Interviews

Interview with Amit Bendov, CEO at Gong

“The sales industry has been completely overhauled in the last 2-3 years as automation alleviates administrative tasks for reps, and enterprises adopt artificial intelligence to glean better insights from data and so on.“

Tell us about Gong’s 2020 Growth map – what has been your most decisive moment this year?

Amit Bendov: This year was truly one like no other. As a result of the pandemic we saw our platform (that uses AI to draw data and insights from sales conversations wherever they happen) triple in revenue in the first half of 2020 alone, as sales leaders took their business online overnight, increasing the need for insights from virtual conversations and deal flow. We realized we had to be there for our customers as they dealt with changing sales processes in real time. In fact, we launched a completely new product feature in 3 weeks to help sales managers ensure their teams were productive in a WFH environment.

How much has the sales intelligence industry evolved in the last 2-3 years with the arrival of automation, customer experience, and enterprise apps?

Amit Bendov: The sales industry has been completely overhauled in the last 2-3 years as automation alleviates administrative tasks for reps, and enterprises adopt artificial intelligence to glean better insights from data and so on. This allows sales professionals to spend more time building real relationships with their clients. It also allows sales managers to spend their valuable time with reps strategizing on how to close deals instead of wasting time getting updates on how things are going.

Previously, there was no way to garner valuable data from sales conversations without word of mouth and inaccurate reporting. With Gong, we have been able to utilize artificial intelligence to better predict outcomes, capture conversations and convert things like “words used most to close deals,” and “when it’s better to swear to close a deal.” These insights that were previously unreported, provide a true value add to organizations that depend on sales for their bottom line.

How do you focus on Martech innovations driven by ML and AIOps techniques?

Amit Bendov: Our innovations are built for sales leaders whose jobs are based on providing a product or a service to a prospect in hope that they choose their offering over the many others on the market. Our platform is divided into three sections: people intelligence, meaning the AI captures the winning behaviors of the best sales reps, in addition to the behaviors that hinder deals; deal intelligence, which helps users identify which deals require attention; and finally, market intelligence which helps users see what is truly going on in the market so their messaging and go-to-market strategy are always aligned. The Gong platform utilizes AI to help leaders understand how they sell and convert a lead into a client. Our tools provide insight into sales operations that allow them to be more successful in their roles.

Tell us about the role of the CEO in a pandemic crisis – what makes you an enabler of digital transformation in such a scenario?

Amit Bendov: In a pandemic, the CEO’s main role is to ensure all employees are safe and healthy while continuing to run the business — and eventually lead the transition to remote work. CEO’s need to make sure employees have the tools and ability to work from home comfortably. I’ve told all of our employees that their safety is of the utmost importance to me, so if they’re able to work remotely, then we will continue to allow them to do so until they feel comfortable transitioning back to the office given state, county, and local requirements. We are a distributed workforce given our global scale, so luckily for Gong, we were set up well for remote work pre-pandemic. For instance, in Israel, we are already back in the office operating almost as normal with safety precautions. However, our San Francisco-based team is not afforded that luxury at the moment given local conditions. So I will continue to update my staff with return to work plans and ensure I am checking in surrounding their comfort levels as the situation ebbs and flows.

Mental health for employees is also a huge priority for me. We rolled out a new benefit, Modern Health, to help support our employees well-being with personal coaches, meditation, and more. We also provide weekly Breathwork sessions.

How did you stay on top of your game and inspire others on the product engineering, marketing, and sales teams?

Amit Bendov: I inspire others by focusing on what’s in our control. That means continuing to stay innovative, creative, and ahead of the curve. For example, when we created Gong I saw a gap in the market. We worked with a number of high-growth startups and saw most sales leaders didn’t understand why their sales teams were missing revenue targets. We saw a huge opportunity to collect data on these conversations because CRM systems just weren’t cutting it. I wanted to create a tool that made it possible, affordable, and efficient to understand what was going on in a sales team’s customer calls, to help them improve and meet revenue targets. Also, I am aware of my strengths, and I know when I’m not the expert! I hire experts in those respective areas to ensure Gong has leaders our entire workforce can learn from. To me, that is part of what makes a good leader – let others lead where they are better suited to do so!

Tell us about the role of revenue intelligence for B2B marketing? How are these different from those applied to retail and non-SaaS industries?

Amit Bendov: Revenue professionals are all searching for clarity about their customers, but confusion has become the norm given limited data available in CRM systems today. Revenue Intelligence flips this idea on its head. Now, revenue professionals can finally unify the entire company to collaborate around comprehensive, fresh data that’s based on reality, allowing a marked shift from operating in obscurity to truly embracing transparency.

Marketing and sales have become inextricably linked over the last couple of years. Companies with sales and marketing teams that work together will be extremely successful. Marketing teams garner interest, build relationships with a customer base and create sales opportunities. Sales teams educate the target audience on the product and pricing, then ideally turns those leads into customers. Revenue intelligence shows marketers what their potential customers are interested in, what they are seeing from competitors, among a number of other extremely valuable insights.

Where is Gong heading to in 2021? Which new markets and industries are you keenly following to grow your business?

Amit Bendov: Gong will continue to do more of what we’ve been doing and serve our existing customers as they grow and evolve. We are dedicated to continuous product innovation and will continue to put out new capabilities to allow our users to get deeper insights and inform their actions. We’ll expand into new verticals and new markets as well.

What does your remote workplace technology suite look like – could you tell us about the platforms/tools you use to stay connected with your business colleagues?

Amit Bendov: Gong uses a number of tools for the company to stay connected while working remotely – including Slack for collaboration, G-Suite for email, Zoom for web conferences, and of course, Gong for revenue intelligence.

3 optimistic predictions/trends you have for your industry for accelerating business development and revenue performance.

The transformation of field sales

Amit Bendov: Now that CROs and CFOs have seen the success rate their sales orgs have performed under during COVID, we will never again see budgets approved for outlandish spending to close deals.

Sales will only successfully operate through a hybrid approach in 2021 and beyond

Amit Bendov: In fact, Gong teamed up with HubspotSandler, and LinkedIn to survey 500+ sales organizations last quarter, and found 57% of respondents agree that hybrid sales is the future (for 2021 at least).

Data is becoming the new currency for sales professionals

Amit Bendov: Sales teams rely on their bonuses to make big money

For the first time ever – managers have access to data that shows how deals are closed in a virtual world, that wasn’t possible with in-person sales. That data, priceless.

Originally published on Martechseries.com

Richard Madrigal

With a knack for storytelling, Richard started working at Feed Voice about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Business and World sections, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.
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