VP Product, People.ai
Marketing and sales teams continue to find themselves skirting through the challenges of leveraging automation technologies to their fullest potential. Often considered as the ‘Black box” of the business, sales conversations powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a significant impact on the performance of sales teams. In May, predictive intelligence platform for sales, People.ai raised $7 Million Series A funding.
We interviewed Rajit Joseph, VP Product, People.ai to dive deeper into the realm of “AI for Sales” and AI-guided sales management platforms.
MTS: Do you think AI sales assistants will completely replace humans from the process?
Rajit Joseph: For certain types of selling / buying experience – Yes.
However, some B2B sales for high end products and services will still require a human being involved. Just that the involvement will be much less than earlier. Below are few areas of B2B sales where AI led technology is already assisting
- Buyer will be much more informed about your product and service offerings
- Sellers can target buyer at the right time
- Sellers can target the right individual at a large organization
- Sellers can predict the effort (calories) it takes to close a deal
- Sellers can get prescribed next best actions to move the deal towards a desired outcome
In summary, I think some B2B sales for high end products and services will be a combination of art (emotional intelligence) and science (artificial intelligence). By automating the easy stuff using AI, sellers will have more time to be more creative, more helpful, and more aware of their relationships with buyers.
Our premise of “AI for Sales” is that the science (AI) part can help you optimize the throughput of your art (EI) to close more deals, win more business, generate more revenue.
MTS: How soon do you think that will happen? Recent research says it’s underway and total takeover will occur by 2030?
Rajit: For certain types of selling/buying experiences this has already happened. During the last 2 decades, we have already witnessed complete elimination of human beings from selling/buying experience especially in e-commerce, and commodities sales. I believe this trend will continue to B2B sales as well for certain products and services which are commodities.
Few advancements in AI guided selling are already happening, as we speak (so will be much earlier than 2030).
MTS: What are the unique aspects of People.ai’s Sales Management platform. How does it help to accelerate AI adoption in sales automation?
Rajit: Our key value propositions are:
- We help companies grow revenue by automating sales ramp, coaching, & data entry.
- We help align sales playbooks and marketing programs by solving the “are these leads bad or did sales even touch them?” alignment problem and attributing sales activities to marketing campaigns automatically.
- We help improve performance of overall team by replicating top performers.
Our Fortune 500 customers currently using the platform are calling it the “Final Frontier” of their Customer 360 initiatives. We allow people in sales and marketing to focus their time and calories on tasks that require Emotional Intelligence e.g. Account Planning, Relationship Building, Designing ABMs, Hiring, Coaching, Ramping, while AI takes care of mundane tasks like data entry and providing insights to make decisions based on ‘real’ data.
MTS: Tell us about the sales platforms/systems that People.ai can be integrated with?
Rajit: Some of our early research informed us that sales (especially in large enterprises) involve disparate systems, hence from the get-go we built the People.ai Platform on open standards (APIs, Webhooks). We have added capabilities around Admin APIs and SSO/SCIM support as well just to ensure that we play well with the ecosystem of systems that our customers have.
Specifically, we can integrate with CRM systems (e.g. Salesforce, Dynamics 365), Email/Calendar systems (G-Suite, Office 365), Messaging systems (e.g. Slack, Skype), Dialer Systems (e.g. InsideSales, RingCentral), Conference systems (e.g. Webex, GoToMeeting, Zoom, BlueJeans), Identify Management systems (e.g. Okta, OneLogin, Active Directory) and any applicable source system for sales that supports API based integration (e.g. SalesLoft, Outreach, DocuSign, Xactly).
MTS: Could you share some details on how Text Analytics and NLP integrated to the sales process can enrich lead and demand generation?
Rajit: We have all been at companies where marketing buys leads or generate leads from events and target them with campaigns and get low ROI. The biggest return for marketing is to target leads that your sales team are already talking to casually. But how does marketing know who their sales people are talking to? Sales will never do data entry, or cleansing. This is where AI-based technologies can assist to synthesize, cleanse and parse data on people (leads, contacts, prospects) and interactions (emails, calls, messages) and provide marketing with a much better list for ABM targetting and higher ROI.
MTS: What are the challenges that CMOs have in adopting AI for their sales automation? How does People.ai make it easy for quick AI adoption?
Rajit: The biggest challenges we have seen CMOs and CROs run into in adopting AI for sales automation is not product or technology related. It is cultural and behavior related. We recently pitched People.ai to CEO of a Fortune 50 insurance company and after our presentation, during Q&A, the CEO only had one question, “how will this help me change my sales culture and take us to the next era of selling?”
Millennials have already started to take up jobs at companies and a lot more will take over jobs in sales and marketing in the next 5 years. These millennials are used to AI being part of their day to day life. From setting their home temperature to figuring out which movie to watch, book to read, music to listen – they are living and breathing AI around them as a consumer (mostly without knowing the AI in play). They are the ones making the final decision, but they expect the insights from data to be delivered to them powered by AI to make the decision. They expect the same, when they go to work.
At People.ai, we believe that every decision about managing your team should be data-driven. We will not be the one making the decision. We will leave that to the people. But we want the decisions to be based on hard data and facts, powered by AI. People.ai aims to bring the cultural change on your organization by providing higher transparency and accountability in sales and marketing teams to everyone in the organization.
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Rajit.
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