SalesTech Spotlight: Conversation Intelligence - Refract

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

In this week’s SalesTech Spotlight, we’re talking to Richard Smith, Co-Founder of rising sales coaching and conversation intelligence software, Refract.

Thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s dive straight in. For the uninitiated, can you give us the lowdown on Refract: What is it?

Our philosophy is that ultimately, sales success (or failure) is largely determined in the conversations we have with prospects. When sales people understand how to hold more impactful and effective conversations, they typically get better outcomes. The problem, is that most sales organisations are not investing the right amount of time analysing and improving conversation quality and this is one of the biggest reasons why most sales people fail to hit quota, and many companies have big problems with sales team turnover."

Refract is helping to solve this problem, by analysing all of your sales conversations, surfacing key coachable insight, and signposting to managers the right calls to listen to at the right time. We then give the important tools to help give feedback to reps, and share what top performers are doing differently.

A handful of Refract's call intelligence metrics

What attracted you to the world of sales coaching, and more specifically, call intelligence?

It was all born from my own experiences in sales. My first ever sales role as an SDR involved just picking up the phone and trying to figure it out.

I was in a similar situation as most sales people are, where the feedback I received from my manager was limited and sporadic, the lack of insight I had into the conversations my peers were having was non-existent, and I made far too many mistakes which held me back.

The concept of making conversations more widely visible across an organisation, and empowering managers to become more effective at doing what they should be doing (helping their reps improve), felt like a compelling reason. So many products and services these days are very similar. Reps can no longer just expect their products do the talking. Companies need to understand that their biggest competitive differentiation is in how their reps sell in practice. Refract helps them with that.

'Telesales' has endured a chequered reputation in the past: what do you say to those doubting its current relevance in the B2B sales process?

Well the data suggests otherwise. ‘Telesales’ (or Inside Sales in modern terms) is growing 300% faster than traditional ‘outside sales’.

The evolution of communications technologies combined with an appetite for organisations to have a more cost efficient sales strategy, means more and more people are getting comfortable with selling over the phone. Inside sales is only getting more relevant.

When people hear the word ‘telesales’ they immediately associate this with people trying to flog double glazing whilst you’re sat at home at 7:00pm at night! Telesales is so much more than that. However, I think crucial to changing these negative perceptions, is exactly why Refract exists. To help make the sales profession more ‘professional’, by helping to improve the buyer experience through enabling sales people to have more effective conversations.

As champions of objective sales excellence: we love a stat. Any fact bombs you could drop on us?

Oh gosh...I have lots. But here's a couple of startling ones….

  • Only 12% of salespeople are strong consultative sellers. 38% of salespeople are weak consultative sellers (Objective Management Group)

  • 82% of Sales Managers claim they coach their sales people. Yet only 48% of sales people claim they receive ANY coaching. Yikes. (Jim Keenan)

In a nutshell: how does refract help businesses to grow?

We help them rapidly identify and remedy mistakes made by sales people in their conversations, whilst sharing what their top sales people do differently, thus bridging the gap between top and middle performers.

We also enable them to ramp new sales reps quicker than ever by getting new reps exposed to and practicing; ‘what great looks like’.

Refract Co-Founder and Head of Sales, Richard Smith

What’s been your own biggest growth challenge?

For us, its been a challenge of being one of a small few in an emerging technology category. The conversation intelligence space is still an early adopter market, so people weren’t necessarily aware or looking for tech like ours. That's definitely changing though, with many people now classifying CI as ‘table stakes’ in their sales tech stack.

On top of that, one of our biggest challenges is battling with poor sales cultures. Most companies aren’t investing time helping their reps get better and its difficult to change that.

Often times we are having to educate our prospects on the importance of coaching before we even start positioning our product.

Where do you see the future of Conversation Intelligence in say; 10 years’ time?

I think as AI and Machine Learning tech gets stronger, then there will be even greater efficiencies for sales organisations to truly understand at a deeper level whats happening in conversations in less time. I think we will be able to get to a point where you will be able to truly judge the ins and outs of a conversation without having to listen to it. Furthermore, I see more personalised actions and outcomes generated for sales people based on what happened in a sales conversation, further alleviating the time pressures on managers.

There's a lot of talk about ‘automated coaching’. We’re not there yet, but its not out of the question to think that's possible in 10 years time with the evolution of call intelligence.

Exciting times! Finally, any top tips to help our sales leaders grow their business?

Invest the time every single day to help make your people that much better at what they do.

All other tasks and meetings which you are getting involved in will not drive the needle as much as coaching your own people. Build in time blocks to your daily schedule dedicated to ‘coaching’ time and never move them. They will become the most important time slots of your week.

Richard's top growth tip? Coaching, and more of it!


Want to learn more? Head over to Refract's website to get the full story...


Phone: 0203 608 8785



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