Before you start: This is the third part of Daniel’s interview. If you didn’t read the first and the second one, feel free to check it out here and here. Read them in any order you feel like, we’re not dictators here ^^
Now for a different topic… Information is power is a motto that has persisted through time and still resonates today. What kind of power do you think it represents nowadays?
For pretty much the whole story of humanity, information was power in the sense that the more information you get the better you were and the better prepared you were. But in the last 20 years, it came to a point where information is infinite so it’s not “information is power” anymore, but “information management is power”. I think that’s a big shift right there.
Even for software, in the past you would say “the more information I have on this product the better” but now is more “I want to make sure the information is useful and just in time”. All those things are important in helping me make decisions. That is much more interesting and challenging. Anyone can accumulate data now. Models with machine learning and autonomous cores, the underlying technology was invented in the 70s/80s, they just didn’t have the data. Now they can apply it with real data – sensors are everywhere, you can use that data to actually test the models that were designed 20 years ago. That’s what’s much more interesting right now, data is ubiquitous, is everywhere now, but what can you do with it? Can you help people make better decisions without drowning them in information?
Now we’re facing information overload… Do you think that Attentive is going to narrow that down for the people who use it?
That is one of the core topics of Attentive since day one, since the first idea, when we were trying to think about the problem. Even in the world of sales, if you know what you should do with every single opportunity that comes to you, you’ll be much better prepared. Now, having all the information in the world about those opportunities is not gonna help… but if you have the right nudge saying “this is what you should do next”, that’s a game changer.
The system digests all the information and tells you what you should care about. Not a thousand things – we use those things to pick the right thing for you to do next. That’s how Attentive does that, and managing this information will make a huge difference in the workplace.
There’s a huge buzz about “the future of sales” and the shift that is expected in the industry. What do you think about that?
With the automation of the sales process, especially around finding leads and knowing which companies could potentially buy your product, people sometimes think “We don’t need sales anymore – amazing! Everyone hates salespeople so if we can just get rid of them and just automate everything it would be tops”.
Well, that will just make people hate brands instead of salespeople. Nobody wants to be overflown with the information they don’t really care about. A lot of companies follow that I-can-automate-everything model, but I think that’s something that is not going to stick – or maybe it will in the next year or two -, but what we really need are sales teams much more focused on a consultative approach, that can spend more time with every opportunity.
Nowadays, opportunities are super well qualified, so salespeople know what opportunities they can add value to. If they cannot, they can say no straight away, to focus on the ones they can add value to, and never burn bridges along the way. That, for me, makes the sales job much more interesting.
Of course, we’re trying to build a tool to help with that, where you actually have a fulfilling job when your happy customers make progress. If you are doing that with a thousand opportunities at a time, you’re not helping anyone make progress. Attentive should help you focus on the ones you should care about.
I think the future of sales is much more tailored, but for you to do that tailoring job well someone needs to help you. That’s why we care more about augmented sales instead of artificial intelligence for sales because artificial intelligence assumes you can replace the sales role, which I don’t think you can.
I think that a great salesperson is someone that can come to a client and say “We can help here, we know that you want to make progress in this area, and we can help you achieve that. Let’s work together and define the metrics that prove that we’re getting there and deliver together on those”. That would be a great job, I think, a job where people would be happy. The pure aggressive traditional sales… I think that’s done. People don’t really need – or want – that anymore.
Plus the consumer is much more demanding now… There’s so much going on, so much offer…
That’s a very important point. The education part used to be done by salespeople contacted the sales representatives to get information. Now they don’t. They go through the education process by themselves and when they contact the sales rep – they will try to sell as much as possible – customers just say “No, I already know, I already researched, I know what your product does, I know your competitors, I know where they’re better than you are, what I want to know is: can you help me? Can you apply this to my company?”. That’s a very different proposition for a sales rep, where there used to be scripted demos and materials, now there must be a more consultant-like approach saying “Ok, based on our proposition that you already know, tell me more about your business and let’s work together in finding a solution that is half yours half ours”. That’s very different but much more interesting, I think because it’s not something that you can repeat and do the same thing over and over again.
The sales reps job now suffers from some stigma, right? Due to those scripted one-size-fits-all model, people are moving away from sales. It’s not a dream job anymore. 20, 30 50 years ago it was kind of a mission – to talk to people and sell my product. Do you think that’s going to come back? That vision and excitement around sales?
Yes, I think so, because the other model simply doesn’t work, anyway. Of course, when we are talking about sales reps, there are a few different functions within that. Some will allow more automation than others, for example, an account executive will not rely on automation as much as a sales representative in general. So, that also differs depending on the job we’re talking about within the sales floor.
That said, there is no job that is interesting if it can be automated. If it can, it should be – we shouldn’t have humans doing that because they have much more potential than doing a repetitive task every day. For something like that, machines will be better anyway. People are starting to understand that sending 1000 emails a day that gives you a conversion of 0.00001 is just spending a lot of time degrading your brand. The cost of that is just so big that it is not going to work.
A good analogy would be fossil fuels vs renewable fuels. Fossil fuels: yes, they give you energy, but the environmental cost is so big, you’re adding so much toxic waste to the industry when you’re looking just at short-term revenue… if you have another perspective of making an investment, knowing that things take longer, but you have zero impact on your brand, it’s completely worth it, right? Actually, you can even have a positive impact or positive collateral on your brand. That’s the shift that we see in the energy space and I’m confident we’ll see it in the sales space as well.