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Part 2: Cracking the Code of B2B Sales, with Michael Litt [Episode 1148]

Join us for Part 2! Alastair sits down with Michael Litt, the co-founder and CEO at Vidyard, to talk about the evolving landscape of buyer engagement, shedding light on the statistics and dynamics that have transformed B2B sales in recent times. They emphasize the importance of personalization and how AI can empower both sellers and buyers to navigate the complexities of the purchasing process, ultimately enhancing the buyer’s journey.

Podcast Transcript:

Full Transcript:



Welcome back everybody to this week’s sales Strategy Enablement podcast. I’m Alistair Wilcox CS Ro here at Revenue.io. I’m thrilled to have back, Mike Lit, the co-founder and CEO of VidYard for part two on the future of buyer engagement, Michael.

How are you doing today?


I am very well. It is great to be back. I’m looking forward to having this conversation. Like the last conversation you outlined, you know, this idea of really aligning both the product side with the buying problem, creating that alignment, the wonderful fact base with Gartner and the buyer engagement. And today I want to kind of build off of that and the future of artificial intelligence and how that’s impacting that. But I want to start with this idea of conflict resolution. And some former colleagues of mine at Gartner recently published a statistic talking about buyer behavior and they said that delays, conflicts, and politics are absolutely alive and thriving in the B 2 B decision-making process.



And the research now finds that 55% of buying groups experience moderate to high dysfunction, which turns into the likelihood of closing a high-quality deal by 73%. So this idea that resolving internal conflict, and buying dysfunctionality is now directly correlating to the improve the win rates of companies and the success they’re having. And you’ve been a pioneer in this for a long time now of really helping solve fire dysfunction. I’d love to get your perspective over. You see more buying dysfunction less. How much, how much do you agree with what Gartner is saying there, this is a great, great question and a great thread to pull on. You know, I always think about this from the perspective of what is in the sellers control in the context of the buyer journey. And I know when we were all last time, we talked about the steps that the buyer needs to take. I feel like the conflict doesn’t exist around security, compliance and legal because, you know, most organizations that self- enterprise have those sink salt.



Those are just unexpected snafus that extend the length because the rep you know, didn’t fully appreciate or said how long they would take right now. We’re in a moment of resource constraint. Rates are high geopolitical instability. It’s ongoing. The tunnel, the end of this end of this period, you know, being back into a growth market as a lot of people talk about it.



It’s very assert, it’s very long and I’m of the opinion that the world moving forward is gonna be very different than it was in the past decade. Rates are probably gonna remain high and bumpy businesses are gonna have to be more efficient and more organized.



And we’re in a moment where that is contracting when that’s contracting, there is going to be, you know, forgive the, the, the kind of untimely analogy, but a war for resources and that’s gonna create politics that’s gonna create internal games. People are going to be looking for promotion and success that everyone can be successful.



So how on Earth does an account executive play and win business in an organization that is like that, knowing that their organization is probably also in a state of conflict?

And so on those last podcast, we talked about information asymmetry and how it’s the seller’s responsibility to bridge that gap.



But there’s some component of information that only the seller has, only the buyer has and it’s only gonna come out through AAA real engagement with great discovery questions by the seller.

And to me that’s making sure that all of the content that the buyer needs, the buying committee needs is in one place because when you’re depending on your champion to educate the rest of the buying group around the table, what are they gonna do?



They’re going to produce their own presentation. Probably gonna have missing information. You’re asking them to do that work, which is already a hurdle. They’re going to coalesce that information from a bunch of different emails. They’re gonna forward emails, they’re gonna forward links.

Anybody pursuing or getting engaged in this process is going to be doing it through the lens of your champion, which could be a cracked flawed lens.



And the information is gonna be everywhere all at once. It’s gonna be disorganized and then multiply that across four or five different vendors anywhere. There’s this gap in dysfunctionality, someone with an opposing agenda, the challenger, the blocker in your sale is going to use that crack and wedge themselves in and blow it up and there goes your deal.



So to use something like a digital sales room where all that information can be displayed can be controlled, people can communicate, people can add comments on videos, people can be brought up to speed in the same way in the same fashion as your champion was is a no brainer, I think for a sales rep state because it allows you to control the narrative and makes the job for your champion so much easier because all they do is send the link. They don’t have to compile the information, they don’t have to do it on their own.

It gives the seller the opportunity to bridge that knowledge gap but not that many sellers are doing it today.



No, they, they’re not.

And yet, it’s surprising to me because I’ll give two examples of where this idea of concentrated information in an organized way is being used for decades, right? So we’re on the sales Strategy Enablement podcast, Michael. You like myself and others. We have been around raising capital, look to different ventures over the year. Different things like that.



Could you imagine investing in a company that didn’t have a data room like or? And we just say no, I’m gonna email you some more stuff and, oh, do you remember the email from a few weeks ago? Oh, and the three decks I sent, I sent you an architecture deck. I sent you a pitch deck. I sent you this and maybe watch a thing over here and watch a thing there.

You would just say no, you’re like your go-to market is never gonna work.



If that’s how you’re gonna treat me as a potential investor, you’re sure not gonna make it as a company in the sales side, war for those in the enterprise. If you’ve ever been part of M & A teams, mergers, and acquisitions, one of the single biggest things that is a leading indicator to the success of acquisition in large enterprises is the alignment of the go-to-market materials, personas, ideation, heart and like crossover on the product.



Like all of the things we all said they go well, yeah, duh, but it often doesn’t happen there. It often is driven to an accounting piece. So, so we build data rooms again.

We created a way to share assets securely safely and meaning because that information, asymmetry has to be solved to make an acquisition work. It has to be solved rapidly in order to raise capital. And yet there’s this, this huge hesitancy.



I find all the time in sales orgs among sales leaders and even marketers to a lesser extent, but sometimes, but definitely sales leaders of what do do these rooms really work. Does virtual engagement really work? At the end of the day, just get me in front of more people. I could just put me on y’all. I’ll travel everywhere well, but as we established last podcast, even if you were a road warrior, you’re still not influencing that much that in person.



So how do we convince people? How do we show people like this? There’s two great analogies in my mind of where this is used prolifically. What’s stopping us in sales? Why do we not just see this as a standard practice at this point?

Yeah, I would, I would love, actually love your perspective on that.



I’ll just, you know, add a, add a component here. Like last podcast, we talked about 17% of the buying and engagement process actually happens with the vendors. And you know, that’s the that’s the synchronous communication. The rest of it is online independent research, digital sales, a digital deal room, whatever you wanna call it, where all that information is available is part of the 83%.

And so it’s obvious that to your point when, when you’re diligent in a deal, when you’re buying a house, when you’re buying a car, like you are doing a ton of research based on what you are given.



And that research, the more organized it is, the easier it is for you to share with your partner, spouse, wife, husband, whatever in that context, the easier it is for you collectively to make a decision and it’s very similar for all transactions.

So I wonder if like sales is just so ingratiated in the bravado of the deal and you know, the hero in the deal that there’s this feeling that technology cannot necessarily support them. And there’s been this, you know, this desire to mechanize the sales process and distill everything like, you know, I hear from some of our, our peers in the sales tech space and their desire is to mechanize every single step of the sales process for skill.



The problem is that’s all on the sales side. None of it’s on the buyer side and the buyer has different needs based on the problems they have. And so the desire to just do more calls, have more meetings, you know, that’s ultimately what teams get measured on and what it should be measured on is how many people are in the buying circle and how are they actually engaging with the content?

Because if they’re not, that’s not a deal that should be registered in the pipeline and the one challenge we’ve always had as we’ve scaled, our sales organization is being single-threaded, not having enough exposure in the account.



And that’s true for 99% of the sales organizations I talked to and that’s where the thing find more friends ultimately comes from. So, all I said, I’m curious why you think, you know, it’s not more widely adopted, given all of your experience, it’s a good counter question.



So I, I have a, I have a, I have a couple of opinions on this one. First I’ll start with the goal and I think the goal in sales today should be to support decision confidence. And what you’re looking for is the buyer to say, I feel like the r understood my needs and that’s important because value affirmation roughly drives about 2.3 times more revenue than ever before.



OK. So that’s the goal the issue is to your point of other vendors right now. There is, there’s a ton of technology out there by like in the world of sales, there’s more technology than ever before. It’s super fun. There’s a ton of change, but the average sales rep now has 11 tools at their disposal on every single piece of engagement.

Just think about that like 11 and now we’re just will we let another one in another one in? And if I’m, if I’m and I apologize to any of the sales rep listening in on this next comment. I don’t mean it to be horrible and universal. It’s not, but I will say I can think of presentations that I see. Still to this day, I don’t like — we’re talking basic things — like, wouldn’t you like it if your sales are actually just put the logo of the company correctly on a slide? They actually formatted something like they actually like just basic things where you’re like, can we just increase the professionalism?



You and I are talking about a whole another level of meeting buyer expectations and asymmetry of information. And yet most people aren’t doing the basics and most enterprises are simply trying to enforce their sales methodology to go on a bed pic shop. And I just wanna make sure my sales reps do know the appropriate aspect of that is stage three of my sales force funnel. When in reality, it’s you got to take a step back on your tooling.



And first thing if the tooling isn’t supporting buyer engagement, it likely is just noise to the seller or said another way if the tooling isn’t supporting the buyer to meet the expectation with the sellers, that tooling is probably for your ops people is probably for your sales leader to manage up in their company.

And that isn’t where revenue happens. And I have a big issue I’ve always have with technology that supports the internal processing or the managing up and down because that never solves forecasts it never does. The rest of it, engagement does.



So, so first of all, look at those 11 and go, are they engagement based or not once they’re engagement based? How do I make it simple and intuitive to the seller? Because in the seller’s defense, we’re asking more time of them, we want more like we just want more everything from a sales rep these days and the expectations have never been higher as well. So does the tool and or the platform simplify their world for them.

And so when I think of deal rooms getting back to your core question, if you embrace them for engagement, you structure them to support initial content by vertical industry. So reps can easily start the process, you content mapped correctly.



Now, it’s a tremendous enablement tool for the seller and the buyer equally, but you have to connect the dots on that and it can’t just be, well, we need to share more assets with, with the company because they’re like, it’s all on the website, we’ll send another email, we’ll do another thing and that it and it’s just creating a bunch of noise instead of actually supporting the basics of value affirmation, which is, which is, it’s just somebody saying, look, I get it, you get me, you get me, I there’s so much in what you just shared here.



Like, I mean, we often think about like how much of the reps time is spent reporting and doing the things to manage the expectation from their ops team to support that they’re doing the activities and input-driven effort to get to the output. And when they’re not, they’re just asked to do more of that and inputs to outputs.

The reality is artificial intelligence. As we talked about prior has the ability to do a lot of that contextual work, taking notes during a call, has the ability of doing automated outbound messages.

There’s so much that AI can do has the ability to take the signals from the buyer at every single stage of their interaction and automatically create that digital sales room because that content is going to be relevant to the buying committee around the table.



And so not only can it do a lot of the things that are internally focused, it can also set up and support the engagement process. And so there’s this like wave of innovation coming for sales and go-to-market tech that I think should if leveraged correctly, free the seller up to spend more time building that relationship, asking the questions and doing the work that needs to be done to feed the artificial intelligence to help fill that knowledge gap that exists between the two parties all, all day long.



Like I’m gonna take a stab at something here, Michael and tell me if you think this makes sense in order to apply artificial intelligence and actually support the buying process. I’m gonna give two points, one for the seller and then two points for the buying side.

So when I think of how do I help sellers? First off, does a technology simplify and automate steps and then does it assist in the selling process? So if it simplifies and assists both in the customer facing aspects of it, I go check good. I’m good there. That, that is something that interests me if I’m looking at technology, but then I needed, what’s it gonna do for the buyer?



Ok. So now on the buying side is this idea of automated selling with autonomous selling. So automated is where I can go in a virtual room. I can use assets. I can do things like that that are gonna help me naturally move through and guide me on what I need to do next game.

As most buyers don’t buy every day, sellers sell every day, coaching them digitally is a good thing in that way. And then the autonomous selling is not a replacement of the seller. It is taking the aspects that are gonna happen internally in that company and it is automating the process to support the decision.



And I think if you think in those two buckets and workflows in that way, as an enterprise today, it becomes very clear what technology you do and don’t need because most enterprises are trying to get less in their sales stack now, not more.

And so it’s these, this categorization that needs to occur in terms there. So where am I assisting the seller versus where am I assisting the buyer and automating on that side? But I think that’s what it is. And then AI is the infusion to all of that — AI is the piece that gives the insight and helps accelerate the buyer, the expectation in a conversation or meeting or what to do next.



AI can be applied in terms of guidance, right? So if I know guidance factors need to happen in a decision room, I can use A I to recommend to people what to do next based upon specific errors or allow them to query in digital sales rooms using large language models. I can do a query based engine that allow them to interact and get natural questions back out.

Like why wouldn’t you want to Google like experience for your buyer in a digital sales room be cool, right? Like who would want that? That’s neat stuff and we can do that now that is front and center that can happen.



And so I think, you know, we just got to take a kind of a big step forward in the world of sales and really think in this more progressive way because actually the difference between people that win or lose over this next 36 months, there was 11 thing I wanted to actually challenge there in a constructive way. Yeah. And it’s, it’s the context that so not, not necessarily challenge but that AI will not replace the seller.



I’m curious about, you know, when AI makes the seller so much more efficient or rather, you know, for instance, this prospect your product we’ve been talking about, you know, it does kind of like 80% of what A BDR does contact research understands.

The company says buyer needs, does the outbound email, most BDRs are purely email. These things do 80% of what A BDR does for $80 per month. So these tools can go into the account executives hands, the sales team can probably become much more efficient. What do you think the rules of the future in the sales context look like?



And the way I think about this is, you know, when, when Microsoft Excel launched the volume of bookkeepers dropped dramatically, but that was the birthplace of FPN A and these analyst roles.

Are there going to be, you know, obviously there is sales ops but are there going to be business development analysts and these functional roles that set up the equipment in A and set up the AI to really support the sellers who have this core functional role of being a human and engaging and building a relationship and talking about cars and doing the things between a buyer and seller that need to be done. Because at the end, they were human, what do you think about that?



And I realize we’re getting to the end of our time. It’s a big question but that, that’s a very big question. And I, and I will be careful how I answer it because it’s can go provocatively a number of ways. But I would say there is without doubt of my mind, the top of the funnel front end of sales is, is very ripe for destruction. Like that’s, that’s happening just as the change is happening in marketing already.

You you will only stand to reason that the SDR/BDR side is going to to see rapid acceleration of AI augmentation in those roles. You would be, it would be silly not to think so.



And, and we’ve seen that before in you know, the emailing technologies that are out there, emailing has gone up exponentially ever since people figured out how to see, right?

So it would, you know, that was even before we saw this big leap, I’m always hesitant to say replacement of a job because I think it’s more the rapid evolution of a job as opposed to the the replacement, but I will finish and say this and I’ll use ChatGPT simply uses the commercial example that is in the news and everybody knows right now.



In roughly November-ish of 2022 last year, it was estimated the IQ of ChatGPT then was around 155 points by June July of this year. That was re estimated to be about 150-155. Ok. For context for the listeners, Albert Einstein was estimated 160 while I think there’s a lot of smart people out there, Michael, I’m not sure many of us can raise our hands and say we’re Albert Einstein’s smart.

So if you think of Moore’s Law or any other calculus you want to use, which is compounding intelligence and growth of a technology, that roughly means that in about 24 months time, you’re talking about technologies that could be 2 to 3000 times the intelligence of a single person. So just sit there today and not be thinking of your sales strategy and the utilization of AI assisted tools, the rise of digital people that will augment what’s there.



And the rapid change of those jog functions would be a wildly ignorant view to, of what we are now rapidly living through, right? Like this is this is bigger than 1996. And the rise of ecom or websites like this is absolutely going to augment and impact every aspect of sales go to market in many functions.

But I also think it an allows sellers to get back to do what sellers do best, which is do the art and the conversation as you and I are here today and it will allow more people to rise to meet the asymmetry that is, that exists in information and they will only allow those that are the best to be the best. Those that are poor probably won’t have a job.



But I think you’re going to see a renaissance of sales be the best it’s ever been over the next three to six months. Incredible. I will, I will cap that with one quick anecdote. I love everything you say there and couldn’t align more. I’ve been playing with this prospecting tool. I talked about it on LinkedIn and somebody said, hey, I’m, I’m skeptical about the quality of email a tool like this can produce, skeptical about AI. And there’s a lot of people that are skeptical about AI obviously.



And so I said, hey, I will add you to the cadence and you can see for yourself. And so I went into the system and added his contact information. The next day it sent him an email. He responded and said, hey, thanks for emailing me. This is great.

I really want to see an example of the content that it produces because I don’t know if I trust it for use of my team. And I responded and said that was the email, that was the AI generated email. He said, ha ha ha, you made me laugh. I said, no, that was literally it.

And so then we had a conversation about the technology and, and I sent him a video and we jumped on the call. It was, it was amazing.



But the reality is the average human today cannot distinguish content generated by artificial intelligence from one that is not. And that process, like I didn’t have to write the email. I didn’t have to look up the contact data. It was all done for me and it happened in the background while I was doing other things. And so the amplification of my efforts and I still think of myself as a salesperson, as a CEO of Vidyard, everything is a sales process. You know, this, it’s so, so, so powerful and even for executives like I’ve wanted to prospect and sell.

But as the organization has grown, it’s gotten harder to do that. These tools are allowing me to engage with our customers in a way I couldn’t before. And that is today to your point. What happens 2, 3, 4 or 5 years from now?



So very exciting times, my friend, it is Michael. We are out of time. So I gotta wrap up with our quick trivia and then get our audience on for their day. Oh, I got one final stump the jump question for you, but I’m sure you’ll do great. Are you ready? So quick, multiple choice? All right.

According to research with which of the following statements is true for B2B buyer preferences.

A) about 20% of buyers say they prefer virtual sales meetings over face to face encounters.

B) over 60% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose content is accessible and personalized to them.

C) less than 10% of B2B buyers believe online reviews influence their purchase decisions.



I would go with B that is a correct answer.



You are two for 2! You said the buyers they want and I know I’m bringing this back to the simplistic start Michael, but they just want stuff that’s accessible and personalized to them. If we can solve that problem, we’ll be well on our way and then there’s all kinds of amazing things you and others will help everyone pioneer with, with artificial intelligence.

It has been great to have you on. Thank you so much Michael co-founder and CEO of Vidyard. It is a pleasure as always.

If anybody needs him, hit him up on LinkedIn and for everybody else, please like and subscribe and don’t forget to send in your questions for a future episode Thank you so much.



Thank you, sir. A pleasure to be here.