We all are aware that Artificial Intelligence is influencing our lives and businesses. How can we use AI effectively in business? Flavilla was joined by Ralph Varcoe, who is Chief Revenue Officer of now ai, the world’s first AI-powered sales intelligence engine for a new era in B2B service selling. Through this article, you will discover how to use AI effectively to sell B2B serices and the insights into the future of AI by the expert himself.
Ralph’s journey in the world of AI
Ralph never intended to get into AI, though he had always been in technology companies. However, when he was presented with an opportunity in 2016, he happened to meet an amazing start up, spirit ai. They used IBM Watson’s technology to innovate within the gaming market. He was fascinated by what the start up company was doing and spent several months demonstrating this technology to different gaming companies.
While devoting himself to ai and sales, Ralph realised that the people play a crucial role in growing a business and utilising data that they have. “You are not really selling to the companies, rather you’re working with individuals, identifying their problems and helping them find a solution”. Often people think of sales as being pushy and making people buy what you are selling. However, this is not true. It’s all about positioning yourself in the context of what you know and what your customer wants to do so that they make a decision. Technology is an enabler to make great people even greater at what they do.
How now ai has changed the customer experience
A security vendor is now an ai customer. They looked at a whole range of customers on behalf of the company. One of them happened to be a financial services organisation that uses now ai to monitor all the information and key variables. They had lots of deep insights into the financial services market, such as “what are the key trends?”. By pulling all the information into it, analysing it, looking for relevant and valuable information, and discarding quite a lot of information that isn’t relevant to the company, they can surface up the specific contextual information. This gives them a conversation with the account director so that they have something specific that they can go and talk about.
Additionally, they were able to identify a micro-signal that was being sent out by a financial institution. The company wasn’t actually stating that they were going to do something, it wasn’t part of their stated strategy. But now ai could see how things were moving, how other banks were working, and what the financial institution was saying. They then spotted some changes and pulled all that data together and pushed it through to the security vendor. As a result, the security vendor was able to have proactive conversations with the key executives of their customers. They told Ralph that they would never want to be without the ai service again. They knew what to talk about, not just in general terms, but specifically with a targeted individual. Also, how it related to what that financial institution was trying to do in the context of the financial industry.
This is how now ai is providing value. They pulled together all the different data points, sifted through them and surfaced up something highly contextualised. This enabled their client to have a very different, and meaningful conversation with their customer.
Will AI replace human roles?
Now the world is questioning whether AI can really replace human beings. Ralph shared with us his view on the subject;
As a matter of fact, AI is able to filter a lot of data that will take a lot of time to do for human beings. Everybody assumes that an AI system is intelligent from the second it is created. But in fact “it’s more like having children, you have to train them”. AI can make decisions about what is and isn’t relevant, however, it has to be processed through the human filter afterwards. The technology isn’t as good as humans at turning that data into an articulated human conversation. There’s a whole psychology around human interaction, which AI is unable to understand.
When should you integrate AI as part of your sales process?
Although AI is constantly evolving, it is just an enabler. You can’t replace everything with technology. You still need to have the best salespeople who’ve got the best skills to build relationships. Ralph believes that any B2B organisation needs the best salespeople as most organisations intend to sell high value products. In order to get high level individuals, you have to ensure that your salespeople have got passion, intelligence, and is able to empathise with others.
AI enables and equips those people to be even better at what they do. It’s not about AI replacing people, and it is not about AI being the answer because you can have the best intelligence. If a really great account director or new business salesperson is given the sales intelligence, they will use it to drive what they’re doing.
From his point of view, companies should make use of AI as early as possible in their sales process, as the more informed the more intelligent every salesperson is, the better it is for them to build the relationships.
The customer acquisition journey
There are mainly two phases that now ai has taken in their journey: Cast your net wide and be reasonably specific.
In the beginning, you have to go through a marketing awareness phase where you let people know what you do. You want them to know you exist. For now ai, they want the world to know about contextualised sales intelligence and conversations. Then, in the next stage, you need to be specific. Now ai targets specific executives within large tech companies. You can do that when you are absolutely certain that a company is your customer already. Alternatively, you know that they’re an absolute definite acquisition target for you.
This approach can be applied to any tech business. Raise awareness through your marketing and be specific. Understand your target customers so that you can get people at the right time when they have a need or want to buy the services that you offer.
The future of now ai
They are seeing some great traction with some really great customers. For example, Bentley Systems, which is a provider to the construction engineering industry, have been with now ai for over a year. They’ve now expanded the number of accounts that now ai manages. It is working brilliantly. Bentley Systems is one of Microsoft’s largest ISVs and Microsoft benefits every time they sell a new service to their customers. In fact, Microsoft has acknowledged just how amazing it is. It helps salespeople and account teams to accelerate what they’re doing. This grows customer intimacy to be much more targeted and relevant.
Now ai is embracing the bright future, driving things forward and adding value to as many companies as they can in the tech space.
About the speaker
Ralph Varcoe is Chief Revenue Officer of now ai. It is an AI platform that enables salespeople to sell more by providing contextualised and targeted sales conversations. These can use immediately with their customer executives.
For over 20 years, he has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others.
He’s also an author and musician with a passion for creating – be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.