by Sudhir Ahluwalia |
Those who have sold, advised or been part of deal making are familiar with uncertainty of outcome of a customer meeting. This is especially so when it is a first meeting and the deal being chased is large. What should be nature of the pitch to the client is the question that crops up time and again before the commencement of any client meeting.
Client behavior is not uniform. Some focus only on the macro picture, others like to go into details. There are those who like to continuously opinionate about everything under the sun, dispute every statement. The seller, in such cases, rarely gets an opportunity to make the pitch.
I have encountered impatient clients, often in a continuous state of agitation bordering anger. They insist on total obedience, even obsequious behavior from the sales person. They want things to be done as of yesterday but do not wish to clearly state their requirement. They want the seller to somehow miraculously sense their need and offer the ideal solution.
Having spent over a decade and half in business development work, I was curious to learn if there are technological solutions available that can help sales and business development teams improve sales conversion rates and handle difficult clients better.
Scouring through the list of startups and technology solution providers attending various events across the globe, I came across Bizmind – a Finnish company that was attending the popular Nordics tech event – Slush.
Manne Pyykko the Founder and Chairman and the CEO of Bizmind consented to a skype interview. Pyykko is a psychologist with over twenty years of B2B sales coach experience. The company is based out of Helsinki Finland.
Bizmind, Pyykko told me, is the developer partner to the Artificial Intelligence IBM Watson program. He along with a team of technology and domain experts has built an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhanced sales psychology platform that is recommended for use by B2B sales professionals.
The Bizmind team led by Pyykko has four key individuals who together have a work experience of over sixty years. Pyykko does not like Bizmind to be classified as a startup even though the company was registered only in 2014. His platform is an extension of their professional work that is already over two decades old.
Pyykko gave me access to the app for the purposes of writing this article. I downloaded it from the playstore on my smartphone. The first step required keying in my psychometric profile. This was done by answering simple questions directed at mapping the personality of an individual.
At the heart of the application lies the analytics framework which captures the psychometric profile of each seller and buyer. It classifies individuals into four categories:
- Conscientious Analyst: Such an individual could be detail minded, thorough or quality oriented. His negative traits can be chosen from the following options – indecisive, critical and too pedant
- Convincing Driver can be decisive, goal oriented or pragmatic but who could be too quick, controlling or too outspoken
- Warm hearted Diplomat could be empathic, flexible or supportive but could be too permissive, hard to say No or too sensitive
- Inspiring Visionary people can be uplifting, exciting, socialable or improvising. But they could also be impatient listeners, unrealistic or superficial.
The sales person captures from the options indicated above the profile characteristics of each person that he or she meets. The AI algorithm behind the app gets to work as soon as this information is entered.
Psychometric profiles are analyzed and recommendations specific to the psychometric profile of the individual with whom a meeting is scheduled pop up. As more and more data on buyer and seller is aggregated, given the nature of AI, more precise set of recommendations would become available.
Client seller interaction success often depends on mutual chemistry that the two are able to create during their interactions. The recommendations set that the app throws up helps the sales person tune the sales pitch to the client’s psychometric profile. Better alignment leads to better rapport. This in turn helps improve success rates.
The Bizmind application thus acts as a sales accelerator. The AI algorithm puts the application on a continuous learning and improvement path. The app has been tested by Pyykko et al with success on marquee customers like Deloitte, Siemens, Cap Gemini I, Pfizer, UB and Nordea.
Pyykko, though, is using Bizmind mainly as a sales coach. I can understand the logic behind use of this tool for sales training. This maybe because its relevance is felt more by large and mature companies who are able to better appreciate its value.
Given its nature it slowly and steadily improves sales performance. It is not a one shot quick miracle solution. The small and medium size market often does not have either the patience or the financial bandwidth take a steady and incremental improvement in sales performance route.
The volume of business as a sales training tool is though limited. Bizmind will probably need to innovate and create more neuroscience based marketing solutions in the future to expand its portfolio of offerings. The IBM Watson relationship could come in handy here. Already emotion capture is becoming part of the marketing professional’s AI tool kit. This capability could be leveraged by Bizmind in the future.
The predictive analytics business is said to be growing at a CAGR of 30 percent and is expected to grow from US dollars 3 billion in 2015 to US$10 billion in 2020. Innovations like Bizmind have the potential to leverage this business in the future.
Sudhir Ahluwalia is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Asia’s largest IT outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of upcoming book on herbs-Holy Herbs. He has been a member of the Indian Forest Service. His webpage is: www.sudhirahluwalia.com