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Recent studies have shed light on a vital issue plaguing the B2B sales industry, showing that over 80% of SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) fail to convert. Of the sales forecasted to succeed, over 54% ultimately fall through.
The difficulty behind closing deals largely stems from the prevalence of overtly aggressive selling techniques.
When salespeople get too focused on pitching, they wind up missing subtle signals from their negotiating partners, leading to misinterpretations of interests and generally impairing their ability to close deals.
To varying degrees of success, sales and business development professionals combat the issue by utilizing sales analytics and conversational intelligence software to analyze successful sales calls and identify words, phrases, and other verbal patterns that are conducive to closing deals.
However, while effective, these tools fail to discern subtext and pragmatic meanings within interactions, despite the long-established importance of implicit messages in persuasive communications. Fortunately, the minds behind Substrata (an Aves Lair portfolio company) have developed a new approach.
SubStrata is an emergent startup whose innovative Social Signal Processing Technology uses deep learning technology to identify social signals that reflect attitudes, goals, intentions, social status, and dispositions.
Essentially serving as an invisible sales coach, it helps salespeople recognize and respond accordingly to the covert, yet critical patterns within their clients’ nonverbal communication that can make or break a deal. SubStrata recently joined Aves Lair after impressing the VC’s experts with their technological innovation.
In an interview with Aves Lair, CEO Ori Zuckerman explains how the company grew out of his tiresome experience with office politics. After growing exasperated with veiled messages and communicative inefficiencies, he sought a way to analyze subtexts in digital communication, so he partnered with CTO Baruchi Har-Lev and CPO Eran Yessodi to find a solution. Combining Zuckerman’s entrepreneurial experience with Har-Lev and Yessodi’s technical and product expertise, the team developed SubStrata.
However, after recognizing its utility in negotiations, the team decided to focus on the B2B sales industry.
While SubStrata’s tech is undoubtedly unique, so is the synergy between their executive team. Long before going into business together, Zuckerman and Yessodi met in their youth and developed a close friendship during their high school years.
When asked about their experiences while working with their best friends, they compared themselves to an old married couple who occasionally dispute but are typically on the same page — sometimes even finishing each other’s sentences.
Substrata’s Social Signal Processing Technology analyzes text, audio, and video to identify the implicit social cues that indicate dispositions, biases, conflict, and more.
Capable of integration with Zoom, Webex, GSuite, and Salesforce, the tech interprets nonverbal cues such as kinesics (posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, etc.) and intonation (tone of voice) to enable greater mutual understanding between negotiators.
SubStrata’s Pragmatic Intelligence Engine (or PIE) utilizes deep natural language processing technology to analyze textual paralanguage — the expression of nonverbal cues in written communications such as emails and text messages.
Furthermore, their soon-to-be-released “Q Beta” features “a pragmatically intelligent AI Sales Assistant,” which boasts a human-in-the-loop deep reinforcement learning architecture and is capable of providing insights in real-time to help achieve your goals.
When asked about Substrata’s advantage over its competitors, Zuckerman pointed to their emphasis on pragmatics and subtext.
Whereas other companies transcribe and analyze audio segments to identify keywords and patterns that are conducive to successful deals, Substrata “focuses more on pragmatics and less on syntax” to read between the lines and find the underlying meaning.
Furthermore, instead of compartmentalizing interactions, Substrata’s tech contextualizes the entire history between participants.
Another advantage SubStrata holds over its competitors is its immediacy. While most sales tools analyze messages after they’re sent, SubStrata’s real-time analysis allows users to adjust their communications as they occur to smoothen interactions and guarantee all participants are on the same page.
SubStrata’s technology comes at just the right time, as salespeople worldwide scramble to adjust to the virtual platforms that have arisen in the face of the social distancing regulations surrounding the ongoing pandemic.
While some have taken the changes in stride, many others struggle to adapt to their new digitally mediated communication channels that lack the richness of social cues we rely on when interacting in person.
Management consulting agency Corporate Visions surveyed over 500 salespeople to gauge the impact of the transition to remote work — and almost 70% of their participants reported difficulties when compared to selling in person, mainly due to factors including “limited interactions” and “passive presentations.”
The difficulties in selling over remote channels come as no surprise when you realize how little of our communication relies on spoken words. Communication experts have long recognized that meaning is conveyed primarily through nonverbal signals.
While studying human communication, scholar Albert Mehrabian developed a model to illustrate how spoken words comprise only 7% of a message’s meaning, while intonation constitutes 38% and body language 55%.
Applying his findings to the sales industry, the professionals at Masterclass warn against discounting the importance of nonverbal cues, explaining how relying solely on spoken words risks “[misinterpreting] what your negotiating partner is communicating, and [diminishing] your chances of finding common ground.”
The importance of nonverbal cues explains why so many salespeople have struggled with working remotely. Tricia Jones, professor at Klein College of Media and Communication, explains how the lack of nonverbal cues makes it harder to display authenticity and build trust and advocates for “[improving] technology to bring it closer to the experience of in-person communication.”
SubStrata’s PIE technology and Q software help bridge the gap between virtual and face-to-face communication. By helping salespeople identify and interpret nonverbal signals, they enable greater understanding and foster trust between negotiators — making it easier to meet clients’ needs and close deals.
(Written By Jacob Johnson for Aves Lair)
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