a home gym, all right. So it's interesting to see how, when you look across those industries,in those markets, it changes. And then not only that, but Iwould assume, and please correctly if I'm wrong, that dependent upon the industrythat I'm calling into, my level of empathy and my approach has to changebased on the reality of the individuals in...

...those markets and segments and what's goingon in those in those types of businesses. Is that a fair assessment? We'vebeen here in interesting pieces on that. First one is your ability to targetaccounts based on the industry is that are thriving and and, you know, making it through this in a more positive way. That's critical. Somaking sure that you're focusing your time and effort on industries that are up.That the second piece that surprised me when I've talked to different guests reviewing thisdata is that in markets that you think might be down. Don't we keephearing more positive attributes? An example was a company that was selling point ofsale systems to restaurants. You would think that that would be my assumption wasthat's getting crushed, specially back in, you know, March, in Apriltime period, and what I was hearing from this this one sales reader,was that look, restaurants behind, there's this to be a good time toupgrade their systems. It's quiet, they can do it. And whether youknow how that was playing out, it was an authentic comment. I didn'tfeel like I was just being told that it was. They were seen upsideand they had to target the right accounts themselves. So I think there hasbeen some just great conviction to work through this and to bring good sluices togetherduring a tough time. And have you seen a number of, say,executives involved in sales calls now versus a pre cold like January time frame tonow or again? was that trends different through March April time frame and changingnow, or is it is it just something that's kind of stayed constant?Yeah, that's been one of the more interesting stats. So both the executiveinvolvement on the sale side as well as in the bind side is up significantly. So on the sales side. So if I'm in AE, what we'refinding is that, you know, I would have an eighty eight percent increasein my leadership joining those calls. So that's that's a director level, andas seventy two percent increase in executives joining the calls. That's significant. That'sanging the way that I'm engaging. If...

I'm in a means that I'm havinga almost two x involvement of my leadership on calls. And one of thedrivers is on the bind side, so the vendors that are purchasing. Theyhave doubled. We've seen a hundred percent increase in directors joining calls and ahundred and four percent increase in executives. So we're seeing a very different motionsince pre covid of leadership being actively involved in these calls. Maybe one lastAPP that's really interesting is we see a ninety one percent increase in stfos joiningcalls. That's a big uptick. I mean in the middle of May wesaw this jump up significantly. That really does shift the way you run yoursales process and how you think about the materials and how you present our liveit's different when you know you have the CFO in these college plant an activerole and with the executive involvement increase. Does it change the buying cycle?Is it? ARE THEY WITH CFOS? I would wonder if it's changing requestfor payment terms or making sales song. But it could in some situations makethem shorter. We're seeing any impacts there? It's a good question. On theother payment term specifically, we saw a net thirty which used to beabout seventy six percent of deals ad net thirty payment terms. Is a sortof early March data. It dropped as well as fifty six percent by midApril and as bounce back up. So now we're seeing, you know,middle of May, about sixty seven percent of deals are back to net thirtyterms. So it's been yeah, you can see a direct impact and sortof the the severity of the the covid nineteen impact in this. What whatI'm hearing, Chad, is that by having the exacts involved we are seeingsales cycles that are being very compressed in certain cases. So in some casesthere are being much longer because we're not business essential that could be perceived.Certain companies aren't being seen as business essential, but in others we're getting all theright parties together who are moving incredibly...

...quickly to implement and sign off onnew technologies that otherwise might have had a much longer sales cycle. Absolutely allright, so let's let's pivot a little bit and talk about it in now. We got all this data, where there's all this day, there's alwaysinsight. We know we have better vision, better focus of what we need tobe doing and how we maybe need to enable our sales teams. SoI'm curious how it's changed or impact of the selling motion at courus do ayeah, on our side, I think authenticity is just so key. I'mexcited about what I'm seeing in sales right now in two thousand and twenty.It is some of the best sales I think we've seen in a decade interms of just sales people really having to deeply think about the Roy they bringcompanies and how to communicate that in a more natural way, so it isn'tso just automated, you know, sending out the sequence and you know ofblitz, blitz, blitz. I think we're having to think more critically abouthow we engage people at how we rise through the noise to make sure thatwhat we're doing is mission critical business essential. So for us, as an example, you know, this data was an example of look, we haveremarkable data that can inspire and give confidence to executives out there who are tryingto understand how their own teams are performing. How do we unleash this and getthis out to the market and enable our sales team to use this dataand sales calls? This is different than what we are doing before, butto be thought leaders and actually help people make brilliant decisions right now. Thatwas one of our ways to change up our own messaging emotion. And arethere challenges? I mean, there's a they're definitely a lot of positives,but I'm curious. You know, a lot of people, I think I'mkind of experiencing you people, are coming out of the the shock and offthat was the initial you know, shutdowns and things like that. But whatchallenges are you seeing across the across the revenue funnel? I think that youknow it in there's certain categories of companies that are just very negatively impacted otherbudgets and you know, how do we...

...get more creative to work with companies, be more flexible and just more thoughtful about either whether it's payment terms,how we put a deal together. But there are definitely categories and existing customersthat are being impacted more severely than others and that's required us to be verynimble, very thoughtful and speed up our process of kind of connecting our ownkind of finance ops teams closely connected to the sales and CS motion to makesure that we're just doing what's right for the customer then finding ways to workthrough this tough patch. So that that's one area. I think the secondthing is just how do you how do you keep the team's motivated during thistime? It's tough. You mentioned it. We're all at home and everyone's indifferent situations. There's some real challenge that comes with us. So howdo you keep it interesting? And you know, on our side we've spetup our velocity significantly. You know, we're weekly company wide all hands.We have a employees actually host y'all hands. So each week we have a justany employee the company is selected. It's like a starday night live sortof experience, but it keeps it really interesting. So I sort of cohostthis, but I've always enjoyed working with some member the team. That helpsto keep it fresh and interesting and just little things. You scavenger hunts theirvirtual one last thing, Chad. We had a we had our first virtualwine tasting event with prospects last week. Is actually incredibly well done. Itwe had winery lead the tasting virtually, you know, pulling questions that werethoughtful and then break out groups at the end on specific topics. But itworked, you know, for what we were trying to achieve. We hadpeople around the country coming together, drinking a lot of wine that was shouldyou know, just before the event, and having really Nice Dialog and conversation. It's interesting. The the the shipping to individuals at their homes right,and I know we're totally off scripture, but we've done virtual we've done virtualtrainings. was always a small part of...

...our business. Obvious it's now ahundred percent of our business. And the shipping to shipping of workbooks were kidsto individual homes. Have you run into privacy challenges? So, like Ihave some clients where they're like yeah, no, our client are customers,are people are fine. Here's a list of their home addresses and others wherethey're like mm, why don't you just ship those all to us and we'lltake care of it? Have you run into any of those challenges at all? I don't know. It's part of this process. I was not awareof us right in any challenge is about this. I also think people rightnow are if you're willing to ship them some bottles of wine. I don'tknow that's true. I guess it's completely different based on wine versus me.Sha been a kid to do some sense stray to say you say on thatone accident. All right, so let's change direction here a little bit.We ask all of our guests two standard questions the end of reaching of thefirst is simply, as a CEO, that means you are a prospect forsales professionals. I'm always curious to understand when somebody doesn't have a trusted referralinto you, like there's no reference that comes in. What works best foryou to capture your attention and earn the right to some time on your calendar? Yeah, it's a great question and you're talking to a former hunter andkind of an outcome person. Look, refers. Great, those are theclearly makes things easier, but that also assumes at the referral uses through forall thoughtfully. Isn't just you know, I'm connected to you, but I'mlooking for conviction. I'm looking for someone that that really is personally choosing toreach out to me. You can tell that I was selected for a reason. Maybe they've got, you know, hundred companies. They think they canreally help and they think I'm one of them. I want to hear thatin the tone. I want to feel special and I want to see athoughtful person want to engage with me, not just a book a meeting,but to really say, look, I think we can play a major role. We we want to do that for people. We know everyone's working fromhome and we can keep teams connected. That's not just a hey and referredin. It's we're playing mission critical role...

...right now to help keep executives connectedand coaching their their team members. This is this is an optional you're goingto buy us a beer in six months to say thanks for persistent. SoI just think that authentic, thoughtful and fresh is so important, which ischoose your own words, be thoughtful, do not put me into an eightstep trip. Sequence of those can work, but make sure that I'm getting somethoughtfulness about why you reaching out to me, because I'm happy to takethose calls if you think you can solve our problems. Excellent. All right. So last question. We call it our acceleration insight. I have afeeling I know what this answer will be. But if there's one thing you couldtell sales marketing, our professional service people, one piece of advice youcould give them that you believe would help them hit their targets, what wouldit be? M Why have a purpose? I have a purpose. When youtalk to everybody, it's the Jim Collins built the last book approach.But purpose is defined as how do you help people? So what do youwhy are you reaching out? How are you actually going to help that individualor that company? And I just think if you know the why, ifyou have that purpose, everything else is super easy. Guys, if,Jim, if a listeners interested in learning more about, of course, thatai or experience talking to you or ex seeing more of the data, wheredo you want us to send them? They can go to chorus dot aiand we've got a bunch of different links to take them to the data andto get started and to get that did yeah, to get a demo.Awesome. Hey, I can't thank you enough for taking time. It's beenan amazing having you on the show. Thanks, Chad. Really appreciate itall right, everybody that does of this episode, you know the drill beto be REV exactcom share the episode with friends, Family Co workers. Likewhat you here? Leave us a review. Till next time. We have valueselling associates with you nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening tothe BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode,subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you somuch for listening. Until next time.

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