I’ve worked in several different roles in tech companies in my career, and every time I changed roles, I gained a different perspective. I’ve led product groups, added product marketing, and then moved to leading sales.
As a marketer, I was heavily involved in creating what I thought were compelling messaging and stories that would enable the sales team to close more deals. But when I moved to sales, I realized that it’s really a completely different world.
Sales have genuine conversations, not marketing speak
Sales teams don’t use marketing speak, we use sales speak. Marketing data sheets are a must-have for customers, but they just aren’t central to sales-focused conversations. And sales teams need a very different approach that is more conversational, more direct, and more nuanced than marketing messages. My own experience in direct sales taught me that the ability to have meaningful, genuine conversations with other people is the most important skill for sales reps.
In my role leading a revenue organization at the software company Kaltura, the sales team and I would spend an astonishing amount of time and energy every week in sales coaching for specific products and markets. The team, products, and market conditions were constantly changing, so we were continuously coaching the sales and success teams to keep them on message.
We needed a top sales coaching tool, but I simply couldn’t get excited about existing solutions. They were centered on passive learning instead of active learning, they required hours of management attention in reviewing recorded pitches or other involvement, and in the end, reps were often still left to practice their skills on live leads. I wanted a better solution.
Enter NLP, NLU & Speech Recognition
While I was thinking about how to build a better coaching solution, I realized that the tech world had made massive advances in areas like Natural Language Understanding (NLU), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and speech recognition. Voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant swiftly became trusted helpers and sometimes, even friends (ok, “friends” ;).
I saw the potential of this step-change in tech, and I wanted to use it for sales coaching. For decades, pre-Internet, if you wanted to learn a new skill or check information, you might open an encyclopedia or a how-to book. As the Internet became part of everyday lives, you might go to YouTube to watch a how-to video. Now, you can simply ask your virtual assistant to tell you how to fix a faucet, step by step.
Tech is changing the way we learn, and it’s not finished yet. AI-powered programs can help you learn, refine, and adopt new behaviors at a speed that’s never been seen before. I’m convinced that soon, using machines to practice and hone new skills or knowledge will be as ordinary an activity as using YouTube or Siri to learn how to fix a faucet.
Sales coaching should be bite-size and on-demand
That’s the environment into which Second Nature was born. It provides bite size, just-in-time learning that delivers the information or skills that sales reps need, when they need it, and in the shortest possible amount of time.
Nobody wants to spend months on a course to learn how to apply a new sales tactic, or take a week or two to master the information about a new product or feature. Sales reps need the equivalent of a trusted friend or personal coach who can share the relevant information, give feedback on their performance, and provide targeted, practical advice about how to improve.
Imagine you’re a sales rep and you’ve spotted a need for a specific product from a customer, but you aren’t fully on top of all the specs. You want to gain that knowledge as quickly as possible so that you can go out and use it effectively. Or perhaps you identify that you’re not moving leads from the discovery stage to the demo stage as fast as the rest of your sales team, so you want to sharpen your skills.
Second Nature answers this need with AI-powered simulations that let you test your own capabilities and provide actionable feedback, paired with coaching videos showing the best way to conduct each type of conversation. Thanks to the newest wave of NLP, NLU, and speech recognition, you can use active learning to master which smart questions to ask, how to respond to customer pushback and concerns, how to convey the value proposition, etc. Second Nature also helps you tailor your conversation for different types of leads, such as for a CMO vs. a middle manager.
The best is yet to come
We’re not finished yet. Our vision is for every sales rep and success team to reach peak performance in the shortest possible amount of time, thanks to tailored, practical coaching training that identifies weaknesses and helps you to improve. We have more plans up our sleeve for even greater personalization and customization that will bring even more value to B2B sales organizations.
We’re excited to see where conversational AI can take us. Join us for the ride.