Vonage focuses its salespeople on activities that matter, with assist from tools from Google, Salesforce, Prodoscore and Vonage's own cloud platform.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

March 6, 2019

4 Min Read
Vonage Boosts Sales Productivity With AI Assist

Vonage says it's boosted productivity for its salespeople by 20% using artificial intelligence, blending its own Vonage Business Cloud with Google G Suite, Salesforce and employee productivity measurement tool Prodoscore. Vonage is now offering the technology it uses in-house to its business customers.

On the surface, sales productivity is easy to measure -- revenue. Whichever salesperson sells the most is most productive and coffee is for closers. But how do you increase sales productivity, encouraging activities that lead to revenue?

That was the question faced by Vonage. The company was founded in 2001 as a pioneer in consumer VoIP telephony, and now offers a suite of business communications and collaborations services, based on a single, microservices software platform. It has offices around the world, more than 2,200 employees, more than 100,000 business customers and brought in $1.05 billion in revenue last year.

Vonage's technology measures the behavior salespeople use that drives sales. "There are key activity metrics that our most successful reps would do over and over again that get you the most sales," Greg Fiddes, Vonage VP of business development, tells Light Reading. A big part of that metric is language -- what words lead to increased sales. Time of day also matters. "At what time of day is it best to make the calls, what are the best words to say on those calls," he says.

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Vonage took those factors, and more, into account, when developing its own productivity score for salespeople. "We modeled our best salespeople, what these folks do well," Fiddes says.

The Vonage platform integrates calendars, emails, and documents from Google G Suite, with additional information from Salesforce, and digital transcription and natural language processing (NLP) of calls from Google, along with Prodoscore's employee productivity measurements and Vonage's own cloud-native communication platform, Vonage Business Cloud.

Vonage bases its 20% productivity improvement measurement on the time sales managers observed sales reps focusing on the most productive activities for winning the sales process, such as using software to search for leads, or working toward closing deals. The measurement was based on a Vonage study with 15 veteran Vonage Business sales representatives in the Chicago, Ill., office over a seven- to ten-month period.

Prodoscore was an important part of measuring productivity; it helps businesses measure how teams are adopting cloud-based tools, such as how often they create and store documents in Google Drive and how many emails they send through Gmail.

Vonage was able to identify employees who were not taking full advantage of software tools, and correct the problem, either by fixing misconfigured devices or offering additional training.

One of the key priorities for Vonage was encouraging employees to update Salesforce more frequently; Vonage achieved that goal by weighting Salesforce updates as more important in Prodoscore. Employees know they have to use Salesforce or they're not going to have a high score, Kevin Thomsen, Vonage national vice president of strategic partners, tells Light Reading.

Similarly, Vonage also wanted to increase document collaboration across the sales team and considered Docs sharing and Hangouts Meet as key indicators of collaboration. Vonage weighted Prodoscore scoring accordingly to encourage the use of those tools.

Sales reps have multiple incentives to achieve high scores. Integrating Salesforce, G Suite and Vonage's cloud platform automates data sharing between the tools; salespeople aren't wasting time on data entry, copying information from one tool to another. Salespeople compete for high scores.

Also, the productivity platform helps Vonage with overall job satisfaction, work-life balance and recruitment. With unemployment at a low of 4%, companies are looking for new ways to recruit and reduce attrition. The new platform lets employees work from home – a benefit that enhances recruitment – while still letting managers have visibility into what employees are doing every day, Thomsen said.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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