Bridging the AI Gap: Strategies for Business Leaders
ABM/ABX 05.17.2024

Bridging the AI Gap: Strategies for Business Leaders

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Shownotes

In this episode, Ruth Zive, CMO of LivePerson, discusses how to successfully navigate the AI landscape with business leaders. She shares LivePerson’s conversational flywheel framework for understanding customer needs and implementing AI in a practical way. Ruth also emphasizes the importance of aligning sales and marketing teams through shared goals and data-driven strategies.

Best Moments

00:52 –  Challenges business leaders face with AI including both the excitement and fear/apprehension.
03:00 –  How LivePerson's research validated an "AI gap" between business leaders and consumers, and how proving ROI can help close this gap.
04:29 –  How LivePerson's conversational flywheel framework helps brands practically understand and implement AI opportunities.
11:51 –  Why Ruth believes having SDRs report into marketing rather than sales drives better sales and marketing alignment.

About the guest

Ruth Zive oversees LivePerson’s global marketing organization, focused on growing scalable, measurable, and predictable world-class demand generation, with operational rigor. A three-time enterprise software CMO, she leads the company’s digital and demand generation, field marketing, and sales development, vertical and product marketing, branding, and internal and external communications functions.

Connect with Ruth Zive

Key takeaways

  • Understand customer needs through data insights before implementing AI
  • Use a framework like the conversational flywheel to practically implement AI and continuously improve
  • Prove business benefit and ROI of AI to consumers to narrow the “AI gap”
  • Align sales and marketing teams by holding them accountable to shared pipeline outcomes
  • Empower SDRs as brand ambassadors to improve conversion and feedback loops
  • Standardize messaging in an early funnel and ensure consistency through implementation

Quotes

“Business leaders have this enthusiasm around AI, this eagerness to roll it out. But then on the consumer side, there’s a little bit of a reluctance. And we think that all ultimately comes back to delivering ROI on your AI investment.” -Ruth Zive

Highlights from this episode

How do you start the conversation with business leaders who are grappling with AI’s potential and challenges?

Ruth notes that most business leaders know they need to implement AI, but they don’t always understand what that means from an outcomes perspective. Ruth explains that LivePerson conducted research that validated there is an “AI gap” between enthusiastic business leaders wanting to roll out AI and more reluctant consumers. She says businesses need to focus on delivering ROI and proving the return on their AI investment to close this gap and have successful conversations with business leaders.

How do you and your team manage to cut through the hype and ensure you’re focused on customer needs?

Ruth says there is certainly a lot of hype around AI that needs to be brought back down to earth in a practical way with large enterprise customers in mind. LivePerson invented their “conversational flywheel” framework to help brands understand AI and get started using it in a practical way that is focused on customer needs and drives efficiency. The flywheel provides a problem-solving system that can be used irrespective of industry or size. Ruth notes that once they framed AI opportunities within the context of this practical system, it helped brands understand where the opportunities were to better meet customer needs based on their specific business.

How does LivePerson’s flywheel framework help brands understand where their AI path starts, especially for those just getting started?

Ruth explains that the flywheel framework starts with the “Understand” stage, which is all about understanding customer needs through data insights. For brands just getting started, she recommends beginning with analyzing existing customer data to understand what customers are struggling with and what their key needs and intents are. This helps identify low-hanging fruit opportunities to start implementing AI. 

Once the opportunities are understood, brands can then look at what systems need to be connected to optimize the automated experience. Ruth notes the flywheel provides a path for brands to practically understand, implement, and improve their use of AI over time, no matter where they are in their AI journey. The framework helps even newer brands figure out the best first steps.

What specific initiatives or strategies does LivePerson use to ensure cohesive messaging between marketing and sales?

Ruth mentions a few specific strategies LivePerson uses:

  • Standardizing messaging as much as possible in the early funnel stages to be consistent. 
  • Ensuring good “pull through” of the messaging from website to implementation by having marketing, sales, and success all on the same page. 
  • Tight alignment between marketing, sales, and success teams through good enablement. 
  • Ensuring enablement is plugged into product marketing to keep the story consistent.
  • Closing the loop by measuring how messaging lands with sales and success, then evolving based on feedback. 
  • Having product marketing as the linchpin to make sure messaging stays on point and evolves with the market/product.

Why do you believe having SDRs report into marketing rather than sales is important for alignment?

Ruth believes having SDRs report to marketing leads to better alignment between sales and marketing teams. With SDRs under marketing, Ruth has more visibility and accountability deeper in the sales funnel. This gives her “skin in the game” when opportunities are handed to sales representatives. It also allows sales reps to focus solely on nurturing those opportunities, rather than booking meetings. 

As the first point of contact for prospects, SDRs act as brand ambassadors who should represent the standardized messaging crafted by marketing. With SDRs in her purview, Ruth can leverage them to provide valuable feedback on messaging resonance and do lightweight market research. This closes the loop between marketing and the early sales process. Overall, Ruth views having SDRs aligned with marketing as a “forcing function” that ensures tight collaboration between the teams from the initial funnel stages.

Resource recommendations

Books

-”Amp It Up” by Frank Slootman – A book about winning go-to-market strategies that influenced Ruth.

Podcast

Honestly by Bari Weiss – Ruth’s current favorite podcast that covers controversial topics gracefully.

Generation AI – The podcast Ruth co-hosts that drops new episodes bi-weekly.

Websites

Fast Company – Ruth contributes articles here every couple of months.

Shout-outs


Kyle Lacey, CMO at Jellyfish – A super smart marketing leader whom Ruth always learns from. 

-Brian Hartland – A lesser-known but brilliant and opinionated marketer who was Ruth’s mentor. 

-Debbie Dunham – A go-to-market expert Ruth has worked closely with and learned a lot from.

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