Sales Engagement Platform Outreach, which is enjoying significant growth and good press
Forbes estimated Outreach revenue at $70 million in its last fiscal year (January 2020) up from $38 million in fiscal year 2019. The firm is considering a direct IPO, but views that event as several years out. In the meantime, “Our goal is to take Outreach and become a large, independent company,” says DFJ Growth partner Sam Fort.
Outreach’s initial sales were mostly into tech firms such as DocuSign, where the software saves reps at least ten hours per month by streamlining and improving sales communications. “You have to land tens of thousands of customers and you can’t do that with a team of 100 people cold calling,” says DocuSign CRO Loren Alhadeff. “Your best bet is to find a way to make your touches more important and more pertinent.”
Medina sees the opportunity as much broader and believes only 1% of the market has been tapped. Sales engagement may even expand beyond B2B sales functions and support higher-end consumer sales roles such as financial advisors and mortgage brokers.
The path to success has been rocky. The firm began in the recruitment space and was nearly bankrupt when it began marketing some internal sales tools it developed. Outreach has also had problems with employee churn due to rapid hiring, a difficult winner-take-all pace that burned-out staff, and a male culture that permitted “sexually charged jokes.”
But Medina, an Ecuadorian immigrant, realized that cultural change was necessary. “I don’t come from central casting. I’m not an old white guy from Silicon Valley,” he said. “I know what it’s like to be marginalized, so I take this to heart.”
To address these problems, the firm released managers that promoted the negative culture, centralized sales teams so that reps could learn from each other, and hired Anna Baird as COO. Baird has focused on hiring and building an inclusive culture where “everyone has a fair shot.”
The executive team is now 40% female with a goal of parity. “This is not a checkbox for me,” said Medina. “This is the life I want to live. I want to be surrounded by people who want to feel included, who are doing their best work with peers that they love and respect.”
Cancels Unleash 2020 (Covid 19)
SalesLoft and Outreach both made difficult decisions this week, canceling planned user conferences. SalesLoft aborted its Rev2020 conference, which was to open today, and Outreach scrubbed its April Unleash show. Adobe, Zendesk, and Shopify also canceled events, while Twitter and Facebook pulled out of SXSW.
We have been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our community, employees, customers, and partners. After careful consideration of the developing situation, we have come to the incredibly difficult decision to cancel Unleash 2020 scheduled for April 7-9.
Unleash is my favorite event of the year. I love having the chance to meet with all of you and share in the excitement of what’s to come. It’s with a heavy heart that we made the decision, but we believe your health and safety should come first, no matter what.Outreach CEO Manny Medina (March 3, 2020)
SalesLoft will still be presenting its opening keynote, but as a virtual presentation on Tuesday. Outreach is planning a virtual event and twelve-city Unleash Summit tour later this year.
Vendors invest millions in marketing dollars hosting their own events. It is an excellent opportunity for them to build their brand, promote ecosystem partners, roll out their roadmap, provide specialized training by job function and role, expand their organizational presence at current accounts, and convert prospects to customers.