SalesLoft $15M Round B

The SalesLoft Dialer supports one-click dialing from Salesforce and Inboxes. Calls are managed as part of multi-channel cadences and automatically logged.
The SalesLoft Dialer supports one-click dialing from Salesforce and Inboxes. Calls are managed as part of multi-channel cadences and automatically logged.

Last month, Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendor SalesLoft closed on a $15M Round B twenty-two months after closing on a $10.15M Series A.  The new round, which valued the firm at $100 million, was led by David Cummings, the founder of Pardot, and his Atlanta Ventures.  SalesLoft chose to work with its existing Atlanta-based investor team.  Cummings chipped in $10 million with Spinnaker Investments and Emergence Capital contributing their pro-rata shares.

By extending Round B amongst current investors, SalesLoft was able to “keep our board the same, move fast to close, and get back to the work of serving our customers immediately,” said CEO Kyle Porter.

Heading into the new year, our growth left us with enough cash in the bank and a modest enough burn rate to keep running for the next few years.  But we’re on a mission to transform the sales industry and be the clear No. 1 in our category. Achieving that mission requires additional investment in the platform, innovation, and our community so we deliver significant value to our customers. For that reason, we decided it was time to double down on our market and put more capital to work.

  • CEO Kyle Porter

The round and funding strategy were proposed by Cummings.  “David [Cummings] is a close friend, mentor, investor, board member, and advisor who has been on the journey with SalesLoft since the very beginning,” said Porter.  “David’s career journey had imprinted on him the value in being a market leader and he recognized the magnitude of the sales engagement opportunity.”

While the firm’s burn rate was low enough to hold off on another round for a few years, “we’re on a mission to transform the sales industry and be the clear #1 in our category,” blogged Porter.  “Achieving that mission requires additional investment in the platform, innovation, and our community so we deliver significant value to our customers. For that reason, we decided it was time to double down on our market and put more capital to work.”

SalesLoft maintains a level of transparency that exceeds most companies with detailed discussions around funding, corporate culture, and product strategy.  While most companies provide pro-forma press releases around funding announcements, SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter wrote detailed blogs around both rounds and presented a case study on his decision to abandon SalesLoft’s successful Prospector service while Cadence was still in its formative stage.

The funding will be used towards product, marketing, and opening an office in San Francisco.  The 2017 product focus includes improved orchestration between sales, marketing, and supporting executives; enhanced insights and reports; expanded governance tools; role based workflow assignments; and enhanced analytics.  Furthermore, “SalesLoft will be at your fingertips at all times, delivering core applications to wherever your reps live in everyday, like Gmail, Outlook, Dynamics, and Salesforce.”

SalesLoft plans to continued expansion of its ecosystem which already includes a broad set of partners:

  • Company/Contacts: InsideView, RingLead, Prospectify
  • Technology: Datanyze, DiscoverOrg, HG Data
  • News: Owler
  • Coaching: ExecVision, TalkIQ, Crystal, People.ai, Gong.io
  • Workflow: Sigstr, Chili Piper
  • Social: ProLeads

Additional partners will be announced at their upcoming Rainmaker Sales Engagement conference.

Although they did not detail their 2017 partner list, the firm named Vidyard and DocSend as 2017 connectors when I was profiling their service for my book.  Vidyard provides video integration into emails with the customer service rep option to record a quick intro.  DocSend provides intra-document tracking tools and analytics which display information on what sections were viewed and for how long.

In 2016, SalesLoft trebled its Annualized Run Rate (ARR) while phasing out its $4 million Prospector Service and expanding the Cadence ABSD offering.  Over this time, the Cadence product increased its ARR by 5,000 percent (from less than $200, 000).  Cadence now has over 1,000 customers.

SalesLoft has grown from 5 employees in early 2014 to 125 with plans to add 85 headcount in the coming months.

The firm is focused on “serving the customer,”  said Porter.  “It was our intention to build a company based entirely on a set of core values and to this date, it’s been the best decision we’ve ever made.”

Porter lists the firms core values as

  • Put Customers First
  • Focus on Results
  • Glass Half Full
  • Bias Toward Action
  • Team over Self

Focusing on values allows us to be intentional about our behavior on a daily basis.  This sets the foundation for healthy teams to establish trust, inspire growth, and achieve something special together.

  • CEO Kyle Porter

While many companies view culture as corporate window dressing around perks and office space, SalesLoft COO Rob Forman defines culture as “our values, consistently applied.”

DiscoverOrg AccountView ICP Tool

Intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced a new Account Based Marketing (ABM) tool called AccountView which helps marketers identify the attributes of their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).  The new feature analyzes an account file which it calls a portfolio, enriches it with firmographics and technographics, and then provides a portfolio visualization dashboard of the accounts.  The service also identifies similar companies to the top accounts, prioritizes them, and identifies best fit decision-makers at the net-new accounts.

The AccountView Dashboard provides firmographic and technographic segmentation analysis.
The AccountView Dashboard provides firmographic and technographic segmentation analysis.

The portfolio segmentation dashboard tiles include

  • Size: Revenue and Employee Bar Charts
  • Industry: Primary Industry Pie Chart; SIC and NAICS top frequency lists
  • Technology: Technology lists
  • Ownership: Ownership Structure Pie Chart
  • Companies: Portfolio companies with employee and revenue data.  Company names are hyperlinked to their DiscoverOrg profiles.

Although geographic segmentation is not yet available, it is on the product roadmap.

Within the list tiles, users can search for specific elements (i.e. SIC, NAICS, technology, or company name).

Proposed contacts are shown within org charts with direct dial phones and emails to assist with organizational context and reach out.  DiscoverOrg also provides detailed platform information and a set of sales triggers.

Marketing and sales teams can drill into specific bars or wedges to further research segments.  To quickly refine models, customers can remove outliers to focus the ICP around high frequency variables.

Company Lists include DealPredict Scores and Lightning Bolt Alert Flags.
Company Lists include DealPredict Scores and Lightning Bolt Alert Flags.

Portfolios may be uploaded as CSV files, bulk matched within DiscoverOrg, or generated via DiscoverOrg prospecting.  Result lists may be saved as lists, viewed as searches, or exported to CSV files.  Models may also be loaded into DealPredict where company lists are displayed with Deal Predict scores of zero to five stars.  Next to DealPredict scores, DiscoverOrg displays a lightning bolt icon if the company has a Sales Trigger or OppAlerts in the past sixty days.  OppAlerts are intent based triggers which have been researched by DiscoverOrg editors or gathered through B2B publishers’ online content consumption data.  By clicking on the lightning bolt, reps are shown the related events.

Within DealPredict, company lists are dynamically maintained to reflect the current firmographic and technographic lists of companies.  If there is a change in company size or implemented technology, the DealPredict scores are automatically updated every time a search is conducted.  Likewise, companies which are added to the DiscoverOrg database are automatically scored.

The very foundation of successful sales and marketing is figuring out who your best customers are, understanding why they are the best, and finding more prospects just like them.  What could be a painful analytical exercise is made simple and straightforward with DiscoverOrg’s account-based marketing features, and the result is faster growth for customers who can more effectively identify, understand, and engage with their ideal buyer.

  • DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

DiscoverOrg suggests a number of account list categories that can be analyzed including the full customer list, high or low spend customers, renewing or non-renewing customers, high or low profitability customers, competitor customer lists, and prospect accounts.  For example, running a competitor’s customer profile through AccountView helps you “determine ways to improve your product, messaging, or positioning.  Likewise, running the non-renewed customer list through AccountView will help identify high-churn candidates for special programs.

Although DiscoverOrg recommends sets of strong and weak account lists, AccountView does not have the ability to discriminate between the two categories.  Thus, marketers would need to separately run the paired lists, compare the portfolio results, and adjust the models for overlapping variables.  For example, knowing that Microsoft Office is heavily used by both strong and weak accounts would indicate that MS Office is a frequently occurring, but non-predictive variable.

Future features include support for multiple models, grouping tech functions by category, sharing models across all users, geographic segmentation reports, and uploading contact information to assist with defining job functions and levels.

AccountView is the latest capability within DiscoverOrg’s ABM Toolkit.  Other features include DiscoverOrg’s DealPredict predictive rankings for companies and contacts, OppAlerts intent-based opportunities, and sales triggers.

DealPredict provides predictive scores similar to those provided by predictive analytics companies.  DiscoverOrg CMO Katie Bullard noted that unlike some black-box predictive platforms, AccountView analysis and DealPredict models are fully visible to sales and marketing users.

The AccountView analytics and net-new account service is included as part of the DiscoverOrg service.  Firms license access to specific DiscoverOrg datasets and a set number of seats.  Licensed users then have unlimited access to the licensed content for viewing, uploading, or downloading.

Other sales intelligence companies that have developed AccountView-like functionality include Dun & Bradstreet (Workbench), Avention (DataVision), and Zoominfo (Growth Acceleration Platform).

DiscoverOrg, which hit $71 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) at the end of 2016, has expanded its customer base beyond technology companies.  Over 15% of revenues now come from marketing agencies, staffing firms, and consultancies.

DiscoverOrg is one of fourteen vendors covered in my “2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors“.

LinkedIn Desktop Redesign

The LinkedIn redesign includes streamlined navigation, smarter messaging, and improved feeds.
The LinkedIn redesign includes streamlined navigation, smarter messaging, more intuitive searching, and improved feeds.

LinkedIn has been rolling out a new desktop design to its 467 million members over the past few weeks.  The new user experience provides a streamlined navigation, “smarter messaging,” improved feeds, “more intuitive searches,” and assistance with member profile design and assessing who has viewed your profile.

“Our goal is to ensure you can seamlessly access the most relevant professional conversations, content and opportunities whether you’re on our mobile app or on our desktop experience,” blogged LinkedIn Director of Engineering Chris Pruett.  “Most importantly, this desktop redesign brings conversations and content to the heart of the platform, so you can more easily share ideas, join a discussion, and discover news and topics you care about.”

One of the focal areas for improvement is their feed.  Although the company acquired Newsle and Pulse a few years ago, the feed has remained stubbornly off-message (I last complained about it in my December Five Hopes article).  LinkedIn is promising that “with a combination of algorithms and human editors working together, we’ve fine tuned your Feed to surface the most relevant content from people and publishers you care most about. We’ll also be adding new ways for you to dive deep into specific topics relevant to you and follow trending stories.”

“The algorithm is the one taking the signals and the editorial team can highlight a specific story,” said Tomer Cohen head of content, search and discovery products at LinkedIn. “This is what I see as one of our strongest assets on LinkedIn, the collaboration between algorithm and editorial working together.”

The desktop will offer a universal search box for finding people, jobs, companies, groups, and schools.  There is a set of filters which allow users to refine their search by content category.  The user can then filter further by location, degree of connection, company affiliations, etc.

Post searching is coming soon. They don’t indicate whether they have solved their long-tail content search issue, but hopefully they are addressing that issue as well.  If individuals and companies are to use LinkedIn posts to burnish their brands, the content needs to be accessible.  It seems pointless to use LinkedIn as a blogging platform if your ideas fall below the surface after a few days and aren’t easily retrievable.  They also need to surface postings and updates for individuals and companies within profiles.  This content is some of the best material for understanding the interests, biases, and concerns of customers and prospects.  It needs to be leveraged for job seekers, recruiters, sales reps, and researchers.

LinkedIn claims that they have already had some success with improving their feed. Over the past year, engaged sessions in the feed grew by forty percent and referral traffic to some their top posters doubled or trebled.

To assist members’ promotional activities, LinkedIn is honing its profile suggestions and providing “greater insight” into who has viewed your profile.

Messaging improvements include expanding the presence of messaging across LinkedIn pages and surfacing ice breakers such as individuals in your network that work at a firm.

I am still waiting for the rollout to reach my account, so I cannot comment on whether LinkedIn achieved their stated goals.  However, there is a very popular Open Letter to CEO Jeff Weiner” excoriating him and LinkedIn on the redesign.  Issues included the lack of a before and after comparison to assist with feature changes, slow performance, missing / hidden analytics, and weak precision on trending article display.  The letter identified eleven areas of concern and includes a set of updates as he has had ongoing discussions with the firm since his letter was posted on the ninth.  Normally, one would expect some blowback on any redesign, but in six days the letter has received nearly 6,000 likes and 1,300 comments.

Owler Insights Displayed within SalesLoft

Owler news is visible to SDRs while they are customizing emails or planning for their next call.
Owler news is visible to SDRs while they are customizing emails or planning for their next call.

ABSD vendor Owler officially announced their SalesLoft connector which feeds Owler News and Alerts into the SalesLoft Sales Engagement platform.  Owler is one of several content partners that participate in SalesLoft’s partner ecosystem.  Owler intelligence is delivered via a combination of mined content (news, blogs, press releases), editorial work (funding and M&A announcements), and crowdsourced intelligence concerning competitors, company size, CEO approval, and future expectations.

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter posed the problem of engaging prospects as one of quickly understanding them.

How do you portray that feeling?  How do you portray that understanding that you know what they’re up to?  That you know who they are?  That you think you can help and you’ve got hypotheses about their needs?  And I think the answer to that is sales intelligence and so for the last few year of my career I’ve been looking for amazing products that help our customers learn more about the prospects they are reaching out to whether it’s the account or whether it’s the individual themselves.

Owler provides integrated news, press releases, funding histories, videos (YouTube and Vimeo), and corporate blogs from within SalesLoft company and contact records.  The partnerships allows sales reps to plan their account messaging without toggling to another platform.  Users can even filter headlines by content type and copy links directly into emails.

SalesLoft noted a “dramatic increase” in reply rates and meaningful conversations due to Owler insights.  The integration has helped “increase the level and efficiency of personalization that the modern sales rep can add when they’re communicating with their buyers,” said SalesLoft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.  “So they can better connect, quality, and convert their target accounts into customer accounts.”

SalesLoft trains SDRs on a 10-80-10 strategy for creating “sincerity at scale.”  SalesLoft suggests that the first ten percent of the email should have a custom hook from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Owler.  The goal is to “find something relevant and connect with them on that level,” said SalesLoft SDR Brad Ansley.  The 80% message core should focus on how your product relates to their pains.  It should not be a feature dump, but must “give them a reason to respond.”   The final ten percent is a “PS line” to connect on a more personal level (e.g. Congrats on the Pats).

Other SalesLoft content partners include InsideView, Datanyze, HG Data, DiscoverOrg, RingLead, and Prospectify.  SalesLoft also provides messaging assistance and coaching tools such as Crystal prospect personality analysis, Sigstr email signature management, Chili Piper calendaring, and call transcription and analytics from TalkIQ, ExecVision, and Gong.io.

Sales Intelligence Vendors Move Upstream

ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.
ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.

Five years ago, Sales Intelligence vendors avoided selling into the marketing  department.  While there were a few enrichment projects for CRMs, these were driven by Sales Ops, not marketing departments.  Furthermore, SalesTech products are sold on a per seat basis for sales reps while marketing revenue is generally volume based (e.g. number of prospecting records sold or records enriched).  This made pricing of services difficult.

But MarTech was receiving heavy investments and several firms shifted their focus from sales to marketing.  Zoominfo began discussing Sales and Marketing Alignment and developed a set of marketing tools.  The firm, which had been struggling to grow revenue for several years, is again on a growth trajectory and made the two most recent Inc. 5000 lists.

InsideView also began developing marketing functionality and now treats the two departments equally.  Most of InsideView’s recent investment has been in building out marketing solutions or expanding their company and contact coverage (which benefits sales and marketing equally).

At the beginning of 2015, Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex for its contact database and Workbench hygiene platform.  The firm also used NetProspex as the basis for their Audience Solutions programmatic marketing service which was launched in 2015.

In 2016, the Sales Intelligence vendors continued to move upstream into marketing intelligence and hygiene.  InsideView continues to enhance its Target, Enrich, and Refresh marketing tools while Avention launched OneSource DataVision for web form enrichment, continuous enrichment, segmentation, look-a-like prospecting, and TAM analysis.  Avention also launched Marketo and Eloqua connectors for their OneSource service.

“OneSource DataVision naturally extends the sales and marketing benefits our customers can gain from OneSource Solutions by being even more targeted with campaigns and programmes – including account-based,” said Avention SVP of Product Lauren Bakewell. “Better qualified leads and more targeted account-based approaches should bring better sales results, which should in turn strengthen sales and marketing alignment; we feel alignment happens best when sales forecasts are being met and exceeded!”

Zoominfo has repositioned itself as a MarTech company with a rebranding of their platform as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform.  While sales reps are still supported, the emphasis is on data enrichment, segmentation analysis, cluster analysis, and look-a-like prospecting against clusters.

DiscoverOrg and RainKing also placed greater emphasis upon marketing and ABM capabilities.  Both services support predictive rankings of accounts and contacts, MAP and CRM enrichment, and new opportunities (Inside Scoops from RainKing and OppAlerts and sales triggers from DiscoverOrg).

In 2017 and 2018, expect the walls between SalesTech and MarTech to crumble.  The opportunity to offer a solution for both departments via a shared reference database will continue to drive strategy at these firms.  As MarTech begins to consolidate, expect M&A activity within the sector and vertically with SalesTech vendors.

Sales Intelligence vendors have key assets that benefit marketing departments including large company and contact datasets for prospecting and enrichment; firmographic data for lead scoring, targeting, segmentation, and routing; and the growing ability to tie leads to accounts in real-time.  They are also well positioned to support ABM functionality with profiling, analytics (segmentation, Total Addressable Market analysis), and look-a-like prospecting.

Of course, MarTech is also beginning to eye SalesTech.  Last spring, Demandbase acquired Spiderbook and leveraged its capabilities to launch their DemandGraph relationship dataset.  The expanded content set employs semantic mining and machine learning to assemble the “entire business network of a company” which helps  “identify which companies and buying committees are in-market for particular solutions.”  The DemandGraph helps users target in-market accounts, identify key buyers, uncover meaningful insights, and deliver personalized content.  While they have not announced specific predictive tools or capabilities, they are hinting at such tools.

Demandbase DemandGraph
Demandbase DemandGraph

Meanwhile, the predictive analytics companies, which originally focused on lead scoring, are now building sales functionality including net-new contacts at accounts, account prioritization, flagging churn candidates,  and providing recommendations for sales reps.

Things are just beginning to get interesting.

ABM and High Growth Companies

Account Based Strategy Adoption Rates (DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools)
Account Based Strategy Adoption Rates (DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools)

A joint study by DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools of 200 sales and marketing organizations found that high growth companies with at least 40% growth over the past three years are 2.5 times more likely to have adopted an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy.  Furthermore high growth companies are twice as likely to have successful cold calling programs and are more likely to have a dedicated outbound prospecting team.  High growth firms are also more likely to hire sales reps based upon their “tech-savvy” than experience and have adopted twice as many sales technologies than their slower growth brethren.  With respect to MarTech, high-growth companies have adopted 24% more marketing solutions.

The study also found that fast growth companies provide at least three hours of coaching or training per week to their sales teams.  At slower growth companies, training appeared to have less of an effect.  According to the report, “While an increase in training hours correlated with a rise in growth rates for the high growth group, it did not with low growth companies. This suggests that training may not in of itself cause growth, but it is critical in sustaining it. Fast growing organizations need to train constantly to maintain momentum and enable teams to perform at a high level. Companies that err on the side of less training and coaching do not appear to set their teams up for the same level of success.”

“The findings clearly demonstrate that achieving fast growth is not as simple as having a great product and hiring experienced sales reps.  Sales and marketing teams that are true revenue-generating engines take risks and do the hard things – like cold calling, focusing on data quality, and heavily aligning sales and marketing teams across account-based strategies.”

– DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

“Technology proliferation in the sales and marketing industry is both a challenge and an opportunity,” added  Nancy Nardin, CEO of Smart Selling Tools. “The fastest growing companies are investing in technologies that make their sales and marketing teams more productive and more insightful, while recognizing it is equally as important to have highly trained team members who know how to leverage that technology to its fullest power.”

The primary inhibitor of even faster growth at high growth companies was data quality issues concerning accounts and contacts.

The top technology available to sales reps were CRM (52%) and LinkedIn (free LinkedIn was deployed at 45% , premium LinkedIn at 33%, and Sales Navigator at 27% of sales teams).  Pipeline and Opportunity Management software was third at 42%.  Rounding out the top five were compensation/commission software and sales intelligence, both with a 38% deployment rate.  Surprisingly, 37% of sales teams still employ account and contact data providers / list providers.  As sales intelligence vendors support list building along with sales intelligence (and some also data hygiene), there are likely ongoing opportunities to move sales teams up the value chain from list purchases.

Predictive analytics / predictive intelligence placed 36th out of 37 technologies with only a 5% deployment rate.  As Gartner estimated the total global market for predictive analytics technology to be between $100 and $150 million, this low penetration rate should not be overly surprising.

The study, conducted in November, used 40% growth between 2013 and 2016 (estimated) as the high growth cutoff as it is represents the recent growth floor for Inc. 5000 membership.  Of the 200 firms studied, 17% fell into the high-growth category, 69% fell into the low-growth category (1-39%), 13% had flat revenue, and 1% had declining revenues.  The survey was over weighted to technology companies with software, IT Services and Telco as the top three industries surveyed.  82% of the firms were B2B and 85% were headquartered in the US.

Marketers Expectations for AI

A November study by Demandbase and Wakefield Research of 500 B2B marketers (250+ employees) found that while marketers are confident that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will reshape marketing by 2020, they lack confidence in how to implement the new technology.  According to Demandbase, “80 percent of all marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize marketing over the next 5 years, but only 26 percent are very confident they understand how AI is used in marketing and only 10 percent of marketers are currently using AI today.”

Marketers had numerous concerns about implementing AI, including

  • Integrating AI into their existing technology (60%)
  • Training employees (54%)
  • Difficulty interpreting the results (46%)
  • Implementation costs (42%)

On the benefits side, marketers listed

  • Better insights into accounts (60%)
  • More detailed analysis of campaigns (56%)
  • Identifying prospective customers (53%)
  • Expediting daily tasks (53%)

“As someone who has been studying AI for many years, I’ve recognized the promise of AI and B2B marketing for some time, which makes it really rewarding to see this vision is now shared by marketing executives,” said Aman Naimat, SVP of Technology at Demandbase. “This data reveals that in order to be successful, marketing leaders need to lead the charge and present opportunities for AI instruction and experience for their teams, to ensure implementing it into their B2B technology stacks is effective.”

 

marketersonai

In a November Harvard Business Review article titled “How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management,” (Vegard Kolbjørnsrud, Richard Amico, and Robert J. Thomas), the authors offered a set of best practices for managers.  Noting that managers spend 54% of their time on administrative tasks such as scheduling, monitoring, and reporting, they suggest that managers transition administrative tasks to AI.  Instead managers should focus more on judgment work which combines rules with “their knowledge of organizational history and culture, as well as empathy and ethical reflection.”  Thus, there will be a greater emphasis upon “judgment-oriented skills” such as “creative thinking and experimentation, data analysis and interpretation, and strategy development.”

The authors also suggested viewing AI as a trusted colleague instead of a “race against the machine.”  Thus, managers can merge judgment with AI-based decision support, simulations, and search and discovery activities.  A full 78% of managers believe they will trust the advice of intelligent systems.  Furthermore, because AI will be approachable through voice and other intuitive interfaces, AI will be their “always-available assistant and adviser.”

Another recommendation was harnessing the creativity and ideas of co-workers and team members.  With time freed from administrative tasks, there is more time for synthesizing multiple ideas and formulating new products and processes.  “Manager-designers bring together diverse ideas into integrated, workable, and appealing solutions. They embed design thinking into the practices of their teams and organizations.”

Finally, managers will need to hone their social skills with an emphasis on networking, coaching, and collaborating.

The authors concluded that “writing earnings reports is one thing, but developing messages that can engage a workforce and provide a sense of purpose is human through and through. Tracking schedules and resources may soon fall within the jurisdiction of machines, but drafting strategy remains unmistakably human. Simply put, our recommendation is to adopt AI in order to automate administration and to augment but not replace human judgment.”