AI in Sales: Actually Useful CRMs
Sales 2.0 Interview
Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 interviews Adam Rubenstein – CEO and Co-Founder of Traq.ai – to gain his insights into using AI to boost sales efficiency and performance.
This is number 8 in a series of interviews I am conducting with subject matter experts and practitioners in the sales profession. I am examining where we are today with AI in sales and where we are going.
This interview is with Adam Rubenstein, CEO of Traq.ai. Traq.ai’s artificial intelligence helps analyze sales conversations to point out opportunities, risks, tasks, and other highlights, and guides users to do what works best for them and close more deals.
Here’s a summary of our conversation and below this summary is the full transcript of our interview.
– Nigel Edelshain
1. AI will save salespeople time
Adam believes AI will free up salespeople’s time by handling some of the more mundane tasks associated with lead generation and sales meetings, like prospect research and taking notes during meetings, allowing salespeople to focus on tasks they can do better than AI.
2. Some salespeople will resist
Some salespeople will not adopt AI right away as they will strive to hold to their current methods of doing things but “salespeople that take a long-term view are going to embrace AI and they’re going to get up to speed in this area quickly.”
3. AI will bring benefits to field reps too
In field sales settings, salespeople can use mobile apps to record conversations and upload the recordings to the cloud for AI to process. This will allow salespeople to focus on the conversation with the client and not worry about their note taking.
4. Actually useful CRMs
AI-powered call recording technology can significantly enhance the quality of CRM data by automatically capturing and summarizing sales calls. According to Adam, “Suddenly, we’re injecting a lot of important information into the CRM without the salesperson having to do admin work. And now the CRM has real value.”
Where do you see AI impacting the sales profession the most in the next 2-3 years? How about further out?
I think AI is going to give leverage to salespeople in a lot of different ways. The average salesperson spends something like 30%-35% of their time actually selling, and the rest of the time they are doing either research or admin work. I think AI is going to help salespeople do lead generation and qualification, identifying which people to call and do the research for them. And then the AI is going to be doing the note taking. It can do a lot of the administrative work and often better than the human can. AI will free up salespeople’s time so they can focus the things that only they can do better than AI.
What are your thoughts on how salespeople will actually adopt AI? It all seems to make so much sense, but there’s a history with tech, like CRMs, of adoption issues.
“This is just one more step in the evolution of becoming more efficient in the way we sell.”
Salespeople want to be able to help their clients, but some salespeople can get set in the way they work. They’ve been doing something in a particular way and successfully closing deals, and they don’t want to change. And then their company identifies some new technology and comes to them and says, “Hey guys, we’ve got this new thing. We want you to learn how to use this.” These salespeople see this new tool as one more thing that’s going to get in the way of them actually selling.
But these salespeople may not realize at first that without these tools, they cannot become more efficient. If you talk to a salesperson who’s using a CRM and you say you’re going to take it away, generally they would not allow you to do that. I think AI may be the same. This is just one more step in the evolution of becoming more efficient in the way we sell. Salespeople that take a long-term view are going to embrace AI and they’re going to get up to speed in this area.
How do you see AI working in a field sales setting? Are we all going to be wearing Google Goggles or something?
I think there will be salespeople who want to record every conversation while they’re in in-person meetings. So, you and I will meet at Starbucks, I’m going to use a mobile app on my phone to record our conversation. I’m probably going to take a few rough notes, but I know that the full conversation is being captured by the app on my phone. The app will upload our conversation to our AI processing software after the meeting. I think that alternatively, there will be other salespeople who will have a meeting like this and when they get in their car to leave, they will sit down for a moment and write down notes or dictate notes into their phone because it’s fresh in their mind.
What do you think is going to happen to the quality of CRM data now we have AI?
We often ask too much of salespeople. In many companies, salespeople get in the morning and have their first sales call at nine o’clock, and then another sales call at 10AM and then another at 11AM and then maybe have lunch and some internal meetings. Sales calls are pretty draining. It takes a lot out of you. As a salesperson you’re thinking “I’ll put the notes into the CRM at five o’clock.” But then you’re too tired at 5PM to do this kind of admin work so you think, “I’ll just do the notes in the morning.” And then the next morning rolls around and you can only remember two or three nuggets from the call. So, a lot of that information doesn’t ever make it into the CRM.
Call recording technology, like ours, that captures the call, writes the summary, and puts the notes in the CRM will really help salespeople. Suddenly, we’re injecting a lot of important information into the CRM without the salesperson having to do admin work. So now the CRM has real value. With this kind of data in the CRM, I can look you up, Nigel, and see a call that we’ve had in the past. I can review it and I can see where we are, and I can prep for the next conversation.
For the past 10- or 15-years marketing has been data-driven but sales was a holdout. Everything activity leading up to the sales call was measured but then we’d have a sales conversation with a potential customer and the measurement would end! A salesperson would get on the phone and have an amazing conversation. Then they’d hang up and it’s as if the conversation evaporated because all that was left were a few nuggets of information in the salesperson’s brain.
On a call the buyer may have said what their concerns are. For example, their biggest concern was whether your technology solved their problem. Next was the cost. Third was the difficulty of implementation. Next were the legal issues.
Well, imagine now you fully capture all the details of these conversations, and you start parsing them in your CRM. So, the CRM has this analysis of conversations, and you can go back to it with a search like “how many of the people I’ve talked to in the past six months said that a legal issue was an important concern”. And this is not something that any salesperson ever typed into the CRM. But now we have it.
AI can help us record the information from sales conversations, store it in our CRM, and then retrieve it for analysis, or for future outreach campaigns.