SalesTechStar Interview with Zayd Enam, Co-Founder and CEO of Cresta
To stay relevant and accessible during these trying times, sales and marketing have to optimize their digital channels and find better ways to build trust with customers; Zayd Enam, Co-Founder and CEO of Cresta discusses a few best practices while talking about Cresta’s growth story in this chat with SalesTechStar.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Zayd? What inspired the idea behind Cresta?
In 2015, I was in my first year of the Stanford PhD program. I was most excited about the possibility of teaching robots to complete repetitive tasks by training on human demonstration. I wanted to impact humanity/society.
With the help of Sebastian Thrun and the Stanford AI Lab, I worked on many different projects under the theme of augmenting work with AI building up to a more general intelligence. AI is very powerful, but everyone is focused on how it’s impacting jobs. As part of my work at Stanford, I considered how to develop the technology to help people.
At one Monday morning lab meeting in May of 2015 it was clear that we had finally found an application that made business sense and where AI had tremendous impact and my professor, Sebastian asked – “do you want to keep writing papers or do you want to start a company?”
I decided to drop out of the PhD program and start a business – Cresta – with the ultimate goal of helping humans do better and build better relationships.
What are some of the future plans/innovations you have in mind for the platform?
We will be making fundamental advancements to the platform that will further reduce the need for training models. We are looking at voice models for contextual conversational intelligence and how we can harness the power of AI to continue to amplify people’s natural communication abilities.
Tell us a bit about how Cresta has helped solve some of its key clients’ top pain points?
By using Cresta AI software, our clients’ sales & support agents receive personalized, real-time coaching and reinforcement to drive positive behavior changes on every customer interaction. Cresta tailors coaching plans to each agent’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and progressively teaches critical skills that are proven to deliver better results.
Cresta identifies the top agent behaviors that lead to successful customer outcomes, such as maintaining conversation flow, identifying successful troubleshooting steps and setting expectations, and then re-distributes these learnings to every agent in real-time. Cresta’s software is always learning from best results, enabling agents to quickly adapt to changing customer and business needs, effectively turning every agent into an immediate expert.
A few examples of ROI Cresta customers are seeing, include:
- Cox’s sales team saw an $25.52 increase in revenue per chat, and an additional $13.1 million in incremental lifetime revenue (in just six weeks).
- Intuit improved conversion rates by 2x and ultimately led to a 1.75x increase in revenue per agent in just the first month of lockdown.
- A leading mattress retailer experienced 25% more revenue per chat, 9% more interactions per agent and a $7.3 M uplift in annual revenue.
Cresta’s solution does more than increase overall revenue. By augmenting workflows with personalized coaching plans, Cresta individually nurtures agents to reach their peak performance.
B2B sales is known for its long sales cycles – during a downtime, long prospecting cycles or sales cycles can burn resources more; what would you share with teams in SaaS/tech when it comes to shortening the lifecycle of their sales in terms of the kind of technologies they should use to boost their efforts/processes?
There is a real opportunity to enhance productivity by 10X, which is what we really believe is possible for AI. There are always going to be things that you can automate, and those things that you can’t automate need to be coached.
Deep learning has unlocked the ability to understand the ‘what’ problem, i.e. what problem is the customer needing to get solved? This leaves humans to do what they do best, which is to relate to their customers and build natural empathy. In the past they have been so focused on getting the right answer and the empathy portion might have gone out the door. How many people have had poor interactions with sales people and left feeling frustrated they weren’t being heard?
AI makes it possible to create a methodology for how the psychology, behavior and language of top salespeople can be used to achieve successful outcomes. This knowledge can then be redistributed to other sales reps through personalized behavioral coaching. And, because AI gets smarter over time, these tools can learn, adapt and improve to achieve the best outcomes.
How has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changed how you and your team have redefined your sales process or outreach for the rest of the year, and what are some of the top challenges as a young tech company that the team is facing during this global downtime?
Anytime there is difficulty or hardship it’s an opportunity to build a muscle to address that hardship. The questions we asked as the stay-at-homes orders came in were: How do we operate in our lives every day? How do we build empathy and kindness on the team? How do we build a muscle that can operate in a challenging environment?
Our model for sales had been a field sales model where people were flying to customers and then deploying the software in call centers. That’s obviously shifted. Now, all of our sales are happening virtually — sales calls happen over Zoom and we deploy software virtually as well. We have been successful in our ability to be nimble and shift processes though.
Listen in to How these Tech Leaders Are Helping Their Business Thrive During Covid-19, featuring episodes with Adform, Merkle, Heinz Marketing and more!
Cresta uses AI to turn sales and service agents into experts on day one, elevating the customer experience and growing the business. Cresta brings together industry-leading AI experts, proven leadership and top tier investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Andy Bechtolsheim, Mark Leslie and Vivi Nevo.
Zayd is the CEO and Co-founder of Cresta