Leveraging Conversation Automation In A WFH World With Joe Cronin
Sales representatives only have six to ten conversations per hour because of repetitive work. With Conversation Automation, you can get rid of the nonsense repetition. You can focus instead on moving prospects through the funnel to close deals. This episode’s guest is Joe Cronin, Director of Inside Sales at Koncert (previously known as ConnectLeader). Joe discusses with Chad Burmeister how Koncert helps reps log in and see all the reports in one view. This ensures that they’re not jumping from app to app. And that managers can see what’s going on with their team in a single glance. Join in the conversation and get rid of mundane tasks. Listen now!
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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.
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, it's better to just email blast to a hundred 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. It's the way that hundreds of companies are dominating their markets. Joe, no time for haters.
The topic of the day is leveraging conversation automation in a work-from-home world. I got to tell you, there are more 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’s that are finally being forced to change their models.
I'm going to drill down with Joe on what he's seen 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. It's also available at Amazon.com. Without further ado, let’s ask the first question to 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 and engage in email. Too many reps are not having enough conversations. What we're able to do on the phone front is make 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 are related to list quality and who you're trying to get out there.”
If you're trying to get a survey at Google, it might be a little bit harder. Generally speaking, even though a typical rep without conversation automation, it's going to take a full day of heavy dialing. Maybe with 120 to 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 and listening to the phone ring.
All that 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 and making sure that every prospect in your CRM that should be contacted is contacted. Your reps are getting more conversations in the pipeline.
Initiate conversations, move prospects through the funnel, and close business.
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 with them too. Could you talk a little bit about why would a company go connect leaders for all of their conversation, automation and emailing? What about some of those integrations that you guys have built over the last couple of years?
For sure, the reason customers do come to us and want the entire platform is the single pane of glass thing. 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 managers can just 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 can go in one place and see what's going on with their team.
If they've already deployed something like an Outreach or a SalesLoft and they've got 50 people using it, and they need to have more conversations for them, I would expect you to have a solution for that as well.
That's when folks 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 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. Again, going 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, going to very specific folks, 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 it into the ScaleX workflow. We're very appreciative of the partnership between our organizations. Thank you.
I'm glad to hear that.
AI is a short word. 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? Where do you do that?
How we make it available to customers is what we call adaptalytics. We’re doing a couple of things. We’re able to have a partnership with Bombora, 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. We make millions of B2B decision-maker calls on an annual basis.
What we're able to look at is a particular area code, a particular exchange, what's the best number to call right now of any given list, and be able to sort the list in that way? That's what we're doing now. 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 the SDRs don't have the bandwidth to do it. What we can do with AI is find the leads that should be touched. Go out find why they should be and what's a good story for us to go after them with. 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 so aligned. As I look at the industry, a lot of companies tend to be a one-trick pony. They say, “We're a dialer or we're an email platform or 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 a few years ago. I was the panel interviewer. It was Ken Krogue from InsideSales.com, TK Kader and one other person.
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 or an emailer. What we are doing is find that work that your reps get paid too much to do. The nonsense 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 this morning and they asked me, “For a $7,000 a month done-for-your investment in AI for sales, what can be expected for a number of meetings?" I said, "It varies widely. We've seen ten meetings. We've seen 44 meetings as a high.” I said, “The goal is if you're just doing dials, it might cost you $1000 to $1,800 a meeting.” It's on my page and the ROI page of the website. Now you might get three or four 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. You add social and some of the things you guys are doing in social. It might bring your cost down to $500. At the end of the day, more meetings equal more pipeline, which equals more sales. If you’re not leveraging AI, why would you tie two hands behind your back, get punched in the face and get a bloody nose when you can use the best of the best?
Make sure the person receiving the message on the other end understands what you're sending.
There are more fish in the water. 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.” I remember our prior conversations when I came to New Hampshire, you had said that 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. 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 hot space. At the time, I was the chief cook/bottle washer along with a partner and a couple of guys. 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 so 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 and such a value prop.” That's when I jumped over to ConnectLeader and I’m glad I did.
It's interesting because leaving voicemails, if you read about it, there are a lot of studies on it. The typical is 1% to 2% reply rate and yet, a lot of my customers, I'm sure yours too, their normal thinking is, “If I leave a hundred 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 you 2 or 3 days in the past video days.
Essentially, you're taking college-educated folks generally that are even at the SDR level and certainly at the A level, and you're having them do minimum-wage work. It's crazy.
Now, let's call a spade a spade. 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. They're purpose-built for that particular job, which is navigating gatekeepers and switchboards. It's bifurcating the roles here by saying, “94% to 96% of the time of a seller that's doing click to dial are navigating gatekeepers and switchboards. You could have an $8, $10 an hour worker who loves to do that job, and let the higher paid seller have conversations on the phone.”
That's exactly why it works so well for sure.
Let's go back to your college days. Sometimes I find some interesting things here like underwater basket weaving and things that are unique. What was your major in college?
I went to UMass Amherst and I was a communication major. I studied television there as well. Eventually, I found that video company so there was a tie in there. I 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 a 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. Back years ago, there was a comedy contest by Comedy Central in the Boston area that I'd done a couple of open mics. I put my name in, sent my VHS tape in 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.
You'll appreciate my winter joke as we just get out of the winter and headed into the summer. Where does the snowman keep its money?
I don't know. Chad, where does a snowman keep its money?
In the snowbank, of course.
My children will appreciate that.
I'm glad I could be of some value. Let's go back even further. Now, you're young. You barely have any memories. I found that often in your human life, you're influenced by people. Whether it's a pastor, a teacher, your parents, 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 seven years old, five years old or whatever your first memories are. How did you connect from there to the life you're living? When you were younger, pre-communication major, pre-video, pre-inside sales leader, what was your passion? What do you think about when you were a kid? What comes to mind?
Go out there and learn about your customers.
I guess what comes to mind is when I was around somewhere between 7 and 9 years old, a buddy of mine and me started a business, which was a candy store. How we did that was we just go to the grocery store and buy bulk Doritos, bulk candy, and 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 we go to her often. There was a guy in the neighborhood who was smoking some stuff before it was legal. We were going to him and he was our ICP. Those were the candy store days. We were learning about customers is what we're doing.
That was pre-adaptalytics. Imagine going into a neigborhood, loading them into your list and knowing who Sally and Billy were, and getting those surfaces to the top of the list. Let's go to the future. This is the last question and perhaps the most important one. 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 the other day. It was a debate between pro-AI for sales and con-AI for sales.
In the end, Mark Hunter was on the con side. He 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 ConnectLeader 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 and better in their careers over time, they can certainly change words here and there. As humans, we’d go to the golf range and learn how to swing. Guess what? A week later, we're back to our old ways unless it's reinforced. What this technology does is lets you pop up on a Chrome extension what to say within a certain vicinity of what to say.
It might say, “Hi, 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, “This is Chad Burmeister 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, this AI will sit on the right-hand side of my browser and check the box to ensure that I as the seller have 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? You guys are doing some partnering in this area. You've made that introduction. Is one of the big things you see changing, these AI-powered call guides?
I think so. Where the industry is going is less tolerance of reps doing nonsense work or just repetitive tasks. That's going out the window. It's going to be an expectation more and more that the reps are talking to the right people. Because there are still too many reps that are talking to the right type of prospects and contacts. We work with and have a customer called Balto, which is phenomenal.
It is essentially what you just described, which is a call guide that is live and loaded with, "When this comes up, say this.” It's that the rep is so 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 makes sure that they're talking about what they should be. It's that phenomenon. 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?
I think I said, “Nonsense work.”
That is the quote of the day, "Less tolerance for nonsense work.” That's the meeting I got out of this morning with this executive team marketing at the end. They couldn't believe the conversation that they had just had because they've lived the frustrations of having people on board that are 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 fabulous.
That's where it's going. You giddy-up. You better go there before everyone else was there. That's the thing.
Joe, what a fabulous conversation. We appreciate it.
I appreciate it too. Thanks so much, Chad.
Keep doing great things at ConnectLeader. We appreciate everybody for joining and we'll catch you on the next one. Cheers.