Spotlight.ai is an AI-driven value intelligence platform to transform the discovery of customer pains into optimized value propositions. I had the privilege of speaking to Co-Founder and CEO Roi Carmel to discuss the brilliant thinking behind the platform and its potential impact on corporate success.
What led you to start Spotlight.ai, and what can you share about your journey so far?
In the last 10-15 years, I’ve held executive positions at several growth-phase companies. I was CMO and Chief Strategy and Product at Cybereason. Before that, I held the same type of role as Chief Strategy Product and CMO at Perfecto Mobile. Both of those companies spanned between $10-100 M in annual recurring revenue and grew towards the upper end while I was there. I also advised a few mature companies.
In those roles, I’ve dealt a lot with product value propositions. I noticed that even though these companies create great value propositions, they have a hard time translating that into operational go-to-market. That means they can create a good product that provides good value to the customers, but they have a very hard time running a sales motion that relies on understanding the pains that this product can actually solve, how big those pains are, and how to position that value proposition for each opportunity.
The same goes for other go-to-market functions: the marketing department measures the accuracy of the pipeline based on the company’s value proposition, and how customer success is running renewals is based on the value realization that needs to happen for the customers. This was a big problem that companies needed to align around.
We chose to start by really focusing on the sales organization. First, because we think that’s probably the most well-articulated and high impact problem we can pinpoint out of the go-to-market teams, and secondly because aligning a company behind one thing is best done when the sales team aligns first, and then everybody else aligns with them and ultimately with the customer. That’s the reason we decided to start with sales.
We’re talking about enterprise sales motions that take about a quarter or more to complete. The Average Sales Price (ASP) starts at around $20,000 and all the way up to millions. If it’s lower than that, it’s too simplified of a sales motion to have those problems.
Another thing we’re looking at from an operations perspective is teams that have at least 10 salespeople, because beyond that, complexity starts adding up and becomes harder to manage.
The product we’re pinpointing is helping salespeople understand their customer pains better, quantify how big those pains are, and attach the most differentiated value proposition and business case for each opportunity.
Based on the work that we help reps with, we provide managers with new visibility that they didn’t have before about each and every opportunity they manage.
Managers today know how many opportunities they have, which phase these opportunities are at, how many meetings were held about it, and even how many emails were sent between the customer and the rep. But all of those are what we call external indicators of the deal.
What they don’t know is what was actually said in those conversations. What was the reason the customer decided to buy the product, and why did they choose them over the alternatives? That is the core of what we call value sales. We score how well the rep did the discovery and how well the value proposition is positioned for that specific opportunity.
How do users interact with Spotlight.ai?
Spotlight.ai can fully integrate into Salesforce or any other CRM. Reps can interact with Spotlight.ai through the CRM if they choose to, or use our own standalone UI which many of our users actually prefer because it’s very engaging.
Discovery is the phase in the sales process where reps try to understand the customer pains, prioritize them, and be able to quantify how big each pain is. If they don’t do that well, they cannot position the best value proposition for this product to solve their high impact problem.
Spotlight.ai lives within the context of a single opportunity for the rep. When the rep logs into Salesforce, for instance, and logs into the single opportunity, they will get a score from Spotlight.ai on how well discovery was done for this opportunity.
Spotlight.ai suggests the top questions to ask at each phase in the sales process. We score the level of discovery based on which questions the customers answered other than the ones we suggested. Based on the answers that we interpret, we know if they have answered all the critical questions, and based on the answers, what is the size of the pain and how well we can position ourselves to solve that pain.
The output of the system is a fully generated Business Value Assessments (BVA) for a specific opportunity, based on the answers that were brought back from the rep.
What do you do to secure customer data shared on Spotlight.ai?
Since we’re exposed to sensitive information, we start by signing NDAs just like many other sales tools that are exposed to that type of information.
From an architectural perspective, the data between customers is completely segregated. We are fully compliant and have recently passed a full compliance test with one of the publicly traded security companies in the NASDAQ, which is a customer of ours.
We’re happy to provide any documentation to show how our architecture supports that security and also go through any penetration testing and other security standards that allow us to show how secure the data is.
Where do you see things going in five years from now?
I’ll answer this from two perspectives, the sales tech stack, and the broader vision of Spotlight.ai, which is bigger than just sales.
I think the sales tech stack is maturing with the maturity of AI and the understanding of the pieces required for creating consistent automation that scales.
In the future, I think we’ll see sales reps that have many virtual helpers. Sometimes we think of Spotlight.ai as a mini CMO and CPO on each shoulder, whispering in the rep’s ears about what they need to ask and what they need to do next.
I think that as these technologies mature, we will see more of the technical work that reps are doing today being automated. For example, by fully automating a business case, we take away the labor of creating detailed business cases over and over again.
The next piece is really about guiding the rep on what to do next, basically making them smarter from one meeting to the next. If the platforms are able to do those two things, then we’ll see the velocity of such companies and industries increase dramatically.
Once that’s done well, the alignment between sales and the rest of the company is going to grow significantly. Today, we see situations where customers are sold things that are completely misaligned with what customer success is trying to do. That alignment between sales and customer success definitely needs to mature. Customer success needs to know why somebody bought the product and what their expectations are, and then drive value realization based on that. It needs to be one unified path, especially in the SaaS world.
The same goes for pipeline generation. We see a lot of spray-and-pray pipeline generation and even with ABM and other marketing techniques, the alignment with what’s actually working in the field and how we can replicate that back to marketing and drive the most efficient pipeline is something that will mature dramatically based on these solutions.
What is one trend that excites you?
The ability to sell value rather than just selling based on relationships or roller decks is something that I find very exciting. The biggest disruptors in the marketplace today are companies that challenged the status quo because they were able to drive value sales better than any alternative. I think companies that don’t understand that will slowly disappear, and more and more of the winners will be the ones that are able to connect strongly to the customer pains, differentiate better than others, and win.