What is Conversation intelligence? A 101 for startups and early-stage companies

Table of content

What is Conversation Intelligence?
What can a Conversation Intelligence tool do?
Benefits of Conversation Intelligence
When is it too early to invest in Conversation Intelligence?
- Conversation Intelligence for founders, startups, and small businesses
- Conversation Intelligence for growth stage businesses
Conversation Intelligence for sales teams
- Top 3 Conversation Intelligence benefits for sales reps
- Top 3 conversation intelligence use cases for sales leaders
Conversation intelligence for your entire organization
Top 3 Conversation Intelligence Tools: Our Picks
1. Chorus
2. Gong
3. MeetRecord

Meetings are not going anywhere – middle management employees spend roughly 35% of their time in meetings. This number can go up to 50% for upper management.  But here’s the thing – a whopping 71% of such meetings are considered unproductive!

So you can imagine why making meetings productive (and useful!) is a huge business priority – especially when you’re talking about customer-facing ones.

This means that companies, big and small, need to
a) conduct better meetings
b) use every meeting better

There’s a smart way to do both of these. Enter conversation intelligence.

What is conversation intelligence? How does it help you conduct better sales meetings, boost revenues, improve customer experience, and ensure employee productivity?

We have all the answers.

What is Conversation Intelligence?

Conversation intelligence refers to data-based insights from conversations or meetings, provided by a tool/software.

Typically uses for sales and customer-facing calls, conversation intelligence tools use speech-to-text conversions and AI to analyze conversations to

  • get customer insights
  • gain deeper visibility into meeting efficiency and engagement
  • track action items and commitments

… and ultimately, use all of the above, to improve meetings, sales outcomes, and team productivity.

You can find what you need – whether it is customer pain points, use cases,  competitor mentions, customer objections, commitments, timelines, and more – quickly and easily.

Simply put, conversation intelligence gives the ability to get the most out of every meetingwithout having to participate in, or even listen to them.

What can a Conversation Intelligence tool do?

At the very least, conversation intelligence software comes with call recording, transcribing, and searchability/navigation features. More advanced solutions have features that highlight talk-listen ratios, identify monologues, track competitor mentions, pick up keywords/phrases, analyze sentiments, and record summaries, action items, and more.

Benefits of Conversation Intelligence

The biggest value conversation intelligence tools provide is in the area of customer-facing meetings. Such conversations are the richest source of insights for executives/leaders, sales reps, and marketing and product teams.

However, as your company grows, and call volumes increase, it can be impossible to manually source insights from each one of them, and distill them into what each team needs.

The automation and functionalities that conversation intelligence tools come with,  made this easier.

For instance, they can use the same meeting to provide different and relevant insights for each function – Sales, Marketing, Product, and Customer Success – for each stage of the customer journey.

Here are some key benefits of conversation intelligence for any company, irrespective of size, stage, and maturity:

1. Capturing, sharing, and speaking  the ‘voice of the customer’
The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is what customers are saying about their needs,  their expectations, and pain points. Paying attention to, and capturing the VoC can help you understand your customers better, identify areas for product improvement, and influence marketing, support, and product decisions within your company.

To put it simply, capturing VoC is your company’s best shot at telling a cohesive story, and developing a connection with your customer - across all points and modes of interaction with them.

Using a conversation intelligence platform allows you to draw out overarching themes and drill down on specific sentiments about the products or services your customers mention in their conversations.

2. In-depth customer research

Conversation intelligence is a potent user research tool. It gets you meaningful customer behavior insights that you can feed into your future sales as well as marketing efforts, by getting you insights into the below:
What do different customer segments care about? What are the industry trends to focus on? What time/phase do they contact you?
What apprehensions and objections do they have? What do their budgets look like?
What functionalities are they talking about?
How do they feel about your products? What aspects work, and which don’t?

3. Improved conversations and conversions

When you go beyond guesswork to conduct your sales meetings, results are bound to improve.

On the one hand, when you understand what customers care about, you can improve your conversations to speak a language they understand and relate to.

On the other, you know how customers tend to respond at key stages, and you can be better prepared with better positioning, relevant talking points, and proactive behavior to field even the most challenging customers.

The result? Better customer experiences and better business results.

4. Better accountability, expectation-setting, and follow-ups

As a customer, nothing’s more disappointing than a company that fails to keep its word.

As a business, you need to understand exactly what the client’s expectations are, and what your commitments are.

This can be particularly tricky in the SaaS world where sales conversations often revolve around POCs (proof of concept) – where you show them what your product can do for them. But POCs have a reputation for being a risky undertaking. And this is mostly because of misaligned expectations.

Conversation intelligence captures key commitments, timelines, and action items from both ends – so you can ensure accountability within your team and better alignment with customers.

When is it too early to invest in Conversation Intelligence?

Here’s the thing: conversation intelligence can be a game-changer even if you’re a one-person organization.

Conversation Intelligence for founders, startups, and small businesses

If you’re a founder or startup still figuring things out, juggling way too many responsibilities, and speaking to multiple prospects/customers, you’re likely spending most of your time in meetings.

Taking detailed notes for every meeting, curating, and sharing learnings is a task that slips to the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list.

A conversation intelligence tool can help

  • record, store, and track all your calls so you can find anything you need in past conversations
  • understand key pains and objections your customers mentioned
  • capture feature requests and insights into the buyer psychology, your competitors, etc
  • track customer commitments and POC requests which are often a part of new customer conversations

Any insights you unlock can help

  • build a better product,  
  • develop a marketing strategy that speaks to – and resonates with – your ideal customer
  • implement a sales strategy that’s learning and improving with each customer call.

Conversation Intelligence for growth stage businesses

At this stage, companies likely have a structure and teams in place, but they need to consistently use and build on them to grow into the next stage. For example, discovery calls need to have a definite flow, product demos should be consistent across salespersons, any insights or data from meetings should flow into the right tools, etc.

Conversation intelligence solutions can help with visibility into different functions, their meetings, and help ensure that everyone is following the process so you can identify areas of future opportunity and improvement.

Conversation Intelligence for sales teams

The biggest benefit of Conversation Intelligence software is to the Sales function.  Capturing each customer’s exact pain points, apprehensions, and questions, in their language is critical. This can be hard to do when you think about the average B2B salesperson who makes about 35 calls a day.

Running a good sales meeting takes skill, and attention. It’s easy to lose sight of the small, but important elements that have the potential to improve your meetings, and even your entire sales process.

Sales teams can use conversation intelligence for multiple reasons including

  • getting a complete picture of the customer with real keywords, to
  • finding common apprehensions, objections, and questions, to
  • identifying consideration or buying cues during a conversation

… and much more.

In the next section, we look at some practical applications of conversation intelligence for sales teams.

Top 3 Conversation Intelligence benefits for sales reps

1, Capturing minutes of every meeting – while actively listening and driving the conversation forward

Sales meetings are stressful. There’s a lot to do – pitch perfectly, handle apprehensions, capture meeting minutes, enter data into the CRM, and more importantly, ensure that the meeting is worth everyone’s time. With this pressure to make each meeting useful, comes the pressure to document the meeting’s proceedings.

But this aspect of note-taking can come in the way of fully engaging with the customer and driving the conversation forward.  

A good way to avoid this is to record your meetings – and summarize them later.

The smart way? Use a conversation intelligence tool that transcribes the meeting for you, so your customers have your complete attention.

This ensures that you focus on actively listening to what customers are saying, asking the right questions, without worrying about missing critical information or updating your CRM.

2. Instant review and analysis – for better future talk tracks

A big part of making meetings more effective is understanding what to retain/repeat, and what to eliminate. The right conversation intelligence tool can help identify best practices, the right vocabulary, and potential meeting pain points – so sales reps can get better with every meeting.

MeetReecord’s Conversation Analysis
to help identify areas of strength and improvement

These tools can help highlight the key issues and best parts of each call – right after it happens, so individual reps can understand what worked, what didn't, what they said, what they missed, and what they need to do in the next call.

3. Peer learning

With lean sales teams, ambitious targets, and packed calendars, there’s little time to join other sales reps on their calls – for any kind of osmotic learning.

Sales reps can learn from their colleagues' sales conversations without having to attend more meetings than they absolutely have to – by using the features of a conversation intelligence tool to get the highlights of each call.

Top 3 conversation intelligence use cases for sales leaders

1. Create a sales playbook for on-point and on-brand sales meetings

Since conversation intelligence allows you to understand the best sales practices observed within your team, you can create a playbook composed of best practices for all types of customer calls.

Another important focus area for the sales team is to handle customer objections and concerns effectively – knowing just what to promise at what stage.  A conversation intelligence tool can help you gather customer apprehensions from multiple meetings that you can bake into your sales playbook templates.

2. Onboard sales reps faster

10% of employees say they’ve left a job because of inadequate onboarding with 37% saying their managers didn’t play a critical role in the experience.

This is a huge issue when you think about a field as challenging as sales.

Conversation intelligence enables sales leaders/managers to ramp up new reps faster while providing them targeted feedback based on analysis of their calls.

Giving new sales reps an effective, thorough onboarding experience can help you nurture and retain top talent within your company.

3. Manage and coach the team better

Given the aggressive hiring targets, remote teams, and new launches, sales leaders struggle with giving their teams the monitoring and attention they need. It's a huge challenge even for a manager overlooking 3-5 reps to ensure that the quality of individual calls meets the company’s standards.

With the automation and efficiency of conversation intelligence tools,  sales leaders can have a firm handle on what’s going on in every rep’s call – besides reviewing and providing data-backed feedback as part of sales coaching.

Through streamlined call coaching like the one offered by platforms like MeetRecord, managers can uncover performance patterns and identify the best practices their team needs to close deals. At the same time, these tools can also enable managers to identify well-performing reps and those who are struggling and require more assistance.

MeetRecord’s Coaching and Scoring Template

Conversation intelligence for your entire organization

Though most consistently useful in sales functions, conversation intelligence has something to offer every critical business function.

  • Marketing: Marketers can use it to search for key phrases and trends across rep conversations, so they use the language their customers are speaking, and create write more compelling marketing resources. By proactively addressing key objections, or competitor comparisons in sales enablement material, marketing can improve their lead generation efforts.
  • Customer Success: Two-thirds of consumers think that companies need to be better at listening to feedback. Conversation Intelligence can provide customer success teams with insights on how they can better handle customer concerns and questions. It helps them identify commonly touched topics, allowing them to prepare the necessary data and resources to give the best possible answer.
  • Business leaders: A business leader can’t be present in every important business meeting – external or internal. But they can still stay up-to-date on each of them with conversation intelligence.
  • It can shed light on customer feedback, the performance of individual teams, and help them get a big-picture view of what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to be done.

Top 3 Conversation Intelligence Tools: Our Picks

Here are the three conversation intelligence tools that you can depending on the stage of your business journey you’re at:

1. Chorus

Chorus is an early player in the conversation/meeting intelligence space with a competitive offering to build stronger relationships and acquire market intelligence.

Chorus records and transcribes calls in real time with artificial intelligence. It identifies multiple speakers, new topics, positive and negative portions, talk-to-listen ratios, and more – so you can find and share the insights you need.

Chorus is enterprise-oriented – both in its design and its pricing. There are multiple useful features, but they might seem a little overwhelming to a new user, or a fledgling sales team.  The pricing structure is not transparent, although you can expect to pay around  $1400 per user per year.

2. Gong

Designed for – and catering primarily to – enterprises, Gong positions itself more as a revenue intelligence tool catering to sales teams – with conversation intelligence capabilities built in.  As a market leader, it integrates well with enterprise communication ecosystems – web conferencing tools, VoIP systems, and CRMs, making it the preferred choice for sales-driven large companies.

Since it focuses primarily on enterprise-level sales teams, it focuses more on

  • Deal Intelligence (identifying all the churn signals, understanding the pipeline). and understands your pipeline
  • People Intelligence (identifying winning sales behavior and practices)
  • Market Intelligence (providing marketing for improved go-to-market strategies)

Gong is a compelling option – if you have a dedicated and mature sales team, a requirement for more sales-focused complex features, and a generous budget (on average, companies end up paying a $5000 base price + $1200 per user per year).  

As you can see, both Chorus and Gong being market leaders, are heavily enterprise-oriented.

This means that they haven’t specifically been designed for small businesses or teams with overlapping functions, or nascent customer-facing teams.  

Additionally, there is no way for you to try the tools out, and see how conversation intelligence can work for you.

That brings us to our third pick.

3. MeetRecord

While Gong.ai and Chorus.ai work best for enterprises with more requirements and bigger budgets, MeetRecord is designed to cater to startups and mid-market companies. It connects with all the popular meeting tools including Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, and integrates with CRM tools like Hubspot, Pipedrive, Salesforce, and more.

So if you don’t want to spend heavily on features that you might never even use, MeetRecord is ideal for  

  • Capturing, storing, transcribing, and analyzing calls and meetings
  • Identifying best practices and top performers
  • Offering timely sales coaching without additional resources and effort
  • Drawing business-critical insights

… while ensuring flexible usage across functions – from Customer Success to Marketing to Product.

One of its most useful features is the dedicated call library to store all recorded conversations along with their respective analysis. This makes it easier to consolidate your resources and ensure that your entire team can access and share them as they need.

The best part: it comes with a free plan, and had paid plans starting at just $19 per user per year.

If you’re looking to experience the benefits of conversation intelligence – without burning a hole in your pocket, try MeetRecord to see how it can help you make the most of your sales meetings.

Sign up for a free trial today (no credit card required).

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