The AI-Powered Sales Rep

Cogito is a powerful, AI-based coaching tool for the enterprise sales organization.

Overview:

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Cogito is a powerful, AI-based coaching tool for the enterprise sales organization. The Company’s platform conducts real-time / in-call voice analysis with the goal of improving customer service interactions DURING a conversation, leaving little room for customers to leave a call annoyed or dissatisfied. In order to achieve this, Cogito pushes “intuitive” alerts to agents while they are on calls to promote immediate awareness of their speaking patterns and their customer’s engagement / receptivity. Furthermore, the voice analysis of these calls are then packaged as recommendations in Cogito-powered phone etiquette training programs, “with guidance on how to speak with more empathy, confidence, professionalism and efficiency, while [noticing] early signs of customer frustration and intent to purchase.”

History:

Cogito’s history began with years of human behavior research at MIT’s Media and Human Dynamics Labs, whose academics “proved the presence and power of social signals in human communication, and the ability of machines to detect and interpret them.” Originally funded by DARPA, Cogito then validated the MIT Labs’ conclusions with more than a hundred million phone conversations compiled over nearly a decade. By 2007, the Cogito platform was ready to go to market, and the AI-centered platform has only improved with further R&D.

Where’s the AI?

Cogito’s AI coaching system augments the emotional intelligence of sales representatives by measuring how well a conversation is going while it’s happening, leveraging a “combination of rich human behavior insights with real-time streaming natural language processing, unique to Cogito. [This allows Cogito] to combine the best of both worlds for a truer understanding of employee behavior and customer sentiment in real-time.” As a software platform, the Company enables sales organizations to generate more business by having better customer service interactions.

Opportunities:

While Cogito is very strong in the area of real-time conversation analysis and coaching, one competitor, Gong, captures customer interactions across multiple sales channels. “Gong integrates various sales tools, prospect meetings, and emails, and brings them together for analysis,” illuminating “the full picture of communication with a customer across all possible channels of communication.” Notably, Gong does NOT provide real-time conversation analysis and alerts, however, their ability to provide a holistic analysis across multiple sales modalities could be an attractive expansion opportunity for Cogito.

A separate area Cogito might focus efforts is on video calling analysis, particularly in the context of the increase in video conferencing following Covid-19 (likely to sustain). Although it is certainly more difficult to capture non-verbal cues and sentiment from a technology perspective, any success here could elevate / differentiate Cogito’s product meaningfully.

Challenges:

Some roadblocks Cogito faces with potential clients are related to the data security of phone recordings as well as concerns about acceptance by salespeople, who might be reticent to be recorded (i.e., fear of big brother always watching). Additional challenges include cultural nuances and language barriers, which automated technologies are still yet to address sufficiently.

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Student comments on The AI-Powered Sales Rep

  1. Thanks Jibran! This is a really creative application of AI and ML which will definitely create value if customers feel more satisfied after speaking to company representatives. However, as you mentioned there does seem to be risks of competition in this space. Do you think this is a winner take all market? If so, how should Cogito position itself to be the winner? Although investments in AI and ML are increasing, I don’t know if companies would invest in both Cogito and Gong. It will be interesting to see if Cogito expands to more data sources apart from live conversations and Gong incorporates analysis of live conversations into its platform. Would this result in a price war similar to that between Uber and Lyft? Or will these companies try to serve different segments of the market so that they can both be successful?

  2. This type of coaching is incredible. It seems that white collar jobs are increasingly within the sights of AI applications. Will be interesting to track how these functions which we thought would take longer to be impacted by AI transform over time.

  3. Thanks Jibran for an interesting post! It seems like a great way to improve sales skills on the spot. I was wondering how they gather diverse set of data to make sure that the algorithm is not biased. The way people express their emotion is different by culture or by gender or by other kinds of background, so I wondered if the algorithm captures such subtle differences.

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