Leveraging Conversation Automation In A WFH World With Joe Cronin
What is conversation automation, and why is it important? In this episode, Joe Cronin, the Inside Sales Manager at ConnectLeader, joins Chad Burmeister as they discuss how you can leverage conversation automation to help sales reps. In this time of rapid development, there is a greater need to have multiple sales conversations per hour. Joe and Chad dig deeper into how hundreds of companies dominate their markets through this innovation as they talk about the strategies that companies are leaning into to change their traditional models. Tune in and learn how conversation automation plays a major role in this shift to work from home.
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Leveraging Conversation Automation In A WFH World With Joe Cronin
I've got my good friend here, Joe Cronin. He is the Inside Sales Manager from ConnectLeader, the leader in conversation automation. Joe, it’s great to have you here.
Chad, it’s great to be here. A non-aggressive skier even though I'm up here in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is a great area. I figured I'd wear this shirt, “No time for haters,” because if you still think having one sales conversation a day is the way to go and it's better to email blast 100 people and you hide behind social selling. You probably want to go ahead and hang this meeting up because it's probably going to be an utter waste of your time. We believe that having 6 to 8 sales conversations per hour is the way of the future and it's the way that literally 100 of companies are dominating their markets right now. We're going to drill a little bit further into that. Joe, there is no time for haters.
The topic of the day is Leveraging Conversation Automation in A Work From Home World. There are more companies that are traditional companies that due to work from home are leaning in on what technologies they should be using. I'm having conversations with Fortune 1000 that are finally being forced to change their models. I'm going to drill down with Joe on what he's seeing and how conversation automation plays a major role in this shift to work from home. AI For Sales, if you haven't bought the book, check it out. It's available for free download by PDF on our website. ScaleX.ai, go check out the book or you can buy a copy on Amazon. Without further ado, let's ask the first question of our guest. Joe, tell us about conversation automation.
Conversation automation is the business that ConnectLeader is in. What we're doing is helping sales reps do what they do best, which is talk on the phone, engage in email. Too many reps are not having enough conversations. What we're able to do on the phone front is making it, so that with the push of a button, a rep can decide, “In this hour, I'm going to have somewhere between 6 and 10 conversations, that's related to list quality, to who you're trying to get out there.” If you're trying to get Sergey at Google, it might be a little bit harder, but generally speaking, even though a typical rep without the Conversation Automation, it's going to take a full day of heavy dialing, maybe 120 or 150 calls in a day. They might get 6 to 10 conversations. In our world, sales reps get 6 to 10 conversations in an hour via the phone.
We do that because we have other people doing the garbage work, the dial by name, talking to gatekeepers, listening to the phone ring, all that sort of stuff. We take that out of the hands of your sales reps so that your sales reps can focus on having those good conversations. That's what we do on the phone side. On the email side, we're making sure that we're warming up all those phone calls, email going out before the call, email following up after the call, making sure that every prospect in your CRM that should be contacted is contacted. Your reps are getting more conversations and pipelines.
You guys also provide a technology that would be competitive with some of the other sales engagement vendors that are out there. I also think you can integrate to them too. Could you talk a little bit about why would a company go ConnectLeader for all of their conversation automation and emailing, and what about some of those integrations that you guys have built over the last couple of years?
The reason customers do come to us and want the entire platform is the single pane of glass thing and our ICP is often Salesforce clients. Our customers love the fact that their reps are staying in Salesforce and ConnectLeader lives right in there. From a reporting perspective, everything is there. The calling and emailing. We're making sure that the manager can log in and in a single view, be able to look at all their reports. It's a combination of making sure that the rep isn't jumping from app to app, but also making sure that the managers go one place and can see what's going on with their team.
If they've already deployed something like an Outreach or SalesLoft and they've got 50 people using it and they need to have more conversations for them, then I would expect you do have a solution for that as well.
That's when people would come to us and say, “Can you help us because we have SalesLoft and Outreach.” Those solutions are great in terms of getting those emails out. The trouble becomes still having enough phone conversations and making it a true cadence in terms of having the follow-up phone calls and having the phone calls that warm up the emails to make that cadence work. For sure, we can tie into those systems and allow reps to now shoot out the emails through Outreach. Go back to that 6 to 10 conversations in an hour and be able to get a lot more done so they can do some of that other more sophisticated stuff like looking through LinkedIn and going to very specific people and writing very specific emails. They can do that in their other seven hours of the day.
You've certainly done a great job of integrating to the ScaleX workflow and we're very appreciative of the partnership between our organizations. Next question, AI is a short word and it packs a lot of punch and it's somewhat controversial in a lot of ways. Does your company use AI in your selling motion or even in your platform and where do you do that?
How we make it available to customers is what we call adaptilytics and we're doing a couple of things. With a partnership with Bombora, we are able to look at intent data and be able to say, “Chad is in the market for a sales acceleration.” When we sort a list, we're going to bubble up Chad as a prospect higher on the list. We're able to do that thing and also, remember we make millions of B2B decision-maker calls on an annual basis. What we're able to look at is a particular area code and particular exchange. What's the best number to call now of any given list and be able to sort the list in that way? That's what we're doing. Not to give anything away, but what you'll see soon with ConnectLeader is our ability to allow our customers to be able to find those opportunities within their CRM.
Most organizations have untouched leads that should be touched and never get touched because their SDRs don't have the bandwidth to do it. What we can do is with AI, find the leads that should be touched, go out and find why they should be, what's a good story for us to go after them with, and in the background, without the SDRs, even getting involved, start to have those touches with those particular leads. Before you know it, there could be a meeting without even SDR intervention. That's where we're going with AI.
That's where our visions are aligned. As I look at the industry, a lot of companies tend to be a one-trick pony. They say, “We're a dialer. We're an email platform. We're a social platform.” One of my mentors is TK Kader. I remember doing an interview with them as the CEO of ToutApp, which was sold to Marketo and then to Adobe, this was many years ago. I was the panel interviewer. It was Ken Krogue from InsideSales.com. It was TK Kader and one other person, I remember the two, I can't remember the third and there might've even been a fourth. I remember asking, “Where are things headed? In the next 5 to 10 years, what will happen?” He said, “Everything's going to be on one platform. It's a race to not just be a one single trick niche provider, but to do it all.” I'm glad to see ConnectLeader, moving down the path of being able to do it all on one platform.
We're not just a dialer and an emailer. What we are is find that work that your reps get paid too much to do. The nonsense kind of work, we take that off their hands so that they can do what they do best, which is to have conversations and move prospects through the funnel and close business.
I talked to a prospect and they asked me, “For a $7,000 a month done-for-you investment in AI for sales, what can be expected for number of meetings?” I said, “It varies widely.” We've seen 10 or 44 meetings as a high. The goal, if you're doing dials, it might cost you $1,000 to $1,800 a meeting. It's on my page on the ROI page of the website. If you add email, now you might get 3 or 4 meetings a month from email. Email is a lot less expensive than talking to someone on the phone and a cold call. That amortizes your cost per meeting down to $700. Now you add social and some of the things you are doing in social.
It might bring your cost down to $500. At the end of the day, more meetings equals more pipeline, which equals sales. If you are not leveraging AI, why would you tie two hands behind your back and get punched in the face and get a bloody nose when you can use the best of the best? More efficiently than the water. The next question is how did you get into this line of work? A lot of people I talked to said, “I used to do X and now I do Y.” If I remember our prior conversations when I came to New Hampshire, you had said, you have had a passion for this all along. Tell us a little bit about how you got here.
How I got here was back in 2009, I founded a video company in the Boston area and this was before YouTube even had HD, believe it or not. It was a different kind of experience for video back then. A video company was a pretty hot space. At that time, I was chief cook and bottle washer along with a partner a couple of guys, but I was the guy who had to be on the phone to drum up the business, which I was able to do, but it was slow. I'd come home to my wife and say, “I'm a professional voicemail leaver. I'm leaving voicemails all day long.” When I heard of ConnectLeader, it was like, “That is unbelievable value prop.” That's when I jumped over to ConnectLeader many years ago and I'm glad I did.
It's interesting because leaving voicemails, if you read about it and there's a lot of studies on it, the typical is 1% to 2% reply rate. Yet a lot of my customers, I'm sure yours, their normal thinking is, “If I leave 100 voicemails, I get a callback.” It's worth the time and energy, but that's a lot of effort. When you could push a button and leave 100 voicemails in 1 or 2 hours, that could have taken 2 or 3 days in the past video days.
Especially, if you're taking college-educated people generally that even at the FDR level, it’s certainly at the A level and you're having them do minimum-wage work. It's crazy.
Let's turn the other side of the coin on, there are minimum wage workers that ConnectLeader partners with and they're happy to be doing that job because they're employed. They're good workers on the phone. Their purpose is built for that particular job, which is navigating gatekeepers and switchboard. It's bifurcating the roles here by saying 94% to 96% of time of a seller that's doing click-to-dial, they're navigating gatekeepers and switchboards. You could have an $8 or $10 an hour worker who loves to do that work, do that for a job and let the higher paid seller have conversations on the phone.
That's exactly why it works well.
Let's go back to your college days. What was your major? Sometimes I find some interesting things here like underwater basket weaving and things that are unique.
I went to UMass Amherst and I was a Communication major and studied television there as well. Eventually, I found that video company, there was a tie in there, but otherwise, they learned about communication and those lessons still stick with me to this day in terms of making it all about the person on the other end and making sure they're receiving the message that you're trying to send.
There was a rumor before this show that you once made the top ten list in Comedy Central or something like that. What was that all about?
That rumor is rampant. That's all over Twitter. I can confirm that is true. Years ago, there was a comedy contest by Comedy Central in the Boston area that I'd done a couple of open mics and I put my name in. I sent my VHS tape and they selected me. I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I was going up against nine other guys who had put a decade-plus into standup comedy. It was a great night to do a standup comedy to a full house of about 500 people.
Let's go back even further. You're young, you barely have any memories. I've found that often, in your human life, you're influenced by people and whether it's a pastor, a teacher, your parents, or your brothers and sisters. We all get influenced to the point where we are in our lives now. A lot of times by asking this question, it's always interesting to see how the dots got connected from when you were 7 years old, 5 years old, whatever your first memories are. How did you connect from there to the life you're living now? When you were younger, pre-communication major, pre-video, pre-inside sales leader, what was your passion or what do you think about when you were a kid? What comes to mind?
What comes to mind is when I was around somewhere between 7 and 9 years old, a friend of mine we started a business, which was a candy store. How we did that was we'd go to the grocery store and buy bulk Doritos, bulk candy and then go around the neighborhood and sell it. I didn't realize it at the time, but, we were finding our ICP because there was a girl in the neighborhood who probably should've been eating less candy, but going to her often and there was a guy in the neighborhood who was smoking some stuff before it was legal and we were going to him and he was our ICP. Those were the candy store days in terms of what we were learning about customers is what we're doing.
That was pre adaptilytics. Imagine going to your neighborhood, loading them into your list and knowing who Sally and Billy were and getting the surface to the top of the list. I love that story. Let's go to the future. This is the last question and perhaps the most important. One of the partners that you guys work with that we're now in talks with as well will allow us to create and I talked about this on the UT Dallas webinar. It was a debate between pro-AI for Sales and con-AI for Sales. At the end, Mark Hunter was on the con side. He basically said it best when he said, “AI for sales is here. The train's left the station.”
He was trying to argue the con point, but he said, “We need to be careful about how it's deployed.” I couldn't agree more. I think the lines converged in that UT Dallas debate, but the software will let us, it's called the AI-augmented call guide. You're logging into your connect leader session. You click the go button, somebody picks up and now what do you say? What we found in cold calling especially is there's this little word called drift. I teach my reps what to say and how to say it. As they get better in their careers over time, they can certainly change words here and there. We as humans, go to the golf range, we learn how to swing and a week later, we're back to our old way, unless it's reinforced. What this technology does is let you pop up on a Chrome extension, what to say within a certain vicinity of what to say.
It might say, “This is Chad Burmeister, CEO of ScaleX. Did I catch you at an okay time?” That might be the prescriptive script. Maybe as an advanced seller, I set it to 50% of those words, “It’s Chad, the CEO of ScaleX.ai. Is now a good time.” As long as I'm within the vicinity of the right words, and the tone is correct, then this AI will sit on the right-hand side of my browser and check the box to ensure that me as the seller has said what I was supposed to say. If the customer brings up an objection, it'll serve up how to handle that objection, what questions to ask? Obviously, you guys are doing some partnering in this area that you've made that introduction is that one of the big things you see changing? Are these AI-powered call guides?
I do think so. Where the industry's going is going to be less tolerance of reps doing nonsense work. Just repetitive tasks that are going to go out the window and it's going to be an expectation more and more that the reps are talking to the right people because still, there are too many reps that are talking to the right type of prospects and contacts. Yes, the piece that you mentioned, which is we work with and have a customer called Balto, which is phenomenal. It's essentially what you described, which is a call guide that is live, that is loaded with, “When this comes up, say this.”
It's that the rep is tuned into the conversation and what they're saying next, sometimes they're not hearing the words out of their own mouth, and sometimes they're not hearing the words from the customer. This widget keeps the rep honest and make sure that they're talking about what they should be. It's that phenomenon of when you hang up a call and you say, “I should have said this, that, and the other thing.” You know what you should have said, but you didn't think of it at the time. Balto is that assistant that helps you say the right thing at the right time based on what you've prescribed in the system.
Can you restate less tolerance for what kind of work?
That's the meeting I got out with this executive team marketing at the end. They couldn't believe the conversation that they had because they've lived the frustrations of having people on board that is doing tasks that a computer could do. When the computer can do it better than the human, let's admit that. Let's move past it. Let's not try to hang on to manual math. When I have a phone that can do advanced calculus, why would I say, “No, we have to do manual research.” No, you don't. You can use automated research and focus on less nonsense work.
That's where it's going. Giddy-up, you better get go there before everyone else is there. That's the thing.
Joe, what a fabulous conversation. You took us from age 7 to 22. We appreciate it.
I appreciate it, too. Thanks, Chad.
Keep doing great things at ConnectLeader. We appreciate everybody for joining and we'll catch you on the next one. Cheers. We are out.