Amit Bendov, CEO and Co-Founder of Gong.io, joins me on this episode.
Andy Paul 0:00
Hi friends. This is Andy. I’m excited to be joined on the show by Amit Benioff, CEO and co-founder of Gong.io. He’s had over 20 years of senior leadership experience and hyper growth technology startups, managing r&d marketing sales from small startups to global corporations in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. And his track record includes taking companies from zero sales traction to successful exit and from small teams to large organizations and from obscurity to white hot companies.
Amit Bendov 2:59
Hey, Andy. Pleasure to be here.
Andy Paul 3:02
So take a minute Introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit of how you got started in business and sales and then start how you what was the impetus to start Gong.io
Amit Bendov 3:12
Okay, so I’ve spent most of my career in sales and marketing positions and leaders who have a short period where I’ve been guilty and playing with technology. I do have a computer science degree, just just out of the interest and I did manage r&d teams for a while but as soon as I got the hang of it got back to sales and marketing. Gong is the fourth company that I’m leading behind leadership positions in three companies that have achieved over a billion dollars in shareholder value to date so which ones are those? The first one was click software and mobile workforce automation traditional enterprise software was a gm of North American operations abroad from zero to an IPO on NASDAQ Second company was a saas company called Minaya was VP sales and marketing and later, cmo SAS to automate your P changes in pretty boring but lucrative space. Yeah. And that was sold for a quarter billion dollars. Then I was a CEO of a company called license in the business intelligence space that grew from 20 to over 150 people and 10s of millions of dollars in sales that has not exceeded yet but is doing great. And I got the idea to go out of desperation. I had a really shitty quarter, and I had no idea what’s going on. We had an incredible marketing operation, both of the companies we’ve built incredible marketing machines and we’re throwing millions of dollars in and they’re generally had a lot of leads and we had a great sales team and for some reason We know sales were taking a nosedive, we started to analyze what’s going on, do we have enough leads are people putting into calls. And it was very difficult to understand what’s going on. And the only way to find out was actually listening to the call. It wasn’t so much about the quantity of calls, but they weren’t the quality of the conversations.
Andy Paul 5:20
So what you’re saying though, is that your sort of conventional KPIs and metrics or using that you might use to measure effectiveness of your sales. weren’t giving you the clues you needed to find out what was really happening?
Amit Bendov 5:31
Yeah, we had leads and and but sales, yeah, we have leads, but they don’t have a sense of urgency. How do you go about that? So we had to listen to a lot of calls and that’s a tall order. First, you can only send to a handful. Each one of them is an hour and you know, we’re doing thousands of courses a quarter. So it’s your evidence is anecdotal at best. Plus it’s extremely time consuming to manage and the salespeople and I realized there are a lot of things that we don’t want to listen to. It’s just not a very efficient use of the time. And that’s how I got the idea for God, I started to look what’s out there and couldn’t find anything there either human transcription that was a pretty expensive canonical to do on a scale machine transcription wasn’t great and accurate enough. Plus, we didn’t really we didn’t have time to read transcripts, either. I mean, it’s faster than listening but just wanted to get the key facts. You know, what are customers saying? What are we asking her positioning the company or the next steps? Is there a sense of urgency, really the key parameters that you want to know about a deal?
Andy Paul 6:49
And zoom, you lose a fair amount, the nuance if you’re just reading it as opposed to actually hearing it?
Amit Bendov 6:54
You lose a ton of nuance, if you just look at the text in an average, one hour conversation like we’re having right now. There is an exchange about 6000 words, the speaking pace about 150 words per minute, right? So in a hurry, you get about 6000. What ends up in Salesforce or a CRM is 30 words, it was a great call. They’re excited that one of them will move forward next week, and then the customer evaporates, and you have no idea what’s going on. And that’s all that information 99% of the information is lost as soon as you hang up the phone. And yeah, so it’s a losing proposition. CRM is blind to the things that really matter, the tonality, what’s being said and nuances and a ton of other information just right. There’s too much right.
Andy Paul 7:55
What was your thought about catching a field Salesforce when you got the same thing going on?
Amit Bendov 8:06
Well, the world will be getting there. Ah, so if you look at Alexa, I mean, think about Alexa for field service. It’s not uncommon, actually, a lot of our customers are asking, Okay, can I open my laptop when I have a meeting with a customer and field? Right. And so that’s coming up. We just started to start with what’s easier right now.
Andy Paul 8:33
Got it. So in your mind, before we jump more into gone so what is the single biggest challenge you see that faces sales reps today, or managers for that instance?
Amit Bendov 8:46
Well, I think they face the same challenge. There’s so much activity that nobody has the time to really coach the salespeople and help them. It is rarely easy. Right. And there are a lot of nuances that it’s very hard for a new salesperson to figure out and they usually learn the hard way. By trial and error charting, if they’re lucky, they’re successful. And if they’re not as lucky, then they’re not successful and they get fired. And the challenges managers don’t have time to really listen to what the reps are saying, coach them and provide some good advice. And the reps don’t have it either. So the knowledge is in their organization, it’s some of the better reps. every rep knows like bits and pieces other people don’t and managers definitely have the information. But there is no exchange of information because nobody has the time.
Andy Paul 9:50
Alright, so how are you helping address that?
Amit Bendov 9:55
So you’re recording outbound phone calls, we’re recording all calls, okay, automatically without the rep or anyone to take any action. Mm hmm. We automatically transcribe them, index them and share them with the right people. We highlight the interesting parts about every call, okay? So you don’t need to listen to filari just say, Okay, what were the pain points? Which questions were asked, What’s the next step? Usually in two to three minutes, you can understand the gist of the call. Ask for help from your manager, or your manager can listen to call and provide some advice. Very, very easy. And it’s without changing the way that it works. So we offer organizations the ability to share that knowledge and share field intelligence without changing the way that they work.
Andy Paul 10:58
Yeah, I’m gonna go back to that last point about not changing my work because I actually think it could be an impetus to change the way that work, actually. So you talk when you record phone calls, record GoToMeeting sessions, any sort of customer interaction that you have with the prospect?
Amit Bendov 11:15
Andy Paul 11:17
It’s interesting that you use the conferencing platforms and so on.
Amit Bendov 11:22
So those are some of the some of the companies work whether or not most of the substantial conversations happen over tools like goto meeting, or zoom or so discovery calls, demos, negotiation trials. And phones are mostly used for shorter calls, like, hey, I’ve sent you this proposal, you said get a response. So there’s less, less substance on those calls. That’s why we started with the tougher stuff, right? Plus, there’s a video that you spoke about the nuances or seeing faces or screens or demos that capture some additional information. So we started with the harder stuff first.
Andy Paul 12:04
So some systems that are serving this field seem a little more focused towards the SDR where it seems like you’ve sort of started at the other end more at the account exec the higher order sale as opposed to the initial proactive outbound call.
Amit Bendov 12:18
Absolutely. Um, for the higher value calls, it’s the higher value calls and they’re the more challenging calls, as the article says to be more repetitive, and I wouldn’t say scripted, but they follow a very similar pattern. there’s still work to be done over there. But if you think about a discovery call, it’s much more complex. Now I go in all sorts of directions. It’s not scripted, it’s long and the value is much higher. Just think about the cost of the opportunity to develop the opportunity is much higher, so it’s an easier sell.
Andy Paul 12:57
So why why transcribe the call?
Amit Bendov 13:09
We transcribe the call to provide the AI the ability to understand what’s being spoken on a call to identify which patterns How much are we talking about pricing in which segment are we talking about? Are we seeing objections? which products are being mentioned? What questions are being asked? So transcribing is kind of like the basic information for all of that. But we don’t necessarily show the transcription because people do not want to read, they just want the distilled information from every call.
Andy Paul 13:46
When you say distilled, so you transcribe but you don’t actually provide a summary description on the call.
Amit Bendov 13:53
How many questions were asked, listen to talk ratio objections that were raised. Competitors mentioned how much time was spent on each part of your playbook. So you spend 20% on pricing and it happened early on in a call and these are the features that were discussed and here are the features that were not discussed. What are the next steps? So everything is analyzed by Gong and presented as a summary to both the rack or self coaching and a manager to get better visibility to deal.
Andy Paul 14:27
So when you’re doing that summary and you’re saying no questions asked competitors mentioned so and so does every one of your customers have to basically go through a training with the system to teach it PE here are competitors names here are terms that are unique to us and so on?
Amit Bendov 14:43
No, the system we designed from day one for salespeople with very little attention span. So our approach is you do absolutely nothing. Okay. The system automatically identifies topics that are repeating themselves and your call I’m Shanna learning, and then it starts piling in them as you go. You can if you do want to, you know, at least Okay, these are the three competitors that I want to get alert every time that they get mentioned in a call, you can do that set rules. Okay. Yeah. But basically, you don’t need to do anything on the call.
Andy Paul 15:17
So learning through repetition, assuming that what’s repeated most frequently is important.
Amit Bendov 15:23
Yes. Okay. And you can tweak that. But most people just don’t touch the system. You turn it on, usually we turn the system on on the first demo, it takes two to three minutes to set it up and customers are alive on a first call.
Andy Paul 15:44
it looks for linguistic cues. So that was another thing that was sort of interesting. So what do you consider a linguistic cue and what’s it looking for?
Amit Bendov 15:53
Let’s look at the questions. For example, identifying how many questions and what type of questions were asked. I mean, that’s it. more complex than what you would initially think. So, that seems very complex.
Andy Paul 17:21
So how are you determining? And I’m this just from an interest from a technical standpoint. How are you? Discerning the difference between an open ended question and a closed question?
Amit Bendov 17:31
Well, that’s part of the secret sauce. We have linguists and data scientists working on exactly that. That problem and similar problems to identify and there are several cues and hints that we look at, um, audio and text to identify so one of the things to look at what answers are being provided there the whole exchange of information and I can understand what kind of questions were asked.
Andy Paul 18:39
So the summary says this is what you talked about. This is a summary of what you’re talking about.
Amit Bendov 18:43
And that’s, to my knowledge, Gong is by far, the fastest platform out there in terms of its processing power.
Andy Paul 18:53
Amit Bendov 18:54
So it’s very, very quick. If you can read email, you can use Gong because everything gets your inbox and you can just look at what’s interesting and ignore what’s not so interesting to you. You can see it in Salesforce. There is a and and the other thing is I want to mention you asked about transcription. One of the other capabilities that that it provides is the ability to search through all the calls, okay, which is very helpful to managers and something’s in product managers meaning once I search through all the calls, okay, so we have thousands of calls show me all those that the competitors were mentioned in a positive light, a or all those were pricing came up early in the call and do more than 10%. So you can search and find the interesting calls.
Andy Paul 19:48
Could you search for a specific question?
Amit Bendov 20:09
Yeah, you can search for anything. So that’s usually an aha moment for a VP of Sales because I asked him so what’s your you know, what are the things that you’re trying to get your account executives to say? and say, Okay, do you know today? How many of them are actually doing it and are doing every call right now? What would it take for you to find out? Well, I have to listen to every call, which is impossible, right? So there’s a service where I put the phrase and now you can see it in all the calls. Immediately. One of our customers wanted to move from MRR to AR n. Okay, which is not easy. Some of the reps were successful and some were not. Okay, now you never really know if they’re successful. They are not successful because they’re not offering or they’re offering but in a wrong way. Right, with Gong, you can easily search for an annual subscription, month by month and see who’s doing what, and then compare it with their results in a CRM and see what the issue was.
Andy Paul 21:18
But to me, as I said earlier, I think it’s a great trigger for a process change, because, you know, part of the process will be okay, how do we open a call? That’s part of our process part, you know, how are we opening a call? And, yeah, I could see if you could search on that and say, Look, you know, hey, john, you’re just jumping into business too quickly. You’re not, you know, building rapport with the customer. You’re not asking about them, you’re not engaging on a personal level. And you circle down to see how compare and contrast and they said to track it to the results, I think, could be a lot of process changes triggered by it.
Amit Bendov 23:07
The revolutionary thing about Gong gay is now you can base it on facts. You happen to be right, Andy, okay, that your approach is actually worse better in most cases, as always.
Andy Paul 23:45
Yeah. Which means they’re gonna look for the cheapest alternative as opposed to perhaps the best fit.
Amit Bendov 24:21
Yeah, absolutely. Stories are the key to both selling and marketing. And how do you capture that in a CRM, right? The only way is really to listen to voice, see their interaction, and the words are, what really seals or kills the deal?
Andy Paul 24:42
Well, I think we have this. We identified it upfront, and we have this problem and sales in general is that it operates Neil 99% on anecdotes. And, you know, now we’re getting to technologies that are helping us say, Okay, let’s take some of the anecdotal Part of it away from it and let’s start dealing in fact. And yeah. Now instead of worrying whether correlations related to causation you can listen to, you can listen to the calls and determine whether the correlation and causation are the same.
Amit Bendov 25:16
Absolutely. Plus, it also helps with a generation of anecdotes, right, because if I had a great call with a customer and he there was something that said that he liked and he really had a good, clean report over there, I can easily take that clip and share it with the entire team. So now they can use it in other calls.
Andy Paul 25:38
Well, I think so. There’s as much as that though. I think that one of the things that I see that is really interesting about technology like this is that it’s not the fact of the question. It’s not the fact of a story being told. It’s learning how it’s told how it’s delivered. To me it’s more like a comedian or Somebody on a play improv actor or someone understanding the cues that they’re getting, and the response they’re getting and morphing, what they’re saying in response to that. And that’s the part I think that we’re salespeople really struggle with. It’s, it’s they don’t, they don’t understand that part of it. And so how do they learn, you know, if they don’t have somebody who’s really effectively coaching them on this or unless they have examples where they go out on sales calls lots of sales calls. This to me It gives, you know, somebody to say, okay, we’re gonna cue up five examples of this, that you can listen to, you know, to go through the whole call, but just the thing. To me that’s pretty powerful. Because that’s learning by example. And that’s how most people learn.
Amit Bendov 26:41
And the other thing is, your sales reps can listen to themselves as you’re having a conversation and kind of like in the heat of the moment, can you not always fully listen to what the customer what you’re saying? Listening to your own recording is a very powerful technique. Yeah, to understand if your stories are factories.
Andy Paul 27:08
I mean, if the person is attuned to that at all, they’re gonna find that very off putting, even if you are delivering a good message, it’s factored in, you know, people are humans. And so being able to hear yourself as you said, and eliminate the, the mannerisms that are, are unnecessary.
Amit Bendov 27:54
Really important. Exactly. I mean, those filler words like you know, basically As you can see, Hmm, I think that gong automatically tracks for you. So it gives you the report. And those are the things that tend to go down very quickly. It’s like biofeedback or just by being aware of numbers, it automatically improves.
Andy Paul 28:20
So I guess one of the real critical things then is how our managers are using that managers are actually using this because, you know, even though there’s all this talk these days about the necessity of more coaching, on the front lines, there’s also pushback. Yeah, I hear it all the time from people saying, Yeah, I don’t have time. Yeah, we’ve evolved past that. I was at a conference last year. So we’ve evolved past coaching in sales, and it’s like, oh, yeah, really. So how are you finding people actually using it?
Amit Bendov 28:52
Most companies they have a certain cadence of coaching people so they want dedicated people Like an hour, every Friday morning, I’m going to take like two or three calls from team members and and leave detailed feedback on something that’s more sporadic, they would quickly listen to a call to, you know, what did I, you know, what was the outcome of the deal and just maybe send it in a formal email? Hmm. And one of the more interesting things that I’ve seen is actually managers almost removing themselves from the cycle. So they have a team call, okay, which each team, each team member picks, one call in my call, and on a weekly basis, they would go and dissect it as a team, and learn as a team. So that doesn’t require any time from the managers and it does use the power of the team to get better all the time. But if you do absolutely zero, then you know you’ll get less. Our mission and vision is to provide the reps with the self coaching. And we’re doing some of the things today they can see they’re listening to talk about right issues, how many questions have been asked if they spoke for 80% of the time? If they had strong clothes for the call, filler words, all these things tend to fix themselves. Right? He wouldn’t with zero management involvement.
Andy Paul 30:18
I like that. Alright, so last question before we get to the last segment shows. So what’s your ICP? Who are you selling to?
Amit Bendov 30:26
So currently, we’re selling mostly to technology companies that have at least 10 salespeople, and they’re in the US. That’s our sweet spot. We’re selling to VPS of sales. And mostly, we tend to companies that do a lot of selling over the phone or a substantial part of the sales process over the phone.
Andy Paul 35:57
Excellent. Well again, thank you for being here. Friends, thank you for spending this time with us. Remember to make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. Easily to do that is to join these conversations with top business experts like my guest today. Amit Bendov, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks again for joining me until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.