SalesLoft Deal Engagement Scores

Sales Engagement vendor SalesLoft announced Deal Engagement scores, a “machine-learning capability [that] gives frontline managers an unbiased way to prioritize deals based on the calculation of over 30 data elements captured across Cadence, Conversations, and Deals.”

Instead of a black-boxed score, SalesLoft provides recommendations and an explanation of the score, helping sales managers identify opportunity issues and risks and take actions to improve close rates.  Thus, Deal Engagement Scores serve as early warning signs that deals may be going south, allowing them to take proactive actions that improve close rates.

Deal Engagement Scores are shown over time and include a set of stage progression indicators such as days since the last meeting, days until the next meeting, and close date pushes.  A seven-day summary details recent engagement activity and deal progression.

“It’s not enough to have just a Cadence product,” said Frank Dale, SalesLoft’s SVP of Product Development. “With Cadence, Conversations, and Deals on one platform, we collect data across the full buying cycle, from the first email, every call, meeting, and communication, through to deal closure and renewal.  Only SalesLoft can analyze all of this data to predict revenue outcomes.  No other Sales Engagement provider can offer this.”

SalesLoft published the 35 metrics that feed into their Deal Engagement Scores.

35 data elements are fed into their machine-learning model to prioritize and identify opportunity issues and risks. Engagement is measured across emails, phone calls, and meetings, with interactions measured by level.  Over 120 million customer interactions were fed into the machine-learning model. As a machine-learning capability, the model continues to improve and adapt. 

“Having this capability allows front-line sales managers an instant gut check on specific health for deals in flight,” posted CEO Kyle Porter on LinkedIn.

Deal Engagement Scores are available to early access customers with Deals functionality in the Enterprise and Sell plans.  It will GA by June.

SalesLoft Doubles ARR and Lands a Unicorn Round

Sales Engagement Platform vendor SalesLoft became the latest SalesTech unicorn, following a $100 million equity investment led by Owl Rock Capital. Insight Partners, HarbourVest, and Emergence also joined the round.  The Series E funding raised SalesLoft’s valuation to $1.1 billion, nearly doubling its April 2019 Series D valuation of $600 million.

The funds will be dedicated towards “transforming the sales industry and helping the world’s companies sell more successfully.” SalesLoft will invest in “new vertical markets, AI / ML-driven insights and product innovation, and further international expansion.”

SalesLoft had a successful 2020, setting up the firm for the valuation raise.  While they were doing well before the pandemic, it provided a “tailwind” that accelerated the need for Sales Engagement solutions.

“The effects of Covid have been a tailwind due to the effects of digital selling,” Porter told TechCrunch. “All sellers immediately became remote. But now the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in. It’s meant that inside sales are now all sales. Whether the opportunities are mid-funnel or upgrades or renewals, we are establishing ourselves as the engagement platform of record because it’s all becoming digital and all sellers are finding more success.”

SalesLoft, which had focused on the mid-market, is enjoying significant success selling to enterprise clients, including Google, LinkedIn (also a strategic partner), Cisco, Dell and IBM. Other clients include Cargill, 3M, and Standard & Poor’s.

Last year, SalesLoft doubled recurring revenue and expanded the breadth of its offering.  When SalesLoft went fully work from home last year, it forced them to rely more fully on their platform. “It was an opportunity to immerse ourselves in our own best practices,” blogged Porter. “And since then, our sales cycles have shortened by 40% and we’ve exceeded our growth plans. Many of our customers are experiencing similar results.”

SalesLoft was also named a leader in Sales Engagement in “The Forrester Wave™: Sales Engagement, Q3 2020.”

“Our goal is and always will be to help our customers win.  This year has accelerated the need for revenue teams across all industries to transform through a digital selling strategy. SalesLoft is a crucial technology for sales teams to perform at their highest potential.”

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

SalesLoft claims to be the only SEP supporting “the three most critical products in digital selling – Cadence for managing customer communications, Conversations for recording calls and meetings, and Deals for managing opportunities.”  SalesLoft helps customers build pipeline, manage active deals, and engage customers across the buyers’ journey.

In 2020, SalesLoft released 140 new features, including 25 additional reports and dashboards.  In December, they added “Coach to Close” functionality and integrated support for Microsoft Dynamics 365.

SalesLoft gave a sneak peek at their 2021 roadmap in December, unveiling two new features: Deal Engagement Scores and Pre-Built Cadence Frameworks.

Deal Engagements Scores employ machine learning to calculate “deal health based on 30+ factors including activity and deal progression data.” They will assist with prioritizing deals in need of attention and improve forecast accuracy “by identifying mismatches between forecast category and deal score.

Pre-built Cadence Frameworks will improve SalesLoft’s time to value by providing a set of templates and cadences across the full lifecycle and various roles (e.g., SDR, AE, CSM).  Inbound frameworks are also supported.  Cadences include a preview with a visual display of the cadence, description, objective, function, and implementation complexity level.  Pre-built cadences offer best practices from SalesLoft and SalesLoft’s partners.

SalesLoft’s product vision is focused on performance across both efficiency and effectiveness and looks to answer three questions:

  1. What is our performance versus plan?  Forecasting for revenue execs
  2. Why are we above or below plan?  Outcome-driven reporting for frontline managers
  3. How can we improve and take action?  Coaching, Workflow, and an AI/ML Recommendation Engine for sellers and frontline managers.

“We know which sales activities lead to the best revenue outcomes,” stated Porter. “Our data science team is bringing insights and best practices into the platform to tee up next best actions and benefit our customers.”

Forecasting and outcome-driven reporting are part of the SalesLoft vision.  Coaching and the Recommendation Engine are areas of continuing development.  SalesLoft is already delivering an “integrated, efficient workflow.”

SalesLoft is moving to quarterly releases.  The next release pack is scheduled for March 15, 2021.

SalesLoft Coach to Close

SalesLoft rolled out its winter release before Christmas.  The lead feature was their Coach to Close functionality that provides frontline managers with “visibility into the specific sales stages where their sellers need the most help.”  Coach to Close aids managers in identifying and proactively coaching reps on the deals that are critical to exceeding quarterly targets.

Coach to Close analyzes stage-to-stage conversion rates at the rep and team level, helping managers identify where deals are being lost and then “quickly drill down into each deal to proactively coach reps through those problem stages.”

“There are always a handful of deals that make or break a quarter.  Helping your sales reps progress and close those deals is your number one priority as a sales leader,” said SalesLoft CRO Steve Goldberg.

Coach to Close provides Deal Analytics (i.e., team and individual conversion rates), a Deal Activity Timeline that tracks account engagement across the buying cycle, and Deal Details that summarize communications, including email, phone, and recorded videos.  

“We are giving our customers the power to unlock and understand their sales data. With outcome-driven reporting and AI/ML-based activity prioritization, sales managers can now spend their time in the areas that will generate the most impact.”

Frank Dale, SalesLoft VP of Product

The other central element in the winter release was integrated support for Microsoft Dynamics 365.  Sales reps can log emails, calls, LinkedIn activities, and other cadence steps directly from MSD.  The Dynamics integration is now generally available.

“Dynamics customers are asking for help as they transform to a digital selling motion,” said Goldberg. “This integration allows companies to leverage all the data in their Dynamics instance to more effectively and efficiently prospect and sell to their customers.”

Other new winter release features include

  • Multi-touch cadence workflows that allow reps to communicate across multiple channels at the same time.  For example, a sales rep can send an introductory email and then Connect on LinkedIn.  Users can run the steps in any order, and emails can be scheduled for later in the day.
  • Bulk edits in workflow management to quickly update users.
  • Filter by Salesforce Opportunity Data lets users filter and sort recorded conversations by Opportunity Stage or other variables.  Users can “easily leverage Salesforce Opportunity data to identify milestone conversions, filter and save views, or access recordings directly from the Opportunity view with our new unified workflows.”

Integrations with Zoho CRM and Qotient talk tracks are coming soon.

November integrations included 6Sense (account data and insights), MonsterConnect (outsourced dialing team), and Vertify (CRM and MAP lead reply analytics).

Revenue Teams: Go Digital Now (Sales Engagement)

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.

Let’s begin with Sales Engagement.

Sales Engagement

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.

The top two vendors are SalesLoft and Outreach. They offer the most complete solutions and vision, but smaller firms may wish to consider lower priced options such as VanillaSoft, Yesware, and Salesforce High Velocity Sales. Groove and XANT are also enterprise options.

There is still time to implement one or multiple solutions before the end of this year. They will help you close out the year and gain some momentum for 2021. Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing additional digital tools for consideration including sales intelligence, sales enablement, personal video, e-gifting (tactile marketing), chatbots, and opportunity management.

SalesLoft Plug-in for Sugar Sell

BrainSell announced the immediate availability of their SalesLoft Plug-in for Sugar Sell.  The native integration provides SalesLoft multi-channel, cadence-based sales engagement from within SugarCRM.  The plug-in supports data syncing for Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Emails, Calls, and user data.  SugarCRM customers can create, update, and convert leads inside of SalesLoft.

“With the Sugar Sell integration, mutual customers gain an automated data flow between both systems.  This means users maximize efficiency with less manual data processes and streamlined employee workflows,” wrote BrainSell.

“SugarCRM’s no-touch, time-aware customer experience platform acts as the nucleus of your company’s tech ecosystem to help companies create customers for life.  We’re proud to have a partner like BrainSell focused on innovating the way they help customers grow.  This integration completely streamlines and optimizes sales and development reps’ productivity by giving them tools like SalesLoft designed specifically for their role, all while ensuring data is pushed back and forth between Sugar Sell.”

Clint Oram, Chief Strategy Officer of SugarCRM

“At SalesLoft, we take pride in the deep partnerships we have with companies like BrainSell to maximize the value our customers gain from using our solution,” said Sean Kester, SalesLoft VP of Platform Strategy.  “With partners like BrainSell, we’re excited to expand the value of our platform by enabling our customers to integrate all their data in Sugar Sell, all while positioning sales teams to continue working within SalesLoft.”

The integration is available through SugarOutfitters for $2,495 per year for an unlimited number of users.  The connector supports SugarCRM 7.0.0 and above.

Last month, BrainSell released a similar plug-in for Outreach.  It is also available through SugarOutfitters for $2,495.

SalesLoft: Sales Engagement for WFH Sales Teams (Part II)

Continuing my conversation with Sunshine Levin (Part I), Director of Customer and Analyst Relations at SalesLoft. One of the key features of Sales Engagement Platforms is cadences (aka sequences) which automate a set of outbound, multi-channel communications and monitor the response.

SalesLoft Cadence & Activity Feed

Because cadences are automated, reps do not need to schedule most tasks.  Instead, next steps are automatically tracked, and current activity is recorded and synced with Salesforce.  Furthermore, SEPs monitor response rates and support A/B testing. Levin recommends that admins review reports and dashboards to determine changes in the efficacy of tactics and messaging.

Another benefit of activity tracking concerns management visibility into sales rep activity and prospect engagement.  In the current environment, where family members may be ill, and children are at home, managers need to be sensitive to each rep’s situation and not focus on traditional productivity metrics.  To assist with planning, SalesLoft offers prioritization tools such as Hot Leads and a Pipeline View, their newly introduced, native offering resulting from the recently acquired Costello solution: 

“For Salesforce users,  SalesLoft Deals can give you a holistic view of everything that matters when managing a deal.  Within SalesLoft Deals, Pipeline View will help your team prevent opportunities from slipping through the cracks, while Deal View can facilitate coaching and strategy conversations about opportunities during one-on-ones.  Finally, keep an eye on deal health by reviewing Deal Gaps to identify opportunities that may be slipping and what you should do to get deals back on track.”

SalesLoft Blog

Live Call Studio and Conversation Intelligence allows managers and trainers to listen in on sales calls, whisper suggestions to the rep, and join calls.  These tools are particularly valuable for new reps that may have had little face-to-face training before offices were closed and for target accounts where reps are looking for additional assistance on major deals.  Calls may be recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, providing a basis for call post-mortems and training. Automated indexing allows reps and managers to review critical points (e.g. Next Steps, Pricing, Competitors) afterward.  Analytics also assess engagement (was it a true back and forth or a few comments with long monologues) and calculate the frequency of filler words. Playlists provide a library of sales best practices, allowing new hires to listen to snippets around product, pricing, competition, objection handling, etc.  Should a rep have difficulties on a topic, she can forward a conversational snippet to the appropriate expert or subject owner (e.g. manager, product marketing, customer support) for feedback. Conversational snippets present the voice of the customer to the subject matter expert, providing an unfiltered view of the question or concern.

Leaderboards help encourage healthy rivalry between reps.

SalesLoft noted that home Wi-Fi connections could be spotty, so reps may need to connect through their router directly.  A second option is to set up call passthrough where the call is initiated from a mobile app or the browser and is handled as a mobile or landline call.  Call passthrough provides an alternate, higher quality channel while recording both sales activity and conversational intelligence.

SalesLoft’s platform has matured from a Cadence service to SDRs to a broader sales engagement platform that supports account execs, customer success managers, and WFH use cases.  The core cadence feature set is now accompanied by conversational intelligence, enhanced analytics, and deal management tools buttressed by a growing ecosystem of application partners.

SalesLoft: Sales Engagement for WFH Sales Teams

I had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of using Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) for work from home (WFH) staff with Sunshine Levin of SalesLoft.  Levin emphasized that many Sales Engagement tools assist remote sales reps and managers.  SEPs help with sales productivity, activity and account prioritization, sales messaging, activity capture, pipeline analytics, and rep coaching.

Levin was recently promoted to Director of Customer and Analyst Relations and had expected to be discussing SalesLoft’s new product positioning and product packaging at their March REV2020 conference.  Instead of greeting 2000 customers and prospects in San Francisco, the firm conducted its keynote session virtually and is now communicating their value proposition in a new work environment.

At the heart of Sales Engagement Platforms are multi-channel cadences that provide a multi-step approach to establishing an initial relationship with prospects.  Reps are not only working from home but so are most of their likely targets. Thus, cadences and messaging should be adjusted in the near-term. Reaching out to prospects via standard channels is likely to be low yield due to WFH, so diversifying communications across multiple channels such as phone, email, social, SMS, and tactile (swag and e-gifting) make sense.  

Also, with prospects at home feeling isolated, personalized one-to-one videos are likely to be even more effective.  Reps can insert personal videos into emails or social links. SalesLoft research indicates that videos from Vidyard, Videolicious, and VidGrid generate two to three times the email open rates versus general emails.

While Sales Engagement Platforms offer templated emails, they are more effective if  personalized. SalesLoft’s research found that 20% personalization is optimal.  Personalization helps refine the message for each client and conveys authenticity.  It also allows reps to modify their messaging around the current work, health, and economic environment.

SalesLoft, along with many of its peers, offers LinkedIn SNAP connectors, which are integrated into cadences.  Reps can send InMails, request connections, submit introduction requests, and conduct research from within SEPs and CRMs. 

“LinkedIn-specific steps help salespeople stay focused, do less application switching, and deliver a better sales experience.”

Sunshine Levin, SalesLoft Director of Customer and Analyst Relations

SalesLoft now supports LinkedIn’s Data Validation Flag, which warns users that a contact is no longer at a company listed in the CRM.  If the company differs between LinkedIn and the CRM, a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM. The flag is displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns.  SalesLoft automation rules can then trigger workflows based on whether a buying committee member has left or whether an admin or champion at a customer has changed jobs. These insights help reps evaluate whether an opportunity may be in jeopardy, the likelihood of closing this quarter pushed out, or they need to move quickly to identify new buying committee members or champions.

“Customers leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator Data Validation are now able to use real-time insights to influence critical workflows when their prospects and customers change jobs,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan.  “Ultimately, this saves time spent reviewing customer data manually, and it will increase the quality of all opportunities as salespeople progress through the buying cycle.”


Continue to Part II of this discussion.

Working at Home — Ideas from Tech Companies

Over the past few days, I’ve suggested ideas for maintaining pipeline and maintaining a positive and constructive outlook. This is now looking like it will last through the spring and potentially into the summer, so let’s be open to new ideas, practices, and routines.

I collected some ideas from those in the tech industry that I follow.

SalesLoft

In this morning’s team meeting the EMEA SalesLoft team discussed how we can keep the culture and mental wellbeing at the forefront while we work remotely…

We are having a daily stand up for 15 minutes, virtual team lunch on a Wednesday and virtual Friday drinks. We are making sure we put time aside for exercise and doing the things we love. We are being mindful of continuing to share ‘glass half full’ stories. We are also looking into what we can do to help with the bigger issue that people are facing in regards to the Corona Virus – local charities, food banks, the elderly.

Ollie Sharpe, SalesLoft VP of Revenue, EMEA

TOPO

A TOPO study of 350+ marketers indicated that only 16% of firms see a significant impact to their pipeline, 64% see a moderate impact due to coronavirus.  The biggest impacts are due to canceled events (87%), corporate travel bans (64%), buyers working from home (53%), and prohibitions against face-to-face meetings.  Only 27% cited buyers not booking meetings and frozen buyer budgets (22%).

TOPO survey (N=350)

ClickZ

Research conducted in 2018 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research  indicated that B2B marketers who participate in industry events allocated nearly 40 percent of their budgets to exhibitions and industry shows, almost five times more than the 8% spent on online marketing.

Even if only a small fraction of the events’ budgets is shifted to online marketing, it would translate into a massive growth in web marketing.

The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI), and of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.

Dan Gerstenfield, Interteam Content Services

David Brock

It’s time to pick up the phone. No texts, no emails, no social platforms. Pick up the phone and talk to someone. You are probably dealing with some of the same issues that come with physical separation.

It’s not the time to pitch people, it’s the time to show that you care–about them. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but ask them how they are doing, ask how they are keeping engaged and productive, share some ideas.

All of us share in this experience. Each of us is figuring things out. We can learn from each other, at the same time feel more connected.

David Brock, Author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide”

Sirius Decisions (Forrester)

  • Create a task force. Except in very large companies or those with specific types of risks, most companies do not have a dedicated crisis response team, and many have never created even a bare-bones crisis communications plan. Now is the time to do so. Bring together functional leaders from across your organization to begin identifying and prioritizing issues, with all major functions and regions represented. The senior communications leader is usually at the helm, and in some smaller organizations, the effort may be led by the CEO. Other participants will likely include human resources, legal counsel, operations/facilities, sales and customer service leaders, and various marketing/communications disciplines that are either directly affected or will be involved in delivering information to audiences. Each individual should have a clear understanding of his or her specific responsibilities.
  • Prioritize issues of greatest urgency. Ensuring the safety of employees, customers and other stakeholders is obviously the priority, and external guidance from public health experts will be important to understand what these issues are…
  • Develop a protocol for emergent situations. Obviously the plan should lay out a set of actions the organization will take immediately, based on what is known today. However, the situation is fluid and it’s not possible to know with certainty what the situation will look like in a month or six months. That’s why it’s important to have a protocol for addressing new situations as they emerge… 
  • Prepare the communications engine. Providing transparent and ongoing communication is the hallmark of good crisis communications. The communications team needs to analyze the types of communication that will be needed to support a variety of scenarios. One of the most challenging aspects of crisis management is the need to create a wide range of critical content, have it vetted by legal and pushed out through channels as quickly as possible. Create templates for common types of content and stub content that can be built-out as needed. Set up an expedited legal vetting process and work with digital teams to identify how content will be conveyed through the company’s owned channels (web site, social, communities). Also prepare spokespeople – from the CEO to the receptionist, with concise answers that can be given without additional approvals or escalation paths.
  • Map communications strategies to audiences. SiriusDecisions always recommends starting with an understanding of the audience, and crisis response is no different…
  • Maintain open communications with employees. A large percentage of the workforce will face some kind of disruption to their normal routines or even their income…One of the first priorities should be to plan for how communications will flow internally: the channels and cadence that employees can expect, as well as where to go if the normal channels (which may occur in a face-to-face environment) are not available. Also remember that employees are a channel, and if you enable them with content, they can extend the reach of your information and credibility with audiences. [Full Text]

Resources

Outreach: Growth through Redefinition

Sales Engagement Platform Outreach, which is enjoying significant growth and good press, has twice had to redefine itself.  The first time was a pivot from supporting recruiters to sales reps.  The second redefinition was cultural – reshaping its male-centric, burn-the-midnight-oil culture into a more inclusive, hospitable environment.

Forbes estimated Outreach revenue at $70 million in its last fiscal year (January 2020) up from $38 million in fiscal year 2019.  The firm is considering a direct IPO, but views that event as several years out.  In the meantime, “Our goal is to take Outreach and become a large, independent company,” says DFJ Growth partner Sam Fort.

Outreach’s initial sales were mostly into tech firms such as DocuSign, where the software saves reps at least ten hours per month by streamlining and improving sales communications.  “You have to land tens of thousands of customers and you can’t do that with a team of 100 people cold calling,” says DocuSign CRO Loren Alhadeff.  “Your best bet is to find a way to make your touches more important and more pertinent.”

Medina sees the opportunity as much broader and believes only 1% of the market has been tapped.  Sales engagement may even expand beyond B2B sales functions and support higher-end consumer sales roles such as financial advisors and mortgage brokers.

The path to success has been rocky.  The firm began in the recruitment space and was nearly bankrupt when it began marketing some internal sales tools it developed.  Outreach has also had problems with employee churn due to rapid hiring, a difficult winner-take-all pace that burned-out staff, and a male culture that permitted “sexually charged jokes.”

But Medina, an Ecuadorian immigrant, realized that cultural change was necessary.  “I don’t come from central casting.  I’m not an old white guy from Silicon Valley,” he said.  “I know what it’s like to be marginalized, so I take this to heart.”

To address these problems, the firm released managers that promoted the negative culture, centralized sales teams so that reps could learn from each other, and hired Anna Baird as COO.  Baird has focused on hiring and building an inclusive culture where “everyone has a fair shot.”

The executive team is now 40% female with a goal of parity.  “This is not a checkbox for me,” said Medina.  “This is the life I want to live.  I want to be surrounded by people who want to feel included, who are doing their best work with peers that they love and respect.”

Cancels Unleash 2020 (Covid 19)

SalesLoft and Outreach both made difficult decisions this week, canceling planned user conferences. SalesLoft aborted its Rev2020 conference, which was to open today, and Outreach scrubbed its April Unleash show.  Adobe, Zendesk, and Shopify also canceled events, while Twitter and Facebook pulled out of SXSW.

We have been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our community, employees, customers, and partners. After careful consideration of the developing situation, we have come to the incredibly difficult decision to cancel Unleash 2020 scheduled for April 7-9. 

Unleash is my favorite event of the year. I love having the chance to meet with all of you and share in the excitement of what’s to come. It’s with a heavy heart that we made the decision, but we believe your health and safety should come first, no matter what. 

Outreach CEO Manny Medina (March 3, 2020)

SalesLoft will still be presenting its opening keynote, but as a virtual presentation on Tuesday.  Outreach is planning a virtual event and twelve-city Unleash Summit tour later this year.

Vendors invest millions in marketing dollars hosting their own events. It is an excellent opportunity for them to build their brand, promote ecosystem partners, roll out their roadmap, provide specialized training by job function and role, expand their organizational presence at current accounts, and convert prospects to customers.

Quora: Do salespeople keep track of their sales activity log?

Sales reps are expected to keep track of their activities (both previous activities and future tasks). Fortunately, Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) such as Outreach, SalesLoft, VanillaSoft, XANT, Yesware, and ConnectLeader do most of this automatically. As touches are completed, they are automatically logged to the SEP and synced with the CRM. The SEP also tracks outcomes (call answered, voicemail drop, email view, email click-through, etc.), records and analyzes calls, and offers recommendations (best practices, next best actions).

This is a fairly new category of software which is mostly used in technology sales but beginning to extend into other B2B categories. Initial functionality focused on Sales Development Reps (SDRs) but richer functionality is being added which assists all sales positions.

These platforms set up cadences / sequences of planned activities that include email, phone, social, text, inbound, etc. Throughout the day, the system recommends the next best action. Because much of the work is scheduled by cadences, reps do not need to record most follow up tasks. Cadences include A/B tested email templates, scripts, and schedules so reps can be confident that they are employing a tested strategy. Email personalization is encouraged to improve click through rates and convey authenticity.

Other features of these platforms include

  • Automated meeting setup
  • Inbound call and chat support
  • The insertion of short personal videos from vendors such as Vidyard, Drift, Hippo Video, Videolicious, etc.
  • Recording, Transcription, and Analysis of calls and video meetings. Key moments are indexed for review (e.g. Next Steps, Pricing, Competitors, Feature Analysis, Talk Length and Ratios, Junk Words, etc.) and coaching. Call snippets may be forward to managers for questions (How should I handle this situation next time? Can we support this request?). They can also be forwarded to customer support (what is the status on this problem? Could you open a ticket?) and customer success (Is this feature supported?). Some vendors even support video libraries for training and coaching purposes.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator (SNAP) integrations
  • Cadence Pause (e.g. out of office) and Stop (e.g. Meeting set)
  • A/B testing and analytics for Sales and Marketing Operations
  • Opt-out tracking in general (do not contact) and specific (do not contact via text or phone, but email is OK).

If you are interested in evaluating SEPs, I wrote an overview that discusses the value proposition, key features, and questions to ask vendors.

Administrative Control Screen for Email Synching.
SalesLoft Administrative Control Screen for Email Synching.