Artificial Intelligence In Sales
Metrics and Analytics 12.08.2021

Artificial Intelligence In Sales

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This episode of the Sunny Side Up podcast features a sales pro who got his start in an unlikely place. Corey Kleinbauer, a Boston-based sales executive with SAS, planned a career in the mental health space. When he decided to switch his focus to sales, it turned out that the psychology skill sets he’d studied transferred with great results. As VP of Sales, Corey has developed and led a team producing double-digit growth year over year. He shares with us valuable insights about how to develop meaningful trusted advisory relationships, turn curtailed pandemic travel to the best advantage and make inroads with C-suite executives through hustle, homework, curiosity, and empathy.

About the Guest 

Corey is a Boston-based technology sales executive. He currently oversees the U.S. SMB and Midmarket business unit for SAS Institute. Since its founding in 2015, the SMB and MidMarket remain to be a high growth market for SAS.  Corey has over 20 plus years of experience in building high-performance technical sales and support teams. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Assumption University and is active in the angel investment community in the Boston area.

Connect with Corey Kleinbauer

Key Takeaways 

  • Corey introduces himself and shares a bit of background about his educational life and career journey, including a degree in behavioral psychology and a permanent detour away from the research career he initially envisioned.
  • As happens for many young people starting without a firm professional track, sales opportunities arose – and he was offered a shot as a manufacturer’s rep even though he had no engineering background to recommend him. His skill sets transferred seamlessly and success came quickly.
  • The pandemic has revealed the enormous amount of time that sales reps were NOT selling (i.e. travel driving, parking, flying, dining, and the back-and-forth). It has offered opportunities for growth, development, and compelling new forms of online communication.
  • Corey shares thoughts on cornerstone traits he believes successful salespeople possess. Among them, focus, hustle, and emotional intelligence.  
  • Big Data is here to stay and shape the sales process in all kinds of ways. But companies vary tremendously in their resources. Sales reps can leverage AI in ways that suit each scenario. It just takes curiosity, empathy, and homework.


“If you need to have a strategic conversation, have it with the people who make strategic decisions.”

Highlights From the Episode

Can you share your journey and experiences over the past 25 years?

Corey describes his early years and his study of psychology, the career shift that occurred when he discovered sales and how his direction accelerated when he became an early evangelist for web-based software. In time SAS emerged as a focal point that was both an exciting player on the scene and a source of great opportunities for growth for Corey.

How have sales evolved in the last two decades and what changes do you think are going to make an impact on selling?

It has been a process with many changes – and also some foundational elements that have remained consistent. For starters, there is the truism that you must be useful to your customer. Future functions are important and have their place but the most profound customer relationships are based on usefulness. And utility matters more than the product itself. The process for getting there, however, has changed. People may say the cold call is dead, but Corey doesn’t believe that to be true. He suggests a tactic for getting through to executives and points out the time savings that have been uncovered due to the pandemic shutdown of F2F meetings and training. As a result, sales professionals have upped their game in terms of polish and presentation online to maintain focus and interest. And many people are using travel time savings to enrich themselves through reflection – and their sales techniques through podcasts and other materials.

What traits should a salesperson have and how does it make a difference?

SAS is an R&D-focused company that is driven by curiosity and a staff of people who stick around because the work is meaningful and engaging. Displayed curiosity is extremely important. You must do your homework, work to understand the company’s culture deeply and authentically. AI buzzwords may sound good, but they don’t necessarily precipitate any meaningful outcome or next step. Relentless curiosity – and hustle – are key! Additional thoughts: Demonstrate empathy, nurture self-awareness and be careful about who you spend your time with.

How has AI/ML helped sales; how has data changed the game?

Organizations that have a broad product portfolio can deploy very straightforward, simple analytics or even rules-based analysis on their existing customer base to understand what products would be best for that customer to migrate to or have. A recommendation engine of some kind is essential to know your market. There are many affordable applications available that can generate key metrics. Surprisingly, many of SAS’s customers are companies with revenue under $50 million annually. It’s a wonderful time in the business with massive big data opportunities, but it’s important to meet companies where they are at and in the context of the resources they have. Everyone needs a dashboard, but the business requirements will differ.

Please recommend a book, blog, newsletter, website, video, or other resources for our listeners?

Corey loves anything to do with startup investment, innovation, and changing technologies. He listens to the All In Podcast every week and other sales-oriented podcasts. He also makes it a point to read Page 1 of the Wall Street Journal daily, even though he has muted/limited newsfeeds overall. Be a market observer and observer of life in general. And, above all, surround yourself with people who bring positive energy that uplifts. 





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