Peter Gillett is CEO of Zuant where he’s responsible for driving product development and client roll-outs of the company’s award-winning mobile lead capture app across US corporations. He is also CEO of Marketpoint Recall, a global recall and crisis management company.

A pioneer in database marketing since the late 1970s, Peter is a serial entrepreneur. He created the world’s first web-based CRM system funded by Lucent Technologies in the 1990s. In 2010, Peter launched the first CRM applications for the iPad. CRM, lead generation and follow-up are still the focus for Zuant and its network of NACCENT call centers around the globe.

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Business Radio I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us. I’m going to have a conversation this morning with Mr. Peter Gillett, he’s the CEO of Zuant where he’s responsible for driving product development and client roll outs of the company’s award-winning mobile lead capture app across US corporations. And he’s joining us this morning to talk about that company and AI and well strategies in business that are utilizing AI. Welcome to the program Peter, how are you?


Peter Gillett: I’m extremely well, thanks very much. We’re still enjoying the last remnants of summer


Neal: A long weekend ahead, probably well deserved for a lot of us, yeah?


Peter: Exactly, so roll up the sleeves and back to sales again.


Neal: Well as president as CEO of Zuant, talk about this company. How long has it been in existence?


Peter: Well it all came out of a sister company that handles response management for mainly business-to-business industrials around the world, handling response management through a network of contact centers in many different countries, about 20 different locations around the world. So allowing you to have that sort of personalization for your marketing to suit local styles and handle responses at trade shows. And if you go back 20 years, we were routinely requested to pick up a box of handwritten lead forms, loose business cards that had become detached and our task was trying to organize the data capture and distribution of those leads to the salespeople to follow up. So we soon scratched our heads and said “Look, let’s come up with a better mousetrap.” And to cut a long story short, that started life as a laptop, tablet cloud-based product which worked pretty well and then as soon as the iPad came out we saw an immediate opportunity to change gear into something a little more light and mobile and so that’s how it all took off and the Marketpoint name wasn’t particularly suited to promote a new technology app and therefore the Zuant, fast and light, came about.


Neal: So would you say that this is greatly improved from the first web-based CRM that you actually created?


Peter: Yes. I mean tech just keeps moving at such a pace. In both sides, in our business, we’re one of the pioneers in web-based CRM systems and I recall many presentations back in the late 90s to big companies and I wish I’d recorded them now. The comments like “Well I don’t see this internet thing catching on” and “Will people start using email?” I mean you have to pinch yourself to think back to those days but yes it’s getting faster and faster which is what I personally like. I love the tech and applying faster speeds and new features to our product in an industry which is still very conservative surprisingly.


Neal: How does AI fit into streamlining the sales leads and getting those leads to the salesperson and how does it change the role of the salesperson?


Peter: Well it should change your salesperson’s performance really dramatically but frankly AI has been around for decades but it’s become that sort of new. Its bedfellow is AR, isn’t it? And suddenly it’s flavor of the week to talk about these things but the perfect … operation would be one that works closely with marketing and that’s the big old debate, isn’t it? And the reality is that marketing has become much more complex, more digital of course and there are lots of specialists handling different aspects of social media and marketing automation and customer journey and so on. In a way marketing people have moved further and further away from working with sales teams so we have a few exceptions where AI can be used really well to monitor activities coming through from the web, linking that through to CRM systems to quote the Founder of Eloquent, that whole process of monitoring someone’s digital body language is still absolutely relevant today. When someone goes into a buying cycle and they’re starting to ask for white papers or going to your website and revisiting it, that’s a wonderful sign that someone’s a warm lead perhaps to talk to. So the ability to spot that because AI is so good to crunch a lot of numbers and pick out the needles in the haystack that you’d be passing across to your inside sales team and I think that’s an area neglecting a lot of business-to-business companies is A, not running really good digital monitoring nor linking it to an inside sales team that should be just as sophisticated as or more sophisticated and the sales guys that are ‘on the road’ because their job is then to check and verify if those prospects are just absolutely right for timing, budget, fully qualified to ping across the salespeople so AI starts that process and then it moves more into the human follow-up side so that the end customer or prospective customer just gets a really good customer experience as a result.


Neal: So needless to say we’re not looking at AI or automation replacing salespeople. That human touch is going to always be the I guess the final factor that makes or breaks a sale even though AI seems to be growing exponentially and learning how to learn day by day.


Peter: Yeah. I’m of an age to say that the good human salesperson will live forever because as human beings we like to be treated specially and looked after. If AI means the death of the sort the scripted, unintelligent, outbound telemarketing that we still all receive then I for one would be very happy about that. But the customer experience you can get if a company’s representatives whether they’re reception desk, manning a booth at a tradeshow, greeting you at the counter of when you’re renting a car, they’ve got AI to know exactly what you want and when you want it and type of car you want or which hotel you stay in and so on then I’m the opposite of the GDPR guys who just sort of want to disappear and not have your information stored. I love my information being stored and getting a good service wherever I go, ideally if we can.


Neal: What about the possibility of, I guess for lack of a better term, pigeonholing a sales or a marketing executive? You’ve got all this AI doing this preliminary work for you, lead generating, and all of a sudden you find that you’re getting the same type of lead or the same type of client and in marketing you have to be extremely flexible. You have to be open-minded and ready to take on that new challenge or that new curve.


Peter: Yes, for sure. So yes, the old sales team with the smart suit and the briefcase, portfolio, calling on regular clients – I think those days are long gone particularly in most industries that are visibly changing due to technology. So that means of that sales team needs to be really tuned in to these developments and be able to change what’s that worth, what they’re selling and offering new ways to do that. And for ourselves if we bring that back to our Zuant product, that style like 20 years ago is a really good way of tracking leads at shows and I’d like to say we have hundreds of clients using that around the world now and it’s now evolving where that mobile technology is being requested for sales teams on the road and the idea of having something that’s really light and nimble as an ad on your smartphone to have that instant follow-up as you leave a meeting to be able to follow up quickly and scan a business card and get that data automatically connected into your CRM rather than having to do that late into the small hours of the morning on your laptop when the moment has passed.


Neal: Well we’d like to go online and learn a lot more about your company Zuant. Where can we go and learn some more about Zuant and Marketpoint Recall as well?


Peter: So, it’s easy to find on the web. There are some great videos there just showing different applications for different customers the way they use Zuant which is quite nice and likewise is the other site and that’s for companies that may have suffered the trauma of a crisis or a product recall and not being prepared so in another way that’s where our applications apply nicely to help mobile product recalls and adjustments in the field and link you to call centers to give that sort of service so these are all things sort of world shrinkers in a way.


Neal: Well I appreciate you taking the time this morning Peter. It’s been a pleasure and I’m hoping to talk with you again in the future.


Peter: Ok, I look forward to it.


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