Vidyard Hires Lister as COO; 2022 Product Enhancements

Asynchronous video vendor Vidyard announced the appointment of Jonathan Lister as its new COO.  Lister joins from LinkedIn, where he served as VP of Global Sales Solutions.  Prior to LinkedIn, Lister was the Country Manager for Google Canada and held multiple executive positions at AOL.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Jonathan to the Vidyard team,” said Vidyard CEO Michael Litt.  “His unique experience as a global leader at LinkedIn will be a tremendous asset as we build on our mission to empower every go-to-market professional with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in the new world of digital customer communication.”

While at LinkedIn, Lister increased the division’s customer base to one million users paying $1,000 per year for Sales Navigator.

“So, he drove it to a billion dollars a year in revenue,” said Litt.  “And we have the same user — the sales professional using video to communicate with their customers.”

“The next stage is, how do we commercialize and value at scale?” continued Litt.  “And that is exactly what Jonathan is here to help us with.”

Video adoption remains strong among sales and marketing organizations.  According to Demand Metric’s 2022 State of Video Report, 82% of go-to-market teams report that video is becoming increasingly important when connecting with buyers.  Furthermore, 70% of sales reps stated that video converts better than other content formats.

“There are few SalesTech companies that are truly focused on empowering the individual sales professional,” said Lister.  “That’s really what drew me to Vidyard.  I believe the company is uniquely positioned in that its products can be used by any go-to-market professional in the world to impact every stage of the customer journey.  I’m looking forward to building on Vidyard’s strong momentum and reputation as a world-class provider of sales technology and community education.”

Vidyard also provided a summary of its 2022 enhancements

  • Video Templates: Video Templates guide sellers on how to use videos across various including getting in front of a new prospect, recording a custom demo, or closing out a deal.  Video Templates include sample scripts, example videos, recording tips, and related best practices.  There are also community-contributed templates from Shari Levitan, Sales Gravy, Katherine Caldwell, Todd Caponi, and Salesloft.
  • Enhanced Editing: Enhanced video trimming and cutting features.
  • Video Chapters: Add chapters to mark specific topics and improved navigation.
  • Salesloft Insights Integration: Salesloft users can discover which prospects are watching their videos natively within Salesloft. Vidyard video views are surfaced within the Salesloft activity feed to “empower sellers with timely customer insights.”
  • Sales Feed Learning Hub: Vidyard launched a new learning hub, accessible within the Vidyard app, powered by its Sales Feed media network.  Vidyard users can access sales learning content, including cold calling, prospecting, discovery and qualification, negotiation and proposals, and selling with video.

“Our singular focus with Sales Feed is to help B2B sales professionals learn, laugh, and live a better life in sales,” said Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing at Vidyard and Head of Sales Feed.  “The response we’ve received from our community has been nothing short of incredible, and we’re thrilled to put our top-rated content into the hands of every Vidyard user.  At the end of the day, if we can help one more sales rep close one more deal – and feel good about how they did it – we feel like we’ve done our jobs.”

Litt argued that field sales reps were already in decline in 2020 and that “the pandemic basically killed field selling,”  The pandemic forced firms to sell remotely, benefiting Vidyard, which offered a personalized communications channel that allowed sales reps to stand out in the inbox.

“That story played out again, and again, and again,” said Litt.  “That enabled us to accelerate our trajectory through to profitability, invest as much as we could back into [research and development], and totally embrace this video messaging story.”

Vidyard now supports 12 million business professionals at 250,000 companies.  At this point, the firm can either operate on a cash flow neutral basis or be more aggressive to foster growth.

Vidyard has not had a funding round since 2019, as the firm did not look for an “insane valuation.”  Litt said, “[this] means not doing big financial raises at crazy valuations because we want our employees to have upside.  We want all of our stakeholders to be engaged with the same outcome.”

Litt said Vidyard has been “judicious” about its spending.  The CEO noted that the company has kept its focus on retaining “really strong delta option value,” adding, “[this] means not doing big financial raises at crazy valuations because we want our employees to have upside [and] we want all of our stakeholders to be engaged with the same outcome.”

Although the firm did not state its current revenue, Litt sees $100 million as Vidyard’s “next meaningful milestone.”

Litt sees a great opportunity in asynchronous video.  Vidyard’s R&D efforts center around more compelling video content, including AI assistance to improve content efficacy.

As firms face a challenging market, Litt is eyeing potential acquisitions, “especially in the next couple of quarters as businesses look for a soft landing.  We think there’s going to be some opportunities to pick up some interesting tech to better complete our vision, and again, come out of this cycle with a really, really amazing suite of products that benefit our go-to-market teams.”

With firms cutting travel budgets during the recession, demand for Vidyard should remain strong. “Fortunes are built in bear markets and harvested in bull markets, and we’re in a bear market.  But we have the balance sheet and financials to invest heavily in product and value for our users,” said Litt.


Sources

Salesloft Product Management SVP Frank Dale on Ethical AI

Frank Dale, SVP of Product Management, Salesloft

Happy New Year.  While off on vacation last week, I published an interview with Salesloft SVP of Product Management Frank Dale concerning Ethical AI.  He joined Salesloft in November 2019 when Costello, the opportunity management firm he founded, was acquired by Salesloft.  He has served as either CEO or COO at several investor-backed software companies, including Compendium, which Oracle acquired.

Dale earned a BA and MA from Valparaiso University with a concentration in ethics.  He also received an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

What experience have you had developing AI tools?

As the SVP of Product Management at Salesloft, I am working with our team to bring Rhythm, Salesloft’s AI-powered signal-to-action engine platform, to life.  Rhythm ingests every signal from the Salesloft platform as well as signals from partner solutions via APIs, ranks and prioritizes those signals, and then produces a prioritized list of actions.  The action list gives sellers a clear, prioritized list of actions that will be the most impactful each day, along with an expected outcome prediction.  In addition to simplifying a seller’s day-to-day, it helps them build their skills by providing the context about why each action matters.

AI is becoming increasingly important in RevTech, with many of our interactions being mediated by AI.  Where do you see AI having the biggest impact on Sales reps between now and 2025?

AI will enable significant improvements in both seller efficiency and effectiveness.  The most obvious impact will continue to be automating away low-value, repetitive work.  What will surprise people will be the rapid advance and adoption of AI to suggest next best actions to take and content to use in those interactions with buyers.  A typical workday for a seller will see them greeted by a recommended list of actions to take each day.  Each action will be prioritized based on where the seller sits in relation to their targets, with each action accompanied by suggested content where appropriate.  For instance, I might see a suggestion to respond to an email from a champion in an in-flight deal.  The recommendation will include suggested text for the response as well as a resource to attach to the email.  That’s a future we are actively investing in at Salesloft, which is at the heart of our soon-to-be-released Rhythm product.

Same question, but looking further out to 2030…

As AI becomes more commonly deployed across the sales profession, buyers will experience a more consistent sales experience in each buyer-seller interaction.  As this becomes more common, it’s going to raise the bar on what buyers expect from a sales experience today.  That will put more pressure on sales teams to deliver consistently in ways that today may seem unreasonable but will be possible with AI assistance.

One of the key ways to raise the seller performance bar will be high-impact, tailored coaching.  Manager time is a constrained resource, and seller coaching augmented by AI provides a path to realizing performance improvement without manager time constraints.  We should fully expect AI to help coach sellers to hit their goals based on each seller’s unique profile.  We can expect AI to evaluate the seller’s entire game (activities, conversations, and deal management) to identify the highest leverage areas each individual seller should focus on to improve.  Some of the coaching will be provided by AI at the point of execution, like on a call or when writing an email, with the rest provided throughout the workday as recommendations.

What are the most significant risks of deploying AI broadly across the Sales Function?

Two areas come to mind.  First, AI used without clear boundaries in a sales process can lead to problems.  If you employ AI and automation capabilities, it should be to allow the user to be better armed to make a decision, not make it for them.  AI tools should not replace the human touch but rather augment it.  There’s a lot of pseudo-science tossed up around the topic of AI, but ultimately, humans understand the nuance of relationships better than machines.  One of the ways to address that concern is to deliver models that not only provide a recommendation but can provide the insights that led to it; humans will better trust the model when making decisions based on those recommendations as well as know when to ignore the recommendation.

Second, there’s a privacy component as well.  Companies may create AI models that share data about a particular buyer with other companies’ sales teams without said buyer’s knowledge.  The buyer may know they shared their data with one company but have no idea that multiple other customers at this company are using that same data.  Creating models with this type of function puts companies and sales teams in a high-risk zone that can tread on the unethical.  It isn’t clear that building models in that way may be considered legal in the future.  If you plan to deploy AI in a sales org, it’s important to understand how data is collected and used.      

AI Models are only as good as the underlying training data.  How concerned are you about biased models recapitulating discrimination?  For example, emphasizing sales skills that are gender or racially biased when evaluating sales rep performance?

It is a legitimate concern.  AI products are based on probabilities, not certainties.  The recommendations you receive or workflow automations that fire happen based on the probability that the given recommendation or action is right.  Not the certainty that it is right.  In a good product, the model is correct more often than a human would be when faced with the same decisions.  At times, this is because the model can evaluate a larger set of factors, and in some cases, it is simply that machines can apply rulesets at a higher level of consistency than humans.

One of the key determinants of the AI model’s value is the dataset upon which it was trained.  If the dataset does not properly represent the real world, the model will produce results that are either biased or provide poor recommendations.  We’ve already seen several examples of that with image editing software that didn’t include black-skinned people in the training dataset.  This led to either poor outcomes or worse dehumanizing results when the AI product was used in the real world.  If you plan to deploy AI in your business, you should ask the provider what precautions they take to prevent bias in their models.  We are very intentional about removing factors that could lead to bias in our training datasets.  Still, it isn’t something I see most technology companies paying attention to in the revenue tech space.

How do you curb racial and gender bias when performing sentiment analysis?

We take great care at Salesloft to remove things that would lead to discriminatory factors.  For example, for our Email Sentiment model, one of the ways we prevent bias is by removing all mentions of people’s names within the email because that could provide clues to their gender, race, or ethnicity.  We do that kind of preprocessing with any data we use in an AI model before we build our models.

One of our assets is our scale.  We’re fortunate that we operate globally and are the only provider in our space with offices in the Americas, Europe, and APAC.  As a result, we work with organizations of all sizes globally, including many of the world’s largest companies.  That means when we build models, we have one of the largest datasets in the world for sales execution.  This enables us to train models based on datasets with both breadth and depth.  When we build a model, it is easier to train it in a way that fairly represents reality and includes safeguards to avoid racial or gender bias.

AI will increasingly be deployed for recommending coaching and mediating the coaching.  What concerns do you have about replicating bias when coaching?

As with any AI product making a recommendation, the potential to make a recommendation with bias is a concern that needs to be addressed when building models.

We take our responsibility to avoid bias in any product we release very seriously.  The revenue technology industry as a whole hasn’t demonstrated a similar commitment to avoid harmful bias as of yet.  I don’t hear other companies talking about proactive steps to avoid it, but I think that will change.  We’re monitoring potential governmental action in both the US and EU that will require companies to raise their standard in this area.  It is only a matter of time before laws are passed that require companies to prevent unlawful bias in their AI products.

Sales activities are becoming increasingly digitized, a boon for revenue intelligence, training, and next best actions.  What guardrails do we need to put in place to ensure that employee monitoring does not become overly intrusive and invade privacy?

Let’s start by recognizing it is reasonable for an employer to have insight into what work is getting done and how it’s getting done.  On the other hand, getting a minute-by-minute record of how each seller spends their day is unreasonable, as is dictating every action the seller takes from morning until nightfall.

We have to start with the right first principles.  I think we can all agree that humans have inherent worth and dignity.  They don’t lose that when they go to work.  The challenge is that we have some companies in the technology industry that forget that fact when developing solutions.  When you forget that fact, I believe that you actually harm the customer that you’re trying to serve.  That harm happens in two ways.

First, you lose the opportunity to realize the true potential of AI, which is to serve as a partner that enables humans to do what they do best…which is to engage with and relate to other humans.  AI should not be used to make final decisions for humans or to dictate how they spend every minute of their day.  Good AI solutions should be thought partners and assistants to humans.  It’s Jarvis to Tony Stark’s Iron Man.

The second way overly intrusive technology harms companies that employ it is via employee turnover.  It’s no secret that industries that offer low autonomy to employees suffer from high turnover.  Most humans fundamentally desire a base level of autonomy; if that’s threatened, they leave whenever a good option opens up.

In short, if the seller is working for the technology instead of the inverse relationship, we’re on the wrong path.

In 2018, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff argued that the best idea is no longer the most important value in technology.  Instead, trust must be the top value at tech companies.  How does trust play into ethical applications and AI?

We get to build the future we want to realize.  We can either build a future that perpetuates the things we don’t like about today’s world, or we can build a future that elevates human potential.  AI can be used to take us in either direction.  That means what we choose to build with AI and how we build it should be a very value-driven decision.

We can absolutely build highly effective AI-powered solutions that elevate the people who use them and deliver tremendous business value.  The people that believe otherwise simply lack the imagination and skill to do it.

What I love about our team at Salesloft is that we exist to elevate the ability of the people we serve and to enable them to be more honestly respected by the buyers they serve.  In sales and life, the way you win matters.  It matters to the people you serve on your revenue team, and it matters to your customers.

An emerging category of AI called Generative AI constructs content (e.g., images, presentations, emails, videos).  It was just named a disruptive sales technology by Gartner.  They stated that “By 2025, 30% of outbound messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated.”  What risks do you see from this technology?

There are two immediate risks that come to mind.  First, the messages need to be reviewed by a human before they are sent.  The technology has made extraordinary leaps forward.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing around with some of the tools released by OpenAI and others.  The output is impressive and also, at times, very wrong.  This goes back to the fact that the output is based on a probability that the answer provided is correct.  You can get a very professional, persuasive email, or you can get something that approximates a professional email but won’t land well with your intended customer.

Second, it has the potential to make every outbound message sound the same.  Generative AI doesn’t replace the need for human skill.  It changes the areas of focus for that skill.  Specifically, the opportunity for humans is to use Generative AI to help generate a higher volume and variety of ideas and then to edit and refine the output.  The returns available to creativity are always high, but they become even higher when everyone is doing the exact same thing in the same way. 

Having said that, I see tremendous potential in the technology and think if used properly it will be very valuable to revenue professionals.

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter has long emphasized authenticity and personalization in sales conversations.  Do you see Generative AI potentially undermining trust?

Kyle is absolutely right.  At the end of the day, a sale happens when a seller connects with a buyer to help them solve a problem.  You can’t do that without authentic connection and trust.  Generative AI should not replace that human connection, and I don’t think buyers want it to replace human connection.  A close friend of mine was a sales leader at a now-public PLG-driven SaaS company.  They added sales reluctantly.  When they did, the company learned that buyers both bought more from them and were happier customers.  That company now wishes it had added sales much earlier. How we interact with one another can evolve as technology evolves, but it doesn’t change the fact that humans are wired to connect with each other.  I think emerging tools like Generative AI will help us be more productive, but they won’t replace the need for authentic human connection and trust.

Salesloft Winter 2022 Release

Salesloft released a trio of enterprise-grade features to its Sales Engagement platform.  New Enhancements support account-based team selling, improved governance and access controls, and mobile app improvements.

Salesloft User Relationships

Account-based team selling allows multiple team members to work on an account and set multiple account owners with a single, shared view.  Furthermore, Salesloft automation rules support team selling with automated role assignments and account relationships across the customer lifecycle “so that reps can easily follow rules of engagement without losing time to admin tasks and workarounds.”

Expanded access controls provide complete control over which data customers have access across Cadences, Conversations, and Deals.  Organizations can limit access to sensitive opportunity data, call recordings, and customer records, ensuring security, compliance, and privacy.

Data access is based on the principle of least privilege, so users only have access to data required to do their job.  Thus, sales managers have access to all data relevant to their direct reports, while AEs can only view their data.

Salesloft Mobile App

Recognizing that field sales reps are returning to the road, the Salesloft Mobile App supports immediate customer engagement in support of time-sensitive communications.  Features include a Mobile Live Feed similar to the Salesloft Live Feed, person searching, email sending, and messaging (text).

The Mobile app lets sales reps make and log calls, send messages, and send emails directly from the mobile app using the mobile phone’s network.  The mobile app places a pair of calls that bridges the mobile device through the Salesloft dialer, with caller id displaying the dedicated Salesloft number.  Call recording, Live Call Studio, and voicemail drops are not supported.

Email enhancements are available now, with broader cadence step support in early 2023.

“Sales teams have adopted technology quickly, often at the expense of critical governance capabilities.  This exposes companies to policy or compliance violations,” said Salesloft CPO Ellie Fields.  “We believe it is Salesloft’s job to provide sales teams with technology they need to sell, and to make sure that technology is governed.  Especially in tight markets, our customers want to spend time selling, not managing disparate systems.”

Salesloft also announced that it rearchitected its Google Chrome extension, providing the “full Salesloft platform through one, consistent sidebar across Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and Gmail.”  The redesigned extension will be available in early 2023.

Other platform enhancements include automated data enrichment based on email signatures; out-of-office detection for Spanish, French, and German; Slack notifications for one-off tasks; improved email sentiment analysis; future period forecasts in Deals; and improved Deal Engagement Scores.

New integrations include Gryphon.ai (phone and email certifications), EveryoneSocial, Salesfinitiy (dialer), and StoryDoc (build presentations and share prospects via cadences).

Enhanced integrations include HubSpot (syncing of ownership data) and Vidyard (Live Feed notifications when a Vidyard video is shared).

ClickDimensions Launches Sales Engagement

RevTech Vendor and Consultancy ClickDimensions rolled out its Sales Engagement service that works alongside its other Dynamics 365 sales and marketing services.  ClickDimensions is looking to unify sales and marketing motions, particularly among SMBs.

“ClickDimensions Sales Engagement makes this unification possible, giving teams control over leads and better visibility into revenue-driving activities.  Once these teams are better aligned, companies see an average revenue increase of 34%,” stated the firm.

ClickDimensions aims to “democratize best-in-class tools for all companies” and unify sales and marketing strategies.  According to ClickDimensions, Sales Engagement “offers a unified approach for sales and marketing teams and eradicates the potential for customer drop-offs and miscommunication between each team as leads progress through the funnel.  The result is greater sales team efficiency, higher-quality buyer journeys, and increased customer loyalty and revenue.”

ClickDimensions Chief Growth Officer Margaret Wise explained to GZ Consulting that many of their Microsoft Dynamics customers “aren’t the digital leaders.  They are often digital laggards.  They are often in manufacturing, associations, and nonprofits.  They’re not bleeding edge typically from a marketing perspective.”

So, the question for Wise becomes, “How do we provide solutions that are accessible, integrated, easy to use, and affordable for that specific kind of customer that doesn’t want to be bleeding edge on the latest and greatest?  They want something dependable, easy, [and] that they can find resources for.”

At SMBs, CEOs often take an active role in the technology purchasing decision “because it is tied directly to revenue and growth,” continued Wise.  “A lot of the change urgency is being driven out of the C-suite.”  Thus, their messaging needs to address C-level issues around lead generation and revenue management.

ClickDimensions argues that these laggards often lack a digital strategy, have uncoordinated social media marketing, and mostly transmit one-off email messages.

ClickDimensions Sales Engagement, which runs natively in Dynamics, offers templated emails sent through Outlook, sales sequences, lead scoring, and next-best-action recommendations.  When combined with ClickDimensions Marketing Automation, revenue teams have a “complete view of every step of the customer journey.”

Sequences can be built for initial meeting requests, prospecting, follow-up, inbound, events (both invitation and follow-up), periodic check-ins, account review, and upcoming renewal.  This breadth supports sales and customer success teams across the customer lifecycle.

Sequence analytics are also provided with step-level results (e.g., calls, bounces, opens, replies) and post-activity disposition capture (e.g., interested, not interested, interested – not now).

Sequenced tasks include manual and automated emails, phone calls, LinkedIn, and generic tasks; however, they do not yet support dialer or LinkedIn integrations. 

Admins also set up sequence-based rules for scenarios such as reply action for sequenced emails and bounce handling.  Admins can also set sequences to automatically trigger or wait for sales review before triggering.

ClickDimensions Sales Engagement sequence status at the contact level across leads.

“The modern buying journey has completely transformed from what it was a mere three years ago, which means companies need to adapt how they sell – and fast,” stated ClickDimensions CEO Mike Dickerson.  “Launching ClickDimensions Sales Engagement is our way of responding to these industry challenges, equipping our customers with critical tools to boost revenue, and unifying sales and marketing teams around a digital-first customer experience.”

ClickDimensions Sales Engagement is a “natural progression and the perfect complement to its flagship solution, ClickDimensions Marketing Automation,” continued the firm.  “The platform helps marketers optimize campaigns, automate follow-ups, create lead nurturing processes, and target leads to sales.  From there, ClickDimensions Sales Engagement will help salespeople with the next best action, automating outreach to leads and redirecting leads to marketing for further nurture if they’re not ready to purchase.”

ClickDimensions Marketing offers one-to-many outreach during the nurture phase (e.g., newsletters, marketing campaigns, event invitations).  Later, ClickDimensions Sales Engagement supports one-to-one or one-to-few communications with prospects and customers.  Marketing Automation can send leads to sales reps based on triggers or lead scores, and Sales Engagement offers a button to return prospects to nurture for leads that are not in active buying cycles.  Thus, the problem of MQLs being ignored and dropped by sales as not qualified has a logical resolution – return the lead to marketing nurture and support a “non-linear customer journey.”

The passing back and forth of leads between sales and marketing enables a “continual process until the actual opportunity progresses,” said Wise.

ClickDimensions Marketing Automation supports email marketing, campaign automation, surveys, events, landing pages, forms, SMS, and Social.  While the company now offers marketing automation and sales engagement, its long-term plans are to provide a “full RevTech solution” built on the Dynamics platform.  This future platform and services organization will be built both organically and via acquisitions and support embedded AI for sentiment analysis, next-best actions, opportunity scoring, and activity capture.

ClickDimensions is a Microsoft VAR and consultancy with a global footprint across 76 countries and 3,500 customers.  Half of its revenue is derived in the EMEA region, with most of the rest in North America.  It serves a broad set of industries, with no segment representing over 25% of its customer base.

ClickDimensions also offers consultancy services that provide “fractional access to skilled resources that are in short supply.”  Services include onboarding, training, and execution; demand generation; customer data services; and marketing operations.

ClickDimensions Sales Engagement sequence options include pausing the sequence and managing responses to engagement activity.

Clari Optimize and Groove Partnership

Revenue Platform Clari made a trio of announcements related to a partnership with Sales Engagement Platform Groove, the full integration of conversational sales platform Wingman, and the pending release of its Optimize module for controlling revenue leaks.  Optimize helps revenue teams diagnose and address revenue leaks, reducing revenue loss due to deal slippage, bad data, and error-prone manual processes.

“The Clari Revenue Platform gives revenue leaders the past, present, and future data they need to not just control revenue but help grow it,” said Clari CEO Andy Byrne.  “Only Clari provides the full historical picture and adds real-time capabilities to act fast as well as the forward-looking projections to proactively strategize revenue precision.”

Optimize offers a “single, centralized view” of revenue metrics, including win rates, forecast accuracy, and deal cycle times.  In addition, Optimize helps revenue leaders answer questions such as “How is my team trending this quarter?  Are we going to meet, beat, or miss on revenue?  How can I ensure my reps are doing the right things to produce predictably winning results?”

Clari argues that market leaders have been unable to answer these questions proactively, making it difficult to mitigate issues and risks.  Clari combines historical and external data to assist with revenue benchmarking.  Thus, Clari can reach beyond the CRM to gather account intelligence.  For example, it can look at usage data to assess churn risk.

“Optimize is all about finding revenue leaks so customers can see not just where and why they’re missing revenue, but what they can do about it. No other solution on the market has the ability to harness past time series data to provide a historical view of revenue leak.”

Clari CEO Andy Byrne

Optimize, available soon, will provide a single view for the whole organization of revenue and insights, capturing CRM intelligence, activity data, and forecasts.  With the integration of Wingman, its recently acquired conversational intelligence subsidiary, the voice of the customer is fully embedded within Clari analytics and forecasts.

Furthermore, Wingman provides real-time coaching during sales calls, helping reps avoid mistakes and providing real-time intelligence (e.g., technical information, competitive battlecards) to sales reps.  By improving sales objection handling, parrying competitive attacks, and preventing delays due to technical follow-ups, Wingman also reduces revenue leakage.

“It’s not just about coaching your teams to sell more, or about deal reviews,” said Holly Procter, senior vice president and global head of sales at Clari.  “It’s more about running your revenue better—governing revenue-critical moments for success and collaboration across revenue-critical people, which includes buyers as well as sellers.  Nobody else offers this collaborative, real-time approach.”

The Clari + Groove Joint Value Proposition

Clari and Groove announced a partnership at Dreamforce that helps “joint customers run revenue with more precision, greater collaboration, and faster execution.”  Sales Engagement Platform Groove acts as a “system of action,” while Revenue Intelligence platform Clari acts as a “system of collaboration and governance.” Both platforms sync with Salesforce, which serves as the “system of record” for sales activity.

The partners argue that while revenue is at the heart of every business, CEOs struggle to get a handle on revenue and are uncertain about whether they will meet, beat, or miss revenue projections.

“Up to fifty percent of entire company employees are revenue critical.  They are responsible in some form or fashion for delivering revenue.” 

Clari SVP of Marketing Kyle Coleman explained to GZ Consulting

Revenue responsibility is broader than quota carriers and includes SDRs, CSMs, AMs, leadership, product managers, and engineers.  Unfortunately, “consistent, predictable execution and collaboration” across these employees remain “very challenging” due to the lack of a unified platform shared across all these roles.

“It’s also very difficult, therefore, to govern any sort of revenue process or sub-process in a repeatable way,” continued Coleman.  “What revenue leaders end up doing is every quarter, they’re trying to capture this lightning in a bottle to know whether they’re going to meet, beat or miss, but it’s sort of a scramble more often than not.”

With the Groove / Clari partnership, “we will be able to govern processes, we’ll be able to replicate the best practices, we’ll be able to do the right kind of real-time analysis that leads to action in a closed loop way so that we know that everything is happening as it should be when it should be,” argued Coleman.

A common issue for revenue teams is identifying revenue leaks and mitigating them.  Revenue leaks exist across the full revenue lifecycle.  For example, deal slippage is identified in real-time, allowing reps to take action via Groove to bring the deal back on track. 

When Clari identifies a deal slipping for competitive reasons, it can suggest a play be executed in Groove.  Likewise, Clari can identify sub-par win rates, overly generous discounting, and low conversion rates for early-stage opportunities.

As Groove is native to Salesforce, it records all activities in real-time, providing “full-funnel forecasting” and analytics to Salesforce and Clari.

“We can tie our campaigns through to revenue in Salesforce, and that is something that they (Groove’s competitors) cannot do,” argued Groove VP of Marketing Kristin Hersant.  “Then all of that rich data, tying engagement through to revenue is able to be pulled into Clari and used in the analysis, and that is available today.”

Coleman explained that while you can’t win a deal at any moment, you can certainly break a deal.  And once a deal is lost, “it’s very difficult to un-lose” it.  Thus, “if you don’t do the right thing at the right time – handle the right objection, or pull the right person in or do the right kind of follow-up” – the deal could be jeopardized.  Therefore, “handling revenue critical moments expertly and in a prescribed way” that is governed by best practices is critical in addressing revenue leaks.

“Having all of that insight into all these moments that exist and then having confidence that every one of your employees is going to be able to execute on this?  Well, this is what’s so exciting to us,” said Coleman.

“Clari has always been about providing companies with the collaboration and governance required to run revenue with maximum precision, and Groove completes the equation by enabling our joint customers to turn the insights we provide into action,” said Byrne.  “We’ve seen incredibly strong results from joint customers using our two platforms together, and this formal partnership will help us transform even more revenue organizations.”

Groove offers enterprise customers a Salesforce-native SEP that records all activity directly to Salesforce.

“Groove and Clari coming together is definitely a ‘1 + 1 = 3’ scenario for revenue leaders,” said Groove CEO Chris Rothstein.  “Bringing together Clari’s revenue collaboration and governance capabilities with Groove’s strength in sales execution and productivity provides the ultimate value proposition: See the future with Clari and then create that future with Groove.”


Company Links: Groove | Clari

Salesloft Opens AsiaPac HQ in Singapore

Sales Engagement Platform Salesloft formally opened an AsiaPac headquarters based in Singapore.  The firm began internationalizing a few years ago when it opened its London EMEA office.  Salesloft is looking to replicate its EMEA success across the APAC region.  It trebled its EMEA revenue over the past two years, with European revenue growing 140% last year.

The new office provides sales and support for its “thousands of users” in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the broader Asian market.

Salesloft “recognizes that making a human connection is important to building relationships in the Asia Pacific market,” wrote the firm.  “Core to Salesloft’s mission is a hyper-focus on customer success and helping customers become more efficient and productive to achieve better sales outcomes.”

Newly appointed Asia-Pacific Vice President Vincent Ooi will manage the regional HQ.  Ooi previously managed Southeast Asian and Korean Sales for Tableau Software and was the Asia-Pacific VP for DataRobot.  Ooi will be responsible for “building and scaling” the Salesloft team in the APAC market and “lead the company’s revenue and customer growth strategy in the region,” announced Salesloft.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Salesloft team at such a pivotal moment in the company’s growth,” said Ooi.  “The company and the category are growing exceptionally fast.  I look forward to building a team that consistently delivers significant business results quarter over quarter.  More importantly, I’m excited to help bring the power of sales engagement to more customers around the world to help them exceed their sales goals.”

Salesloft’s top regional verticals include software, professional services, and education.

“We are committed to making the lives of sellers easier, not just in the U.S. but around the globe,” said Nate Remmes, Executive Vice President, Commercial Business Unit at Salesloft. “At Salesloft, we put our customers at the center of our business.  Our continued growth has allowed us to expand into the Asia-Pacific market and offer in-region support to our customers.”

Salesloft also announced that it would soon be offering native integrations with HubSpot CRM and Microsoft Dynamics.  Both vendors have large installed bases in the APAC and European markets.  Like its long-standing integration with Salesforce, the partnerships will support the syncing of Account, Contact, Lead, and Activity records.  The CRMs will act as systems of record, while Salesloft will be the system of engagement.

The HubSpot and Dynamics integrations are currently in beta, with GA later this year. “General availability of these integrations will ensure customers around the world will have maximum flexibility and benefit using Salesloft regardless of their CRM,” wrote Salesloft.

Groove Conversations and Groove+

Groove Conversations

Sales Engagement Platform Groove announced the general availability of Groove Conversations, the “first conversational intelligence product that enables revenue teams to access call recording and insights directly from the inbox and calendar instead of a separate platform.”  The firm also announced the Groove+ mobile app for iOS that helps remote and hybrid teams prepare for meetings and manage post-meeting follow-up (Android will be available later this year).  Groove+ also displays Salesforce and key meeting insights.

Groove is natively built in Salesforce.  Unlike its competitors, Groove does not sync data between a separate database and Salesforce but stores and accesses it natively in Salesforce.  Thus, conversational insights and Salesforce updates are directly managed by Groove inside Salesforce.

Groove Conversations offers call recording, transcription, and analysis without leaving the Inbox.  Additionally, insights are associated with Salesforce Activities and Opportunities.

Conversations initially supports Zoom and Groove’s OmniDialer, with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, WebEx, and other services in development.

Conversations are fully searchable, with users able to listen to the searched term or keyword-related discussion.

Analytics include talk time, keyword mentions, sentiment analysis, and talk timelines for each attendee.  In Q3, the firm plans on adding “deeper analytics and AI-driven insights.”

Additional features include

  • Picture-in-picture viewing capabilities to support multi-tasking
  • Recording, transcript, and keyword access from email, calendar, Salesforce, or the Groove app
  • Internal sharing of meetings for review and team coaching
  • Custom keywords and keyword categories (e.g., product names, competitors, feature sets)
  • Internal and external sharing of calls, with the ability to extract and share a snippet of a meeting available soon

Groove+ delivers meeting alerts powered by Salesforce data to reduce deal time.  Users can easily access deal history, account information, meeting attendees, and activity history.  In addition, meeting notes may be logged to Salesforce with voice-to-text functionality.  Reps can also update meetings, accounts, contacts, opportunities, custom fields, or unique Salesforce configurations.

“The value of Groove+ goes beyond sales to include all revenue team members,” explained Groove Director of Communications Jason Klein to GZ Consulting.  “Essentially, anyone interfacing with clients should find value from Groove+.”

Groove conducted a survey in December and January of 1040 B2B sales reps which determined that 46% of companies are not planning a total return to the office.  Thus, managing remote and hybrid sales teams will remain a top issue for the CRO.  Top concerns for remote sales reps include updating CRM platforms (48%), inputting account notes (46%), and scheduling follow-up meetings (45%).

“Now that most reps are working in a hybrid role permanently, revenue teams need to focus on maximizing the value of their CRM.  Extending the power of CRM to remote teams makes them productive and effective while also providing leaders with the visibility and insight needed to manage them effectively.”

Groove CEO Chris Rothstein

Groove Conversations and Groove+ provide remote, hybrid, and inside sales reps with immediate access to sales productivity tools, conversational analytics, and deal insights.  Additionally, sales reps can update SFDC from Groove+ and access call recordings and insights from anywhere, providing centralized call coaching, next steps, and follow-up.

Groove Conversations and Groove+ are separate offerings but will be integrated later this year.  Groove+ is available with any Groove core license.  Groove Conversations is available as a premium add-on. “When we founded Groove, we knew that building for the seller first was the key to driving widespread adoption and seller productivity,” said Rothstein.  “As a result, we are the only platform that is just as easy to use and relevant for field sales as it is for sellers working from home or in the office.  Our customers typically see over 90% adoption rates of Groove and Salesforce, realizing as much as 83% seller productivity improvements as a result.”

Outreach Guide

Outreach announced the general availability of Outreach Guide, its new revenue intelligence and deal management solution.  Guide provides real-time conversation intelligence, best practice action plans, and “deal health at a glance.”  Outreach also announced administrative enhancements to its Engage product and a “deep integration” with ABX Platform 6sense.

Outreach Guide, Engage, and Commit act as the “foundation” of Outreach’s sales execution platform, supporting revenue organizations across the full customer sales cycle “from prospecting for new business opportunities to deal management to sales forecasting.”

Outreach’s Customer Lifecycle loop.

Outreach aims to create a “single system of execution” that helps revenue organizations meet their full potential and address issues with prospecting, deal management, and forecasting.

To help address this “sales execution gap,” Machine learning models “learn from the actions taken in our platform and generate data-driven, predictive, real-time insights that recommend actions for users to take to improve their sales execution,” said CEO Manny Medina.

Outreach Guide supports three core capabilities:

  • Deal Health Scores: The Deal Health Score employs machine learning to predict deal health.  It also provides deal insights, recommended actions, and where to focus.  In addition, deal Health displays positive and negative indicators (e.g., stuck in current stage, no recent inbound emails, recent executive engagement). 

    Deal Health signals deals at risk to both the sales rep and sales management, providing an opportunity to address problems and adjust forecasts.

    Deal Health scores can be viewed in the aggregate as well, providing a neutral perspective on how each deal is proceeding versus comparable opportunities.

    Deal Health scores are currently in beta.
  • Kaia Real-time assistance and conversation intelligence: Kaia offers real-time call transcription, content cards, and context-based rep enablement during Zoom and Microsoft teams meetings.  After meetings, Kaia streamlines meeting summaries with AI-captured action items and follow-ups.  As a result, Outreach claims rep productivity increases by nearly 30%, and the likelihood of scheduling a follow-up meeting jumps by 36%.

    Kaia is linguistically customized for each client, capturing product names and competitors as keywords.  During a call, content cards display real-time sales aides, such as product summaries or technical notes.  Content cards provide quick cheat sheets on product value, pricing, or integrations (see the example on the right).

    By removing notetaking and displaying content cards, Kaia allows sales reps to be more present during calls and pitch with greater confidence;  instead of pausing a meeting to jot down notes, sales reps can quickly add a bookmark or short meeting note.
  • Automated and collaborative purchasing through Success Plans: Success Plans foster collaboration between buyers and sellers with detailed online purchase action plans that include a timeline, success criteria, resources, and team views.  Collaborative action plans align stakeholders, build buyer trust, ensure timely stakeholder engagement, and provide internal stakeholders with prospect engagement and deal progress.  Outreach claims that reps who closely monitor Success Plans enjoy a 13% bump in close rates.

“The buying team has all the information related to the deal in a central place, and all teams are aligned to clearly understand each other’s goals, interactions, and requirements essential for driving long-term success, delivering an unparalleled buying experience throughout the entire selling process,” stated Director of Product Marketing Elizabeth Dailing.

Furthermore, Success Plans are available to Customer Success teams when onboarding new customers, helping streamline handoffs.

The Team view helps track who is involved from the buying team and how engaged they are, how recently they were engaged, and what content they viewed.

Outreach Guide is designed to address the “Sales Execution Gap.”

Outreach also announced a set of administrative and data privacy enhancements to its Engage service:

  1. Trigger Enhancements – A streamlined trigger builder improves the creation, management, and discovery of triggers.  The refreshed trigger builder is aligned with traditional CRM language and supports multiple values per condition, drag-and-drop action reordering, and simplified condition group creation.
  2. New Outlook-Add In – A native integration lets reps ‘Send’ emails from Outlook and send and sync “relevant emails to Outreach, as well as insert their available times or add a link to their calendar.”  Outreach will also flag opted-out communications in Outlook and prevent them from being sent or added to a sequence.
  3. Microsoft Graph Integration
  4. Data Retention in Outreach Voice Recordings – Admins can configure data retention policies such as deleting data as a one-time event or setting up regular data deletions for Outreach Voice Recordings.

Additionally, Outreach announced an Irish Datacenter for Outreach Engage, meeting EU data residency requirements for GDPR compliance. “The EU Datacenter for Outreach Engage allows an organization’s data to be stored in a specific geographic location,” blogged Caroline Shin, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Outreach.  “This means customer-owned data associated with those Outreach instances including prospects, accounts, organizations, and workflow data such as sequences and meetings will be stored and contained within the EU infrastructure.”

Salesloft Forecast Launched

Salesloft’s new Forecast module ingests deal data from multiple platforms, allowing sales professionals to review deals and take actions necessary to stay on track.

Salesloft continues to extend its value proposition beyond sales engagement and conversational intelligence into deal forecasting and revenue intelligence.  Its new Forecast capability, bundled with the Enterprise edition, is available as part of Salesloft’s Spring ’22 Release.  Other spring enhancements include Multi-language Support for Conversations, Out-of-Office Detection, and mobile updates.

Salesloft noted that forecasting remains a “disjointed and manual process” often conducted with spreadsheets.  Sales professionals must collect information from disconnected systems and often deliver inaccurate numbers that waste “valuable selling time.”  What’s more, manual processes provide few insights for improving sales results and aren’t actionable.  Thus, significant resources are expended coming to a forecast number, but by the time the CSO or CRO rolls it up to the CEO, the forecast is a black box number based on quickly aging data with few actionable insights.

The disjointed forecasting process (Source: Salesloft)

“Forecasting is a critical process for every revenue organization,” said Salesloft CPO Ellie Fields.  “But when sellers use spreadsheets, there’s a high risk of user error and acting on old data.  Spreadsheets aren’t scalable, are incredibly manual, ungoverned, and only serve as a snapshot in time.  There’s no context to help sellers look ahead.”

In a presentation to GZ Consulting, SVP of Product Management Frank Dale emphasized that Salesloft is looking to stay in the “revenue lane” focusing on “what happens between the buyer and the seller.”  Forecasting falls within the revenue lane as it “leverages the data generated from interactions between buyers and sellers.”  Furthermore, forecasting should not be separate from revenue generation.  It isn’t simply calling a number but “taking action to make that number.”

The revenue lane “covers all core selling jobs” and tasks, including driving demand, generating pipeline, managing deals, and engaging customers.

“Revenue teams don’t want a forecast.  They want a real-time, adaptive week-by-week action plan to beat their number.  That’s not what forecasting is today.  Forecasting, as it is done today, sucks.  For most revenue teams, it is something they have to do, not something they want to do.  That’s because the tools they have available make just getting to a forecast number difficult and time-consuming.  What’s worse is that they don’t often trust the number they arrive at.  That’s a big problem.  It’s hard to know where to spend your time when you’re not sure if what you’re looking at is accurate.”

Salesloft SVP of Product Management Frank Dale

The Salesloft Modern Revenue Workspace is built on three pillars: Connecting with buyers, improving interactions with customers and prospects based on the data that is generated from interactions, and aligning the team around best practices.  Forecasting falls into the alignment pillar but is designed to support connection and feedback.

“There is a huge gap.  The gap is not necessarily about calling the number, but it is more about the action plan on that number,” explained Senior Director of Product Management Anshu Chowdhery to GZ Consulting.  Salesloft set two goals for its Forecast launch: A shared workflow for gathering deal intelligence and turning it into a forecast; and the ability to achieve that number. 

Salesloft Forecast capabilities include

  • Forecasts are rolled up across the organization. 
  • Users can drill down to opportunities and track changes in the pipeline.  They can also take action from within Forecast.
  • An AI-driven forecast model employs “sales engagement data and historical performance to dial in on what’s likely to land, and what you can influence.”
  • Forecasts are based on AI models and engagement data gathered by Salesloft. 

“What we’re building is an integrated, whole system,” remarked Dale.  “We’re integrating all of the activity capture from Cadence, all of the conversation data and capture from our conversation intelligence product, the CRM data from our deals product, and then the ability to turn around and take action again through our cadence product once you’ve made the call.”

“This forecasting product is built on top of [our] Deals product,” expanded Chowdhery.  “Deals bi-directionally syncs with Salesforce.  So, everything that lives on Salesforce is in Deals, and that’s the significant advantage of [our] forecasting solution.  We are able to sync everything and pull all information, not only from Salesforce but across our platform – every engagement that’s happening on the cadence side or conversation side.  The sales leader has the ability to view that timeline and identify…[whether] no conversations happened in the last thirty days; this deal is at risk; what should I do in order to win that deal?”

A Weekly Opportunity Changes view lists all of the changes to amounts, close dates, and stages over the past week and how those changes impact the forecast, providing a dynamic view of weekly activity.

Dale stated that Forecast provides value across the revenue team.  Frontline sales management has greater visibility into the pipeline, and Forecast provides sales reps “a true read on what they need to do to land and hit their number.”  In addition, both reps and managers benefit from reduced busy work in managing pipeline updates. 

Dale contends that daily administrative work for reps is reduced by an hour by streamlining the forecasting and updating process.

While Forecast focuses on new business forecasting, future enhancements will support renewal forecasting and run-rate forecasting (i.e., intra-period deals).  Also, Salesloft will continue to build out its analytics and plans to release Vulnerable Opportunities Notifications for flagging at-risk opportunities.

Forecast provides a common workflow that rolls up deal intelligence across the organization.  Users can drill down into specific deals and take actions, greatly improving insights and actionability.  “This is a seamless workflow for the reps and honestly, across the entire revenue organization to submit their forecasts and submit their number,” said Chowdhery.

Salesloft’s Forecasting workflow.

A modern forecasting system must be part of your sales execution system,” blogged Fields.  “The information about your deals in flight – who’s contacting the customer, what meetings were had and what was said, how the customer responds — is the foundational information that your forecast rests on.  If you’re using a sales engagement platform, all of that activity is already being tracked automatically, without your sellers needing to spend time logging their activities.  Meetings and calls are recorded and searchable so you can review that pivotal moment with the buyer.”

“Forecasting under-delivers when the end result is just a number,” continued Fields.  “The end result should be a set of actions you can take to deliver better results.  To do that, you need to not only see a number, but you need to see areas of softness and strength, important deal gaps, and opportunities.  You need to recognize that the East team will need your support this quarter, but that the West will probably overachieve.  You need to know where to spend your team’s time most productively to get over the line.”

Dale emphasized the importance of cross-product workflows aligned with “things people actually want to do.”  Unfortunately, vendors often build technology that “chases a problem” or is designed to answer checklist questions about functionality.  Salesloft “starts with problems people have and then builds solutions to match that.  So anytime you see us build something like forecasting, we’re building it based on what people are actually trying to do.”  Forecasting was built because it was a regular customer request.

Submitted forecasts show progress towards goal and a comparison vs. the prior week.

Forecasting builds on Salesloft’s pipeline management and deals product, including its AI-powered Deal Engagement Scores released last June and Deal Progression Indicators released last November.

Salesloft claims that its new Forecast module transforms forecasting “from a burdensome task into a strategic action plan to close more revenue.”  Revenue estimates and deal close dates are derived from real-time data and employ “multiple forecasting techniques to make it easy to see where the team’s performance is trending.”  AI helps identify missed opportunities and deals at risk, letting reps mitigate deal risk and factor it into pipeline estimates.  As Forecast is native to Salesloft’s Modern Revenue Workspace, managers can assign follow-ups or add deal notes within the Salesloft workflow.

“With Forecast, customers have the visibility, intelligence, and workflow to close deals more consistently and act upon unrealized opportunities,” stated the firm.

“Forecast by Salesloft is an intelligent solution with strong data governance, so there’s less room for errors,” stated Fields.  “Sellers can forecast and take action on those deals from the same platform.  When sales managers have real-time visibility and the ability to drill down, coaching sellers and taking action happens naturally, leading to better deal outcomes.”

Groove – Vertical IQ Partnership

Google Omnibar with Vertical IQ profile link

Sales Engagement Platform Groove now offers joint customers Vertical IQ industry and economic intelligence from the Groove Omnibar.

Vertical IQ helps “banking and credit union relationship managers, advisors, and consultants build trust and strengthen sales conversations through insightful and timely industry intelligence.”

Vertical IQ publishes 530 plain English industry overviews and 3,400 local economic analyses. The research is utilized by relationship managers in the financial services sector and strategic sales reps looking to better understand the needs and concerns of customers and prospects. Vertical IQ profiles also assist marketers in better understanding pains at various C-level functions within an industry, offer a set of industry-specific questions for sales reps and relationship managers, and help customer success teams understand the pains and concerns of their customers.

“It’s not uncommon for reps to speak to a hundred people a day across multiple verticals, and our integration with Vertical IQ gives them the industry intelligence they need to have impactful conversations every single time,” said Groove CEO Chris Rothstein. “With Groove and Vertical IQ, reps can now get access to industry knowledge in a single click from wherever they work.”

Industry intelligence is available to joint customers at no additional charge with single sign-on functionality.

The firms are initially targeting financial services and banking organizations, a core market for Vertical IQ. According to Groove Director of Communications Jason Klein, displaying Vertical IQ profiles to relationship managers is a “powerful use case.” RMs often lack industry-specific expertise but need to understand the basics of many industries, including pain points, trends, financial ratios, and CxO concerns.

However, the firms see a broader set of beneficiaries (e.g., relationship managers, sales professionals, customer success professionals), regardless of their industry. The Vertical IQ sweet spot is professionals that sell into, support, or analyze a broad set of industries. Vertical IQ provides “the insights users need to better understand a specific industry before, during, and after meetings,” continued Klein. “As we continue to enhance the integration, we believe some of the key content will be challenges, trends, financial benchmark data, and the content related to call preparation.”

“Groove’s flexibility and ease-of-use make it an effective sales engagement platform for relationship sellers, which is why we’re seeing such strong demand for this integration from our joint customer base,” said Vertical IQ CEO Bobby Martin. “This integration is just the beginning of our vision for empowering the modern sales professional.”

While Sales Intelligence platforms have long offered market research and industry overviews to their customers, the Groove – Vertical IQ partnership is the first integration of industry overviews into a Sales Engagement platform.

The joint service is generally available.