Q&A With Michael Thome

By Neha Nirkondar

Guided Selling 

As Gartner and Bain have recently pointed out, algorithmic-guided selling is changing how sales organizations operate. Sales leaders are adopting this technology and combining human and artificial intelligence to augment the sales coaching experience. To learn more about how our own sales leaders feel about guided selling, we sat down with Michael Thome — VP of North America Sales here at Aviso — for a chat about his personal experience and thoughts. Check out the video or read the Q&A below to learn more.

 

 

Q: How did you get into selling?

A: About 20 years ago, I started as a customer service representative for a company. As I started my first year, I saw other folks who started before me get evaluated for their performance. This was fairly subjective based on what their manager thought of their work; they would either get a bonus or they wouldn’t get a bonus.

As a result, I started thinking that I wanted to be in more control of my destiny. I wanted to do that in a way in which I could also impact myself positively financially as well as be more of a direct player in bringing on a new customer. There was a sense of excitement that I saw in sales reps who were closing business. I got excited about that too.

Q: What is being a sales leader at Aviso like day-to-day? 

A: As a startup, for us, sales encompasses so many different things. At other later stage companies you’re focused on your pipeline, your forecast, and you’re looking at your managers who are managing the reps and you’re making sure that they’re being coached properly and they’re getting the right information to sell properly.

But when you’re at a startup that is semi-mature but still in a pretty early stage, you’re doing everything from marketing, interviews, technology planning, and working with the engineering team. You’re doing all of these things in addition to going out and meeting with executives at companies that you are trying to do business with.

So it’s a lot of different hats, it’s all hours of the day, it’s on an airplane, it’s in a car, and it’s on the phone, literally 15 to 20 hours a day. You either love that and it’s part of your DNA or you don’t. For me, I love it!

Q: What does guided selling mean to you and how have you seen that play out in the market over time? 

A: Guided selling, for me, has always been about human experience and human coaching. When I was working with a past manager, she would sit down with me and tell me why a deal was at risk and why we thought we could close it.

What I’m seeing today is based on advancements in data science technology. We can now leverage data science to provide AI driven insights about deal health on everything from the individual deal all the way up to global forecasts, whether it’s by product, by region, by rep, by industry, or anyway you want to manage your business.

Essentially, what we’re finding is that there’s a better way to do sales than just relying on human expertise alone. By using AI guidance on top of human guidance, you will actually guarantee yourself a better revenue outcome. We’ve seen that AI guidance in your sales cycle acts almost like an individual coaching mechanism for your manager to be able to sit down and ask: “What do we think we know about this opportunity based on human experience, but also now what is the AI telling us about this?” Being able to marry those two together creates a better outcome for you, your manager, and the company.

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That was Michael Thome, an Aviso sales leader, talking about his sales journey and how AI has changed guided selling over his career. Curious to learn more? Check out our other Sales Leader interviews here.

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