Conversation Intelligence & The ROI Of AI For Sales With Jakob Thusgaard
What is conversation intelligence? In this episode, Jakob Thusgaard, Founder and CEO at YourSales, joins Chad Burmeister as they dive into conversation intelligence and the ROI of AI for sales. Get to know Jakob and his company as he talks about his journey from growing up in Denmark to doing business internationally. Jakob and Chad also discuss the COVID-19 situation based on what they’re seeing from similar industries and how it’s impacting people's selling philosophies and strategies. Tune in and learn the top things the pandemic has changed and turn yourself to a top inside salesperson.
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Conversation Intelligence & The ROI Of AI For Sales With Jakob Thusgaard
I'm here with Jakob with Your Sales. I assume that your email address is Jakob@YourSales.com. I'm excited to have Jakob here because both of us are in a similar industry. We help companies build and grow their pipelines, and we're both seeing what's going on with COVID and how that's impacting people's selling philosophies, strategies. Do they outsource? Do they insource? We're going to peel it all back. Hang on for the ride. The topic is AI for Sales in a COVID World. We're not saying post-COVID world notice because we believe that there are another 12, 18 months ahead. Nobody knows how long will the changes be felt. We're going to peel into that with a series of questions. Let's go ahead and get started. Jakob, we already got your name. Tell us a little bit about your company and where did you grow up?
I live outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I am Danish by region. I grew up in Denmark but pretty much as soon as I could from a professional perspective of wanting to go into national. I wanted to change from doing business in Denmark to doing business international, I figured the best way of being able to learn other cultures would be to move outside of Denmark. I moved away from Denmark in 2000, and I’ve been doing international business ever since. In 2012, I launched Your Sales. I help companies around the world with their sales growth. That can be done by providing lead generation or the dedicated reps. We deliver sales development reps, BDRs, any kind of rep account executives, account managers customer success, which I believe is part of sales. For new all reps, they're all part of what we deliver to companies anywhere in the world. We've delivered our services to customers in the hunt for sales in North America, South America, all of Europe, Asia, Asia Pacific, all over the place. I'm all into B2B sales and it's all I’ve ever done. It's probably all I'm ever going to do.
You've got a little bit of experience here. Denmark is where you're born. What did you do after that? Did you go to college?
I went straight to have a Business degree from the college in Denmark and basically moved into business after that. I ended up in sales by coincidence. I came in working like a student in an office where they sold video conferencing and worked physically close to a team that was understaffed. Very quickly they said, “We can use this guy to maybe answer the phone.” I started answering the phone and soon enough, I was doing short demos. After that, I was handling my own customers and going out to provide demos of these video conferencing boxes back in the day. We were talking about the ‘90s. There was no Zoom. Forget all that stuff. It was video conferencing systems with screens that were about as deep as they were wide. It was a completely different line, no broadband internet lines. It was all that ISDN and regular telephone lines.
Think about if this pandemic would have happened in 1995, we wouldn't have been ready.
We'd have gone mad long ago. That would have been terrible. That would have been true nightmare.
There's always a silver lining. At least we have our Zoom video.
Anything that we do now would have taken so much longer. It would have been inefficient. If it's about the internet minds and the banquet we have, but also the software that we have, it's way more efficient. Any of the Cloud-based software that we have now did not exist back then. They didn't have the Salesflare, Pipeline, Salesforces, any of those CRM systems, they didn't exist back then.
When you think of a place where that became Live Meeting, that became Microsoft Teams is what it might be called now. All of those things spawned off of the place of invention. That's interesting. Let's get into that. Let's do two things. I want to move forward to this one first. How have things changed with COVID-19? We talked about 100% of people now have been moved to the home. Everybody's an inside salesperson, that's one. I'm also seeing new, cool products come out and services. Let's peel this one back. If you were to say, “What are the top 2 or 3 things in sales that have changed since COVID-19?” what would you say those would be?
Before COVID-19, by then we saw that people are starting to use social networking as a starting point for relationship building much more than just in contribution to also telephone and email. Of course, telephone still works. Unfortunately, there are these assumptions flying around that now that we have COVID-19 that some of the ways the rat race that's worked in the past don't work anymore. That’s erroneous at best and disastrous at worst. We still can reach out to people in many of the same ways that we could pre-COVID-19. It's that people make these assumptions that the methods of old don't work anymore.
Part of the transition is that people are getting increasingly used to using things like LinkedIn for searching for new clients, but also for outreach. That's a transition being accelerated by COVID-19. That's something that we can say safely for most of what we've seen during the COVID-19 situation is acceleration rather than revolution. We've always been talking about the ways that we can do everything remotely, but we could do everything that we do now and sales. Are there actions that we could have taken remotely for the past 10, 15 years? It's that we have always been more comfortable moving into an office and doing things from that. Now that we are forced to work from home, things are starting to adapt more rapidly and people are getting increasingly used to work from home, doing everything from home. We're seeing this evolution acceleration that are certainly good for companies that are enabling that transition.
Technology companies have had inside sales for a long time and most of the time, from my experience anyway over the last decade or so, is that we as managers and leaders, we always wanted to have our people in the office to be able to manage activities and sales calls and quality assurance. With the advent of tools like Chorus, Gong and ExecVision and others, obviously CRM and sales acceleration technology, I'm seeing a productivity improvement with people that we work with and our sellers. Would you say the same thing? Can it enhance and improve the results by moving to a home environment?
It certainly can. It's not a given that it will. There are some sales professionals that will need a little personal development in order to be a good fit for being remote workers whilst others will work more productively in that situation. It depends a little bit on the personality type and how well of a fit they're off of that particular situation. Some of the things that are seen right now is that not everybody is going to be performing well in a remote scenario. They simply need employees or colleagues around them in order to feel motivated, to feel driven towards success. Others will be thankful of the peace and quiet that they have to focus on the task at hand, which you are, and very much depends on your personality.
One of the great things of this situation is that we finally realized that there's a subset of people, which are more than 30 years of age that will start to have kids and will maybe want to meet their families once in a while and you can get to know the children and working from home makes that possible. We saw that already pre-COVID-19 and you see it even more now that we have called the COVID-19 situation. An increasing amount of people are starting to perform at work and also stopped posting funny Instagram with their kids invading their “office space” during the COVID-19. Getting the best of both and starting to see how they can work remotely.
The other thing I'm seeing and I wonder if you're seeing this on the other side of the planet as well. Other industries like insurance, I spoke with the head of inside sales from a company that has been around since 1955. They have thousands of sellers in the world. After that many years, they're saying, “We better learn how to play with the new rules.” Are you seeing other industries outside of technology finally embrace the art of inside selling and remote selling?
Most of the declines that we have at your sales are technology companies in some shape or form. What's interesting though is that some of the industries that they are selling to where you might have said that some of them are more traditional industries and also from a buying perspective and would prefer a belly to belly sales process. They seem to be keener to do any buying that’s specifically face-to-face. For instance, we have a couple of insurance tech companies and then it's interesting, you mentioned insurance. A couple of insurance tech companies that were doing part of the sales funnel for, they are seeing great results. In fact, that seems surprisingly good results. We were happy to get them onboard and happy to get going. Now that they are, we're completely hitting it out of the park for those companies. That was a little surprising given the industry that they’re selling to.
The third piece of this conversation is we talked about it moved to inside sales and other industries. What about the tools and technologies that are changing? I like to ask it this way. What's your favorite sales technology that most people may not have heard about yet? Is there something that you're using? Maybe I can share one for you. SalesIntel is a data provider. Right at the beginning of COVID, in the first 2 to3 weeks, we did a couple of tests and it was taken 50 to 1, 70 to 1 dials to connect. If you call the switchboard, a lot of these companies hadn't bought RingCentral phones, or they hadn't hooked up Avaya to auto route from their office to their mobile.
In the early days, it was 50 to 1, 70 to 1, in some cases. We've discovered SalesIntel. They have a column in their data called the work mobile number. These are mobile numbers that were scanned off of business cards. We know it's a valid, legit recent number. We got it down to a 10 to 1 dial the connect. It’s 4 or 5, 7 times more effective than calling the switchboard. That was a big hack we found in this post-COVID world. Any big eye-opening moments for you that you've discovered?
For me, not much during COVID. What you're mentioning is the biggest one, because the biggest challenge that we've had so far as an industry that we've had is that calling the switchboard didn't make any sense anymore because there was nobody home. Finding mobile numbers has been the biggest challenge. For what's worked best for me it has been to rework sequences. They need to be multichannel either way, but reworking sequences to use combinations of LinkedIn and connecting with people on LinkedIn and working with content on LinkedIn. I’m using email in order to get that final piece of the puzzle that we can use to reach out to people and getting an engaging conversation.
That's been working well. Pre-COVID and also, I'm more surprised now during COVID. I'm amazed at how many people who have not discovered sales automation yet where you got to explain what things like Zapier. Meanwhile, you would think that Zapier is making any API and any API integration from one piece of software to another piece of software would be basic. It's not state-of-the-art anymore.
A business person can drag and drop now. There’s little technical assistance even required. You might have someone technical there to overlook your shoulder.
There should indeed be a sales operations team that ends up taking full responsibility for those things. Certainly, as organizations grow, that is highly recommendable but artistically, if we're talking about having thoughts on what might be possible, if we have this year trigger, what can we do with it? Being a little bit creative, I keep being a little surprised at what people don't know. For sellers of technology and for consultants in the sales space, there's a huge opportunity to educate people with regards to the positive business impact of having alternate automation and AI in your business. That is to focus on solving the problems of the sales funnel, maximizing the sales time for sales reps and having AI and sales automation tools take care of maximizing that time is incredibly important.
Last question. This has been an interesting conversation. While we're in the thick of things, it's always good to pick your head up, look around and see and hear what other people are doing. We've shared some of that. This is a trick question. Read it as such. How should a sales pro decide what tools are valid for him or her? I’ve always been a bleeding-edge technologist. Whether I was a rep or a manager, a VP or now CEO, it doesn't matter. I'm always going to go out, test, measure and try new things so I could be different and be more competitive than the average person. That said, if we empowered every single salesperson to be a rogue lone wolf, I don't know if that would work either. How do you balance that? When you say, “There are 5,000 tools you could go buy. I need you to use these 2 or 3 CRM, LinkedIn navigator, telephone, whatever.” How do you balance those two equations and still encourage your people to be creative and yet also stay within the guidelines of what the company tells them they should be focused on?
As an organization, this is about how having an understanding of what your clients need to buy and what are the elements that play a role in them making a decision and what do they need from you in order for them to be able to make that decision? If you can build a process that delivers that and see where you can automate that and stay on top of how to continuously evolve that process, that's a good step forward. That's when to put the sales tools that salespeople need in their hands and help them remains productive and competitive.
Don’t just chase the tools but chase the business problem and then bring in tools.
If a sales rep uses a tool and has no process, no aim, that tool in particular, if it's a tool that automates anything, there's a real risk that it'll take them to a dark place quickly. Whereas if you think things through and you've deployed tools in a way that is aligned with your strategy and tactically sound there’s a much higher chance that you'll produce some desirable results. We will have the situation at times where whilst the organization is doing its best to also provide sales to sales tools through salespeople that they need. Salespeople, they are supposed to be masters of their own craft. They’re supposed to know what tools are out there.
That's how the organization gets to know of these tools. That's how I see it. Every single salesperson pride themselves of being the one you should tell the organization that there's now something else emerging that the organization might want to deploy. In the meantime, should the organization decide to not do that? It is up to the sales professional to decide whether or not they knew themselves. A good example could be schedulers, something super simple that is free to use and that way too many organizations totally ignore. Sending over a link for any schedule it doesn't matter which one I have. There are many automatic schedulers out there right now. Many are using Calendly, but there's Cogsworth and YouCanBook.me, and God knows whatever else.
There's a full list of them over at the Your Sales website and many don't use them. I still come across people that have never seen the schedule before and think sitting there thinking it's a smart way to book timing each other's agenda without friction yet. Why aren't organizations providing the sales professionals with this tool? It’s super simple. In those situations, sales professionals should go up there and either uses the free versions themselves, make it easier for their customers to engage or you go ahead and buy it if that's what it takes.
Spend the $40. It's worth it. The latest one I’ve seen is called X.ai and not to be confused with my company, ScaleX. X.ai lets you do a group schedule. Think of the complexity. Now, you can all public your calendars and figure out what's the best time.
That's an example of one of those tools. As a sales rep, when you come onboard, work into your salary negotiations a small budget that you will have available to use for sales tech. Negotiate $50 a month that you can get covered by your company. These are sales tools that you need when you don't do there.
I'd say, “Why stop at 50?” If I was going to go into an enterprise rep role, S&P role, it doesn't matter. You guys give me a $500 budget. If my quote is $500,000 for the year, I’ll take on plus $100,000 or whatever the number you need. In the past, it was hard to fund a headcount, a full-time $100,000 SDR. You'd have to take a $500,000 quota. Now, you can use tools like we've been talking about, the Calendly tool, an AI that does email, an AI that does social, a dialer that lets you talk to more people. There are many things you can bring in why not ask for a higher quota in return for the company buying those tools for you?
It's a fraction of the total cost. Some people would say that it adds a huge cost to the total cost of sales tech. If you factor in also the cost of a rep that's not performing to its fullest potential, the cost of adding on a few $100 per year or even per month in sales tech is quite small. If you factor in that they’re able to get several $1,000 a month for their work. It should be part of the deal. Most sales reps could benefit from having the policy that they will work with companies that will equip them with the right tools. That should be the way companies attract sales reps as well. We will give you what you need to become successful.
Jakob, I appreciate you joining. Thanks for reading. If people want to get a hold of you, visit YourSales.com. Thank you.