Relationships and reputation are everything
Are you selling your product or selling your customer's future use of the product? This small distinction may seem inconsequential, but it makes a world of difference.
“I hear it all the time; ‘How my sales rep treats me is how I think my entire relationship with the company is going to be.’"
In this episode of The Future of Sales, Brian Gerrard, Director of Sales at Outreach.io, delves into how he has made himself a salesperson that customers can connect with on a personal level and why it's more important than ever to build these relationships.
The "No Bullshit" Takeaways:
• Learn why it's imperative to not only know your product but also know how it relates to each customer's individual workflow.
• Unpack some easy ways to connect with and create relationships with your customers.
• Find out what to look for in a mentor.
• Learn how and when to ask for referrals.
• Listen to Brian's opinion on business A.I. and why he thinks humans will never go out of style.
You can also find us on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and if you prefer watching, YouTube.
Sahil Mansuri: Hi and welcome to another episode of The Future of Sales. I’m your host, Sahil Mansuri, CEO of Bravado. And with me today is a dear friend and someone I’m really excited to have on, Brian Gerrard. Brian is the director of sales at Outreach.io. Brian, thanks for taking the time and welcome to The Future of Sales.
Brian Gerrard: Thanks for having me. Second podcast, let’s do this.
Sahil Mansuri: Amazing, amazing. So maybe it’s a good way to introduce yourself and give us a little background. I think most people in the world of sales are pretty familiar with Outreach, but maybe if you just talk a little bit about yourself and your role and kind of the company that you work for so there’s a little bit of context to the conversation as well.
Brian Gerrard: Sure, yeah. So I am the director of sales of Outreach as what you mentioned. I was the -- or I’m the 15th employee of Outreach, which was actually about two days ago was my anniversary. Since that time, I mean, outreach has grown like crazy. I’m sure most people listening to this know this, but 60 million in funding, 20,000 daily active users, and just really seeing the company grow from really nothing like below a million ARR to above 30 million ARR now. A fun fact, my first sales job was eight years old roller blading around door-to-door selling magazine subscription. So, it never stops and it took me 11 startups to find Outreach and finally found one that’s a good company to be with.
Sahil Mansuri: There’s a lot of analogs to everything you just described in the world of sales generally, right, with the numbers game you gotta keep going, So I appreciate that. So Brian, I wanted to start the show off by asking and talking about something that we discussed at Unleash. So, Unleash is obviously Outreach’s annual conference, it was the second year, and I got a chance to be on a panel with Manny, the CEO and a couple other folks and we were talking about what the future of sales looks like. And one of the things that came up is that if you’re a sales person today the world of B2B purchasing and the way the customers interact with sales people has changed dramatically.
Brian Gerrard: Yeah.
Sahil Mansuri: And I think you have some good thoughts about that, so maybe I’ll start there. You know, in your eyes what does the future of sales look like and then, as a follow up to that, you know, what do you need to be like as a sales person today in order to stay relevant in that conversation?
Brian Gerrard: Yeah, so I attribute a lot of -- excuse me. I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I am good with people, but I’m also pretty analytical and I’m pretty technical. I don’t know if that’s normal right now, like in today’s age, but I think it’s becoming more of a norm, especially with all the new softwares out there, with AI becoming the buzz word, machine learning, natural language processing; there’s just so much that we need to understand about our products now and how it relates to each customer’s workflow.
But you really got to spend time getting deep in the product and understanding the backend and like understanding each customer’s workflow and how each little feature can help one person, but not help another. So not so much like feature selling, but how you put the puzzle piece together instead of just saying this generic pitch of like what Outreach does and there’s probably 15, 20 other companies that do something similar, you know. But if you can’t get into the weeds with the right -- and, you know, you have to have the right person to do this with, then, I think that really limits your chances to success and actually getting the deal done because they don’t really trust you know your shit, so.
Sahil Mansuri: Yeah. And, you know, to that point, you know, one of the things that we discussed on that panel at Unleash is that in today’s world the sales person is more, you know, historically, the sales person was someone who had a lot of grit and a lot of hustle and a lot of stamina and, you know, we used to hire salespeople that were former athletes and that was like a big, you know, path into sales besides if you’re a former athlete, because you were used to putting in the hours in the weight room and you were used of long practices and somebody who have that kind of drive and stamina was the type of person that you needed in order to sell because sales was a numbers game.
You know, the person who picked up the phone and made the 340th call that day was more likely to succeed than the person who only made 40 calls. But now, that’s not the way the world works today. You can click one button and send a thousand emails, you can click one button, put on a headset and always keep dialing and dialing until you get someone on the phone. So, sales rep is just far more efficient than they were today, which means that now the paradigm has shifted where you don’t need the most efficient sales person, you need the most effective salesperson.
And what makes a sales person today really valuable is somebody who is technical, somebody who is consultative, somebody who knows the ins and outs of their product, but also knows the ins and outs of their competitors, knows the ins and outs of the market as a whole, what the actual buyer is going to do with the product as opposed to just reading off of the script and being able to get deep into, you know, the technical implementation and utility of each product as opposed to focusing just on this like generic, you know, I’m just going to evangelize a product and then, hope people buy it, you know.
Brian Gerrard: Right. No, I mean -- and I think a lot of this is really on sales enablement, which is still fairly new. You know, when people come in, I feel like there’s a stigma around when you say -- when salesperson says train me on a product, like older sales leaders are like, “Well, I’ve never trained on a product, like I need to train on the sales process. I need to train on how you go through each step in what you do” to where I think there should be a little bit of shift over to more get the product down, get the confidence in what you’re selling and then, have the sales process back that up. And like you said as well around knowing your competitors; that’s difficult to do. I mean like you got to do a lot of research to understand what’s actually happening and talk to a lot of people. So, I think you still need grit and tenacity and that hustle, but you just need to focus it in different areas in how you communicate that to your customers or your prospects.
Sahil Mansuri: I tend to agree with you there. It’s not to say that people who work hard aren’t valued in sales. I think it’s just that it’s a different type of working hard, right. What it means to work hard has changed and it’s not working hard in terms of like knocking on X doors or carrying a heavier bag with more products inside of it as it used to be. But I think now it’s more about putting the effort in to train yourselves and become a source of knowledge for your prospects and your customers. To that point, you know, for many of our listeners, perhaps, they’re thinking to themselves, okay, this sounds really good, but how do I actually do it, right? Like what do I actually do in order to evolve from being a salesperson who reads the script to being a sales person that buyers actually trust? What advice would you give people on that?
Brian Gerrard: That’s a good question. I mean the way that I -- I mean I will say that I had the benefit of being at Outreach early. So, I was with the product as it started and it evolved. Someone coming in now, that would be a much different story. But I think the biggest thing is find a mentor that could be your boss, that could be just a senior EA in the company that you’re going to work with and that you’re comfortable with. And so, I’ll give you an example, like I started a mentorship program over here and there were two EAs that came in and they were so tenacious about calling me and slacking me and texting me and they just wouldn’t stop and I loved it, you know, to be honest because they were asking all the right questions. And I also the -- I was able to explain to them and frame to them, hey, you sold us this way to get, you know, the broader scope of the sales instead of just targeting in on one aspect.
So I think that’s one is find somebody you can go to that you’re comfortable with that you know has done well and ask as many damn questions as you can possibly can and don’t feel like you’re being too persistent. Like, if you’re at a good company, those people will give you the time. Two, I think you need to spend after hours really digging into the product yourself and going in and just writing down questions, like what this do, why was this built, and then, taking those questions to the other departments. The first thing I did at Outreach is I try to become really comfortable with everybody, and so I can go to product when I need to, I can go to marketing when I need to. I can go, you know, to the CSOs if I need to about something, you know, start to follow chain of command, you know. But really just making yourself consistent and trustworthy and being able to ask the right people and then, just digging in for yourself to know what do I need to ask to actually make myself sound reasonable and that I really want to learn something new.
Sahil Mansuri: Amazing. Yes, so I think as a recap there, find a mentor within the company that can help you. I totally agree and I see that as being a really important step. And then, secondly it sounds like you’re saying really get deep in the product yourself, spend the time yourself in order to, you know, build your own knowledge base there as well. You know, one other thing I would add to that is, you know, there’s a plethora of free tools available now like Google Alerts and whatnot that you can set up in order to become somebody that reads a lot about the industry.
Now, in the case of Outreach in sales enablement, you know, there’s new content being created every single day, every single week about sales effectiveness, sales efficiency, email versus cold calling and just getting versed in all that content, reading it, hearing it, being able to share that with your prospects and with your customers I think really helps build that credibility and that trust that says, “Hey, you know, Brian isn’t just pitching Outreach to me, Brian is actually somebody who deeply understands sales enablement as an industry. And if I work with Brian I’m going to get like this bonus consultation on best practices and I’m going to improve my own effectiveness from my own sales team if I work with Brian and the Outreach team.”
Brian Gerrard: Like a couple of things I left out is also there’s -- so when talking about like reading the articles, I think this industry is still so new than a lot of industries are, is you don’t want to get too stuck in to the vision, like you want to be able to know exactly what does this product do now. So, part of that is also making sure you use all the technical support articles and online trainings, so you know what to do. But another -- like another point to that about the strategy, you know, I have the experience since I’ve been here for three years and signed up a bunch of clients, so I’ve seen it happened. But for somebody new, go sit with the CSM, you know, go sit with the CEM and like understand how they implement, why they’re doing particular strategies, and what are the end of goals of those customers to see how the different features add up to get that goal. So, yeah, I would 100% agree with you, there’s overwhelming amount of content to read, you just got to organize it.
Sahil Mansuri: You know what, that’s something unique there. I haven’t heard this before, but I actually think that’s a really great piece of feedback, which is, you said CEM, which I -- trust me, it’s customer engagement manager, which --
Brian Gerrard: Yes, sorry.
Sahil Mansuri: That customer success and account management, right. And so that’s a wonderful source of wisdom because in the sales process, we as salespeople have a tendency to pitch the ideal world scenario, right. Every demo works perfectly, every, you know, every piece of marketing material is glossy, and then, once the customer actually starts using the product and they get into the trials and tribulations of like the reality of what the product does, you know, maybe that source of truth really then lives with customer success and account management because they’re the ones who are dealing with it on a day-to-day basis.
So rather than try to guess and figure it out yourself, go straight to the source and sit down with them, maybe join in on a couple of calls where, you know, a client maybe is having challenges with a certain part of the product, or maybe it’s a client that’s like up for renewal and they’re super excited and they want to -- and you know, you want to listen in on what that sounds like because that’s going to arm you and give you more content and more understanding of what the post-sale process looks like, which for most buyers is the scariest thing. Like if I had -- I mean, you know, I have a somewhat unique background and I think we talked about this that, you know, I spent a number of years in sales, and then, afterwards I spent a number of years as a buyer of technology in the product side.
And when I acquire technology, I realize how scary it is to buy products because you don’t know if like you -- it’s actually going to work or if it’s not going to work, and a lot of times, you’re putting a leap of faith in the person who’s selling it to you and the vendor you’re working with. And so, I that person can reference real stories of what actual customers are going through, like today with the product, that’s just going to lend so much more comfort and credibility and build trust between us so much faster, you know.
Brian Gerrard: And if that can get you over the hump, then sales engineers and solutions consultants are -- I would be nothing without them, like they’re one of my best resources is if I need -- what you said about getting in the product is a different story than seeing it. So, like a big part of my sales strategy is if I can get them in the product quickly and I can get them engaged to start asking questions around like what does this do, how do I connect it this way, what fields can you pull over, then I know they’re engaged and they’re hooked and they want to make it work. And sales engineers can bring that to fruition, but the sales person still has to be the quarterback, so no one will like intervene and like you use your sales skills instead of them being on the technical side. So there’s -- with the right company and if you’re with the right product and you have the right support, you can learn pretty quickly, but you just have to spend a lot of time soaking up as much details as possible.
Sahil Mansuri: Yeah, I love it. I love it. And I couldn’t agree with you more on the fact that being able to soak up on this information and investing in yourself as a source of information pays dividends many folds, you know, whether it’s a prospecting email, whether it’s in the closing process, whether it’s a renewing customer, whether it’s on a panel like this. I mean, there’s so many forums in which being a source of information is something that never goes out of fashion. It never goes out --
Brian Gerrard: That’s right “Knowledge is power!”
Sahil Mansuri: And so, let’s, you know, now shifting gears a bit because, you know, one of the main things that I’ve enjoyed, you know, in the process of building Bravado is seeing the types of relationships that create sales people like yourself build with their customers and the fact that those customer rave about the experience they have with you. I’m actually just going to -- I’m going to read you something. This was, you know, you’ve got a number of testimonials on Bravado that your customers have left you. There was on in particular that stood out to me.
It was from the senior director of LearnCore, a gentleman by the name of Brian Collins, and what Brian said -- and this is the thing that I really love, he said, “Brian impressed me with every interaction, he actually listened and then, in parenthesis wrote did not just wait to speak, candidly and genuinely and I really trusted Brian as an adviser throughout the process. When sales is done right, it’s the best profession in the world. Brian does it right.” So first of all, congratulations because that’s awesome that your customers feel that way about you; secondly, how the heck do you build relationships with your customers in the way that they’re willing to say something like that about you?
Brian Gerrard: I send them a case of booze. No, I mean, so I think there’s a lot to be said about like building a relationship with somebody like from the beginning and, you know, getting to know somebody, but honestly, like my approach in the beginning is pretty short on the small talk and getting right to business. So, I mean, obviously, like it depends on the market you’re selling, but for mid-market which is mostly what we do, you know, we’re trying to get an enterprise, I think relationships are more important.
But as you’re building your pipeline, I mean, I think getting straight to business and understanding how can I help you?, what are your challenges?, what are you currently using? and getting down to brass tacks I think builds trust a lot quicker than trying to figure out who they are as a person. Because I mean we’re both, you know, we’re in America, we work too hard, you know, we work too long and we’re all trying to make money for our family. So, let’s do what’s going to make us look better to our superiors and get promotions which will in turn help our life anyway.
So once I get over the hump of, hey, you can trust me to help with your business, then I start getting a little bit deeper into who they are as a person personally and start asking more personal questions, or I’ll send them, you know, I really do send them a bottle of booze, you know, afterwards. And I ask them, you know, like what’s your favorite booze, you know, unless I’m talking to people in Utah. Or their favorite sports team and I can send them a jersey, you know, just things that show my appreciation and actually listen to who you are and like what you care about outside of work, those are really a long way to make sure the relationship continues.
Sahil Mansuri: I love that. I love that. You know, I think that -- I like that you’re saying you put business first and you build the relationship kind of along the way as opposed to leading with the relationship. And as a buyer I appreciate that as well because so many times a sales person gets on the phone with me and they’re like, “So how’s the weather?” And I’m like, “Yeah, weather is great.” I’m not sure how that’s going to help me decide which sales enablement platform I’m going to use, right, because in my head I’m just busy, right.
It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you. It’s not that I don’t like you as a person, that’s not it. It’s just like I’m busy, right, and I have a very specific agenda in mind which is I don’t understand if this thing can help me or not after you can get there for me, the better it is as well. That’s not to say that I want you to be court or rude or not to say that I want you to pitch me a bunch of product features. But it’s to say that being mindful of the fact that like I have an agenda and an objective here and that you’re trying to meet that agenda and objective for me, I think makes a ton of sense and I appreciate the directness of your approach as well, Brian.
Brian Gerrard: Thank you. Yeah, I mean it’s -- as it keeps going along, the upsells and expansions, that’s when I think it gets really, really fun, you know, because then you can start going out to dinners, you know, you can start talking about, you know, meeting their family, like I brought my kid to Unleash and there were a bunch of customers there, so that’s when I love it. Once the trust is there and the value is there, then it becomes someone that you can make a new friend with, for me.
Sahil Mansuri: So I want to talk to you about that a little bit because I think that in sales we are often conditioned to do to focus on short term outcomes and short term gains, right.
Brian Gerrard: Sure.
Sahil Mansuri: It’s like a prospect is in front of me that’s potentially ready to buy, I’m going to put all my energy and effort into this person and email them and call them and get the deal done. And then, as soon as the deal is done, then I kind of kick him over the fence to customer success and move on to the next one, right? I can tell you how many posts I see on LinkedIn from buyers that are like, “Hey, you know, you used to email me and call me every day, now you won’t respond to a single email from me now that I’m having technical support issues” or whatever, you know. And I think that this is one of the things that hold us back as a profession is this concept, you know, when you talk about sales as a profession, a lot of times, you know, that was some negative stigma which we know right. And so, where does that stem from?
Well, one of the things it stems from I think is the fact that people believe that you’re in it for the short run and then, once you’ve gotten what you wanted which is typically a contract then you’re on to the next. But -- and now, that’s not what I have read from your customers and what they’ve written about you at Bravado, it seems like you’ve invested in maintaining those long term relationships. From the surface that sounds great everyone is like, yeah, I want to maintain relationships with my customers, but just to be like really blunt about it, what’s the value, why do you invest in doing that, if maybe -- I mean, renewals and stuff aside, I get that there’s like renewal benefits and stuff, but let’s put that aside, what is the value in having a long term relationship with a customer?
Brian Gerrard: Well, I mean, I don’t even think of it as like value monetarily, I only think of it as like, but you know, they were -- we were all still -- I mean like we’re all dealing with humans, you know, so if I can do right by this person and we all know inherently what’s right or wrong, then I know that we’re going to have a long lasting relationship and it will turn into something. What that something is, I have no idea. It could be an expansion, it could be they move companies and they, you know, talk to me over there. It could be a referral just like Bravado which is, you know, being seen on the site.
All I want to do is do right by that person and it’s the only thing that goes through my mind. So, if something goes wrong, I’ll go to bat for them even after the contract sign to try to get something for free or to try to get some sort of discount or to try to fix in some way with more support or whatever I can do to show good faith. I can show good faith that I hear you, I know there’s something going on, I want to be right for you to fix it. I think giving to get is a really big part of my strategy because that’s how I want to be treated, like, I just don’t want it to be one sided. And if I consistently do that, then it will work out over time to where, you know, my whole business runs off referrals.
Sahil Mansuri: Yeah. And so talk to me a little bit about referrals because I -- so here -- I share -- it started in Unleash, I think, you know, you probably know, I think every sales person knows how is this done, which is that referrals are your best source of new leads.
Brian Gerrard: Yup.
Sahil Mansuri: It’s obvious why, right, you have somebody who is already using your product that’s vouching for you. So, you know, the instance -- the biggest fear that the prospect has, which is that if I buy this thing, is it really going to work or not work. Well, that’s assuaged, right, because they have somebody that they trust who’s telling them, “No, this thing does actually does work, otherwise, I’m not going to refer you.” And so, you’re not worried about that anymore, great, biggest problem for a sales person is solved. Second biggest problem for the salesperson is actually getting in touch with the person. That’s kind of solved because you’re not the one who actually called out to reach them, someone else is doing that for you. They’re just enjoying, they’re walking into a warm meeting, so that’s amazing, right.
So now, at this point, you’ve kind of knocked out a couple of the biggest problems that every salesperson faces. Great, referrals are amazing. Yeah, very, very, very, very, very few sales people even get one referral a year. I think that the actual number is somewhere around 10% or less than 10% of sales people get even one referral and I think that it’s more in a happy accident, like it’s more like, “Oh, yeah, I got a referral,” as opposed to it being a system and a program that you run the way that you’d run any other sort of like nurture program or outreach program or whatnot.
Brian Gerrard: Sure.
Sahil Mansuri: (a), why? and (b), how have you done things differently and talk to me a little bit about that.
Brian Gerrard: I mean it’s the entire process. I mean it’s all from the beginning like how relationships starts. I hear multiple times on the phone like how my sales rep treats me is how I think my entire relationship with the company is going to be. And I think to an extent that’s true, you know, there’s some things that, you know, people make mistakes, but if that process starts well and, you know, once the contract is signed, I have most of my follow up tasks in Outreach are all around my customers. They’re not so much around new business, I do have some, but a lot of them are around talk events, staying in touch, what’s going on, how can I help, can I help push someone internally for you. And I just consistently try to stay on the radar and I’m not just disappearing.
Text messaging has been huge for me. Outreach coming out text messaging very shortly here, but right now like I’m using the text message app on Apple or on Mac. And every time that I work with the client I typically have their cell phone and I’m texting just to check in or say Happy Mother’s Day or how was your weekend or stupid little things, you know. So, if I’m doing that and I’m coming across as a real person that cares, and I do care, which I think just naturally leads to I trust this person and they don’t have to go sell Outreach, they can just say, “Hey, go look at this, I bought it, go talk to this guy, he’ll take care of you and they don’t have to micromanage me.”
The biggest thing is just trust. You know, do I trust this person to treat my friend right. And if I do then I mean that’s 80% of the battle because the conversation once you get into it isn’t as awkward, you know, it gets right into it, you can talk about how you know each other for the referral, make some jokes and then, go straight in the business again. So, it’s just -- it’s a perpetual cycle that never stops if you care enough.
Sahil Mansuri: So first of all, everything that you just said there is like super solid, right, like the playbook makes sense, it seems not that hard, it doesn’t seem like it’s that complicated, but where we have seen -- so again, one of the joys that I get on Bravado is the fact that I get to see what thousands of salespeople are doing across so many different organizations. And the number one biggest fear that I see from sales people on Bravado is that I’m scared to ask for a referral, I’m scared to ask for a testimonial because -- and I’ve tried to narrow down what it is. And there’s two things that we hear, one is if I ask and they say no, is that going to be really awkward, the second thing is I don’t know how to act -- like I don’t know the words to use that doesn’t make it sound like I’m just trying to like carry favor like whatnot.
And because I guess it’s a personal ask instead of a professional, I don’t understand it because I always found it to be very natural to ask. But maybe just for those who are not as gifted as you in this sort of thing, you know, of course, there’s going to be the time that the customer is just going to organically email you and be like, “Hey, we should reach out to this person or something.” But the other times, you kind of need to help the person think along, right, and be like, “Hey, is there somebody in your network that you can introduce me to or whatever, is there someone that’s looking at the solution or someone that can benefit from it?” How do you say it? Like what -- in what medium, do you call them, do you email them, like what are the tools and things that you’re doing in order to try and get more referrals and like really try to, you know, help that process be a process, you know?
Brian Gerrard: Yes. So I think the biggest factor is timing. One thing that I actually love about Bravado is that at the end of the month you guys sent me an email saying, “Hey, now is the time to start asking your closed deal for referrals.” And that was like that’s amazing reminder because we all need that. So, I think just that. I usually start with just emailing just because I feel that’s less threatening. You know, I don’t want to call somebody up if they’re busy doing the day about something for me. I’m more -- when I call I want to have value for them before I do something like that.
So I still think it is a number’s game for the referrals, so I do send out a lot of them and if I get one, yes, if I don’t take it personally. And I still follow up with them anyways or it tells me that I need to prove more value. So, then, I’ll call them back and see how it’s going before I even get to the point of asking that. So, it goes back to the theory that I said before to give to get. So, if I’m giving something I typically have a small window to ask for that referral where it makes sense and it’s a natural ask.
If I sign somebody up and it’s six months down the line and I have no idea what’s happening with their account with their CSM, then it probably doesn’t makes sense to do it then. So, it’s -- I definitely don’t do this perfectly, but keeping a tight leash on who my happy clients are, who I have a good relationship with and I have a list for everything that I can go down as many of the way I do it is through email, text, and then, my last resort is actually calls unless I have some value for them to prove first or to show first.
Sahil Mansuri: Well, you know, you mentioned the CSM, right. We’re back to the CSM, I mean, if you don’t know what’s going on with your customer’s account maybe don’t start by emailing them and saying, “Hey, how it’s going?” maybe go to the CSM, right, and they’ll figure it out, right. I mean some of this is just common sense and yet people don’t use it, which I think is just hilarious, right. Like you have an internal champion who can sit down and tell you, “Hey, they’re actually really happy” or “They’re not happy,” and like here’s the challenges and then, you can go and fix those challenges. And if you fix that, then surely give you referral, right.
I think that there are ways to make referrals a more practical source of business for you because I think theoretically, everyone understands the value, I think it’s the practical part of it that sometimes people get lost in. And so, I think one actually offers a really nice way of doing it, which is stay close to those CSMs, have them tell you what’s going on with the customer and kind of use that as the move, right. So, I think that’s a really good point.
And so, the last thing I want to touch on really quickly, which I think is a topic that’s near and dear to both of our hearts which is AI, right. I think certainly Outreach has invested very heavily in using AI in order to help you across a variety tasks. AI is near and dear to my heart as the last company I worked at was a predictive lead scoring company, my co-founder Yoni and I both came from that after we were acquired by ebay a couple of years ago. So, we both had a chance to work pretty heavily in the space.
Brian Gerrard: Awesome.
Sahil Mansuri: I can’t help but ask the question in just the most click baty way possible, are all the bots going to take all the sales jobs? Brian, what is your take? Go.
Brian Gerrard: No. We’re not Westworld yet. Although, I would love to go to Westworld, that would be quite fun. So, okay, so I think of it as, I mean, I think if you separate consumer AI versus business AI, it’s a different conversation. Consumer AI like, you know, Google just tested their bot that called to do hotel reservations. So, like what Google Home could be in three years, say, call the Four Seasons and make a reservation for me. It could be done if people don’t even know it’s a human.
So, in that case, I think there’s a lot more of the Hollywood AI we think of happening on that side. For the business AI I think it’s a lot more just replacing repetitive and mundane tasks that you really don’t need to be doing to be, you know, to get the most success and to be most efficient. So, automating, you know, emails for examples, pushing things back to Salesforce, making sure that we understand what our metrics means.
So, for us right now there’s so much data out there that we don’t know what to do and the first step is we need to categorize it. So, an intent classification is what we’re working on with Amplify is to go beyond what reply rate means. Instead of it just being 20%, 15% of those could be opt out, so it’s not really a great reply rate. So, if we break it down into like positive, opt out, as well as objection, we can start to understand what the real reply rate is and how we truly A/B test to another level and how we can scale that across the team so we can even out the top performers from the bottom performers.
So I think starting there and once we have the data classified and that can change across companies, we can start to do a lot more automation. So, we as humans can focus on what we do best, which is being emotional, being bias, having connections, talking about things we love and building those relationships to move the deal forward while you have an assistant, you know, essentially helping you along the process and like telling you where to go.
Sahil Mansuri: Yes. I think I agree very much with what you’re saying and let’s drill into one specific thing, which I think makes a ton of sense here. Google Home in a demo around being able to make a hotel reservation or a restaurant reservation or whatnot, I mean, that’s a very uncomplicated task, right. That is a task that takes 15 seconds on OpenTable or TripAdvisor or Booking.com, right, click a button, click another button, click a third button, book, right, like that’s what we’re talking about. When you’re talking about B2B software purchasing, do I think that a company that’s selling basically self-serve software with like minor upsells or whatnot could potentially automate a way a lot of their sales force? Maybe, yeah, because at that point there’s nothing, there’s no need for human interference.
Any product that you can come in and you can just download with no set up and just start using, like a Zoom for example, it maybe doesn’t need a massive sales force, it maybe just need sales people on the enterprise side but doesn’t really need it on the SMB side. But when you’re selling anything that’s mid-market or enterprise, which by the way the vast majority of B2B sales is, then at that point it is not possible to download Outreach from the cloud and then, test it and use it and set it up in a way that’s going to let you truly explore the power of the technology because there’s way too many features, there’s way too much customization, it’s all -- there’s a bunch of what I like to call bouillon clauses, right, which are just like if you have your sales team set up this way, then you use the product that way. But if you’re team uses this way, then you use it that way.
And so any time that you get into complex tasks, I think we’re talking at least 20 years before something could actually handle that kind of configuration. So, I would tend to agree with you that the bots are not coming, they’re not going to take away the B2B sales jobs, but, but, there’s a big but there, you have to be value additive as a salesperson, which brings us from the beginning of the conversation. Which is to say if you can’t do the thing that’s like, hey, how is your sales team set up, how does your SDR team operate? Cool, if that’s the case then here’s these seven things you need to know, then let’s plug it in and here’s some cadences to test out and this, and that. Like, if you can’t get in there and really be able to build of the spoke solution for the customer and if all you’re doing is looking off of product sheets or a script or whatever, then any bot can do your job. Is that clear?
Brian Gerrard: I 100% agree, 100% agree. I mean I think we -- I think Elon Musk said it best when he was -- he tried to make -- from what I understand, he probably know more about this idea but, then he tried to take the Tesla 3 completely automated. And when he tried that like everyone is waiting for the Tesla 3 and it’s taking forever, so he puts some Twitter post out that we’re really underestimating humans. And so we need to take control of what we’re good at and we need to provide value just like you said.
And if you’re sitting back and you wait for it to come to you, you’re probably going to get filtered out. But if you care about yourself, you care about your customers, I don’t think that’s ever going to go away from creating human connection and building your -- I think it’s a skill is to have better emotional intelligence and being able to read people’s queues in how they talk, and their tone and their body language, like all these things are so important that I don’t think a robot is not going to learn until Westworld does exist.
Sahil Mansuri: So there you go. That sounds like a great place to end our conversation, until Westworld is real I think --
Brian Gerrard: Exactly.
Sahil Mansuri: And that point it’s going to be a really different world, so we’ll figure out what that all means. Brian, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time, this conversation has been great. If any of our listeners have any follow up questions for you or want to get in touch, do you have a Twitter or email or what’s the best way to get a hold of you, can you leave your contact information for us here?
Brian Gerrard: Of course, and thank you for having me. This is awesome. So my email is brian.gerrard, B-R-I-A-N, .gerrard, G-E-R-R-A-R-D @outreach.io. And you can even call my cell 818-359-4632. I’ll -- if I can get it, I will and I’ll call you back if I can’t.
Sahil Mansuri: Awesome. Thank you so much. You know, one of the things I really appreciated from this conversation is something that goes very antithetical to how sales people are perceived in general. You know, one of the things that I grappled with for a long time when we were building Bravado was whether sales people would be willing to share best practices with one another. And there is this whole ethos of like salespeople are really competitive and like salespeople have sharp elbows and, you know, like, they -- all they want to do is to succeed to themselves.
But from the example that you gave of mentoring junior reps and then, like bombarding your phone in your Slack, and you being willing to help, to you sharing your cell phone and your email address publicly to any listener, you know, I really appreciate that. And I thank you for being a great example of something that we believe very deeply here, which is that sales as a profession is mis characterized, sales people as a class of professionals are under appreciated and are caricaturizedin a way that it isn’t the reality. And I think anyone who’s listening to this would agree that you are exemplary of something different and I really appreciate it. I’m thrilled to have you on Bravado. I’m thrilled to chat with you. And we’ll have to get you back on the show for some more insights.
Brian Gerrard: You’re going to make me cry.
Sahil Mansuri: I promised not to just send me something. All right, man, have a good one. Cheers.
Brian Gerrard: Thank you, sir. See you.