Attention, an AI-powered sales assistant, exited stealth mode and closed a $3.1 million seed round led by Eniac Ventures. Other participants include Frst, Liquid2 Ventures, Maschmeyer Group Ventures, Ride Ventures, and the founders of Ramp, Level AI, Truework, CBInsights, and Zoi. The new funds will be deployed towards advanced AI capabilities and market growth for the New York City-based startup.
Attention helps sales teams “overcome inefficiencies at every stage of the sales cycle,” including CRM hygiene, sales acceleration, and revenue growth. Attention accelerates sales rep ramp-up, drafts follow-up emails based on customer statements, improves forecasting, and automatically enriches Salesforce and HubSpot with post-call deal intelligence.
Attention maps discussions to custom CRM fields specific to standard sales methodologies such as MEDDIC and BANT.
Attention also provides real-time suggestions and question responses, “resulting in all sales representatives having higher rates of success and closed business.” Recommendations include product responses to technical questions and objections handling. The Attention AI determines common unsupported questions and builds battlecards based on sales responses. Battlecards can also be developed or edited by the sales enablement team.
One novel feature is the ability to query the meeting transcript with a question, allowing reps to summarize or revisit the discussion around key topics quickly.
Sales reps can share call snippets with managers or SMEs via Slack, allowing them to forward open questions in the voice of the customer.
“Attention is a game-changer. We’ve rarely seen any product like this in terms of efficiency gains and ramp-up acceleration. We’re also blown away by how fast they’ve been releasing new capabilities.” said Peter Santis, head of sales at RocketChat. Santis both licensed the service for RocketChat and participated in the seed round.
Founders Anis Bennaceur and Matthias Wickenburg founded competing AI software startups before joining forces in September 2021 to build Attention.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Anis and Matthias as they leverage the latest developments in AI generation and natural language understanding to superpower sales organizations,” remarked Hadley Harris from Eniac Ventures. “We love working with repeat founders and couldn’t be happier with the strong pull they’re already getting from the market.”
Attention supports communications platforms, including Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Teams, Meets, Zoom, and Zapier.
Attention’s initial customers are in the technology sales space, most commonly with 50 to 100 licensed sales reps.
“The acquisition extends Bigtincan’s lead in AI-driven revenue intelligence by improving B2B sales organization’s ability to scale by delivering insights and recommendations directly to sales reps for better decision-making to increase revenue,” the firm told investors. “The SalesDirector.ai technology links people, activity, and engagement across the buyer’s journey to derive insights, including opportunity risk and relationship strength, and then makes intelligent recommendations. By capturing all sales, marketing, and customer success activity the technology drives actionable revenue insights required to make the right business decisions.”
Bigtincan stated that SalesDirector’s technology would improve its AI-powered insights capabilities and forecasting accuracy.
SalesDirector ingests data from GSuite/Gmail, Slack, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Exchange and feeds contact data (e.g., Title, Department, Level, Phone) to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. SalesDirector also captures Engagement Signals and writes them back to CRMs as custom fields:
Executive Engaged on Opportunity / Account
Single or Multi-Threaded Opportunity Relationship
Last QBR Complete / Next QBR Scheduled
Partner / Sales Engineer Engaged on Opportunity
Next Step / Meeting Scheduled
AI tools include stakeholder identification, individuals who are supporters or detractors, disengaged stakeholders, account risk scoring, sentiment analysis, and deal health.
“Every organization has to be more productive,” said Bigtincan CEO David Keane. “With the Sales Enablement market shifting towards a more holistic approach encompassing Revenue Enablement, we can deliver more value to our customers by providing full-cycle sellers with AI-driven recommendations on the next best actions based on intelligent sales analytics from SalesDirector.ai.”
SalesDirector pricing begins at $29 per user per month for activity capture. Revenue Insights pricing is not published.
Bigtincan will incorporate SalesDirector’s functionality into its product suite and phase out the SalesDirector brand.
“Traditionally, when we do small tech-focused acquisitions, they become part of the Bigtincan product suite, so that capability gets added to the existing platform we have,” said Keane. “We don’t tend to run these things as separate businesses, mostly because we miss out on some of the benefits for our shareholders of taking it all together and taking that technology and really getting in the platform. This is no different than our existing strategy – embed, connect it all together and make it something that our customers can choose to add. We do believe that it is all about choice, and we want people to be able to buy these technologies from us as additional value-added options. I think that’s going to be the case here as well.”
Bigtincan paid $1.2 million in cash and equity for SalesDirector.
The entire SalesDirector team is joining Bigtincan.
Bigtincan, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has acquired a series of RevTech companies, including ClearSlide, Brainshark, and VoiceVibes.
Seismic and Microsoft announced an integration partnership that will embed Seismic’s sales enablement workflows within Microsoft Viva Sales. Seismic will provide “content production, collaboration, task automation, and engagement intelligence for Viva Sales users across the meeting experience to help drive deals and relationships forward.” The goal is to “streamline” buyer engagement at relationship-based sales teams.
Microsoft Viva Sales became generally available on October 3. Viva Sales is “a new seller experience application that brings together any customer relationship management technology (CRM), Microsoft 365, and Teams to provide a more streamlined and AI-powered selling experience.” The new solution is designed for the hybrid work environment where reps leverage video conferences, chats, emails, and documents to close deals.
“We’re united with Seismic in our commitment to empowering sellers through relevant content and an improved seller experience. Our plan to integrate Seismic with Viva Sales will help sellers have more personalized customer engagements whether they are in the office or on the road, with a helpful assist from the AI-driven insights and content,” said Lori Lamkin, CVP, Dynamics 365 Customer Experience Applications.
Viva Sales customers include Adobe, Crayon, and PwC.
Conversational data capture has been a popular theme this month with announcements from People.AI and Nektar. Winn.AI, a Tel Aviv-based AI Assistant and playbook vendor, came out of stealth mode this month to offer AI-based playbook coaching during digital sales calls. Winn.AI also captures real-time conversations and syncs account intelligence with Salesforce and HubSpot.
“Winn.AI relieves salespeople of…administrative busywork so that they can focus on their customers — not their keyboards. Its magic lies in its unique ability to monitor, interpret, and document sales calls,” said CEO Eldad Postan-Koren.
Winn.AI also supports playbooks and tracks key topics during calls, helping salespeople stay focused on their prospects. Winn.AI captures all relevant data during sales calls, such as pain points, timelines, competitors, and team size. Product, competitive, and technical information are also displayed during calls, reducing the frequency of “I’ll get back to you” responses and presenting competitive parries.
“One of our core competencies is that we’re training our AI in real-life sales meetings. This greatly helps us make it more accurate versus standard training resources,” said Postan-Koren. “Furthermore, the more a customer uses the product in their own sales meetings, our AI capabilities will improve to match their exact needs.”
To speed up playbook definition, Winn.AI includes a set of templates based on common sales methodologies.
Winn.AI joins conversational platforms, beginning with Zoom. Teams, Google Meet, and additional conversational platforms (meetings and dialers) are on the roadmap for Q4.
Other features include time warnings, attendee lists, and post-call meeting summaries. Editable summaries are displayed as soon as the call ends, adding them to the standard call workflow but removing most data entry. Salespeople can also send a personalized recap email to call participants. This review and notification process is generally completed within four minutes of call conclusion.
Winn.AI does not create new records at this point but updates and enriches current Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records. Winn.AI does not yet support inbound calls or SDR outbound prospecting performed on dialers.
Playbook coaching reduces onboarding time and gives reps confidence that they have proper messaging, competitive knowledge, and technical details at the ready.
Like most SalesTech companies in 2022, Winn.AI positions itself around productivity and effectiveness during lean times.
“The funding round timing made perfect sense. During turbulent times, when salespeople’s productivity and effectiveness are more critical than ever, a tool like Winn.AI provides the additional edge sales leaders and individuals are seeking,” Postan-Koren said. “The Winn.AI real-time assistant acts as an extra pair of hands during meetings, giving salespeople the freedom to focus their attention entirely on the customer.”
Winn.AI is backed by $17.25 million seed funding from Insight Partners and S-Capital. The firm has 25 employees and plans to double its headcount by the end of 2023. The funds will be invested in “improving our deep technology” and building a sales and marketing organization. All employees are in Israel, but they will be hiring in the US over the next two quarters.
Near-term roadmap goals are expanding the set of supported conference platforms and dialers, broadening the set of supported customer-facing roles (e.g., customer success, support, SDRs), adding playbook measurement and optimization tools, and implementing multiple, dynamic playbook branching (e.g., competitive handling, verticalized playbooks, technical discussions).
Postan-Koren offered GZ Consulting a compelling vision of “automated knowledge and personalization” feedback loops with the sales enablement team. Closing the loop helps the enablement team maintain playbook recommendations. Winn.AI will collect common responses and discussion tracks and feedback this intelligence to sales enablement for review and adjustments. This human-in-the-loop approach facilitates playbook and coaching refinement and filling in coaching gaps. It also identifies potential training needs as markets evolve.
“Winn.AI’s innovative and intuitive technology has identified a solution that addresses the pain points of Busy work. By allowing salespeople to focus on making the sale, Winn.AI enables organizations to Improve performance and increase the quota,” said Hagi Schwartz, Managing Director at Insight Partners.
Postan-Koren explained that Winn.AI employs NLU (Natural Language Understanding), which goes beyond NLP (Natural Language Processing).
“Understanding is not processing because I can ask you, ‘Michael, how many employees are you?’ And your answer will be 20 employees. But I can also ask you, ‘Mike, do you have 20 employees?’ And your answer will be yes. Or I can ask you ‘how many employees?’ and your answer will be 20. So here are three different ways to ask the same question to get the same answer, and the computer won’t understand it. Understanding context is the secret sauce here.”
What also differentiates Winn.AI is the combination of playbooks with real-time call coaching, data capture, and CRM syncing, allowing reps to be more present during calls. These elements are supported across many products, but I have not seen a company combine them into a single offering.
“The system is a personal assistant for the salespeople and relieves the burdensome administrative work of taking notes, having a list of answers, and entering information into the CRM,” stated Postan-Koren. “ It does so all at a level of detail that does not exist in other tools on the market, so much so that in real-time, it can exactly match a specific topic of conversation to the relevant field in the CRM. Also, the system knows how to follow the topics of the conversation in real-time, check the full coverage of the conversation’s agenda, and give instructions that will help improve performance. This is a new category in the SalesTech world, and Winn.AI aims to lead this category.”
Winn.AI is currently in beta with plans to formally launch in early 2023. The firm is not targeting specific verticals as it believes it has a compelling cross-industry solution that supports digital sales, customer success, and service departments.
Abstrakt announced an integration with Sales Engagement Platform Salesloft to deliver its real-time call coaching and automated playbooks for calls initiated on Salesloft. Abstrakt also offers real-time call transcription and passes call details to the contact record after each call.
Playbooks guide sales reps with the “correct questions, relevant customer stories, or high-level demo points for every possible scenario.” Playbook questions are highlighted during a call, and responses are immediately tagged. Playbooks can be configured by team, rep role, persona, and stage.
“Our partnership with Abstrakt shows commitment to our customers by bringing a first-of-its-kind, real-time call coaching software to our platform,” said Devin Schiffman, VP of Alliances at Salesloft. “Real-time is a critical element of sales coaching, and this strategic partnership will continue to drive more opportunities for our customers.”
Abstrakt real-time coaching and playbooks help sales reps focus on prospects “without missing qualifying questions.” It also provides recommendations for managing objections within 0.2 seconds.
Call recordings and transcripts are available within a few seconds of call completion. The service also provides talk tracks, talk ratio metrics, topic tagging, and playbook completion percent.
Next Step Items are on the Abstrakt roadmap.
Abstrakt is available as both a standalone and Salesloft integrated solution. Salesloft is Abstrakt’s first integration partner. Outreach and HubSpot connectors are coming soon.
“When we looked into the market, we knew we wanted to do two things: work with the leader in the sales engagement space (Salesloft) and make sure Abstrakt filled a void in their current offering (which we do),” said Abstrakt CEO Greg Reffner. “I am very excited about the opportunity to provide a great experience for all Salesloft & Abstrakt customers.”
Abstrakt supports sales, recruitment, and insurance agent use cases.
Abstrakt is priced at $100 per user per month, with a ten percent discount for annual payment. Volume discounts are available. There is no surcharge for the Salesloft connector.
Abstrakt will have five employees by the end of the month with a distributed workforce. It has managed its initial product development with Beeso Studio, a startup studio in Omaha Nebraska. Abstrakt launched in April 2021 and operated as a paid beta until early this year. Crunchbase lists them as receiving $730,000 in pre-seed funding.
Sales Enablement vendor SalesHood launched ENGAGE, its Digital Buyer Sites, at the end of June, but hasn’t formally press released the service. SalesHood emphasized its ease of setup and access for ENGAGE sites and its ability to “quickly activate” sales content and improve its effectiveness.
CEO Elay Cohen explained that a key differentiator for SalesHood is that it is “100% built on the same platform, providing a single sales enablement system for sales and marketing teams.”
Engage sites can be public or private and are set up with a couple of clicks. To facilitate access, domains may be whitelisted. Authentication is supported via Google SSO, Microsoft SSO, or an email with a magic link. Contact information is collected from all contacts that access the buyer site.
Sales reps can send buyer site invitations via email with personalized messages or shareable links. Buyers can also request access to a site if they do not yet have access.
ENGAGE captures buyer intent and sentiment as it gathers video-watching time, time on slides, downloads, shares, feedback, etc. Reps can attach both pre-recorded videos and custom recordings. Other content includes meeting recordings, meeting transcripts, and mutual action plans. In addition, the firm noted that chat support would soon be available.
“We continue the push the industry forward by helping our customers and partners embrace modern selling and digital buyer engagement with our ENGAGE product,” posted Cohen on LinkedIn. “CROs and sales leaders love ENGAGE because it powers revenue teams to use repeatable sales plays and proven content to boost sales efficiency by driving consistent sales execution. CMOs love ENGAGE because it quickly activates their sales content and improves content effectiveness. Customer teams love ENGAGE because it progresses (and closes) pipeline faster and more efficiently. Buyers love ENGAGE because they can make decisions faster and on their own timelines.”
Engage is priced at $50 per user per month. When bundled with the Learning module, the combined price is $75 per user per month. In 2023, the combined price will rise to $100 per user per month.
Seismic rolled out the Seismic Enablement Cloud, an enablement platform for customer-facing teams. The new service ensures that team members have the “right skills, content, tools, and insights to effectively engage customers and drive growth.” Instead of offering a set of point solutions for content, training, and engagement, Seismic claims it is the first unified enablement platform that supports digital interactions across the entire buyer’s journey.
“For more than a decade, Seismic has helped develop and shape the enablement industry in partnership with our 2,200+ customers. Leading organizations view enablement as mission-critical to their growth, and it has become a core part of the enterprise tech stack. Now we are revolutionizing the space by bringing all of the pillars of modern enablement under one, unified cloud,” said Seismic Chief Product Officer Krish Mantripragada. “In this new era of selling, customer-facing teams need more than content management and basic analytics to engage today’s buyers. The Enablement Cloud redefines the boundaries of enablement, delivering the most comprehensive suite of products and solutions to empower the entire go-to-market engine.”
The Seismic Enablement platform supports “end-to-end workflows,” including
Enablement and training strategy and Planning
Sales Content Management from building content through asset sharing, including content recommendations, personalization, and social sharing
New hire onboarding, ongoing training, and AI-assisted coaching and skills development
Buyer experience personalization across all touchpoints and digital channels, including social media, email, and digital salesrooms
Content Automation with dynamic templates and quick assembly, with support for data integrations.
Insights concerning the “behaviors, activities, and content that increase productivity and deliver the best outcomes”
Integration support for over 150 solutions, including Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google
“Just as sales and marketing clouds have brought together several complementary products and solutions to address the needs of their respective teams, we see a similar need and opportunity for the enablement cloud – a dedicated platform purpose-built to empower enablement and GTM teams to deliver exceptional end-to-end buyer experiences,” blogged Mantripragada. “The Seismic Enablement Cloud redefines enablement by bringing together historically siloed systems for sales content management, learning & coaching, strategy & planning, content automation, buyer engagement, and enablement intelligence into one enterprise-grade platform that supports end-to-end workflows for GTM teams.”
Seismic includes Lessonly (a recent acquisition) pitch training.
Recently founded demo experience software company Saleo received $1.5 million in early-stage investment for its live demo platform. Funding came from Tech Square Ventures, Jon Hallett, Kyle Porter, Rob Forman, Tim Kopp, John Hanger, Bryan Wade, and Eric Spett. The firm is based in Atlanta, as are most of the investors.
Justin McDonald and Daniel Hellerman, experienced RevTech execs who previously worked at Terminus (three of the investors are Terminus executives), founded Saleo. In addition, McDonald launched Ramble Chat which he subsequently sold to Terminus.
“We believe that every software company should have the means to deliver the perfect software demo that ‘wows’ their buyers every time. No more missing data, hours of prep time, or sub-par generic demos,” posted McDonald on LinkedIn.
Saleo enables real-time customization of demo environments and supports collaboration among revenue teams during the demo creation process. As a result, Saleo helps revenue teams “shorten their sales cycle, increase win rates, and close more deals by removing the burden of missing data, outdated demo environments, and time-consuming demo prep.”
Saleo supports a demo library that can be personalized by industry, company, use case, and job function. Successful demos can be shared as a template or cloned and customized. In addition, Saleo provides revenue teams with complete control over the demo environment, including graphs, metrics, tables, text, and images, “enabling you to create the perfect software demo that connects directly to your customer’s pain points and lands exactly the way you want.”
“We’re the only technology that allows software companies to manipulate and customize their live demo environment. Other players breaking in are taking screenshots of existing applications and making changes to them.”
Saleo CEO Justin McDonald
Saleo has a no-code integration that runs with any browser-based SaaS app via a Chrome extension that connects to their SaaS platform. Time-based metrics are always current. Furthermore, Saleo doesn’t operate as a screen capture service but demos the firm’s live SaaS product without requiring any embedded code.
“Saleo represents one of those very rare early-stage companies that is launched with such a compelling combination of team, vision, product, and market potential. Saleo’s customers have been blown away by the impact on sales conversion.” said Jon Hallett of Hallett Capital. “I was stunned when I saw how easy it was to use and the potential sales impact it represents for future customers. Of all the new companies I have seen this year, this one has me the most excited.”
“SaaS companies have always struggled to deliver great software demos – either in the time investment to prepare a sales demonstration, or the myriad of challenges around missing data or how to customize a demo for different buyers,” said Salesloft CEO Kyle Porter. “Saleo has created an ingenious solution to help sales engineers and account executives demo their software apps like never before, and most importantly, increase their win rates. I am excited to be a part of it.”
Saleo currently has four remote employees and is looking at office space. It plans to expand to twelve headcount by the end of the year, with hires in engineering, sales and customer services. It expects to close a seed funding round in the next six months and sign forty customers before the end of the year.
Sales Enablement Platform vendor Highspot closed on a $248 million Series F that valued the firm at $3.5 billion, up from its February valuation of $2.3 billion. The firm, founded in 2012, has raised $648 million to date. The round was led by B Capital Group and D1 Capital Partners, with Iconiq Growth, Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire, and Tiger Global Management also participating.
“Technologies that unlock human potential are foundational to our economic future,” said Rashmi Gopinath, General Partner, B Capital. “Highspot’s undeniable performance, coupled with the enthusiasm of their customer base, is a testament to how transformative their technology is for companies across industries and geographies. We believe Highspot’s platform is an imperative for businesses aiming to drive sustainable growth.”
Highspot will deploy the funds to hire additional staff and open offices in the EMEA and APAC regions. The firm, which doubled in size over the past two years to 800 employees, plans to add 500 staff over the next twelve months. Highspot is based in Seattle, with offices in London, Munich, and Paris.
The pandemic accelerated demand for digital platforms such as Highspot as “road warriors have become home warriors,” said Wahbe. In addition, the shift from traditional selling to digital required new tools and skills. “Salespeople have to be better than ever in holding the attention of the customer.”
“Even before the onset of the pandemic, buyers were trending toward self-reliance with a plethora of resources at their fingertips, researching vendors on their own time and relying on salespeople as mere transaction facilitators,” Wahbe told VentureBeat via email. The sudden shift to a remote business landscape caused by COVID-19 accelerated this trend, and now modern buyers prefer — and expect — fully virtual sales … A handful of sales tech companies anticipated the trend toward digital selling and strategically designed their products to help turn salespeople from transaction helpers into heroes. Highspot is one such company.”
Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe, “Highspot raises $248M to bolster sales enablement using AI,” VentureBeat (January 13, 2022)
The firm, which has over 170 open positions, is broadly hiring across engineering, product, design, marketing, and sales.
“We see an incredible opportunity in front of us,” said CEO Robert Wahbe. “We need to continue to invest very significantly and invest in our go-to-market team, invest in our product, and [invest in] the capabilities of our product.”
Last month, Highspot announced a quartet of executive hires:
Arvind Prakash, Product Management VP: Prakash is a global product and technology leader with over twenty years of experience at Compass, Expedia Group, and Microsoft.
John Zhang, Engineering VP: Zhang held Engineering roles at Microsoft, Twitter and Weibo.
Julie Valenti, Account Management VP: Valenti has over twenty years of experience running customer-facing teams at DocuSign, Oracle, Responsys, and Yesmail.
Kelly Lewis, Revenue Enablement VP: Lewis joins with over 15 years of experience in revenue leadership and technology sales. Lewis is a former Highspot customer joining from Amwell.
The recently launched Highspot Marketplace is a partner exchange for marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success partners. Companies can import packages of content, tools, and training from two dozen partners, including Sandler, Challenger, and Winning by Design.
Highspot has grown revenue 935% over the last three years and posted an Annual Recurring Revenue net retention rate of 130% over the past year.
Last year, platform usage increased 150%, with Highspot providing training to eight million salespeople, channel partners, service reps, and customers in digital sales experiences. Highspot counts DocuSign, General Motors, Nestle, Siemens, and Verizon Media among its 700+ customers.
Wahbe envisions the firm going public but did not set an IPO timeframe. “Our focus continues to be on building a significant company in the enablement space,” said Wahbe. “We’re focused on growing the company, which of course then enables us to go public.”
Sales Enablement vendor SalesHood announced the general availability of SkillsHood, an asynchronous training platform for the entire organization. The SkillsHood Enablement Platform “automates and scales organizational readiness and messaging alignment processes both for distributed and remote employees.”
“SkillsHood is our latest innovation created to boost employee productivity by elevating how employees learn, coach, and collaborate asynchronously across their organization,” posted CEO Elay Cohen on LinkedIn. “The SkillsHood Enablement Platform automates and scales organizational readiness and messaging alignment processes both for distributed and remote employees.”
SkillsHood delivers personalized learning and development training for both onboarding and ongoing training. Features include prescriptive learning paths, video role-playing, manager coaching, video storytelling, employee recognition, peer feedback, quizzes, and assessments. Streamed content may be delivered just-in-time by role and tenure. Other features include gamification, badging, and analytics. The enablement platform is integrated with Domo, GoodData, Tableau, and PoweredBI.
“It’s amazing to see sales enablement mature and transform to company-wide enablement,” said Cohen. “Now more than ever, all departments are looking for innovative ways to lift employee productivity and bring teams together virtually.”
Remote training will remain a core requirement after the pandemic. Gartner forecasts that 48% of employees will work at least part of the time versus 30% remotely before COVID-19.