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RevCO – AI and Revenue – Practical Uses

Revenue Collective event on 1/25/24

“Historic Klamath” Ferry at Pier 9 in San Francisco

February 6, 2024

Our fifth Revenue Collective (“RevCO”) networking event was held on January 25, 2024 at the “Historic Klamath Ferry” in San Francisco. We had a full house with 40 level attendees from all backgrounds (full-time and fractional sales, marketing, finance, and investment executives). Here is what they got out of it:

AI-Powered GTM Intelligence Platform: Sprouts.ai

Karan Chaudhry, CEO of Sprouts.ai, opened up the event by demonstrating his company’s GTM platform based on integrated AI tools that help identify target customers based on their fit to the company’s ideal customer profile, and help customize the message to each of these prospects based on available knowledge (e.g. which pages of a website they have visited, how much time they spent on each page).

The presentation included a simulated campaign that included identifying prospects, tailoring messages to each prospect, and executing email contact and responding appropriately.

AI Demo Clinics

Six presenters gave an overview of an AI-powered solution, and demonstrated the solution at six breakout sessions. Attendees had the opportunity to move from table to table as best fit their interests. The six different solutions presented were:

  1. “Data Visualization for Marketers” was a topic that was covered by Anna Chystiakova from Oracle. She has used ChatGPT for data cleansing, data analysis, and document generation. She demonstrated how she can use a sample of a valuable data set to “train” ChatGPT how to graph data, and then to re-use the Python scripts to analyze the larger data set (avoiding the common resistance to giving ChatGPT access to that larger data set). She also showed how to use Google Colab and several graphing tools. Anna showed how several different GPTs help solve different problems – listed at chat.openai.com/gpts (e.g. Canva, DALL-E). Anna could not talk about her work at Oracle, but it sounded mysterious and interesting!
  2. “Builds a warm referral engine inside your company. See who employees, advisors, board members, and customers really know, ghostwrite intros, and get in touch the old-fashioned way, with a little help from AI” Connect The Dots, was demonstrated by Maz Jamasbi
  3. “AI-powered tool” – Perplexity, was covered by Jill Richards. It’s an AI-powered tool similar to ChatGPT that creates fluent (well-written) text based on simple text prompts.
  4. “LinkedIn-based outbound demand generation tool” by AMPED Marketing and was covered by Sercio Campos, who wowed the crowd. This tool leverages a company’s networks and connections to customize tailored messaging from the “best” contact within that company. Outreach to prospects from a known member of the staff generates a much faster (and warmer) rapport than a cold-call.
  5. “Call agent solutions” was a topic that was covered by Steve Kazan. Steve gave an overview of call agent solutions available (Lace, Zoom, others). 
  6. “Scale personalized outbound campaigns in seconds, not months. Combine 50+ data providers, real-time scraping, and AI to send 1-1 personalized campaigns that book more meetings” was a topic that was covered by Johannes Hoech. He demonstrated Clay.run.

BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSIONS

As at past RevCO events, Johannes solicited topics on the sport and we broke up into four discussion groups to share thoughts and experience.

Ed Hu: Early GTM & Product-Led Growth at a Startup

Ed described the situation: software startup, providing a freemium tool for developers, looking for growth, 300+ successful downloads, ~30 active users. How does his company attract new users, how does he convert them to fans, and how does he provide enough value to monetize the product eventually.

Suggestions ranged from identifying online champions with broad reach to raise awareness of his product to hiring offshore sales development reps to work through potential prospects. 

There are clearly different approaches for a freemium product than for an established $80K solution, and different approaches reaching developers than to connecting with CFOs. General consensus was that it will be easier to reach developers through Discord or via Reddit, and easier to get that viral word of mouth if there is something really compelling about the product. We did NOT get into the specifics of the product, but it is hard to generate excitement about a tool unless it solves a common problem really well. Nurturing lead users, and making them feel “heard”, is more likely to drive growth than offering financial incentives to plug the company or to provide referrals. 

Parthi Loganathan: Building & Growing the GTM Engine

Parthi described the situation: How should companies think about acquiring and expanding new business.

Acquiring new business:

The future of revenue is inbound. Cold outbound playbooks are getting harder everyday. More AI = more emails and noise. Companies need to invest in scalable organic acquisition that gets prospects into their orbit. The role of the BDR at this point is to identify who is in-market based on who is consuming content, interacting with ads, etc. and to close the loop. Sales and marketing need shared KPIs and shouldn’t be tossing leads “over the fence” and bickering about who’s at fault. Marketing needs to care about revenue and pipeline, not just MQLs (however that’s defined). Sales teams need to become social sellers and become their own mini-marketers to build their own pipeline. A win for one is a win for the other.

Expansion:

The entry point and initial sell should be pointed, targeted at a specific ICP, and perhaps relatively low friction to buy. Perhaps you break out one of your features into its own offering. Once you have your foot in the door, you need a very different narrative to sell to the C-suite and roll out a more comprehensive (and higher ACV) solution. This sort of land and expand can help you decrease velocity to enter an account and then upsell a more substantial offering.

Derek Kober: Tech Sprawl in Revenue Generation

Derek described the situation: Revenue and Marketing leaders struggle with the dilemma between the constant need to innovate via the latest tools and technologies and the practical challenges of cost, integration, and ease of use. As the onslaught of AI brings a whole new portfolio of possible entrants to our tech stack, how do we reconcile what software we’ve got and what we need to best grow our business?

Our group of seasoned sales executives and marketing leaders and consultants weighed in with what’s worked and what has not. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Assemble an executive committee that meets regularly to present and vote on new software tools. All executives vote, and agree to support the committee’s chosen apps within their respective teams – regardless of whether that app was their favorite or not.
  2. Have a strategy in place to cut or consolidate tools in the existing stack as part of cost-cutting and layoff mandates. One VP of Marketing said she faced decisions during a recent layoff round between tools and headcount, and chose to cut back on software to save her people.
  3. Pay careful consideration to integration and security issues as you select new tools. The CIO or CISO may be most equipped to weigh in on these considerations, particularly with the proliferation of untested AI apps that pose potential security threats. Develop guidelines for usage of new AI and other tools to protect sensitive data while promoting new efficiencies.

Maz Jamasbi: Execute Pipeline: Sales & Mktg vs CRO

There was a broad spectrum of experienced professionals, including a CRO and several VP and Heads of Marketing in this breakout session. We tackled the sales and marketing alignment and if it made sense to have CMOs report up to CROs. From a CRO perspective, it made sense for CMOs to commit to some portion of the revenue target so their performance can be measured against those metrics quantitatively. This also aligns with budget requests when there is a revenue number associated with tasks against all other budget requests. From the Marketing perspective, CRO’s are sometimes narrowly focused on revenue and short term performance whereas marketing is more strategic and more focused on longer aspects of building relationship, brand and credibility. The alignment between CRO and CMO could work for demand gen but it’s more difficult to align on all other aspects of marketing such as product marketing, branding, PR, AR, and long term strategy (pricing, SDR, MarTech). We did not reach a consensus about the organizational structure but based on the broader group discussions that followed, most agreed that each company should look at their own priorities and decide the best approach based on their business model (e.g., some PLG motions should be owned wholly by CMO whereas SLG motions should always belong to CRO). 

Each leader presented a readout from their breakout session to the larger community, and we moved on to food and drinks aboard the lovely Historic Klamath.

Our next Revenue Collective “RevCO” meeting is preliminarily scheduled for May 30, 2024 at 1:00 pm; follow the Premonio events page for more details.

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