CMO Insights: Scott Horn, CMO of [24]7.ai

Scott Horn

March 8, 2019

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Scott Horn, CMO of [24]7.ai.

In this video, Scott talks about:

  • Using chat bots to help sales internally
  • Spending more on customer acquisition costs due to the long term value of their customers
  • How AI is revolutionizing transactions

Learn more about Scott from his LinkedIn profile and follow [24]7.ai on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today as our guest, we have Scott Horn, who is Chief Marketing Officer of [24]7.ai. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Horn:

Glad to be here. Great. So what we do is we are a B to B to C company. And what we do is we use a combination of artificial intelligence, data sciences, and the SAS platforms while services to help large enterprises across every vertical industry, automate customer acquisition and customer care. So we’re the leading provider of enterprise chatbots, for example, with hundreds deployed around the world. And unlike a lot of other chatbots, we do conversational, transactional, personalized chatbots that can really handle a lot of complex interactions with consumers.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I’m not sure just how much people realize how much chat has changed and right in the difference between chat and the chat bot and just really enabling all different kinds of conversations and allowing customers to get information. They asked her. Can you describe a little bit kind of like the evolution, I guess, cause we’re, you know, we’re all used to going to a website for the last 15 years and a chat comes up and we know that, but how is this different?

Scott Horn:

Yeah, you bet. So the thing that’s different is first of all, SAS platform makes it possible to have a bunch of data that enables you to look at common industry journeys. So the example I always use is credit cards, everybody, including you, Jeff has several credit card transactions. They run with their company. I lost my card. I need to reset my password. One, dispute a charge. And once you automate those, you know, you understand how to recognize the intent, which is what we do automate those for one, two or three companies. It becomes a lot easier and cheaper and faster to automate it for companies for through whatever.

So the thing we’re seeing is that there’s voice minutes and speech minutes, which we also do IVR systems. And we don’t see it as going down, but what we see is consumers now wanting to work in a variety of channels. So for example, we support channels like mobile apps, web chat, Facebook messenger, Apple business chat, even Alexa and Google assistant for virtual what I call virtual personal assistants. So we see that channel perforation. And what we advise companies to do is if a consumer comes in in a channel, try to help them in that channel, but you also want to introduce them gently to new channels. That might be better for them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. And are you incorporating your own product in your marketing mix and in terms of how you go to market?

Scott Horn:

We are, we don’t really do quite exactly, you know, sales chat, but for example, we use it internally. So one of the things we is, we created a chat bot to help sales and marketing internally. So in our salespeople have question, we call it Yoda because it’s internal. And when salespeople have questions about a product or where do I find this, or I need help on this vertical industry, you know, healthcare or banking, we have a chat bot that we use internally, which we continually update. Cause that is the thing about chatbots, new questions always come up. So we tune that. Yeah. So we’ve been running Voda internally for about two years now, tuned it a number of times, have we tuned it continually cause question new. So it really helps the sales people with whatever they have find product information, find vertical industry information need to get help on a contract or an RFP. We run a lot of that through Yoda, so it’s very, very helpful.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So, you know, you’ve carved out then good, good position in the marketplace. Tell us, what are some of the challenges you face with not just the product, but in going to market?

Scott Horn:

Yeah, the thing that’s interesting about our product is our sales are to enterprise and mid market. So as I mentioned earlier, we serve the largest banks, airlines, hotels, multiple blue cross blue shield, retailers, insurance, pretty much everything, utilities. And because it’s a complex system. So one of the things we do is we integrate with whatever systems our client has. A lot of them wrote their own CRM. They have their own flight reservation, hotel booking systems you know, insurance management financial systems and what we do to make it, the chatbots conversational and transactional is we integrate with all that. So it tends to be a long sale.

It’s a complex sale. You know, our sales are anywhere from six figures of annual contract value up to eight figures. So multiple purchasers involved primarily the customer care customer experience leader, it leader digital, we sell to marketing organizations. And so it’s a long sale. It’s a complex sale. You know, a lot of solution architecting. So we do a lot of things like account based marketing. We do a lot of vertical marketing given our I’ll say customer acquisition costs, longterm value. We’re willing to spend a bit more on customer acquisition costs than a lot of other companies because the longterm value of our customers is just so large.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So I guess given all those integrations, your product is pretty sticky now. I mean, cause once people put it in, there’s not going to want to go back through and, and take it back out.

Scott Horn:

I think that’s true. We also, we continually tune the product. So our focus is always on doing a really good job for our clients. We have clients who have been with us or, you know, over a decade. And one of the things that’s really interesting is with our clients that we have multiple levers to help them optimize further. So for example, there are journeys customer journeys, like the ones I mentioned lost my credit card that we can automate that we might not have automated the beginning. We can turn on features. We can also, even for things we’re automating continually look at how we optimize further as we apply data sciences and professional intelligence to recognize additional intense. So it is sticky. We do we don’t lose a lot of customers. Our customers really like what we do for them and some of the things we do for them, nobody else can do. So. it’s pretty amazing. And we have like over a hundred plus patents around all the technology.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s that’s tremendous. That’s good. That’s that’s awesome. So as you look forward, then what are some of the big changes happening within marketing that you would want to tap into so that you can reach your customers?

Scott Horn:

Yeah, so we’re really starting to scale up our Salesforce. We’ve got a new CRO joined in the last few weeks. We’re scaling up the Salesforce quite a bit, so that’s going to be working. So we’re going to, for example, we’re going to a regional structure. So one of the things we’re excited about in the marketing team is working with our regional sales leaders. We can say to them, okay, who are the top 100, 200 people in your region? You really want to have a relationship. And then what I’ve told the sales leadership is, look, we have a bunch of tools. You know, account based marketing is a broad spectrum from, I want to talk to Jeff at that company too. I want to talk to people like Jeff across multiple companies to, I’m going to just talk to a bunch of people in that industry.

I think we’re going to do a much more targeting. We are scaling up our search engine marketing quite a bit learning a lot there. SEO has been a big, big effort and we’re about to kick display advertising into gear in the next quarter. So you know, a lot more scale up and marketing a lot more focus on getting a broader range of accounts and building relationships. We’re also working on a lot of customer success programs as well. One of the things we find is that, you know, given that our customers tend to be larger organizations, of course the people we talk to regularly know what we do for them, but not everybody does. And we want to make sure that as much of the people in our clients know or doing for them as we can.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you mentioned that you’re going to be ramped or ramping up SEO. A lot of clients that we talk to are starting to become more cognizant of voice driven search being becoming an interactive web. So being on the first page, isn’t good enough anymore. Right? You have to be first because there’s not going to be any more display ads soon. This has got a conversation with Alexa Google. So how does that factor into your strategy when you say that you’re focusing more on getting found, I guess.

Scott Horn:

Yeah. So for us, we continue to look at content marketing. What we’ve realized is we want to have more content sites, pure product content. We need to actually have advisory thing. So for example, one of the things we do that’s been very successful is we do a quarterly educational ebook. So we’ve done, we did an ebook that was purely an educational ebook on chatbots. And then we did a subsequent one that was for procurement organizations because we were starting to see a lot of RFPs and RFAs for chatbots. And what we realized is a lot of the organizations putting them together, really weren’t thinking through, or hadn’t been exposed to, Hey, here’s some considerations, like, is it a simple question to answer bot or is it a conversational bot? How do you handle changes in the environment, new questions? So we’re doing a lot of content marketing and combining that with our SEO strategy.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. I want to circle back to ABM, cause you mentioned it a couple of times. You know, a lot of companies talk about ABM, but a lot of times that means, Hey Johnny, you know, here’s your top 20 accounts. You know, you got a two eight hour number, go get them. Describe more of what you’re doing at your company. Are you truly getting marketing aligned with sales? I mean, does your team get quoted or is it measured on how much revenue you get?

Scott Horn:

Absolutely. Mike’s my top. So my is I’ll start there. My top metric is my team and marketing is signed up to deliver 40% of the sales pipeline by revenue. We delivered 46% last year, which, you know, pretty stunning focused on that. We are very much a revenue driven team. You know, I run a marketing operations review every two weeks where we go through everything on pipeline. I also have our account development team now commonly called STRs or BDRs that are that’s part of marketing, which my point of view is I think it works much better in marketing. With sales, we are really well aligned with sales, particularly with the new leadership. What I’d say is we’re probably into version three or four of ABM. We’ve learned a lot of things. I mentioned four. We are users of Engagio. We’re big fans of that product. 

We use Salesforce and Marketo as well. One of the things we found in ABM is, you know, you can’t wait on the salespeople that tell you what to do in the account. So that’s one thing. So you definitely need an agreement with the sales team about, Hey, you’re going after these accounts. We want to work with you on those. And for us, it’s fairly easy. We’re going after the top 10 airlines to top 10 banks, the top 10 insurers. And it’s where, how far down the list we go. But the thing I found, I’d say in version one, Oh, is that the marketing team kind of was waiting for sales to say, give us the account plan. And I was like, that’s crazy. You know, why can’t you investigate the accounts as much? So we did a lot of training within marketing. The other thing I’d say is that even with our high ACV and our longterm value for customers we found that going to kind of a mix of account based marketing and vertical works much better. 

And what I mean by that is when we deploy a chat bot, say with one airline or one hotel, then what we can do is go to the rest of the hotels in that vertical and say, look, our goal is to show you what we’ve done with one of your competitors. We’re doing amazing things with them. You know, you can go see it live on their website. You know, here’s some of the details about the tens of millions of dollars of revenue profit. We’ve made them, here’s our customer stats going up. We found that was more effective. I think in the next year, given the comments I made earlier about targeting the top 100, 200 people, we’ll probably do more specific things. I’m like, you know, I want to go after Jane the CIO of American airlines, we’ll probably do more things. And we’ve got a lot of tools.

I mean, anything about ABM, it’s fun is you, you really there’s an infinite number of things you can do. The one thing I have said to the marketing team is, you know, this idea that it’s engagement and take your time and you know, if it takes a year now, we don’t do that. You know, our, our goal is with the three O version as we work a number of accounts in parallel, that’s where the vertical focus comes in. We put it on a six month timeframe and we want to see a sales accepted lead, you know, multiple sales accepted leads coming out of that within a six month period or we’re moving on to something else. I mean, we’ll keep neutering them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. I guess, especially with a longer sales cycle, you need to see the movement on the leads, right. To see if what you’re doing is working because that’s going to be indicative of the future state state progress. Right?

Scott Horn:

Yeah. The thing I was gonna say is we always across all customers in our database who are opted in, we have an ongoing set of content nurturing, you know, attend a webinar. Here’s a new ebook. ABM is kind of a layer on top of that. So, you know, I think a lot of people, at least what I’ve observed from talking to CMOs and marketing leaders in the community is, I mean, people tend to look at it as all or nothing. It’s not all or nothing. We’ve always got this. It doesn’t have to be, we’ve always got this nurturing going on continually. And ABM is an additive level on top of that, where we do some extra things. So if we move on from a set of accounts, they’re still getting marketed to, it’s just that we’ve shifted our focus for extra attention somewhere else.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Love it. So finish the sentence a year from now, my team will be

Scott Horn:

A year from now. My team will be actually larger and more, even more focused on selling because we’ll have sold a lot of new customers. And so I think if I think forward a year, sorry, it’s one sentence. I think forward a year. I think we’ll be much more well known in the industry and in other industries because we’ll raise our profile quite a bit.

Jeff Pedowitz:

All right. Very well said. Love what you’re doing over there at [24]7.. Thank you so much for spending the time with us today, Scott.

Scott Horn:

Great. Thanks a lot, Jeff. I really appreciate it.

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