Vendor Neutral published Nicolas De Kouchkovsky’s seventh annual SalesTech Landscape. When viewed online, a magnifying glass helps the viewer focus on specific categories. The eyechart now contains over 1,000 tools across fifty categories.
New categories include “Extended Reality (XR), Email Deliverability, Product-Led Sales Platform (i.e., PLG CRM), and Ecosystem & Co-Selling Management to enable the emerging ‘nearbound’ sales motion.
Unfortunately, the SalesTech Landscape is not available for licensing or as a downloadable list.
“Sales engagement is the first category that came out of modern SalesTech stacks,” remarked De Kouchkovsky. “When it emerged, it provoked a gold rush, stimulating the birth of a myriad of email solution providers. Fast forward to today, multichannel — email, voice, including growingly LinkedIn and messaging — is the norm. It forced the landscape to settle: some vendors have graduated into true multichannel engagement platforms, some have pivoted out of the space, and the rest are offering the function as a commodity.”
Traditionally, sales engagement platforms have focused on outbound prospecting. It’s time to reset: inbound matters,” continued De Kouchkovsky. “In a world where buyers are researching on their own, engaging them when they land on your website constitutes a unique opportunity.”
De Kouchkovsky noted that inbound is more than chatbot and messaging. It also includes voice (call distribution and callback) and direct scheduling.
He also observed that prospecting (and broader sales intelligence) remains segregated from sales engagement. He cited two exceptions, Apollo and ZoomInfo Engage, but I would add Cognism to this list.
De Kouchkovsky argued that sales reps are overwhelmed with data entry and juggle multiple apps with more complex workflows. He called out several emerging solutions beyond Sales Engagement Platforms for addressing these problems: Collaboration and email plug-ins, Sales Workplace systems (e.g., Dooly, Scratchpad) that “overlay existing systems to offer sellers a streamlined experience to update systems,” and workflow automation tools that manage “the back-end synchronization between the various apps of the stack.”
“Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) are not new but now play a more strategic role in sharing content with all the stakeholders and helping better ‘read’ deal dynamics through content consumption, remarked De Kouchkovsky. “Mutual Action Plans began as shared to-do spreadsheets. They are becoming another mini-category, used not just by customer success teams but also to drive the initial sale through to onboarding.”
The Landscape is also seeing a blossoming of AI assistants that offer recommendations and guidance. This category grew 2X over the past year.
Kyle Porter, who founded and led Salesloft for the past dozen years, stepped down from the CEO role and was named Salesloft’s Chairman last week. In his place, the firm named SaaS veteran David Obrand its new CEO. Obrand is also joining Salesloft’s board.
I’ve known Kyle Porter for around a decade. I was impressed when he mothballed his first email guessing product because it wasn’t aligned with his belief in sales authenticity. It was a gutsy move. While he didn’t burn his boats (i.e., immediately remove the product from the market), he stopped selling the service and phased out the product while fulfilling current contracts.
Porter is also a gifted storyteller, which he emphasizes as a skill that sales reps should hone. His personal story is embedded into his management style.
I had the opportunity to interview Kyle on Friday. The conversation below was edited for length.
Why have you chosen to move upstairs?
There are two major reasons. The first is for the greater good of the business. I’ve seen this market unfold and the opportunity that we have in front of us just open up. It’s unlimited what we can do in sales and revenue generation. And our mission has always been to fundamentally change the profession of sales forever and really build a world where sellers are loved by the buyers they serve. I want every Lofter to have our mission as their primary focus within this business. And that means I need to have it as well. My goal is to always do that. And when I looked out to the future of everything that we could achieve, the biggest fear I had was that I wouldn’t be the right person to help us get there – that I would leave something on the table.
My skills are always growing, always developing. I consider myself a lifelong learner. And I’ve worked really hard to be just as good as I can at this stage as I was when there were zero people at the company. That evolution, however, is hard work. And that self-development is a deep investment.
The second piece of this is more of a personal perspective. On my very first date with my now wife…she asked me what my dream was, and I told her it was to run a technology company that makes a dent in the universe. I asked her hers, and she said it was to restore the glory that was the Florida citrus industry…
Now with someone like David, he’s already gained that wisdom, experience, know-how, and recall. It’s so natural for him. And I felt like we could accelerate the development of the CEO’s capability to take us to the next level by bringing in someone like David. So really, it’s based on my limitations as CEO. The opportunity ahead of us is just so big. And we have an amazing future in this business. We do the right things, and we serve our customers with excellence. There’s no limit to what we can achieve, so I wanted to accelerate the office of the CEO’s capabilities and really improve the handicapped chances to achieve our mission.
Some opportunities came up to really achieve that mission that she’s been on. And I realized that my talents and resources could greatly assist her just as she sat on the sidelines and helped me achieve my mission for over twelve years. I realized that it’s not right for this organization with so much growth ahead to have a CEO that’s not singularly focused on the mission of the business…I’m going to do tangerines with my wife, and that meant that it was the best decision to have someone that would be singularly focused on the mission of this business…
Of course, there are also my three children. While my daughter Brooklyn (8) is still going through the change curve of me no longer being CEO, I’m incredibly excited to pour more time and attention into her, my son Clark (5), and daughter Abby (1) as well!
How active will you be as the chairman?
Pretty active. We have a founder lunch that I’m going to continue. I’ve been corresponding with many customers this week, and I will retain those relationships and meet with them continuously. I’ll be a board member. David has asked for a once-a-week meeting indefinitely with him.
I just have really deep relationships with so many people inside the organization and with so many of our customers and partners. My enjoyment and my passion are to continue to work with those people. So customer meetings, board meetings, and one-on-ones with the CEO.
We got some really fun content projects that we’re working on. We’re going to be doing some work together to really show the market what’s happening and what’s changed and how to be more effective in this new world of modern sales.
What were the top criteria for selecting your successor?
Number one is that they are aligned with the mission of the business. When we talk about fundamentally transforming sales and revenue forever, this person that we brought on board had to have that in their heart already. Number two is they have to realize and understand that organizational health is the biggest sustainable differentiating advantage that any company can have. So when we love on our Lofters, they turn around and love on our customers, and the CEO needed to understand those dynamics and be willing to continue running this business with that framework and mindset. Three, I wanted someone that was well-rounded functionally. Not just a sales leader, but someone that understood product engineering, finance, marketing, [and] customer success.
I saw it firsthand when David Obrand got up and spoke with the product and engineering team. I sat, and I listened to someone say things that I wish I had thought of saying to them in the past. Things that I didn’t know and didn’t experience. And the way he connected with them was on a very deep level. And it was really refreshing for them to see someone that understands them even better than I did. So that was really cool.
When you think about succession as a founder, there’s a point at which your skillset, knowledge, or experience isn’t the right fit for taking the company to the next level. And many executives, out of hubris, choose to continue in that role, even though they may not be the best person for that role.
I believe exactly what you said. But I also believe that we really don’t have any limits except for those imposed upon us by ourselves. I’ve always believed that we can grow and develop into that next stage, and I’ve always believed that for myself, but that investment sometimes takes time. And if you have other things that you’re focused on, it’s more difficult to get down that development path.
You had a quiet layoff last week. Usually, you’re more transparent about these things. Why the shift away from the prior transparency, and why was it necessary to do so?
Necessary is an interesting word. I teach our leadership team that they don’t need to do anything; they always choose to do certain things.
On the transparency front, we did have a layoff after COVID. And we didn’t make a public announcement on that, as well. We believe that’s a private thing for the people that are part of the organization. We want to be super transparent internally about everything that happened. And if someone goes out and posts something, we don’t stop them or send them a note saying, don’t write that by any means. But that is a private kind of situation for the people who are impacted and affected.
Now, I am certainly helping people to find jobs. And we’ve assembled a list. And I’ve made many introductions. I’ve brought a lot of investors in, And we are helping those folks to find their next path.
SalesLoft, like many companies, saw lots of growth in the market and then saw some headwinds in front of us. And the way we think about it is that you’re in an airplane, and when the headwinds come, you can do two things: you can accelerate through and burn all your fuel, or you can lay back a little bit, let the headwinds pass, and pick back up. The decision we made was to lay back a little bit, let the headwinds pass, and then pick back up with the business.
What advice would you give founders of technology startups?
Really obsessing over the problem you solve is the first and foremost most critical thing that founders need to do. And when I say obsessed, I mean you need to get everybody in the organization on board with caring so much that they love their customer; they love solving the pains for them. And the company that cares the most is the one that’s going to win. Number one is that customer obsession and a really deep focus on the problem that you solve to the point where it becomes just a daily rhythm of your life.
The second one is aligning your organization to go after your mission. The mission statement is something where you’re one stop short of changing the world. We want to fundamentally transform sales forever. And that’s what we’re here to do. And so we need to hire people who believe in that mission, even down to the engineer.
We’ve created this whole community of people from every walk of life who love sellers and who understand the beauty of what sales is and how it transforms economies and markets. How it helps companies hire, invent, bring new products to life, and really change the fabric of our society. Making sure that your team is focused on that mission is critical. Then you got to have the rhythms in place where they’re being held accountable [and] where you’re achieving your goals.
You’ve emphasized the importance of culture. How did Salesloft benefit from your five core values?
What we’re looking for when we hire people is not that they’re five out of five A+, but that they have many of the core values [and] also believe that the other ones that maybe they’re not as strong in are important enough to work towards.
The other thing is that core values are a way to stop yourself before you make a mistake. Once a mentor told me [that] a good leader makes a mistake and quickly fixes it, [but] a great leader is about to make a mistake and fixes it before they do. And for me, that’s what the core values are. If we say that we want to be glass half-full, and I find myself about to say something negative. In the old days, I would say it, learn it, and fix it. But now, before it even comes out of my mouth, my head says, “glass half-full,” and I change the way I deliver that message.
Or if I’ve got a decision where I can go left, and it’s maybe better for money and then go right, and it’s better for customer experience. Then, customer obsession comes into my mind before I make that decision so that I can go right for the customer. We look at core values as triggering mnemonic messages in your head that help you to be the person you want to be.
As a CEO, you’ve got to repeat those [values] over and over again. Reward people who exhibit it. You’ve got to praise those who showcase it. Repetition is persuasion in that regard.
What is one mistake you wish you could have avoided?
We never anticipated the market would come back so fast post-COVID. Nobody did. Had I understood that, we wouldn’t have slowed down like we did. But then, we also never anticipated that the SaaS market would crash the way that it did. Had we understood that, we would have slowed down a little bit more before we did. Hindsight is 20/20. If you can predict those things, you can be a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund manager.
We’re always trying to align market demand with the resource supply of the organization. So that’s a continual trade-off that we’re working to make.
Are you looking forward to more time on the citrus farm?
I’m really excited. One of the things we do is send tangerines out to our customers. Every single year we do it, and I’m not going to miss that. We’ve got to keep producing great tangerines, so we can keep getting them into the hands of our customers. It is a joy and a passion of mine and my wife’s. She’s been so helpful to me on this journey, and I’m excited to help her follow her dreams.
Any last thoughts?
Yeah, we’re in a great spot. As a company, even with what we’ve seen in the downturn in the marketplace, we saw a really strong end to our Q4, and Q1 is off to a great start. Our CEO is highly capable. He’s wise. He’s been welcomed with a huge Salesloft hug inside the organization, and I’ve seen our customers and market participants really appreciate who he is and what he’s going to do. We’ve got a big opportunity to fundamentally transform the sales profession ahead of us. And we’re going to do it.
Lead assignment details are synced with Salesforce, and users are notified via Slack or email. In addition, a broad set of Salesforce record types are supported, including leads, contacts, accounts, cases, and opportunities.
Features include lead-to-account mapping, rule and trigger-based assignments, round-robin distribution, meeting reminders, and automated rescheduling. The Distro Log provides a detailed breakdown of triggers, actions, and routes.
“Now more than ever, it’s crucial that high-growth companies optimize for efficiency in their marketing and sales processes without sacrificing on customer experience,” said Co-CEO Nicolas Vandenberghe. “With Distro, revenue teams can effectively cover all of their routing and assignment needs while accelerating speed to lead.”
Chili Piper claims that it doubles top-of-the-funnel conversion rates.
A March 2011 article in The Harvard Business Review (“The Short Life of Online Sales Leads”) argued that speed to lead is critical for inbound leads. Last year, XANT replicated the study las year and found that 57.1% of first call attempts took place after a week or more, and only 0.1% of inbound leads were responded to within five minutes. However, firms that responded within those first five minutes had an 8X conversion rate versus later returned calls.
A Lead Connect study found that 78% of companies that respond first to a demo request end up winning the deal. Thus, firms that act immediately by returning a call or scheduling a meeting have a clear market advantage over firms with scheduling/call-back friction.
Chili Piper conducted a study earlier this year and found that 28.1% of demo requests submitted via chatbots or webforms to tech firms received no response after a week, and only 45% of requests were responded to within one hour.
“In the past, marketers at leading organizations such as HubSpot and Vendasta have preached five minutes to two hours as the sweet spot for follow-up. We, however, disagree,” blogged Chili Piper Content Marketing Manager Kelli Diffenderfer. “In this day and age, responses should be instant. And there’s absolutely no reason they can’t be. If you’re not responding immediately, you’re losing out on a significant amount of revenue.”
Automated lead distribution and routing allows prospects to go from buyer research to an inbound inquiry to a scheduled meeting with a few clicks on a landing page or the corporate website, bypassing the delays inherent to traditional lead routing.
Yet, eleven years after the HBR first published its research, inbound response rates remain slow, with 26.8% of tech firms taking one to twenty-four hours to respond and 28.1% failing to respond.
“Distro for Salesforce is a welcome addition to AppExchange, as they power digital transformation for customers by simplifying lead management, improving conversion rates, and accelerating speed to lead,” said Woodson Martin, GM of Salesforce AppExchange. “AppExchange is constantly evolving to connect customers with the right apps and experts for their business needs.”
Distro is priced at $20 per user per month. Chili Piper does not offer any discounts.
Demo Experience Platform vendor Saleo launched its Saleo Live platform which transforms “existing demo environments into data-complete, relevant demos that help pre-sales and sales teams turn more deals into ‘closed won.’”
Saleo noted a series of demo platform issues that it addresses, including “bad demo data, unstable demo environments, generic use cases, costly demo prep time, and expensive engineering investment in supporting the demo environment.” Furthermore, sales engineers and solutions consultants find it challenging to customize demos by persona and industry.
“The north star with Saleo and Saleo Live has always been resolute – we believe that software companies should be able to demo their live native SaaS product with full control and complete reliability. Anything else is unauthentic. Fake screenshots, HTML screen capture, and click-through demos lead to a disingenuous buying experience from pre-sales. Saleo is the only platform in the market that empowers full control of every element in a live SaaS product; the end result is a transformed demo experience that leads to reduced pre-sales costs and higher win rates.”
Saleo CEO Justin McDonald
Saleo Live lets sales organizations define and share no-code custom demos “within minutes.” Sales engineers can quickly customize text, tables, images, graphs, and metrics. New features include Single Sign On, a “more sophisticated modeling engine to support advanced graph permutations,” an updated UX (UX), advanced user permissioning, and a new token system that scales personalization.
“The reaction to our latest release has been incredibly positive from Sales & Product Marketing teams,” said Saleo CPO Daniel Hellerman. “The reaction to Saleo from the pre-sales market has been overwhelming. We are solving an age-old problem with a unique architecture that puts sales engineers at the forefront of the solution. Screenshots and click-throughs from existing solutions have been prohibitive, and limit sales teams to on-rails demos, where they can’t showcase their genuine application; Saleo Live has unleashed their potential.”
Salesforce continues to outpace its competitors in the CRM space, growing to 23.8% market share (2021) in IDC’s “Worldwide Semiannual Software Tracker, April 2022.”
Salesforce is now five times the size of its closest competitors: SAP at 5.4% and Microsoft at 5.3%. Among the top five, only Microsoft and Salesforce have consistently been growing their market share over the past four years.
Salesforce is the leading CRM for sales applications, customer service applications, marketing applications, model-driven application platforms, and enterprise community applications.
Salesforce also leads across most of the major geographic markets: Asia-Pacific (including Japan), Latin America, North America, and Western Europe.
“In this digital work-from-anywhere era, companies need to adapt their business models to address customers’ evolving needs,” said David Schmaier, President and Chief Product Officer, Salesforce. “We are grateful to be recognized as the #1 CRM by IDC, underpinning how companies across every industry continue to engage Salesforce as a trusted digital advisor who can help accelerate their efforts to build direct relationships with their customers, employees, partners, and more.”
Salesforce positions itself as a digital transformation solution, with multi-year contracts commonplace. The firm takes a “land-and-expand” strategy where one cloud solution leads to multiple cloud licenses. “This quickly makes Salesforce a ‘sticky’ product, solidifying them as a key partner for their customers,” observed Ben McCarthy of Salesforce Ben.
ZoomInfo announced the immediate availability of its new MarketingOS ABM Platform. The service is part of a broader RevOS offering that supports marketing, sales, operations, and recruitment. MarketingOS consolidates ZoomInfo’s legacy marketing capabilities, bringing together two recent acquisitions, Insent and RingLead, with new programmatic and audience management functionality.
ZoomInfo also refined its positioning statement from Revenue Acceleration to Revenue Operating System. It stated that RevOS is “the World’s only revenue operating system of its kind.”
“Our comprehensive B2B database is the key differentiator that sets MarketingOS apart from other ABM solutions,” said ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck. “ZoomInfo’s unique data science algorithms allow marketers to connect with the right prospects at precisely the right time. No other solution on the market combines the power of data-driven insights and marketing-optimized workflows like ZoomInfo’s MarketingOS.”
“Marketers typically fail because the data in most ABM platforms is both inaccurate and incomplete. Current ABM solutions are designed to leverage companies’ own first-party data, which exists in their customer relationship management or marketing automation systems. Without quality data, marketers pour advertising dollars at the wrong prospects and companies, and, as a result, deliver fruitless leads to sales and waste time and resources. With ZoomInfo’s best-in-class data and intelligence at its foundation, MarketingOS enables marketers to effectively reach target accounts and drive qualified leads for sales.”
New functionality includes social and display advertising, abandoned from tracking, and audience targeting. Marketing can build audiences and track campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Marketing can also build campaigns and manage them programmatically through Clickagy DSP (ZoomInfo) or TradeDesk.
Marketing OS looks to address the “Funnel Famine” suffered by traditional marketing teams. Several issues cause Funnel Famine: crowded B2B advertising channels, dirty data, leaky black-box marketing campaigns, siloed data, and sales’ longtime distrust of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
“Most marketing programs begin with data, whether it’s for tailoring your communications, whether it’s for sending an email, whether it’s for sending a direct mail. It’s all about those accounts that you’re targeting and the professionals at those accounts,” explained ZoomInfo SVP of Product Strategy and Product Marketing Justin Withers to GZ Consulting. “And the reality is that a lot of data, especially if it’s pulled from the CRM or other systems, is outdated. It’s inaccurate. It’s incomplete, and that can actually pollute or even inhibit the lead flow at the top of the funnel, and [it] ultimately leads to poor conversion. It leads to leaks in the funnel, and all this hard work that marketers put in at every stage of the funnel ultimately spills out before it can even reach sales.”
The reality is that the sales and marketing funnels operate in parallel, not sequentially, as represented in traditional funnel diagrams. MarketingOS lets marketers run account-based programs in parallel with sales running account-based sales programs “so that everyone’s aligned at every step of the funnel.”
Under current processes, sales and marketing operate in parallel to each other with little coordination and a single point of handoff for MQLs, a situation that “really doesn’t set marketing up for success…and it leaves sales in a bind,” continued Withers. Thus, marketing complains that sales teams ignore its leads, and sales reps complain about the quality and quantity of marketing-sourced leads. As a result, there is an “acute misalignment between sales and marketing.”
With MarketingOS, handoffs can occur at different points along the marketing funnel, based on the channel and prospect response.
Sales and Marketing are aligned around a set of target accounts both within and beyond the ICP. Thus, an ICP account with spiking intent will be passed to sales, even if marketing has had limited conversations. Furthermore, the rep will know that multiple individuals from the firm have visited the website or that individuals have clicked through on ads or email campaigns.
Likewise, chatbot conversations with target companies can immediately route a chat to the sales rep or schedule a call.
New functionality for managing abandoned forms can revive a prospect. ZoomInfo claims a 60% increase in lead flow with its abandoned form tracking.
MarketingOS functionality includes
Expanded targeting that leverages the full set of ZoomInfo’s first and third-party intelligence for building and activating audiences. ZoomInfo selects include firmographics, technographics, biographics (e.g., Title, 192 Job Functions, Job Levels), web forms, and uploaded lists (e.g., tradeshow lists). Other selects include business events (e.g., funding data, executive changes, projects) and over 300 company attributes (advanced data-mined firmographics such as fleet size and company benefits). Targeting also ingests account, contact, and lead attributes from Salesforce, HubSpot, and Marketo.
First and third-party intent data time outreach while buyers are in-market, helping to improve marketing and sales efficacy. Marketers can track up to 500 intent topics, with up to 50 available at a time. In addition, chat-based targeting is coming soon.
An “in-market predictive score” that identifies each prospect’s buying stage, “informing how and when marketers should engage with prospects based on their ranking and helping them to prioritize their outbound efforts on prospects who are most likely to convert.”
Campaign Management and Analytics. Marketers upload their creative, build an audience, set the budget, and select their channels.
Webforms, infused with automated enrichment, support shorter forms with reduced abandonment rates
Abandoned form tracking, with Workflows passing the lead to sales or additional nurture steps
ZoomInfo Chat (FKA Insent), a conversational marketing chatbot that leverages ZoomInfo data to score and route leads. Chat immediately passes high-scoring, live leads to sales reps. The chatbot also automates meeting scheduling.
Visitor Intelligence, with pages scored differently (e.g., Product Pages are scored higher than Career or Investor Pages)
Automated workflows triggered by intent, custom intent, WebSights visitor intelligence, Scoops (e.g., business events, projects), Funding, Technologies, and FormComplete. Workflows can also be built to expand reach across the potential buying committee by persona.
RingLead data orchestration to dedupe, cleanse, enrich, and route leads
ZoomInfo Enrich, a set of DaaS enterprise platform integrations for data enrichment and hygiene.
MarketingOS is powered by ZoomInfo’s database spanning 100 million companies, 150 million executives, technographics, intent and engagement data, and event data.
“Marketing and sales funnels work in parallel, so everyone is aligned at every step of the funnel,” explained Justin Withers, SVP of Product Strategy and Product Marketing. With MarketingOS, “sales and marketing are working in lockstep at every stage of the journey.”
Tying together intent and engagement data and processing them through ZoomInfo Workflows is the future of ABM. Intent data is employed at the top of the funnel when buyers are in the initial research phase. Once prospects have begun interacting with a vendor, most buyer behavior research falls under the engagement category (e.g., web forms, email responses, chatbots, conversational intelligence, etc.). Finally, intent data helps identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities at the tail end of the customer lifecycle.
Engagement and intent data are also valuable churn risk indicators, helping customer success and account managers detect potential cancelations or defections well before decisions have been made. In addition, intent data can show a spike in research related to product-associated topics and competitors. Engagement monitoring widens to include customer success interactions, training participation, platform usage, and general account health indicators.
“We can support your new customer acquisition with these signals,” stated Withers. “We can support your opportunity acceleration with these signals. We can also support your renewal, upsell, cross-sell motions based on different types of signals that are happening at those accounts. So, it really is a full customer lifecycle marketing solution.”
MarketingOS will be available as a pair of SKUs:
ABM Elite+: The full ABM Platform package, including RingLead Cleanse, Enrich, and Route
ABM Advanced+: Package includes everything except RingLead
“The purpose behind the two distinct offerings is to simplify our primary offering for those focused on ABM engagement and marketing programs, as opposed to the more operationally focused data orchestration capabilities,” explained ZoomInfo Analyst Relations Director Michael Basilio to GZ Consulting.
MarketingOS includes ten marketing seats and three administrative seats for RingLead routing and ZoomInfo Chat.
The broader RevOS branding consists of MarketingOS, SalesOS, OperationsOS, and RecruitingOS. ZoomInfo calls RevOS the “world’s first integrated go-to-market platform.” All four RevOS services are generally available.
ZoomInfo’s data cloud, orchestration tools (e.g., RingLead, B2B DaaS, Workflows), and engagement tools (advertising, sales engagement, web forms, chat, and conversational intelligence) are at the heart of RevOS.
“There’s nothing more important in business than successfully executing your go-to-market strategy,” states ZoomInfo in its product collateral. “Get it right, and your business flourishes. Get it wrong, and you’re toast. That’s why having one integrated go-to-market platform is so crucial. You can think of it as your revenue operating system.”
SalesOS bundles together a set of new and legacy sales tools:
Chorus, the conversational sales platform the firm acquired in July
Sales and Marketing Alignment has been a stated goal of the two functions for at least a decade, but they have operated with different datasets, metrics, objectives, and platforms. Thus, alignment was more vision than reality. By aligning ABM on a common platform and reference database, alignment is no longer impaired by an organization’s tech stack and data foundation.
“Crucially, MarketingOS lets marketing teams work from a common data foundation. Only 39% of sales and marketing teams share buyer signals, and half say it’s because their sales and marketing systems don’t integrate. The shared data foundation of SalesOS and MarketingOS tightens key handoffs and unlocks true marketing and sales alignment, eliminating conflicting records, wasted effort, and missed opportunities.”
ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck, “Introducing RevOS: The future of modern go-to-market software,” (Feb 8, 2022)
OperationsOS contains RingLead data orchestration (i.e., match, unify, dedupe, normalize, cleanse, enrich, score, and route data) and B2B DaaS services (e.g., APIs, webhooks, cloud data warehouse integrations).
Finally, RecruitingOS contains ZoomInfo Recruit, its recently launched prospecting and engagement service for HR departments and recruiters. RecruitingOS also includes a set of Applicant Tracking Service connectors.
“Recruiters can filter and reach more good-fit candidates, use pipeline management tools to collaborate and organize the hiring process, and automate the candidate outreach process,” explains Zoominfo. “This helps you source and connect with candidates faster, reducing the time to find and hire talent.”
Along with new product positioning, RevOS sports new logos, color palettes, styles, and a “unified in-app experience to create a singular, cohesive go-to-market solution that spans the entire suite of ZoomInfo products.” There are also redesigned data dashboards and reports that “offer a faster, more responsive experience that allows your sales, marketing, and recruitment teams to visually demonstrate ROI and how their work aligns with broader organizational objectives.”
In short, RevOS unifies sales, marketing, revenue operations, and recruitment on the same set of data, providing “the same source of truth” and “one integrated platform for every stage of the marketing and sales funnel.” “If data is the lifeblood of the modern sales organization, then go-to-market teams must have the technology to act upon that data. RevOS’ unified data tech stack gives sales, marketing, operations, and recruiting teams a single source of truth from which to launch their campaigns and go-to-market motions, simplifying internal workflows, reducing costs, and maximizing interoperability between teams,” blogged Schuck. “RevOS is the next chapter in ZoomInfo’s journey as the world’s leading go-to-market platform.”
“As the US population diversifies, so must your sales teams,” concluded Vanessa Fabrizio, Market Impact Consultant at Forrester. “You need a diverse sales team to be customer-obsessed in 2021 and beyond. Respondents understand the importance of diversity, as 60% stated that diversity within their sales team has contributed to their teams’ success.”
While DEI received much attention in 2020, sales leaders view it as an ongoing initiative, with 82% stating racial or ethnic diversity will be equally or more important in two years. Additionally, 72% believe that DEI will be equally or more important across the business organization in two years.
Last September, Forrester Consulting surveyed 500 B2B sales leaders about their firms’ performance metrics and DEI practices (e.g., diversity in personnel, commitment to DEI training, and career advancement programs for underrepresented groups). Those with strong DEI programs outperformed lagging programs across a series of metrics:
Sales Forecasts: Firms with strong programs expected 2021 revenue growth of 9% vs. 6% at lagging firms.
Conversion Rates: Organizations with strong DEI practices had a 54% lead-to-opportunity conversion rate vs. 26% at laggards.
Customer Satisfaction: Firms with strong programs saw a 24% increase in customer satisfaction scores vs. 17% at firms with weak programs.
“As buyers continue to demand a more personalized experience, successful companies will understand the increasing benefit of diversifying their teams to reflect the changing demographics of their target consumer,” said author and sales expert Jeff Davis.
“In 2022, sales leaders will monitor and track the diversity of their organization like any other metric or KPI,” separately predicted Outreach Global Innovation Evangelist Mary Shea. “With more weight and visibility on this business priority, sales leaders will embrace new and more creative channels to source talent, and they will create internal programs to nurture and foster their existing talent.”
Coincidentally, I am publishing this article on Martin Luther King Day at a time when voting rights are being restricted in many states. MLK stood for DEI, voting rights, freedom, economic opportunity, and economic justice. He was instrumental in pushing LBJ and Congress to pass the original Voting Rights Act which is now opposed by the Republican Party. It is time for Congress to renew the Voting Rights Act and at least pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
Senator Raphael Warnock, who preached from MLK’s pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, stated
“I have to tell you that the most important thing that we can do this Congress is to get voting rights done. Voting rights are a preservative of all other rights. They lay the ground for all of the other debates. And so to my Democratic colleagues, I say: while it is deeply unfortunate, it is more than apparent that it has been left to us to handle alone the task of safeguarding our democracy.
Sadly, many of our Republican friends have already cast their vote with voter suppression. And so the judgment of history is upon us. Future generations will ask, when the democracy was in a 911 state of emergency, what did you do to put the fire out? Did we rise to the moment or did we hide behind procedural rules?
“I believe that we Democrats can figure out how to get this done, even if that requires a change in the rules, which we established just last week that we can do when the issue is important enough.”
Senator Rappael Warnock (December 14, 2021)
Democracy is not a given. Freedom expands or contracts based upon our willingness to accept others and afford them the same rights (and responsibilities) as others. It must be renewed each generation through teaching, activism, and voting.
Leveraging its Economic Graph, LinkedIn noted that sales rep turnover is up 39% over the past three months (overall global turnover is up 28%). Sales is the second most in-demand position globally.
“Companies need to recognize that the power dynamic has changed — workers are going to demand more from them on multiple fronts,” said LinkedIn Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough. “Candidates are being much more selective about where they work, and workers are more vocal about what they want.”
Replacing sales reps is an expensive proposition, according to a 2015-2016 DePaul University study. When factoring in the opportunity cost of an open sales seat and the hiring and training expenses, replacing a sales rep costs $115,000.
Further complicating matters, buying team turnover spiked over the past year, up 31% in Q3. Thus, demand units are more difficult to navigate, and deals are more likely to be delayed due to key decision-maker departures. According to LinkedIn State of Sales 2021, 80% of sales reps said a deal was delayed or derailed due to buyer role changes over the past year.
Unfortunately, employee burnout rose 9% between April and July, just as employees were readying to return to the office, but Delta delayed such plans. Over the same period, employee happiness dropped three points.
“This simultaneous dip in employee happiness and spike in burnout is a warning signal: very few people want to return to pre-pandemic work life, said LinkedIn Head of People Science Strategic Development Amy Lavoie. “Part of the issue here is that the communications around organizations’ return-to-office plans can carry a dangerous subtext. It may look to employees that, while their leaders had prioritized their well-being and safety in the pandemic’s first stretch, they’re now focusing on business and advancing their own agenda at all costs, leaving employees’ concerns in the wake.”
“Employee well-being is not a fad; it is a fundamental human need,” continued Lavoie. “It’s not going to take care of itself as businesses start asking employees to return to the office. Employees are looking to their organizations to value their needs as full human beings and trust them to make decisions about how, when, and where they work. Until that happens, we will continue to see this deadlock between employees and organizations on happiness and burnout.” Employee priorities are shifting, with a greater emphasis on flexible work arrangements, inclusive workplaces, and work-life balance than just a few months ago. As a result, work-life balance is ranked as the top priority among job seekers.
Flexibility is key. Three out of five employees feel they are equally productive working from home and that their overall well-being is equal to or better than working in an office.
A Fortune Analytics survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers found that 76% of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work, and 93% want flexibility in when they work. Additionally, 57% of knowledge workers are “open to looking for a new job in 2022.” However, among knowledge workers who are dissatisfied with the level of flexibility, the open to looking rate rises to 71%.
“Just last year, joblessness in the US was at its highest level since the Great Depression,” wrote Fortune Editorial Director Lance Lambert. “Scrambling to hold onto their jobs, workers started taking on extra responsibilities—something many of them hold onto today even though the economy has shifted into one of its strongest periods in recent memory. That explains why 19% of workers say their work-related stress is ‘poor,’ and another 33% say it’s ‘fair.’”
Fortune Analytics also found that workers with inflexible work schedules are 6.6 times more likely to report work-related stress.
LinkedIn Senior Content Manager Paul Petrone suggested three areas of investment to retain sales talent:
“Career conversations and career development for your employees.
Providing work-life balance, which should ideally include flex work.
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging.”
Workers find it difficult to maintain a work/life balance, with 35% of workers telling GlassDoor that balance isn’t possible in their current role.
“Very few people both see a path forward and feel support for an internal career move,” observed LinkedIn People Science Senior Researcher Eric Knudsen. “Luckily, there’s a clear solution. While it’s natural for managers to worry about losing a team member, employees want learning and growth opportunities. So, whenever someone starts looking for their next opportunity, a lack of manager support could inspire an external move.”
Knudsen recommends that managers frame internal mobility as an opportunity and not a loss as they place an advocate and partner in another part of the organization. Furthermore, the organization retains talent, and cross-team collaboration is likely to rise.
“Work-life policies which are rigid or offer little flexibility are proving problematic for UK employees,” said Glassdoor Economist Lauren Thomas. “Our research has indicated that workers want autonomy over how they juggle their home and work lives and need employers to offer a range of options to support this. There also needs to be trust between the two parties — avoid micromanaging teams who are working from home.”
What’s more, Glint (a LinkedIn subsidiary) found that only one in five employees feel they can meet their career goals in their current organization, increasing the likelihood of departures.
ZoomInfo has been talking about its LTV/CAC (Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost) ratio for a few years and is now boasting about its sales efficiency ratio. For every dollar the firm invests in Sales and Marketing, it is growing $1.50 to $2.00 in revenue with even better results on the retention business side. These values are well above the SaaS industry average and indicate that the firm should increase its revenue operations investment.
“On the new business side, we aim for somewhere between one and a half to two X return for every dollar that we spend on a customer. And then on the retention and growth or account management side, we look for a six to eight X return for every dollar that we spend there. It’s a super-efficient go-to-market motion. Most software businesses, you put a dollar in, you get like 70 cents out in the first year. We’re putting a dollar in and getting one and a half to two X out.”
ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck
Schuck described their go-to-market efficiency as one of their “big strategic levers” when acquiring firms with less mature go-to-market motions. ”So when we find companies that don’t have a very sophisticated go-to-market motion, that aren’t truly optimized in the way that they get clients, they’re not doing one and a half to two X efficiency or a 15 X LTV to CAC. Those are great fits for us.”
ZoomInfo has a track record of improving sales efficiency, helping unlock value in acquired assets where the go-to-market motions are aligned. “In our big acquisitions – RainKing, ZoomInfo, and, most recently, Chorus.AI — we really felt like we could leverage the go-to-market motion to accelerate growth within those companies. That’s a key piece.”
When DiscoverOrg acquired RainKing, which had a $40 million ARR, he was convinced that DiscoverOrg could treble their EBITDA to $30 million and accelerate their top-line growth within six months. Within one year of acquiring RainKing, DiscoverOrg’s market valuation grew from roughly $600 million to $2 billion.
One of the inherent advantages of SalesTech is you don’t have to teach sales reps the value and use cases of your product. This shortens ZoomInfo’s ramp time for new reps from several quarters to four months. “it makes it way easier for you to be able to sell to your counterpart on the other end of the line. It’s a big difference for us,” said Schuck.
ZoomInfo heavily hires sales reps directly out of college or soon after and trains them as SDRs, responding to inbound leads and performing outbound prospecting. “In nine months, we start promoting them into the account executive role. So we got value out of them in that ramp time. Then four months after they’ve gone into the account executive role, they’re fully ramped. Thirteen months from when you’ve never sold something until you’re an account executive at one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, that’s a really fun promotion to see.”
And because ZoomInfo is hiring sales reps to sell sales and marketing solutions, Schuck does not consider complicated or technical product categories for acquisition. Instead, he looks for solutions that broadly meet the needs of his 20,000 customers and which are easy to understand. Chorus.AI, the Conversation Intelligence vendor that ZoomInfo acquired last month, fits the bill: “We use it, all of our sellers use it. It’s really simple to understand, ‘Hey, we’re going to record and transcribe all your calls, and then you can go do instant coaching on the key moments in those calls’,” remarked Schuck.
RBC calculated sales efficiency for 72 public SaaS companies and found the average sales efficiency at .8X, meaning that public SaaS companies returned 80 cents for every dollar spent on sales and marketing in the previous year.
Sales Efficiency is defined as the revenue growth rate over a period divided by sales and marketing expense margin in the previous period:
According to OpenView Partners SaaS benchmarking report, “Sales and marketing spend peaks at 50% of ARR at the expansion stage. Too many companies underinvest in sales productivity, saddling them with huge costs without the ROI…You should be carefully monitoring your sales efficiency and looking for ways to improve or maintain it year-over-year. Look out for the ‘leaky bucket’ problem, where you spend significant sums to acquire new customers, but then they churn shortly thereafter (churn bait).“
As a general rule, firms with a sales efficiency less than 0.5 do not have a “sustainable investable growth model,” wrote startup advisor Anna Talerico in SaaSX. A ratio between 0.5 and 1.0 is “much better;” however, “while this isn’t necessarily capital efficient (which would make it a hard ratio for a bootstrapped company to maintain for any length of time), it does indicate sales & marketing efficiency and many investors view this as acceptable.” Better yet, firms with a ratio above one have a “strong sales efficiency and a capital-efficient growth model.” However, when the ratio is significantly above one, the firm may be underinvesting in sales and marketing and “leaving growth on the table.”