The Future of Sales with Tiffani Bova

The Future of Sales with Tiffani Bova

Tiffani BovaWith technology and innovation zipping along faster than ever – and especially with rapid gains in AI – it feels like we have to confront the question: are we finally reaching the Death of the Salesman? Tiffani Bova of Salesforce is here to weigh in on the great oncoming changes in sales and artificial intelligence that should make business better for all.

Tiffani is a self-described sales futurist and the Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist for She focuses on the intersection of innovation, technology, and people to help companies grow bigger and better serve their customers. Prior to working with Salesforce, she was a VP, Distinguished Analyst, and Research Fellow at Gartner and named a Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencer by Top Sales World Magazine.

Tiffani and I discuss her day-to-day workflow at Salesforce and what it’s like working at the cutting edge of innovation in customer experience and sales. She talks about how technology has permanently changed how customers interact with brands, and the oncoming role of AI in making the lives of both salespeople and customers a more efficient and pleasant experience. We also talk about improving the richness of brands’ interactions with consumers by gathering comprehensive data and continuing to build solid relationships.

Brands are rapidly learning to keep up with shifting customer needs, and sales must do the same – and Tiffani Bova has some great ideas about how you can stay ahead of the curve.

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Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • Why the future of B2C interactions lies in gathering great data.
  • How the new and different ways people interact with technology in their daily lives is bleeding into their business interactions, too.
  • Whether the role of the salesperson is truly in danger of becoming outdated or automated.
  • Why even if you aspire to bring more value to a customer’s business, you need their trust first.
  • How to build the credibility to advise customers to build a stronger relationship.
  • Tiffani’s predictions for the increased role of intelligence, prediction, and data in sales, and how sales with have to change its management and measurement metrics to keep pace.

Key Resources for Tiffani Bova and the Future of Sales:

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to The Brainfluence podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker, and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:    Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast. I’m Roger Dooley.

Our guest this week has one of the coolest titles ever. Tiffani Bova is Salesforce’s Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist. She also calls herself a sales futurist. As we record this, she’s coming up on her one-year anniversary at Salesforce after spending ten years at Gartner Group as a VP, distinguished analyst, and research fellow, covering sales strategies and channel innovation. It’s fair to say that Tiffani knows something about sales and we’re going to explore what the future holds for that profession.

Welcome to the show, Tiffani.

Tiffani Bova:       Well, thanks for having me, Roger. I get more comments about that title. That’s the coolest thing I think people think about me. “Your title’s pretty cool.”

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, well, it gives you a lot of latitude, I guess, in what you do every day. It’s hard to say, “Well, gee, that’s not my job description,” because, boy, between the global grown and innovation and evangelist you’ve got just about everything covered there.

Tiffani Bova:       Pretty much. That was the goal. That was the goal.

Roger Dooley:    Good choice of titles then. Did you negotiate that? Was that the ad that you responded to or was this a product of collaboration?

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. It was a product of collaboration. It was meant to be descriptive enough if you will, but then loose enough to give me some flexibility to go and have really some interesting conversations around the globe.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well, Tiffani, for starters I’m sure that most of our audience has heard of Salesforce and knows something about it, but may not be up to speed on how Salesforce itself has changed in recent years. How would you define Salesforce and its role these days?

Tiffani Bova:       You know, it’s interesting. I used to be a customer of Salesforce many years ago. It had to be 12 years ago I was running a division of Gateway computers, if you remember Gateway computers with the-

Roger Dooley:    I remember Gateway. Yep. Yep. The cow boxes.

Tiffani Bova:       Well, yes, Holstein to stay correct with the brand.

Roger Dooley:    Well, okay. I didn’t… Yes. Okay. Let’s get specific.

Tiffani Bova:       Yes. The Holstein. I can’t tell you how many times-

Roger Dooley:    You wouldn’t want to ship some in Jersey boxes or something.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. Right. I mean, it was like we’d say “The cow pattern” and everyone would go “It’s Holstein.” So, you know, the brand never dies in my brain. We were using Excel spreadsheets, if you will, at the time to manage one, this little group that I was in, which was the indirect channel business. It was right when the stores had closed, so we needed something obviously more powerful and we were starting from scratch. So we just said, “Hey, like why don’t we do something in the cloud?” I had come previously from that from a company called Interland, which was the largest web hosting company in the US. We were the beta client for Eloqua. I was selling via chat. I had created monthly recurring revenue, recurring revenue sales compensation plans. We were early in the days of application service provider or ASP, which in many ways is now infrastructure as a service and a lot of early SAS stuff, so I was comfortable when I got to Gateway saying, “You know, I’m fine using a SAS technology for the small group.”

We actually started using Salesforce at the time and so, having been a user of it and having grown up being a seller who had used Excel spreadsheets, as well using a single version of Act!

Roger Dooley:    Oh, I remember Act! too.

Tiffani Bova:       Yep. And so, I would say that many people think of Salesforce as being just sort of sales force automation, and SFA, and we’ve moved so far past that. I mean, I think that now, today, it’s really around this customer success platform that has everything that is customer-facing, whether it’s service, whether it’s marketing and now, even in commerce with the recent acquisition in around analytics and AI with some recent acquisitions, as well with the product Einstein that we’ve launched. Now it’s really around how do we take all customer-touch information, everything that’s happening with the customer, and present it in a way that anyone who needs to know information or engage with a customer is really empowered to do so. I’d say now, people still try to say it’s a CRM company or it’s just SFA and I think they miss out on all the things that we’re capable of doing today.

Roger Dooley:    Interesting. What’s your daily job look like now, Tiffani? What areas of the business are you touching?

Tiffani Bova:       A lot of it is similar to what I was doing at Gartner, but I would say this, I’d say my number one goal is helping our customers be more successful, leveraging our technology as well, just in the transformation of their selling organizations or customer-facing, customer experience, customer success and marketing groups.

The customer has changed so much, the buyer journey has changed so much that keeping pace with those things has been difficult. I try to bring a third-party view, if you will, into the conversation around “Look, I’m talking to lots of large and small selling organizations around the globe and here’s some best practices I’ve learned along the way. And how can I share those with you to help you be more successful in the way in which you go to market or in the way in which you use technology to engage with your customers both in the journey, as well as in the sale and the post-sale, all the way through the lifecycle of the customer?”

I spend my time watching and listening and talking to customers and the market about where the future of selling really will land two to three years from now.

Roger Dooley:    Tiffani, one of my first jobs after I finished college was in field sales for a capital equipment company and then, later on, I managed a large industrial product line where we had a national sales force. In those days, the role of a salesperson was pretty constant. The salesperson prospected for new customers, sometimes even knocking on doors for almost literally making cold calls either by phone or in person, carried a lot of product information around to give to customers, then worked with existing customers to tell them about new products. Then probably a fair amount of order expediting, smoothing out those often rocky relationships between when the order’s placed and when it gets to where it’s going. Then, of course, the schmoozing process of taking customers to lunch or dinner or drinks or whatever to cement the relationship.

In looking back at that time, that probably wasn’t really incredibly efficient use of the time of some fairly skilled people, but looking at today, without getting into the future of sales yet, but how do you think that’s changed in 2017?

Tiffani Bova:       It’s a great question. This is one that I get all the time. I think that I like to land on three things. One, the technology is very different than it was five years ago, but for sure 10 or 15 years ago. With that, I mean, the obvious the cloud, mobile, social, big data, and now you have IOT and lots of things that are happening around SMART and analytics and intelligence, so the technology is very different because of that the buyer is different. When I say the buyer is different I don’t just mean the human aspect of it where it could have been if you were selling technology, as an example, you may have only sold to the Chief Information Officer or the IT manager or the database administrator. You sold into the tech buyer or procurement. Now, that buyer tends to be teams. It might be the business unit. It could be sales, could be marketing, could be finance, HR, customer service where you have Bus actually acquiring technology.

So, customer changing could be the role and then customer changing teams, individual to team, and then customer changing now gets a little crazy. It could be a thing. Could be things selling to things, meaning in a supply chain if you’re on a manufacturing floor and it knows that when it gets down to 50 widgets that the machine knows it has another order for 300 pieces that they need to produce, so they need more widgets and the thing automatically goes out and orders. Now you have “things” being customers.

The customer changing has been significant and when you put technology and customer together the natural result of that is that journey that they take changes. Going back to what you said about how you sort of walked a customer through and you would share information and show a demo and give a case study, we really as sellers control the information exchange between us and a prospect or us and a customer. Remember sharing references? It was like a closely guarded secret. “I’m going to give you this reference,” and you’d have to call and prepare them and now, that information exchange, the power has shifted where the prospect or customer has far more control over the journey in which they take. When they reach out, how they get information, engaging with peers. They know potentially who your customers are and they’re already talking to them before they reach out to you. That switch of power has really changed the dynamic in the selling process, whether you’re buying a car, a refrigerator, a PC, you know, like Gateway, where you’re buying software or cloud services or a cell phone, whatever it might be.

The last piece I’d say on that is we are all consumers in our day to day life and we have a very different experience with technology than we had just 5 or 10 years ago and we bring that now into our business life. The way in which we consume technology, whether it’s to buy groceries or order a car or buy an airline ticket or book a hotel room or find out what restaurant to eat at, we want that same kind of experience in our business life. The challenge we have is if technology’s different, the buyer’s different, that consumer behavior’s bleeding into the business world. Unfortunately, we have in 2017 in many ways we remain selling the same way we always have. We tend to behave like as sellers we still have that control and we don’t. They’re much further down the journey and so we have to think differently about how we respond and guide our customers and prospects through that journey differently than we have in the past.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. That makes sense, Tiffani. I think that in previous days, often it was, I wouldn’t say the blind leading the blind, but if you had a company buying a product and then a salesperson who was there to sell it, perhaps dealing with a broad product line, neither one had a high level of knowledge of that particular product, so there might have been some interfacing with people with more product expertise back in headquarters and so on. But now, as you say, a lot of that research can be done or the buyer can zero in on all the information that’s out there and have probably more detailed knowledge of the specifications of the product and its capabilities than the salesperson does.

What does that mean for the role of the salesperson? Is the salesperson an endangered species? Are we finally seeing Arthur Miller’s prediction of the death of the salesman come true or what should that salesperson be focused on today?

Tiffani Bova:       I would say I don’t think that it will be the death of a salesman. I think there’s a couple of things that happen. Going back to what you said, it probably wasn’t the best use of my time. You said that, right? That wasn’t mostly effective … So, a lot of the things that may have been inefficient time-wise, back then they were efficient because you had no other way to do it. You just had to do what you did. Today, if you’re still doing it that way with the advancement of technology, whether it’s Salesforce or others, a lot of that can be automated. I don’t mean replace, but I mean automating some of those tasks like sending out an email or reminding you of a meeting or sharing content or socially connecting. There’s lots of things you can do in an automated fashion, especially if you start using some of the predictive and analytics capabilities that CRM tools and others have today.

Some of that day to day sort of checklist items that we used to do as sellers, if we can offload that in an automated fashion that still keeps it fairly personal, you don’t want it to get cold and impersonal and it’s like you know, Dear and it says X-X-X. Right, it doesn’t say “Dear Tiffani” or “Dear Roger”. You want it to remain personal. But if we can offload some of that it can free up time for the seller to now be much more engaged in sharing thought leadership, adding value to the business, and ensuring that the customer’s getting everything they expect out of whatever it is that they’ve purchased. In the technology world, it’s making sure that they’re leveraging everything they have at their disposal and we’re not worried about those little day to day things that may have taken up a lot of our time.

With each interaction are we adding value? Are we sharing competitive information? Are we really partnering with them for success? Are we looking to make sure that they’re getting everything out of what they’ve already purchased?

I think that it is never the death of a salesman, it’s that the role shifts to much more thought leadership, value add, and then how can we take some of those more mundane tasks and automate them in a way that still remains personalized?

Roger Dooley:    You mentioned thought leadership, Tiffani, and not long ago I had John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing on and he wrote a book about sales and he talked about that too, that the salesperson today, he felt, had to if not become a total thought leader in the space, I mean clearly you can’t have a million thought leaders, but needed to move in that direction, have their own personal brand, their identity, associate themselves with that product knowledge and expertise and so on, to be able to interface with the customer as well. I take it you’re a believer in that philosophy too.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. I am, but I’m going to put a big asterisk next to that and a big but. So here’s what I’d say. Even as salespeople, that if we aspire to add more value and sort of really bring a lot of quote/unquote thought leadership conversations to the table, it doesn’t necessarily mean number one, that the customer gives us permission to have those kinds of conversations with them. Even though we aspire as sellers to do those things, it doesn’t mean that the customer goes “Great. Fine. I trust you and I’m going to listen to you” there. They may get it somewhere else. Just because we want to do it doesn’t mean they’re willing and able to receive it.

What that means from a sales perspective is I don’t need them to be a sales futurist. We don’t need, as you said, a thousand of them running around, but what you do need to have is do I know what’s going on in the industry they’re playing on or playing in, that customer I’m selling to. Do I know what’s going on from a regulation standpoint? Am I educated in what it is that I’m doing, whether it’s industry segment, market, trends, so that when I’m sitting in front of the customer I can say, “Hey, you know, it was really interesting. I was just reading this article the other day and I thought you’d find it interesting as well, so I’m going to forward it to you.” It could be sharing content.

So when I say thought leadership it could be sharing valuable content that has nothing to do with selling them more things. It’s valuable content that they’re reading that they want to share. It could be putting them together with other customers that they may find valuable. It really is around relationship building that’s a value add with every touch they have with the customer they’re adding value. They don’t just touch the customer to check a box in the CRM system.

Thought leadership doesn’t necessarily need to be that they’re doing TED Talks. It just means that they’re adding value beyond trying to sell them something. Adding that value, like I said, has to be given permission by the customer and that takes time. As sellers, we have to invest in our own education and our own skillset beyond the act of selling to make sure that we stay up on the latest in whatever industry we’re in. We have to become a student of our own profession. The more you do that, the more willing the customers are going to be to positively receive, if you will, the information you want to share with them.

Roger Dooley:    I recall a few years ago I was friends with the owners of a huge tire and wheel selling company and what they did with their sales people was really interesting. These were basically all telephone sales reps that interfaced with customers all around the country and all around the world to some degree and often they were selling very expensive combinations of high-performing wheels and tires to people with very expensive cars. What they did was had monthly meetings where they got everybody together, everybody was encouraged to stay up on all the industry magazines, all the magazines that covered the newest models in performance cars and what not, so that when those customers called in, they would not just know about the product and say, “Oh yes, this is definitely the right size for your vehicle,” but they could talk about the newest model of Alfa Romeo that was coming down the pike that was just at the Chicago Auto Show or whatever. This established them as true product area experts and they were extremely successful because of that. They did a few things to encourage that kind of learning, even little quizzes and prizes and things.

To me, this was less about them knowing the products and more about them becoming topical experts that could speak to the customer in their own language. That really seemed to work for them.

Tiffani Bova:       That’s a great example. That’s exactly what I mean, but that doesn’t happen overnight. If they know you as their tire salesman and that’s what they go “Every time I see Bob he’s trying to sell me something.” It’s going to take you awhile because that may be the way that you used to do things and now they’re encouraging you to go to the auto shows and read up the magazines and be able to talk more broadly than just about “I’m here to sell you tires.” You may take them to lunch and you’re not talking and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, I don’t have any time,” because they think you’re going to just sell to them. You’ve got to get them to give you that 10 or 15 minutes where you sit down and go, “You know, I just wanted to tell you I was at this auto show and I so want to share this information.” They sit back and they go, “Oh, boy, that’s not what I expected. That was really pleasant. Like I learned something. It was very valuable.”

So the next time you call, they might give you a little more time and a little more time and all of a sudden it’s slowly shifting away from “Bob’s the guy who always sells me tires” to “He’s just a guy I get tires from, but all the information that I need to know about my car or my shop or my wife’s car or whatever it might be, he’s my guy. When I have a broader question, like I’m about to buy a new car and I wanted to ask him his opinion, I may call him and ask him an opinion that’s nothing to do with tires because I trust his advice. I feel like his advice is not just about selling me something.” That’s what I think.

Roger Dooley:    Right. You bring up taking the customer out to lunch and certainly historically schmoozing has been a key part of the in-person sales relationship whether it’s going out to lunch or dinner, drinks, or a football game or whatever. With the change in the sales function, do you see that as becoming marginalized or becoming more important? What do you think?

Tiffani Bova:       I just did this interview and it’s Women in History Month, so I think the 8th is the day that everybody sort of celebrates it, and so they interviewed me for sort of women in sales. I was joking and said I actually never played golf when I was selling. That was sort of a place that lots of deals happened. I just didn’t play golf while I was selling. It wasn’t a place I did deals, but lots of people did. I would do lunch or I would do dinner, but I go back to what we were just talking about in building the relationship is really important. I think that’s something that is not going to be replaced by bots or by technology or by automation.

If people want a relationship with a brand, the problem is that we may not always be able to put people against it. It’s expensive. What are the things that we can do to make sure that the relationship stays tight if we can’t always have a human against it? What is it? Is it that you do a monthly newsletter that’s personalized out to those people so they feel like “I’m getting value from them even though I don’t see them maybe as frequently”? Or if you’re an inside salesperson and you don’t really ever meet face to face or you start using video in new ways to establish the relationship. I think it’s still very important and I think people still buy from people, but I think the combination of intelligence and technology and people is where the power really happens. If you’re willing to use both in those new and innovative ways and think lots of really great things can happen.

Roger Dooley:    We talked about supply chain automation where now the orders are pretty much a couple of computers talking to each other and that really eliminates what used to be sort of an important sales function of taking orders and making sure they were entered properly and then expediting them because now that’s all automated. At the consumer level, you’ve got stuff like the Dash button from Amazon where you need a product you just push a button in your cupboard and it’ll show up the next day. How significant is this going to be, do you think? Are we getting to the point where pretty soon we’ll have not just these sort of fairly simple machine/machine interactions like a computer refilling stock after it’s empty, but more complicated purchasing processes where we have AI talking to AI where I tell my personal assistant that is an Alexa 5.0 or something, “Gee, I need to buy some of this” and she figures that out by negotiating with somebody else’s AI? How far away are we from that?

Tiffani Bova:       I think that’s what will happen. From a timing perspective, much of it now is that it’s so early. We still have to teach a lot of … AI will learn from doing and learn from us, so that takes time. You used Alexa as an example. Alexa still hasn’t figured out everything. It takes her time to learn. She doesn’t know how to do all the commands. It really is like teaching them. Today, you can do something with Alexa with Salesforce. “Hey, Alexa, what calls do I have today? Hey, can you remind me to call John Smith about this?” and they’ll add it into the Salesforce record.

Could it be that it comes the other way out and says, “Hey, Tiffani, you know what, I was just looking through your last 90 days and these three people you haven’t touched and based on this algorithm or these rules or these parameters you gave me, I think you should call them.” That sort of proactive and being much more predictive in the AI capability, that’s definitely where I think it’s going. That goes back to, I think, the seller who is going to be the winner going forward is one who leverages all the technology that’s available to them today and not be afraid of it, that it’s going to replace them, but how does it augment what they do to make them better versus the guy who says, “Nope, I’m always going to do it the same way. I’m not going to use the technology. I’m going to use it for its most basic feature and functionality like calendaring and contacts and pipeline and forecast management. I’m not going to use it for anything else.”

The more intelligent seller who uses all the technology and then starts to think about “How do I position myself where I can cover more customers more smartly than I could otherwise?” I think for sellers they shouldn’t worry about their competition brand wise. They should worry about people within their own sales force that they compete against or their competitor’s sales force that are actually going to empower themselves with the analytics, predictive, big data, machine learning, journey mapping, social listening, all the things at their disposal today, that’s going to make a really competitive seller going forward.

Roger Dooley:    I guess, from what you’re saying, it’s sort of filling the role of part of the sales team where what I’ve seen is an evolution from the lone salesperson out there who’s doing everything from typing up proposals to entering orders and expediting orders and so on, to a much more team-based approach where you’re using the salesperson for those key customer contacts, but then have other people filling roles in expediting, in order processing, in marketing and so on. It seems possible that AI’s going to fill some of those roles, perhaps still leaving the key customer contact point often for the human salesperson because ultimately we still, I think, have a role for humans in business to business connections, but making that more efficient and, as you say, even being a sort of efficient assistant in the same way that we think of salesperson from 20 years ago who had an amazingly good secretary, an amazingly good assistant, that made him or her that much more effective. That may be partly AI in the future.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. You nailed it. I would say that people still buy from people in the B2B and B2C world. It isn’t reserved for one or the other, but I do think if you look at account-based marketing, sales development reps, a lot of the segmentation that’s going on in trying to take humans to say, look, we’re going to have sales development reps develop an account before it hands off to a field seller or to a seller. Is there some of that sales development that can happen in an automated fashion? And then the sales development rep gets much more focused on a handful of accounts versus calling through hundreds. And so could you make SDRs more effective?

And then account-based marketing. Account-based marketing in an outbound way, could the analytics and intelligence become more predictive around which accounts you should be reaching out to and nurturing so that ABM even becomes more effective?

Today, if you think about that, sales development rep, account-based marketing and let’s just say an AE, right, a field AE, already we’ve split it three ways in trying to make the AE more efficient and effective by getting sales qualified leads from another human that passes it to them or account-based marketing same thing or driving inbound leads. Once again, using the technology underneath those three roles, if you just pick those three, could I get sales development reps to qualify twice as many people in a day because of the technology? Could account-based marketing become far more predictive and credible in which accounts they call out to and efficient and effective in that way so that they actually double the accounts that they touch on a daily basis? So the AE now is not only getting more leads, but more qualified with a lot more data intelligence around it.

So the seller when they reach out to the customer they go, “I know you’ve done these three things. I know we’ve told you these two things. I know you used to be a customer of ours,” and the conversation is really rich versus the sales rep calling out on some warm lead that was handed to them by marketing and they sit in front of the customer and they go “So, let me tell you all about my business, my company, my product” and they lean back in their chair and the customer goes “I’ve been a customer of yours for two years. I’m in a new job. How do you not know that about me?”

Roger Dooley:    Let me change gears here a little bit, Tiffani. Particularly since you are in the sort of forward-looking part of Salesforce, is Salesforce devoting any thought to non-conscious techniques or topics? In sales and marketing, we’re seeing increasing use of tools like neuromarketing, behavior science. We talk about nudge units for government, and so on. It seems like there’d be some kind of a fit there with what Salesforce does. What’s going on in that area, if anything?

Tiffani Bova:       I would say this, I’d say we launched a new product, Einstein, it was one of the most significant things we’ve ever done and we think AI is going to be the next wave in computing. Einstein, for us, empowers everyone with intelligence. It really democratizes it across the platform and gives sales reps predictive lead scoring and enables reps to focus on closing the best leads. It alerts reps when a deal is trending up or down. It just helps them be much more productive.

Now, if you then say, are there things that it can do beyond that where intelligence starts to look at sentiment and things like that, I think those are all to be determined. I’d keep an eye out on what we do around Einstein.

Roger Dooley:    Okay. Very interesting. Maybe Einstein will arm wrestle Watson one of these days.

I’ve read a few of your blog posts, Tiffani, and you talk about customer experience. I know that’s been a topic of importance to a lot of my guests, here, but Salesforce it was not the sort of first firm that would come to mind as being a customer experience expert. How do you see customer experience evolving and how does Salesforce fit into that?

Tiffani Bova:       I’d say Sales, well, I know, I wouldn’t say I’d say, I know Salesforce is all about customer success. Full stop. It’s really all about how our customers experience our technology, but more importantly, how they can use our technology to be more successful in doing whatever it is that they do. Selling more of their product, servicing their customers better, engaging with it could be non-profits, it could be hospitals and patients. So, all in, it is all about customer success.

When you think about customer experience, I was just at this conference this week, it was a customer success conference, and it was trying to split the hair between what’s customer success and customer experience. You could say, well, the problem is the experience someone has with a brand could be how they feel. If experience is the sum of every single touch point, ultimately you want them to have a good experience with your brand whether it’s a human or whether it’s a thing or a bot, whatever their touch point is, so it drives more loyalty so they buy more from you. More importantly, they advocate on your behalf. So, they’re talking out to market about your products and services.

I think when you talk about customer experience being the new battleground, it really is making sure that companies are smart in the way they engage and they touch their clients. Going back to all the examples we’ve had, a sales rep sitting in front of a customer and being more informed gives that customer on the other side of the table a better experience with that brand. Then when they buy something and they call support, they want support to know who they are too. You know what I’m saying? Experiences is definitely something that has bubbled up, whether you look at a McKinsey study or Accenture or Gartner or anybody, at the C-level customer experience and customer success is in the top one, two, three as what they’re focused on this year and where they’re really doubling down on their investments in technology.

Roger Dooley:    That makes so much sense. I know that I’ve occasionally interfaced with large companies and get transferred from one department to another as the first one realizes they can’t solve my problem and with every person, it’s like I’m starting fresh. It’s like, “Who are you? We have to verify that and what was your favorite movie?” It’s like, “Seriously? I’ve told the last three people what my favorite movie was. Can we get beyond that?”

Tiffani Bova:       But right now, every company in the world across every industry is looking to transform how they connect with their customers and their employees and their partners and their patients, students, etc. It’s a massive CRM opportunity because that customer relationship, management, and perhaps the largest opportunity in the software industry because if you look at where everyone’s investing and you say, well, AI for AI’s sake or is it to help us make better decisions when it comes to engaging with humans? That’s an experience.

Ultimately, it’s the success of a doctor helping a patient feel better or a sales rep buying the right car or to your tire example. The person who’s buying those tires, getting the right tires for their particular car, for their particular driving patterns and history, etc. If you know more about the customer, you just can provide really, really rich engagement and experience for them.

Roger Dooley:    For sure. Let me ask you just one last question her and we’ll wrap up, Tiffani. Do you have any predictions for the future of sales, no matter how wild or crazy, that you haven’t shared with us?

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. I think we got a bunch of them, but I would say this. I would say, ultimately, I think that the future of sales is going to be one that is much more context driven, data driven, intelligence driven, and predictive driven all across this analytics with all of this customer data. You may say, well, yes, we’ve been saying this for some time. I don’t disagree that that is a true statement. What’s different is where I started this, which is the technology’s very different, people are so much more comfortable with things that they’re doing on their smartphone they never would have dreamed of doing. The largest computer we have today is really our automobile. You can do so much in your automobile today. You can drive through a drive-through and pay for something with your car.

It’s really pushing the envelope of how comfortable people are with technology. As consumers and buyers and as humans we become more comfortable all the things we’ve been talking about around CRM and intelligence and predictive starts to become more and more of a reality. For me the future becomes this connecting point between a lot of automation and analytics and intelligence and bots and robots and machine learning with humans all focused on customer experience and customer success, driven by innovation in the marketplace. I just think the pace of innovation is going to continue to increase and now your products just can be good enough, you really have to wrap that with really fantastic experiences.

Future sales for me would be much more intelligence, data drive, but more importantly, the ways in which sales is measured and managed has to keep pace. So you’re going to have much more metrics around things like customer success and customer experience for the sales forces themselves. Then on the other side, the buyers are going to become much more comfortable, as you said, consuming from bots or machines even if they don’t know it. I mean, a lot of people will do support today via bots and the human on the other end doesn’t know that it’s actually engaging with a machine.

Roger Dooley:    I’ve certainly had some human experiences where I would have preferred to deal with a bot too.

Tiffani Bova:       I guess that’s both ways.

Roger Dooley:    Definitely.

I want to remind everyone that we’re speaking with Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Grown and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce.

Tiffani, how can our listeners find you online?

Tiffani Bova:       They can find me on Twitter. I’m pretty active. It’s @Tiffani. T-I-F-F-A-N-I underscore Bova for Twitter. You can connect with me LinkedIn. I often blog at Huff Post in HBR. Doing some work with Wharton right now, as well, on their Customer Centricity. I’m trying to put out as much content as I can and engage with as many people as I can, so I can learn what’s happening in the market and provide some value as we did today on this great podcast with Roger.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well, we will link to those places and any other resources we mention in the course of our conversation on the show notes page at

Tiffani, thanks so much for being on the show.

Tiffani Bova:       Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Brainfluence podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


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