It's a Blast: AI Conversational Email - When software can help your start-up scale?
We recently chatted with Gabriel Lim from 6sense, who was the founder and inspiration around the acquired tool SalesWhale now called the 6sense Conversation Email. Hear how AI can help you expand your business as well as get some free advice on what Gabe wished he had known before starting his business.
Tell us a little bit about the product that you developed and that 6sense purchased
So essentially, you know Saleswhale or conversational email it’s like an AI business sales rep (BDR) that can do the non-verbal non-calling work that a BDR does. So If you imagine, like the life cycle of what the BDR does from day to day, like the show up for work, and they think you know whom do I go after? Do you know? How do I personalize my message? How do I manage responses? How do I book a meeting? So essentially what we build at 6sense conversational email, is this whole AI assistant. They can automate this entire end-to-end process.
What are the benefits of AI conversational email?
Using a tool like this results in higher conversions. So when we look across the board, you know all the customers that use conversation email, most of them see a market lift in terms of the pipeline marketing its generating, and where that pipeline is turning into qualified meetings booked for their sales team, and if you look at your revenue funnel, conversions are really important. A small change in conversion percentages in your pipeline can essentially make or break your entire, fiscal quarter. So I guess that's one and the second one, especially in today's climate, it's higher efficiency. How do you know? More with less and no kind of scale costs. When you have AI that can do the work of 30 or 40 people, it’s elastic. You can scale it up and down. So instead of hiring tons of people, and then as business waxes and wanes, you lay them off, and then you have to deal with all this psychological and cultural, trauma and baggage that comes with that. And I've seen that the current climate, you know it’s a way for businesses to help sort of support as you say, that initial introduction to a BDR.
How do we see it fitting into the overall marketing tech stack, with various arms and intent data from 6sense
So, I think the easiest way to conceptualize it is to imagine where your BDR sits in the entire lead life cycle today. So from a workflow perspective, that's how I would think about it right when you want your BDRs to engage recycled as well as new Mqls, you know new in-market accounts. And how do you design workflows around it? From a technology, from a marketing tech stack perspective, we sit downstream of your CRM, your lead augmentation, and your intelligence systems, for example, 6sense, so we take all of that data that intelligence and we turn it into action.
Tell us about some of those cool features that it has particularly the AI functionality.
2 Major, I don't know if I’d go as far as to call them differentiators, but I think there's something that I don't think no one else in the market has done before, I think the AI quote-unquote features that set us apart is number one is the ability to use a lot of data to personalize, messages, right? So basically we have this kind of capability where we use like 6 sense data, we use data from your CRM as I’m pulling the stuff you know what your prospects are searching for, how they've been interacting, you know on your website, from personas. And how do we use that combined with generative AI, right? So you probably know the audience will have heard of Chat GPT. It's like all of a sudden AI is a thing, but it's been around for a while, right? So you know, we use that technology combined with upstream data to craft personalized emails we have data to prove that it converts better than you know most. You know, emails that you know marketing or BDR teams use today? So that's the first and the second, you know, is our response handling technology where if someone replies to our email outreach, and they say stuff like, can you send me more information, do you have a case study?, I'm not the right person or now is not a good time. We can manage that response autonomously. Have this back-and-forth conversation with the prospect until you know they raise their hands, and then we hand them over to the sales team and book a meeting.
The future seems very bright for AI-based companies, and there are an awful lot of them out there right now. So what do you think is the future of AI software?
Yeah, I think in general there's going to be way, more value created like it's going to be a lot of value created in this space. So, I think this is going to be a golden few years for AI startups, and you know it's kind of reminiscent. The beginning of my career I started my career as a software engineer. You know, building iPhone apps, for companies and enterprises, and I think that at that time right, there was a ton of value that was essentially created when apple launch their app store right? That got the IOS app store, and I do kind of like see a bit of similarity where there is almost like a resurgence with this you know. Like these large language models, as they call them. You know it's going to end with a lot of new startups. A lot of new value creation that I don't think we have seen, you know, since, you know, 10 years ago, when you know mobile phones launched.
You have successfully started your own business, and you sold it right. So, what would you say? Some of the key learnings for other companies that you've learned in your journey?
I think maybe it will be useful to kind of like. Begin with, I our story, I guess, like you know how and you know how all the way you know from founding through acquisition, and then I can kind of I round back, and you know the kind of just talk about some of the stuff that I wished I did differently, or kind of at least I wish I knew earlier. Right? Yes. So long, story short, you know, I think I mentioned earlier, started my career as a software engineer and sales. Bill, you know, really started as a sack project, right? So I was getting bought at my daytime job, you know, because that just hacking and building stuff on the site. and I think one of the projects that I was working on, you know, was using AI. So back, then, you know, there's this thing called deep learning, so it's using it to go through my Gmail inbox right, like just surfing surfacing, you know, emails that I may have missed bubbling it to the top of my inbox, suggesting draft responses, right? And that was kind of the initial kind of idea, you know. Started to sell that too. You know a few of my friends who are running sales teams, and I think that's kind of how we made our first $3,000 in revenue. So you know, after that we applied to this accelerated program so we continue to iterate on the idea. And the turning point was a meeting with a marketing director, you know, and she was like, hey, you know, if you guys can do all this, why don't you fully automate it instead of suggesting draft responses? Why, don't you manage the entire, but through end to end? And hey, why are you starting to sell? Because, like honestly, you know as a marketer, I can tell you that I meet your product a lot more than you know Sales people and you know, with that insight you know we kind of like did a micro pivot, and from there, within 18 months, you know, we rocketed from like $3,000 to 1 million dollars in revenue, you know Just that. Then we got acquired by 6sense where my team now heads up conversational email and generates the AI strategy or success.
So, in terms of learning. I think something that I wished I knew earlier was, you know that doing a start-up, you know, is a very long-term commitment, right? So, I think if you are unlucky. You know your startup fails in 6 months to one year, you know. Then good for you, right? But you know, if you are even moderately successful, you know it is a 10-year commitment. so I think one of the met on Linux is that you know like found this. Should you know? Be sure that they are pursuing the right idea, and not just you know something just because it's hoped right. And I call the intuitively. And you know it did. This may sound like, be it, but I think it is not to overthink, instead need to spend more time exploring ideas and spend more time with the idea, right, and one piece of advice that I normally give to people who are thinking about starting a company is that you know I don't know like, hey? Maybe you shouldn't be thinking about starting a company. But you should start with an idea, right? Because when it's just an idea or just a project. The sticks are lower, and you're kind of willing to entertain more kind of like outlandish ideas which can potentially be huge, right? And I think that the best way to start a company is to. But you know interesting projects. And you know, if you have several ideas. I would kind of like to gravitate towards the one that you're constantly thinking about. You know, whenever you're trying not to think about work right? It's just like in each that you have to stretch. And yeah, I think in retrospect, you know that's kind of how I started sales, and you know it has kept me going through a lot of tough times because you want to focus on solving this problem and creating a company or initiating a startup? And you know, potentially giving up when things get tough it's hard to stay invested when the time is kept off right, and we share one more sorry like Nixon. This is a short one. It's like. In addition to building a great product. You need to learn to be a great company, and I think that you know culture matters, and this something that we didn't realize under, you know. pretty late in the game, right? And you know, especially for most founders. They tend to be like first-time managers. So I think, learning how to manage people, making sure that your employees are happy, you know. important as an essay engineer. I didn't realize this, and you know this is not something that you should ignore. You know, when you're being a startup. Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. Yes, you know. I mean, I've done a lot of management. But I know that you know, as you say, self-engineering doesn't come with that same structure that perhaps other departments do in the in you know, and ideas come from great people like you. You are the Id generators being that tinkering engineer, you know, in there. But you know in there all weekend because I know that I've had a team with developers, Nate. They are like that, you know. They go home, and they play with stuff at the weekends and how they can build stuff and play with there, you know, setups at home and stuff. So yes, I think that's an interesting add-on, say, just for one last element. What do you think you know, in terms of 2023 kind of the future of start-ups this year? I mean you touched a little bit on it with AI earlier, I think. But love to hear if you got any more thoughts. Hmm. Yes. So, I think like 23. It's I think it's easier to start the startup now. So, like specifically for 2023, right? I think that you know a lot of the excesses of the last 2 years have been, you know, slowly being flushed out on the system, and I think that, like the only easy thing, you know. Starting is start Doing a bubble is probably raising capital. but you know, like hiring was so much harder, you know, convincing your friends. So I’m making like crazy compensation packages at, you know, large tech companies to join your startup is so much harder. People are getting poached left and right, you know, rising above the noise is harder, but now it’s kind of almost feels like we have when Con back a bit to like sanity, and you know it's a great time, you know, to be starting a startup. In my opinion, that's one prediction for this year. If I’m to kind of cost a net out maybe 5, 3 to 5 years, I think, and this is probably a contrarian prediction. I think that firstly, I'm increasingly skeptical about the future of remote, for, like early stick startups, you know, especially when you're like you mentioned in that tinkering face when you're trying to get from 0 to one. I do think that most of the important companies of this decade, you know, would be started in person instead of being kind of like, fully remote from you know, the incubation stage.