Conversation Intelligence 101: What It Is and How to Use It

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No leader can be in two places at one time. Delegation is a function of leadership and team leaders simply can’t be present for every sales call, support inquiry or customer engagement. 

This presents a challenge where customer engagements are central to a function. Good leaders don’t want to micromanage their employees, but they still need a level of visibility and context to understand status (such as deal status) and to properly mentor their employees.  

Spot checking call recordings can help, but it’s a time-intensive task to listen to a 30-minute call and identify where a deal went sideways – or a support call took an unexpected turn. Add to it, managers have multiple team members engaging in dozens of interactions with prospects and customers, and the sheer volume becomes overwhelming. 

This is why conversation intelligence exists. 

Definition of conversation intelligence

What is conversation intelligence? A good place to begin is with a definition. Here’s how we define conversation intelligence:

Conversation intelligence is a software technology that records and transcribes all engagements with customers and prospective customers for analysis. It automatically analyses these transcripts with artificial intelligence (AI) to identify patterns, trends and actionable insights. Conversation intelligence provides context for understanding crucial moments in key customer interactions and assessing the direction and probable outcomes of those engagements at scale.  

While there’s a strong business case for conversation intelligence in sales organisations – Gartner calls conversation intelligence “a game-changer for sales enablement” – it also has meaningful applications in other functions throughout an organisation. These include service, support, marketing, and product management, among others.

How conversation intelligence is being used

Conversation intelligence is used in multiple business functions and departments. This helps those teams to improve their contributions to the organisation’s overall performance. Here are some of the common use cases for conversation intelligence.

Sales:

  • alerting key leaders about stalled deals;
  • isolating crucial moments in a deal that was won or lost;
  • visualising trends in words and phrases used by the sales team;
  • improving new sales and renewal forecasts with data rather than intuition;
  • identifying coachable moments generally and for specific deals;
  • accelerating new sales onboarding and shortening ramp-up time;
  • spotting top performers and what they do differently; and
  • accelerating new sales team members onboarding.

Customer success, service and support:

  • providing visibility into potential renewal issues and customer flight risks; 
  • streamlining new customer onboarding and training
  • facilitating post-sale and account development coaching; 
  • providing a record of accountability for both customer and company; and
  • fostering knowledge management and retaining institutional knowledge.

Marketing and product management:

  • offering direct feedback from the market;
  • enhancing buyer personas;
  • identifying tendencies in overall win/loss analysis; 
  • understanding the customer’s language to support positioning and messaging;
  • supporting keyword research for PPC and SEO;
  • augmenting the development of sales enablement; and
  • surfacing possible customer feature requests. 

3 Conversation intelligence examples

Conversation intelligence is a flexible technology with several practical applications across business functions. Here are a few examples. 

1. Better new employee on-boarding 

Contractbook, a SaaS company competing in the legal tech vertical, says it had an “a-ha moment” after implementing conversation intelligence. As a company, they realised most conversations with customers and prospects began by comparing themselves to the competition, rather than starting with what made them unique. 

That led to a corporate reflection, and subsequent training, that shifted how they addressed the market as a company. It also led to onboarding changes to help set the team up for success from the very beginning. For example, new employees are required to listen to at least 10 recorded conversations which shortens the onboarding time. 

2. Improve sales coaching

Conversation intelligence has provided several benefits for the team at EverMed. First, the company found that the data and analytics help them to scale their sales team. Second, it enabled the leadership team to listen to feedback directly from the market. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it’s proven essential to improving how they coach their sales reps. 

Every week the sales team collectively picks one recording of a sales conversation to review. They listen to the call together and constructively analyse what went well and what could be improved. They also strive to identify ideas that can be tested. Consequently, sales coaching has become ingrained in the culture and fosters an environment of continuous improvement. 

3. Better client service

In the services business, communication and collaboration is a competitive advantage. That’s why Xzito Creative Services, a full-service growth marketing agency, implemented conversation intelligence. They wanted to improve the communication between their sales and services team to ensure what was promised in the pitch matched what was delivered. 

Conversation intelligence means all customer engagements are searchable and sharable. For example, the team often shares important snippets of conversations with each other in Slack and by email. They’ve also integrated the tools with their CRM, so all conversations are associated with a given client’s account for future reference. 

This has enabled the sales team to have better conversations with the service team and underscore what is important to the client. 

Conversation intelligence is a cultural game-changer

Conversation intelligence has many benefits for an organisation – the data, analytics, and knowledge management aspects notwithstanding. However, there’s one subtle benefit that shouldn’t go unnoticed: it’s changing the culture of hiring and professional development.

Especially for news sales team members, the environment is often “sink or swim.” Many companies let the work and stress identify the best performing salespeople, and their organisations tend to churn through talent. This is expensive, disruptive and it may blemish a corporate reputation. 

Conversation intelligence is turning this model on its head – creating high-performing cultures. It’s providing a mechanism for better and faster onboarding – and an opportunity for ongoing coaching and continuous improvement. To that end, it’s changing the culture. As Peter Drucker is attributed to say, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

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