The Next Level Stack
In classical sales, an organization is willing to sacrifice productivity to provide non-sales functions with insights into the selling process. Consistency and predictability of revenue growth is the goal. Process takes priority, necessitating the adoption of technology solutions to solve how work flows to other business functions, like finance and marketing, which in turn requires yet more technologies that simply automate the workflow of imperfect processes. Forecasting is an example. Producing a weekly forecast requires huge human investments — after which predicted outcomes are still only correct on average 46% of the time. Technology can replicate this process, but can only make incremental improvements to whatever correlations exist between past and future performance.
The modern sales stack focuses on optimization. It assumes that the future is unpredictable and outcomes are dependent on adaptation. Agility, collaboration, and productivity are key and supported by tools that create velocity — such as Outreach, Intelligence.com, Marketo, SalesLoft, Yesware, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, HubSpot, and many others designed to make the most of whatever the market presents.
According to Collective[i] co-Founder and Vice Chairman Stephen Messer, the key to the modern stack starts with changing the sales mindset from one that assumes fixed outcomes to one where outcomes can be optimized at any given moment.
“Where the classical stack starts with the question, ‘How can I predict outcomes?’, the modern stack asks, ‘How can I achieve the best outcome?’’ Messer says. “Collective[i] is core to the modern stack. We take a live stream of data from appli- cations people use to work — email, calendar, conferencing, etc. — and convert it into intelligence around opportunities and buyers. Our goal is to create a virtuous cycle of increased productivity and revenue growth. The more teams sell, the smarter the machine becomes and, by association, the people who receive it. The better the intelligence, the better the outcome.”
Collective[i]’s applications and network have pioneered the modern approach by offering online collaborative deal rooms to coordinate complex sales; an engine that surfaces useful connections at the moment they can provide value; and a continuous stream of intelligence in the form of alerts, relevant news, automated research, insights about sales talent (including predictive leaderboards to enhance coaching), and daily forecasts that leverage AI/ML to remove uncertainty and place a laser focus on optimizing possible outcomes.
A modern sales stack’s AI kicks in at the beginning of a sale, when a predictive model looks at all the data — past, present, and from a network — then makes the most accurate prediction. According to Messer, “Our goal is to be an enabler of success wherever and whenever possible. Our clients win based on a combination of science, knowledge, and human skill, not guesswork, gambles, and luck.”
Therein lies the key difference between classical and modern stacks. In the former, reports were the product of human opinions and past results used to predict the future. In the latter, the stack is engineered to dynamically analyze actual activities alongside changing market conditions to maximize revenue. The goal is to free humans from tasks and focus sales teams on closing the right deals at the right time.