VanillaSoft Closes $4M Funding Round

US sales engagement vendor VanillaSoft received a pair of investments from Quebecois agencies totaling $4 million.  A $1 million loan from Canada Economic Development (CED) for Quebec Regions was announced last month followed by a $3 million equity investment from the Fonds Régional de Solidarité Outaouais (FRSO).  The round supports their operations in Gatineau and will fund thirty new positions focused on artificial intelligence functionality.  Hiring will be expanded in the R&D and sales functions.  The loan will also be directed towards marketing campaigns in Europe and Oceania.

“Digital technology is changing the way things are done around the world and providing companies with outstanding development opportunities,” said Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylme.  “Not only is VanillaSoft helping the Outaouais region build a reputation as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence, but its expertise and the innovative technology it continues to export will allow it to create 30 jobs.”

“The financial support and incentives provided by the Government of Canada allow companies like VanillaSoft to thrive,” said Hood.  “We have the opportunity to develop new markets and services and appreciate the continued support from CED for our local employees as we promote sales and business here in Quebec and beyond.”

VanillaSoft was founded in New Orleans in 2003 but shifted its operations to its Canadian subsidiary following Hurricane Katrina. CEO David Hood recognized the early help from CED and FRSO to help stabilize the firm:

“Katrina hit and wiped out the office in the U.S., and it’s the office here that grew. This would have been a company that was completely in the U.S. Instead, the majority of the employees are up here, the revenues are up here, and it’s Canada that quite honestly is really benefiting from it.”

CEO David Hood

VanillaSoft is the third major sales engagement firm to receive a funding round in the past month. Outreach and SalesLoft both received significant rounds in April.

Key features include sales cadences, email templates, VOIP dialing, call scripting, call recording, SMS marketing, SMS chat, analytics, lead scoring, and appointment setting.

Recent enhancements include geographic functionality and Vidyard GoVideo integration. New Geographical Information System (GIS) capabilities include proximity routing, directional routing, geolocation filters, and automated time zone features.  The new GIS functionality helps field sales reps maximize their client and prospect routing.

VanillaSoft noted that, “with many sales reps clocking far in excess of 25,000 miles per year, the ability to group accounts by area and conduct efficient outreach is critical.”

Directional routing provides reps with optimized maps for visiting leads.  The feature is assisted by proximity routing which identifies leads by radius around a ZIP code or a point.  For example, a sales rep can identify leads within a fixed distance of a prospect.

Geolocation filters employ geocodes for customer mapping, helping sales operations group leads by city, neighborhood, and street for lead assignment.  VanillaSoft also looks at the rep’s calendar to call out nearby appointments which may warrant rescheduling to optimize field sales rep planning.

“You can work either with latitude and longitude, or with ZIP code. This gives companies a functionality that I’m not aware is available on any other sales engagement platform. For appointment setting, for companies that have salespeople out on the road, and also for understanding where your customers and prospects are and to be able to target them geographically, this is an incredibly powerful functionality,” said Hood.

The firm also announced that Vidyard’s GoVideo personal video messaging service will be integrated into VanillaSoft.

“Making a human connection between salespeople and their prospects is critical for sales success,” said Vidyard CEO Michael Litt. “We know video is a powerful tool for sales engagement and leaders in the space like VanillaSoft see the potential of this technology for their users.”

Vidyard GoVideo Expands SalesTech Partnerships

Vidyard GoVideo
Vidyard GoVideo supports on demand video creation, screen recording, and previously uploaded videos from within ConnectLeader templates.

Vidyard announced six additional sales platforms for its GoVideo platform: Outreach, EveryoneSocial, Reply.io, 366 Degrees, ConnectLeader, and FunnelAmplified.  Previously announced partners include SalesLoft, InsideSales, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, and Salesforce.  Vidyard supports over 40 sales and marketing solutions.

Integrated video helps personalize a message and increases open and clickthrough rates.

Outreach and ConnectLeader offer Sales Engagement platforms with personalized videos being integrated into email steps.  Outreach sales reps can include personal video within their sequences and monitor video engagement.

Link Encoding provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach sequences.  For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send videos within your Outreach email.  And when your prospect views the video, that activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action to convert at the highest level.”

“Sales is becoming more personal every day.  You must use the right channel for the right engagement for the right prospect and customer, and we’re finding video to be a key channel in engaging buyers,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.

“Vidyard has been tightly integrated with ConnectLeader, which transforms your videos into lead generation machines,” wrote ConnectLeader. Features include camera recording, screen recording, and video uploading of previously saved content in Vidyard.

Reply.io is an email-centric platform with contact management, drip campaigns, reply recommendations, email validation, and reply prioritization.  The joint solution “lets users personalize sales drip campaigns, create personal intro videos or product demos, add them to email sequences in Reply.io, and automate one-to-one email engagement at scale.”

EveryoneSocial provides social selling tools for sales, marketing, communications, and recruitment teams.  Users can select pre-recorded videos from a library or record custom videos and share with prospects and connections.

366 Degrees and Vidyard support SMB marketing with dynamic content, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and campaign metrics.  Video can be integrated into newsletters, promotions, social media, and landing pages.

“With the changing behaviours of today’s buyers and the availability of new technologies, sales development is becoming a sophisticated business function that takes a strategic approach to identifying and developing new sales opportunities based a wide range of buying signals and sales engagement techniques,” blogged Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard.  “On average, SDRs use six different tools.  And the days of SDR teams inheriting tech from the broader sales and marketing teams—such as customer relationship management (CRM), email automation, and social listening—and adapting them to meet their unique requirements for scalable sales prospecting are quickly coming to an end.”

Outreach Unleash

At its Unleash user conference, Outreach rolled out its expanded Galaxy partner ecosystem that “offers deeper partner integrations and enables sales teams to more effectively access multiple sales tools directly from the Outreach platform.”  Outreach also announced a set of new partners including Vidyard (1-to-1 video), Intercom, (chat) and Sendoso (direct mail) along with a set of new plugins for composing emails, event streams, and link encoding.

Outreach Galaxy provides:

  • “More visibility on information and actions performed by third-party applications like video views or website chats.  Outreach Galaxy puts actionable information at reps’ fingertips so they can have more contextual conversations.
  • ‘Next best actions’ enabled through integration partners.  Outreach automates customer touchpoints and can trigger or be triggered by external information fed into Outreach.
  • Greater ability to meet changing buyer preferences.  Outreach is the system of action for modern sales teams, and now enables reps to communicate with buyers through even more mediums.

“Sales is evolving to become more personal and accurate.  You must use the right channel for the right engagement for the right prospect and customer,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “A sales engagement platform must be multichannel and have the ability to optimize on each depending on the customer.  Now you can do that, with Galaxy.”

Tactile Marketing Automation vendor (Translation: Direct Mail Swag) PFL also announced an Outreach integration.  Sales reps include a direct mail or reward step within Outreach sequences.

“We’re all inundated with thousands of digital messages a day, but studies show that touching something physical stimulates our emotions and ultimately improves the perception of a brand,” said PFL CEO Andrew Field.  “We are joining the Outreach Galaxy partner program to put the power of direct mail and high impact packages directly into the hands of sales reps so they can engage prospects and customers.  Together with Outreach, we are pioneering a new approach to B2B marketing that empowers sales reps to do what they do best: stand out, get noticed and close more deals.”

Outreach listed a set of future partners including Alyce, BombBomb, Clari, LeanData, OneMob, and Tiled.

When composing emails, third-party content is immediately accessible.  Vendors leveraging the new plug-in capability include Vidyard and Sendoso.

The new events stream plugin feeds third-party events to the Outreach activity feed.  These events can then act as triggers for additional action.

An Enhanced Team Performance Dashboard is planned for 2019.
An Enhanced Team Performance Dashboard is planned for 2019.

Link Encoding provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach sequences.  For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send videos within your Outreach email.  And when your prospect views the video, that activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action to convert at the highest level.”

In 2019, Outreach will roll out an enhanced Team Performance Dashboard and expanded Sequence Analytics to help sales managers and sales operations professionals better determine best practices.

Over 500 Outreach customers have has already built integrated solutions using the Outreach API.  The firm has over 40,000 weekly active users performing 47 million actions.

Outreach added Out of Office reply detection.  The firm noted that 18% of email responses are out of office emails.  Amongst out of office messages, 25% include an alternate contact name with over half the names being manager titles or above.  The Out of Office reply detection extracts the return date and alternate names then pauses cadences until the prospect returns.  The sales rep is notified of automated actions.

“Modern sales means using technology to interact with buyers in the ways they expect.  Outreach has the responsibility to enable this, but we can’t do it alone.  The solution is a variety of different technologies.  Unfortunately, these solutions aren’t well coordinated, if at all.  They’re used on multiple computer windows, by multiple departments, using different devices.  We owe it to our mutual customers to string everything together, for reps to do their jobs on one single pane of glass with each action informing the next.”


Outreach Strategic Programs Manager Stephen Farnsworth

Medina defined Outreach’s objectives as making “things simpler.  Making every rep successful.  Every manager amazing” and “elevate the profession.”  To help define and promote the category, Outreach published a book titled “Sales Engagement: How the World’s Fastest Growing Companies Are Modernizing Sales through Humanization at Scale.”

Outreach supports over 3,000 customers.

SalesLoft Partner Ecosystem

SalesLoft Partner Ecosystem (March 2019)
SalesLoft Partner Ecosystem (March 2019)

SalesLoft looks for partners that help “activate the authentic seller in everyone,” boost their productivity, and help customers scale their business.  Vendors should be adjacent to Sales Engagement, filling the gaps of functionality in the platform.  

Partners pledge to serve joint customers first, invest in the success of integrations through co-marketing, and “support our developer community, thus enabling innovation,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.

Kester noted that the partner ecosystem provides a strategic market advantage as it “creates a moat in the ecosystem supplanting us as the dominant #1 player.”  It also “significantly enhances customer LTV (lifetime value) due to the sticky nature of usage” and “drives customer acquisition through the roof, and CAC (customer acquisition cost) down due to leads driven from partners.”

The SalesLoft ecosystem has grown to 54 partners with a million “integration actions executed” over the past six months.  Nearly 2,700 teams have one or two integrations with 800 having implemented three and 500 having four or more integrations.

Kester discussed the partner ecosystem at SalesLoft’s recent #Rainmaker19 conference.

The top partner integrations are LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Sendoso, Showpad, and Vidyard.  VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester called Sales Navigator “by far the most popular integration we have.”  The SNAP integration supports four cadence steps: Account and Lead (contact) research, introductions, connection request, and InMail (Salesforce is an investor in SalesLoft).

Sendoso provides a direct mail service.  Integrated cadence steps allow sales reps to send direct mail, company swag, handwritten notes, eGifts, and Amazon items.

Showpad is integrated with the sales reps’ workflow.  Within SalesLoft, users can easily add content to their email campaigns, and gauge their prospects’ level of interest.  Showpad also provides context-specific content recommendations.

Vidyard GoVideo helps sales reps “easily create polished and personal videos for your prospects using Vidyard GoVideo webcam and screen recorder,” said Kester.  Sales reps can “boost response rates and humanize sales outreach by adding video to your sales emails in SalesLoft.

SalesLoft includes a freemium version and has supported 175,000 platform videos.

New partners include

  • Sales Content: Costello (Playbooks), OneMob (Video), VidGrid (1:1 Video), Outgrow (Interactive Content), Nova.ai (Messaging Hooks)
  • Sales Coaching: Outgrow, Fusion Funnel
  • Sales Intelligence: SalesIntel.io (Contacts), RingLead (Lead Enrichment), Buzzboard (SMB Profiles)
  • Compliance: DataGrail (GDPR)
  • Integration: Fireflies, PieSync, AppBuddy (SFDC Tools), Azuqua, Tray.io
  • Analytics: Triblio (ABM, Intent)
  • Video Conferencing: GoToMeeting; Zoom; JoinMe; WebEx
  • Email: Inbox Ignite (Email Reputation Score), Makesbridge (Mass Email / MAP)
  • Outbound Services: ConnectandSell

SalesLoft announced several partnerships that are in their development pipeline including LeanData, Drift, Ramble Chat, and Seismic.

LeanData provides Lead-to-Account assignments with automated cadences by persona and customized conditions.  Sales Operations defines the lead assignment and routing rules which are displayed as a flow diagram with Send to SalesLoft Cadence steps.  Duplicate checking will prevent a second cadence from being kicked off.

Drift and Ramble Chat are joining Intercom as chat partners.  “Ramble empowers sales engagement customers with a unique ability to extend chat directly through their platform,” said Kester.  “Ramble creates an additional channel of communication for their customer interactions.”

Ramble Chat performs a reverse IP lookup that identifies the account and logs it to Salesforce or SalesLoft, providing a form of first-party intent intelligence.  Both inbound (anonymous) and outbound (Cadence driven) chat are supported with outbound chat connected to the originating sales rep.

“We are excited for our partnership with SalesLoft.  Ramble’s unique architecture enables us to deploy chat within third-party applications, like SalesLoft, which changes how sales leaders utilize chat for pipeline contribution.  We not only make chat ‘outbound’ and ‘inbound,’ but we give companies the ability to extend chat anywhere online as a means of instant connection and sales acceleration.  Moving beyond ‘omnichannel’ and towards ‘omnipresence.’  The full breadth our chat technology can be deployed organically, directly from SalesLoft, which provides a more seamless client experience and new channels for Sales Engagement.”


Ramble CEO Justin McDonald

Seismic offers an enterprise-grade content management system which recommends the next-best action for content.  The platform employs analytics to recommend which content is most likely to resonate with a prospect based on buying stage, vertical, etc.

DataGrail provides a GDPR and CCPA compliance tool which “enforces on-demand access and deletion of a requester’s personal data across all first and third-party/external business systems.”  DataGrail also centralizes customer email preferences.  Other features include the “detection of non-consented or high-risk contacts, including geographic fingerprinting and migration for consented to non-consented purposes” and alerts if a deleted contact is being recreated in a sales or marketing platform.

Current apps are displayed on SalesLoft’s App Directory which helps admins see how integrations work, understand their use cases, and co-market the integration.  A developer’ portal is in development.


Prior articles on SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019:

Cognism Funding Round

European Sales Acceleration vendor Cognism continues to demonstrate strong momentum out of the gate with a second funding round.  The firm closed on a £2.8 million round from investors including Oliver Wyman, South Central Ventures, LCIF, Newable, and existing investors.

The expansion capital will be “used to enhance the solution for Enterprises and also expand the offering into the Financial Services sector.”

“Cognism is moving beyond sales intelligence and applying its patented machine intelligence technology to understand the revenue challenges at the Enterprise level,” said CEO James Isilay.  “There is a natural fit between the data and analytics the Cognism platform provides and the strategy that can then be derived to enhance revenue at the Enterprise level. We are keen to showcase this value to this sector and hope our collaboration with Oliver Wyman will propel us forward and continue our strong growth.”

Cognism, which was founded in 2016, already has over 200 customers and has posted 617% revenue growth year-to-date.  The firm offers a data set of 400 million global companies and contacts.  Their Prospector service supports persona based prospecting, sales intelligence, and CRM connectors.  Other products include Refresh CRM enrichment and Engage sales acceleration (sales engagement).

“Our clients are continuously looking for new ways to accelerate growth. Cognism technology will provide our clients with dynamic insights into their existing client base, enabling them to develop more targeted solutions and improving sales success. At the same time, Cognism technology will allow our clients to make a step change in their prospecting efforts. Cognism’s data asset will allow our clients to identify prospects matching detailed personas, leveraging data on over 400M companies and individuals.”


Kai Upadek, Partner at Oliver Wyman

Cognism also announced the addition of Vidyard GoVideo to outbound emails.  Vidyard’s video “selfies” help sales reps personalize communications and “build stronger relationships with their prospects” with “one-to-one videos on-demand in a matter of moments.”

SalesLoft EOY Enhancements

An Opportunity Smart Panel provides direct access to Salesforce Opportunities.
An Opportunity Smart Panel provides direct access to Salesforce Opportunities

Sales Acceleration vendor SalesLoft added two new integrated features at the end of last year.  From a SalesLoft smart panel, sales reps can view, edit, create, and one-click access Salesforce Opportunities.  SalesLoft also added a “log emails from anywhere” feature which captures prospect and customer communications from mobile devices.

Integrated Salesforce Opportunity data provides greater conversational context by surfacing current and historical opportunities and associated information.  It also reduces the workflow involved in toggling between applications and rekeying key details across platforms.  Bi-directional synching ensures that “opportunity status and stages synced as you’re engaging with your prospects and customers.”  SalesLoft also supports one-click new Opportunity creation functionality.

“Opportunities are both a core component of your sales cycle and a leading indicator of the success of your revenue team.  Your SDRs are hustling to create them, your AEs are actively working them and bringing them over the line, and your success team is keeping your customers happy and renewing them.”

  • Product Marketing Director Chris Murphy

The new email synching feature helps teams “log all email activities from their connected email accounts regardless of the device that it was sent from or whether they ‘loft’ their emails from Gmail or Outlook.”  Admins control which team members are logged and can choose which domains to capture.

“So, for example, we will automatically prevent emails sent to your company email domain from being logged as activities as well as those “pick up milk on the way home” reminder emails sent to your personal email address,” said Murphy.

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

SalesLoft also announced an extended partnership with Vidyard which provides freemium recording and transmission of videos from within SalesLoft.  Sales reps may attach video “selfies” to emails and email templates which display a custom video image. The integration also supports video playlists, making it easy for reps to include topical videos which address customer questions or concerns.  Vidyard maintains view analytics, providing sales and marketing information about who watched and for how long, helping sales reps hone both messaging and identifying which videos are connecting with prospects.

SalesLoft claims significant improvements in response and bottom line impacts from including video in the communications mix:

  • 8X higher response rates
  • 5X higher click-through rates
  • 20% higher close rates
  • 30% larger annual contract values

“We all know you can’t simply communicate through a single channel,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester.  “However, when paired together in an intelligent combination of communication channels, process, and technology will ultimately increase conversion rates.”

SalesLoft: New Partners, Connectors, and Features

The new Call Studio service provides continuous monitoring of sales calls via a new dashboard. Managers and trainers can listen to calls, whisper advice in the a rep's ear, or join the call.
The new Call Studio service provides continuous monitoring of sales calls via a new dashboard. Managers and trainers can listen to calls, whisper advice in the a rep’s ear, or join the call.

Prior to SalesLoft’s Rainmaker user conference, their VP of Product Marketing Sean Kester provided me with a demo and overview of the enhancements to their Account Based Sales Engagement Platform.  The key product announcement is their new Live Call Studio which allows managers to monitor outbound calls.  The firm will also be demonstrating enhanced Salesforce and Gmail connectors which support sales engagement intelligence and the Twilio dialer.

Amongst their new partners are Zoominfo, TalkIQ, and Vidyard which will provide company and contact details, call transcription, and video messaging services.

The other new feature is a “Draft on Behalf” service that allows reps to create emails to be sent from executive inboxes.

SalesLoft closed on a $15M Round B last month.  The firm said that the funds would be used towards product, marketing, and opening an office in San Francisco.  The 2017 product focus includes improved orchestration between sales, marketing, and supporting executives; enhanced insights and reports; expanded governance tools; role based workflow assignments; greater connectivity; and enhanced analytics.

Call Studio

Call Studio provides live coaching and feedback to help managers shape a consistent message.  Call Studio assists with new hire training as well as upsell and cross-sell training for more experienced sales staff.  The Studio displays a set of conversational tiles which track all current calls along with duration and participants.  A manager can listen in on any call and provide feedback afterwards, whisper advice into the rep’s ear during the call, or join the conversation.  Managers and trainers do not need to be at the same location as the Sales Development Reps (SDRs).  Conversely, reps can digitally raise their hand if they need assistance and will feel more confident as they ramp up.

Kester noted that “Front line sales is one of the most difficult positions in a business. Live Call Studio reduces on-boarding time, coaching time, and increases rep effectiveness with the ability to coach from anywhere. Live coaching can quickly identify learning and advancement opportunities so that reps can stay motivated and be more productive.”

Call Studio will officially be launched at their Rainmaker conference during the first week of March and is currently live at ten accounts.

Draft on Behalf

SalesLoft will also be unveiling an as yet unnamed “Draft on behalf ” service which allows sales reps to write an email to be sent from company execs.  The note includes subject, message, and recipients.  The rep also provides an explanation of the request.

Once written, the CxO is sent an email with an overview of the request and a button to open the message.  Executives can also view pending messages stored in a “Requests” tab queue.

A "Draft on behalf" Requests tab provides a queue of pending CSR-written emails for review and transmission.
A “Draft on behalf” Requests tab provides a queue of pending CSR-written emails for review and transmission.

The “Draft on behalf” feature will initially be available in Gmail with plans to extend the service to Outlook down the road.

SalesLoft Connect

Recently enhanced connectors include SalesLoft Connect in Gmail and Salesforce.  The Gmail Connect tool displays SalesLoft in a new right-handed sidebar.  SDRs can click-to-dial from within Gmail and view the live feed for the prospect.  Other SalesLoft Connect for Gmail features include contact search, launching emails, and adding the message to SFDC.  The contact profile includes a set of functions including

  • Add or remove from a cadence (templated SDR multi-channel messaging workflows)
  • View recent notes and activity
  • Flag as Do Not Contact
  • Link to social profiles
  • Open and edit SalesLoft profiles
  • View additional contact information

Connect in Salesforce is both Classic and Lightning-ready providing access to SalesLoft Cadences within SFDC.  Features include the contact profile, SalesLoft Dialer, Cadence view, prospect activity view, and bi-directional synching between SalesLoft and Salesforce.

New Partners

Finally, SalesLoft will be showing off three new ecosystem partners at Rainmaker.  SalesLoft looks for partners that will offer a freemium strategy within their service, so that even SMBs can obtain benefits from SalesLoft partnerships.

Vidyard supports quick custom videos which help “humanize” SDR emails along with video playlists.  Thus, an SDR could attach two short demos and a personalized introductory message.  According to Kester, “adding a highly engaging video thumbnail to your email cadence in SalesLoft will help your emails stand out, boost click through rates, and send response rates soaring.”

Vidyard functionality and workflows for SDRs.
Vidyard functionality and workflows for SDRs.

Vidyard tracks which videos were watched and notifies sales reps.

Free Vidyard allows users access to all their features with limitations on the total number of videos hosted in their libraries along with some sharing limitations. The paid version offers a more robust library, organization, and hosting feature set.

TalkIQ provides integrated call transcription.  Features include a summary tab, cross-call searching, audio clips, and coaching commentary.  Premium features include analytics and admin-defined algorithms that automatically pull calls based on specific criteria. These calls will be displayed in a premium dashboard.

From within Chrome, users will have access to Zoominfo’s ReachOut connector which provides in-context account and contact information to SalesLoft.  For example, an SDR could identify the perfect contact in LinkedIn, use the ReachOut extension to obtain contact information, and send company and contact details to SalesLoft to begin a cadence.

Note: SalesLoft is one of the four Account Based Sales Development services covered in my new 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors.  Zoominfo is also profiled.