If the past six months haven’t convinced you that you need to digitize your processes, then I’m not going to try to convince you of that here. Simply putting your head in the sand and waiting for the pandemic to end will leave your business highly vulnerable now and after the pandemic. Your competitors now understand that sales, marketing and support need to be digitally mediated. Instead of trying to convince you of this, I’m going to skip the digital strategy pitch and offer multiple digital strategies for revenue teams to consider.
Sales Engagement platform help unify your communications across all of your revenue teams. Sales Engagement platforms support
Automated Cadences that schedule multi-channel communications across email, voice, social, and direct mail. Features include e-mail templates, phone scripts, playbooks, click dialers, power dialers, voice mail drops, inbound call routing and alerting, and LinkedIn SNAP integrations.
A/B testing for refining your email templates and cadences.
Reporting and analytics for tracking remote sales performance, analyzing message performance, and identifying what coaching individual reps need to elevate their performance
Account Prioritization which dynamically adjust call/email lists throughout the day.
Next Best Actions for moving accounts forward and identifying strategic gaps and risks
Sales Coaching for both reps and managers
Integrated Meeting Scheduling
Some vendors have Meeting Analytics built into their service (Outreach KAIA and SalesLoft) while others partner with conversation intelligence vendors. Calls are recorded, transcribed, indexed, and analyzed; allowing sales reps to be more present during meetings. AI-based real-time analysis provides live coaching during calls with recommendations and short advice cards.
Integrated Partnerships for conversation intelligence, social media integration, e-gifting, video, chat, etc. Some vendors have formal app partners (Outreach Galaxy, SalesLoft App Directory) while others integrate a smaller set of partners without building a formal partner ecosystem.
While they initially focused on the SDR team, Sales Engagement platforms now support the full revenue team including account executives, managers, operations, and customer success.
Sales Engagement solutions require significant training and setup, so if you are considering them now, you need to act quickly to have one in place by December.
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.
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.
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.