#AIForPipeline With Rob Wood
Establishing a strong, sustainable sales pipeline is one of the best ways to make sure your product is getting out there, and this can be done most efficiently with the use of AI. Instead of paying your sales team to click a mouse all day, they could be making the best use of their time doing what they're there to do: sell. Chad Burmeister sits down with Rob Wood, the VP of Sales at ClicData. Chad and Rob talk about how a sales pipeline can be made to improve with the use of AI. This is just one of the many ways you could be using AI for sales, but it's definitely a big one, so make sure you don't miss it!
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#AIForPipeline With Rob Wood
How Rob Wood, VP Of Sales From ClicData, Sees AI For Sales Working At ClicData
I'm excited to have with me, Mr. Rob Wood, the Vice President of Sales from ClicData. Rob, welcome.
Thanks, Chad. This is great. I'm happy to be here.
ClicData, you're in the space of these multibillion-dollar companies that were acquired. That must mean your company is gaining some traction and I have to believe you're excited to be working in this space.
It's exciting. Gartner said that the market space is going to be $23 billion and growing exponentially over the next few years. This is why Tableau was bought for $15 billion by Salesforce.
I talked to Gerhard Schartner and he said that if you look back to when TWA was an airline and they moved people on the airplanes, they were bought for something like $350 million. There was this other tool that's a data tool that aggregated information about all the airlines and they were bought for $400 million. OAG I think was the name of it. Information is more valuable than the names. It's incredible what you guys are working on.Welcome to the Sales Expert Channel. For those who are not familiar, this is a free online resource. There are 72 of us sales experts and they're completely free. AI for sales, what is it? Feel free to go online to Amazon and download the book, AI For Sales: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Sales. We literally wrote the book on it, interviewed 21 different CEOs and data scientists. There's a chapter on nearly every form of AI that we could think of and cover. We followed the vendor-neutral categories and that's how we put the book together. There are a lot of tools and technologies that are out there and choosing the right technologies and understanding AI, that's the purpose of this show. We're going to dive right in and ask Rob some questions. Before we start, AI and BI, it sounds like they're brother and sister or something. Tell us a little bit more about what does ClicData do and how do you guys leverage AI?
ClicData, we were the world's first 100% cloud-based, delivered in-house, business intelligence solution for businesses. We can tell a CEO or a frontline manager everything they need to know about their KPIs and what they need to focus on prior to them finishing their first cup of coffee in the morning. That's done with data. There's so much data out there and it wants to tell you its story. It's difficult and people often overlook how to leverage it and using the right tools to leverage it. We do have an AI functionality and a feature set as well as machine learning that takes advantage of that.
Our customers love ClicData. They probably don't even know they're using it in many cases, but when they log into the backend of all of our dashboarding, they can see trends on activities, how many dials does it take to book a meeting, how many emails and how many social touches. It’s sophisticated technology, but delivered in a simple interface. I love ClicData.
You provide much value to your customers and sometimes it's difficult to express the value you're providing unless you have a dashboard tool, a business intelligence tool with a single view, a single pane of glass. They can see everything that's happening to all the value you're providing. We love to have you as a customer.
Before we go deep into AI, let's learn a little bit about Rob Wood. Where are you from? Where were you born? What did you do in college? I'd like to understand your background.
I was born in a sleepy little town called Chandler, Arizona. It's now a booming metropolis. I'm an Arizona native. I grew up in the country on a ranch, went to Northern Arizona University. I did a lot more than college up there. I studied business and married the high school sweetheart in college. I have two kids that are about ready to be off the payroll themselves. I’ve lived in Arizona all my life.
I've always found that a lot of times the real passion for what you do in life. You're a head of sales. You run a competitive sales team. I expect you were a rep at one point. You became a manager and now you're a leader of a cool company. What did you do when you were younger that caused you to go down this path in the first place?
Growing up in the country, believe it or not, as a young kid, I was on a horse as long as I can remember and had cattle dogs. I did competitive rodeo up until I was almost done with high school. I’ve always been competitive, always wanted a challenge. If there are animals in the outdoors, you'll find me there.
The competition started young. I've always found it fascinating because a lot of salespeople start in sports or in your case rodeo. I've found a handful of folks start in something totally different, psychology, communications, etc. I think there's a common thread between all of us and that we're all competitive, so that's interesting. Let's go deep. AI for sales, it's a nebulous term. I think if you're selling product A or product B or C, you may define it completely differently. What are your thoughts on the term AI for sales?
I was at the Sales Leader Conference years ago. There were a lot of conversations about AI and it was evident then that people were struggling with the definition. The depth has become tighter. What's apparent is it's evolving both the idea, the definition and the technology involved with AI. I guess if you think about it, that's almost the quintessential basis is it's AI technology that evolves. Like anything intelligent, it evolves. As humans interact with it, develop it, add more to it, find out what fails, find out what works, I think that gets tighter. One of the interesting things is you asked me to try to define AI and how we use it. I come down to the efficiency aspect. I think that AI is the hyper-efficient use of data and the tools that do the work that would take human hours or even days to accomplish. It's doing things that are a scaled effort with a minimal touch point.
I think about building a list. Think about when you were in Chandler, Arizona selling for a company several years ago. What did you do? You had to go out to Yellow Pages and go through a phone book, maybe get in your car and drive around and talk about days and hours. It used to take a long time to figure out who your prospects are. Now you log into LinkedIn Navigator, you say, “Show me all the CEOs with companies that are growing and have X number of employees. What technographics are deployed?” Click a button and you've got your list of 1,300 people. I think that's the thing you're talking about.
That is but at the same time, if you think about it, now what? You've got 1,300. I'm not sure that's an efficient tool. I know who to call, but I still have to reach out to either cold email or cold call them.
Using AI to help you with that process is the next level. After you've got your list, what do you do? That's what we're going to talk about. We've got a 100% no rate. Nobody's using AI for sales. What's interesting, Rob, I attended a conference in New York City at the end of 2019. I asked the same question in 300 people and only 1 or 2 people raised their hands saying they use AI for sales. I said, “How many of you are using BI or using ZoomInfo?” Forty percent of the audience raised their hands. I said, “You're using AI. You just didn't know it.”
Something on the backend created the end product that they're using.
I think a lot of people may be using it. They just don't know they're using it. In your sales motion, how are you leveraging artificial intelligence based on that definition that you shared? How do you use it now?
It comes down to being efficient and excited about doing what you're doing and what creates that excitement, creates that efficiency is we're using AI to start conversations with people that have indicated they have an interest in at least having a phone call. People that have given us permission to call them. The calls don't always work out great. It's like all sales things. At the same time, these are people that are like, “Give me a call sometime. That's great. I'd like to hear about it or call me Tuesday.” These are people that some have a super interest, some are curious, and maybe there's not an opportunity for us to close the deal but sure as hell makes things a lot easier and much more efficient.
Let's peel back the onion a bit. I think the readers probably say, “This is all cool and it sounds good, but tell me the details.” This is your actual search of 1,300-plus people that are potential channel partners for you guys. Is that right? Do you remember when you built this list? What were you targeting then?
e went after the VAR community, the consultants that recommend products and technology. The consultants help implement the technology and then the traditional VARs of the late ‘90s, early 2000 that are still around that do both, sell the technology and recommend it. We're looking for people that wanted to add ClicData to part of their portfolio is either the ability to recommend something or the ability to recommend and sell something. That was what we were looking for, those partners. It's a $23 billion proposition. If you're a technology consultant or a reseller and you're not providing at least the conversation around BI to your customers or prospects, you're losing deals.
You guys can provide a white label solution like we're using. Is ClicData even exposed or is it totally hidden?
It's however they want to. We have partners that have 20 or 30 of their customers that are on a white label version of our product. It's their product. It looks like their product. They do the first line of support. They take the lion's share of the profit. We have consultants that say, “I'm a business consultant. I want to sit with the business leaders, the business decision-makers and I want to offer them 1 or 2 solutions. Tell them that I recommend it. It's up to you to go help close that deal.” It's a ClicData facing product where they're recommending ClicData at that point. It's both.
We've got the 1,300 people who could potentially be a reseller referral partner, white-label, and traditionally I think companies plan and execute sequences for email and maybe a phone. Up until now, they haven't had a way to do a social sequencing type of approach. By setting up profile views, invites, InMails and a sequence, this is how you're able to reach out to those 1,300 people without spending hours and hours of your workweek doing so. Let's dig into some of the messaging. You send an InMail and you're saying the first name, partnership opportunity. How did you come up with this messaging? How did it work for you?
It's one of those things where everybody always struggles with the messaging. We did too. We worked with your team. You've got some great folks and they say, “Here's the way we would recommend based on our experience with our customers.” We kept it simple to the point. These were people that were targeted. Everybody's only got so many minutes in a day they can spare. If I could say, “A partnership opportunity.” A partnership with what? You talk a little bit about it and maybe a little information, some teaser. At least it's somebody that says, “I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm a CPA that's hidden in a room someplace.” They're not even going to read that, that's fine, but someone says, “I'm a VP of sales, product manager kind of a thing,” then there might be an opportunity for them to say, “What does this mean?” We did that.
You're giving people money, “We want to give you a 50% margin. Would you like to talk?” I think that's a good value proposition. What's the difference between the InMail then? InMail cuts through the clutter and then there are connection requests. It looks like the connection request, there are 8 or 10 templates that this type of technology provides. This is basic. I came across your profile, thought it'd be good to connect. Do you think that's too benign? Do you think it's good to say, “I'm a VP, you're a VP. Let's connect.” What are your thoughts on that basic level of introduction?
For good or better or worse, people understand that 4 out of 5 connection requests is going to lead to somebody saying, “Let's partner in some fashion,” whether it's a customer, a vendor or whether that's the other way around or as a partnership opportunity. I think people go in knowing that, “I don't know who this guy is. I looked at his profile. His profile matches my station in my business life.” This isn't some kid that's two minutes out of college trying to connect with an SVP of product management. It's an executive-to-executive and they're like, “I'll share. I'll accept it, see what happens.”
The title is an important aspect. We've found across a lot of customer deployments that if it's a VP to a VP or higher then you can get as high as 40% to 50% connection rates. If it's a business development representative in my title, then I might only get 15% to 20%. Exec to exec is a piece of that equation. The other thing I'll point out here is if you're thinking of deploying this type of strategy, the other thing I've found is if you do have a sales team, maybe their title is managing director, maybe you can up-level their title. Maybe they are a BDR, but let's log them as sales director. It's easy to do now. The edge goes to the female, about 20% higher connection rates interestingly enough.
Now they've connected with you 30%, 40% of the time and then you implement a sequence. You wait 3 or 4 days, then you send another note. You wait five days later after that. This is unique because you're looking for people who want to be channel partners and you're offering them a healthy margin. Any thoughts on how this messaging should come across to them? I know I've been connected to and then I get a snap, “We do offshore business development or we build applications in a mobile device,” and I instantly delete those. How do you make this so that the customer says, “This is cool, I'm interested?”
A BDR is going to talk one way to a VP. I'm going to talk a different way. It’s like, “Your time is valuable. I think I've got a quick conversation that might benefit both of us. If you'd like, I can shoot you over some information.” What that does is it's in your court. It's passive. Even though I don't necessarily like being passive, it works in this fashion because a lot of responses are either, “No, Rob. Thanks. I appreciate it,” or it's, “Yes, send me that information over.” What's important about that is now all of a sudden that 1,300 people that we started out with, I know immediately if I've got the right list or not because if I get a bunch of people that are saying, “No.” That's more valuable than somebody not telling me anything because the response tells me, “Am I on the right path? Do I need to need to course correct?”
I went to a great event called Flip the Script that was put on by Chorus.ai and Josh Braun was one of the presenters. He talks about giving six deposits before you ever ask for a withdrawal. He used the Legend of Zelda. I don't even remember that game, but I know the name. He would say, “Link, I bet that brown wooden sword that you have has gotten you fine through levels 1 through 3. It looks like you're about to enter level four. You're probably unaware of this, but you're going to need a silver sword and here's the cave. You can find it. I don't want to meet with you. I don't want to tell you anymore. That's going to give you value.” The next week, “Link, you're probably finding that silver sword is working okay, but your lives are getting taken down because the fighters are fiercer than they used to be. Here's where you can go find hearts in another cave.” It gives six deposits before one withdrawal. I thought it was an interesting and compelling concept. I think that's what you follow.It's respect and value.Those are important things to think about. Here's the result. When we're doing email for customers these days, 1% reply rate, 2% reply rate, 4% to 8% opt out. It's become spam cannon central. I've seen that happen. Somebody posted lately, Ryan, who's now connected, he made a post and he said, “I'm getting these spam emails. Let me go ahead and reply in 0s and 1s.” He showed the tool that converts it from text to 0s and 1s and he's like, “Stop, self-destruct to the bot.” Getting these reply rates through social media is off the charts. Fifty-six percent, what did you do with all that response? What did it come in?
It's interesting because I get in the office at 6:00 in the morning and I sit down. The first thing was open up my email with a cup of coffee. Literally, I sit there and I start deleting stuff that is completely irrelevant to what I want. Everybody's got filters and stuff set up. When you think about when you sit down with LinkedIn, you've made a choice to say I'm going to engage with a tool that is meant for interactivity with people I know and don't know. I think that was one reason why we've had such successful reply rates but the other thing is if I'm getting noes, that means that people are either too busy or the message is wrong, but I'm getting a reply.
Of those 56, there was a number that said, “Send me your information. Let me understand what you're doing.” “This is cool, Rob. It's not on our radar now. Why don’t you ping us next year?” “This is cool, you need to talk to Joey or Jane. Here's their information. I don't quite understand. Help me understand this more.” It's 56% interactivity is what I call. They interacted with me either by telling me to go pound sand or by saying, “I'm interested enough to have you send me information.” You're not telling me that you're going to pick up the phone and call me. You don't want to say, “I think we can do great things together.” How do you know you can do great things together? I don't even know what you do. I think we've got the right reproach. The response rate helped us understand what course we're on, if that was right.
One month, 124 replies. I think most marketers, most heads of sales, most sales reps, you'd be happy with 124 replies in a month. It's outstanding. Let's keep digging. Outside of this social motion where you're reaching out to multiple people and getting such a huge reply rate, what other technologies do you see out there that are leveraging AI or even not leveraging AI? What are the technologies that you find to be cool and valuable that maybe people haven't heard about?
We’re a BI platform machine learning as well. Business Intelligence data visualization, you’ve got to imagine, we're a tech company. We have a giant dark room full of a bunch of happy little coders that are doing their job. Everybody's always tinkering with different things. One of our developers had a great idea that says, “Why don't we connect Slack to our top customers?” Slack has the ability to add a non-subscribing Slack person. If someone is not subscribing to Slack, you can add them as somebody you want to have that direct connection to. We took all of our top clients and gave them a Slack connection and that Slack connection was to 1 or 2 of our senior-level support people and development people to allow them to immediately ask the question, “I'm having trouble with doing this. How do I do this? This might be a great feature or we need to do this differently. Can you help us?”These are already customers. What's interesting is they all used it but there wasn't that many that used it often. An overwhelming number over the last few months for those customers, they've upgraded in some fashion. We've gotten more revenue from them because we gave them a tool with a deposit. We gave them a tool that we didn't charge them for it. That gave them direct access to the developer and a senior service person and engineer. It wasn't someone that says, “Come through me. I'm Bobby Sales. I'll make sure you're always taken care of.” We're going to take the middleman out. When that Slack comes across the guy in development or the guy in services, he knows that account. He knows who that person is. He took care of him. People appreciate that. We've seen great success with that.
I've got an eSign vendor that I use. They've got a chat channel that's on their website. I get every time a low-level person who can't support my requirements. I sit there and go back and forth. I've got six minutes to do this between calls. I want to get in, fix the problem, and get out. It's, “No, I can't meet with you. Here's the FAQ. Let me give you the directions.” It's 24 bulleted directions, which I've already gone through once and now I'm being told to do it again. I think you're onto something with Slack. That's amazing. How does a sales pro decide which tools they should be using?
This is a loaded question in my opinion. Every sales professional has their own opinion, but what you have to come down to is, “Who is writing the check?” They need to decide what tool is easy to use, but you've got that scale you got to balance. Ease of use and ROI. I don't think you can let the inmates run the asylum. I think you have to hear the corporate strategy, what that vision is, and then find the tool that's going to be the least expensive versus the ROI and the easiest use I should say versus the ROI.
If you think about the technology that you've used that we showed, it's $500 a month. A rep might look at that and say, “You're automating my job.” My answer is, “You're right I am. Why would I pay $4,0000 to $5,000 for you to do those actions when I could use technology to do it?”
I shouldn't pay someone to click a mouse to click a button.
Rob, how can people get ahold of you and ClicData? If you're tired of these big companies who don't have direct access support through things like Slack, you don't have someone to work with Rob and his amazing team, and you want to look at new BI technologies. How would they get ahold of you?
There are some attachments, if you haven't gotten those yet, I highly encourage you to read Rob Wood's quote. I'll read it here in case Rob hasn't seen this on the website. It says, “We trust Chad. When he tells us to do something, we do it.” Rob, it was great talking with you.
I appreciate your time. Thanks for joining the show. We'll catch you next time.
- AI For Sales: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Sales
About Rob Wood
Sales & Marketing Executive with more than 25 years of executive leadership with companies including CA Technologies, NetApp, and Sage.About ClicData:
►Connect and ForgetImport, connect and standardize your data into a single, powerful, cloud-based data warehouse.
►Real-Time InsightsView your key indicators and performance metrics, always up to date, any time you want.
►Custom DashboardsSimply drag and drop features to build persuasive, informative, interactive, actionable dashboards.
►Social BIShare data, insights, metrics, and reports with the groups and individuals you choose.