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For years, customers have been frustrated with the sales process due to the breakdown in communication that happens when multiple people are involved. But what if that process was streamlined? Imagine a world where a sales representative, regardless of experience with an account, could pick up where the previous person left off. That's the world that Jim, Ben and Kooris II are working to create. Jim joined I.T. visionaries to discuss this problem, the solution and why technology empowered reps are the future of the sales industry.
Enjoyed this episode. It visionaries is created by the team at Mission Dog and brought to you by the Salesforce Customer 360 platform, the number one cloud platform for digital transformation of every experience, build connected experience, empower every employee, and deliver continuous innovation with the customer at the center of everything you do. Learn more at Salesforce.com platform.
This podcast is created by the team at Mission Dog. Welcome to it, visionaries, I am confused and hostility visionaries, and today we have special guests.
Jim, what's going on? Hey, I'm doing great. Great to be here. Yeah, we're excited to have you.
We're going to be talking about all of the cool stuff that's going on at Kooris. It's a hot time for your industry and we're going to get into that. We're going to talk about the relationship of buying software. Now, CEOs and CEOs are at the forefront there. Obviously, we're going to talk a little conversational intelligence or conversation intelligence and what that what that means and the really cool company that they you're building. So before we get into all that, how did you get started in technology?
Good question. I was in college back when Netscape went public, back in ninety five ish time frame, graduated in ninety seven. And I just got the bug and was starting to teach myself how to build websites and sort of hack them together. Really wanted to work at Yahoo! Ended up getting a job at AT&T is my first job out of college selling into Silicon Valley technology companies and that essentially was my entry to both sales. And then very shortly after two years later, I got into Evite Dotcom, which is my entry into the startup Taxin.
Flash forward to today. Tell me a little bit about what the amazing stuff that's going on at Corus right now.
I just think that what is happening in the world of sales and how companies are coming together, I think we're playing a really big role here. And I think that how do we help people solve problems together? How do we bring people together in these moments of the conversation to to make sure that these these brief moments where companies meet other companies, they do this through their sales team or their success team or their leaders, which is how do we make sure all those moments count?
How do we make sure we understand the needs and the challenges the other companies? And that's really where we sit. We sit inside the conversation today. And our focus is to make sure that we're helping companies to bring the best of the entire company to these interactions and then really deeply understand these learnings that come out of these conversations and unlock it and bring it back to the rest of the companies so that they can make better customer driven decisions.
Yeah, I mean, it seems like, you know, obviously CEOs, people resisting technology is still as old as time. And myself included, you know, as much as at times I wanted to to embrace what was going on, it kind of always felt like a little bit more work. You're always tagline clone. Your closer's, I think, is a brilliant idea of this new age of how technology and sales are coming together. I'm curious, you know, how do you see technology and sales evolving?
Yeah, from my experience and I've been in the sales tax base for quite some time now, you need to bring value to the end sales professional for them to embrace and adopt new solutions. And companies that do that well will thrive and really impact the customers as well. You know, the Coricidin in our space, the fact that once the admin sets it up, it just joynes there's not a lot of thinking that has to happen. To have it analyze and deeply understand your conversations makes it easier.
And to, you know, the sales committee want better.
They want to understand what actually happened on these calls. They want to focus more on the end customer, have somebody else do the heavy lifting of capturing those next steps, capturing those key actions and sharing that both into the CRM and with the rest of their company. So I think we've got a win win that it's easy to set up and it brings value to the end sales rep as well.
And these are folks who traditionally have been resistant to change, you know, didn't necessarily want to want to adopt all the all the latest bells and whistles. And I think all of the technology leaders are all the kind of business leaders are trying to figure out how to get all of their employees to use technology more. And the technology leaders are trying to enable those business leaders. What are the types of conversations that you have with CIOs and CIOs as you're talking about this technology implementing technology specifically with sales?
Well, I think the biggest part is what experience is your company creating for your customers, for your prospects today? What's it like to buy from your company? Is it an incredible experience? How is your team representing the full breadth of your company? Every innovation, every patent, every all nighter that you've pulled? Is that showing up in those brief moments when your team, your end sales team is connecting with your customers and new prospects that are that are considering you?
So I think at the CIO CTO level, how are they being represented in these interactions and how can we improve that? How. Could we really unlock their brilliance and make sure that that's being represented at these end conversations? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that that's that's part of the thing with adopting new technologies is when it can seamlessly fit into what you're already doing, when it can be the superpowers that allows more people to do more, more with less.
It's a brilliant site. What have you seen from your customers that that are using it and seeing great results being the big one?
Is that just capturing the relationship that you're creating with your end customer is so important? And that's been a challenge today. So we have a lot of technology that's helping our sales teams and our customer facing teams more productive, use their time wisely, have sequences where there's multiple faults, emails have more intelligence. But one of the big challenges that's so critical to creating these incredible, brilliant experiences is you need to have continuity in the relationship. You need to know what the last person said to the customer and how they engage, what questions came up.
And the whole company really needs to understand the relationship that you're building with this end customer prospect. And so what we're finding is that we have a lot of technology in place that's capturing activities and helping to drive productivity. But what we're missing is this new way of kind of capturing the stream, the voice, the audio, the video in a way that can be quickly processed, quickly synthesized and unlocked. Brilliant intelligence. And that's the part we're focused on.
So what we're hearing from customers is, you know, especially customers are going through challenging periods where they're having to have a reduction in force on their sales team. And we're seeing notes back that say, look, your technology, of course, has been the single most important technology in our stack because you capture those past conversations of people that don't work here anymore. And we're able to get those customers in the new hands, but continue those relationships and conversations to new sales reps that can carry them on without a beat.
And that's what we all want, I think, as we go to solve the problems that bring our companies together.
For listeners who don't know what is conversational intelligence conversation, intelligence is about being in the conversation.
It's about we have a Native Zoome integration, or one of the only players that has this where we integrate deeply into Zoome and we help to capture. And we're joined into these calls to capture this conversation, to take notes, to transcribe what has happened in this interaction and to text, to call out specific topics and trackers of, hey, here's a competitor mentioner, here's what we talk about pricing power. Here's a key feature. And to start to understand what is best what are the best reps doing and how do we share that with the rest of the team and doing this in a more data driven approach.
So what is best is what drives specific opportunities to the next stage faster? What drives higher win rates? What are the types of conversations that do that? And how do we unlock those and get that to the rest of the team? So we need to know what normal is. We need to know what best is. And that's what we're doing to help scale this out. I think the second part is bringing in coaching and bringing in leadership in the rest of the company to be able to listen to these calls, to have scorecards that match the methodologies that teams embrace and give specific guidance down to specific minutes.
And a call about what is best. Is that a one or a five? What specifically did you like and how do we do coaching at scale? And what we've seen of recent as people have shifted from office environments to work at home, this is so important right now. We've actually seen a 60 percent increase in managers taking coaching actions and calls, which is now higher than what we saw in a pre covid-19 level. So we're seeing more coaching happening now when you can't see your team than what was happening when you could walk the halls and feel that energy.
And I just think that is a significant shift and it's a shift in the right direction.
Yeah, it absolutely is. It's a huge shift. It's one of the things that I think brings data into these conversations. I think a lot of times sales leaders have a bit of a shoot from the hip mentality when it comes to saying, hey, well, you know, my reps are doing blank or whatever is happening. And, well, nobody ever brings up, you know, this competitor or whatever it is. And now that you can use data to say like, oh, I actually the reason why don't they don't bring it up is because, you know, we're not even talking about the right topic in which that competitor would get brought up.
And we probably need to deflect some of those questions or we need to get ahead of that narrative because they have this feature and we don't and we don't think that that's a valuable feature. So maybe we should be bringing that up or whatever it is. But it actually allows sales leaders to have. Data, you know, in the moment and like you said, to go back and say, hey, we need to coach this stuff, we need to coach X, Y or Z, because it's something that either we're seeing a lot of or not seeing a lot of looking.
And I think especially now people are having to hire an on board brand new sellers that are completely remote. And so how do we do that?
And we can train them and coach them up on the basics. But going back to that competitive mentioned that you brought up, how do we help these new sales hires here? How many of the other reps answer very specific objections? How do we know which one was the best one? How do we articulate a list of here's the most recent calls were objection came up and where we thought it was said best. But those shared learnings are being shared in a completely new way right now, not in the classroom.
It's not a live sitting next to one person. It's being shared in platforms like Corus, where it's much easier to find. And I think that when you go back to how do we create these brilliant experiences between our company and the company that we're trying to solve problems for, you need your sales community to have that deep knowledge to know what to say on these points versus giving generalized answers. And so we do that by making sure that they can hear from the best ones that have been with the company for years, how they go deep on a specific integration, how they talk about our pricing and positioning in international question comes up being able to find that and see how people answer that.
Those are the ways that we share knowledge and really make sure that we're collectively as a team bringing our best to every interaction.
Well, and now is the time where I think the best CEOs and and technology leaders who are evaluating this stuff constantly have a real opportunity here because you've already brought up multiple systems that that need to be connected and talk together. You're talking about, you know, your CRM, you're talking about using a product like Kooris. You're going to integrate that with Zoom, you know, the CIO who's a lot of times responsible or wants to be responsible and take the lead on this employee experience.
Well, or maybe even going into the customer experience, stuff like we talked about that they're the ones who are bringing these things to the VP of sales. And I think, you know, I'd like to paint a picture and be curious to what your thoughts are of this. You know, your CEO, I'm sure you have many fun, many fun. The good idea, fairy strikes from time to time. And if if you're a CEO out there and you're saying, hey, I want our company to be more data driven, go.
And then afterwards, the VP of Sales has to go to the CIO and go, hey, we got to get a better handle on data. How can we do that? It seems like this is a real opportunity for that technology leader now to be the expert and say like, hey, here's what other folks are doing. Here's how they're leveraging data even down to the minute in calls. It seems like that that could be a great position.
I think it is. And I think that when you think about just role specialization and the role of sales, it is about the human. And as we put in more technology into sales, I think it's just important for us to remember that we don't want to be rep enabled technology. We want to be technology enabled reps. And there's a very big difference if we simply have the reps behind the technology sending out sequences and thousands of emails and, you know, you can't quite tell if it's human.
I think we're going to have huge misses. But if we have the technology behind the rep enabling them to be more productive, more thoughtful, more specific, more diagnostic, more customer, more dynamic, that is the when we want. And so I think as companies, it's about how do we make sure that the authenticity of our reps, the real human to human connections are really shining because that is what closes deals that what move forward quickly. We must build trust to get a transaction done.
And the humans, the human interaction done thoughtfully is how we build that trust.
So I'm curious, what would be your advice to the technology leaders listening to the show when they have a VP of sales who is maybe not tech enthusiastic? Is they? All right, we got our CRM, you know, that's it. And isn't isn't necessarily requesting these things, but, you know, kind of behind the scenes does kind of want some some recommendations of what's going on. Like how could they approach that VP of Sales or CRO and say, hey, here's how these sort of tools can really help you and also give some some really good clarity to our entire customer experience?
I think it's a great question. I think just similar to other functions in the business, you do need to architect a stack a way in which you're going to work and bring your best. And so it's more than a VP sales. It's more than just putting humans into it. We do need them to be able to come together, work together and be more efficient. So what we were doing ten years ago is different. There's attributes of relational. Ship building that we will always do, but what I would say is that the ability to design a integrated go to market motion is critical and it's critical to staying competitive.
How do we unlock the human side of things to have more time to do those functions, but use technology to drive more productivity? So things such as using the sequences that we talk about, clearly having a smart follow up on well written e-mails, the data proves that that does drive open rates. We need to do that. We want to do that thoughtfully, efficiently, using different platforms, clearly understanding whether we're asking the right discovery questions or have set next steps at the end of a call has a clear correlation driving higher win rates.
We need to track that. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to coach thoughtfully. So what I would I would say to leaders is that you're building an integrated go to market motion is critical and it will only become even more critical as we're trying to be more dynamic and custom in each of our conversations. I also think that we're seeing a tremendous amount of role specialization within the go to market functions. So people that are doing the outbound thing and then someone is doing the discovery and the initial sales process.
So when then doing a proof of concept or the pre sales motion and then when you close these deals, that's going into a success team and you might even have an expansion account management team, how do we get this group of people to work incredibly well together as a single unit from a customer standpoint? And that's where technology plays a very significant role. Otherwise, each person would be coming into that journey cold and just repeating and very inefficiently repeating questions for customers that they've already answered.
So you joined the company in March in one of the most interesting times to join a company of the last 40 years.
What was that like? Shelter in place is already going on. And you're joining a company as a CEO?
It is fascinating. I know I was a customer, of course, my past company. I was CEO Apollo, and I saw the magic of what we were doing. And then when I got the opportunity to join chorus and lead chorus, the CEO, we suddenly went to shelter in place. So I still have not been to our office as an employee of the company. And it did challenge me to think about what's the right playbook, what's the right approach, how do you onboard into a company when you're doing this from your from your bedroom to your living room and you can't engage the leadership team.
And we have offices in Tel Aviv and Boston, Toronto. You know, for me, the thing that I've always enjoyed about working with great teams is coming together and having, you know, daily huddles and sessions. It's one of the first plays I put in place. And this was different than how I've done it was to actually do more of an open huddle. And so I kicked off just a week later on March. Twenty fourth daily briefing, where every morning at eight thirty five a.m., we sent out an open Zoome link that anybody can join live.
And we unlock and share the data that we were seeing across our entire marketplace, all the different data points that we had about sales and sales productivity coming in through Congress. How do we unlock that data and how do we share with other companies looking to make really critical decisions right now about are there sales teams producing? Should they be putting in a hiring freeze or potentially doing a riff? We were looking at data and I saw this in my first week and said, oh, my gosh, this is our moment.
We have data that could dramatically help companies make brilliant decisions right now. How do we share this? And so one of the first things we did was just running a daily session, sharing insights on overall meeting productivity and cold, called dials and connect rates and are joining calls more or less. And what it showed was that we are potentially seeing some of the best sales that we've seen in a decade. Sales rose to the challenge. Productivity levels of meetings did not drop meaningfully since pre covid cold calls were down, yet connect rates maintained high.
Overall meetings stayed flat to down 10 percent. Sales became more authentic, more empathetic. We saw that demos were eight percent shorter and starting a minute or two later. So instead of starting at the tenth minute of call, they started twelfth minute of a call. But that's because we had more empathy, more human connection and the beginning of a call. And that's fantastic. We saw more focus in these about targeting the right accounts that are thriving or may not say thriving, but who are in a zone where they're solving a lot of problems right now, their infrastructure, security, collaboration companies.
How do we put more energy on working with those groups, whereas the retail travel industry specifically, we're very significantly impacted. So what we're seeing with sales getting more focused on extreme ROIC, more focused on coaching our team using data and more focused on connecting on the human side. And I do think that we're seeing the best sales. Motion in a decade, and the last time we saw this was the Great Recession know 10 to 12 years ago where people had to go through a similar thing, they had to get real when times were tough.
So with some of that data, what were the things that really surprised you that you tried to figure out, OK, we need to take action on this right away.
One of the big ones in the last few weeks we've shared this. We've seen a 91 percent increase in CFOs joining the sales calls. That's a big change in behavior. And that means that the CFO is really becoming the ultimate buyer and decision maker. So what are we doing to change our messaging, our approach to those calls and to create the right desired outcome for CFOs during those moments? So companies that don't have that data might have the same playbook and they're going to they're going to fall flat in that moment.
Secondly, we found that on the buying side, we saw a hundred percent increase in directors and one hundred and four percent increase in executives joining calls. So there's a significant focus of leadership joining these buying conversations. And in return, we see a eighty 80 percent increase in directors and seventy two percent increase of executives joining from the sales side. So these are bringing in more leadership. The buyers are bringing in more. I think what it just shows is that more friction in the system, people have to make really important decisions about where they spend their dollars, how they allocate it, and what are the top priorities and the bringing the parties together in a bigger way.
And that means that we need to make sure that we're adjusting our emotions in the ways that we prepare for these calls to maximize these interactions as best as possible.
How are their tech leaders involved in those discussions? Do you have any data on that?
On the buying side, we don't break it down by title. CFO is the one that we pulled out that really struck me as unique. We will start to break this data down by vertical and geography. And I think that that's where, you know, early on as we're watching the covid spread, we were seeing markets like Boston and Chicago have significantly lower productivity being heavily impact on the productivity side. And then we could see it come back as we were watching the news cycles and things were coming down.
And it was just fascinating to watch the market sales productivity match the news cycles. And in some ways we could start to see the positive trends in the marketplace as markets were rebounding, meetings were happening.
Yeah, I mean, I'd be curious, you know, we've talked to some technology leaders that have done some massive implementations in a really short amount of time. You know, one of our guests was talking about a Zoome integration for like a two hundred ninety thousand person company and like, whatever, thirty six hours or whatever it was like. You're seeing the response had to be swift and immediate from technology leaders. I'd imagine that, you know, for the for the crowd clamoring for tools that help their sales team sell remotely, that, you know, that's going to get fast track to the technology leader pretty quickly.
You know, I was just curious if there's anything that you're seeing there.
It's been incredible. I mean, for for us, March happen to be our single largest sales month on record. And that was during the comment period. And we were seeing publicly traded companies come to us and say by Tuesday, we need this entire sales function on your platform. I mean, just incredible speed of putting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of folks into the platform and training them up. And we saw that from many large companies out there and so fascinated to see how we mobilize.
But I think you're right that for those that were in deep need, the speed and the swiftness of how they they took action was incredible. And we're still seeing that. I mean, we have a lot of leaders out there that are not used to managing remotely, had their inside sales teams on hubs and just and immediately and a blink of an eye, they had to learn how to connect to them and understand the interactions that they were creating from their homes and their home environment and to provide that coaching and onboarding.
And that's what we saw. Just a significant demand.
Taking a step back. You've you started a couple of companies as someone who is building software, is built software companies, I'm curious, like, how do you structure the technology side, product, side technology building versus the like, internal kind of like I.T. slash employee experience kind of section? Because I think, you know, this is something we talk about all the time on the show is like the worlds are converging, right? It's like there's it's so intertwined that there's like head of technology role has many different hats and also many different names.
So I'm curious, like, as you've built your companies, like, how do you view this, like kind of head of technology role?
It is so integrated. I mean, right now I've got my VP of product in my CTO working together. In our growth system, which is basically the tip of the spear for our sales team, that's unprecedented. And I've always been a believer of we're going to create unfair and competitive advantage and we're going to create the best experiences for our customers if we leverage technology. And so I would say that I've heard heavy on leveraging internal resources and engineering to have a more integrated approach to how our sales team will engage our customers.
So examples will be how do we time the way we engage the customer more thoughtfully? We have different signals in our own personal data. How do we trigger those interactions in a way that are really timely and thoughtful? This is where the intersection of leveraging our best and brightest and product resources helped design a go to market motion that just it just delights people. It just has that constant wow factor for people. I don't know how you did that, but that was spot on.
And so some of this we do that, we productize and we want to get out to the market. Some things that we build internally and test with our own team. But I am a big believer of making sure that our sales team is not on its own and just putting together pieces of the stack that we are thoughtfully thinking about, architecting that to work in conjunction with the company. And more importantly, how do we get the voice of the customer back to product and engineering?
And I think that's why it's so important to have those groups so intertwined. And it's a fine line. We want to make sure we're building resources to build the product that powers the conversations and intelligence of the world. But there's real magic when you get the engineers closer to the sales process. Even in my past, I have had engineers learn the sales pitch in the first week and pitch it back to me as a as a co-founder or as a key leader, because we need to know the story.
We need to know what we're actually doing, how it all comes together. And the engineers approach to solving go to market problems is uniquely different. And they always think about it from a why would we do it that way if we could just quickly build this? And that's the magic. I just think that it's so special when you get these to come together and you're not just doing it in the block and tackling way that we maybe did in the past.
But we're implementing something that creates a true wow factor.
And then what about on the internal technology side? How do you look at selecting and vetting technologies that your employees use?
It's a good question. I think that you need everybody bought in so you don't want to be doing this in silos. And I think as you show up in companies, you see different groups using different platforms that can overlap. That's a real challenge. I like to get us onto, you know, common communications, common ways of working together, but selecting the technologies. Look, today, I think adoption is the new why. So, you know, understanding how we're going to use this, can we test it and try it and validate the systems ahead of time talking to customers that use the software out there and really understanding the value they've had and understanding the teams behind the software that are going to help you unlock the success?
I do think a lot of software, you know, the value goes unrealized. People see the promise, but they just don't know how to unlock it. They don't know how to use it. And so understanding the success teams, they're going to help you to really make sure that you're full team can take advantage. This is a key piece that we look at as we evaluate different software that we use as we go out to the market, make sure that people can unlock the full value.
OK, let's get into our lightning round questions. These questions are fast and easy, just like the Salesforce customer three sixty platform, the number one cloud platform for digital transformation of every experience. You can go to Salesforce.com platform to learn more. The Salesforce. They've been here since the very beginning. Check them out. Salesforce.com. Such platform lightning round questions. Jim, are you ready? Yes, I think so. No one. What app on your phone is the most fun?
What is your favorite? Or maybe not favorite, but what is the one habit that you picked up during shelter in place?
Getting five minutes outside in the sun with a sandwich has been delightful.
That's a great one. Great answer.
Do you have a favorite podcast or book that you've been checking out recently?
Well, you said favorite book. I just love built the last. The Jim Collins work is stunning. Sticks with me. It's How I Run businesses. Most recent book that I purchased was Range by David Epstein. Why General Triumph in a Specialized World. I'm partway through that, but I've been very intrigued by that and I'll let you know how that goes to have a hidden talent or passion.
I play tennis.
I was a D1 tennis player in college and I secretly get out there on the weekends early in the morning. I just I love getting out there and I think I love the competitive side of it. So if it's competitive, I'm having a blast.
If you weren't building and running technology companies. What would you be doing? Yeah, look, it's a tricky answer because I want to give you a different answer, but I really in the second half of my career, I've fallen in love with the work I'm doing, more so than I was in the first half of the career. I wanted to be building things and cofounding. And today it's about building teams and unlocking the hidden talents and the magic of people where people around you just constantly say thank you.
You're building my career. My family is winning. We are we are growing together. And so, look, I enjoy this. If I wasn't doing this, I'd be I'd be surrounded by people. I'd be helping people. I'd be coaching, teaching people. I'm some type.
I guess this isn't a lightning rod question, but I got to ask, how has it been doing your your morning briefings? What's it been like? It's been fascinating.
I've never done anything like that work every morning for 60 days. I've had essentially a a CEO or zero or VP join me to look at the data. And for me it's been a new experience being a bit more social. That is not the way that I've operated in the past. I'm a very private on the social networks and, you know, not posting that often. And this is different. I'm out there daily. My observations is we're unlocking real value.
And as long as we're putting real value out there, I enjoy doing it, too. I'm learning an incredible amount from brilliant people. I'm getting their insights and their learnings and their perspective on data that is different than mine. And it's been framing my own opinion. It's been coming back into the work we do a course where I keep sharing. Hey, the CMO at this company mentioned that and I've heard five other leaders mentioned this common theme. You know, what are we doing on this or how can we do this thoughtfully?
But I'm just enjoying the human side of kicking off the day, the rhythm of that and meeting great people and hopefully putting great data back into the market that helps others make better decisions.
What is your best advice for a first time CEO? I think you need to listen. I think you need to connect with the people. But, you know, going back to that built to last the Jim Collins work, I am a huge believer in understanding the purpose of your business. Why do you exist? How do you help people? How does your business truly help people? And then where are you going? What is that be had that big, hairy, audacious goal?
That's not one to three years, but it's 10 to 30 years out. And as you start to get the whole company focused on those specific big vision, that mission, then breaking that down and deeply understanding how you align the entire business in small increments, whether that's 90 days, what is the most important work you can do to move the business forward and to then set the rhythm of the business that helps get that work done and that's table stakes.
But when it's done, well, unlocks just unlocks the hidden talents and the the great work of everybody around you. Well, Jim, that's it.
That's all we have for today. Thanks so much for for joining us. Our listeners definitely should check out Kooris and you can go to our study and and learn more. It's some pretty cool stuff. Tell your tell yourselves, folks. Jim, any final thoughts?
I appreciate being here. Everybody keep the dialogues open and open minds and one day at a time.
Awesome. Take care.
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