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InsideSales pushes further into AI and predictive analytics

InsideSales pushes further into AI and predictive analytics

The tech unicorn wants to help sales people manage deals and also track which deals are or are not likely to close in the future

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InsideSales, the Utah-based tech unicorn is betting big on artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics with its two latest products which hint towards the future of the company.

Since being founded in 2004, InsideSales has built its products on its Neuralytics engine, which processes a rich pool of billions of anonymised sales transactions that enterprise customers can tap into and enrich with their own proprietary data.

The company's first application for Neuralytics was for the sales industry, giving reps smart suggestions on when and where to contact leads to better close deals through smarter prospect scoring.

Now, CEO Dave Elkington compares the evolution of the InsideSales platform to that of Netflix or Amazon. You don't tell Netflix you like horror movies and therefore would like to see more of them, the algorithms do it for you. This is where he wants InsideSales to sit in the enterprise, not just making smart suggestions off to the side like Salesforce Einstein or some of the smarter BI tools do, but to actually do more of the heavy lifting in the background.

So what is the difference between this and Salesforce Einstein? According to Elkington, InsideSales beats out any other predictive lead scoring system because of its underlying, crowd sourced data pool. Other providers that have brought this capability in over time will have to get customers to agree to new terms of service, otherwise they are reliant on proprietary data.

Playbooks and HD Forecast

This drive to more predictive and proactive tools has essentially evolved into the latest InsideSales product called Playbooks, which was announced back in September.

Jared Haleck, VP of product at InsideSales told the Accelerate audience that the Playbook's version of enterprise AI is built to "help reps find more qualified pipeline", the holy grail for sales teams.

In practice Playbooks suggests actions in the CRM system based on a prediction of how likely that deal is to close according to the historic, anonymised data. Using data science techniques like regression testing it can suggest the ideal actions based on what has succeeded in the past and perform that action within the platform.

The play part of Playbooks is the suggested actions that the system drives, such as suggesting that a text will be a better approach to a lead than a phone call. It does this by matching the profile of the decision maker that has been identified to similar profiles in the database.

The interesting thing about Playbooks, and part of the company's big push into being the solution of choice for millennial workers - who don't spend their time in the system of record, according to Elkington - is the tool follows users around the internet. This allows reps to take leads discovered in non-traditional places like LinkedIn or Crunchbase to be assessed and even brought straight into the pipeline from the web. This means less dreaded data entry.

Then there is HD Forecast, which uses predictive models to determine "in-pipe deals that will close and anticipate deals that haven't hit yet due to short sales cycles or sandbagging," according to the vendor. HD Forecast is aimed higher up the food chain, allowing sales managers to predict how their pipeline will end up and take action to resolve any shortcomings or risk factors.

In all, this isn't AI that seeks to automate sales tasks though, it is the sort of augmentation that Satya Nadella spoke about during Davos earlier this year. As Elkington said at the time of the Playbooks announcement: "This is about science, including big data and AI technology, holding the key to unlocking human potential. To be clear, we're not talking about robots taking over sales jobs."

Customers

Hospitality customer Caesars Entertainment employs sales reps to sell 'experiences' at the company's 40 casinos and properties worldwide, be that a concert, boxing match or just a trip, to loyal and VIP customers.

The company implemented InsideSales core sales acceleration solution for a small team of six people within five weeks, initially and Melissa Mullin, VP of VIP strategy and operations at Caesars shared some of the early results with the Accelerate audience.

She explained that straight away she saw "a productivity increase of 20 percent", as reps no longer had to manually dial phones thanks to the PowerDialer feature. Now 70 sales people are using InsideSales software for predictive lead scoring and automated calling and the company has seen an uplift of 80 percent in dials and 60 percent in those all important trips booked.

InsideSales is also looking at doing more bespoke projects with customers like Caesars to go beyond the core HD Forecast product to address specific problems, like matching clients to events they might want to attend using data science.

US telco Century Link handed Playbooks to its 50 sellers, each with around 300 customers to manage, in its Salt Lake City centre recently and saw a 45 percent improvement of sale productivity in less than 90 days. Vernon Irving, SVP for small and midsize business said at Accelerate: "This is not an advert for InsideSales, this is me keeping my job."