Gong: Conversation Intelligence Platform Sales Leaders Rave About

Named one of America’s most promising AI companies by Forbes, Gong, a real-time conversation intelligence company is revolutionizing the world one conversation at a time.

Gong’s software captures sales conversations across phone, email, and web conferences and uses AI and machine learning technology to analyze the data. The software then presents the sales team with critical insights that help salespeople improve their sales performance. In essence, Gong’s software helps the company generate more revenue by having better sales conversations. The company raised $200 million in 2020, bringing the company’s valuation to $2.2 billion.

Value creation

Gong’s software provides real-time insights to salespeople so that they can have better sales conversations. Some of the key insights provided by the software are highlighted below

  • Talk ratio: The percentage of the call during which the salesperson spoke versus listen.
  • Longest monologue: Duration of the longest speech made by the salesperson.
  • Longest customer’s story: Duration of the longest customer-talking segment.
  • Interactivity: Score between 0-10 that shows how often the conversation switched back and forth from salesperson to customers.
  • Patience: Average duration the salesperson waited after the customer completed talking before the salesperson started talking again.

Using these insights, Gong’s clients can leverage in-depth analyses and provide tailored and automatic coaching to its salespeople. Looking at these data, sales managers can now effectively coach underperforming salespeople to replicate what top performers do. By understanding the exact behavior underlying successful sales conversations, Gong’s clients can now turn underperforming salespeople into all-stars.

In addition to this, Gong’s software helps speed up the onboarding time of new salespeople as it allows the company to train new hires faster and help them have successful conversations right from the get-go.

The Technology

Gong uses natural language processing (NLP) technology to transcribe and analyze sales conversations. Gong claims that its software goes beyond the traditional supervised machine learning algorithm. The company was awarded a U.S. patent for its technology that uniquely understands topics in conversations.

Value capture

Gong sells its software to companies of all sizes. Its customers include companies like Linkedin, Zillow, Shopify, and Hubspot. Gong charges subscription fees based on the size of the company’s sales team.

Over the years, Gong has done well in the United States with more than 1,000 customers, quickly gaining its dominance in the Conversation Intelligence market. In 2020, the company received the highest number of reviews (1273), satisfaction score (92), and market presence score (96) as reported by G2. It has overtaken previously established Conversation Intelligence players such as Chorus.ai, ExecVision, Call Rail, and SalesLoft.

Opportunities and Challenges

With proven success in the United States, Gong now set its sights on global expansion. While there is strong demand from international markets with companies across the world expressing their interest in leveraging the conversational insights offered by Gong’s software, international expansion presents several barriers.

  • Language: Developing Gong’s software in new languages would almost be like developing a new product from scratch as Gong is required to build a new database to run its NLP algorithm. Several languages such as Chinese proved to be more difficult than others given the language’s complexity.
  • Cultural nuances: Given the difference in culture, Gong will need to find ways to capture the unique nuances in conversations for the selected country. For example, westerners may value extended greetings such as small talk but in other parts of the world, the same might not be true. That is, what is considered to be good sales practices in a particular country might not be true for other countries.  
  • Cost and coordination: Setting up local offices and hiring local talents may prove to be expensive and difficult for Gong. In addition, global expansion makes it more difficult to keep the overall organization aligned. As products are being updated, it is important that customers across geographies remained up-to-date to ensure that they are receiving consistent experiences.

Recommendation

Despite the challenges that loom ahead, global expansion presents a tremendous opportunity for Gong. To expand successfully, Gong can consider employing the following strategies.

  • Prioritize countries strategically: Gong can overcome the first two barriers, at least initially, by prioritizing its expansion into countries that use English as their primary language (e.g. Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.) Expanding to these countries first meant that minimal effort will be required on the back-end to conduct product adjustment. The company can then further prioritize the list by focusing on countries that are similar to the United States culturally.
  • Adopt a new organizational structure: To minimize cost and maximize coordination, Gong should adopt a new organizational structure. Particularly, I would advocate adopting a Matrix organizational structure with Country heads and Product heads. Country heads can lead a unified country strategy and Product heads can ensure that products stayed updated with the latest features.

Conclusion

Through my direct exposure to Gong’s software, I was blown away by what Gong’s software is capable of. The transcripts were accurate and the insights provided were tremendously valuable. As Gong’s software continues to learn from larger data collected enabled through a larger number of customers, it is evident that the software will become even more sophisticated. I believe that Gong will be able to expand successfully into international markets and become the world leading’s conversation intelligence company.

 

Endnotes:

“Sales Software Startup Gong Reaches $2.2 Billion Valuation After Seeing Revenue Triple During The Pandemic,” Forbes, Aug 12, 2020

“Gong raises $200 Million to surface sales insights with AI,” Venturebeat, Aug 12, 2020

“Gong, AI for sales teams, raises $200 million at $2.2 billion valuation,” Reuters, Aug 12, 2020

“Gong Named One of America’s Most Promising AI Companies by Forbes,” Prnewswire, Jul 07, 2020

“Gong, an AI-based language tool to help sales and customer service reps, nabs $20M,” TechCrunch, Jul 12, 2017

Previous:

Stylumia: Bringing Science to the Art of Fashion

Next:

Drishti: AI-powered Human Production against the Machines

5 thoughts on “Gong: Conversation Intelligence Platform Sales Leaders Rave About

  1. Gong’s value proposition seems like a really powerful coaching tool. What would be really interesting to understand is how their algorithm could link into broader CRM tools to not only provide generalized coaching for salespeople, but sales lead specific tactics (e.g., this customer segments responds better to x vs. y tactics). It seems like a really interesting partnership opportunity with a company like Salesforce or Hubspot, especially given those CRM companies may have incentive to compete with them eventually if they are not invested in some kind of co-development.

  2. Gong provides immediate feedback to Sale’s people which is of incalculable benefit. Usually sales teams have a few superstars, ut its difficult to capture and share that secret sauce. Yet, Gong has created a product which has finally allowed this to happen, democratizing the knowledge required for salespeople to optimize their results. I do agree that the primary challenges with the product lie with the linguistic and cultural nuance. I wonder whether this challenge will be tackled by entering new markets? Where does the data that trains the ML come from? Existing customers or previous R&D?

  3. Hi Max. I wrote on a similar sales rep tool called Cogito, which (unlike Gong) provides real-time / in-call conversation analysis and alerts. With both of these products, I wonder if the end-state is limited human involvement, where the machine (in full control 99% of time) is interrupted by humans (to address “outside” cases) versus the other way around…

  4. Super interesting blog post. I’ve recently noticed stronger voice recognition software in customer service calls with robots, but this is the first I am learning about how AI can enhance conversations with a real customer service agent. So many US companies outsource their customer service hubs so this kind of reporting system could be hugely beneficial for companies seeking performance metrics. Do salespeople get any kind of reward for top performance or punishment for poor performance? Is there any incentive for them to pay attention to these ‘report cards’?

  5. I have used gong for my sales class and it is truly magical. I am curious to know if maybe the scaling move should be less about other languages and more about new use cases such as presentation prep or interviewing.

Leave a comment