GUEST: Adam Honig, Founder and CEO of Spiro
If you have ever wanted something you saw in a science fiction movie to be real, you are not alone.
It all started one Saturday night in 2013, when Honig saw the near-future Spike Jonze movie Her, which stars an uncredited Scarlett Johansson as the voice of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that takes over Joaquin Phoenix's life.
“She analyzes his email and his phone calls and recommends what gift he should give his mom,” remembers Honig. “I’m watching this movie and I’m like ‘sh**, this is what salespeople need! They don’t need Salesforce, they need Scarlett Johansson!’”
Honig, who had already sold two other companies, envisioned his next startup. He excitedly called his friend Andy Levi, a CTO he’d worked with off and on for 15 years.
“I called him and said ‘We’re going to build Scarlett Johansson for salespeople!’ and he was like ‘What???’” remembers Honig.
How to slay the Goliath in your industry: Hit a larger market.
Six years and $5 million (and counting) later they have realized that vision with Spiro, an artificial intelligence CRM that removes most of the administrative data entry from salespeople’s lives and analyzes their most profitable paths.
The company began as an add-on to Salesforce. But when they surveyed sales teams around the country, they found that only 19% used Salesforce. Incredibly, over 50% used Microsoft Excel as their CRM.
These salespeople, Honig realized, are using powerful CRMs and spreadsheets as glorified address books. Most salespeople aren’t adept at analyzing the big data.
Honig, using LinkedIn, researched the backgrounds of all the salespeople in the US and found that only 0.01% were math majors. For the other 99.99% of the market, Honig needed to build a system that analyzed automatically.
Machine Learning can scale and see what you can't.
“Because computers are very good at scaling, it can look at your actions and your sales teams’ actions and all kinds of data. More data doesn’t make it harder for the computer to recognize what’s working, that makes it easier,” says Honig.
Machine learning is already a part of our lives. It looks big data sets to understand the most useful outcome. For example, if you use Gmail or LinkedIn, the auto-suggested responses like “looks good” are the product of the AI looking at millions and millions of people who have responded to similar messages and that was the most common reply.
But the bottleneck with most CRMs is that salespeople spend most of their time on data-entry tasks to enter in all that big data.
Spiro slices through that Gordian Knot by capturing the entire data stream automatically. Spiro handles the email, the texting, and even the phoning with minimal data entry by the salesperson.
When cold-emailing a prospect, Spiro recognizes the activity and creates a contact record for that person. It also creates a company record. If the prospect responds to you, it makes a note of that. It pulls the phone number from the email signature. If you are emailing other people at the same company, or if there is a calendar invite, it captures that data for you as well. If you send a proposal, Spiro sees that, and changes the sales stage to ‘Proposed’. Spiro builds out your pipeline from one call.
Spiro is listening. That's a really good thing.
Shortly, Spiro will start transcribing phone conversations (Spiro comes with its own phone number and phone system for the sales team). This means that when you make a call with Spiro, whether it's on the mobile app or on the desktop, it’s recording and transcribing the calls.
“We do that not because you want to have a 5,000-word block of text in your CRM that says what actually happened,” says Honig. “It’s because we want to know the key things. Did the prospect say, ‘Call Chad?’ Did the prospect say, ‘Follow up with me next week?’ What was the sentiment of the call? We are pulling all that information out of email today and we will soon be doing the same on phone calls.”
Based on how Spiro interprets the data, it will recommend a course of action and email templates for emails that have closed similar prospects.
For sales managers, Spiro aggregates all of this data about what the interactions are, how they're going, and which deals are good and which deals are not good. Spiro gives sales managers big picture data as well as granular detail for those who want it. The data and analysis can really help sales leaders coach their sales team.
Perhaps Spiro’s biggest impact is in what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t require all of that data entry.
“Customers who are using Spiro report that they were able to have 30% more conversations on a weekly basis,” says Honig. “That is some combination of lack of admin crap they have to do. Plus the fact that Spiro is good at pushing people to call at the right time. That’s the thing that we are really focused on. We set up a success dashboard for a customer and connections are the metric we are looking for.”
Spiro has also been shown to help people close deals that have fallen off their radar.
Many salespeople are juggling somewhere between 40 and 50 active opportunities at any given time, at different points in the pipeline.
“We were installing Spiro on this saleswoman’s phone and the first thing it came up with was a call list. And she was like, ‘Oh sh**, this guy! I need to call him right now!’” says Honig. “Before that, she couldn’t remember him because he was not her number one deal. Unfortunately, that's a real-world example.”
Those connections are Spiro’s top goals. “We believe very firmly that if you're able to engage more with prospects and customers that sales should go up,” says Honig. “There isn't a linear connection, but if you're not talking to prospects you're definitely not going to close.”
Did Honig ever reach out to Scarlett Johansson?
“She is not involved in Spiro right now,” says Honig. “We were ready to call the whole company Scarlett but it was taken and they totally ghosted me. I called (Johansson’s representatives) 100 times and they wouldn't even give me the courtesy of a no.”
Honig isn’t giving up. “I just want to put it out there, Scarlett, that I did see every one of your movies.”
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