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July 7, 2023

Why revenue teams need to be empowered through data optimisation

Organisations are increasingly looking to embed emerging AI and machine learning technologies across all aspects of operations. Philip Cooper, group VP of product at Clari, shares how generative AI has the potential to revolutionise the revenue function.

AI and machine learning technologies are disrupting nearly every sector, and enterprises are reshaping their processes and strategies accordingly. Now, with the step change of generative AI, which is capable of generating complex textual and visual outputs from minimal prompts, those boundaries have been pushed even further to transform marketing and sales, alongside rapid technological transformation and shifting consumer demands.

empowering teams with data optimisation and generative AI
AI can take care of mundane but essential activities, so revenue teams can focus on their customer and sales strategies. (Photo by Fizkes via Shutterstock)

With 90% of commercial leaders looking to utilise generative AI solutions, revenue teams are increasingly learning how to harness the new possibilities of these emerging technologies. From streamlining processes and workflows to revenue retention and forecasting, generative AI has helped to liberate human talent and secure organisational resources. Philip Cooper, group VP of product at revenue platform Clari, stands on the front line of these changes.

How do you think the ways in which enterprises are looking at the potential impact of integrating AI are changing?

Generative AI exploded with ChatGPT over the last year, but this is just a continuation of where we already were. We’ve had another step change with generative AI, with a bunch of emerging use cases and opportunities. We’re just starting to scratch the surface of how we can drive productivity in the workplace. Revenue teams are being asked to do more things – to be empathetic with customers, forecast accuracy, maintain hygiene in their CRM, use their sales enablement tools, and put the right information in the customer’s hands – all while winning, retaining and growing business. Generative AI can be applied to workflows to minimise tasks, particularly to automate mundane things where some balls get dropped or things fall through the cracks. That’s where you start to find revenue leak, where revenue is being inevitably lost somewhere through the process.

Why does automating the mundane make such an impact?

The macro environment is pretty tough. We’re overloading teams with tasks, particularly revenue people, all while dealing with constraints like limited resources. By automating tasks like email analysis rather than trawling through emails, salespeople can focus more on their customers and sales strategies while removing tedious work. We’re constantly looking at what processes we can optimise next.

And that optimisation has a direct impact on revenue?

The most important question in business is, am I going to meet, beat or miss on revenue? Clari is all about answering that question, as a revenue platform that helps customers bring predictability, visibility and efficiency to revenue processes, to maximise revenue, or predict where they will capture it. Clari helps to find revenue leak all the way from the C-suite, in some cases down to the individual contributor, helping them bring repeatability, stop revenue leak and get precision in how they’re running their revenue workflows.

Phil Cooper group head of product at Clari on generative AI
Clari’s Philip Cooper believes generative AI marks a step change in enterprise ability to address revenue leak. (Photo courtesy of Clari)

How has Clari’s use of AI evolved as the technology has matured?

Clari has used AI for a decade, but what’s exciting is our recent utilisation of generative AI for prediction, such as projecting how a sales deal might unfold or whether it will close. We launched RevGPT in March 2023, which allows us to gather and connect crucial signals from various sources, including CRM data, meeting engagements, email interactions, and participant details. Generative AI has unlocked the capability to do summarisation, which saves so much time and provides a ready-to-share summary for clients and customers. It can help to generate the right prompts and highlight the pertinent piece of conversation that will give me relevant insight for a customer or prospect. The critical ingredient to that is the underlying data and metadata, which is consolidated in a specific data model that our customers can manage.  

So you can use prompts to easily extract insights from the model by specifying what you need from certain data?

Absolutely. We’re still in the early stages of this journey, focusing on use cases that offer quick wins and drive productivity by utilising generative AI as if it were your revenue operations person or chief of staff, to ensure that tasks are completed promptly and nothing falls through the cracks. The AI handles follow-ups, sends summaries, assigns tasks, and takes care of mundane but essential activities. Humans typically dislike repetitive tasks, and that’s where AI shines. It can handle vast amounts of data, identify valuable insights and compose information efficiently, which is super valuable for businesses.

And does such an approach differentiate you from what else is out there?

Clari is probably the only player that lives, breathes and dreams revenue. We’re very tailored in what we do. We help to focus time on the right leads, accounts and deals. The immense value lies in the revenue data we manage. It’s not just about collecting; it’s about connecting and enriching it to make it usable in applications, which accelerates time-to-revenue. RevGPT is a huge differentiator. Sellers and revenue-critical employees are spending a lot of time gathering information, shaping it and figuring out the next step. We want to shrink that, which all rolls up to pulling revenue forward.

How exactly does a customer benefit from that?

We integrate CRM, a system of record to store some level of revenue data around contacts, leads and accounts opportunities. We integrate extremely tightly with it. We pull data from Salesforce, stitch it together and create a whole history, then we keep it up to date. Squaring those two things is quite difficult. We offer auto-capture functionality, which updates the CRM with relevant customer interactions, such as meetings and content shared. Approximately 30% of our customers’ engaged contacts are captured in the CRM through this automation. We also streamline the process of updating deals, accounts, notes and pipelines within the CRM, directly in Clari, and our end users love that efficiency.

Could you give an example where those newfound capabilities have directly contributed to a customer’s growth? 

We’ve got lots of great accounts like Pearson, Snow Software, Access Group, Elsevier and others. ComplyAdvantage is a regtech company that provides compliance software solutions. It emphasises the value of clarity and accountability in a couple of key areas that really resonate with me, highlighting the importance of a seamless revenue process, where everyone has a unified view of the same data. Our platform provides this connected, end-to-end visibility, rather than a fragmented approach of CRM, spreadsheets and business intelligence. ComplyAdvantage estimates that it saves two days per rep per month, showcasing substantial productivity gains for sellers. It’s about connecting across all revenue-critical employees, making revenue generation a team sport.

What would your message be to companies still hesitant about the digital transformation they perceive integrating such capabilities to require?

I think with generative AI, you’ve got to get started and take advantage of it. Software companies are embedding it. Take advantage of them. If you have data science resources and data, you can start to experiment, without having to build your own thing. If you don’t start, you won’t compete with those who have. Those using generative AI will be more productive and efficient. They will have better answers from the system, which will yield better decision making and stronger outcomes. The barrier to getting started is low. Macro-wise, we need to drive productivity growth. Every CEO is asking about this. I say get started.

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