SalesLoft Acquires NoteNinja

NoteNinja transcribes calls, tags them, and supports quick topic searching for insight discovery.
NoteNinja transcribes calls, tags them, and supports quick topic searching for insight discovery.

Sales Engagement vendor SalesLoft acquired B2B SaaS Collaboration tool Noteninja. Durham-based NoteNinja provides meeting intelligence which transcribes, tags, and annotates meeting recordings. The service is managed by an AI bot which recognizes upcoming meetings on the rep’s calendar and attends the meeting.

“I realized our category of software was missing something important,” said SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter. “Neither us nor other engagement solutions were solving an additional problem. Customers told me they need more insights on what’s actually happening during sales meetings. They realize (and Gartner reports) ‘three out of four customers report spending more with a company because of a positive buying experience’. Modern revenue organizations need meeting intelligence software to solve painful problems.”

SalesLoft listed a set of sales challenges that are addressed by meeting intelligence platforms:

Meeting Challenges. Source: SalesLoft Blog.
Meeting Challenges. Source: SalesLoft Blog.

Tagging assists with meeting review, helping users search for key moments such as pricing discussions or prospect objections. According to Noteninja, “No longer do you have to click around a meeting aimlessly looking for the right spot. Save time and quickly hone [sic] in on the moments that matter for you and your team.”

Comments can be shared with co-workers or management, providing “game-film for meetings.” These excerpts can also be used for new hire training, objection handling, and learning from top reps.

“I’m incredibly proud for what this means to our customers and the advanced opportunity they will now have to deliver a better selling experience to their customers.  With the acquisition of Noteninja, SalesLoft is providing our customers with the first full suite Sales Engagement Platform that combines sales cadences with sales intelligence, serving AEs, SDRs, CSMs, managers, and execs to generate the most revenue.”

  • SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

Noteninja supports major web conferencing services including GoToMeeting, Zoom, JoinMe, and WebEx. Google Calendar, Exchange, and Office 365 productivity applications are also supported. While a SalesLoft connector already exists, the firm is working on a native integration of NoteNinja capabilities which will be offered as a premium feature set within their product line.  SalesLoft is targeting August for native availability.

SalesLoft complies with state privacy laws.  “We deploy call recording governance for our current dialer and will be incorporating our technology across the platform as we integrate,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.  “We also work alongside the governance and compliance assets deployed by screen sharing technologies.”

NoteNinja does not automatically join meetings with generic (consumer) emails nor does it join meetings with only internal staff. However, this rule can be overridden by including the Noteninja assistant in the attendees list.

Acquisition terms were not disclosed.

SalesLoft has grown to 277 employees with offices in Atlanta, Durham, and San Francisco. SalesLoft supports over 2,000 companies including Square, MuleSoft, Alteryx and Dell.

SalesLoft is ahead of plan in 2018.  Q1 was above a “very aggressive” revenue plan to once again double revenue in 2018.  Q2 is tracking 120% of plan.

Approximately one-third of NoteNinja customers are joint licensors of the SalesLoft solution.

Outreach Lands $65M Round D

Outreach Amplify Response Analytics
Outreach Amplify response analytics assist with intent classification.

Customer engagement platform Outreach announced a $65 million Series D last week, bringing its total funding to $125 million.  The round was led by Spark Capital and includes investment from Sapphire Ventures as well as from existing investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, MHS Capital, Microsoft Ventures and Trinity Ventures. 

Business Insider placed the valuation around $500 million, more than double the Series C valuation.  The firm is eyeing an IPO in 2021 subject to market conditions. 

Funds will be deployed towards product development “with a specific focus on machine learning and extending the platform beyond the sales team to every customer-facing role.”   

Outreach rolled out the first application of its Amplify AI platform in March for intent classification.  “This feature detects the intent of an email reply from a prospect and uses that intent to automate or recommend the next best action for the sales rep to take,” blogged product storyteller Chelsey Feldman.  “Our intent classification capabilities use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to go beyond reply rates and measure whether replies are positive, objections, or unsubscribe requests…The result is the ability to measure email effectiveness and classify intent at scale.” 

The firm now describes itself as a Customer Engagement company that is employing machine learning “to scientifically test, measure and optimize the performance of sales teams, while also automating non sales-related tasks.” 

Medina blogged about this broader company vision last week: 

Our mission is to help innovators, the evangelists of new technologies who face a lot of no’s before reaching the yes, to get their products to the people who need them, to successfully build new markets, and to fund the cycle of continuous innovation. For the past couple of years we delivered against that mission by equipping sales reps and leaders to drive predictable and measurable growth, to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the team, and to improve visibility into sales activities and team performance. We pioneered a new category of technology – the Sales Engagement Platform – that drove significant bottom line results for our customers.  

But achieving revenue efficiency and delivering a world-class experience to every customer is the job not just of your sales team, but of every customer-facing employee. Many of our customers have already realized the power of Outreach to drive efficiency and lift across the revenue organization and are using Outreach for account management and customer success in addition to pipeline generation and closing. The category has effectively grown beyond Sales Engagement to become Customer Engagement… 

You can only make smart decisions around improving customer experience if you can measure the outcomes of every process for all customer scenarios, and understand how those outcomes directly impact revenue. The next revolution in business will be driven not by big bang AI programs that produce lofty recommendations that are difficult to put into action, but by stacking thousands of these quick wins on top of each other to drive efficiency into every corner of the business.

 “Outreach has been instrumental in creating and evolving the customer engagement category, which is growing at an exponential rate,” said Alex Clayton, Investor at Spark Capital. “Outreach’s technology, approach and leadership team make it poised to capture this multi-billion dollar opportunity.” 

The Series D follows after a strong 2017 where the company doubled its customer base and posted more than 100% revenue growth. Outreach also doubled its headcount over the past year to 300 employees with a goal of 350 by the end of the year.  The firm has 22,000 global users and 2,400 customers including Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, and DocuSign. 

“The customer engagement category is experiencing explosive growth, due in large part to high rates of usage, a rarity for enterprise software which is often used as a data repository or even worse, purchased and forgotten,” said CEO Manny Medina. “Our north star isn’t number of customers, it’s number of Weekly Active Users. This metric is proof we have created a technology that not only drives revenue, but also is viewed as indispensable to every member of the revenue team.” 

Usage remains high with 75% of sales reps signing in daily.  “Now salespeople have a place to live,” Medina said.

E-Mail Guessing Strategies Work Poorly

I’ve long suspected that email guessing strategies based upon corporate email templates are risky.  If the hit rate is low, you can quickly undermine your sender score and hurt your firm’s ability to communicate with customers and prospects.

Almost every sales rep does it as a quick workaround.  Hell, I’ve done it.  But, as a strategy for building marketing datasets, it is a dead end.  When sales reps do it, there is a high probability that their well drafted email will bounce.  When marketing does it, they will kill their email deliverability.

Two companies provide evidence to the failure of this strategy — DiscoverOrg and SalesLoft.

SalesLoft offered the Prospector service in 2014. It was a gerry-rigged Google search of LinkedIn that employed an email guessing strategy. The service was discontinued when CEO Kyle Porter decided to focus on Sales Engagement.
SalesLoft offered the Prospector service in 2014. It was a jerry-rigged Google search of LinkedIn that employed an email guessing strategy. The service was discontinued when CEO Kyle Porter decided to focus on Sales Engagement.

SalesLoft began as a LinkedIn scraping service that employed Google to build lists and then utilized email guessing to enrich the lists with dubious quality emails.  SalesLoft Prospector grew into a multi-million dollar business, but CEO Kyle Porter saw the business as unsustainable.   Instead, Porter used revenues from Prospector as a financial bridge for building out a sales engagement Cadence service which has grown rapidly.  Porter describes their service as “sincerity at scale.”

Yesterday, they announced the acquisition of partner SalesNinja which provides integrated meeting analytics for their sales engagement platform.   The tool transcribes and tags meetings for sales coaching, new hire training, and meeting note searching.  The goal is to improve sales efficiency and efficacy while identifying best practices.  Instead of dubious lists, the firm is looking to build quality conversations between sales and prospects.

SalesLoft’s mission is to “enable salespeople to sell with true intent and sincerity,” said Porter several years ago.  “The concept of getting a good prospect list and pounding it to death is old, trite and has become a terrible strategy and drag on our customer’s brands. We have never intended to participate in that process. SalesLoft Cadence is a different process, creates a different relationship, much different results and is executed by professionals with professional solutions.”

DiscoverOrg was never tempted by such strategies and employs a large editorial team to research and maintain executive profiles.  In a recent test of 2,700 editorially gathered emails that were also SMTP verified, DiscoverOrg found that basic template guessing was only 62.4% accurate.  When nickname substitution was employed, the rate only rose to 66%.  When they analyzed the incorrect guesses, they came up with multiple reasons for failure:

  • Large companies have multiple email formulas
  • Brands and subsidiaries create complications
  • Subdomains are becoming more popular in email addresses
  • Some companies use multiple email domains for different roles
  • Nicknames are very common
  • Middle initials and middle names
  • Duplicate names
  • Foreign names
  • Secretive email formulas

“A lot of data providers offer ‘confidence levels’ or likelihoods that a specific email is good,” blogged DiscoverOrg SVP of Data and Research Derek Smith.  “They’re just peddling their own guesses. Anybody can pass along their best guess at an email. Real sales intelligence gives you accurate, actionable data that won’t result in a bounce of your carefully crafted prospecting message.”

In the end, prospecting shortcuts are problematic.  The best sales and marketing professionals employ accurate data and insights for their messaging.  Furthermore, in the era of GDPR (three days from now), you can’t have explicit consent to communicate with an EU citizen when you are guessing at how to contact her.


DiscoverOrg Study

 

 

Outreach Amplify Brings AI to Sales Engagement

Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.
Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach is teasing a new predictive analytics capability called Amplify which leverages the history of a firm’s sequences and workflows. The firm will not be employing a black-box AI strategy but providing recommendations with explanations.

CEO Manny Medina faults deep learning strategies which lack “the ability to make inferences, such as the ability to figure out why things work” and require users to trust the recommendations without providing a basis for the suggestions.

“We believe we need to tackle this problem following general scientific principles. Hypotheses need to be testable, data should be very carefully examined to verify the quality of the data.”

  • Yifei Huang, Machine Learning Lead, Outreach

“When we built Amplify, we built it with the core belief in mind that, the human needs to understand why things work so that machine can understand why things work so that the machine can get better at helping the human,” said Medina.

For example, Amplify deploys natural language processing (NLP) around email responses to help identify whether responses are unsubscribes, objections, or positive.  Outreach claims that their NLP classification is 92% accurate, only three points behind manual classification.

NLP will also be used to assess objection handling to identify reps who handle objections well and which ones need improvement.  This feedback is then available to managers to assist with coaching.

Amplify addresses two key managerial questions: “Is my team adopting the new technology? Is the new technology delivering a measurable lift?”

Amplify will be unveiled at their May Unleash conference.

DiscoverOrg Outreach Connector

Sales reps can upload individual records, selected records in batch, or all records to Outreach. A similar process supports uploads to CRM or Marketing Automation Platforms. Leads may be uploaded as new accounts or matched to current accounts within Outreach.
Sales reps can upload individual records, selected records in batch, or all records to Outreach. A similar process supports uploads to CRM or Marketing Automation Platforms. Leads may be uploaded as new accounts or matched to current accounts within Outreach.

Sales and marketing intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced a “refreshed” connector with sales engagement platform Outreach.  The update provides improved “synchronicity” between the two services, making it “faster and easier for reps to sequence DiscoverOrg contacts,” said Russell Van Leuven, DiscoverOrg Senior Director of Sales.

According to Van Leuven, the updated “solution will remove barriers and help people sell more by addressing three mission critical sales problems: (1) a disjointed sales tech stack, (2) inconsistent or untrustworthy data, and (3) maintaining governance practices to preserve data quality.”

“The value of great data lies in what our customers DO with it.  The integration of Outreach with DiscoverOrg means sales teams can get the best data and insights on their target accounts, engage them with the right message at the right time, and never worry about that data going stale again.”

  • DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

The solution addresses both the dearth of quality data for small teams that perform open-web Google research and “tech overload” at enterprises that are balancing email, CRM, and “a huge stack of tech tools to find, cross-reference, and confirm the information they need,” said Van Leuven.

Van Leuven highlighted the difficulties of maintaining data quality in CRMs:

It’s hard to trust the murky origins of the data in your CRM. It’s usually old (Did you know: data decays at a rate of 30% per year). A lot of distrust comes from the fact that most people have had a traumatizing experience with bad data or bad data providers that’s landed them in spam filters, blacklists, or worse. And when your sales team doesn’t feel like they can trust the data, they stop trying to keep records updated. Bad data perpetuates a burdensome cycle of bad data.

The connector feeds editorially researched prospect data into Outreach and Salesforce.  Both individual records and bulk prospects are pushed to Outreach and assigned to Outreach sequences.  There is “no downloading, uploading, copying or pasting required,” said Van Leuven.

Prospect lists can be assembled in DiscoverOrg and assigned to specific Outreach sequences and tagged by the owner.  Company and contact information can also be passed to Outreach via DiscoverOrg’s Chrome extension.  Thus, a sales rep can identify a prospect on LinkedIn or a company website, match and enrich the record against the DiscoverOrg reference file spanning 130,000 companies and three million companies, and then upload the enriched record to Outreach.

“Great sales results require an in-depth understanding of who you are targeting, and then reaching those individuals with a message that moves them to take action,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “The partnership between Outreach and DiscoverOrg makes that simple.”

The joint service also offers automated DiscoverOrg enrichment of new leads within Outreach.  The nightly scan appends DiscoverOrg contact information, firmographics, and technographics to Outreach for both new records and records updated within the DiscoverOrg reference library.  The nightly scan also identifies bounced emails and departed employees.

The connector supports field-level configuration allowing admins to set custom field mappings.  Admins are also provided with a weekly summary report which lists all account and contact updates.

DiscoverOrg has a 95% data quality SLA based upon their 90-day editorial review cycle and monthly bounce testing.

Along with Outreach, DiscoverOrg supports sales engagement vendors SalesLoft and Tellwise.  DiscoverOrg plans on enhancing those connectors along with adding additional sales engagement vendors.

SalesLoft $50M Series C

SalesLoft supports email templates and cadences for managing multi-channel communications.
SalesLoft supports email templates and cadences for managing multi-channel communications.

Atlanta sales engagement vendor SalesLoft received $50 million in Series C funding this week, bringing their total funding to $75 million. Insight Venture Partners led the round and was joined by Emergence Capital, which had participated in previous rounds, and LinkedIn. Funds will be deployed to add another 200 employees in Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, and Europe.

While the market value was not disclosed, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported the valuation at more that $200 million.

“Things have gotten very noisy for buyers these days. They are bombarded with sales activity via phone, email, social, and many other channels,” said CEO Kyle Porter. “When buyers are able to peel away from those distractions, they still have problems to solve — and an overwhelming range of solutions to sift through. Now more than ever, buyers really need sellers who can rise above all this noise and provide them with a better sales experience — through our product innovation and our people, it’s our mission to help sellers do just that.”

SalesLoft will soon be releasing its SalesLoft Assist artificial intelligence module “which is informed by more than 500 million sales interactions, providing users with dynamic and real-time suggestions.” The firm is also looking to expand its development and partner network.  The recently launched app partner directory already supports thirty partner solutions.

“SalesLoft is one of the most innovative companies in the sales engagement category and a leading provider on the Sales Navigator Application Platform.  SalesLoft has integrated Sales Navigator into their application in a way that provides great user value while protecting LinkedIn member data. We look forward to working with SalesLoft to create even more value for our joint customers in the future.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

“We didn’t create the sales engagement category; our customers did,” noted Porter. “They weren’t satisfied with the tools their teams had to connect and engage buyers. They made their needs clear, and we listened. As a result, sales engagement has evolved from a point solution to the system of record for sales organizations. Users are spending more time within SalesLoft than any other technology, including their CRM. Our customers are leading the way in this exciting new category, which is really just a reflection of their efforts to serve their customers in new, authentic ways.

New SalesLoft Capabilities (Rainmaker Part II)

The Sales Navigator Side Panel supports key functionality with SalesLoft including icebreakers, introductions, connections, and profiles.
The Sales Navigator Side Panel supports key functionality with SalesLoft including icebreakers, introductions, connections, and profiles.

SalesLoft is quite pleased with its previously announced LinkedIn Sales Navigator partnership.  SalesLoft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester noted that SalesLoft “worked extremely closely with their team” and that SalesLoft has the highest widget use amongst all of LinkedIn’s SNAP partners.  The Sales Navigator app supports real-time news, account information, introductions, ice breakers, connections, and recommended leads.  LinkedIn intelligence is delivered within SalesLoft’s Persona and Company Smart Panels.

“Our organization and thousands of others like us depend on LinkedIn daily for prospecting, insights, social selling, and the tools to build real, authentic relationships with your prospects and customers,” said SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter.  “In many ways, SalesLoft’s technology has been built to be extremely complementary with that of LinkedIn.”

SalesLoft recently launched a meeting tool which integrates with Outlook and Gmail.  The new service provides calendar links to customers and prospects so they can quickly book time on the rep’s calendar.  Booked meetings are visible within both SalesLoft and Salesforce.  A booked meeting can trigger automation rules such as changing a cadence stage, marking as success, or moving to a cadence such as setting follow up meetings or kicking off a meeting prep cadence.

Calendar settings include default meeting length, daily meeting windows, time zone, and standard message.  Users may continue to use Calendly and Chili Piper for setting meetings.

Another new feature is live website tracking which captures who visited a corporate website and which pages were visited.  Initially, the functionality is cookie based, but SalesLoft will support IP tracking in the future.  Sales reps can use the tracking to leverage past activity (e.g. suggesting additional resources related to past research history) or calling prospects while they are live on a corporate site.

“Live Website Tracking brings a brand new prospect readiness cue to the surface by exposing live and historical website activity to SalesLoft.  When you combine the unspoken signal of website activity with the more explicit signal of email interaction and direct response, you move closer than ever to understanding what the prospect needs and where they are in their buying journey.”

  • SalesLoft Product Marketing Manager Sunshine Levin

SalesLoft has a single-price user model of $139 per month.  The subscription provides full platform capabilities with some dialer minute limits.  Volume discounts are available.

Part I of this article covered SalesLoft’s new App Directory.