I did a startup in the area of Artificial Intelligence-driven Sales Prospecting in 1997. Much water has flown under the proverbial bridge. This discussion takes us to the state of the art, twenty years later.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to InsideSales.
Gabe Larsen: Thanks for having me. I run, what we call, InsideSales’ lab. That is our research and best practice group here at InsideSales.com. I’ve been with the company for five years in a variety of roles. Previous to InsideSales, I spent about five years in the Middle East where I set up an office for a company called Gallup and then spent time as a consultant at Accenture and then was a banker at Goldman-Sachs.
Sramana Mitra: Give the audience a little bit of context about what InsideSales’ core business is, and where does AI fit into that picture?
Gabe Larsen: Our core mantra is, we help sales teams sell more with artificial intelligence. In order to do that, we have some technology that facilitates the user experience and that allows the AI to be utilized in the prospecting area. Then we have technology also at the bottom of the funnel that uses artificial intelligence around pipeline management and forecasting. We have two main toolsets – one on the prospecting side and another on the pipeline management and forecasting side.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down separately on each of those and give us a feel for how your customers are using those tools. Help us through the workflow of how AI-enabled prospecting works and how AI-enabled forecasting works.
Gabe Larsen: I’m glad you brought the customer in because it’s interesting to look at it from a customer experience view. We call it the path to AI sales transformation. It goes through a four-phase process. We believe that you need to start focusing more on productivity. The reason we believe you have to start with productivity is, you’ve to start getting the data. You need a mechanism to be able to start understanding the datasets that you have and use those in a way that you can actually do something valuable out of it.
Most organizations start with us just by saying, “Let’s get visible and let’s get a little bit more productive.” To do that, we have a toolset called Predictive Playbooks. It’s a sales rep tool. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all your prospecting needs. You can prioritize who you go after. You can decide who to engage with and then it goes into how to engage them. I can place a phone call. I can send an email or a text message.
It has got these different communication channels that allows the rep to be able to say, “I want to reach out to somebody, and I need to know how to reach out to them.” The beauty of this tool is it provides visibility. The company gets that productivity just because they’re streamlining their sales process. What they don’t realize is they’re starting to build the AI engine. They’re starting to gather data.
With each phone call that’s placed, we’re then capturing that data to figure out when is someone having more conversations. Which accounts are starting to engage with us the most? What method is working better? Little do they know, they’re getting the visibility and the productivity and effectiveness but in the background, we’re getting ready to move into phase two which is the idea of profiling your buyers. This is where we bring the AI engine into play a little more.