This startup just got $6 million to analyze linguistic cues during sales calls

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A startup promising to provide pointers and analytics to your sales conversations just picked up $6 million, but you might not have realized it had you read their press release. Gong.io, located in Tel Aviv and Palo Alto, announced the deal Tuesday saying it was led by Norwest Venture Partners and Shlomo Kramer, the co-founder of Check Point.

General Partner Dror Nahumi will serve as Norwest’s point person with Gong.

They are selling software that ‘recognizes effective patterns’ in the course of phone calls, presumably picking up on cues that might lead a salesman to change their pitch strategy. They boast about building their machine learning and AI product on tens of thousands of hours of conversation.

Gong claims to be able to pick out quantifiable data where experience and recognition of nuance had previously reigned, from conversations held over Zoom (not the villain), GoToMeeting and CiscoWebEx. That data then plugs into Salesforce or a competing CRM.

Gong is providing verbal analytics data for sales calls so you can adjust your pitch in response to the cues the company's software picks up (screenshot, Gong.io)
Gong is providing verbal analytics data for sales calls so you can adjust your pitch in response to the cues the company’s software picks up. Photo credit: Gong.io

Gong claims in the company’s release that sales teams might manage 200 conversations or more over the course of a week, each conversation constituting “6,000 words per hour.” Analyzing vocabulary choices and direction of a conversation would thus be a major debriefing tool, or a real-time coach to improve calls in progress.

“The most important factor is what people actually say (the text and vocabulary). These tend to be business conversations without a lot of manifested emotion,” Gong Co-Founder and CEO Amit Bendov told Geektime. “We also look at the exchange of speakers: pauses, length of response, overlap, engagement level.”

Gong has been beta testing in stealth, acquiring “dozens” of B2B customers like Act-On Software, whose VP Sales Chris Hardeman endorsed them in the press release.

“We believe Gong’s technology is the most significant invention for sales since the invention of CRM,” Bendov said in a press release. “Trillions of marketing dollars have been poured into reaching, nurturing, and contacting leads. But 80% of those hard-earned leads are lost after the first few phone conversations with a sales person,” Bendov claims.

Technological unemployment; now for sales reps?

It would be a bit of a stretch to imply sales pitches are going to be the jobs of machines anytime soon, but the ability to pick up on nuance is a major advance that linguistic or translation-oriented startups have been attempting for a while. The machines here are simply picking up on parcels of data and sorting it. What to make of that data isn’t all that clear yet.

And we are far from a full automaton pulling off a one-hour cold sale to a new enterprise customer.

But this does mark new territory for the customer service industry. The use of chat bots is becoming more ubiquitous for customer retention and general inquiries. Facebook just announced a major investment in that industry.

For now, Gong is on track to making the perceivably dull sales call industry a lot more insightful. Their services are currently only available in English, but a spokesperson emphasized, “We will be adding other languages down the road.”

Gong was co-founded by CEO Amit Bendov and CTO Eilon Reshef. Bendov previously held CXO positions at Sisense, Panaya, and ClickSoftware; Reshef brings founding experience from WebCollage.

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