Why Every C-Level Growth Leader Needs to Know about Revenue Intelligence
This is a guest post written by Sham Sao, CRO, Board Director & Advisor, Growth 11
As a CRO, GM, Board Director, and Advisor to numerous companies, I’ve seen first hand the direct impact that Revenue Intelligence technology has on growing sales.
It’s impressive (e.g., 50% increase in win rates, 30%+ shorter time to close), which is why it’s no wonder that Gong is rapidly being rolled out by top CRO’s and VPs of Sales across the globe.
Not JUST for Sales Leaders
But when the power of this technology is harnessed by those outside of the sales function — by the entire leadership of the company — it’s a real game changer.
Yet most C-Suite leaders, other than the leaders of the sales function, are largely unaware of the power this technology offers. That needs to change… every C-Suite leader needs to know about it. I’ve experienced it first-hand and want to help others learn about it, which is why I felt compelled to write this.
The Value of Unfiltered Customer Insight
Early in my career, I worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where we helped companies identify and capture strategic growth opportunities. What we found was that while companies typically had tons of data, they were often missing real customer insights.
We ran projects that incorporated customer interviews to capture unfiltered customer and prospect insight. This market insight served as the underpinning for strategic decisions to drive growth.
But companies were not set up to capture this insight continuously — especially not the unfiltered insight we were getting through these interviews — so while they could use this periodically generated insight for big strategy projects they couldn’t use it to drive continuous growth on an everyday basis.
Busy Executives Require Distilled Insights
While listening to recorded calls can help with some of this, it’s not the answer. It’s simply not possible to capture enough insight from different channels and go through the recordings to find the most important insights. Busy executives don’t have the time to wade through hours and hours of recordings to find the nuggets.
The power of Gong goes beyond the ability to record customer conversations across many different kinds of customer and prospect meetings (i.e., emails, phone calls, video calls, in-person meetings).
The real power is in the ability to process all of this information from so many different channels and distill it into insights, while preserving the ability to jump in and listen to the most relevant details of the conversation.
As an example, in one of my companies, I was able to automatically identify conversations where a strategic partner was mentioned using conversation analytics. This gave me instant insight into which partners were having what level of influence in our actual sales conversations. And when I wanted to dig in, I could jump right to the relevant part of the conversation.
I’ve outlined here a few thoughts on the benefits for various members of the C-Suite and the relevant benefits from Revenue Intelligence for each:
Chief Marketing Officer
Great marketing leaders and marketers perform even better when they have their fingers closely on the pulse of what’s happening in prospect and customer conversations. This is why it’s common for the best ones to request to ride along on sales calls. But these are time-consuming and are not scalable.
With Revenue Intelligence technology, marketing leaders not only get real time insight into every sales conversation, they can make sure their entire marketing team does as well. They can even set filters and search conversations for specific messaging, products, offers, etc. This not only enables them to adjust marketing programs to more directly drive pipeline growth, but also helps them develop new types of programs that are geared specifically for each market segment.
For Product Marketing leaders, there’s an extra bonus. These conversations provide a phenomenal data source to feed into competitive analysis. You can set up filters to see how many times each competitor comes up in conversations with customers and prospects. And you can dive right into the most relevant part of the recordings to capture competitive intelligence to improve battle cards and increase win rates.
Chief Product Officer
Listening to customer conversations is like gold for Product Leaders. It allows them to validate — or invalidate — parts of their product roadmap as well as mine for ideas to take the product to the next level. And more importantly, it enables them to make great strategic product decisions.
Product Leaders are often barraged with an endless stream of feature requests submitted by sales team members and other customer-facing teams relaying requests from customers. They’re also bombarded by requests directly from customers. Capturing and trying to prioritize these laundry lists of requests is far from good product management.
Great product managers will tell you that you should not focus on what solutions the customers are requesting, but rather the unfiltered pains and problems that they are feeling. From this information, product managers will come up with great solutions (better than the ones the customers will suggest) — solutions that end up setting up the company to dominate their market, and not just add incremental features.
Chief Customer Officer
There’s one obvious place where Customer Success can benefit from the technology provided by Gong, but there are also a few that are less obvious.
I’ll start with the obvious one, which is the hand-off from Sales to Customer Success. A streamlined hand-off creates a great first impression with the customer, whereas a rocky one leaves customers wondering if they made the right decision — not a great way to start off the relationship.
Most companies pass along information captured during the sales cycle to the CS team during onboarding, but it’s generally not a complete picture. Gong’s technology enables the CS team to have full access to the discussions from the sales cycle and use their conversations with the customer to create incremental value, rather than rehashing what was covered before.
The other big areas in which Gong’s technology helps Customer Success Teams include: (1) ramping new CS team members; (2) coaching all the customer-facing teams; and (3) identifying customer expansion opportunities.
The first two above are enabled by using Gong with the CS team in the same way it’s used with the sales team. By capturing and analyzing CS conversations, Gong builds a library of conversations that can be used to ramp up team members and provide coaching for each team within the CS organization. And individual conversations are used for personalized coaching.
The third one, identifying expansion opportunities, is one where a hand-off is streamlined from Customer Success back to Sales. Here, the CS team uncovers an opportunity where the customer may benefit from additional products and services, and the recorded conversation helps the Sales team seamlessly pick up the discussion and maximize the up-sell opportunity.
CEO & CFO
CEOs and CFOs are both involved with setting strategy for the company. The best CFOs carve out time to talk with customers, but there are not great natural pathways for this. CEOs generally have the opportunity to speak with some customers, but they are incredibly pressed for time — as they are responsible for every aspect of the company.
One of the challenges that arises from this is that CEO’s can get a partially skewed view of customer needs based on the direct customers with whom they’ve interacted. Gong addresses this problem by putting a wide swath of conversations within the grasp of CEOs. And it enables CEOs to listen to these conversations during off hours like while working out, commuting, or flying on a plane.
For CFOs, Gong is transformative. It gives them a view into customer conversations that they cannot get otherwise. They could, in theory, listen to large numbers of call recordings from a generic call recording solution, but they would not get the breadth of channel coverage that Gong offers (recording all types of meetings — calls, web-conferences, in-person meetings, etc.), nor would they get the insights that Gong provides by zeroing in on the most critical conversations, such as ones around pricing.
So Now You Know…
My goal here was to let the cat out of the bag. If you’re a CRO or VP of Sales, chances are that you already knew about the virtues of Revenue Intelligence. If you are a CEO or member of the C-Suite focusing on a function other than sales, take a look at Revenue Intelligence and see how it can help you take your company growth to the next level.
Background & Source of these Insights
For some background, I’ve grown organizations from $3M to $20M, from $15M to $75M, and from $300M to $450M; served in roles including CRO, CMO, GM and advised companies growing 100-200% per year. I founded Growth 11, which provides advisory services and insights to companies focused for accelerating recurring revenue.