An AI startup founder is teaming up with a former hostage negotiator to help businesses boost their sales

Chris VossBusiness InsiderBlack Swan CEO Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator.

It sounds like the set up to a joke: a former FBI hostage negotiator and a founder of an artificial intelligence startup walk into a room …

In this case, though, it’s no joke, but the basis for a lecture series. Sponsored by AI startup Node and targeted at sales and marketing executives and managers, the series is designed to help companies understand how they can boost their business by combining AI with the emotional intelligence possessed by their human workforce.

“We’re going to marry AI with emotional intelligence and we are going to smash through barriers really fast,” said Chris Voss, the CEO of Black Swan group, who is teaming up with Node founder Falon Fatemi to put on the lecture series, which kicked off with a half-day event Tuesday in San Francisco.

AI technologies such as Node’s have become so advanced that they can not only help managers find the right people to talk to for potential business deals, they can even suggest conversation openers. That’s potentially taken a lot of the tedious work out of sales jobs — and opened up opportunities for sales managers.

“Technologies like artificial intelligence are going to be so pervasive we’re going to be freed up to really be able to focus on interactions with one and other,” said Fatemi.

Falon Fatemi - NodeNodeFalon Fatemi’s startup, Node, uses artificial intelligence to help companies find sales leads.

That’s where Voss, the former hostage negotiator, comes in. As he explains it, technology like AI has created the Jetsons-like world that we now live in. But emotionally and psychologically, people are still in the Fred Flintstone era. Business leaders can use technology to get sales leads, but they still need to know how to relate to and interact with other human beings.

“My stuff helps you understand what’s going on in Fred Flintstone’s head so we can get to live in a Jetsons world.” he said.

The marriage of the two approaches could offer big benefits. Voss said he’s seen people who have combined AI with human-based emotional intelligence techniques quadruple their sales rates.

The initial event included sessions on advanced negotiating techniques, scenario planning, and examples of how to pair Voss’ human skills with AI to close sales deals.

Node plans to offer future events in the series in New York and Los Angeles, depending on demand.

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