Conversation intelligence is having a moment in the sales technology market. Its appeal is well documented in market data, which indicates a spike in demand over the next few years. In fact, according to a Markets and Markets report, the global conversational AI market is expected to grow from $4.8 billion in 2020 to $13.9 billion by 2025.
Conversational intelligence is, indeed, quickly becoming a must-have tool for every enablement program. Broadly speaking, conversation intelligence records and transcribes conversations. But don’t confuse it with revenue intelligence, which uses recorded conversations for the benefit of accurately forecasting revenue. Rather, the value of conversation intelligence goes beyond simple call recording to include AI-based analysis of rep interactions with customers. Now, sales organizations are using it to inform sales training and coaching – and to make sellers more productive and effective. And, with the pandemic and its fallout driving more remote selling now and into the future, it looks like conversation intelligence has a permanent home in the sales tech stack.
Since the beginning, sales organizations have leaned on enablement to “get ready” by onboarding and training reps so they’re customer-ready for in-person interactions in the field. Managers hope this training will help their reps know how to confidently and crisply deliver the corporate pitch, how to navigate objections, and how to negotiate deals – all in the service of closing more deals. The operative word here is “hope,” as there is no way to truly have insight into what transpires in a meeting unless the manager is present. Of course, it’s untenable for a frontline manager with multiple reports to attend every in-person sales meeting, so that leaves behind missed opportunities to observe and evaluate the behavior and skills their reps demonstrate in the heat of the moment.
With COVID-19 over the past year, in-person meetings shriveled up, and sales teams transitioned to remote selling. They – and customers – have become increasingly comfortable doing business virtually; and, while frontline managers still can’t attend all virtual customer meetings, AI bots can, providing a reliable window into rep performance. With that, conversation intelligence has become integral to every enablement program, as it is a validation opportunity to determine whether or not an organization’s training is actually sticking with reps when it matters most.
More precisely, conversation intelligence tools have provided indispensable insight to help managers figure out why deals shrink and are lost to competitors, why their salespeople aren’t making quota, and why churn is increasing. For example, AI can analyze key customer interactions to gauge the progress of deals, uncover buyer sentiment, and determine appropriate next steps to build or maintain momentum in the sales cycle. AI-powered conversation intelligence can also provide conversation snippets to highlight demonstrated skills as well as areas for improvement so subsequent coaching and training are better customized to individual reps.
Of course, conversation intelligence is made all the more valuable when it’s integrated into a sales enablement program. In this way, it informs all the other elements – coaching, ongoing training, measurement – so organizations can create an ecosystem of learning designed to make salespeople truly field-ready and more effective.
The past year has certainly forced the sales and enablement world to rethink many of its existing processes and tools so businesses can survive even in uncertain and adverse circumstances. In some cases, this “next normal” environment has emphasized how some tools – like AI-powered conversation intelligence – can be an important link to greater seller effectiveness. By making conversation intelligence a key part of the overall sales enablement ecosystem, organizations can create a continuous state of excellence that underpins a thriving business in today’s rapidly changing environment.
Jeff Santelices is CRO at Mindtickle.