M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Matt Coughlin Founder & CEO, XSELL Technologies

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Matt is a leader with a contagious passion for great customer engagement, and the economic and business impacts created when customers are engaged in exactly the right way.

Prior to founding XSELL, Matt worked with many quintessential brands including Disney, Apple, Carnival, AT&T, GE, Walgreens helping them to bring their customer experience to life.

His experience in these environments led to his observation of a power law in sales; regardless of the brand, wherein top performing agents were not marginally better than their peers – they were multiples better and they delivered disproportionately successful results.

This observation drove Matt’s curiosity around the ability to scale the actions, tactics, and strategies of top performers to an entire enterprise.

Matt founded XSELL Technologies on the premise that this was not only possible, but when done exceedingly well it would radically transform the digital customer experience.

Matt has since grown XSELL to deliver on this premise, leading XSELL’s clients to experience transformative business results.

 

M.R.: Rangaswami: XSELL is based in Chicago (not Silicon Valley or New York) – what advantages have you seen in being in Chicago?

Matt Coughlin: Chicago provides an extraordinary opportunity for work-life balance that is hard to achieve in other areas of the country.  It includes a vibrant and beautiful lakefront which is largely accessible to all of its citizens.

A food, restaurant and nightlife scene that people travel the globe to experience – and you only need to be in Chicago one summer to know how truly extraordinary the sports, festivals, museums and music scenes are. Paired with that is a livability aspect that makes Chicago’s affordable neighborhoods a great place to live and raise a family.

 When you combine all of that along with the proximity to very prestigious universities, such as the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, and Purdue University, you have a very compelling opportunity to attract and retain wildly talented candidates that selected Chicago as their home for four years and often want to make it their permanent home. 
 
Make no mistake – many of the best success stories written in the Silicon Valley were authored by people that came from these institutions and the Midwest. Recently, we have seen that we are keeping that talent engaged in Chicago because of the incredible qualities of the city and robust business success in bold startups, particularly in B2B tech.

M.R.: You are a “sales scientist” – what does that mean?

Matt: Having built several large sales teams for leading brands, it has been my experience that the very best salespeople are themselves an algorithm or a series of algorithms. People often believe the winning qualities of top-performing salespeople to be that they are “smooth talkers” or slick.

In my experience, the best salespeople in the industry are learning machines that listen intently to their customers, digest what they have heard and apply the best dialogue strategy to the environment in which they are selling – both in the moment it matters and in the broader sales ecosystem of their company.

This takes into account cues the customer provides, both overt and subtle, to hone exactly the right dialogue to build trust and influence with the customer – and ultimately meet their needs. A sales scientist is continually running A-B tests and assessing exactly what the most effective action, tactic or strategy for each unique situation is, and adding that to their repertoire of capabilities.

This learning loop exists in every interaction between salespeople and customers; we have leveraged artificial intelligence to learn this information and make it available to all sales representatives at the moment it matters most, in real-time.

 

M.R.: What has changed about sales during COVID?  What changes should our readers make?

Matt: I think many of the changes that occurred during COVID were already underway in the world of tech sales, but those changes were moving relatively slowly.  What I mean by that is that many of us were using applications like video conferencing for internal meetings with peers, but we were not prolifically using them to engage with our customers and build better stronger relationships.

COVID forced both the customer and individual businesses to be receptive to these new capabilities, which opened the door to hyper adoption. Both the customer and individual businesses have now built these digital-first instincts into full-scale capabilities that are the new normal.

I believe we will see significant disruption to many of the current and previous selling models that will be permanent cultural changes to the way sales transactions and relationships progress. We will see innovation at scale in which sales representatives are able to build something incredible rapport and trust with customers via telephony chat and video conferencing, transforming the method and speed with which strong bonds can be formed between companies and their customers.

Given the rapid speed and scale of adoption of such methods of engagement, we all need to be prepared for increasingly high expectations from our customers as they now have evidence that it is possible to experience human expertise and engagement in a fully virtual world – we all need to be prepared to continue to surprise, delight and deliver on that model at scale.

 

M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com 

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