Gong and Chorus Growing Rapidly During Pandemic

Gong, which closed on a $200 million Series D round earlier this month, is in one of the SalesTech segments that has benefited from remote working. Demand for conversational AI tools from vendors like Gong and Chorus that record, transcribe, and analyze meetings and calls accelerated with the pandemic.

“With global sales teams switching to remote work and field sales teams grounded for the foreseeable future, we are seeing substantial demand for Gong’s solution even in a challenging business environment,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov.

“Gong’s Web site is like a direct view into the subconscious of those hyper-enthusiastic salespeople who make the rest of us nuts but get the job done.  The actual product is AI technology that captures video, phone, email, and face-to-face interactions and extracts insights about people, deals, and market events.  It must work: they just raised a $200 million Series D, bringing total funding to $334 million.  Did I mention their chatbot is a bulldog?”

David Raab, CDP Institute

Carl Eschenbach, a partner at Sequoia Capital, argued that firms benefiting from COVID fall into two classes, those that are enjoying a temporary lift and those that will enjoy long-term benefits due to social and technological shifts.

“There will be less [SIC] field sales reps than ever before.  Said Eschenbach. “People will be working remotely and selling over digital mechanisms like we’re using Zoom.”

While Gong did not disclose their revenue, they said it has trebled over the past year.  Forbes lists their 2019 revenue at $30 million so 2020 revenue should clock in around $90 million.

Gong has over 1,300 customers, including Autodesk, HubSpot, LinkedIn, MuleSoft, Outreach, PayPal, Shopify, Slack, Twilio, Zillow, GE, and Zoominfo.

Over 64,000 sales and support professionals use the Gong platform, up from 45,000 in December.

They recently launched a Deal intelligence module which provides deal pipeline visibility and “deal at risk” alerts to sales reps (see the image at the top of this blog).

Gong Partners include

  • Conference: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans, WebEx, GoToMeeting, JoinMe
  • ­­Sales Engagement: Outreach, SalesLoft, Groove, Xant, FrontSpin
  • CRM: Salesforce, HubSpot
  • Others: Slack, ClearSlide, Clari, Google, Outlook

“We made a bold prediction in 2016 that Gong’s technology would become the most significant innovation for sales since the invention of CRM,” said Bendov.  “The market has proven that prediction was correct.  With global sales teams switching to remote work and field sales teams grounded for the foreseeable future, we are seeing substantial demand for Gong’s solution even in a challenging business environment.  There is a new way to win in sales, and the best sales teams are turning to Gong’s Revenue Intelligence Platform to guide them down that path.”


Last month, Gong competitor Chorus closed on a $45 million Series C. The round was led by Georgian Partners, with participation from Emergence Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Sozo Ventures.  Five-year-old Chorus has raised $85.2 million to date.  Georgian also led the $33 million Series B in December 2018.

The new funds will be deployed for product innovation and expanding its go-to-market team.  CEO Jim Benton said that they would continue to develop their interaction signal capture capabilities, particularly those tied to relationships and driving deals to close.

“The insights provided by conversation intelligence can be a lifeline, identifying risks as well as what is working so that they can replicate best practices across the revenue team,” said Benton.  “Sales floors in the office may be empty, but through the use of conversation intelligence, managers can still walk the floor virtually and offer coaching and a helping hand when needed.”

Chorus records, transcribes, and analyzes business calls.  Transcripts include time-stamped notes and a call summary with risk factors and upsell opportunities.  The Chorus platform helps reps capture and analyze interactions from calls, meetings, and emails.  Chorus looks for keywords and topics such as pricing, competitors, and next steps.

“We want to make sure each person says, ‘I was just watching the call, and here is where we left off,’ or ‘I noticed this theme in your conversation, so let’s get started there.’  We are putting the ‘R’ in customer relationship management.  There is a lot with the ‘customer’ and ‘management’ aspects, but in terms of ‘relationship,’ that does not always make it back into the CRM, and we think it should.”

Chorus.AI CEO Jim Benton

“We are continuing to make sure we are understanding these interactions for teams and leadership to see what works, so they bring their best,” continued Benton.  “You want to make sure you represent the best of your team, give feedback, coaching, have the right messaging and which interactions drive the best close rates–all the science behind what success looks like.”

The firm doubled its headcount to 100 and trebled its revenue in 2019.  Chorus has over 200 customers, including GitLab, Zoom, Adobe, MongoDB, and Qualtrics.  It is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Boston and Tel Aviv.

Chorus Conversational Intelligence records, transcribes, and analyzes audio and video meetings.

Correction: I originally transposed the digits on Chorus’ Total Funding. The correct value is $85.2 million.

Gong Series D

Revenue Intelligence vendor Gong closed on a $200 million Series D, raising its valuation to $2.2 billion.  The firm indicated that it didn’t need the funds as it is still operating with its Series B funds from February 2019 ($40 million).  The $65 million Series C from December is also available, providing the firm with over $265 million in cash for growth and potential acquisitions.  Total funding reached $334 million.

“We weren’t looking to raise another round, but a lot of funds were eager to invest in us,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov, contending that it is better to raise funds when they are available than when they are needed.

“It gives us the ability to buy companies, make strategic investment, accelerate plans, and it also, especially since we cater to large enterprise customers, gives them confidence that this company is here to stay,” he said.

The additional funds will help the firm “fulfill strong market demand for its Revenue Intelligence Platform, reinforce its market leadership, and invest in its product, engineering, and go-to-market teams.”

While an IPO is in the plans, Bendov sees it two to three years out when revenue hits a few hundred million dollars.  

Potential areas of acquisition include analytics, AI, communications, and other customer-facing technologies.

“Gong is building something that is bigger than CRM. Rather than rely on people to type in information, Gong automatically captures text, Zoom calls, etc., and improves sales forecasting, product, and market strategy, with zero effort.  Ultimately, we are creating a big system.  The product is successful today, but still, more is needed.”

Gong CEO Amit Bendov

In 2021, Gong plans to expand globally.  It has 350 employees with plans to add “hundreds” more over the next year and at least 100 before the end of 2020.  They are looking to expand across finance, human resources, sales, marketing, and IT.  Most of their positions are in the Bay Area, with offices in Atlanta, New York, and Denver.

“A lot of our San Francisco employees wanted to move to Atlanta after we opened our hub there [in March], said Bendov.  “It’s difficult to work from home in San Francisco, where you have five roommates, and you need to do a Zoom call.”

Coatue led the Series D round, with participation from Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Salesforce Ventures.  Previous investors NextWorld Capital, Battery Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Wing Venture Capital also participated.


Part II of this blog delves further into Gong’s product offering and how they and competitor Chorus have navigated COVID.

Gong Deal Intelligence

Conversation Intelligence vendor Gong announced the availability of Deal Intelligence, their new AI-driven insights service that provides a “clear, up-to-date view” of deal status, recent interactions, and at-risk deals.  Deal Intelligence also helps sales managers provide targeted coaching and assess pipeline activity.

“Deal Intelligence allows us to do quicker pipeline inspections and validate with a third party that we really are where we say we are in the process,” said Armen Zildjian, VP of Sales at Drift.  “It is not to micromanage but to continue to coach and give reps the next best step with the customer, so we really can rely on that business.”

New features include

  • Deal Board:  Quickly understand which deals are healthy and which require immediate attention.
  • Deal Warnings: Spot warning signs such as a lack of recent activity and close date in the past.  Planned warnings include no future calls scheduled and no decision-maker involved.
  • Account Page: Centralizes deal-related interactions across email, web conference, and phone to proactively identify risks and review conversations
  • Engagement Map: Ensures that a deal is multi-threaded and that reps are engaged with the right people in the right way.

“Consider what can be done when you have every phone call, email, and customer interaction automatically captured and the ability to analyze those interactions.  It will allow organizations to get a sharper picture of prospect intent and where an account is in the sales process.”

TOPO Sales Analyst Dan Gottlieb

Pipeline Analytics and deal risk are an emerging category of sales analytics.  Firms such as Gong, Costello (recently acquired by SalesLoft), and Clari provide a single-pane view for identifying deal risk, assessing multi-threaded engagement, and conducting pipeline reviews.

Deal Intelligence is available to all current customers as part of their core offering.  Admins must turn on email sync from popular clients such as G Suite and Microsoft 365.  Sales Engagement partners include SalesLoft, Outreach, Groove, and Xant.

Deal Intelligence is view-only and does not support Opportunity record updating.  CRM sync is a planned feature.  

Gong supports a broad set of conferencing and dialing tools, including Zoom, UberConference, BlueJeans, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.Me, RingCentral, Dialpad, Amazon Connect, Google Meet, and Skype.

Gong does not publish any pricing and simply states that pricing is based upon “how many recorded reps you have,” not the number of listeners.

Cien Hidden Revenue Assessments

Cien contends that a sales rep is only as successful as his or her weakest skill permits.  Therefore, it is best to determine skill deficiencies and coach for them.

Cien announced the availability of its Hidden Revenue Assessment report which analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of sales reps to determine which qualitative factors are limiting their success.  Cien ingests data from Salesforce Enterprise to “reveal the factors that are preventing their teams from achieving their numbers.”

Cien Head of Marketing Damien Acheson noted that firms such as Gong and Chorus are more prescriptive while Cien is diagnostic, helping managers identify skill gaps and determining where reps add or destroy value during deal flow.

Presented as individual scorecards, Cien employs over 100 AI models to identify issues in sales enablement, training, and onboarding.  Cien does not believe in cloning the best sales reps as reps have different strengths and weaknesses.  Instead, reps are assessed for value-add across the pipeline, helping determine where reps need coaching, which reps are creating value, and which reps are benefiting from a rich set of leads but not adding significant value to them.

Furthermore, their models indicate that addressing weaknesses is the best method for improving sales outcomes and reaching quota.  If a rep is weak at any of the key sales skills, he or she is unlikely to reach quota.  As reps are only as successful as their weakest skills, it is better to identify gaps and coach accordingly.  Cien holds that the best path to driving revenue growth is focusing on mid-level success reps as they are the ones with the greatest opportunity to improve their performance.

“When it comes to managing sales teams, it’s important to understand that no sales rep is created equal, and no opportunity is created equal,” contends Cien CEO Rob Käll.  “To date, Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessments have uncovered between 20-40% worth of lost revenue due to gaps in selling skills.”

“Cien’s AI models search for correlations between reps’ skills and attributes and their impact on the final value of opportunities.  This is the basis for a set of patented algorithms called the ​Cien Value Chain​.  Cien determines the relative value of each lead as it enters your CRM and tracks its value at the end of the sales cycle.  The Cien Value Chain measures the value-added at each stage of the opportunity and the skills and attributes that drive incremental value.“

Cien FAQ

The Hidden Revenue Assessment is available as a free report to technology companies with at least ten sales reps and a minimum of one year of Salesforce data.  It provides an assessment of a few sample reps across work ethic, product knowledge, engagement ability, and closing ability.  The Hidden Revenue Assessment also evaluates CRM data quality to provide a level of confidence in the assessment.  Firms that have deployed Sales Engagement Platforms such as Outreach and SalesLoft often have complete data as they automatically gather activity data and sync it with their CRM.

Cien “Baseball Card” Profile

The Hidden Revenue Assessment includes a 30-minute walkthrough.

The Cien app, available for $49 per month per rep, provides mentor prescriptions that help prioritize coaching.  While flagging weaknesses can be demotivating, Cien inverts the model and calculates the revenue opportunity available to reps who focus on developing their skills.  Being told that you are weak at prospect engagement is unlikely to motivate a rep.  Being told that focusing on prospect engagement can retire $200,000 worth of quota is much more likely to motivate the rep to focus on his or her weak-link skills.

The Cien app provides data on all of the reps and covers a broader set of skills.  The app also provides dynamic data indicating how the reps are performing over time.

Cien is Privacy Shield certified and does not gather Personally Identifiable Information beyond rep names. Cien received a $3.5 million seed round in June.

Gong: Sales Rep Sins

Usually, I hate listicles. They are one of the laziest formats for blogging and feature articles, but Gong.io put the format to good use in a recent LinkedIn post titled “The 7 most horrifying sales call mistakes of 2019.” I would have gone with the “Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Calls,” but that is a minor editorial nit. Unlike most listicles, the post contained seven in-depth discussions of sales errors with supporting data.

And this data both supports the sales efforts of its clients and prospects and demonstrates the value of its Conversation Intelligence platform which assists with new rep onboarding and play recommendations.

Gong provides aggregated sales data to back up its statements.

For years, it has been gospel that sales reps should focus on a product’s unique value proposition and benefits. Features should be discussed when the prospect asks HOW, but should not be the focus of a sales pitch. In one graphic (see above), Gong has backed up this recommendation. What is amazing is how quickly a feature dump can sour a deal.

Feature dumping is to sales what bad breath is to dating. It kills “what could have been.”

Chris Orlob, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Gong.io

Chris Orlob, Senior Product Marketing Director at Gong, argues that “Most salespeople are overtrained on their products and undertrained on sales skills.”

My experience is different. It’s not that sales reps are overtrained on features, but that they aren’t trained in how those features map to benefits and their product’s value proposition. They also lack specifics around use cases and how their product provides value to specific industries. This causes them to take a least common denominator approach and hope a feature resonates. It’s the proverbial spaghetti on the wall. But this strategy leads to feature dumping and relying on your prospect to map features to benefits and benefits to value. Reps need more sales training, but they also need to understand their value proposition in the context of each prospect.

Sales reps that understand the concerns of their prospect by industry, job function, job level, and company size and can map those concerns to buyers across the buying committee don’t engage in feature dumping. They focus on their product value in the context of the customer. Features are discussed when they are must haves (“We are GDPR compliant”), but only in detail when the technical buyer or end user requests such details.

I don’t want to recapitulate what is a very strong post from Orlob. Instead, I recommend that you go see what he has to say about steamrolling objections, grand finale product demos, and four other sales sins.

SalesLoft Rainmaker Announcements

SalesLoft's announced a new partner app directory at its Rainmaker 2018 user conference. The partnership apps span eight categories and include LinkedIn, Salesforce, Zoominfo, Twitter, Owler, Outlook, and Gmail.
SalesLoft’s announced a new partner app directory at its Rainmaker 2018 user conference. The partnership apps span eight categories and include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Salesforce, Slack, Zoominfo, Twitter, Owler, Outlook, and Gmail.

Amongst the announcements at their Rainmaker 2018 conference, SalesLoft added an app directory to its service to assist with partner discovery across 28 solutions. Partner applications are split into eight categories with a few listed in multiple categories:

  • CRM: Salesforce
  • Email: Gmail, Outlook, Vidyard (video), Sigstr (signature blocks), and Crystal (AI message coaching)
  • Sales Intelligence: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Twitter, Owler, and 7 other vendors
  • Sales Data: Zoominfo, Datanyze, and LeadIQ (browser lead capture)
  • Sales Content: DocSend (content management & tracking), Sendoso (swag, startup kits), and Highspot (sales enablement)
  • Sales Coaching: ExecVision, Gong.io, NoteNinja, and TalkIQ (all four transcribe calls and analyze them)
  • Sales Productivity: Slack, Engagio, Demo Manager, ChiliPiper (Meeting Scheduling)
  • Security: Four vendors

Sales enablement vendor Highspot was demoed at Rainmaker. The native service assists with content searching for inclusion in cadence campaigns. The service also supports email tracking and analytics.

“Highspot Everywhere is designed to seamlessly tie sales enablement processes into tools your team uses every day–including SalesLoft,” blogged Highspot Senior Content Marketing Manager Kate Kirby. “Sales representatives can leverage the power of Highspot directly within SalesLoft by inserting content into email cadence campaigns, taking full advantage of the Highspot content engagement analytics and user tracking capabilities.”

Sendoso, a direct mail gifting program, was also announced at Rainmaker. The gifting platform supports new SalesLoft steps including rewards for attendance, thanking new customers, and garnering prospect attention.

TalkIQ joins several call coaching services on the platform which create and analyze call transcripts. “More than 70% of customer interactions occur over the phone,” notes SalesLoft in its app directory. “TalkIQ analyzes each of these conversations and surfaces insights about how customer-facing teams operate. TalkIQ’s best-in-class, proprietary AI, reveals hidden trends, recommends actions, and predicts call outcomes in real-time. Successful companies use TalkIQ daily to make smarter decisions, increase revenue, improve customer engagement, and build better products.”

Other Rainmaker announced partnerships include Dark Sky (weather data) and Bombora (intent).


Part II of this blog discusses new SalesLoft functionality and partnerships concerning LinkedIn, Calendaring, website tracking, and email connectors.