Book Club: Tim Cortinovis on the Future of Sales and Marketing Automation

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Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs. AI and automation are no longer merely buzz words or subjects of a science fiction movie. From chatbots to virtual assistants, you’ve actually likely interacted with these tools more than you might realize. But what do the tools look like in the world of sales and marketing and how can businesses really use them to their advantage? This is a topic that Tim Cortinovis explores in depth in his book “This is Marketing Automation! This is Sales Automation!“, and I’m so excited to have Tim here, to tell us a little bit more about his book today.

Tim, with that, I’d love it if you could introduce yourselves to our audience and tell us a little bit about your background and your book?

Tim Cortinovis: Yeah, thank you Olivia for having me on the podcast. I’ve been in sales for twenty years now. Right after my Master of Arts studies, I entered sales. As a little boy, I was a little bit nerdish and I coded and tried to program my computer with Eliza, a chatbot-like program. Even in my studies and afterward, I’m looking for ways to automate tedious and monotonous tasks. And now, since 2011, I’m working as a global keynote speaker and I give talks and workshops on sales automation. My book is actually about how to take advantage of all the opportunities that come up right now.

OF: Fantastic. Well, again, as I mentioned, I’m so excited to talk about all of these topics around marketing and sales automation. I think it’s such a growing topic in our world today. And you know in your book, you talk a lot about the different reasons why this might be becoming more and more common in the business world today, so why is it that business leaders today might really be struggling to grow the business and what are some of the challenges that you’ve noticed that are making this problem a little bit more difficult.

TC: Yeah, three main topics, I see there. Gartner states that 30% of buyers nowadays want a seller-free sales process. 30% of buyers don’t want to talk to a salesperson anymore. That is a huge obstacle. And what is more, markets are highly saturated, it’s becoming more and more difficult to talk to our clients. And the third one is that it is getting harder and harder to find smart salespeople to cope with these challenges.

OF: Absolutely. Yeah, those are all very pertinent points here. Your book is all about how automation can really be leveraged in sales and marketing to help leaders overcome some of those challenges, in order to more effectively grow their business. I’d love to hear from you, how can automation really be used in these functions to reduce repetitive tasks and free up time to focus on some of those more high-value efforts, as you mentioned.

TC: Yes, of course, Olivia. If you look at the whole sales cycle, from lead generation, lead qualification, trust-building, closing, and predictive selling for the cross- and upselling, depending on the complexity of your solution, you can practically automate the whole customer journey. But even if you do not want to do so, it is highly recommendable to automate lead generation and qualification. So, your sales team gets let’s say nine to ten closings on ten calls. But before, they did ten calls and they got one or two closings. So, if you use sales automation, everyone is happier – your customer and your sales teams.

OF: Yeah, that’s a great point. So, more specifically, you also explain how AI and automation can also help across three fronts, which you mention are prediction, matching, and decisions. So, what does automation really look like in each of those areas of practice?

TC: Yeah, that’s a good point. Prediction you can use in two ways. You can predict what the customer is going to buy. And if you can show her, what she most surely is going to buy, you are the fastest in the market, as nobody is faster than you, if you know beforehand what your customer is going to buy. So prediction is a good tool to do this, and on the other side, you can use prediction to predict which of your leads is the hottest. You know, beforehand, we as salespeople came to our offices, opened our laptops and saw a list of one hundred leads. And now, you have to decide by your guts, which of these leads are the hottest, as you only have time to call ten of them. So, which one to call? Now, AI is going to do this job for us and tells us which one to call. So, this is prediction.

Matching is really really good at matching which sales rep is best for that kind of client. So, beforehand, you can match the sales rep to the client and increase the number of deals.

Decisions, you can use AI strategically, to decide which target market to enter, which target groups to address, so AI helps you to strategically develop your business.

OF: Yeah, that’s very interesting how it can be used in all three of those areas. Beyond just how automation can really help a business operate more smoothly, you also talk about the value that it can have for customers, so I’d love to learn a little bit more about what automation looks like from the customer’s perspective and how can it really improve the customer experience?

TC: Yeah, that’s really the most important point of all, I think. Buyers nowadays demand three things. They want the fastest process possible, answers the same moment they sent out the text message. They want the simplest process possible, no forms, no hassle. And they want total transparency in price, process, and supply chain. And I think, personally, this is only possible with automation. You can’t do this manually. And there is huge evidence from the States, from China, from Norway, from Germany, that buyers value speed and ease of use much more than the human touch and the communication.

OF: That’s super interesting. Could you actually tell us a little bit more about what that evidence is?

TC: Yes, for instance, the New York Times reported last year, that in more and more fast-food restaurants, or the drive-through lane, voice bots are used to take the order. As they couldn’t find any more people to do this job, they use the voice bots for the ordering process. And people love it, because it’s much faster than before, it’s easier. In Germany, we have some bots in insurance companies, for hail damages, for instance, and people love it. If you have a hail damage, you have about five thousand to six thousand people calling at one time at 8 in the morning after the hail damage, at the contact center and when a bot answers, it’s much faster and much easier for them. So yes, we have evidence that people love it. Another very good example is from Norway. They have a huge Norway bank, they also have a bot answering the customer enquiries and there was research and they came up with the point that people like to talk more with the bot about their financial situation than they like with humans. So, they feel more secure, more safe, talking to a bot about their financial issues.

OF: Yeah, that’s very interesting. I’d actually, if you don’t mind, love to learn a little bit more there. You know, there’s been lot of talk in the area of automation, about what the role of a salesperson looks like going forward. How do you envision, you know, with bots and all of these different AI tools at the forefront and as you mentioned, customers really enjoying that experience of interacting with bots, what does the role then of the human or the seller look like, and how do they provide value in addition to some of those automation experiences that a customer might have?

TC: Yeah, that’s a very, very good point, as I am personally deeply convinced, that AI and automation is not going to take away work from us as humans but will deeply change the quality of our work and leverage the whole thing. That means, beforehand, as a salesperson you sold something, a program, a screw, whatever that might be, and now you’re going to sell the whole relationship with your enterprise, with your company. So you have to grow at that point, and the kind of standing you need is now you have to communicate on the C-level, with the customer company and to sell this relationship between your company and the customer company. That is a whole other job to do.

OF: You know, as we’re now in 2022, how do you really think that automation practices in sales and marketing will continue to evolve in this next year or even beyond?

TC: Yeah, I see four topics here. First of all, leadership takes into account that there are more and more hybrid teams, mixed teams made of AI and human members. Sometimes, AI is going in the lead. Talking about leadership, this will be an important point to take into account. Then, voice. As we’ve seen in the industry where nowadays robots are working without the cages, side-by-side with human workers, we will see in the office, humans working side-by-side with AI. That AI will be working with a voice and you’ll interact with your AI colleague via voice, so it’s totally easy to use AI tools on all workplaces in the office. And of course, another big trend is automation automating itself. We saw this in the last years, and I think this will be much more important in the future, as we see the first software working on automation itself.

The last one is reduced complexity. AI is so easy to use nowadays and there are frameworks like AI as a service or composable enterprise, where we can see unskilled, or – yes, let’s say unskilled – humans working with AI, because it is so easy. This will be the fourth complex, where we can see huge growth in the upcoming year.

OF: Well Tim, thank you so much again for sharing all of your expertise with us and with our audience. I know I learned a lot about AI and automation here, so, thank you so much and I really enjoyed having you on the podcast today.

TC: Yeah, thank you Olivia for having me. If anybody wants to meet me, please go to LinkedIn, I hang around there a lot. Contact me on LinkedIn, and then we can have a chat or write together.

OF: Also, do go check out Tim’s book, it is available in a link that we’ll include in the episode description here. Thanks for listening. If you’d like more tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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