How is defining the future of data-driven selling

The mainstream application of advanced analytics in sales and marketing – fueled by the emergence of massive new customer engagement and seller activity data sets – are transforming the commercial model. These developments represent the most significant opportunity to accelerate sales growth since the scale adoption of call centers (40 years ago), CRM (30 years ago), and digital channels (20 years ago) in sales.

The data your business collects about customer interactions is now one of the largest commercial assets in your business, if not the largest (as is the case with some major airlines). Perhaps the most valuable customer data set to emerge in the last 10 years is the ability to record, transcribe, and analyze customer conversations in phone calls and videoconferences at scale. This type of data is commonly called conversational intelligence.

Conversation data is quickly becoming like oxygen in sales. It is available to any organization that wants to use it.  And it can breathe life into the revenue engine. It does not take an army of PHD data-scientists to capture, organize and monetize this data. Yet only a surprisingly small fraction (under 5%) of organizations actually do. This is gold right at the surface.

Sales leaders that are not mining this gold to create advanced enablement, readiness, and measurement systems are missing a big opportunity. 

Forrester Research recently announced their latest analysis of the conversational intelligence solution category. Like all analysts, they presented an array of software companies who at their core use recorded conversations to help solve a variety of selling problems. Tools like Gong and Chorus are perhaps the most recognizable, but dozens of software companies are incorporating conversational AI into their solutions.

It’s good to see (formerly ringDNA) was appropriately recognized by Forrester as the leader in the Conversational Intelligence Category. The Forrester analysis does a good job recognizing the specific ways is steps ahead of the competition across a variety of dimensions that make a real difference today.

But there is much more to the story.  Conversational intelligence – as a category – fails to describe the full scope of what is possible. It doesn’t do justice to the ways that conversational data can be used to increase the value of selling interactions, improve selling skills, optimize selling performance and leverage sales, marketing and service reps and their managers.

And that’s where stands out. Their platform is solving some of the more complex and interdisciplinary problems sellers face. These include:

  1. Providing real-time guidance at the “moments that matter” in the sales process. This matters because less than 20% of buying actually involves a human conversation or interaction. And most buyers fail to see a difference in the customer experience they get from the digital channels they prefer to use.  Giving reps access to the right guidance via prompts, alerts, and active guidance based on what is actually happening “during the game” has a much bigger impact than the “post-game film reviews” typically provided by conversational intelligence solutions.
  2. Enabling one-to-one coaching in real time. Properly integrated, your intelligence, engagement and enablement platforms give managers the ability to coach sales reps “during” sales calls instead of before or after. This is a better way to deliver coaching than offline sessions simulating sales conversations or traditional “ride alongs” where much of the time is spent between calls and meetings. It also lets you apply your management and expert resources in situations where they can do the most good –  helping to close a sale, create differentiation or save a customer.
  3. Expanding and enhancing the ability for managers to coach reps at scale.  AI can help managers identify the specific coaching needs and most “teachable moments” for individual sellers. This allows sales managers (a scarce resource) to coach more reps (valuable assets) one-on-one when they are most receptive – during calls. This matters at a time when coaching is a key to retaining top talent and rep turnover rates are at an all-time high in a white hot job market. Most sales reps would stay in their jobs if they received more coaching and skill development.
  4. A complete picture of what works and what does not.  Most sales readiness, enablement, engagement and conversational intelligence solutions provide a “single threaded” rear view mirror measures of what happened in a call after the fact. So most managers only see individual parts of the picture rather than the whole. Did the rep take the training? Did they execute that training in the call? Did they send the right content as a follow up? Did the customer engage with that content? Measuring the performance of sellers, coaching, and the training and playbooks they are coached on in one closed loop system gives managers the ability to reinforce what is working and focus on fixing what isn’t.
  5. Leveraging signals of buyer intent or churn from marketing.  Every organization spends a high percentage of their budgets generating customer inquiries and engagement on their digital marketing platforms. When you add up all the money spent on websites, blogs, mobile apps, earned media, contactless selling and email marketing platforms and programs – it’s a big chunk of your growth investment. It also represents the lion’s share of customer engagement in your company. This first party marketing data contains signals of opportunity, intent to buy, or churn that your sellers need to have access to. Most conversational intelligence solutions rely solely on recorded conversations and leave it up to their customers to figure out how to use their marketing insights.
  6. Enabling CRM as a practical and forward looking system of record for revenue intelligence. From the perspective of sales enablement professionals and the sales reps they support, if the customer data doesn’t exist in CRM –  it doesn’t exist for all practical purposes.   Keeping the data in CRM as the system of record is important because sellers need to have a simple and consistent selling motion – and CRM is always at the center of their day to day workflow. They cannot be going to different systems or “panes of glass” to find out things about their customers. And they cannot find out too late about critical signals and insights about the customers they are speaking to. Any conversational intelligence or “revenue intelligence” solution you buy must improve your overall data integrity by enhancing profiles in CRM to create a single source of real time customer intelligence. Too many of these solutions fail to adequately update CRM with intelligence from conversations in a complete and timely fashion. Others choose to bypass CRM systems altogether and ask sellers to open up another “pane of glass” to get access to current customer data. designed its platform to update CRM completely, automatically, and in real time – making sure conversations are recorded and formatted to conform to the data-structures used in CRM.
  7. Saving sellers time recording and updating customer data records.  Selling has become more data-driven as almost every customer interaction, selling campaign, and marketing program in your business is informed by customer insights. This has placed such a premium on clean, complete, and up-to-date customer data that many sales executives tell us they are compensating their sellers for their data hygiene. addresses this issue by automating the call logging, data entry, and data compliance reps used to do manually in a meaningful way. In particular, the platform ensures that all of the interaction data goes into CRM completely and immediately. This is important because more and more of the programs, coaching and alerts that run your selling operations are happening in real time to keep up with the pace of buyers.

This ability to solve real world interdisciplinary problems is critical because selling has become more data driven, capital intensive, and cross functional.

Sales enablement and operations leaders don’t need more tools. Their sellers are telling them that adding more tools are making their jobs harder not simpler.  They need to make the tools and data that already exists in their commercial technology portfolio work harder, better and together. To do this, they need to find ways to “connect the dots” across systems to simplify selling and turn customer data into actionable insights that helps sellers become effective. 

“There is more data around the revenue stream available than ever, but without the right analytics and ability to get the selling insights quickly to front line sellers at the pace of business, it’s all just noise,” says Jeff McKittrick, the Vice President of Sales Execution at Walk Me. “Operations teams need to mine that stream of customer engagement data to uncover the right signals of buyer sentiment, intent, and objections to help expensive sales, customer success, and sales engineering resources perform at their best in live selling conversations.”

The unique ability of the platform to connect your customer data assets to actions that create value represents a good example of what this “future state” selling system looks like in practice. acts as the “glue” that connects the core systems supporting the selling workflow to make them all work better, together.  This improves your return on your capital investment in selling systems. This improves the ROI of your investments in training, methodologies, and playbooks. It also improves the return on the time invested by sales managers. And it helps every customer facing employee in the business become more successful.

All of this “interconnectedness” flies in the face of the traditional way companies buy, manage, deploy and describe their selling solutions.  For example, the platform spans traditional categories by definition because it connects these dots across the commercial technology ecosystem. This is why analysts rate the platform as a leader in more than a half a dozen categories including: Conversational Intelligence, Sales Enablement, Sales Engagement, Revenue Acceleration, and Contact Center Software. In addition to those, Gartner recently identified them as a leading platform for enabling Revenue Operations and as a “cool vendor”.

These analysts may call it different things, but they seem to agree has many different aspects of data-driven selling figured out.  Like great art or music, the vocabulary does not exist to describe what a modern selling system should look like.

That is a primary reason why they decided to change their name from ringDNA – which reflects their call center roots – to, which reflects their role as a critical component of a Revenue Operations system.

That makes sense to us, because our extensive research has taught us that Revenue Operations is a system for scalable and consistent growth. And helps that system run better because they’ve figured out how to use AI to synthesize big data into small data that gives sales managers a way to monitor and coach their teams at scale and provides customer facing employees’ actionable instructions and guidance in live conversations with buyers. 

A better way to think about is as one of the core backbones of a Revenue Operating System that uses AI and analytics to connect your selling assets (customer insights) to value (better training, better rep productivity, better buyer experiences, better management metrics). They’ve figured out how to connect the dots across this system by:

  1. Using AI to aggregate data from revenue enablement and customer facing technologies in CRM;
  2. Turning that big data into actionable commercial insights that help managers and sellers;
  3. Delivering those insights to sales managers to help them monitor and coach their teams at scale;
  4. And providing customer facing employees’ actionable instructions and guidance at the moments that matter.

That’s hard and valuable stuff. It checks seven out of nine boxes in our Revenue Operating System.  Few of the thousands of solutions we evaluated for our rankings of the top 100 technologies that are transforming the commercial model can do that.

You can learn more about our Revenue Operations research and the Revenue Operating System on our site, or by reading our upcoming book on Revenue Operations.

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