Outreach Preaches Strategic Pivoting

CEO Manny Medina used his Outreach Unleash virtual conference, which was rescheduled from an early April live event, to inspire and motivate leaders to pivot their businesses.  Noting that his company nearly failed before finding value in some internal sales engagement tools that saved his company, he discussed two strategies for companies: hunkering down or pivoting.  His recommendation was to pivot into new markets, products, and messaging.  For most companies, their “customer’s realities have changed, and the old value proposition won’t work.”  

Some will hunker down, pare employees, marketing, and spend, hoping to wait out the storm.  This is a survival strategy, but it leaves the company weakened when things improve and demand returns.  Hunkering down assumes that the current situation is temporary and won’t have a long-term impact on their markets.  Firms that hunker down may survive, but they cede market share, ongoing product development, and an understanding of evolving market requirements.  Bolder competitors continue to build their product, establish relationships, and prepare for the thaw.

There are a few companies in segments where demand is exploding.  These lucky firms need to manage explosive growth around e-commerce, e-delivery, or digital services.  To these firms, Outreach is asking how can we best meet your needs?  But most companies do not fall into those categories.

“A lot of customers are coming to us looking for guidance on how to get through this.  They want insight into how to manage their teams remotely and how to pivot their business.”

Outreach CEO Manny Medina

Medina recommends pivoting in search of new markets, products, and opportunities.  Doing so requires that firms carefully analyze their skills, assets, and messaging.  Firms need to “measure and iterate,” “be one with the customer,” and “act with urgency.”  Sales reps and management need to be doing more check-ins with clients.  The goal isn’t to be selling today, but sharing ideas, building trust, and empathetically discussing needs.  Sales reps need to be disciplined and ”listen to understand, not to respond,” while management must identify new markets, personas, and messaging.

Medina views the pandemic and subsequent crisis in demand as an opportunity to grow, become more efficient, and get closer to one’s customers.  In a shrinking market, the bold may not grow revenue; still, they will increase market share, investigate new opportunities, and build relationships, which will allow them to outperform when the market improves.

Outreach is “working hard to master the ability to create trusting relationships — at a distance,” said Medina.  “Only two months ago, it was religion that you needed to meet someone in person to build trust – now we are doing it all over video.”

Now, COVID has given everyone an excuse to come in below their number this year.  However, you have no excuse for not answering yes to the following questions.

– Did your teams become more efficient?
– Did you iterate and pivot until you found a sweet spot that worked?
– Did you level up your sales process to make WFH successful?

Now is the time to act on the things you CAN control.  To build for the future.

Outreach CMO Max Altschuler

Internally, Medina has emphasized communications, switching from weekly emails to weekly videos and weekly office hours via Zoom.  “It helps me be visible and showcase both a serious tone and an optimistic one.”

Outreach is also building loyalty amongst its staff.  It has retained all of its 550 employees.  To assist WFH parents, Outreach is providing $100 per week for educational materials, tutoring, tools, and supplies.   Outreach has also provided additional support beyond its healthcare plan to employee families impacted by COVID-19.

Outreach chose not to apply for PPP loans even though its investors suggested they do so.  The firm, however, continues to invest 40% of its revenue in product development, preparing for the next market inflection point.

Outreach also chose to continue its expansion. It opened a London EMEA office in February with plans to its first East Coast office in New York City later this year.  The firm has over 400 clients headquartered in NYC, nearly ten percent of its customer base.  The new office will be led by Regional VP David Rubenstein who has over fifteen years of industry experience, the past six years at Salesforce.

Phil Garlick Joins Brainshark

Phil Garlick joined sales enablement vendor Brainshark as their VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships.  Garlick held a similar role at Zoominfo prior to its February acquisition by DiscoverOrg.  Before Zoominfo, Garlick was a founder of OneSource Information Services, a pioneer in the sales intelligence space.  He guided the sales and marketing functions before ascending to President.  He is joining Brainshark at a point when partnerships and integrated workflows are critical for sales and marketing teams.

“Phil’s deep experience in the sales intelligence and sales enablement markets, and his track record of success driving business growth, make him a valuable asset to our leadership team,” said Brainshark CEO Greg Flynn. “As Brainshark continues to expand its network of strategic partnerships, we’re confident that Phil’s expertise and customer-centric approach will help us continue to forge strong alliances that deliver great value to clients and improve their sales outcomes.”

Brainshark supports content authoring & management, sales training, video coaching & practice, dashboards & analytics, and creative services.

Over the past half-decade, there has been a steady flow of former OneSource sales reps and management to Brainshark.  Brainshark’s Chief Sales Officer, Colleen Honan, held a similar role at OneSource alongside Garlick.

“I’ve long admired Brainshark’s commitment to helping companies improve the readiness and results of their sales teams. This is a persistent challenge for organizations across industries and an area I’m passionate about. As Brainshark continues to innovate and enable sales teams to maximize their productivity, it’s an exciting time to join the company.”

Phil Garlick, Brainshark VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships

Note: Garlick was the President of OneSource Information Services while I was a Product Marketing Manager.

SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Keynote

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.

At their Rainmaker 2019 conference, SalesLoft announced a doubling of their ecosystem, mobile functionality, a rebuilt analytics engine, and a hot leads feature.  The show attracted 1,300 attendees to hear 164 speakers.

“We’re in the middle of an evolution in the relationship between sellers and buyers,” said SalesLoft’s CEO, Kyle Porter.  “Sales teams need to tear up their playbooks and start fresh with a blend of human, relevant sales tactics and the modern technology needed to create an authentic sales experience that is repeatable and scalable.”

SalesLoft’s purpose is to “to activate the authentic seller in all of us” and elevate the sales profession by offering “world-class experiences.”  The firm operates under a quintet of values that inform its hiring and operations:


SalesLoft Operating Principles.

These principles led to SalesLoft being named the top-midsized employer in Atlanta for the second year in a row.  “We embrace the transformative power of technology innovation for our customers, but we believe in people first,” said Porter.  “Our founding purpose is to create an environment where others can come to learn more, do more, and become more.  Team members are encouraged to take their talents and skills and apply them to serve others and find fulfillment.  We show love to our people so they can share that sentiment with our customers.”

SalesLoft’s sales engagement platform is designed to support evolving buying behavior.  B2B buyers are swamped by messaging and “super busy,” yet need to solve complex problems.  Buyers are looking for an “engaging, authentic experience” that understands buyer needs and solves their problems.  However, sellers are inefficient and operate with broken processes.  SalesLoft is looking to address process failures by centralizing sales workflows and encouraging best practices.  Objectives include elevating the sales profession through community, encouraging diversity amongst its staff and event speakers (54% of whom were women or minorities at Rainmaker), and transparency in its policies and outcomes.

Porter described his future vision of sales where “every single seller has a digital assistant by their side” along with a “sales coaching network” which is a “giant distributed network of sales activity.”  Sales reps are supported by a digital assistant which delivers broad data and context-specific insights based on seller, stage, and customer to help reps “connect authentically with the buyer.”

Porter contends that “you can’t take the human out of the equation” but you can make it “easier to distribute a world-class experience to your customer.”

“[It’s time to] elevate the profession of sales to focus on delivering customers world-class experiences.  With that, you can maximize revenue.  A sales experience must be authentic, engaging, relevant, human, one-to-one and, most importantly, it understands buyers’ needs and solves their problems.”


SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

Sales reps have long suffered from a bad reputation, being forced to take ethical shortcuts to meet managerial demands.  SalesLoft is looking to lead by example.  According to Porter, when “we do right,” SalesLoft customers are able to hire, innovate, and invent new things.

SalesLoft’s other goal is to improve the efficiency and efficacy of sales teams.  A SalesLoft study found a 22% increase in opportunities created when comparing the 90-day windows before and after implementing their platform.  To back up their research, they commissioned a Forrester study of their customers which found a

  • 2.5X improvement in response rates
  • 20% lift in conversion and productivity
  • Doubling of the funnel
  • 13% increase in renewals
  • 329% ROI

“Many people say we’re in a state of digital transformation,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan.  “For sales, we’re entering a revolution of how we engage customers.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”


Part II: SalesLoft Rainmaker Product Announcements

Dun & Bradstreet Privatization Update

Dun & Bradstreet Logo
Dun & Bradstreet Logo

Dun & Bradstreet continues to dribble out news about its privatization plan.  Last week the firm announced that Motive Partners has joined the acquisition group and that Stephen C. Daffron, Co-Founder and Industry Partner of Motive Partners, will assume the role of President upon transaction close.

Two weeks ago Black Knight announced that it is acquiring a $375 million stake in Dun & Bradstreet.  Once the transaction closes, Anthony Jabbour, Black Knight’s CEO, will assume the Dun & Bradstreet CEO position. Black Knight’s Executive Chairman William P. Foley II will serve in a similar position at Dun & Bradstreet.

Black Knight describes itself as “a leading provider of integrated software, data and analytics solutions that facilitate and automate many of the business processes across the homeownership life cycle.”

“With an impressive 177-year legacy and the support of a phenomenal group of investors, Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important next chapter in its evolution as a company.  I am excited by the opportunities in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill and the rest of the consortium and continuing the Company’s long history of excellence in helping customers and partners around the world.”

Anthony Jabbour, Incoming CEO of Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet shareholders have already approved the $6.5 billion transaction which is expected to close no later than Q1 2019.  Other investors include CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. 

Last month, Dun & Bradstreet shareholders approved the deal.  Dun & Bradstreet still needs approval from the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

Motive is a sector specialist investment firm focused on technology-enabled financial services companies.

Daffron served as the CEO of Interactive Data and held senior positions at Morgan Stanley, Renaissance Technologies, Goldman Sachs and Motive Partners.

“I am excited by this unique opportunity to work side-by-side with Anthony [Jabbour] in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill [Foley] and the rest of the investor consortium to help unlock the value within this renowned company,” said Daffron.  “Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important chapter in its evolution as a company and will be well positioned as a private company to increase operating efficiencies and effectively execute the company’s growth strategy.”

Benioff Dreamforce Keynote

Salesforce CEO Mark BenioffSalesforce CEO Mark Benioff has long taken a stakeholders’ approach to his business, understanding that technology firms can do both good and evil.  Unlike many of the social media companies which are now beginning to understand the dangers of taking a laissez-faire approach to how others use their technology, Benioff has ensured that his enterprise cloud company takes an affirmative action towards social justice, equality, and the ethical application of his firm’s technology.

Eighteen years ago, he started the 1:1:1 campaign (1% of product, time, and resources) to nonprofits and philanthropic purposes.  At Dreamforce and World Tour events, the firm regularly promotes local nonprofits and holds sessions for them.  The firm has also taken stands against discriminatory legislation and adjusted salaries to ensure gender pay equity.  Benioff is calling for “inclusive capitalism” which benefits all members of society and recently created an Office of Ethical and Humane Use of their technology.

Here is what Benioff had to say at this year’s Dreamforce (abridged):

What is really important to us? what is the most important thing what are our values? What are we going to stand for? What do we really want?…

We’re watching…for companies who are not listening to their key stakeholders, not listening to their customers, not listening to their employees, not listening to the kids…Then we watch the executives walk out. The employees walk out.  The customers walk out as a vote of no-confidence against their values and as a community we stand here and we say we are going to commit to a higher level.  We are going to a higher level together to express our values.  We know what the most important thing is to us and in this community and we’ve said it for years and we’ll say it again:  Our culture is built on trust – The fundamental trust that we have with you; the fundamental trust that we have with our key stakeholders, with our customers, with our employees, with our partners.

Our trust is with you and we take that very seriously.  It’s our highest value and we ask every company to ask what is your highest value and in the world when technology is taking us over and in a world where technology through the Fourth Industrial Revolution is grabbing us, realize that we all have a higher responsibility to ask that question especially you see the gambits that are unfolding really before us. Especially as artificial intelligence gets released into the whole world we must ask this question, “What is truly important to us?”…

We realize technology is not good or bad, it’s what you do with it that matters…We’ve restructured our company to have an Office of Ethical and Humane Use of the technology so that as our employees or our customers or our partners say “Are we doing this? Are we aligned with our values? Are we moving forward?”

We can have a structured conversation not just with our own employees myopically but by bringing in the key advisors and supporters and pundits and philosophers and everybody necessary…to ask the question, “Is what we are doing today ethical and humane?” and we’re all gonna have to ask that question in the technology industry and every company and every CEO better be ready to answer to that question through their values.

And we’re putting our values into action because our values create our behaviors…

We believe we have to bring everyone in.  Everyone has to come in to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s inclusive capitalism.  Inclusive capitalism means we’re all going together into the future.  We are leaving no one behind. Nobody will be left.

 

 

Salesforce: Benioff Names Block Co-CEO

logo-salesforceAfter 19 years, Marc Benioff has chosen to share the reins at Salesforce, naming President and COO Keith Block his co-CEO.  Block, who decamped from Oracle in 2013 where he ran the sales and consulting groups, will focus on “growth strategy, execution and operations.”  Benioff will lead Salesforce’s “vision and innovation in areas including technology, marketing, stakeholder engagement and culture.”

Block emphasized that Benioff is not looking to step down at the company he helped found in 1999.  “This is just a natural evolution of what’s been happening over the last five years,” Block told The Wall Street Journal.  “Marc is very engaged in the business, and he’s going to work for a very, very long time.”

Block was responsible for Salesforce’s verticalization strategy with targeted offerings in financial services, healthcare, and retail.  He also has been out front in explaining recent acquisitions such as the $6.5 billion purchase of MuleSoft in March.

“Keith has been my trusted partner in running Salesforce for the past five years, and I’m thrilled to welcome him as co-CEO,” said Benioff.  “Keith has outstanding operational expertise and corporate leadership experience, and I could not be happier for his promotion and this next level of our partnership.”

The firm also named co-founder and CTO Harris Parker to its Board.

“Since our founding in 1999, Parker has been instrumental in driving Salesforce’s innovation and shaping our culture,” said Benioff.