The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

How Business Conversations Are Changing w/ Jim Benton

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 Chorus.ai. 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 Chorus.ai 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 Chorus.ai. 

 

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 are being used in the sales experience. Today you're listening to the BB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping 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 BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about how the current state of the world's impacting business conversations. It's a little crazy out there, and everything from prospecting to sales calls to communications with existing clients, things are changing, and fortunately there is data that allows us to stay ahead of the curve if we're willing to 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. Thanks excited to be here. So, before we jump in, we always like to ask kind of a random questions or so the audience gets to know you a little bit better and with the way the world is right now, it provides an opportunity to dive into maybe something you know in this new work from home reality, that you've been able to reconnect with, whether it be a hobby of passion, a pastime, family time, just something you've been able to explore, some positive element that's come out of this for you. Would love to understand what that is for you and why it's so important. Mine might 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 meet a 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 those interactions and quality time with the kids. So it's a new new hobby. Excellent, excellent. Right. So let's start with a quick overview. Of course, that Ai. For those that...

...may not be familiar, especially when you use the phrase conversation intelligence platform, help us understand what course does and what that what that phrase means. Yeah, so we we are, you know, capturing the conversations that sales teams are having with the customers probably the most important aspect of building up relationships. So we have a native integration into zoom. We work with all different meeting platforms, but it's about deeply understanding whether your team is bringing its best and what works best to drive conversations forward and goals forward. How do we deeply understand what happens in those conversations and the key topics and whether competitors mentioned a pricing and unlock that voice of the customer, bringing it back to the rest of the company and getting this kind of truth into the rest of the stale the sales tack get rid of the sales story that we all tell ourselves, right, you know, we now know what actually happened and how do we deeply hear it straight from the Voice of 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 in and 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 up in calls or what trends have you seen? Are Impacts? Yea, it's been interesting. We started looking at specifically the covid nineteen mentions back in early February, so i February twenty three. We saw it jump up to eight percent of calls had a mention of covid in a week later, is twenty nine percent by March, eighth of the sixty three percent and it jumped up to 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 of how 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 even the new cycle on it. Well, and so and now or so we're just for the audience, you know where...

...it's middle of June when we're recording this. And now the news is, you know, everybody's trying to reopen and there's a whole bunch of new stuff. But when you say that you saw the spike and then there's new trends coming out, what kind of new trends ideally are you seeing? Yeah, today it's interesting. I'm looking at some of our most recent day to to is sort of what is this all mean now that we're reopening and it just dealing with this this new normal and interesting things like demos are eight percent shorter now, and why? Because Demos are starting later. They used to start right after the ten minute of a call and now they start around the twelve minute of a call. So there's more 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 and other other so, like funt, let's think fundamentals, right. So everybody, everybody has an opinion on you know, should I be emailing more, cold calling more or things like that, but are there fundamental changes that you're seeing? Is a taking more calls to get ahold of a prospect or less calls? Or people is their call fatigue because everybody's working from home? or or maybe, like myself, they're looking for a reason to talk to another human 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 at cold 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 take it Dept. they dropped dramatically the week of March twenty three and that makes sense. 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 those phone numbers aren't active. Of Your more reliant on cell phone numbers. But what'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 we didn't see a big drop and that we basically have been seen is that if you'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 meeting volume, for all of the same reasons that I think about. You know, why I picked the phone now more when I get cod calls. Are People booking more meetings? And maybe it's a trend that you know, as Covid and shelter and play started happened, we saw something different than maybe what you'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 essentially it's been down about nine percent from what we were seeing maybe in the January time frame, but that was a surprise to us. I would have expected to see a much bigger drop. But the other too. Yeah, I mean 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 on meeting volume. So if it's a collaboration project management companies, you know they are up forty five percent since pre covid. Sales Tech companies up six percent, in tech up ten, security up seven. But there's companies that are 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 looks sort 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 have screeched 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 of the one of the fitness galleries here in town, not a gym, but they sell home gym equipment. His businesses is up three hundred and sixty eight percent. He says his phones running off the hook. Isn't enough time in his 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 I would assume, and please correctly if I'm wrong, that dependent upon the industry that I'm calling into, my level of empathy and my approach has to change based on the reality of the individuals in...

...those markets and segments and what's going on in those in those types of businesses. Is that a fair assessment? We've been here in interesting pieces on that. First one is your ability to target accounts based on the industry is that are thriving and and, you know, making it through this in a more positive way. That's critical. So making 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 this data is that in markets that you think might be down. Don't we keep hearing more positive attributes? An example was a company that was selling point of sale systems to restaurants. You would think that that would be my assumption was that's getting crushed, specially back in, you know, March, in April time 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 to upgrade their systems. It's quiet, they can do it. And whether you know how that was playing out, it was an authentic comment. I didn't feel like I was just being told that it was. They were seen upside and they had to target the right accounts themselves. So I think there has been some just great conviction to work through this and to bring good sluices together during 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 to now or again? was that trends different through March April time frame and changing now, 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 executive involvement 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're finding is that, you know, I would have an eighty eight percent increase in my leadership joining those calls. So that's that's a director level, and as seventy two percent increase in executives joining the calls. That's significant. That's anging the way that I'm engaging. If...

I'm in a means that I'm having a almost two x involvement of my leadership on calls. And one of the drivers is on the bind side, so the vendors that are purchasing. They have doubled. We've seen a hundred percent increase in directors joining calls and a hundred and four percent increase in executives. So we're seeing a very different motion since pre covid of leadership being actively involved in these calls. Maybe one last APP that's really interesting is we see a ninety one percent increase in stfos joining calls. That's a big uptick. I mean in the middle of May we saw this jump up significantly. That really does shift the way you run your sales process and how you think about the materials and how you present our live it's different when you know you have the CFO in these college plant an active role 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 request for payment terms or making sales song. But it could in some situations make them shorter. We're seeing any impacts there? It's a good question. On the other payment term specifically, we saw a net thirty which used to be about seventy six percent of deals ad net thirty payment terms. Is a sort of early March data. It dropped as well as fifty six percent by mid April 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 thirty terms. So it's been yeah, you can see a direct impact and sort of the the severity of the the covid nineteen impact in this. What what I'm hearing, Chad, is that by having the exacts involved we are seeing sales cycles that are being very compressed in certain cases. So in some cases there 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 the right parties together who are moving incredibly...

...quickly to implement and sign off on new technologies that otherwise might have had a much longer sales cycle. Absolutely all right, 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 always insight. We know we have better vision, better focus of what we need to be doing and how we maybe need to enable our sales teams. So I'm curious how it's changed or impact of the selling motion at courus do a yeah, on our side, I think authenticity is just so key. I'm excited 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 in terms of just sales people really having to deeply think about the Roy they bring companies and how to communicate that in a more natural way, so it isn't so just automated, you know, sending out the sequence and you know of blitz, blitz, blitz. I think we're having to think more critically about how we engage people at how we rise through the noise to make sure that what we're doing is mission critical business essential. So for us, as an example, you know, this data was an example of look, we have remarkable data that can inspire and give confidence to executives out there who are trying to understand how their own teams are performing. How do we unleash this and get this out to the market and enable our sales team to use this data and sales calls? This is different than what we are doing before, but to be thought leaders and actually help people make brilliant decisions right now. That was one of our ways to change up our own messaging emotion. And are there 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'm kind of experiencing you people, are coming out of the the shock and off that was the initial you know, shutdowns and things like that. But what challenges are you seeing across the across the revenue funnel? I think that you know it in there's certain categories of companies that are just very negatively impacted other budgets 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 customers that are being impacted more severely than others and that's required us to be very nimble, very thoughtful and speed up our process of kind of connecting our own kind of finance ops teams closely connected to the sales and CS motion to make sure that we're just doing what's right for the customer then finding ways to work through this tough patch. So that that's one area. I think the second thing is just how do you how do you keep the team's motivated during this time? It's tough. You mentioned it. We're all at home and everyone's in different situations. There's some real challenge that comes with us. So how do you keep it interesting? And you know, on our side we've spet up 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 just any employee the company is selected. It's like a starday night live sort of experience, but it keeps it really interesting. So I sort of cohost this, but I've always enjoyed working with some member the team. That helps to keep it fresh and interesting and just little things. You scavenger hunts their virtual one last thing, Chad. We had a we had our first virtual wine tasting event with prospects last week. Is actually incredibly well done. It we had winery lead the tasting virtually, you know, pulling questions that were thoughtful and then break out groups at the end on specific topics. But it worked, you know, for what we were trying to achieve. We had people around the country coming together, drinking a lot of wine that was should you 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 virtual trainings. was always a small part of...

...our business. Obvious it's now a hundred percent of our business. And the shipping to shipping of workbooks were kids to individual homes. Have you run into privacy challenges? So, like I have 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 where they're like mm, why don't you just ship those all to us and we'll take 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 aware of us right in any challenge is about this. I also think people right now are if you're willing to ship them some bottles of wine. I don't know 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 that one 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 the first is simply, as a CEO, that means you are a prospect for sales professionals. I'm always curious to understand when somebody doesn't have a trusted referral into you, like there's no reference that comes in. What works best for you 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 and kind of an outcome person. Look, refers. Great, those are the clearly makes things easier, but that also assumes at the referral uses through for all thoughtfully. Isn't just you know, I'm connected to you, but I'm looking for conviction. I'm looking for someone that that really is personally choosing to reach out to me. You can tell that I was selected for a reason. Maybe they've got, you know, hundred companies. They think they can really help and they think I'm one of them. I want to hear that in the tone. I want to feel special and I want to see a thoughtful 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 from home and we can keep teams connected. That's not just a hey and referred in. It's we're playing mission critical role...

...right now to help keep executives connected and coaching their their team members. This is this is an optional you're going to buy us a beer in six months to say thanks for persistent. So I just think that authentic, thoughtful and fresh is so important, which is choose your own words, be thoughtful, do not put me into an eight step trip. Sequence of those can work, but make sure that I'm getting some thoughtfulness about why you reaching out to me, because I'm happy to take those calls if you think you can solve our problems. Excellent. All right. So last question. We call it our acceleration insight. I have a feeling I know what this answer will be. But if there's one thing you could tell sales marketing, our professional service people, one piece of advice you could give them that you believe would help them hit their targets, what would it be? M Why have a purpose? I have a purpose. When you talk 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 you why are you reaching out? How are you actually going to help that individual or that company? And I just think if you know the why, if you have that purpose, everything else is super easy. Guys, if, Jim, if a listeners interested in learning more about, of course, that ai or experience talking to you or ex seeing more of the data, where do you want us to send them? They can go to chorus dot ai and we've got a bunch of different links to take them to the data and to 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 been an amazing having you on the show. Thanks, Chad. Really appreciate it all right, everybody that does of this episode, you know the drill be to be REV exactcom share the episode with friends, Family Co workers. Like what you here? Leave us a review. Till next time. We have value selling associates with you 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 or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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