New forms of technology result in an entirely new vocabulary. Nobody cared about "likes" before Facebook. Nobody cared about follower count until Twitter (now X).

Listen to it later:

Don't miss a MarketingProfs podcast, subscribe to our free newsletter!

Conversica CMO David Greenberg believes that AI is going to not only change the way businesses operate but also create new metrics with which to measure success.

"I think about how I treat my leads differently than I have in the past," he says in Marketing Smarts Episode 558. "In my belief, scoring is going to die because scoring is all about prioritization, it's about which ones to go after."

Host George B. Thomas laughs, "I have to go get the smelling wake the B2B marketers who just fell out when they heard lead-scoring is going to die."

In the face of new conversational AI metrics, though, that may not be such a radical thought. When Sales conversations are automatically generated, you need a way to figure out whether they were successful that doesn't rely on relative intent.

"There's one....we call the conversation rate," David explains. "It's around what percentage of two-way conversations are you engaging with....Then we also have another metric which we call conversation-qualified. It's sort of what we believe will be the new metric like what MQL brought into the B2B marketing industry."

What the AI revolution will also bring, says David, is a derth of humans' performing mundane functions.

"Success here is going to be organizations think about deploying and designing their workforces differently, where people actually do stuff that people are really good at, rather than repetitive tasks."

Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

Full Transcript: Generative AI-Powered Conversations and the Conversation Automation Index

George B. Thomas: Let's just say in the marketing ecosystem everywhere you turn, maybe it's just me, but have you heard about AI? Of course, I'm kind of joking, but man, does everybody want to talk about AI. Honestly, on the Marketing Smarts Podcast, I have been trying to stay away from topics on AI, but every now and then it creeps in and somebody reaches out, and I say yes, this is a time that I want to talk about AI.

Today we're talking about generative AI-powered conversations. Have you been having any? Have you been creating any AI-powered conversations, copy, generative text from an AI machine? Today we're talking with David Greenberg about what keeps him up at night around generative AI-powered conversations, is it a dream, is it a nightmare, we're going to talk about the hurdles, what success looks like, how to get started. One of the things that David says is about paying attention to the modern buyer, and experience is more important than product. Of course, we'll get to the words of wisdom at the end.

Who the heck is David Greenberg? David has over 20 years of experience as a marketing and go-to market leader with deep expertise in building high-growth organizations that disrupt the old way of doing things. He is deeply passionate about leveraging technology to create significant step changes in the business. Prior to joining Conversica, David was the CMO at Act-On Software, where he was responsible for the overall strategy and execution of the marketing and product functions. Prior to this role, David has held numerous senior executive positions across groundbreaking organizations such as Jive Software, Airship, and LiveOps. David holds a BS History from Colorado College and he's a wealth of information around the conversation automation index, AI generated powered conversations. Without further ado, let's get into the good stuff.

I'm super excited, as always, because today we're talking about generative AI-powered conversations, and we're talking with David Greenberg. We're going to talk about automation index and conversations, all sorts of cool stuff.

David, how are you doing today?

David Greenberg: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me here.

George: Absolutely, my pleasure. If you weren't here, it would probably be a boring 25 to 30 minutes for the listeners. One of the things that I like to do is I like to start out with fun questions. This could be a dream, or it could be a nightmare, but when you think about generative AI-powered conversations, what the heck keeps you up at night?

David: That's a loaded question to start off with. Number one, of course I'm in the business of making generative AI be valuable to companies, so I am always relentlessly thinking about how to add more value to the various cases and the places that generative AI can really change a business. I'm also at the same time keeping a very watchful eye on the Meta situation with AI and a lot of activity you're seeing around the fear of it and what it can do and how it's regulated. Of course, I want to be and expect to be part of the conversation.

George: It's fun to hear you talk about that. I'm not sure if it's a dreamy nightmare or a nightmarish dream, but one or the other is keeping you up at night. I love to also go in and level-set for the listeners. You might say generative AI-powered conversations, I might say generative AI-powered anything, they might hear AI and be like, "Huh?" or they might be more AI nerds than we are. When we say generative AI-powered conversations, what the heck do we even mean, how do you want to define that now for the rest of the conversation that we're going to have today?

David: That's a great question. As you know, AI is a very big buzzy word. There are many different ways to apply AI. In particular, generative AI is about the ability for natural language processing and large language models that actually let you interact and have a conversation with the AI entity, whatever it ends up being or whatever you choose to call it.

In addition to that, the second important part is that conversation is based on a mutual understanding of intent and what you're asking and also has knowledge behind the scenes and knows how to answer. So, it's about having meaningful two-way conversation at the very highest level. But it's not just "if you say A, say B," it's actually understanding and interpreting what you are asking the AI and then coming back to you in a natural human-like way. I think human-like is the key word in all of that.

You can see how ChatGPT, which everybody has heard of, has taken off. If you haven't looked at the data, that thing is beyond a rocket ship, the biggest thing technology has ever seen. You can see how consumers and the market, if you want to call it that in this case, are adopting it and have an appetite for the power of it as well.

George: It's interesting. A couple of words pop out there; human-like, but then also towards the end you said the appetite. It's funny because, especially in our circles, there really is an appetite for testing this generative AI-powered technology, and I think we're just at the beginning of this.

I'm super excited to ask this next question because I don't know in your brain, when I ask this, if it's going to be a positive thing, a negative thing, a robotic thing, a human thing, or maybe all of the above. What are some of the key elements of generative AI and the power that comes with it that B2B marketers should be paying attention to?

David: Great question. I would say even stepping back before AI and the generative AI, we have to understand what the expectation of the modern buyer is because I think that's what drives everything. The modern buyer is very different now than 10 years ago. They have access to all of the information that they want, experience is more important than product, and they have an expectation of being responded to quickly.

Especially in B2B, everyone has seen the data that buyers want to engage less and less with Sales. They get all of their information elsewhere until they're ready to make a purchase decision, then they engage with you. I bring that up only in the context of why B2B marketers have to pay attention to this. It's a solution to delivering a great brand experience that can't be delivered at scale or in the personalized way that I would argue old marketing automation approaches do, and certainly not with people.

George: So good. It's interesting. I love the fact that you tapped into you have to pay attention to not just the buyer, but the modern buyer. I totally agree with you with the statement of experience is more important than the product. Dare we say that the experience makes the product anymore, at least our perception of what the product is. Ladies and gentlemen, that might be a rewind point in the podcast. Take some notes, jot it down. What does it mean for where your business, where your products, where your people are and your understanding of the modern buyer?

David, how can B2B marketers get started? At the very beginning when we were defining it, we were like it could be a million zillion different things to a billion different people. What are some good ways for B2B marketers to get started with generative AI?

David: That's a great question. I think in the beginning it can sort of feel like there are a million places you could start at, so feel a little bit stuck. To me, there is the basic business thing around where can this help and what use case can it help with. I don't think just buying AI to use it makes sense. You have to buy it with a purpose.

One of the most common use cases we see clearly is around management of the funnel. How do I ensure I deliver a first-class experience to my prospects, make sure that I'm educating them ahead of time? Most B2B marketing teams have sort of a business development group, as an example, where they're out there sending emails and mostly using modern automation, but it still has a limit. What this brings, and the whole generative AI part that is massively interesting and cool, is that it provides a two-way conversation. You can continue asking it questions and it can understand what it wants and deliver it to you.

I would say a good place for B2B marketers, and I only bring this up because I'm a B2B marketer and I know that usually everything begins and dies with the funnel, is applying to how do I think about how I treat my leads differently than I have in the past. In my belief, scoring is going to die because scoring is all about prioritization, it's about which ones to go after.

Just to play this out, you can apply AI-powered digital assistance to create the same experience for everyone and not be thought of through a limitation of I only have this much capacity, etcetera. So, I would say for B2B marketers the big thing to think about is how you manage early funnel, clearly following up with leads, management with leads, using it in addition to your brand nurturing.

Here's the great thing about these types of solutions. They always are on brand, they never forget, they always remember. I'll give you an example. If a prospect says, "I'd love to talk about this, but I'm on vacation for six months and three days," it remembers to follow up with them in six months and three days. It's massively sticky from that perspective, too.

George: I'm going to need a minute because I have to go get the smelling salts or a bucket of ice water, because I probably have to wake the B2B marketers back up who just fell out when they heard lead scoring is going to die. But I love that you brought that up. I know the guests can't see my face, but I literally was like, "Oh my goodness, he went there." I don't disagree with you. I think that it's going to be really interesting. I love that we're driving, as B2B marketers in this conversation, that maybe a good place to start is around your funnel, around the things that can streamline the production of cash, dare we say, into the organization.

There's a lot of stuff flying around about AI, generative AI, all sorts of AI. I'm super curious. I throw this question in because I love the show Mythbusters, it's just amazing, I could watch it for hours. Is there a common myth about generative AI or AI in general that you want to use the Marketing Smarts Podcast to debunk right now?

David: There's a lot of myths behind this because it's a new emerging technology. Let's just be straightforward. I think many businesses are very much trying to figure it out. The hype of ChatGPT is six months old, even though it feels like it's been around for three or four years, so it's really interesting.

I think the biggest myth is it's really hard to get started. I think people have a perception that, because they're thinking through an old mindset, "I have to manage and create every single flow of a potential conversation to make this work." I think that's missing what generative AI can do. That's not what you'd have to do at all. It creates all of that for you. While you certainly need to be working in a technology platform that can control your brand, govern your brand, make sure your technology has a purpose.

A lot of what we're trying to do, as an example, is trying to drive qualified appointments for Sales. Behind the scenes, our product has to remember that's my goal. You don't get that with things like ChatGPT. You could go have a conversation forever in any direction, and it will always be good, but it doesn't think about business outcomes.

I would say that's a big myth we hear a lot, that it's really hard to get started and I need to hire a team to manage it, and that's absolutely not the case.

George: I love that we're having this conversation, I'm able to ask you myths, getting started, and dive into information. But I feel like there's a ton more information that people can glean on this. I do want to bring up in our conversation there was the Conversica Conversation Index. Maybe explain to the B2B marketers out there what that is, why it matters, how it helps, what the value is. Wax poetic on the data that we can potentially get people to be able to leverage moving forward.

David: Basically, the Conversation Index is really the first ever benchmark performance of generative AI for business use. What we have done, taking millions and tens of millions of points of data, have benchmarked performance of generative AI, both at an engagement level and also in terms of meeting a goal level.

When I was talking earlier around this idea of for us, when you deploy one of our AI-driven revenue digital assistants, you design it with an outcome in mind. If the outcome is to continue to nurture and educate and make sure I'm on brand, but always remembering that, "Would you be interested in hearing more about how this product can help you," and leading towards a sales organization, it never forgets that. What we've done is benchmarked thousands of our customers and tracked and dissected that across various segments, industries, geos, etcetera.

Another thing that I would say is important behind this report, like any new emerging technology, you saw this with mobile, you saw this with social media, suddenly a new type of metric that B2B marketers can get at. Before there was Facebook, there weren't likes. Before there was email, there weren't open rates and click through rates. Similar here with conversational AI, you have two new very important metrics. I'll just go over these briefly and then I'll let you dig on me as much as you want here. There's two.

There's one around what we call the conversation rate. In traditional email, you hear a lot about open rate. Did they open it? It's becoming less and less accurate data. The difference with generative AI is that it's around what percentage of two-way conversations are you engaging with through deploying this. A very different metric.

Then we also have another metric which we call conversation-qualified. It's sort of what we believe will be the new metric beyond what an MQL brought into the B2B marketing industry. How often does the revenue digital assistant meet their goal? Whether it's generating appointments for customer success, closing on a free trial, or getting it sales ready, we basically have benchmarked all of that data.

George: Love it. With all of that data, are there any tips, tricks, hacks, best practices, patterns, I'm trying to throw all the words at you right now, that B2B marketers can use from the Conversica Conversation Index when journeying down this generative AI-powered for business conversations highway?

David: Probably the most important thing that comes out of it is it benchmarks the average across your various segments. People can look at it and self-identify whether they want to do it by geo, industry, or function, and see where they sit compared to others. With these new metrics, we now have sort of a benchmark.

Back in the day when you would look at click through rates, and you'd talk about the average benchmark is 3.5%, and you would use that as a gauge to better your own performance inside your organization. I would say at the high level, similar here, people can look at it. On average, our customers reach a 25% conversation rate, so that means one in four of the people you engage with the AI actually engage and have more than a two-way conversation. A pretty important metric because that's a deeper quality than an open rate or a click through rate, as an example. Similarly, 12% overall of our customers reached the conversation-qualified rate, meaning over time 12% of them say, "Yes, I'd be willing to take that next step," whatever you define it to be.

I think there's a real opportunity here for people who are in particular industry areas. We all know industries perform very different, that's why there is this construct called industry marketing, and you need to approach those differently. I think looking through the industry lens is probably the first place that I would start to benchmark yourself.

George: I like this idea of benchmarking yourself. I also like that you said in that last section the word opportunity. With opportunity, that starts to feel like a journey. Opportunity is usually a journey, there's some stuff you have to go through, some stuff you have to learn. That brings me to what are the hurdles that are going to get in the way for the B2B marketers who are listening to this podcast and thinking about leveraging generative AI power for their business, for conversations, for the things that they're going to do moving forward? Hurdles, potholes, whatever you want to call them, what can we warn them about?

David: I think we talked a little bit earlier around starting with something you can digest and finding a high value pain point that you can focus the project on to get started. We talked a little bit about applying this to the funnel.

I'll throw out two very common pain points that you see universally across B2B marketers: how do I appropriately follow up at scale in a timely way and how do I make my current leads be better quality. Those are two fairly universal marketing pain points that I think you can use generative AI or AI-powered digital assistance to help improve your funnel performance and velocity.

I think that's one thing is just stay focused on the one high value place. The other one is I think over time—this may be an over time thing, not right now—companies, especially large organizations, I hear all the time many of our customers forming AI ethics committees, organizations on how they appropriately want to bring it in, what guidelines and what sort of protocol and rails have to be in place for that. I think that's something we're going to see more and more, especially as you go up market into larger organizations where they're bringing this in more broadly and in many more different groups.

The first one is a no-duh to me. The other one, we'll have to wait and see a little bit, but I would anticipate that as being something you have to think about and connect to as you start bringing AI into your company to supercharge it.

George: That totally makes sense. As we start to land this plane, I'm a guy of both sides of the same coin. I asked about hurdles and potholes, so my brain immediately goes to what does success look like. I'm on the podium, I have the gold medal around my neck, everybody is cheering. When you think of generative AI or business conversations, or your sales funnel like we've talked about with this, how do we know we've reached that generative AI nirvana, if you will?

David: Tough but good question. I'll try to answer it the best I can. Certainly, you would expect to see major step changes in your revenue and your P&L and your company performance, but I would actually offer that I think really what success looks like is that AI has been deployed the right way with people.

We have this concept at Conversica, and I'm a strong believer in this, that this is going to really change how you think about how you organize and where you deploy people. Even in business today, there is a massive amount of highly repetitive work that people do. I really think this is an opportunity to break free of that and to get people doing what they're really good at.

I talked about the sales development function. How many emails and phone calls? Yes, there have been some new technologies that have made it a little bit faster, but it's fundamentally the same. Businesses don't design their workforce differently. I think success here is going to be organizations think about deploying and designing their workforces differently, where people actually do stuff that people are really good at rather than repetitive tasks.

It's a real common pushback point that you hear in the market, too. I would offer out at some point this is going to be a tipping point. It's actually more of a how you design your workforce to get maximum yield in the business. That's where I think success will go.

George: So good. It's interesting because I think a lot of the Marketing Smarts listeners can map out where they're at, where they want to get, and a little bit of the journey along the way to that road to generative AI success.

David, I always know I've had a journey, you've had a journey, the listeners are about to maybe go on a journey or are partially in their journey. Along that, we end up learning lessons, gaining wisdom. What are some words of wisdom that you would want to share with the Marketing Smarts listeners about either generative AI, AI, maybe AI in marketing, maybe about the Index, some final words of wisdom that you'd like to leave the podcast listeners with?

David: The first thing that immediately comes to my mind is really step back. I'm sort of dating myself here, but when I started marketing, the fax machine was in, so I've seen three or four big revolutions happen with marketing automation, mobile marketing, social media marketing. Having been in a marketing leadership position through all of those, this feels like the next big wave. I would just offer out that it's going to be hard to ignore it. Imagine living in a place right now where you were like, "I ignored social media," or if you're a B2C brand and you said, "I'm ignoring mobile." It would be impossible, you wouldn't succeed.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.

We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Allen Adamson about a brand differentiation through experience innovation conversation, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

...sign up for free to continue reading

Sign up for free resources.

Continue reading 'Generative AI-Powered Conversations and the Conversation Automation Index: David Greenberg on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]'

Don't worry ... it's FREE!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Don't miss a MarketingProfs podcast, subscribe to our free newsletter!

Published on