Conversational Interfaces for Busy Salespeople - with Gilad Turbahn of Conga
This is daniel fidel in. It's tuesday so you know what that means needs. We're covering use cases again on the eye and business podcast every single tuesday. That's what we do one of the most fun parts of my job and we cover this week. Something we haven't covered before conversational interfaces by that. Of course i'm joking we've covered conversational interfaces before but we haven't covered is conversational interfaces for sales people those of you who've ever managed salespeople or maybe noah salesperson in your family or friends circle know that they really like to be bogged down inside software systems. It's notoriously tough to get sales people to enter the right information. The right places and file away things right. They want to do what they're good at. Which is selling they want to be face to face with customers. Not in their techsystems. So how do we streamline what they're doing with jackpots. Virtual agents with conversational interfaces. Well that's a focus of this episode and we interview this week to bonn of this who's recently merged with conga after a leading quote to cash accompanied big enterprises on counts receivable and they've recently merged with a firm called conga heads. Up number of their ai initiatives and he explains this week. What they're working on for conversational interfaces with sales folks. The idea of better sales software has been around for a couple decades now but the idea of layering on. Ai is still the wild west to some degree. there's a lot of interesting potential use cases. It'll be neat to see which ones evolve and move forward but this is a use case. I thought you all should hear about so. We're gonna dive into this episode. If you are interested in our full library of use cases. I know many of our listeners. Are here because you really want to be able to have a library of use cases to plug into whatever your business situation in some of you are innovation leaders and you need to be able to have the stuff on deck to build a using leverage to potentially add business value and we have a lot of consultants and service providers who tune it really want a breadth of cases. They can use with their customers. They can find an instance in the workflow and say hey. I know what to fit in there. If a use case library is of value to you then be sure to check out emerge plus the podcast is really just the tip of the iceberg. All the use cases that we have in emerged dot com slash plus. You can also go to just e. r. j. dot com slash p. One that's plus and then the number one and you can learn more about emerged. Plus this is all of our use cases. This is our ai. Whitepaper library as well as our full list of ai. Best practices which infographics and frameworks for a wide adoption. And anything else. You'd need to make the business case for i if you want more on use cases and also more tools to put this stuff in action checkout yemi. Rj dot com slash p. One that's where you'll learn more about emerge plus you'll be able to get a sense of whether that might be fit. We've got hundreds of folks now joined the program. I know many of you are listening in right now. If you're not already a member at least learn more. J. dot com slash p. One without further ado this is key lod with which is recently merged with conga. You're on the ai. In business podcast. So we're gonna talk about a use case for kind of conversational interfaces but within a very A very interesting and bounded sort of domain of people on the go. Were looking for information aiming to move forward. Can you describe the current process as it is. Sales people sending quotes looking for info. Kind of what that general business problem in processes today at to start off. Yeah for sure so think of a sales person that goes into the first meeting with a customer and the meeting went great and the customer says all right in order for precede. We need to sign an nda time. This takes today right because usually you can't really go into the system get one yourself. You'd usually reach out your sales officer legal off in you'll do some email back and forth or call them and then sometimes a weekly usually get that documents in your inbox or let's assume that the customer says. Hey you know what we said. Fifteen licenses quote with twenty. Yeah think about the time that it takes to go. Open your laptop. Make the change go through the approvals all of that type of stuff and then regenerate and send it out. That's where the pain is at. especially since. Most salespeople are on the go now somebody would say covid right. Yeah it turns out that people still use mobile even when they're at home. Think about you waking up in the morning the first thing that most people do guilty as charged is the wake up and they look at their phone to see what happened overnight and was my contract finally finally approved so i can send it out. Yeah yeah in doing that through. Your phone is still extremely relevant. Even during covert and we won't be here forever anyway and probably. Some sales people are so used to being on their phone. They're like pacing back and forth in their yard just to get the old the old buyback feel like they're out there back at the office translators. So okay. So people who sales folks on the go they need to change contracts the to find information about a certain client that they might be are acting with what is this kind of bounded set of twos. Because i know. We're going to talk about where i fit into. Yeah updated contract. Find information about a kleiner. A contract are there are a couple other quick ones. That are really important here that often to do it turns out there actually so people refer to those as the crud operations. Lemme not use the technical term because it just sounds weird the ability to quickly create or at least get started with specific types of records so new agreements or requesting them or new quotes or at least getting started the ability to find information. That's the ours. That's the read so hey was contract ex approved. What's the status. Or what the date on quote y when does it expire. So that's the read the updates making those quick tweaks to the system so the number licenses from x. to y. Or you know what. Push the expiration date on this quotes to the end of the quarter. All all of that type of stuff. That's the update. And then deleting we haven't seen as many of those. But i can say just crust. So that's the full acronym. Yeah okay well the this. I've never heard this acronym before. Is this internal for you guys or is this just a term. It's actually a now at developer originally. It's a it's a software development term. How you work with databases and other systems. Yeah okay so this kind of task. These tend to be the tedious stuff that has happened on the fly that eats up. Time might slow our communication with the client. And we don't want that to happen exactly okay. So currently the way it happens is. They've got a flip up their laptop to export dock. Or they've got a call somebody at the office to get that information that maybe they don't have these sorts of things. Yeah exactly it's you know. A lot of systems that exists today revolve around getting so even if you look at salesforce which by the way amazing company in amazing products right but if you open their mobile app you get a wealth of information. But it's all geared towards showing you the world join you all the information that exists as opposed to you as the salesperson especially on the gold are interested in getting just the right amount of information it just right time in not before not after in being able to quickly act on it and that's the paradigm that we actually went with finding. What's the right of information to show. When's the right time to show it in being able to take just the relevant next action. That's how we're thinking about it. That's how we can find that world in specifically made it relevant and doable using a and other pieces on top of it especially around user experience. Okay so we can talk now about where. Ai fits into this. Because there's so much here right in some in some magical future world we have some amazing siri on ridiculous steroids who i just talked something to pump sat a new contract. I wanna book new meeting. I wanna check my flight. My you know whatever the case may be some some jeannie right and at some point that genie actually makes the damn sales But we're luckily you. And i probably have forty years before that happens. I think if i'm estimating correctly so in terms of what's realistic today for conversational interface to help with those crud tasks leave articulated. Where does it come in where cannot use case actually deliver value for these folks on the go. It's all about speed. it's all about making it possible for you. As the sales rep move the ball one step forward or two steps forward the way we keep on thinking about it is first of all. We need to address the user where they're at on mobile in whichever system. They're used so if you think about. If you look at sales people today you see a split. The one thing that we're doing is meeting these irs where they're at and if you think about it there two options. Today one is use whichever tools your company tells you in terms of actual system tools. So if the company tells you use salesforce one mobile app great. You'll just use that. Other option is use whichever communication. Channels your company. Has you have slack. You're gonna use that because that's where a lot of sales people live. Same applies for microsoft teams. That's low. We saw what happened in the last couple of months around and explosion of teams so first thing as for us to meet the users where they're at when they're on the go teams slacks force one. We're there that's where people interact. The second piece is okay. Let's give you just the right amount of information. Notify you when something happened in the system. That requires your attention so okay. It's the end of the quarter. It's let's say it's june thirtieth and you're waiting to close this really really big deal. But it's still pending on the vp for approvals. Second the epa approved that quote that. Okay finally i can send it out so we will notify you done. Hey personnel approved quote. Would you like to generate that quote. Send it out to the customer. So it's always about notifying and then letting you take the logical next step right here from the system without needing to open your laptop and again since we know the user we know their preferences and we know the system we already know all the relevant setup so no learning curve. You don't need to say use this template that template and set this setting. You don't need to know all that yellow. let's let's through. Maybe two instances of what this could do again and because before we started recording. I let you know my overt scepticism of all like sort of like asking a and open language and it'll take an action for you. It's like i done seen a lot of companies bigger than you. Not do so good with that so i always i always look for bounded realities realistic use cases that i actually could could believe are working in the world. You guys are working on this for quite some time. So what which one example of something where this sort of flowing conversational question within a slacker. Microsoft teams could lead to the kind of action. Where we're looking for. what's what's maybe one. Good one absolutely. So let's take that quote related one that we talked about her perfect okay so i don't even need to look at the whole flow. Hey i've been working on this quote for a while. It's now in approvals waiting to see what's going on with with the approvals in the system. So i think i the system will notify me saying. Hey it's been three days in person x. Has not yet done anything about this. Do you wanna poke them. You want to email them reach out. Do whatever you're on your phone so he can do whatever but the fact that i am reminding you that that's what then finally the processes finished then. The system will again notify you and tell you. Hey now the process finished. I know what the next logical step is. You can always ask for more information or see what they said so we will always give you both that natural language peace and also the quick action buttons the ones that will just quickly you can go through a navigate and will enable you to generate the relevant quote and then send it out for signatures for the customer using whatever. It is nobis dockside congress. Sign all those is a power the real power behind this is natural language understanding which is part of what we do is very broad and as you said. You can't really rely on you boiling the ocean and being able to do it well but when you constrain it to our dooming to contract life cycle management when you can stream it to quote management and within that domain you build additional layers on top of it that are all about understanding business speak understanding how sales people speak in specifically how they talk about contract. Lifecycle management in about quotes. That's where things become powerful in death. Words feasible yes. You know when i think about alexa for example seems really open ended a Honestly it's not conversing with me. I'm not going to be able to have a conversation about a wreck. That joker movie. I never watched still haven't seen it. But i am not gonna be only go into something like that with with alexa but but you know it will order me batteries play. It'll play music. Whatever but that's because it just detecting intent but they're bounded reality is obviously very very broad for a b. two c. famed breadth nauta depth. Yeah not a lot of death. The teamer exactly the opposite. Yeah and even depth though is really hard. I mean you'd no matter. How are you go man. I mean it's it's death is really really tough but regardless you're able to constrain. How many initial messages could come in and then interpret intent. The the something something quote for the something something account and it'll sort of assume okay who sending this message. What accounts they managing. Which one are they talking about. And then the old kind of know what that is so intense interpretation on on some level the taking of actions though the like replace this with that or whatever that feels really really tough for a machine to know where in this word doc to remove accent This stuff feels kind of space man level far out compared to where we're where we are today. How does that stuff get done. The taking action feels harder than interpreting and then suggesting options cool. Here's what i heard. Here's what you can do. That's an lp possible. You're talking about going a little bit farther so here a couple of things we learned. I felt that i layer. That you were talking about actually was originally harder than the taking action in the recent. Was that the natural language. Engine steady exist out there and by the way most of them are awesome were using several different ones. Were good at identifying intent entities but being able to take to the next level and understand the business speak. That's where we came in. It's only when we introduced our own proprietary layers. Where if a business person says. Hey i need to see all my quotes that are expiring before e o q okay. I did not name okay which actual field i'm talking about. I just said expiring trust me. There's no field in salesforce called expiring and did not mention the date. I just said e o q but since our own layer knows. Okay what is today. We know the business beacon. We know the configuration for that specific company that they're fiscal quarter in. Let's say it ends. July thirty first ours does as opposed to the typical june thirtieth. So we know all that and we understand it. We know how to translate your query into a national thing that you can run against the system and get the results back. So that's how did that. Firstly the actions that you were talking about is all about containing the type of actions. That are doable in telling the user. Hey i understand what you're asking for. That one i don't support but here's the reference to the manual on how to do this system. This is a game about trust. If people can trust that. I can do one thing. Well they'll keep on coming back as long as if i try something else system won't crash. It won't give me a bad error or something. It'll tell me i understood. I just don't support it yet. And i'll add that feature in the in the future but that's how we update so we started by basic dates. Then we focused on making quick changes in the cart specifically around quote cart that the term. We're using so specific number of licenses for specific product in a deal or a specific discount that you're applying for one of the line items so it's very specific. It's the typical use cases. That are the ones that people do quickly. And on the go. Think of the customer they would tell you ashley. We don't need twenty licenses. We need twenty five. That's the type of thing you can do quickly in. That's the ones we've invested in the rest. We explicitly said we cannot support these right now but maybe in the future when we need for even to do that step. I think it's important to for me to validate this. You can tell me if. I'm wrong because i i'd love to know but i would presume you fell heading up. The product understands as well as other data scientists. A lot of the subject matter experts meaning sales people in the field had to come together and build out those trees. Okay under these circumstances. What realistically are they going to ask. Are they gonna need. And then. what's the best resource under this. What's the realistically are they. Gonna machines not gonna comb your faq and know all that stuff right correct. You're going to have to have some kind of structuring for this these prompts and that was a lot of strategic thinking up up front i would assume absolutely and also a lot of Partnering with actual customers who try this out and help us train the system. We needed to understand how people speak. We needed to understand what type of things people want to do with this system. And what would they trust in. What would they not trust to the end of the day. The the real problem is you're asking something that you don't actually. You're not seeing it in front of your eyes but you're asking it to make changes to a deal you're working on and if numbers are off my god that's going to be bad so in order for you to trust it. A talked about this concept before is never good enough as a stand alone. It always has to be married to a wonderful user experience. That gives you the ability to trust at whatever's happening is assisting you it's not gonna fully take the action until you safe so but it's assisting you in just removing the tediousness of you having to know the system in allowing you to focus on what you do best which is sell if i know that the system's going to choose the right template for me to use when i'm generating the new quote in all i need to do is say your looks good. Let's go that saves me time in. That's you x married with. That's where we're successful. got it okay. Yup and again. Yeah you need to. You need The i you also need. I think the strategic forethought around. What are the trees this thing will handle. And that's not even necessarily ui because it's an ugly old spreadsheet or the line diagram somewhere but it's but it's so important right. I mean absolutely in that journey that we went through so i. I was lucky enough to be there at the beginning of working on this product. There aren't a lot of best practices around those out there especially not in the b. two b. space but it was an amazing journey with amazing team where we got to think about all the different types of problems. You're facing what happens when somebody asks a yes. No question as opposed to ask for information. How do you handle it differently. In stunningly we spun up a feature. That knows how to handle question answering today. People expect that as you go to google and you type in. What's the weather in. San francisco and google is going to come back with an actual answer. It's not gonna show you the search results so we built a layer for it in inside our tool. We built layers to understand that parsing dates in how different business people talk about it. We built layers to understand. What's called implicit references. Show me my quotes from last year. I didn't specify which field i'm talking about. But in the context of my company when we say quotes from last year we mean quotes that they're valid until date was last year or their creation. Data's last year we've built those layers because we understand in congo. We understand how people talk about their quotes. How people talk about their contract. We just married it where they i in. Great user experience to surface that to users. Hence you're not boiling deal. Yeah context. Specificity is it's gonna help you not boil the ocean make things possible. It's also gonna be your differentiator and enjoy the hard work that goes into these projects that you've done a great job of highlighting that i know that's all we have time but thank you again so much for being able to be here with us for sure. Thank you very much. That's all for this episode. A big thanks to god for being able to join us for this show and it big thanks to you for listening all the way through. We certainly appreciate it. If you want to be able to support the show then be sure to follow us on social. It means a lot. We've seen our twitter handle grow a lot in the last six months since we started mentioning social at the end of the podcast. We've seen are linked in following an engagement. Start to grow since we've mentioned it. I don't know why i didn't do it earlier. But it's a lot of fun to your ideas from you all and to keep the conversation. Rolling also definitely helps us to support show and to learn more about what you're interested in so finds just e. m. e. r. j. on twitter or emerge artificial intelligence research on linked in or on facebook. You can follow us there and get all of our latest episodes. Also engage with us there. It's a lot of fun to talk to. Merge plus members were subscribers people all around the world with different kinds of job titles interested including ai in action building. That community is a big focus for us at twenty twenty one and we'd like for you to be part of so go ahead and follow us on social if you haven't already in otherwise thanks again for being a listener florida catching you in our next episode. Coming up on thursday. You're on the ai. In business podcast.