Sales conversations are rich with insight about customers and prospects, but they are frequently a blind spot for organizations. A new category of solutions – conversational intelligence – is helping organizations generate insights and action from sales calls.
What’s Conversational Intelligence Technology?
Conversational intelligence is a fancy term for voice recording and transcription software. Conversational intelligence technology work with web conferencing tools like Zoom or WebEx. A conversational intelligence vendor like Gong, Chorus.ai, ExecVision, or Salesloft records sales conversations in your web conference tool, transcribes it into text, and stores it in a central repository. It then compares that conversation to others from the organization, along with the sales team’s emails with prospects in its database, and looks for keywords and phrases that have led to successful outcomes (e.g. pipeline stage improvement).
The vendors differ on capabilities. As an example, Chorus.ai boasts that its software is able to summarize a lengthy conversation into a short paragraph that is more easily scannable by sales managers and sales reps. On the other hand, Gong touts its software’s ability to identify key phrases and to understand human emotion.
Conversational intelligence technology integrate with CRM platforms such as Salesforce, which means organizations can tie their transcribed phone calls to contacts within their CRM. The biggest difference between conversational intelligence technology and automated transcription software like Trint is that automated transcription software is focused on transcribing recordings as accurately as possible whereas conversational intelligence goes one step further by not only transcribing recordings but by analyzing these transcriptions for trends in the data. Also, some of the conversational intelligence vendors are able to provide suggestions to sales reps in real time to help nudge a conversation in a particular direction.
Common sales use cases for conversational intelligence
Conversational intelligence is typically considered a sales coaching technology, which is no surprise since the major players in the conversational intelligence space, such as Gong, Chorus.ai, ExecVision, and Salesloft (after their acquisition of NoteNinja), position themselves as sales coaching platforms.
Today, conversational intelligence technology is marketed for five primary use cases:
- Sales coaching. Sales managers review calls with sales reps and provide coaching/feedback; reps can review successful sales calls to learn from top performers.
- Sales on-boarding. New sales hires listen to successful sales calls to shorten their ramp time to quota attainment.
- Pipeline management. Sales managers review late stage calls so they can help progress key deals and more accurately forecast.
- Sales process improvement. By gaining visibility into sales conversations, organizations can identify bottlenecks in their process and make changes.
- Tribal knowledge sharing. Sales conversations hold a wealth of information and can be used to influence the product roadmap, messaging and positioning (voice of the customer), and competitive market intelligence.
Marketing use cases for conversational intelligence
Sales coaching is by far the number one use case for conversational intelligence technology. It’s also not a shock that the next four use cases are sales focused too. That said, there are missed opportunities – HUGE missed opportunities – specifically for marketing departments, which we have yet to hear anyone reference. Though there are multiple use cases to consider, below are the first two marketing use cases for conversational intelligence technology you need to be thinking about.
One of the main ways product marketing obtains competitive intelligence is by having conversations with sales reps, customers, and prospects. This takes time and the typical product marketer isn’t able to devote several days a month to shadowing calls and doing ride alongs with sales. Through the use of conversational intelligence tools, however, a product marketer can efficiently audit several dozen or even several hundred conversations and filter them down to specific competitors and/or feature sets. Now, by no means are we suggesting that product marketing should stop doing ride alongs with sales. We are saying that use of this technology can help product marketing efficiently source competitive intelligence in a highly scalable and cost effective way.
Creating content is really easy to do. Creating engaging content is difficult and creating content that resonates is even more challenging. Product marketers can review sales calls and customer engagements to gain a better understanding of how prospects and customers talk about their needs, wants, and requirements. Using these insights puts them in a better position to create more authentic messaging in the content they create. Beyond this, though, they can identify the key terms and long tail terms from transcribed conversations to inform their SEO and PPC strategy to drive more traffic to the website. For example, a marketer can monitor keywords and phrases from transcribed sales calls and, as new ones appear, can add these keywords to the list of search terms to increase their ranking in Google. For ABM, they can also analyze successful deals, create customer segments based on win/loss analysis, and then review the sales conversations within these segments to create highly relevant content for individual customer segments and individual accounts.
The Iron Horse Insight
If your company already uses a conversational intelligence vendor in sales, try using it in marketing too. On the other hand, if the company doesn’t use conversational intelligence, and messaging and competitive positioning is a key focus, marketing may consider teaming up with sales to purchase conversational intelligence for the organization.
That being said, conversational intelligence is only useful if your organization records lots of conversations and if your sales reps practice using similar approaches in their sales calls. In other words, conversational intelligence technology creates a lot less value if your sales calls don’t have structure to them. Ensure that sales calls have a defined beginning/opening, middle/open discussion, and end/closing. It’s even better when your sales reps use similar transitional phrases so the software can appropriately break the call down into different components. If your sales process and, more importantly, your sales calls are like the wild west (lack structure and a defined approach) then you’ll get less out of conversational intelligence because the software and your organization will have difficulty drawing insights from the data.