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August 25, 2020

How Business Conversations Are Changing

GUEST: Jim Benton, CEO at Chorus.ai

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Has the pandemic made you worried to say the wrong thing? How has it changed how you talk with clients?

When the world changes, business conversations change.

And it helps to know how others are successfully adapting their conversations to these uncertain times.

That’s why I’m excited to be joined today by Jim Benton, CEO at Chorus.ai. He is an expert on how COVID has changed our conversations — and he brought the data to back it up.

  • In this episode, he explains:

    • How Chorus.ai works
  • How COVID-19 is affecting engagement, including:

    • Leadership
    • Cold calls
    • Demos
    • Sales cycles
  • What to do with this wealth of data

Chorus.ai

Chorus.ai is a conversation intelligence platform.

If you are unfamiliar with that phrase, basically Chorus.ai lets you capture the conversations that your sales teams are having with your customers.

The platform aggregates key information in these conversations, allowing you to understand the voice of the customer on a deeper level.

You are also able to find out if your team is bringing its best and what conversations are driving deals forward. It lets you look at what happens in those conversations and the key topics driving results.

It has native integration in Zoom, but it also works with a variety of different meeting platforms.

And with this comes a lot of data.

So let’s jump in and see what insights Chorus.ai can bring regarding our COVID-conversations.

How the conversation has changed

First off, COVID-19, itself.

Back in February, the first mentions of COVID-19 started creeping their way into our sales conversations.

By February 23rd, there was a jump of about 8%...

By March 16th, that number increased to around 100%.

So, clearly the virus became top of mind for many — but how did it shape our other conversations?

1) Leadership

On the sales side of things, a really interesting thing happened as the pandemic played out:

Leadership started taking a more active role in sales calls. 

We're seeing a very different motion since pre-COVID of leadership being actively involved in these calls.”

JIM BENTON at Chorus.ai

In fact, there was a 70% increase in executives joining calls.

And a huge driver is coming from the buying side. Vendors who are purchasing have seen twice as many directors and other executives joining on calls.

Finally, CFOs have been jumping on these calls at a 90% higher rate.

All of this dramatically shifts the way you run your sales process, how you think about the materials and how you present the ROI.

2) Sales cycles

This change in executive involvement has also impacted — in some ways — the length of sales cycles. 

But this is a mixed bag.

In some cases, sales cycles have greatly increased due to certain businesses being perceived as non-essential. 

In others, the increase in executive involvement means the right parties are all getting together earlier, greatly accelerating the sales process.

In these cases, the parties involved are moving at lightning speed to implement and sign off on new technologies, which may have otherwise been mired in a much longer sales cycle.

3) Cold calls

Ah, everyone’s favorite: The cold call.

This one is hard to guess. Is social isolation making folks desperate for human contact eagerly pick up the phone to speak with a human — any human?

Or are people using the whole end-of-the-world thing as a way to duck calls?

Luckily, we don’t need to guess, we have the data.

And it says: Yes.

Essentially, the volume of cold calls has gone down, which makes sense when you think about it. People aren’t in the office, so you need cell phone numbers and home numbers.

But what’s really interesting is those who are busy dialing are connecting to their prospects at about the same rate as pre-pandemic.

Not to get all Field of Dreams, but: If you call, they will answer.

If you're willing to make the calls, people will pick them up.”

JIM BENTON at Chorus.ai

4) Demos

Here’s one where the data might be the most interesting and you see a little bit of human psychology and connection bubbling up to the surface.

Demos are 8% shorter now.

Why?

It’s because they are starting later — instead of beginning at the 10th minute of a call, it’s around the 12th minute.

And that’s because everyone needs a little more human connection in trying times.

There's more time being spent on empathy, coming to agreement and understanding folks — and that's impacting how demos are being used.”

JIM BENTON at Chorus.ai

As far as data goes, this tidbit is actually pretty reassuring — people are taking the time to connect with each other. It’s heartwarming, really. 

How to use the data

Okay, so you’ve just had a lot of numbers dropped on you. You may be asking yourself How do I use this?

Well, there are numerous things you can do with these facts. And hopefully, there are thoughts already percolating for transforming these data into actionable insights.

But to help you out, here’s the biggest one Jim suggests:

Be authentic.

This is one of the main reasons behind more executives hopping on calls, why demos are delayed and why the ROI you’re giving companies needs to be well-articulated and clear. It’s also why some of the best sales we’ve seen in a decade are happening as we speak… or type or whatever.

These are crazy times and no one wants a heavily automated sequence thrust upon them.

We’re socially isolated, so we need a real human connection.

We’re worried about cash flow, so we need to be assured of the mission-critical, business-essential reasons behind a buying decision.

And authenticity achieves this.

Be authentic and the new conversations you’ll have will be even better — and generate more revenue — than the ones you were having before.

This blogpost includes highlights of our podcast interview with Jim Benton, CEO at Chorus.ai.

Subscribe to hear this episode and many more like it. For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.