How To Have Better Chances Of Closing Sales Deals: Traq365 With Adam Rubenstein
To have better chances of closing sales deals, you need to better understand the buyer’s intent, goals, challenges, and concerns. Chad Burmeister’s guest in this episode is Adam Rubenstein, the co-founder and CEO of Traq365. Traq365 uses AI and machine learning to record sales calls, transcribe them, and extract crucial details to help you seal the deal. Adam discusses with Chad how you can use AI to personalize what data you need for your specific industry to boost your sales. Also, do salespeople have to fear being replaced by AI? Tune in!
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How To Have Better Chances Of Closing Sales Deals: Traq365 With Adam Rubenstein
I’ve got a special guest with me who uses real AI and he has brought this to market. His name is Adam Rubenstein. He’s been with his company for a couple of years now and it’s going to be a fun conversation because a lot of the folks we talked to are doing more automation and a little less AI. Adam Rubenstein, Traq365. Adam, welcome to the show.
Chad, thank you very much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
This is fun because conversation intelligence has been around for 3, 4, 5 years or maybe even a little bit longer. Now we’re starting to get into 2.0 and 3.0 as it relates to putting AI on top of it. What do you do with all those great conversations that are now recorded in your CRM? Are they there for scenery? Do you get to use them? That’s what we’re going to talk about. You’re with Traq365. It sounds like you sold the company and you’ve been an entrepreneur. Tell us a little bit about that. How did you get into this company? What are you working on?
I’ve always been a tinkerer. I like to build things. Even in high school, I started a company. I was into cycling, an avid cyclist and became a frame builder. If you know anything about cycling, I became a custom frame builder. A friend and I built a company out of our garage, Gregory Seth. We were selling bicycle frames that were custom-built. I did that for a while, went away to college and came back from college. Because of my love of cycling, I opened up bicycle fitness stores. I had two of them. At the time, there was no inventory management software.
In fact, I went and bought a PC. This was the late ‘80s. I said to the guy selling it to me, “Do you have some inventory management software?” His response was he grabbed a box off the shelf and handed it to me. It was a programming language. He’s like, “There you go. Build it yourself.” I’m like, “Okay.” I taught myself to code and I found that I loved coding because I love the instant gratification of writing code and seeing the results.
I built a software package to manage inventory management for bicycle shops. I built that up, sold that company and the bike shops and went to grad school. The sales basically paid for grad school. I finished grad school and became an entrepreneur again. Each time I was an entrepreneur, I looked for a problem that needed to be solved. I was in prepaid calling cards and prepaid cellular. I was in scrap metal for a brief period. I did some consulting.
The company we just sold, MotionPoint, was one of the world’s leaders in website translation. I invented, along with my colleagues, some technologies to automate the translation of websites. In doing that, I ran that for a long time. I was cofounder and chief operating officer but I was in sales because I’m a big believer that no matter how good your product or service is, nothing happens until you sell something.
Sales is core to every business.
Sales are core to every business no matter what. I found that I had such limited visibility into what my sales team was doing. I couldn’t sit in on every call. I couldn’t travel to every meeting. It was very frustrating because, at the end of the quarter, I’d go around and ask them, “Which of these deals we’re going to close? Which ones we're not?” They often committed a lot that was going to close. I’d try to get confirmation. They’d say, optimistically, they were going to close and then they didn’t. Digging into that, I said, “We need to understand better as sales managers and sales leaders how to objectively understand the status of the deal.” That’s the impetus to build Traq365.
I’m sure nobody reading this ever misses a quota or a forecast. It was CSO Insights who does a study on this and they’re now part of MHI Global, Miller Heiman. They said that you have a better chance of winning a blackjack hand than hitting a forecast. It’s like it was 44% of committed in blood deals turned into a deal.
That’s a higher number than I use. I use about 35% that I close, which is why our pipelines end up having to be so large to get enough to come out the bottom. It’s very frustrating. In my conversation with sales leaders, I once told someone, “We’re trying to build a technology to provide an accurate pipeline.” He said that would be like selling him the golden beanstalk beans.
Talk to us about that. There are technologies that can summarize a conversation. They’re pretty good, 90%, 92%, 94%, whatever it is. Usually, there’s a bit of a delay. Real-time analysis, some companies are starting to try to get into, “Let’s coach the rep during the call.” There’s a guy named Marc at Balto Software. Real-time when you’re in a 1,000-person call center and every 1% makes a difference of how you could have a conversation. From my understanding of what Traq365 does uniquely is it captures the conversation, puts it into CRM but then uses an AI to read what happened on that call and understand what the prospect said, which is way more important than what the salesperson said.
We’re saying to ourselves, “I know what the salesperson is supposed to say. I hope that he’s been trained well in doing his job or her job,” but the buyer is the person I care about. I want to understand their intent, goals, challenges, concerns, what’s in it for them, all the typical characteristics that I need to know. We look at the sales conversation. It is all the data. Imagine now I’ve got 1,000 conversations. We know that 100 of them lead to wins, several hundred led to losses and then there are still a few hundred that haven’t finished. They aren’t closed yet. I can use AI to go through them. I can mine them for insights and actual intelligence but I also can look for correlations. I can see what is working and what is not. What are the commonalities in all the deals that we won? Let’s use that to modify the sales process.
Most sales leaders come to a company. They’ve had some success. They are now hired at a new company and they have a process that worked for them in the past. They say, “This is how we’re going to do sales going forward. Here’s our process. Here’s our methodology.” It may be right or wrong but the ability to make mid-course adjustments is valuable. The only way to do that is to be able to listen to 1,000 conversations. If you were to transcribe them, it's about 10,000 pages of notes. It’s a lot of data. We, as humans, speak messily, a lot of ahs, ums and ohs. It’s hard. The beauty of real AI is a combination of AI machine learning and natural language processing, going through all those conversations and finding the things that matter. That’s the trick. That’s the magic in what we’re doing at Traq365.
It makes me think of someone like Keenan, who wrote a book called Gap Selling. He’s a big skier in Vail. I have been up with him a few times. I have a knack for that. He talks about finding the gap. I’ll bet you there’s a correlation to the person who gets to the gap quicker and opens it up. I think of my days at Airborne Express. It was my first job out of college. They probably don’t use this analogy anymore in the training but back then, it was a bayonet. You stick it in the wound and you open the wound as big as you can. It was like make the pain feel painful to the person. Keenan does a good job. You could sell the same little white pill to one person for $1 and the next person would spend $1 million by figuring out what the outcomes are in the gap. I have to imagine those are some of the things that the AI looks for in a conversation.
We generally know the risks, opportunities, feature requests and all these things. We’ve designed the technology to be where we’re able to customize it by account. Every business is slightly different. If you have a unique characteristic of your sale, we can customize AI just for you. I can identify generally standardized things that are found in a sale. If you’re a lending company, what you care about is very different than if you’re selling building supplies. That’ll make a big difference. Finding the gap, these are the types of things that the AI can find independently because of the natural language processing that it can see things. If I gave you 10,000 pages and said, “Here, Chad. Here's the year."
Find out what’s the same across all the conversations and what’s going on.
You could probably do it in a year and the AI will take about ten minutes to do it. It’s pretty interesting.
It’s interesting that that’s the number because one of the products that we offer is helping companies find who in their 1st and 2nd-degree connections knows their top prospects. For every 1,000 first, you have one million seconds. Same exact math that you shared. We take a year of work and collapse it into ten minutes. I’m finding that that’s a common theme in the deployment of AI. Good AI takes a year of work and delivers it in ten minutes.
In vast amounts of data. That’s the differentiator. A lot of people created expert systems and expert systems are nice but it’s rote. It’s like following a path. You come to a decision tree, left or right and the AI is much smarter than that. It can ingest huge quantities of data. I always mention the movie Moneyball and how they use data to make some big changes to baseball. AI coming to sales is going to make some big changes in the sales industry. We’re doing it. There are others that are doing it. Our focus on the sales conversation and mining it for what people are saying especially what the buyers are saying is the critical component. I love what you’re talking about with ScaleX, finding those right contacts. That’s something that I am actively working on trying to find those connections.
When you go direct, you cold call someone, they don’t know you yet but they know me. If he came to me and I got you into Zoom Video CEO then that works or the ex-CIO of Zoom has landed at a new place. That’s the power of AI. It’s identifying all those network relationships and then automating that. What about other uses of AI? If you’re at the bleeding edge of creating this technology, you’re probably seeing other very cool sales AI come out. Does your team use anything? What are you seeing is coming out on the horizon?
The two areas that I see is using AI in real-time to analyze a conversation and be able to give direction or recommendation to the salesperson on how to navigate or I call it bob and weave, to move the deal forward. That’s a big part of it. I see this on social media. People ask the question, “Is AI going to replace the salesperson?” It’s certainly going to be used heavily in things like website chatbots. We’re seeing it already. I ask questions and this chatbot is responding but it’s going to become more humanlike so you won’t realize you’re necessarily talking to a chatbot as the AI gets smarter. People are concerned about, “Will salespeople be replaced by AI?” I would say in some applications that might happen in a few years but it will depend on the application and what you’re buying.
AI coming to sales is going to make some big changes in the sales industry. We’re doing it.
Ultimately, buyers are looking for comfort. They want to know emotionally that the decision I am making is a smart one. That is an emotional behavior I need to, as a salesperson, say to them, “Chad, here’s my promise to you. You don’t know me very well but a year from now, having worked together, you will know that this is the best decision you will have ever made.” If a computer said that to you, it might not have the same impact as me saying it to you. AI will never completely replace the salesperson.
Dr. Joël Le Bon wrote the foreword and backword of the book AI for Sales book. He talked about in sales, time kills deals. In AI for sales, AI kills time. I went to an event not too far from you, a couple of hours away up the street from Fort Lauderdale in Sarasota. This one person talked about personal branding and how you have to do more impressions through video. You can start to build trust if people see you all the time, not just me but my customers saying, “I deployed this and here’s what I got from it.” You can serve up those videos and pre-warm up folks so that their level of trust coming into a sales conversation is higher than it’s ever been.
I don’t want to scare all the salespeople into thinking that we’re all going to be replaced. That’s a little bit daunting. I hope there’s a place for us somewhere in the future.
I attended about 3 or 4 events back when events were a thing. They seemed to be coming back online but they showed this graph. Here are the people count in America and the world for that matter. Here’s the productivity per head. It was an interesting line growing at a faster pace of productivity per head than ever before. As these kinds of AI, you might need fewer people to deliver the number but it doesn’t mean it’s an immediate thing and tomorrow, we need to let everybody go on the team to make up for that. It’s a slow change. What could happen is, “Your quota, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, is $750,000.”
Two years from now because of all of these gains, you can now do $1.5 million. Now you’re adding more value to the company. What does it mean you need to do? Focus on the areas, to your point, where you need to build trust because it’s really hard. A computer can’t do that but it can serve up the videos and do other things. That important point is the part where you’re building trust as a seller.
Your point about we’re all becoming more productive, at the beginning of the computer age, the fear was that the computer was going to put everybody out of work. We’ve seen that wasn’t the case.
That has been disproven multiple times.
AI is going to be the same way. People will find different roles. They may have to be trained for different types of jobs. Part of the challenge of AI is the training. Machine learning requires vast quantities of data, labeling and training of that data so that may become a role with somebody analyzing sales conversations and using them. That’s what we have to do. We take sales conversations to use them for the training of our AI so we’re employing people in those areas. It’s changing our approach to how we use people. Companies that are using AI have a little bit of an advantage. They have better analysis so they are hopefully more effective. They have a higher close rate. They know what’s happening in their pipeline better because of the visibility and more objectivity in the pipeline. They’re doing a better job and the other companies will have to either improve or they’ll have problems.
Let’s talk a little bit about some of those outcomes because, on the surface, one could look at this type of technology and say, “My current forecast is 44% accurate and now I’m going to get up to 50%.” What’s that delta mean to my business or is there a bigger delta? If it is only 6% or 10%, does that mean I hire fewer people? What’s the business benefit?
We’re shooting for 75% to 80% accuracy. Being 5% or 6% more accurate would certainly be beneficial but I’m hoping to achieve much greater accuracy and objectivity to this. If you think about it, the executive management of the company is turning to the sales leadership and saying, “What is our revenue going to look like this quarter? I have to decide on hiring, firing, office space, manufacturing and all these things.” They’re using the pipeline to figure that out. A pipeline that is, as we’ve seen so inaccurate. The ability to be more accurate means that the company can be run more effectively but I’m not shooting for a small amount.
With our technology and AI, we can get much more effective. Imagine I’ve got a sales team of twenty people. You’ve always got that A++ performer, the one person that hits it out of the park every time. Everyone else is A, A-, B, B+ and C. The C’s are probably not going to last long unless we can coach them up and that’s where some AI things like Chorus is used to do training. For the rest of them, we need to figure out how to make them all better. You have these conversations and you start seeing the deals that have won. What did they do? What was their behavior? Let’s use that as a common behavior for everybody. That’s the enabling and coaching piece of it to make them all better.
We often do things in our sales presentations that are wasted energy. When I used to go on sales calls, I was big on testing trial and error. I’d come up with a new way to describe our service or a new way to discuss the value proposition. I would share it in a meeting and I’d see whether were they leaning in. Did they have that glassy-eyed look? If it was glassy-eyed then I’m like, “Don’t do that again. That was a mistake.” We’re going to see the same thing with AI. We can start seeing what parts of the conversation were powerful. Let’s focus on that and let’s not do the things that were less powerful.
The former President of Webex, where I used to work and a Vice-President that I worked for, Ben. I can’t remember the company they went to work for. They did this 5 or 6 years after Webex and it monitored where your eyes went on the screen kind of conversation. When you said the glass over piece of this, there’s sentiment in dialogue and in the words that are chosen and there’s also what they’re looking at on the screen. I know because they were Webex and they were going to bring this into the video platforms. Many of these same people went to Zoom Video and RingCentral. I don’t think that whole five-year chunk was ever put into practice at a place like Zoom.
We’re doing it as humans. That’s one of the things. We have a roadmap and that is part of the roadmap until we start looking and analyzing the video portion of it but we’re not there yet. There’s a long way to go. AI is evolving so rapidly. If you’re familiar with Moore’s Law, it’s that computing power doubles every eighteen months. They say that AI is improving at a rate of every doubling in power every 3.4 months.
AI will never completely replace the salesperson.
That reminds me of some Bitcoin. That might be 3.4 hours instead of 1 hour and it can lose that fast too.
I don’t understand that well enough to make any predictions but the AI is growing so fast. There’s an old Chinese proverb. Do you know the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. Do you know the second-best time to plant a tree? Today. What I suggest when I talk to people about AI when you first start using our tool or any AI tool on day one, it’s interesting but it’s not amazing. It’s not provocative. It doesn’t do amazing stuff because it doesn’t have enough data. I tell people, “You should be capturing every conversation. That’s the data.” The day you launch your website, you turn on Google Analytics, you start capturing the data so that 3 months or 6 months from now you have a trove of data. Sales conversations are the same way. You start now, you capture conversations and the AI is evolving so quickly.
In a couple of years, you might learn a whole lot of things you didn’t even know at the time you captured the data.
Not even a couple of years. It's 6 months, 3 months. It is so powerful. Some of the things that are in the works that our AI teams are building now, that probably won’t get released for a few months but it is stunning how powerful the technology is now. They’re building things that they weren’t even considering before.
Two product ideas for you. One, if a company is moving from one of the other technologies that don’t do this level of AI, it would be nice to have a button that said, “Here’s the button you do to suck in all that data.” Export-import kind of a playbook.
We have that.
The second is as you provide the best tools on the market, giving people the ability, not that they ever would, to take their data with them is important. I’ve created it all. Therefore, it should be owned by me, the company. One of the providers out there, that was their leverage. They said, “If you move to Chorus,” without saying who they are, they said, “You’re going to lose all your data,” and then they blew it all up. That wasn’t very professional.
I like that approach. I’ve had advisors telling me that I’m foolish. I’m a big believer that I want to work with people that want to work with me. If somebody says, "I don’t want to work with you," that’s okay. That tells me I need to work harder to keep their business or learn from that. If they want their data, frankly, it’s their data. It’s their recordings and so I have no problems.
They may not have the analytics that sit on top of their recording for sure. Who needs the raw data file?
They have that. I also believe that and I tell them, “Who knows where we’re going to be in a year?” They may find that we’re the best tool but maybe we’re not. I don’t want them to be fearful of signing on with us, that anything they do over the next year, they’re going to lose the value of that trove of data. We’re saying, “Take it with you. There’s no harm, no foul.” I think that in a few months when you see where the AI has gone, you’re going to, hopefully, if I’ve done a good job, be so impressed that you’re not going to leave. It’s on me to build a tool that drives sales performance and pipeline performance.
I appreciate what you’re building. I think every leader I’ve ever known and certainly over the last several years of my selling time whether I’m the rep or the leader, we’ve always had these kinds of pain. If I can have something come in, listen to the conversations and tell me, “That’s a high scoring deal and that’s a low scoring deal,” without having to do a whole lot of work other than turn on the switch, I think you’re onto something here.
Chad, this has been a lot of fun. I’m impressed by the questions you’ve asked and what you’ve built with ScaleX.
If people want to reach you, Adam, how would they best get in touch with you?
Either Adam@Traq365.com or they’re welcome to call me at (561)809-6929. So far, I’m able to handle the phone calls on my cell phone.
Let’s see if we can light it up as a result of this conversation. Adam Rubenstein, Cofounder and CEO of Traq365, great having you on the show.
Thank you very much, Chad.
About Adam Rubenstein
I’m a serial entrepreneur, salesman, and sales manager. As an entrepreneur, I’ve centered all my businesses around sales. I’ve used CRMs and always will. But I’ve always wanted a better way to capture what matters most in sales — the human interactions. The conversations, the phone calls, the lunches.
I’ve always made sure my teams created meeting notes to document our sales process, and we ended up with loads of notes we didn’t have time to read.
I wanted my sales technology to help my sales team refine the human stuff. The story that’s created when we sell. The story that starts with a first impression and leads to a relationship and a customer. That story forms a narrative that makes or breaks the sale.
I wanted technology to help my teams master the sales narrative. So I got my developers together and built a new sales tool for the future of sales. A system for mastering the human narrative in sales. Traq365 starts with a place to store your notes and emails, files, and recorded conversations. Then Traq365’s AI scans for opportunities, risks, tasks, highlights — things that are actionable, things that matter. And marks them as Insights.
The more you work with Traq365, the smarter it gets. The Insights you create with the AI build a map of the narrative you create over time — with each prospect, for every sale... the ones you win, and the ones you don’t.
Later, Traq365 will compare the narratives of your active sales efforts with the ones you’ve closed, and supply guidance to help you close more deals. That’s the future of Sales.
Right now, we’re looking for early adopters to experience the power of Traq365. If you’re a high-performing salesperson always looking for an edge, and focusing on the human element, I’d love to hear from you.