Quora: What are the most typical ways in which a salesperson will push self-interest (and decrease trust) onto a prospect?

The Full Question

What are the most typical ways in which a salesperson will push self-interest (and decrease trust) onto a prospect? ‘Wanting to talk about their product’ is common, but what other less obvious ways crop up?

My Response:

Not all of these are self-interest, but they all are ways that sales reps undermine trust and fail to establish a relationship with their customers and prospects.

Bad mouthing a competitor — it shows a lack of belief in your own offering. If the statement you make is incorrect, you look dishonest and you have blown the deal. I generally suggest that when reps are asked about competitors that they say something positive (but not highly relevant to the prospect) about the competitor and then pivot back to their offering by highlighting an area where their product offering excels). This allows them to stay above the fray, avoid badmouthing the competitor, and quickly shift back to their value proposition.

Misrepresentation — if you don’t know the answer, don’t wing it. Be honest and follow up quickly. Reps aren’t expected to be technical experts, but they should know the basics of their offering.

Likewise, if your products are not well suited to meet their current requirements, then don’t push solutions that will leave them disappointed. Either they will figure it out after wasting a lot of your time (and theirs), or they will purchase your product, be disappointed, and never buy from your firm again. This kills future deals at the company when their needs shift (or your product capabilities are deeper). It also kills future deals at other companies when they change jobs. Honesty may not win you the deal today, but dishonesty will kill future deals when you are a better fit. You can’t win back trust once it is lost.

Not being prepared — There is little reason not to know the basics of your customer and prospect. You have access to LinkedIn and the company website. You can also gather firmographic information (size, industry) and industry information from subscription services (e.g. D&B Hoovers, InsideView, First Research, Vertical IQ, etc.).

Failing to listen — Good selling entails listening to their needs and concerns.

Pitching too early — It is ok to talk about the product, but only after understanding the customer’s needs. You should start by listening and understanding their requirements and then discussing your value proposition and how you can help meet their needs. Focus on value. When discussing features, tie them to relevant benefits, but avoid a feature deep dive unless that is what the client wants. Reps often are too quick to demo.

Slow Follow up — If you offer a client samples or a service trial, turn those around immediately after the call (or within a few hours if you have other calls). If you need to get back on technical items, send them a list of the open items and cc or bcc the technical team. If you offer a quote, SOW, or RFP response, then let them know when they will be available. If you can’t close the loop when selling, what confidence will they have that your firm will deliver on time, swiftly support technical issues, or provide proper training?

Slow Response — Likewise, slow response to website or chat requests can be a deal killer. If you are unable to respond immediately, then send a quick email acknowledging their request with anticipated follow up. Slow responses erode trust and provide time for them to consider your competition.

Being Creepy — Being overly familiar, contacting somebody five minutes after they’ve visited your website (unless they have requested to be contacted), being inauthentic.

In short, we are talking about honesty, authenticity, listening, good follow up, and knowledge about your products and prospects / customers.

Zoominfo IPO

Zoominfo had a successful IPO on Thursday after raising its initial price from $16 – $18 to $21.  Shares opened at $40 and closed the day at $34, an increase of 62% over the IPO price.  Friday, goosed by the market rise following positive unemployment figures, Zoominfo rose to $38.89.  

Zoominfo raised nearly $935 million on the IPO and has a market capitalization of $14.8 billion.  It is trading on the NASDAQ under ticker ZI.

Zoominfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) has been a rocket ship, growing revenue both organically and inorganically.  DiscoverOrg made the Inc 5000 list for the past nine years (and would easily qualify for the 2020 list), and Zoominfo was on the list for seven years before being acquired by DiscoverOrg.

The firm began as a hand-crafted profiler of top companies.  When I first met CEO Henry Schuck over a dozen years ago, DiscoverOrg covered 1,300 companies and 20,000 contacts.  While the coverage was limited, the profiles contained rich information for named account reps, including emails, direct-dial phones, org charts, technographics, and biographies.  All of this intelligence was hand-researched and reverified every 90 days.  Users could download the profiles as PDFs and build exportable prospecting lists.  Over the next few years, they grew the data set, added Inside Scoops, and a wide set of enterprise software connectors.

DiscoverOrg grew organically until three years ago when it began acquiring competitors.  The first acquisition was iProfile, a firm where Schuck worked in college, followed by RainKing a year later.  The iProfile deal was small, but RainKing was their top competitor in the technology sales intelligence space.  The RainKing and iProfile datasets were quickly reverified by the editorial team and merged into the DiscoverOrg database.  RainKing provided DiscoverOrg with additional sales reps, around $35 million in additional revenue, and an expanded editorial team.

In February 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired Zoominfo, a contact-centric vendor with a deep set of emails and direct-dial phones.  The acquisition greatly increased DiscoverOrg’s coverage of companies and contacts and provided additional data collection tools (signature-block mining, NLP data gathering, and Datanyze technographics) to supplement the editorial team.

DiscoverOrg quickly moved to merge the two companies and launched a new platform only seven months later.  Not only did it support much of the key content and functionality of the legacy platforms, but it also served as the basis of new capabilities such as Workflows (trigger-based campaign deployment) and WebSights (visitor intelligence).  

Bringing that much functionality to the market on a new platform in under a year was quite impressive.  Based upon new product launches and re-platforming at competitors, I would have anticipated over a year for just the initial consolidated platform launch and another year of “fit-and-finish” work where missing features are supported but few new capabilities are addressed.  The firm even completed two tuck-ins in 2019 (NeverBounce email verification and Komiko Inbox AI).

Zoominfo now covers 14 million global businesses and 120 million business professionals.  “We’ve built a robust engine of millions of unique sources that come into a machine learning and artificial intelligence engine that’s making decisions every day about what to publish or not publish in our platform,” Schuck explained to Jim Cramer before the market opening.  The data is “constantly changing” as companies grow and shrink, hire new employees, upgrade their technology, open new locations, and launch new products.  

“That machine learning engine that we’ve built, that artificial intelligence, is keeping track of all of those changes across billions of data points in real-time and at scale.  And that is how we’re able to bring those insights to our 15,000 customers.”

CEO Henry Schuck on CNBC

When the new platform was rolled out in September, DiscoverOrg chose to rebrand as Zoominfo after the firm determined that it was easier to build brand perception than brand presence.

“I feel really good about the IPO,” said co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck.  “I feel even better about the company we built.  If we can continue on the foundation we’ve built, we can be a successful foundation stock for our shareholders.”

Due to the pandemic, the traditional stock market bell-ringing event was not held.  Instead, a virtual livestream bell ringing was displayed in Times Square.

“You expect to be in New York City at the Nasdaq building with the 60 people who helped you build the company,” said Schuck.  “We took an event that 60 people would be part of and made it an event that all 1,300 employees could be a part of.”

The Times Square screen also displayed, “Together, We Stand.  Divided, We Fall.  Stop the Hate.  Zoominfo.”

NASDAQ Building on June 4, 2020 marking the Zoominfo IPO.

The successful IPO “gives our company a bigger brand name and voice,” said Schuck.

According to the Oregonian, Zoominfo is now the second-highest valued firm in the Portland, Oregon area, trailing only Nike.

Manoj Ramnani, CEO of competitor SalesIntel, called the successful IPO both a market and product validation, noting that Zoominfo owns only 2% of its $24 billion TAM.  It also demonstrates the power of persistence.

“ZoomInfo has been in the market for a while.  They have gone through numerous acquisitions and have painstakingly scaled their business.  I know firsthand what it takes to build and scale a B2B data company, kudos to them.  The point is, success doesn’t come overnight. They have worked hard, and it has paid off,” complimented Ramnani.

Zoominfo Health Scan Analysis

Zoominfo, which is readying to IPO, launched a Health Scan Analysis to help firms identify “key segments for opportunities” within their Total Addressable Market (TAM).  The service identifies targetable market segments that are less impacted by COVID along with which segments to avoid.  Firms can then “quickly pivot their go-to-market strategy and focus their efforts on worthwhile prospects ready to buy.”

The Health Scan begins with a consultation where customers share details about their pipeline and business challenges.  Zoominfo’s data solutions team then analyzes the company’s pipeline and win-rate trends before and during the downturn.  The analysis includes “benchmarks to pinpoint where any pipeline degradation may have occurred.”

The Data Solutions team conducts a market assessment that identifies opportunities and sizes their TAM.  The report also includes a market segmentation analysis and a “hand-selected list” of targets from Zoominfo’s database of companies and contacts.

“Recognizing that current market conditions are extraordinarily challenging, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our customers are generating high-quality contacts for their pipeline.  We discovered valuable takeaways when examining our own position in this same manner.  As a result, we’re offering our clients these data-driven insights on how to optimize their go-to-market strategies so they can continue to hit their numbers and thrive in a changing market.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

From the initial interview through report delivery [Sample PDF], Zoominfo promises a five business-day turnaround.

Zoominfo is not the only firm that provides pipeline analyses. Dun & Bradstreet offers a similar analytics service which combines firmographics with industry risk data and InsideView offers Apex.

D&B: Pipeline Health Analysis for Risk Reduction and Targeting Ideal Customers

Dun & Bradstreet, which has been running pipeline health analyses for its clients over the past three weeks, assessed over 35 million accounts across 125 pipelines.  They found that 21% of accounts were subject to high financial risk based on several factors: slow payment, bankruptcy, unpaid debt, and business viability, a statistic which VP of Product Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet Sales & Marketing Solutions Dennis Olcay called “jarring:”

“We continue to keep a close eye on this number, but that is a jarring statistic that demands attention as it relates to go-to-market strategies,” wrote Olcay.

“The dominant theme of our customer conversations today is how to be both sensitive and impactful in the new environment.  We have found the new environment has unleashed entirely new forms of sales and marketing campaigns – far less driven by self-positioning and more characterized by seeking to meet customers where they are.”

Digital Marketing Solutions CRO Michael McCarroll

Dun & Bradstreet offered a high-level risk segmentation based upon SIC codes and each industry’s risk profile (see chart on the right).  Industries were stratified across five categories: Essential businesses (e.g. food supply, hospitals), Supports Remote (i.e. businesses which were able to transition to WFH), requires contact (e.g. hospitality, entertainment), delivery-based retail (e-commerce, e-delivery, logistics), and central production (e.g. manufacturing, natural resource extraction). 

Dun & Bradstreet cautions that simple SIC analysis is only the first pass in performing a risk assessment.  Firms may be in the same industry but have different go-to-market and operational strategies that impact their risk profile.  Another factor is their exposure to supply chain and customer risk.

“Despite the promise of MarTech to enable speed and scale for your go-to-market strategy, this is a time to hit the pause button and rethink your go-to-market approach,” cautioned Olcay.  “Don’t sacrifice tailored messaging for the sake of scale and speed to market – the additional thought you put in now to think about fit, intent, and risk will pay dividends when your audiences notice you’re empathizing with them and offering real value that aligns to the specific challenges they are experiencing.”

And Dun & Bradstreet isn’t the only firm that is promoting pipeline analyses for its clients. Zoominfo is offering a similar service which I will cover in my next blog. If you don’t know where to find revenue in June and Q3, a pipeline analysis is an excellent place to start.

Dun & Bradstreet and DueDil (UK) are offering industry barometers to help refine your targeting. Vertical IQ is offering industry-specific pandemic analysis as part of its industry overviews. Experian is providing a regional and industry analysis by risk level.

And on the marketing side, HubSpot has been publishing weekly marketing metrics for their 70,000 customers. Data includes deal open rates, deal close rates, email prospecting, site visit rates etc. Users can even drill down by segment and country to benchmark their sales and marketing performance against peers. The most recent analysis is for the week of May 18.

Outreach KAIA Meeting Assistant

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach presented its 2020 product roadmap at its Unleash virtual conference.  The most compelling announcement was Kaia, its voice-enabled sales assistant that works alongside sales reps during video calls to record, transcribe, and deliver real-time assistance.  Other new capabilities include Sequence Intent Reporting, Outreach Voice Connectors, and Bombora Intent Scores.

“I’ve been waiting five years for Outreach Kaia.  This is the most powerful tool to be introduced in the sales industry in a long time, and we are very excited to be bringing the next generation of sales technology to life,” crowed Outreach CEO Manny Medina, who demoed the digital assistant during his keynote.  “Now more than ever, sales teams need Outreach Kaia — especially when so many of them are working remotely.  Outreach Kaia’s ability to surface real-time information exactly when a sales rep needs it during a live conversation is powerful.”

“Imagine you’re on a sales call, and someone asks you a question about your product or your competitor’s pricing, and you don’t know the answer.  Well, Outreach Kaia will automatically pull up the information you need – in real-time.  This level of intelligent assistance will make sales teams productive immediately.  Outreach already drives a nearly 5x return for our customers.  Now, with Outreach Kaia, we expect that ROI to soar.”

Outreach CEO Manny Medina

Kaia (Knowledge AI Assistant) delivers guided engagement for sales reps.  At the outset, reps are shown meeting and attendee information.  Tabs provide additional details on the account and opportunity, providing a quick pre-meeting review opportunity.  As the call gets underway, real-time transcription and analysis take place so that reps do not need to jot many notes during the call.  At any point, the rep can set a bookmark or add a short note.  As the note is stored in context, it might only require a word or two (e.g. Roadblock, Budget).  

Outreach Kaia operates as a real-time intelligent assistant that supports sales reps during customer calls. It transcribes the call, sets bookmarks for review, notes attendees and action items, and provides topical summary cards.

Kaia both records and analyzes the discussion, providing in-line prompts to the rep, such as a quick overview of a third-party mentioned during the call, short answers to technical and product questions, or objection handling tips.  The answers and objection handling are customer-defined, ensuring that company-specific details are displayed on a just-in-time basis.  Not only does each content card provide a technical and product backstop for new sales reps, but it allows experienced reps to speak with confidence on more technical details or dynamic topics from which they might shy away.

Content and people cards are trackable, “so managers can see which cards produce the best results and scale these insights across their teams,” wrote Product Storyteller Sunny Bjerk.

Kaia also notes action items during the call, again relieving reps of note-taking duties.  After the call, a summary is emailed to the rep with a set of action items, bookmarks, notes, and attendees.  The rep can then customize the document and share it with other stakeholders.

Kaia is displayed as a meeting participant, with attendees alerted at the beginning of the call that is it being recorded.  Transcripts and recordings are “securely stored within Outreach, which has enterprise-grade security measures already in place.”  Transcripts are available for training or review after the call.

Outreach Kaia is available for Early Access Signup for the summer 2020 beta and will be generally available in late 2020.  It is currently available for Zoom video conferencing with additional video partners in development.

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.

Zoominfo Reaffirms IPO Plans

I have put together a detailed analysis of Zoominfo as it prepares for its IPO. The analysis is based upon twenty years of experience in the Sales & Marketing Intelligence Space, the past eight as an independent analyst.

Topics include an Overview, COVID Impact, Risks, Market Overview, Key Industry Trends, Content & Functionality, Growth Strategy Analysis, SWOT Analysis, and Key Events. The 100+ slide presentation is bundled with a phone consult. If you are interested in licensing the analysis, please contact me.

I also publish a weekly subscription newsletter which covers Sales & Marketing, B2B DaaS, and B2B Data. Here is my article on the planned IPO:


Zoominfo reaffirmed its plans to IPO, possibly launching a virtual roadshow next month.  In Q1 2020, revenue nearly doubled to $102 million year-over-year.  The firm also significantly reduced its losses to $5.9 million in Q1 compared to $40.2 million in Q1 2019.  

Losses were driven by debt, much of it associated with the Zoom Information acquisition in February 2019.  EBITDA rose 55%, year-over-year, to $51 million in Q1.  At the end of Q1, long-term debt stood at $1,238.8 million.

Zoominfo included Annualized Contract Value (ACV) data in its amended prospectus.  They likely wanted to emphasize that they are doing well during the recession, and revenue figures, which are a trailing indicator of sales success at subscription services, were not going to make that case as strongly as the ACV data.

ACV grew 87% year-over-year in April, with the customer base now above 15,000.  As revenue is recognized over the life of a subscription contract, ACV increases precede revenue growth.  Prepaid subscription revenue is displayed as a Balance Sheet liability that is reversed over the lifetime of each deal.  

Paid users rose to 202,000.

Net ACV growth remains strong, with ACV increasing $9.9 million in March and $10.4 million in April.  The April growth was their best first month of any quarter, surpassing October 2019 by ten percent.

The number of customers with ACV greater than or equal to $100,000 grew from 580 on December 31, 2019, to 630 on March 31, 2020.  Over 25% of ACV is tied to multi-year contracts.

The size and date of the IPO were not disclosed.  In February, a placeholder value of $500 million was provided.  The Zoominfo NASDAQ ticker will be ZI.

“Because of our largely subscription-based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations and overall financial condition until future periods, if at all.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

As the original S-1 was released before COVID-19 hit the US, this week’s amended prospectus contained the first mention of COVID as a business risk.  The pandemic has disrupted global business and could negatively impact Zoominfo’s stock price.  Zoominfo listed retail, restaurants, hospitality, airlines, oil, and gas as affected industries.  While none of these segments are part of their ICP (except for possibly their NeverBounce email verification subsidiary), they will be negatively impacted in recruitment (roughly ten percent of revenue) and event management.  Zoominfo lists recruitment as a targeted job function for ongoing development.

Furthermore, Zoominfo’s strategy is to expand beyond its moat of technology firms into broader sales intelligence and marketing services.  The recession reduces the number of favorable segments for executing this expansion strategy.

Zoominfo lists its Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $24 billion with a 2% penetration rate.

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect we will experience slowed growth or decline in new customer demand for our platform and lower demand from our existing customers for upgrades within our platform, as well as existing and potential customers reducing or delaying purchasing decisions.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

A secondary impact of the pandemic and subsequent recession is increased buyer negotiating power.  Customers are expecting more significant discounts and more favorable contract terms.  They are also asking for early contract terminations and waivers of payment obligations.

However, Zoominfo’s core business is reasonably well protected from the recession.  In 2019, 39% of their ACV was generated in the software industry and 29% in business services.  These segments are less exposed than retail, travel, hospitality, and energy.  Software has heavily shifted to subscription models over the past few years, making revenue less volatile.  While their core industries are subject to layoffs in revenue operations, Zoominfo offers multiple features that make sales and marketing more efficient and effective in reaching WFH buying committee members.  Features and content sets that support WFH outreach include direct-dial and mobile numbers, org charts, deep contacts across the organization, data as a service for enriching and updating enterprise software platforms, the ReachOut Chrome plug-in, ICP/TAM tools, technographics, Scoops (sales triggers), Bombora intent data, and executive change alerts.  

New services such as Form Complete (web forms), WebSights (visitor intelligence), Komiko InboxAI (email insights), and Workflows (triggered sequences) help with collecting and enriching activity data.

Zoominfo, which has significant operations in Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Israel, has fully transitioned to remote employment.  They have also implemented travel restrictions and shifted to virtual event marketing.

Flash: Cognism Acquires Mailtastic

Hybrid Engagement vendor Cognism acquired email signature marketing firm Mailtastic in a seven-figure cash and stock deal.  The acquisition provides Cognism with an additional marketing channel – professional email signatures that reflect the latest corporate messaging and branding.  Mailtastic centralizes corporate signature blocks, with adjustments by market, outbound language, and job function.  Employees can select between multiple signature options based upon the recipient.

Mailtastic supports G Suite, Office 365, Outlook, Exchange, Apple Mail, and Gmail, with signatures optimized by the device.  Mailtastic is GDPR compliant with European server locations.  Mailtastic features include centralized campaign management, campaign analytics, event planning, and click notifications.

“The acquisition will enable Cognism to empower go-to-market teams with a whole new channel for their outreach and lead generation efforts,” posted Mailtastic Marketing Manager Verena Vogt.  “For Mailtastic, the acquisition represents an exciting opportunity to offer accelerated internationalisation, extensive product expansion, and the creation of joint products and services that will define the next era of B2B revenue growth solutions.”

The full Mailtastic team of ten is joining Cognism, including its founders Tao Bauer, Peer Wierzbitzki, and Andreas Schröder.

Mailtastic was founded in 2015 and grew its customer base to 350 enterprises, mostly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (DACH).  The acquisition provides an additional go-to-market channel, an EU office in Mainz, and a set of Central European enterprise clients into which Cognism services may be cross-sold.  Cognism will open a second UK office in Manchester that will focus on Mailtastic sales, with plans to open a second North American office towards the end of the year, possibly in Canada.

Mailtastic is profitable and has a 67% annual growth rate.  The firm has no sales team, with selling conducted by one of its founders; thus, applying Cognism’s successful go-to-market approach should support rapid revenue expansion.  Cognism’s sales approach is to hire recent University grads as SDRs and then train them in Cognism’s sales tools for prospecting, ICP/TAM analysis, and outbound sales engagement.  Reps also leverage global company and contact profiles that include over 20 million direct dial and mobile numbers.

Mailtastic has a negative churn rate.  CEO James Isilay indicated that the DACH market is slower to purchase technology, but also less likely to switch vendors than the UK or US markets.  Once licensed to the enterprise, seat growth takes place organically as firms look to control email block branding and messaging.  Furthermore, the DACH market provides a stable base for cross-selling Cognism services.  Beyond GDPR, Mailtastic signature management is a compliance requirement in regulated UK and German industries.

Cognism has been a Mailtastic client for the past year, enjoying a 10% rise in click-through rates and a 25% increase in webinar conversions.

The initial post-acquisition focus will be on cross-training the companies and deploying a Mailtastic sales team trained in Cognism sales tools and processes.  In Q3, Mailtastic will be integrated with several MAPs and SEPs.

“These are uncertain times and we want to ensure our clients have every tool at their disposal to develop new ways to prospect when budgets are being cut and certain channels, like outdoor advertising and live events, just aren’t an option.  Email signature marketing is massively underused and it will play a key role as more people work from home and engage others through their screens.

Cognism is focused on expanding in Europe and bolstering our position as a global go-to-market champion.  To achieve this, our fantastic team has worked tirelessly to help clients build strong, repeatable lead generation strategies that can benefit from both inbound and outbound methodologies and, by integrating Mailtastic, we’re strengthening this offering further.  Cognism provides clients with the data they need to send emails, the tools required to automate and action them, and now it will be providing a way for customers to expand their reach with every email their employees send.  By continuing to expand the Cognism offering, customers are able to build powerful go-to-market strategies that will enable their go-to-market teams to find and deliver new revenue, faster.”

Cognism CEO James Isilay

Cognism combines B2B DaaS services, ICP / TAM tools, prospecting, email templates, and outbound cadences.  Mailtastic provides them with additional email customization tools.

The Mailtastic acquisition is similar to the Terminus purchase of Sigstr late last year.  Both firms offer a strong feature – management of email signatures – that would likely be difficult to justify as a standalone MarTech license in the current economic environment.  However, both add significant value alongside the ABM capabilities of their new parents.

Isilay indicated that the firm successfully transitioned to WFH.  Sales and renewals in the exhibition and recruitment markets declined, but the firm used its ICP tools to adjust its targeting and its new business generation is back to pre-pandemic levels.  COVID-related churn has died down, and revenue is growing strongly again, with $8.5 million in projected ARR by the end of May.

LeanData Engagement

Operations vendor LeanData released LeanData Engagement, an analytics solution that works alongside its lead-to-account matching and automation tools.  LeanData Engagement is available on the Salesforce AppExchange and associates sales and marketing engagement activity with relevant accounts.  Engagement is tracked along the full account journey and identifies which individuals are engaged in each account along with the sales and marketing activities that drove engagement.

Lead engagement visualization tools identify which accounts have open opportunities and with which teams they are engaged.  Sales Follow-Up Lists help reps understand which buying committee members are actively engaged.

A campaign engagement dashboard within the Salesforce Campaign object displays engagement activity, allowing marketers to evaluate campaign performance and decide if any adjustments are required.

LeanData Engagement “allows marketers to forge greater alignment with their sales organizations to improve campaign-conversion rates, accelerate pipeline growth, and maximize return from sales and marketing investments,” said the firm.

“Especially during times of economic uncertainly, it’s critically important to understand how your customers and prospects are engaging with your company,” said LeanData SVP of Product Hendrick Lee.  “With LeanData Engagement, the interactions of every buyer are automatically connected to the right accounts in CRM, thus unlocking truly holistic account-based marketing analytics.  Engagement is an important addition to LeanData’s revenue operations product family which exists to help companies unlock greater revenue growth, increase performance, and improve customer experience across the buyer journey.”

Kerry Washington, the Principal Analyst at SiriusDecisions, observed that one of the best opportunities for ABM improvement is identifying when multiple individuals at an account are demonstrating interest in a product or service.  SiriusDecisions emphasizes the importance of understanding and penetrating buying committees, not merely individual decision-makers.

“Because more than 75 percent of B2B purchases are made by groups of people working together – not individuals – the best indicator of a true buying cycle is the engagement of multiple buying committee members,” said Cunningham.  “In the past, identifying that engagement was difficult.  However, modern solutions have emerged that allow B2B organizations selling to committees to more effectively take action on this vital intelligence and thus gain a strong competitive advantage.”

LeanData Engagement starts at $25,000 per year.

Flash: Groove Series A

Sales Engagement vendor Groove secured $12 million in Series A Funding.  The round was led by Level Equity and Capital One Ventures, who joined existing investors Uncork Capital and Quest Venture Partners.  The round brought total investment to $16 million.  Groove has roughly doubled its revenue each year, reinvesting its income into product and engineering.  The San Francisco-based firm was founded in 2014.

The new funds will be deployed to “drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”

“Groove has grown 103% year over year on average in a largely organic way and has invested deeply in product and engineering up until this point.  This funding round enables us to drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”

Groove CEO Chris Rothstein

Rothstein is a former Google sales manager who co-founded Groove to address the sales problems that his reps faced at Google.  Rothstein then signed Google as Groove’s first client.

“We believe that sales engagement will become a multi-billion-dollar market,” said Craig Rosenberg, chief analyst of TOPO Research.  “Until now, the sales engagement market has been concentrated in the tech industry and focused on the prospecting use case.  Other industries don’t have sales development teams dedicated solely to prospecting, but they do have thousands of sales reps trying to engage with their customers.  Successful expansion into account executives will open the enterprise market for these platforms.  We are seeing this trend accelerate post-COVID-19 as companies that have been slower to adopt remote working technologies are forced to embrace digital transformation.”

Groove describes itself as “the only sales engagement platform optimized to meet the customization and security requirements of enterprise revenue teams.”  While most Sales Engagement Platforms initially focused on the Sales Development Rep (SDR) and later expanded into other roles, Groove was built to increase productivity for Account Executives with an emphasis on “ease-of-use, advanced activity capture, and cross-team collaboration.”  Operations managers can configure the Groove platform “to meet the complex requirements of different divisions and organizations within an enterprise.”  The firm also touts its unique architecture that “ensures the highest levels of security and compliance.”

Another difference between Groove and other SEPs is its data architecture.  Other firms maintain a standalone database and sync it with Salesforce, but Groove leverages Salesforce as the system of record and runs as a managed package within SFDC.  Employing Salesforce as their system of record allows Groove to manage custom objects, deliver zero-latency data display and reporting, and reduce administrative work.  All fields are updated in real-time.  Groove emphasizes that this architecture allows firms to quickly “onboard new hires into a proven system,” which supports “deployments of any size.”

Core features include

  • Flows (i.e. cadences), including phone, email, SMS, Sendoso (swag), and LinkedIn SNAP (Connect and Send InMail) steps
  • Email templates that pull dynamic variables from all Salesforce fields.  Reps may personalize emails with the platform calculating personalization percent.
  • Email event capture, including reply, bounce, complete, import, open, and meeting booked.  Branching logic supports task creation, linked flows, stop flow, and stop all flows across the account.
  • A/B testing
  • An integrated click dialer supports local presence, call outcome logging, voicemail drops, call recording, and international dialing.  The click dialer is available within Gmail, Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Groove, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  
  • Call coaching features, including whisper, join, and listen
  • Inbound calls support a popup with reverse call lookup.  Calls are routed to either a softphone or a mobile device.
  • Editable, customizable account lists which update Salesforce
  • Activity capture, including custom fields and objects.  Firms can track the type of meeting, type of interaction, primary topic, and meeting outcome, helping managers understand “how much time they’re spending on demos versus support calls, or how many emails are cold prospecting emails versus answering questions about pricing.”
  • Analytics include activity reporting, account-based engagement levels, the best time of day and week for calling, and template performance.
  • A native meeting scheduler, which supports round-robin scheduling, calendar view links, and the option to offer specific times in emails.  The scheduler supports custom field display based upon the type of meeting.
  • A Chrome extension that works alongside Gmail, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce.  The sidebar is customized by role and allows users to click to related objects and search on all activities.
  • Out of Office capture with Flow pause
  • GDPR and CCPA compliance

Workspaces are a unique feature that allow users to build custom reports with flexible report selects and custom fields.  Workspaces may be shared with colleagues and support task assignments.  Groove describes the functionality as a dynamic worksheet with Salesforce data.

Groove Workspaces are configurable, top-down worksheets that support distributed reps and account managers. Users may view engagement by account, division, or individual.

Because it is native to Salesforce, Groove can integrate with over 7.5 million applications via the Salesforce AppExchange.  Additional direct partners include LinkedIn, Sendoso, Gong, Chorus, Vidyard, and HighSpot.

At some customers, Groove is deployed alongside Outreach, with Groove supporting Account Execs, Customer Success, and Business Development and Outreach deployed for SDRs.

Groove supports all revenue and customer success functions.

For a Series A funded Sales Engagement Platform, Groove provides a deep set of functionality and configurability; however, there are a few gaps.  While the service offers many of the key partners supported by other vendors, integrations are primarily available through the Salesforce AppExchange.  Groove does not provide any sales intelligence partners for lead generation or data enrichment.  A power dialer for SDRs and a mobile app are also missing, though their platform is mobile responsive.  Finally, Groove does not support AI-driven lead prioritization or next best actions, but it does have other AI-based capabilities.

Groove caught the attention of Capital One Ventures after it was successfully rolled out to Capital One field sales reps “while providing sales leadership with real-time visibility into their daily sales activities and performance.”  Other business lines subsequently adopted the platform as a result of its initial success.

“When evaluating Groove as an investment, we felt that the company was poised to be the clear category winner.  The sales engagement space is thriving right now, and Groove’s focus on supporting sophisticated AE use-cases and complex enterprise environments is setting them apart from the rest of the pack.  As enterprises in new industries continue to adopt sales engagement platforms to make their revenue teams more productive, they will quickly see the unique advantages that Groove offers in terms of internal adoption, customization, and security.”

George McCulloch, Co-CEO, Level Equity

Groove has over 450 clients, including Google, Uber, Capital One, Atlassian, BBVA, and Veola Water.  Over 50,000 sales, marketing, and customer success professionals use the Groove platform, with the average installation supporting 88 users.  Core segments include Internet Services and Software, Financial Services, Education, Media, Manufacturing, and Professional Services.  17% of Groove’s revenue is derived from international clients.

Pricing is on a per-seat basis and runs $110 per user for all applications.  Clients may also purchase seats by function with a subset of features at a lower per-seat price.

Groove was also one of 395 companies to make Inc.’s Top Places to Work list.  The firm scored 100% on employee engagement. Groove also made the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, ranking #407.

“While Groove is in the business of helping sales and customer-facing teams drive more revenue, productivity, and customer satisfaction, we are equally committed to fostering a culture where employees feel supported, challenged, and fulfilled,“ said CEO Chris Rothstein.

Groove continues to list over twenty open jobs across product development, engineering, sales, and customer support.