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The true value of conversation intelligence

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Conversation intelligence has increasingly become a critical purchase for sales teams that are looking to either build or expand the core sales tech stack to gain customer insights. Recently, the widespread availability of high-fidelity transcription and text mining to sales tech vendors ranging from CRM to sales intelligence platforms has commoditized its value as another source of sales insights. Increasingly, this value is now thought about in three ways:

  1. A living repository of transcribed calls and customer notes, easily accessible to onboard reps and help them self-coach.
  2. A trusted audit of rep activity for sales or revenue ops for each stage of an opportunity (i.e., discovery call vs. pricing call vs. first-pitch call).
  3. Automatic note-taking and checklist of specific actions or commitments based on call themes to improve sales rep productivity and forecasting accuracy.

But using conversation intelligence for these three things misses the forest for the trees. In fact, with sales readiness emerging as the next frontier in the ongoing productivity and performance of sales reps, conversation intelligence is taking on a greater role and greater importance. This is particularly important among revenue operations, sales enablement leaders and frontline managers.

For revenue operations and sales enablement leaders, conversation intelligence insights, such as call scores, deal or account health scores, customer sentiment and activity insights from calls and emails, can be used to fuel more impactful sales readiness programs.

By leveraging machine learning to suggest content reps should send intelligently to customers or training they should complete, these leaders can put theory into practice, which, in today’s hybrid virtual world, is often difficult to do at scale. With the insights into representatives’ performance, conversation intelligence also empowers frontline managers to level up their teams when it is built into a platform that supports coaching and enables reps to add value to the customer and revenue journey.

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Skills, behaviors and conversation: The magic combination

A great conversation with a customer is the result of the precise execution of key skills in a rep’s arsenal. For example, in a discovery call, a great conversation with a customer occurs when a rep can couple curiosity with an understanding of the customer’s business environment; can glean competitive information (in terms of existing platforms and the value that is or isn’t being delivered); and can ask leading questions that eventually lead to the articulation and framing of pain points. These are perhaps the most important skills that are teachable and coachable by sales enablement and frontline managers acting in concert.

These skills should already be the baseline in an established ideal rep profile (IRP), which quantifies the desired attributes and behaviors that are more likely to breed success. Then, when the conversation intelligence system benchmarks a call against the IRP, organizations can begin to provide intelligent, AI-driven insights suggesting the appropriate skills reinforcement or remediation exercise against gaps. Or, they can line up a coaching session where a frontline manager can get to the root cause of the opportunity to improve.

These insights, reinforcements and coaching sessions help reps improve over time while giving managers the data to benchmark and track their team against the skills and behaviors of top performers. In doing so, sales enablement and frontline managers can fine-tune programs that address the voice of customer insights they uncover, as these conversations may be surfacing certain areas of business, competitive differentiation, product quality, value, etc. that have not been factored into the existing content and training programs.

It’s not about the call — it’s about the conversation

Most sales leaders see conversation intelligence as a handy, AI-driven technology that records and transcribes calls to glean crucial insights that can help drive revenue. But by limiting the technology to what is essentially deal or forecast insight packaged as revenue intelligence, businesses are missing a core value proposition for conversation intelligence. When businesses refocus the role of conversation intelligence from individual calls and deals to help reps elevate every interaction and conversation, they cash in on the true value of the technology, which is to drive sales rep productivity and support a culture of sales readiness.

Gopkiran Rao is the chief strategy officer at Mindtickle.

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