Full transcript below. Condensed show notes with links available here.
Intro: You’re listening to the sales success stories podcast where we deconstruct world class sales performers to provide insights and strategies to help you improve. To learn more visit us at top1sales.wpengine.com. Here’s your host Scott Ingram.
Scott Ingram: On this special bonus episode of the sales success stories podcast my guest is Steve Woods, cofounder and CTO at Nudge.ai. Thanks for joining me today Steve.
Steve Woods: It’s great [0:35] to be here Scott thank you.
Scott Ingram: Now we’re doing this episode because it’s been Nudge that has made this show possible from day one and I wanted to thank them by bringing Steve onto the show and help me better articulate the value of Nudge to sales professionals and to dig a little deeper into their back story and vision which is interesting [0:51]. So Steve why don’t we just start with what is Nudge?
Actually before we do that, let’s invite our listeners to get access to their own free account. Maybe they can follow along and you can get your new Chrome extension. You can get the new Chrome extension by going to top1sales.wpengine.com/nc as in Nudge Chrome. So Steven what is Nudge [01:16]?
Steve Woods: Fantastic. It’s an AI platform that helps sales professionals get into the accounts that they need to get into. It’s very simply, we understand your network, understand your team’s network. We look at actual relationships not just connections and we help you get into those accounts and see the accounts that you need to access and the [01:37] accounts that you’re farming that maybe have an opportunity for up sale or there’s a risk for attrition there.
Scott Ingram: Excellent and just like we do with our regular episodes, we’re gonna try and front load the value here a little bit and I’m gonna ask what are the top three ways that you’re seeing sales professionals get the most value out of Nudge [01:59] ?
Steve Woods: Sure, so I’d say that the first is that understanding, that visibility into that graph of connections and that graph of strength that, that layers on top of connections to really understand who knows who. That’s sort of the core part of selling is that human connection so that’s, so that’s kind of point one [02:20].
Scott Ingram: Yeah and for me, I mean that fixes one of the major issues that I have with Linkedin which is just because somebody is connected to somebody else, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a relationship. So the fact that you’re able to really understand the strength of those relationships based on [02:35] activities is really huge.
Steve Woods: Absolutely yeah. That’s sort of the success of Linkedin is almost been its downfall in the sense that everyone’s got thousands of connections and so many of them you met at a conference eight years ago and yeah you wouldn’t recognize each other at all. Its understanding where a real relationship is, is huge [02:52] for that. So that’s sort of the point, point one that we do.
Point two that I’d add is really seeing trigger events on your target accounts and your customer list. Based on what you care about and what you organization can sell a solution into, you define what’s interesting right, mergers, executive changes, awards, you know transitions and new initiatives [03:16] and the AI research just pops those up for you and says there’s a trigger event happening, you need to get into this conversation coz this happened twelve hours ago. You should be on it right now.
Scott Ingram: And that’s really the ultimate form of personalization. I mean I love Linkedin but telling me that somebody’s having a work anniversary is so irrelevant. And the insights that I get from Nudge, I mean those are the ones that are timeous, it’s when somebody is mentioned in an article or got a promotion or has something else that’s really significant [03:46] that’s generally it’s a really reason to reach out, that’s not oh congratulations on your fourth work anniversary. That doesn’t happen.
Steve Woods: Yeah. I think it really, the thing that I’m excited about is it really enables the sale professionals out there to do what they’ve always dreamed of doing which is professional selling you know turning that trigger event into a conversation and, and seeing the prospects eyes light up as you say [04:13], you know if you think about your world in this way, here’s how we can help in this deeply profound opportunity that you didn’t think about.
That’s professional selling. It’s not you know hammering the phones and leaving voicemails, it’s having conversations with prospects to say, we can help you, we can move you into the future and I love the fact that we’re able to create more of those conversations for sales professionals. It’s so much fun [04:42].
Scott Ingram: Yeah, love that. So what’s point three?
Steve Woods: So I think point three for us is really sort of the long game where if you look at anyone who’s been in the professional sales for a while the, the top performers are the ones that have that broaden deep network. They have spent a long time building it and growing it and giving into it with this long term anticipation that if you build a broad network, it will come to fruition later through opportunities [05:15].
You can’t necessarily close those, this quarter but if you keep in touch, if you keep adding value, if you keep top of mind you will achieve that success so allowing Nudge to keep an eye on that network can prioritize whose important and show you what you should be doing to keep in touch and stay on top of those connections [05:34] and add value. Gives you the tools to build that broad and deep network that is a, it’s a life changing thing.
It changes your sales results. It changes your career results. It say changes your personal satisfaction. It fundamentally changes your ability to grow as a human over the long term and that for me is the third point. Just allowing people to become the professional that they wanted to become through building a broad and deep network [06:00].
Scott Ingram: Yeah. And well and yeah that’s why we’re here. I mean, we connected through our time together at Eloqua and it kind of helps to give that back story that we worked together while we, you were there. Obviously spent a lot more time at Eloqua than I did as the cofounder and worked your way all the way through the IPO and subsequent acquisition by [06:19] Oracle and, and even the other sponsor of the show Influitive who hosts our sales success community.
Those relations have come through again just a career of those types of relationships and finally the other thing I really like about Nudge in helping you maintain that, Is that true to the name I get a Nudge when you guys see that one of my relationships is weakening and so [06:46], there’s an opportunity to hey don’t drop that ball. This is an important person in the network and now’s a good time to follow up.
Steve Woods: Yeah I think you know if you chat with anyone about a network, you see that trend. Right its built over years and that often means it’s built over many jobs and that trick where you are gonna be changing jobs and the person that you’re building a relationship with is gonna be changing jobs, really adds this interesting dynamic to it which [07:18] you know the world of CRM and organization specific tools are never gonna be able to solve because they don’t have that broad lens on a career.
They have a lens on a corporate entity and so you’ve got to think about networking from a, from a career perspective and assume that these relationships will span across [07:41] multiple jobs and those are often the best ones.
Scott Ingram: Yeah absolutely, absolutely. And then this is a thing that you own right? It’s not something that is stuck in sales force and as soon as you leave that company you no longer have access to any of that great data that you spent years probably collecting [07:58].
Steve Woods: Yeah a relationship is, it’s not a data point. You could delete all digital knowledge of another person but if you have that long standing relationship, you bump into each other at a conference, the relationship is still there, the recognition, the history, the trust, the good feelings, their still there. It’s not a data thing [08:20]. You know we help you stay on top of it and build it but it’s you that owns that relationship as a, as a human.
Scott Ingram: Yeah. Love it. So Steve can you talk though what was the genesis of Nudge. I mean how did this idea start?
Steve Woods: Sure. So I mean as you mentioned long history and the marketing world, Paul Tashima my cofounder and I, founding team at Elequor and really sort of grew that in the marketing space and so we spent a lot of time in the revenue world but on the marketing side of the fence and so you’d see this transition in marketing [08:56] as marketing began to you know really become more revenue driven in process prospects and turn them into MQLs and hand them over to sales and great transition for marketing wonderful but you’d notice that the lion share of the impact on whether a deal actually happened was the ability of a sales person to either have or develop a relationship with that team [09:23] and that really wasn’t being tackled.
Sales people understood it intuitively. CRM obviously wasn’t able to tackle that. Linkedin had a connection graph but no relationships and so we saw that there was this, there was this gap in the market place to say relationships matter in getting these deals done. There’s an opportunity to tackle this really interesting problem around how relationships are built and managed [09:50] and grown and it’s got massive material impact on the ability of an organization to drive it’s revenue fund more so even than the marketing world did. And both
Paul and I you know saw this opportunity and sort of noodled around a little bit and just decided you know this was a huge opportunity for us to dive in, tackle and go deep on and we’re having a lot of fun on it [10:13].
Scott Ingram: So Steve I find it so interesting and really your counterpart John Miller who is the cofounder at Marketo and for those who don’t know Marketo and know kind of this kind of marketing automation space. It was really Eloqua and Marketo were the big dogs and kind of the originators of marketing automation and its obviously been a huge proliferation since then, but interesting John [10:37] has started his own company called Engagio and he’s really gone in that exact same direction. Their creating a tool set to help sales people with kind of a count based selling, a count based marketing types of initiatives. So I find it fascinating that both of you went from this very focused on marketing side of the fence and as you saw that evolve saw this opportunity [11:00], you know on the sales side.
Steve Woods: Absolutely and I love what the Engagio team and John are doing over there. I think you know you sort of grow up in the world of marketing, marketing automation and you know we both took our respective companies and went you know as hard as we could with them and at a certain point you’re kind of bound by the world [11:20] that you’re in.
Right, marketing automation really works off of a contact which is fundamentally for both of us was an email address and it ties tightly to the world of the CRM, you know company specific view of the world which, which is great but I think both of us made this realization that that’s not tackling the way that you get into more complex organizations [11:43] where you know, John’s gone done a really interesting orchestration path to run these fascinatedly involved campaigns to get into an account and we’ve got down the relationship path to say, you’ve got to understand who knows who, who knows who a little bit, who knows who really well [12:00] and how you build those relationships.
And I think you know we keep bumping into each other at the same events and conferences and it’s a, you know we’re tackling a similar lens on the world but with very different delusions and refreshingly not a lot of, not a lot of overlap which is good coz I know John’s a ferocious [12:21] competitor as he was at Marketo. So glad to see that we’re cooperating rather than competing this time around.
Scott Ingram: Yeah absolutely. Totally fun to watch and so where are things today? Where are you in your journey with Nudge?
Steve Woods: Sure. No we launched an individual product for people that care about their network about a year ago and then beginning of this year we launched our commercial product for teams selling into accounts [12:45]. So we’ve got that cord base of the data model, the ingestion of what’s going in the world.
You know eighty thousand contents sources a day pulled in all of the machine learning on top of that to figure out what’s going on and whether it’s a trigger event or not, so [13:03] that is now being played the against the team that is selling into the set of target accounts and so we’re taking that out to market now and really having a fun time helping people, you know transition their thinking from activity based selling into those accounts to a much more thoughtful trigger even based relationship oriented sales process [13:29].
Scott Ingram: Awesome and what’s the vision? I mean I know you have big dreams. Where do you see Nudge in three to five years from now?
Steve Woods: To me a lot of it really is, is bringing the sales profession back to where Ideally could be which is professional sales people having deep knowledge of their customers and their own solutions and having those magical conversations where you [13:57], you turn the lights on, on a prospect and allow them to see the world a little differently and when their seeing the world a little differently and their seeing it how it could be with your resolution enabled their organization, that to me is sales that is amazing for the seller and it’s amazing for the buyer [14:18] because it adds value to both and I think our challenge as a sales profession written large is that so much of sales has just been grunt work research and pounding on the phones trying to open up a crack in any organization and get in and not enough time spent having those magical transformative conversations [14:40].
So to me if we can come at that by understanding the relationships, seeing the trigger events and starting the right conversations, we could, we can really transform the experience of both the buyers who generally don’t love sales people and the experience of sales people who generally don’t like the grunt work of [15:00] just pounding away at activities.
Scott Ingram: That’s a fantastic vision. I love it and you’ve hinted at this a little bit. I mean you guys have shifted into really focusing on AI in your solution. I’m curious more broadly how you see AI impacting the sales profession over the next few years [15:19].
Steve Woods: For sure. You know I think AI is one of those interesting things where it means ten different things to ten different people. To me AI is a set of technologies that are really good at recognizing patterns and really good at doing that at massive scale. So to me it’s about understand the tasks that any individual does [15:43] on a day to day basis and seeing which of those are repetitive patterns. And you know for us identifying trigger events on the target accounts that you’re going after.
That is a boring repetitive patter. You get up at six AM every day. You scour the news. You read a bunch of stuff. You look at what [16:03] your target accounts are doing. You do Google search after Google search. You know you’re reading and looking for a few particular insights that you can then turn into a conversation, that’s a pattern. We can do that with AI and I think AI in general in the sales profession is [16:21] going to do a good job of recognizing those patterns.
You know you’ve got things where you are using AI to analyze all of the outbound voicemails, conversations, emails and look for patterns of what works and what doesn’t [16:38] work and guide the underperforming reps to follow the patterns that are working for the top performing reps. But to me AI comes down to patterns. Anywhere in sales where there’s something that is repetitive and defines a pattern, there’s an opportunity for AI to say hey I can make that world a little bit easier, I can make that repetitive task be something that is done for you and you can focus on being [17:03] more and more professional as a sales person.
Scott Ingram: Yeah well I hear you saying I think that there’s been a lot of hand ringing lately about well you know sales is gonna be replaced by the robots but I think what you’re saying is it’s really much more of an augmentation. It’s creating opportunities where the sales professional is focused and spending much more of their [17:24] time on the high value activities. Their building those relationships. Their having great conversations. Their engaging in meaningful ways with their clients and prospects and not so much just buried in the mundane, whether it be research or beating their head against the wall trying to open up a new opportunity [17:45].
Steve Woods: Absolutely. I don’t think sales are gonna be replaced by the robots. I think sales is going to be professionalized by the robots and the sales people who think that way, who think about changing the prospective of a buyer who think about engaging in those magical conversations where you see the light bulbs turn on. Those are the sales people who are going to thrive [18:06] because their good at the stuff that matters and that is really hard for anyone but a human to do and generally those people don’t enjoy the repetitive grunt work of pounding away at activities and doing research on a hundred accounts every single day. Having the robots do that for you is great. It focuses your effort on being a professional. It doesn’t replace you.
Scott Ingram: Yeah, there were some very, very tweetable quotes in that, so make sure to put that in the show notes if you’re listening to this. If you go to top1sales.wpengine.com we’ll make that as easy as a click to let you quote some of what Steve just said there because I think that was spot on. So Steve let’s go back to what’s possible now with your solutions. So for somebody whose brand new to Nudge and hopefully they [18:50], they just set up their account because they went to top1fm/nc, they got that Chrome extension. What should they do first?
Steve Woods: So I think the Chrome extension is a wonderful starting point. You’re a sales professional and you’re about to craft an email that Chrome extension will immediately pop up, research on who that person is, what they’ve done on social media, where they’ve been mentioned in the news, where their company’s been mentioned in the news [19:18] and suddenly your outreach can have a point to it.
It’s not just hey I wanted to reach out and pitch my wares or I wanted to follow up on the email that you ignored that repeated the email you ignored before that [19:30]. It allows you to tie it to a point. The next thing that gets interesting is when your network on Nudge begins to build and you can start seeing who else this person knows so then the other piece that you get is hey I’m gonna reach out to Sally whose the head of marketing at Adakmeco and well isn’t this interesting. She’s got a really strong relationship with Scott [19:56].
So If I mention that, suddenly I’ve added a social context to my reach out and most of these emails that you receive, you scan quickly and then you delete. Like oh it’s an inbound from a sales rep that’s non differentiated, delete, gone [20:11]. But if I see a name that I recognize and the human brain is so well tuned to pick out names that it recognizes, suddenly oh I see Scott Ingrim being mentioned. This is really interesting. I am now bound by a social contract. I’ve gotta look at this. I’ve gotta make sure I’m not stepping on any toes in deleting this email so your response rate suddenly picks up a little bit [20:33].
Just by adding that social context there and from there you start thinking in terms of how do I attack this group of target accounts and how do I make sure I’m not dropping any balls but honestly it’s that first start of how do I wrap a point and social context around the communications that I am going out with and as soon as I make that leap mentally the rest of it comes extraordinarily easy to say [20:59], yeah I just need to do this across by account base and I will be much more professional and much more effective as a sales person.
Scott Ingram: Yeah, great, great stuff. You know one of the other things that I really love about Nudge is there’s kind of a gamified element to it or maybe that’s not intended. Maybe I just see it as a game but you know when I get the daily email or I look at my dashboard, it will show me the growth of my network over time [21:22] and that, it gets my attention right when I see that dip. I think woah what do I need to do?
I’m kind of falling behind here and I’ve really kind of racked up some pretty good strings of just consistent growth of the network and it’s just, it’s kind of a top of mind thing and it just makes everything else [21:39] easy too because it’s pointing out, hey here’s a relationship that might be weakening, that might be one to put a little more energy into some other neat ways that you can kind of sort relationships depending on how their growing or weakening over time [21:55].
Steve Woods: Yeah. I think the interesting thing there is I think if you talk with anyone, they’ll agree that their network is critical right? And if you take a step back and say okay, you know is it gonna pay back this quarter? Everyone knows, no your network is a long term investment. It’s not gonna pay back this quarter. It’s not gonna close deals right now [22:16]. This is effort that will come back over years and what’s been really successful about putting a metric around what your network looks like, is it gives you that immediate tie.
Relationships die off over time. Every day that goes past is another day that you haven’t been in touch with all of the people you weren’t in touch with but [22:39] unless you’re tracking that, that’s really hard to keep top of mind. So by putting that metric around it and saying Scott, build your network. Every week that goes by, it’s died off a little bit. Get out there, do the work, build it and keep that line above zero.
It gives that immediate [22:57] term feedback to the growth of an asset that is very long term and I think that’s why people have gravitated to that coz it, it allows them to objectively see what they know they need to be doing but historically it was just kind of this intuitive I don’t know, I think I’ve got a network. I guess it’s kind of strong [23:18]. I guess it grew this week, I don’t really know.
Scott Ingram: Yeah and I think asset is the key word there, right this really is an investment and the best investment approach isn’t lump sum, it’s not oh my God I’m desperate. Let me call everybody I know. It’s being regular and consistent and you know dollar cost averaging into your network. Right just continuing to make those small contributions over time and [23:41] then you have an estate.
Steve Woods: And I think too that’s where the research and the trigger events become useful. It’s not necessarily okay, there’s been a merger and I’m gonna sell a massive deal into this organization but somebody in your network you haven’t been in touch with for a couple years. They’re a great person. You’d like to stay in touch and [24:00] something interesting just happened.
They just you know got some fairly minor award. Being there and just saying hey, awesome, congrats, you know been a while, how’ve you been, awesome job on that award, great to see you in the news.
That’s huge, right does that turn into a deal this quarter [24:18]? No it doesn’t but it gives you this opportunity to keep that relationship alive and you never would have noticed that unless you’re able to kind of get that popped in front of you because everyone’s busy and you’re not gonna be researching that person every [24:32] day just looking for that. But it’s that, it’s an opportunity to make a donation to that relationship bank.
Scott Ingram: Well and to continue the invest analogy right if all you’re taking is withdrawals from your network and you only ever reach out to people when need something, that sucks. But here’s an opportunity where you get to make those deposits and it’s about them not about you [24:54] and then you’re in a better position to make those withdrawals when you need them.
Steve Woods: Absolutely. People notice them. It’s amazing how intuitive people are about whether the reach out is honest, is tied to an ask, people know that right away. You’ve got to be very authentic and just keep making those donations before you make the ask.
Scott Ingram: Awesome. So Steve as we wrap up here, I know you guys have a Webinar coming up. Can you give us the details on that [25:23]?
Steve Woods: Sure, so on May fourth, we’re hosting a Webinar that’s gonna talk about AI solving, top challenges across all modern sales teams, so historically a lot of the content around AI has been kind of a little more focused on enabling marketing so we’ve partnered with a bunch of CEOs [25:43] of leading AI startups. People that use AI, study AI and we’re gonna focus in on used cases that are sales specific and will be a really interesting Webinar so definitely recommend that everyone does that as a second action after signing up for the Nudge Chrome extension coz I believe that’s probably the first best thing [26:03].
Scott Ingram: Yeah absolutely and again we’ll set up an easy link for that as well. I’ll set it up at top1sales.wpengine.com/nw as in Nudge Webinar. So top1sales.wpengine.com/nw and I’ll also update that link so depending on when you’re listening to this, that will either take you to the registration page or a place where you can get access just to the recording if you’re listening to after May fourth. You don’t have to feel [26:26] like you missed out. So finally Steve, what’s the best way for our listener to connect with you if they’re so inclined?
Steve Woods: Sure, just reach out to me. My good old fashion email, [email protected] [26:38].
Scott Ingram: Super easy. Steve thanks’ so much. This has been great.
Steve Woods: Thanks for having me Scott. Great to chat with you [26:44].