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MarTech Interview with Jim Benton, CEO at Chorus.ai

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“Purchasing and interactive decisions made on mobile apps and online will be largely determined by the quality of the digital experience in 2020 and beyond.”

Hi Jim, from Sales to becoming a CEO– How did you plan your transition through the Dotcom era to the modern AI era?

Starting my career with AT&T provided a great foundation for my future as I was able to work alongside innovative startups in Silicon Valley selling AT&T’s new eCommerce and Interactive solutions products. During this time I actually won a “Mr. Wizard Award” for developing and implementing an approach dramatically increasing first-meeting close rates.

There is no true secret to transitioning from one era to the next or one role to the next; what truly propels me is a desire to push the boundaries of what is available. Future leaders today aren’t following the rules, they’re thinking about what can be better, faster or more powerful.

We have seen that Martech CEOs are usually specialized in Marketing, Sales and Engineering. You come from a Finance background. Tell us a bit more about your ‘superpower’.

A common thread throughout my career has been revenue generation. My background has prioritized the needs and voice of the customer, and therefore, my superpower would be connecting those dots into a service or product

As the new CEO of Chorus.ai, what functions would you be focusing on, for the next 6-8 months?

2019 was a great year for Chorus.ai. The team that built products like Deal Hub, Analytics, Smart Themes, AI Based Recommendations, Native Zoom Integration, Coaching Initiatives, and more won’t settle. 2020 has already shaken the foundation of every industry on a global scale, so the future of Chorus will be about helping brands navigate the new remote landscape without sacrificing their revenue team.

COVID-19 is a global wrecker. How has it impacted your business? How do you cope with it?

COVID-19 has affected everyone. Chorus is, of course, not immune to the business challenges and disruption felt worldwide. But, one of my first initiatives as CEO was to implement a daily huddle at 8:35am PT every weekday to talk through the state of the industry. Each morning I meet with other leaders to discuss challenges and provide data-driven solutions to overcome what we can.

For example, analyzing anonymized calls using Chorus.ai’s NLP technology, we’ve found:

  • Both prospects and sales reps are talking about COVID-19 on business calls
    • 50% of mentions of COVID-19 take place at the beginning of a call
    • And 63% of those mentions are brought up by sales reps
  • The virus has impacted deal length. We’ve found 31% of deals have lengthened payment terms since March; specifically, payment term discussions on sales calls are shifting from 30 days to 60 and 90 days
  • Since the beginning of March, we’ve seen an overall 10% decrease in revenue team productivity. But some segments are accelerating more than others
    • The FinTech Segment, home to clients like Bill.com, is up 15% week over week.
    • Sales tech companies are seeing a 6% increase in sales meeting volume from March 23
  • Markets hit hardest by the virus are rebounding, including NYC who saw a 13% decrease in productivity is back up 11% WoW, Chicago is increasing 12% WoW (from its 20% decrease) and SF is increasing 8% WoW (from its 5% decrease)

Businesses are suffering heavily due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Those who have a martech stack or an enterprise automation on the go, may not face the brunt of the business. Do you agree?

This is not easy, but it’s the new normal for now. At Chorus we’ve narrowed down some best practices for keeping the revenue engine rolling:

  • Keep cameras on. Whether internal communication or a sales call, video builds meaningful connections. We’ve found video is used in closed-won deals almost 20% more often.
  • Set meeting hygiene standards, like opting for regular, short meetings and providing clear agendas.
  • Set clear expectations on working hours.

What are your thoughts and experiences with GDPR, CCPA and other data privacy regulations? How do consumer data privacy laws affect your business?

Privacy and protection for businesses and individuals is paramount. We believe customer conversations are one of the most valuable assets for a business and must be treated as such.

Thank you, Jim! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Jim Benton joins Chorus.ai as CEO to bring Conversation Intelligence, the fastest-growing category in sales technology, to the masses. A former Co-Founder of ClearSlide and CEO of Apollo, Benton’s career is defined by revenue generation and applying the voice of the customer.

Chorus will continue delivering solutions to improve the consistency and quality of the customer experience, quota attainment, and shortening new-hire onboarding for high-growth teams, like those of Zoom and MongoDB.

chorus.ai logo

Chorus helps your team make decisions using the insights you’d get if you were sitting in on every sales or customer success call.

We founded Chorus to understand what influences conversation outcomes, and make it easy to learn from and influence the thousands of conversations your team has.

Today, almost all of those conversations and the insights they contain are forgotten the second they end, except for the few notes captured in your CRM. We’re changing that.

We are a tight-knit team of world-class scientists, engineers and product designers, and are working with a wide variety of data-driven public and high-growth companies.

We’re passionate about voices, language, technology and results, and can’t wait to find the moments in conversations that matter to you and your team.

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