Groove Revenue Intelligence

Sales Engagement Platform Groove expanded its analytics with new revenue intelligence capabilities that support real-time opportunity and pipeline management and expanded ROI reporting.  The new capabilities support pipeline reviews with a single pane of glass workspace populated with real-time Salesforce data.

In its 2020 State of Sales Report, Salesforce stated that “High-performing sales teams are 1.5 times more likely to base forecasts on data-driven insights.” Ensuring that data is accurate, timely, and complete has long been an issue with CRMs, requiring sales reps to spend hours each week recording their activities and updating account, contact, lead, and opportunity data.

Sales Intelligence platforms have picked up the slack around CRM data, offering DaaS prospecting and enrichment services.  Likewise, SEPs capture most sales rep activity data, reducing activity tracking overhead; however, updating opportunity data and evaluating opportunity risk remain a significant automation gap.  

Maintaining Opportunity data, which is critical for pipeline reviews and forecasting, is made more difficult by the data structure of CRMs.  One common complaint about Salesforce is the difficulty of viewing and updating opportunity data, which is fragmented across accounts.  Revenue Intelligence tools from Clari, Revenue Grid, SalesLoft, and Groove simplify the data update and review process by providing a centralized interface for updating the pipeline and reviewing it with managers.  Updates are immediately written back to Salesforce, simplifying the pipeline management process and ensuring that current opportunity data is instantly synced in Salesforce.

While Clari and Revenue Grid focus on Revenue Intelligence, Groove and SalesLoft attack the issue from a Sales Engagement perspective.  This functional overlap between categories has been evident since SalesLoft acquired Costello in 2019 and integrated Costello’s revenue intelligence capabilities.  While Sales Engagement Platforms began as multi-channel messaging services for SDRs, they have significantly broadened their scope to include Analytics, Guided Selling, Engagement Metrics, Meeting Management, and Revenue Intelligence.

Anthony McPartin, Forrester Principal Analyst in Sales Operations, described the widening scope of these categories.  “This notion of the sales engagement platform as a cockpit for sellers is likely to continue to drive further integrations between other sales tech categories and these platforms as the advantages of bringing everything to the seller where they sell (the original vision for CRM technology) become more widely recognized.”

Revenue Intelligence Platforms have also expanded their scope, assisting with opportunity risk assessment, deal forecasting, conversational intelligence, and buying team discovery.

Out of date and incomplete information is a significant issue for B2B decision-makers.  According to a July 2020 Forrester study, two-thirds of B2B decision-makers are hampered by stale, distorted, or limited CRM data.

“From incomplete sales activity data to out-of-date information stored in shadow CRMs, there are many challenges that prevent sales organizations from trusting their pipeline and conducting comprehensive reviews. Today’s release solves a critical usability challenge that Salesforce users have faced since the platform’s inception, in a way that establishes transparency and trust between the rep and the seller.”

Groove CEO Chris Rothstein

“We had major issues with getting our sales teams to document what they were doing in Gmail, and this is where Groove really shines,” said Bart Johnson, Director of User Engagement & Training at Aquent. “Groove isn’t just a huge timer saver for our reps, it also gives them ‘cross-vision’ into the different orgs and groups selling into [each] account.”

Clari Series E

Revenue Intelligence vendor Clari closed on a $150 million Series E that valued the firm at $1.6 billion.  The round more than triples its 2019 Series D valuation. The financing was led by Silver Lake with B Capital Group and existing investors Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Madrona Ventures, Thomvest, and Tenaya Capital also participating.   To date, Clari has raised $285 million.

Clari will deploy the funds to accelerate product development, expand ecosystem partnerships, and drive global expansion.  It is planning on doubling its headcount to 600 by the end of this year.  San Francisco-based Clari is “hiring across all departments.”

The firm’s ability to predict revenue was crucial over the past year as firms scrambled to understand their pipeline and opportunities during the pandemic.  Platform usage doubled last year and executive time increased 50%.  The firm also saw deal updates increase 80% last year while pipeline and forecast revenue doubled.

Seventy percent of Clari’s new customers inked multi-year deals, and 60% of existing customers increased their seat counts or invested in additional product capabilities last year.

The round comes at a time when Gartner is bullish on the RevOpps segment.

“By 2025, Gartner predicts 75 percent of high-growth tech companies will use RevOps for end-to-end revenue production enabling hyperautomated sales and omnichannel customer engagement. RevOps is a holistic organizational model that aligns the company around three elements of centralized ops and processes, a communal shared-data layer, and a continuous customer engagement capability, all measured around revenue production.”

Alastair Woolcock, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner.

“Today’s news is more than just the next phase in Clari’s evolution,” said CEO Andy Byrne. “It’s validation for the entire revenue operations movement.  It’s a call to every company and every leader working to manage revenue generation as a predictable process, one that can be controlled, automated, and optimized, like any other business process.”

Byrne did not disclose 2020 revenue but noted that it beat the original plan by 110%.

“That’s why we’ve had such great investor interest…[VCs] were hearing in the investment community about how transformative Clari has been…Giving companies what we call revenue confidence, being able to go and understand where you’re going to be and to accurately predict the impact the pandemic is going to have on your trajectory, good or bad,” Byrne explained.

With strong revenue momentum and a healthy valuation, an IPO may be in Clari’s future.

“I would say the answer is unequivocally yes, and we’re building toward this,” said Byrne. “We don’t have a time frame upon which we know where we’re going to go public, but the next goal is to get to the IPO starting line.”


Part II, which discusses Clari’s recent enhancements, posts tomorrow.

Revenue Grid Guided Selling (Part II)

Continuing from Part I, a discussion of Revenue Grid and its approach to Guided Selling.


Revenue Grid looks to take the CRM system of record and supplement it with insights and actions that move deals forward.  Insights are both positive and negative.  Risk flags include “The decision-maker is not invited to the demo,” “Close data has been changed for the Nth time,” and “Pricing was discussed at the meeting, but no quote has been sent.” By delivering insights to sales reps and their managers, loose ends, which could result in deal losses or delays, are flagged.  Sales reps and managers can then act upon these insights.  Revenue Grid can also make suggestions based upon internal playbooks and best practices.

In short, AI, historical data, and real-time data are employed to build a set of insights and recommended actions.

Revenue Grid goes beyond engagement metrics at accounts. It delivers a broad set of insights that include competitor mentions, lack of recent decision-makers responses, meetings without agendas, quarterly and monthly trends, and team performance.  In January, sentiment analysis will be added to their insights.

An Opportunities view provides real-time pipeline visibility across all accounts.  Reps can quickly update any opportunity information with the updates synced with the CRM.  Sales reps and managers then have a single-pane of glass displaying current opportunities.  Managers are notified of deal size changes, close dates, and scores and can track activity flow.

The Opportunities view includes signals, next steps, last touch, and overview data, providing a quick synopsis of where each deal stands.

Conversational Intelligence records and transcribes voice and video calls, then indexes and analyzes meetings for insights.  Corporate email communications are also analyzed for insights.  Revenue teams and managers can review call transcripts and listen or view significant moments during the call, with summary topics and insights called out.  Conversational Intelligence is also available for coaching and onboarding sales reps.

Conversational Intelligence recordings and transcripts are saved to accounts and opportunities.

A meeting scheduler fronts Conversational Intelligence.  Reps can insert multiple time slots with clickable times in their emails or offer a calendaring link.  Events are automatically synced between Salesforce and Outlook or Gmail.  Other features include calendar delegation (i.e., setting up an admin or CSR to schedule meetings), recurring event scheduling, and group calendaring across the organization.

Salesforce email synching captures emails, scheduled meetings, contacts, tasks, and attachments.  Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, and Custom Objects are available for syncing, and multiple records may be updated.  Salesforce admins can set up activity auto-log rules, triggering Salesforce processes.

Sales Coaching offers a team performance view that displays revenue booked by reps alongside leads processed and time spent on external meetings, inbound external meetings, and outbound emails.

A Forecasting report evaluates the target, best case, and committed revenue for the team with plan, commit, and open pipeline values for each rep.  Managers can also compare past periods to find trends and set triggers to send notifications when thresholds are exceeded.

An Activity view displays inbound and outbound communications from sales and marketing over time with adjustable time windows.  Unfortunately, the activity graph does not rescale, making it difficult to view activity over an extended period.

Revenue Grid also supports Relationship Intelligence, showing an Account relationship map and flagging individuals in the organization with established relationships for introductions or briefings.

Revenue Grid’s sales engagement features include multi-channel sequences, email templates, and email tracking.  Channels include email, phone, SMS, and LinkedIn.  Sequences may be managed directly from within Salesforce, Outlook, or Gmail.  All Revenue Grid capabilities are available in the native Salesforce mobile app, including email analytics, notifications, and sequences.

Admins can perform A/B testing of sequences.

Revenue Grid detects replies from one or multiple recipients, out of office notices, opt-outs, and bounces.  It then pauses or halts sequences automatically.  It even halts sequences if the recipient is mentioned in an email or meeting invitation.

An email sidebar displays Salesforce data directly within inboxes and suggests relevant, actionable Signals.


Continue to Part III.

Revenue Grid Guided Selling

Revenue Grid which describes itself as a Guided Selling vendor, offers a hybrid platform with sales engagement, revenue intelligence, relationship intelligence, meeting management, and conversation intelligence.  Unlike many startups in these spaces, Revenue Grid comes to market with fifteen years of experience building native platform integrations behind the firewall and in the cloud.  It then layers on top reports, analytics, and an Outlook/Gmail/LinkedIn sidebar for identifying opportunities at risk, next steps and missed actions, engagement scores, and pipeline analytics.

“Algorithmic guided selling leverages emerging AI technology and existing sales data to guide sellers through deals, automating manual sales actions while reducing the need for individual seller judgment in the sales process,” wrote Gartner.  Guided Selling is data and process-driven, with Next Best Action recommendations that make CRMs actionable.

Guided Selling intelligence is gathered from CRMs, emails, calendars, phone calls, and videos.  Engagement is measured across these channels and delivered as a set of insights and revenue signals that support Guided Selling.  Signals are Next Best Actions based upon AI recommendations and sales playbooks.  

Revenue Grid describes signals as “contextual, actionable notifications that tell your whole sales org what is going well or poorly throughout your whole sales process.”  Sales reps can act on recommendations by merely clicking on the signal.

These definitions can all get confusing, but the vision becomes clearer when skipping past the inputs and technology and merely considering which sales and management questions Revenue Grid looks to address.  Revenue Grid answers a host of sales rep questions, including

  • Which deals should I focus on today?
  • How likely am I to close the deal this month or quarter?
  • How can I improve my odds of winning this opportunity?
  • Which deals are at risk and why?  
  • Did I complete all of the post-deal activities discussed on the call?
  • Have I updated all my opportunities before tomorrow’s deal review?
  • How can I prepare for a meeting?
  • Does anybody at my firm have a relationship with key decision-makers?
  • How is engagement across the account?  Am I building relationships with the key stakeholders?

Likewise, managers can answer questions such as

  • Are sales reps focused on the right things?
  • Do sales reps know what to do next?
  • How can I guide reps in each deal?
  • Which deals are moving, stalled, or at risk?
  • Do my reps know what to say at meetings? Do our scripts work?
  • How do I know my coaching is effective?
  • Which committed deals are unlikely to close?
  • How do I improve our forecasts?

Part II discusses Revenue Grid’s feature set.

Clari Revenue Insights

Revenue Operations vendor Clari announced Relationship Insights, its new Revenue Intelligence service.  Relationship Insights adds “visibility into all the buyers and sellers actively involved in sales pursuits.”  The new service helps revenue professionals assess the “true health of account relationships, more effectively manage their territories, and lead their teams in the new remote selling era.”

Relationship Insights ends the manual auditing of accounts by sales managers and interrogations of sales reps about customer and prospect relationships.  Relationship Insights lets them understand

  • Who are we talking to?
  • Are we single or multi-threaded at the account?
  • When was the last time we interacted with the executive buyer?
  • Have we engaged with the CFO?
  • Do we have the right internal SMEs working on this account?

“Our data shows that deals over $250k require an average of 19 external stakeholders to close successfully,” said Clari CEO Andy Byrne.  “With Relationship Insights, we’re providing total visibility to revenue teams so they can drive exceptional execution in their deals, accounts, and territories across their entire revenue process.”

Buying Groups: The New Norm for B2B Sales,” Clari, December 3, 2020.  Based on Closed-Won Deals.

Smaller deals require significant relationship building as well.  A Clari analysis of closed-won deals found that opportunities up to $50,000 required relationships with an average of seven external stakeholders.  Successful deals between $50,000 and $250,000 averaged ten relationships between the company and demand unit members at the closed opportunity.

“Buying groups are not only getting larger, [but] they’re also diverging in personal and organizational priorities. Sellers need to navigate this big group of influencers and decision-makers, including business line managers, IT practitioners, executives, and finance leaders.”

Hila Segal, Clari VP Product Marketing

Relationship Insights provides sales reps and sales management with a deeper understanding of the demand unit, letting them see all sales activities, including emails, meetings, and file exchanges.  This monitoring helps ensure that “all selling motions are multi-threaded.”

“An in-depth understanding of your customer relationship landscape is critical for building full buying consensus, reducing cycle time by uncovering potential blockers earlier, and increasing win-rate by getting multi-threaded (building relationships with multiple stakeholders) when your competition may have only relied on one or two contacts.”

Clari VP of Product Marketing Hila Segal

Clari Activity risk tracking identifies the risk of disengagement, providing reps the opportunity to re-engage before the deal goes south.  

“It’s not enough to see who is engaged. You need to understand the strength of the relationship over time—how many meetings did you have with a key individual, when was the last time you met with them, when is the next time you’re scheduled to connect, have they been responding to emails,” argued Segal.

Account auditing ensures that the primary personas and team members are engaged so that reps can run plays to broaden support.

Relationship intelligence also leverages the company’s varied skills and knowledge, so tracking who has been engaged on the selling side is critical.  Segal noted that successful enterprise sales “takes a village,” with many team members, including technical SMEs, product specialists, implementation consultants, and executive sponsors, helping close the biggest deals. “A clear understanding of key players in every account drives stronger account relationships resulting in more qualified pipeline, better win rates, faster cycles and more predictable revenue,” said Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst at TOPO.

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.

People.ai Round C

San Francisco-based Revenue Intelligence vendor People.ai announced Round C funding of $60 million along with the launch of its new The Wire next-best-action (NBA) service.  The round was led by ICONIQ Capital with participation by Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, GGV Capital, and Y Combinator.  Will Griffith, Partner at ICONIQ Capital, has joined the People.ai Board of Directors.

People.ai has received $97 million in funding to date.  Its valuation was not provided, but TechCrunch placed the valuation at “mid-nine-figures.”

“Today’s announcement of our Series C funding represents a critical milestone in achieving our vision for the Future of Work,” said People.ai CEO Oleg Rogynskyy.  “We’ve already enabled customers to, for the first time, capture all of an organization’s critical business data, such as contacts and customer activity data, and deliver it directly to the CRM.  This has significantly improved sales productivity and CRM data accuracy and liberated the enterprise from time-consuming manual data entry.  Today, we’re taking People.ai to the next level with AI-driven intelligence that provides customer-facing teams with a simple, personalized set of actions based on current, historical and industry data that will help accelerate revenue.  When you use The Wire, you’ll have your most productive day at work, every day.”

People.ai was founded in 2016 and already supports Red Hat, Lyft, Zoom, New Relic, and Splunk.  The firm describes itself as a Revenue Intelligence System:

“People.ai offers the industry’s only Revenue Intelligence System (RIS) that automates the capture of all contact and customer activity data, dynamically updates CRM and provides actionable intelligence across CRM, collaboration, business intelligence, and other management tools for sales, marketing, customer success and services teams – exponentially accelerating growth and delivering actionable insights for strategic business decision making.”

People.ai Website

People.ai fills out buying committees for active opportunities, maps contacts and interactions to accounts and opportunities, and suggests next best actions.  Applying natural language processing and machine learning to buying committee discovery and NBA are the latest advancement in sales and marketing intelligence.

People.ai also supports contact updates derived from email signatures and pulls “critical information” such as product or competitor mentions, sentiment, and buyer intent.

People.ai’s recently launched Campaign360 service supports marketing attribution by tracking opportunities influenced or generated by marketing activities.  Campaign360 is the “industry’s only AI-based solution that equips Marketers with the real-time, full funnel campaign visibility they need at their fingertips,” said the firm.

“We’re thrilled to partner with People.ai as they execute their vision to unleash the potential of AI to drive enterprise revenue,” said Griffith.  “People.ai is well positioned in a highly strategic enterprise market, leveraging automation and AI to fundamentally change the way people work.  People.ai’s product, powered by strong network effects, is delivering insights and productivity at the scale and quality we have not seen previously.  We see an incredible opportunity to accelerate People.ai’s game-changing technology as they redefine the meaning of the Predictive Enterprise.  People.ai is the Future of Work.”

Partners include Salesforce, Slack, Outreach, SalesLoft, Exchange, and G Suite.


On Monday, I will be covering The Wire, People.AI’s new Next Best Action service.