If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, then you’ve seen an example of what an effective and motivated sales team can do for a company’s growth (SPOILER ALERT: aside from the illegal money laundering, of course). Even if you haven’t seen it, you probably already know that in every company, from growth-stage startups to global corporations, the sales team is one of the most important and integral assets to have.
An efficient sales team can be the essential driving force behind a company’s revenue growth. But what happens when that team doesn’t receive the proper training to grow?
According to this 2015 study and other articles, sales coaching initiatives are poorly supported in most sales organizations, as consistent coaching takes up time and resources for sales managers, on top of their main duties such as identifying growing market trends and developing sales strategies. With too much to juggle, it can be difficult for a sales manager to focus on their team and, therefore, for the team to thrive.
Luckily, maintaining consistent communication and training can be a lot easier, faster and more efficient by using artificial intelligence (AI), said James Lackland, the Co-Founder and CFO of Cary-based Core AI Corporation.
Founded in 2020 by Lackland and CEO Ed Ross, Core AI is a SaaS data analytics platform that was built to support sales managers to become better coaches and leaders. The startup uses AI to analyze the coaching sessions and other meetings that sales managers hold with their sales reps, providing feedback to help sales managers more effectively manage their meetings and reduce turnover within sales teams.
The sales team is a crucial component of any company since it directly drives revenue, while also being a significant expense.
But without proper management and support, Lackland said there comes a point where a sales representative can’t generate a cash-positive return. That often leads to hiring new sales reps as replacements or additional reinforcements, leading to significant additional expenses while also hurting the revenue side since new salespeople need time to get up to speed.
Lackland also said that because of the current relationship between sales reps and their managers, the team may not have the facility or been in an environment where they’ve had to shake up their sales approaches. When teams are comfortable with current methods and then something new and different arrives, they feel a loss of control because they haven’t been in a situation where they had to be vulnerable and completely recreate themselves.
With Core AI’s analytics platform, managers can continually learn from their coaching sessions with their salespeople to improve such sessions going forward, leading to more capable managers and also to more confident, comfortable and productive sales reps.
“We’re adding enterprise value because at that point, they’re hitting their goals and exceeding it,” Lackland said. “You want to be able to create those environments or have that infrastructure where people want to thrive.”
Through the platform, managers can easily schedule meetings with their reps using a Calendly-like scheduler. From there, the sales reps can input data they’ve gathered from new deals to present to their managers, who can then skim the data through digital “cards” to get caught up to speed.
When it comes time to the meeting, the platform—which integrates with other platforms like Zoom—records the interactions between the managers and reps and later provides an analysis of the meeting to the manager. There, they can look at the data provided by the startup’s AI engine CoNNIE (Conversation Neural-Network Intelligence Engine), which sits in the background of the meeting like a neutral third party.
The engine then assesses specific keyword usage, emotion detection and the automation of other processes to provide a summary and recommendations for managers to act on.
“What we aim to do with our platform is support the manager in knocking [the conversation analysis] out of the park every time,” Lackland said. “If I’m trying to be positive and support [a rep] but they’re frowning and I’m ignoring it because I have to complete my message, I’ll need to work on my emotional intelligence to realize what they actually need.”
Core AI’s platform is customizable for each company they contract with. Every sales organization is different, especially in the words and methods they use within their own company culture. During the initial onboarding process, the AI collects data from sales processes inside the organization, using artifacts like emails, recorded phone calls and video sessions to train the AI models so they understand the semantics of each company.
Core AI also creates and tunes its own language models and facial recognition algorithms to further adapt to different company standards, thus creating comfortability for the sales team and the overall company. For example, a smirk in one company can mean something different than at another, so the platform will give suggestions on what that smirk might mean and how the sales rep can take that feedback going forward.
Additionally, CoNNIE will detect and take out any personal data that is mentioned in the meeting, protecting the privacy of all parties.
“We provide a tool that brings value based on how people communicate,” Lackland said. “A lot of things are powered by AI, but we use AI to add humanity back to that process and create some value for the interaction.”