Sales pitch in Covid times: Transforming sales through conversational AI

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July 1, 2020 1:30 AM

Bengaluru-based Salesken pioneers AI-based sales conversations through its solutions that bring the best of AI and data sciences to sales performance.

Salesken co-founders Surga Thilakan (L) and Sreeraman VaidyanathanSalesken co-founders Surga Thilakan (L) and Sreeraman Vaidyanathan

The Covid-19 crisis has completely changed sales as a profession. At the start of 2020, almost half of the 40 million salespeople in the world were selling basis the Inside Sales model (selling on a phone or through a web app such as Zoom). Today, almost every salesperson is selling remotely. No wonder, companies are looking at tools that can help them have impactful conversations with existing and potential clients in order to close business deals. Bengaluru-based startup Salesken is helping businesses with just that; it is pioneering AI-based sales conversations through its solutions that bring the best of AI and Data Sciences to sales performance.

“Salesken is enabling its clients to capture customer interactions, understand what is being said in these conversations, and deliver insights to help teams close more deals,” says Surga Thilakan, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Sreeraman Vaidyanathan is the other co-founder and product head at Salesken.

Having closed its $8 million Series A funding from Sequoia Capital India in March, Salesken intends to expand its operations to Asia Pacific and North America markets and be a front runner in the conversational AI space in a post- pandemic world.

The entrepreneurial bug had hit Thilakan and Vaidyanathan when they were at IIM-Ahmedabad and it stayed with them during their time in the US where they were working for Goldman Sachs and Microsoft. They finally moved back to India and started their entrepreneurial journey with iSTAR which had a goal to equip the entry-level sales and support staff with the ability to have better conversations with customers. Over the next 10 years, they trained 20,000 sales representatives using technology led interventions. This eventually morphed into an AI and data science-led product used by corporates to assist their inside sales engines. That is how Salesken was established in 2019.

“Salesken’s conversation AI platform uses real-time insights and cues to help sales teams improve conversions across calls, webinars, presentations and emails,” says Vaidyanathan. “The platform also allows them to gauge customer sentiment during a sales pitch and gives them great visibility into the performance of sales teams via qualitative analytics—revealing knowledge or skill gaps within their teams.”

Today Salesken handles over 1 million minutes of sales conversations every month and assists over a thousand salespeople every day. “The massive amount of insights or AI generated cues that sales representatives use today, is a testament to our success so far,” says Thilakan. “In the month of May 2020 alone, more than 200,000 such cues were used by the sales representatives. There is a visible surge in the sales numbers that its customers have observed using the insights, thus validating the clear difference Salesken brings to their business.”

In India, Salesken’s marquee customers largely come from three segments—education, finance, and software. By giving its customers a mobile app, Salesken has been able to help them continue selling during the lockdown, as not every company can provide its salespeople with a laptop and desk phone to work from home. Salesken has also realised that some of the skill gaps that exist in India are present in other countries as well. This has led to an interest in its solutions from the United States

and some countries in Southeast Asia. What is interesting is that this interest has surged at a time when businesses across the world are facing one of their toughest quarters in history due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the positive response to its solutions, Salesken is now looking to up its own sales growth by 20-30%. It has also seen that industries such as pharmaceuticals, FMCG, personal banking, which were traditionally selling in person are now very open to selling remotely. “This opens up new verticals and new use cases for Salesken,” says Thilakan, adding, “as sales teams acclimatise to using technology like AI, Salesken predicts tremendous productivity gains and sharper learning curves for the salespeople on the frontlines.”

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