Reading Time: 12 minutes
Guest: Jared Haleck– SaaS product leader, startup veteran, end-user feedback addict and founder-CEO whisperer. Problem discovery and storytelling are my two superpowers. The two traits I value in product managers are curiosity and assertiveness. The startup I admire the most is STRAVA. My favorite quote is, “Clear vision does not equal short distance.”
Overview: This week on digital conversations with Billy Bateman our guest is Jared Haleck VP of product at XANT.ia. In this episode they discuss the rebranding of Inside Sales to XANT.ia and the future of sales engagement.
Billy All right, everybody, welcome to the show. Today we have Jared Haleck, VP of Product at Xant, who’s joining us today. Jared, thanks for coming on.
Jared Hey, Billy it’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Billy Yeah, I’m glad you can make some time. Before we get into it. I want to just give us an intro. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Jared Yeah. Like you said, Jared Haleck, VP of product here at Xant.AI. But which is sort of where the re-branded diversion of insidesales.com. So those of you who follow Xant know that we just recently re-branded insidesales.com to Xant.ai. We can talk a little bit about that. I’ve been here for a combined total of nine years and for eight of those years have been running product. First with the co-founder, as a founder of in-state sales that Steve Elkington and most recently with with Chris Harrington, who is our new CEO of about six months ago.
Billy Great. So long time, there at Xant. So before we get into it, I want to ask you, so you were telling me an interesting story before we got going about. You were actually the first person to close the deal for inside sales. Can you tell us that story?
Jared It was actually . That’s why I chose my words carefully when I said a combined total of nine years. I was here at founding with Dave in and then left out for about a year and then spent most recently the last eight years here. And in , I was actually hired to help Dave sell this. It was then the company was called SALES Team Automation.
I was sort of tell people that I was the first papered employee of what became inside sales and I actually sold the first dollar of revenue and I’ll never forget it. I walked in my first day. I walked right past Dave sitting at his desk. I sat down at the desk opposite him.
I picked up the phone and within seconds it set an appointment for I sort of my first sales call. David been doing sales calls, but it was a company called Apex CDI who actually ended up buying our solution. And now they’re actually a longtime customer. They actually were a customer for over a decade. So I was really, really happy to see that.
Billy Awesome man. The way, you know, I know Dave really well and the way he tells it, he probably would have closed every deal at inside sales for the first year. You know.
Jared Trust me, he was a certainly instrumental in all those deals. But, yes. We had a good time that we had a good time that first year, tough first year. But it was a lot of fun. A big learning experience for me.
Billy Great. So I want to have you on to talk a little bit about the shift from insidesales.com to Xant and why that happened? So why the change from inside sales to Xant?
Jared Yeah. You know, just give you a little bit of background on that. I can answer that from a product perspective. And there’s a whole lot of reasons for it. But, you know, inside sales for, you know, decade and a half, it really kind of been the standard bearer in an industry.
We created the category. In , there literally was no real sort of firm understanding of digital selling. And what we called inside selling. And if you looked up inside sales on the Internet, you know, if you Googled it, it would be a whole bunch of job postings, but no one actually delivering any technology.
We for those of you who know the story, we have built a technology that helps people sort of hyper prioritize what they were working on so they could work really, really quickly and really, really efficiently on the best stuff and sort of always. And it was really sort of dialer centric.
And, you know, when you think about the way the industry evolved, you know, a lot of people won’t love to say it. And we always tried to distance ourselves from telemarketing because it was a very BC concept. But the difference between telemarketing versus inside professional selling remotely was. In many cases, it was BB and it was professional salespeople, right, that were essentially making a career out of this versus your $ an hour sort of call center person.
And, you know, but it really sort of the only thing that the industry sort of knew as a model was that sort of super high volume B-to-C sort of telly sales, telemarketing solution. And so, you know, the very first sort of iteration of our industry and particularly our products were sort of loosely based off of that.
We had ways to sort of deliver a more professional and personalized experience. But while still, you know, essentially trying to drive through a lot of volume, because I was the sort of thought was, hey, but, you know, you could you could try. You could increase productivity.
You could just go super fast using technology. Now, getting back to your original question billy about, you know what, why that shift. About and the product team is actually, it is or so on the products team, we started to see a shift in the way people are using our technology.
And I really think what was happening was, as you know, more and more people were using that kind of technology that we had delivered. You know, there sort of began to be sort of an equalization of, you know, what people could gain out of a solution like ours because, you know, all their competitors had a solution like ours.
So I think what was happening was that there there’s just a glut of sort of, you know, outreach, particularly over the phone, because we were using this sort of model of selling that was really sort of invented by us at inside sales, you know, starting in and evolving through the late .
But it really sort of persisted. It’s driven with no material change until about . You know, the words that the acronyms or ABM or ABS company’s sales and company’s marketing. Now a lot of that began to sort of catch hold in that timeframe. We saw it pretty early. We saw on the product team particularly that through the way people were using the product.
And I would just characterize it very simply. People wanted to sell more strategically. They wanted to be multi-modal, meaning lots of different modes of reaching out to people beyond just the phone, which you’ve seen kind of in our industry over the last four or five years.
And so the reason why we changed the company to Xant was, is that we don’t we built an entirely new product platform that not only services kind of very sort of BTR sort of centric roles, but also as a little bit more full funnel and its capability. We call it playbooks and it’s an intelligence sales engagement solution that really addresses some of those big shifts that we saw in the market.
And in addition to that, what Xant’s is an expression of the evolution of where we have come and also where we’re going from a data perspective. For those of you who have know the story of inside sales, you know that we always had this kind of concept of, you know, doing what you’re doing more of what’s right instead of just doing more to do more of the right stuff, not just do more. Right.
So we always thought we could build intelligence into our solution. And we had some early capabilities with our inside sales products, particularly paradigm. And in some of the we’re very powerful. We have a concept of a neural score and many of our customers use it, enjoy it and get a lot of benefit of prioritizing what’s working and what’s not from a machine learning perspective.
But what Xant does is and actually uses this collective, we finally we’re able to sort of understand how to drive value out of the collective data across all of our customers. Similar to the way people who use ways for smart navigation would benefit from other drivers on the road who have gone before them, helping them understand, you know, where you know how it is that they should move forward to their destination.
We do a similar thing with our intelligent engagement solution. We use other people on the platform to know who have gone ahead to inform people who are presently trying to get a hold and we’re trying to get to that same destination, if that makes sense. Right. If I was trying to sell to you, Billy, I could potentially learn from other people who’ve tried to sell to Billy.
And I get some insight into our playbooks product. So all of that together, we just really sort of determined that it was a good time to sort of chart our new path forward while honoring the past and everything that got us here. A chart our new path forward on our new product, our new technology. And where we saw it, sort of the market going,.
Billy Yeah, makes sense. Just it’s really a different a more complete product, really leveraging the data that you have and more of an omni channel approach than just on the phone. So. Where do you see the future of the industry going then?
Jared Yeah. Yeah. Good question, and just to kind of tie off on that previous point. Right. Like that, you know, the big things that we’ve seen, some of this is fairly well documented that, you know, taking a more strategic approach, particularly as a race to BB, I think from a from a BC perspective.
I think a lot of the principles that we that this sort of sales engagement category has sort of taught the industry probably still apply. But I think, you know, it’s really a lot of the things that we’ve kind of focused on and really focused on BB, BB selling. You know, having, you know, not just a more strategic approach, but like you say, an omni channel approach.
And one of the things that I sort of see happening, particularly as we see salesforce. com, you know, combining their sort of, you know, what they use. They used to have sort of, kind of a poor man’s version or it’s not really a poor man’s version, but it’s a lighter weight version, rather, of a powered dialer tool and then an Einstein that they kind of mashed them together.
Now they’re kind of competing in this sort of sales engagement or sales cadence space. And, you know, one of the things I think of, you know, a lot of people ask like, hey, are you guys worried about that? I actually think that’s a really good thing. You know, as the tide rises, all the boats will rise.
And Salesforce is just has a way of making that sort of tide rise. As I relate to your question about the future. You know, I think, you know, people like Salesforce entering the space and in other big players who have sort of followed our lead and other space is what I would say is that there’s a. You know, as these boats have risen, everyone has at their fingertips this ability to solve sort of the workflow challenge of being able to reach out to people in an Omni channel way.
What I think is going to happen is because as everyone has access to that technology, there’ll be less that differentiates you from your competitors. Right, as you go to market. Yeah, it’s really interesting. insights in there, sales performance study. They talk about the top challenges that sales leaders say they have. And the top two challenges were really interesting.
Well, the first one in particular, number one, the number one challenge people say they have used to be people used to talk about sales, higher varying sales, coaching. The number one challenge sales leaders say they have now is differentiating against their competition or winning in a highly competitive market.
And I think there’s a macro economic trend that’s going on where barriers to entry across all industries are lower than they’ve ever been. And I think technology has a lot to do with that. And so the question I have is, as everyone has access to, you know, this sales engagement technology, you know, how is it that people are going to differentiate as they go to market? Right.
And where I think the future is really going ahead is, you know, for years, you know, under the name of Inside sales, we were talking about the virtues of using intelligence to help you. I heard a lot of that was machine learning base. Now under a kind of our new brand, Xant, we’re taking that a step forward with using insights from the collective or all the people that are on the Xant platform to help you sort of have an edge over people that are using just a standard or normal sort of sales engagement technology.
I also think that’s a macro trend that I believe is going to and should happen actually in sort of BB enterprise software. This idea that we’ve had for many years here at Xant sort of aggregating into a collective insights that people can learn from. It’s kind of actually how the Internet works, right?
You get an Amazon. People who bought this also bought that, you know, you pull up your Your Ways app or your, you know, Apple Maps, whatever, they all sort of do it. Now, you know, people have gone before you going to tell you what the traffic accidents are, where this feature gaps are that sort of thing.
And I think that’s sort of future is that the people that need and that really want to differentiate against their competition are going to gravitate towards solutions that are using really unique intelligent capabilities over and above sort of the workflow capabilities that you’d see not only in our space based on the sales engagement space, but in other places in sales and marketing technology.
Billy Yeah, I totally agree with you. Like the tools eventually I think that the technology kind of all levels out at a certain point and everybody just largely becomes the same. But if you have that intelligence built into it, you really have a chance to be different. That’s something we do with our customers is, hey, let’s leverage what we learned for customer A that similar to customer C and have their chat strategy or their bot strategy be similar because they’re selling to the same demographic. And there we can jump start them and and get better results for all of our customers.
Jared Yeah. I would say that there’s sort of a maturity curve that a lot of customers are on and that the industry is on. And at Xant we’ve always had a tendency to be, you know, able to see around the corner and be a little bit ahead of the market. Yeah. And I would just add to your comment that the intelligence isn’t created equal.
No. And so you can have, you know, very, very basic sort of rules based prioritization. Right. You know, I might be Acme Company. And I know that if I focus on these three lead sources in this kind of industry and in this segment, that typically I have a higher win rate, OK, that’s sort of one level of intelligence.
And by the way, that’s good. That’s really good. That’s better than just kind of, you know, spraying and praying, if you will. Another level of intelligence is now beginning to use a machine to not just, you know, prioritize against a handful of different variables.
You know, the thing that’s I always kind of think is interesting is that for as sophisticated as we are as human beings and how intelligent we are as and how and how amazing our brains are, our human brain has a really hard time mult sort of, you know, multi weighting, you know, across a large set of variables.
I sort of think that humans are good at sort of wading across three different variables, and after that, our brains just don’t. We’re just not ready. Our brains aren’t really good at doing that. That’s where a machine can actually kind of dispassionately vary and weight variables across your entire business. Right.
And so that’s kind of where I think A.I. is right now. What? What we sort of think is the future is this concept of C.I or Collective Intelligence. We also refer to it as real intelligence, which is to say that you take real experiences from real people that have gone before you against similar to waves or the Amazon example I gave earlier.
And that’s real intelligence, right from the collective. And you sort of juxtapose that next to artificial intelligence. If I had a choice between something real and something artificial, I’d probably always choose the real thing first. And so I think what you’re going to see is going to see sort of this evolution as people sort of climb the maturity curve of adding intelligence to their to their capabilities.
But again, thinking about, you know, having the tools to beat your competition. My sort of thing that I’ve learned in my advice to our customers is always think about, you know, aligning yourself with folks that are thinking a little bit ahead of the curve because we live in a hyper competitive market.And in order to have those competitive advantages you get, you’ve got to kind of see those trends and jump on those things before your competition goes.
Billy Exactly like I couldn’t agree more, you gotta look at what’s around the corner and leverage all of the data you have and organized in a way that you can actually get those insights and engage with your customers smarter than your competition. So awesome, man. Appreciate you coming on, Jared. And people want to reach out and get a hold of you. Where can they find you?
Jared Yeah, just on LinkedIn. That’s the best place to to hit me. I’m pretty easy to find. I’m the only Jared Hallock, that I know of on LinkedIn.
Billy So. Well, good man. I appreciate it. Thank you. And until next time.
Jared All right. Thanks, Billy.