Market Flash: Outreach Acquires Canopy and Launches Outreach Commit (Part II)

Continuing from yesterday’s post that discussed revenue innovation and the Sales Execution Gap. Today I am discussing their new Outreach Commit and Outreach Success Plans.


Outreach Commit, based on their Canopy acquisition, offers sales analytics and forecasting capabilities that augment Outreach’s AI-based buyer sentiment and Success Plans, providing Outreach customers with “true visibility across the entire revenue cycle.”

“The use of deep learning and big data has the potential to transform B2B forecasting in the same way it has transformed B2C forecasting. Such changes are shifting the emphasis on forecasting from predicting the number to beating the number…Reliable activity data allows sales leaders, for example, to drive more rigorous pipeline reviews and estimate forecasts with greater confidence.  It allows companies to discover and capture data about prospects and customers that previously lived in the realm of the ‘shadow pipeline’ — that murky world of secret selling that organizations have traditionally been blind to.”

Forrester Research Principal Analyst Anthony McPartlin, “Enabling B2B Interaction Visibility In A Converging Sales Tech Landscape” (June 2021)

Commit provides a flexible forecasting model with multi-level views, allowing managers to view a probabilistic model of outcomes for multiple periods and teams based upon prior win-loss histories, current pipeline, and adjustable assumptions.  Revenue forecasts are broken into Booked, Weighted Pipeline, and Intra-period high-velocity deals (i.e., projected new opportunities that are not in the pipeline but will close before the end of the period).  In addition, models can be adjusted to account for events external to the model (e.g., new product launches, tradeshow held earlier or late in the quarter, economic shocks).  The underlying KPIs that drive the models are selectable when setting them up, with the model updating every fifteen minutes.

Outreach Commit supports dynamic forecasting with bear, bull, and most likely outcomes.

Commit provides individualized rep scorecards based on company KPIs.  Managers can set targets, coach to outcomes, and level up their team.  Managerial note-taking helps them track 1:1’s, assign tasks, and track completion.

Commit supports active deal monitoring that flags deal risks and delivers insights.  “Signals notify leaders of the things they need to know today.  From opportunity risk identification to shifts in top of funnel metrics, Signals act as your eyes and ears–ensuring your frontline leaders are focused on what matters most to your business.”  Deal risk is significantly reduced when issues are flagged early to reps, and managers can provide on-demand coaching to address nascent problems.

Commit also supports Custom Signals.  Revenue Operations sets custom thresholds and unique parameters.

At a recent analyst briefing, Outreach management emphasized that they offer a tripartite value proposition: Engage (Sales Engagement), Guide (Kaia Conversation Intelligence), and Commit (Outreach Commit).

“To achieve predictable, efficient growth, every organization needs to engage with their buyers, guide their sellers through strong sales cycles, and then commit the number with confidence.”

Canopy deal terms were not disclosed.  All nine employees have joined Outreach. The startup, founded in 2019, had raised $2.1 million.

Outreach also provided updates on Outreach Kaia and Success Plans at its Unleash event.  Kaia, its Conversation Intelligence platform that was developed in-house, is adding real-time talk analytics, Comprehensive Search, Saved Search, and Outreach Voice Import.  The new capabilities will be available by the end of the month.

Call analytics provide real-time talk-time visibility, letting reps self-correct if they are speaking too much.

Comprehensive Search provides managers with access to notes, content cards, action items, and transcripts across the sales organization.  Additionally, both meeting platform intelligence and Outreach Voice cold calls are included.  Thus, “leaders can identify trends and risks across teams and at various stages of the sales cycle.”

Saved Search Alerts provide scheduled intelligence on key topics, allowing managers to track competitors, pricing, functional requests, etc.

Outreach Voice Import supports post-call analysis of Outreach Voice and Microsoft Teams.  Fully integrated support for Teams is scheduled for 2022.

Outreach warns RevOps not to trust the algorithm blindly. Instead, revenue teams should understand “the math behind every forecast to see what’s actually driving the number.”  Accordingly, Outreach maintains the fidelity of data signals such as engagement and sentiment through transparency that displays “every opportunity and signals where sellers should take action.”

“Canopy’s Augmented Revenue Analysis engine combines advanced statistical modeling with machine learning and artificial intelligence,” states the Canopy website.  “Simply put, we show our math.  Instead of black box predictions, we show you every trend and variable driving our predictions, ensuring you have access to every data point necessary to confidently call your business.”

Users can also review “where you started and where you finished,” providing a post-mortem period review that “pinpoints slippage, forecasting variance, and conversion rates across any data point from any time window.”  They can also generate “what if” scenarios with multiple assumptions.

Outreach Success Plans provide a shared portal for buyers and sellers to exchange timelines, success criteria, resources, and people.

Outreach Success Plans, which were announced back in May, will be generally available on October 27.  Success Plans align buyers and sellers to improve action and predictability in a shared deal room.  They act as a buying hub that allows buyers and sellers to agree on shared success criteria, objectives, and timelines.  Success Plans also support shared access to project resources, allowing new demand unit members to quickly access project documents.  Only invited individuals can participate in the Success Plans.

Success Plans provide an additional set of engagement intelligence for tracking deal risks and momentum.  The Opportunity View includes Success Plan views, comments, resource downloads, and shares, providing engagement insights specific to deal planning and document sharing.

Outreach Success Plans deliver “unparalleled visibility into pipeline opportunities and risks,” blogged VP of Product Marketing Victoria Grady.

Outreach claims that two-thirds of buyers have “stopped working with a company mid-deal, simply because the competitor provided a better buying experience.”  Thus, streamlining the document sharing process, framing the timeline, and agreeing on success criteria not only facilitates the process and improves deal visibility but improves the likelihood of winning each deal. Outreach supports 5,000 customers, including 19 of the 25 fastest-growing public companies and more than 60% of the Cloud 100.

ZoomInfo Chorus Integration

Go-to-Market Platform ZoomInfo announced that it completed the first stage of its Chorus Integration after acquiring the Conversational Sales firm in mid-July.

“Since announcing ZoomInfo’s acquisition of Chorus…our team has made great strides in seamlessly making key features of the Chorus platform available to our customers. These integrations will allow sales, marketing, and operations teams to instantly use both ZoomInfo and Chorus to expand their pipelines via a data-first approach that they can’t get with any other platform on the market.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

Conversational Sales functionality has also been added to ZoomInfo’s Engage SEP.  Chorus transcribes and analyzes calls, helping them build strong customer and prospect relationships and be more present during calls. For example, ZoomInfo dialer calls are recorded and stored in Salesforce while Chorus transcribes and analyzes the conversation.

Chorus’ Momentum Insights are displayed in the ZoomInfo platform under the Chorus tab.

Momentum Insights are available in ZoomInfo, Chorus, and Salesforce, delivering call insights wherever the rep is working.  “Combined Chorus and ZoomInfo users can now view conversation and relationship insights within the ZoomInfo platform for better visibility and management of their prospect and customer pipeline,” stated the firm.

The new Chorus tab in ZoomInfo lets revenue teams see with whom they’ve engaged across the account; whether the interactions were via inbound email, outbound email, or meeting; and the most recent interaction.  The Momentum Insights chart shows touchpoints over time with the ability to search by participants and activity type.  Users can drill down on any of the interactions for email or call details.  Audio can be reviewed from within ZoomInfo’s account and contact views.

Users can also drill down on Quick Signals or search by keyword from the Chorus tab, allowing reps to research deal risks, wow moments, negative sentiment, next steps/to-dos, timeline discovery, etc.  Chorus supports hundreds of topics that can be customized.  For example, companies can filter by specific competitors or product feature capabilities.

While the primary use case for Signals is rep account review, managers can use the tool for deal discussions, skill review, and coaching.  Likewise, product managers can broadly investigate customer calls to research specific topics (e.g., product complaints, competitors). 

When the user clicks on a signal, a textual synopsis of the discussion is provided, along with the ability to review that part of the discussion.  These tools are essential for reviewing negative sentiment, pricing discussions, competitors, etc.  Also, call snippets can be extracted for training (e.g., objection handling, competitive parrying, value messaging) or forwarding questions in the voice of the customer to subject matter experts or service departments.

Chorus users also benefit from the integration, with ZoomInfo serving as the reference data set for customer contact intelligence.  ZoomInfo claims that switching to ZoomInfo’s database and matching logic (from Clearbit) resulted in a 33% lift in match rates and a 10X faster load time for contact records in Chorus (150 MS).  Enriched company and contact intelligence include department, job function, seniority level, business email, phones, industry, location, and company.

According to Chorus, ten percent of calls have attendees that were not announced, leaving the rep blind to the role and importance of the additional attendees.  In other cases, a third party is mentioned, but that individual is not in attendance.  In either case, ZoomInfo will surface contact information for these individuals, helping fill out the Buying Committee.  ZoomInfo also recommends personas who are likely Buying Committee members, fostering multi-threaded discussions across the Demand Unit.

“In addition to helping you expand across your deals, you’ll gain a new understanding of which deals are more likely to close, helping improve your forecast accuracy and visibility across your pipeline,” blogged Senior Director of Customer & Product Marketing Sophie Cheng.  “ZoomInfo’s rich company insights like noteworthy scoops (news and events), intent data, and reporting relationships, infused with Chorus’ new Momentum suite will help paint a clearer picture of the entire relationship context like who’s involved in each deal, what’s being discussed, and the likelihood to close.”

Chorus speaking track analysis

ZoomInfo Sales Efficiency and LTV/CAC Ratios

ZoomInfo has been talking about its LTV/CAC (Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost) ratio for a few years and is now boasting about its sales efficiency ratio.  For every dollar the firm invests in Sales and Marketing, it is growing $1.50 to $2.00 in revenue with even better results on the retention business side.  These values are well above the SaaS industry average and indicate that the firm should increase its revenue operations investment.

“On the new business side, we aim for somewhere between one and a half to two X return for every dollar that we spend on a customer. And then on the retention and growth or account management side, we look for a six to eight X return for every dollar that we spend there. It’s a super-efficient go-to-market motion.  Most software businesses, you put a dollar in, you get like 70 cents out in the first year.  We’re putting a dollar in and getting one and a half to two X out.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

Schuck described their go-to-market efficiency as one of their “big strategic levers” when acquiring firms with less mature go-to-market motions.  ”So when we find companies that don’t have a very sophisticated go-to-market motion, that aren’t truly optimized in the way that they get clients, they’re not doing one and a half to two X efficiency or a 15 X LTV to CAC.  Those are great fits for us.” 

ZoomInfo has a track record of improving sales efficiency, helping unlock value in acquired assets where the go-to-market motions are aligned.  “In our big acquisitions – RainKing, ZoomInfo, and, most recently, Chorus.AI — we really felt like we could leverage the go-to-market motion to accelerate growth within those companies. That’s a key piece.”

When DiscoverOrg acquired RainKing, which had a $40 million ARR, he was convinced that DiscoverOrg could treble their EBITDA to $30 million and accelerate their top-line growth within six months.  Within one year of acquiring RainKing, DiscoverOrg’s market valuation grew from roughly $600 million to $2 billion.

One of the inherent advantages of SalesTech is you don’t have to teach sales reps the value and use cases of your product.  This shortens ZoomInfo’s ramp time for new reps from several quarters to four months.  “it makes it way easier for you to be able to sell to your counterpart on the other end of the line.  It’s a big difference for us,” said Schuck. 

ZoomInfo heavily hires sales reps directly out of college or soon after and trains them as SDRs, responding to inbound leads and performing outbound prospecting.  “In nine months, we start promoting them into the account executive role.  So we got value out of them in that ramp time. Then four months after they’ve gone into the account executive role, they’re fully ramped. Thirteen months from when you’ve never sold something until you’re an account executive at one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, that’s a really fun promotion to see.”

And because ZoomInfo is hiring sales reps to sell sales and marketing solutions, Schuck does not consider complicated or technical product categories for acquisition.  Instead, he looks for solutions that broadly meet the needs of his 20,000 customers and which are easy to understand.  Chorus.AI, the Conversation Intelligence vendor that ZoomInfo acquired last month, fits the bill: “We use it, all of our sellers use it. It’s really simple to understand, ‘Hey, we’re going to record and transcribe all your calls, and then you can go do instant coaching on the key moments in those calls’,” remarked Schuck.

The Chorus app for Zoom records, transcribes, indexes, and analyzes calls, providing insights to sales reps and sales managers. As reps no longer need to worry about notetaking, they can focus on the topics at hand and be more present during the meetings.

Chorus and Gong Apps for Zoom

Zoom formally launched its Zoom apps at the end of July, with Chorus and Gong among the launch partners.  Over fifty business and consumer apps were launched, but Zoom did a poor job of indexing the apps, making it difficult to find apps in a category without mousing over each unknown app. 

Chorus, which was acquired by ZoomInfo two weeks ago, announced General Availability of its Chorus app for Zoom Video Communications.  It’s a better name than being called the ZoomInfo app for Zoom Video Communications which would simply be confusing to the marketplace.

The Chorus App for Zoom

“The Chorus app for Zoom enables us to bring the power of Conversation Intelligence seamlessly into every meeting,” said Dominik Facher, Vice President, Product Management at Chorus.ai. “We’re bringing Chorus everywhere you work — because that’s where the voice of the customer belongs.  This extension of Chorus empowers sellers to have better, more meaningful interactions in real-time.”

The Chorus Zoom app supports live notetaking with the transcript attached to the digital recording.  Other features include

  • Team / Collaborator Engagement and Follow-up – Reps can share snippets of calls with managers, technical support, product teams, etc.  The shared content is in the voice of the customer, improving the context and fidelity of the forwarded information or query.  Collaboration is supported by one-click pins for flagging shareable moments.
  • Hashtags, such as #objections, push moments to a Chorus playlist.
  • @Mentions for looping in colleagues during calls.
  • A post-meeting email summary
  • Automated syncing with Salesforce, including budget data, stakeholders, and the post-meeting email summary
  • Meeting analytics
  • Meeting Prep intelligence – The Zoom client displays deal velocity, next steps or discussion topics from prior calls, and deal context like buying stage, key stakeholders, and deal amount.
  • Participant talk time and key topic trackers

While the newly launched app supports Zoom, Chorus also gathers intelligence from other meeting platforms and emails.  This processing of multiple communication channels provides a set of engagement and deal risk analytics that will be supplemented by ZoomInfo’s Streaming Intent data, visitor intelligence, Scoops, Chat, and SmartForms.

“Chorus and Zoom are both intent on fundamentally changing the way work is done in a virtual environment,” said Ross Mayfield, Product Lead, Zoom Apps & Integrations for Zoom. “It’s about making our customer and prospect relationships stronger.  With the Chorus app for Zoom, the benefits of Conversation Intelligence are more accessible than ever before.”

The Gong App for Zoom

Gong, which competes directly with Chorus, also launched its app this week with similar conversational intelligence for sales features.  Gong automates transcription, notetaking, and analytics.  Users can also tag colleagues for feedback, leverage timestamps, and attach comments in context.  Gong employs AI for coaching, noting points of interest, and flagging deal risks.

“The new Gong app takes two tools that sales pros find invaluable today – Gong and Zoom – and makes them even more useful,” said Chief Product Officer of Gong, Eilon Reshef. “We’re enabling revenue professionals to stay engaged in customer conversations by plugging into their daily workflow.”

By managing recording, transcription, analytics, and intelligence, Chorus and Gong allow reps to step away from traditional notetaking and focus on the meeting, helping them be more present.  As a result, they can ask better questions and manage the meeting flow more effectively while avoiding awkward pauses when taking notes.

The Zoom App marketplace, which launched late last year, already has over 50 apps, including

  • Conversation Intelligence for Sales: Chorus, Gong
  • Transcription: Colibri, Rev, Avoma, Grain
  • Collaboration: Asana, Mentimeter, Workona, Docket, Allo, WorkPatterns
  • People Insights: Warmly,
  • Polling: Polly, Dot Collector, Coda, SurveyMonkey
  • User Interviews: BuildBetter Research
  • Signatures: PandaDoc
  • Whiteboarding: Miro, Mural
  • Notetaking: AI Notetaker by Fathom, Notejoy
  • Timer: Timer
  • Demos: Demoflow
  • Interpreters: Voyce

Zoom also announced its Zoom Events service for hybrid and virtual events.  Marketers can “seamlessly manage and host back-to-back event sessions from sales summits, customer events, trade shows, and internal events.”  Features include event hubs, dedicated corporate virtual event spaces, customizable registration, reporting, and a chat-enabled virtual event lobby.

“Zoom Apps and Zoom Events are critical components in broadening Zoom’s offering and reach,” said Roopam Jain, VP, Information and Communications Technologies at Frost & Sullivan.  “These solutions empower users to accomplish more with video communications and are a testament to Zoom’s focus of enabling customers to create and grow businesses entirely on its platform—whether through applications, integrations, events, or other services.”

Gong Expands into Europe

Gong’s Five Operating Principles of Revenue Intelligence.

Revenue Intelligence vendor Gong announced plans to open its first European office in Dublin.  It already has over one hundred European clients, including Aircall, Hopin, GoCardless, and MOO.

“After many international companies reached out to us, looking for access to the insight uncovered by our revenue intelligence platform, we knew it was time to meet global demand in a strategic and thoughtful way,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov.  “With a physical presence in Europe, we can continue to demonstrate our category leadership, support the massive growth we’ve seen in the past year, and deliver the product customers are asking for.”

The new office will be managed by Gong’s newly appointed VP of EMEA, Wendy Harris, who previously led European sales for CarGurus and Dropbox.  The firm is hiring for sales, marketing, customer success, and G&A positions.

“Gong’s revenue intelligence platform is transforming the way companies do business by empowering sales organizations to adopt data-driven strategies,” she said. “Joining a high-growth company and leading its global expansion in my hometown of Dublin is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Gong supports 26 languages, including French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese, with additional languages planned.  The Revenue Intelligence platform captures and analyzes phone, email, and meeting conversations, providing insights into deals, people, and the market.

Gong has also been building out its partner network, including Bain & Company, Sandler, and SBR Consulting.

Gong’s June Series E valued the firm at $7.25 billion.  Over the past year, it grew its headcount by 89% to over 700 employees.  The Israeli firm was founded in 2015. The firm will see stiffer competition from Chorus, which was acquired by ZoomInfo two weeks ago. ZoomInfo provides it with deep pockets, global data enrichment, workflow tools, a chatbot, and a sales engagement platform.

Gong Employment Growth (Source: LinkedIn)

ZoomInfo Adds Chorus to Its Product Line

ZoomInfo has not been shy about acquiring companies in its bid to become a leading revenue acceleration company.  This morning, they announced the acquisition of Chorus.AI, a leading Conversation Intelligence company.  While most of its deals have been small, Chorus has the opportunity to leverage ZoomInfo’s company and contact intelligence with rich engagement data and analytics, placing the firm at the center of the rapidly growing Conversation Intelligence market.

Chorus employs machine learning and AI to “capture and analyze” calls, meetings, and emails, digitizing customer interactions, and capturing insights for revenue teams and sales management. As a result, sales reps can be more present during calls as they no longer need to capture action items and take notes while leading sales meetings.  Automating insight capture allows them to be better engaged during the call, avoiding those awkward pauses for note-taking.

While not discussed in the press release, combining Chorus’ NLP with Insent should raise bot performance and become another leg of conversation intelligence at the top of the funnel. 

The expanded ZoomInfo will support and assess a broad set of digital touchpoints for intent and engagement:

  • Chorus: Email, Phone, Meetings
  • ZoomInfo: Visitor Intelligence, Webforms, Chatbots (Insent), Intent (Clickagy)

Chorus also assists with buying committee discovery.  While ZoomInfo has long supported contact discovery at the account level, monitoring engagement to determine who is involved in deals and who is being referenced in conversations is the next major step in buying committee discovery, moving it from educated guesswork to a scientific approach.  Once committee members are identified, Chorus monitors conversations for sentiments, motivations, and concerns, helping gauge deal health.  ZoomInfo will supply Chorus with rich company and contact information fed to customer CRMs and continuously maintained by ZoomInfo’s APIs and connectors.

Chorus Momentum Insights

Chorus’ Momentum Insights, released in December, helps revenue teams understand customer relationships, improve their forecasting, identify which interactions propel deals forward, and flag deal risks.

“Momentum Insights will unlock learnings never before available from the CRM to harness the most valuable dataset available—conversations with customers,” said Chorus CEO Jim Benton at the time. “This will empower revenue teams to solve complex problems which require strong relationships, and relationships ultimately drive revenue.  Reps get exactly what they need to engage and personalize their efforts, while leadership is able to trust the unbiased data aggregated from each opportunity to inform critical business decisions.”

“By integrating keyword trackers from Chorus into ZoomInfo, revenue teams will also be able to create audiences based on insights from conversations, flag deals and renewals that could be in jeopardy, and trigger alerts to address concerns in real-time,” stated ZoomInfo.

The deal added $18 billion to the company’s TAM, raising it to $70 billion.  The acquisition is “expected to be accretive to growth immediately, generate adjusted operating profits within 12 months, and be accretive to cash flow in the second half of FY 2022.”

“ZoomInfo is the only company that can marry a best-in-class data layer with world-class go-to-market applications,” said CEO Henry Schuck. “The acquisition of Chorus will accelerate our vision to deliver a modern go-to-market platform that brings together best-in-class intelligence with comprehensive data management, workflow, and engagement software, empowering companies to effectively execute their revenue-generating strategies. With the largest Conversation Intelligence patent portfolio in the industry, Chorus will advance each aspect of our vision by surfacing a new category of insights, illuminating new workflows, and enabling more targeted engagement at scale.”

CEO Henry Shuck has been open to both large and small deals, so long as the combination of ZoomInfo and the acquired company drives significant growth in revenue at the acquisition.  A few decades ago, the term was synergy, but that phrase was used so often to describe failed deals that it is now verboten when describing acquisitions.  However, ZoomInfo with Chorus has the opportunity to grow significantly faster than as a standalone organization.

As with the recently acquired Insent.AI and Clickagy, Chorus will benefit from access to the breadth, depth, and quality of ZoomInfo’s B2B dataset and access to ZoomInfo’s Go To Market strategy and efficient sales processes.  With an LTV / CAC ratio greater than ten, ZoomInfo should be able to efficiently cross-sell and upsell Chorus’ analytics across its 20,000 customers.

Chorus also sets up ZoomInfo’s new Engage platform to challenge market leaders SalesLoft and Outreach.  Chorus is one of the leading Conversation Intelligence firms.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to join forces with ZoomInfo and bring Conversation Intelligence to every revenue team,” said Jim Benton, Chorus.ai CEO, who will join ZoomInfo as SVP, Emerging Products. “ZoomInfo has a bold vision of delivering a world-class go-to-market platform that empowers companies to drive better execution and more revenue. Chorus will play a vital role in helping deliver on that promise with deep, A.I.-driven insights based on real interactions with prospects and customers, a previously untapped source of crucial data about their relationships.”

Frost & Sullivan named Chorus a 2021 Customer Value Leader in Conversation Intelligence.  “Frost & Sullivan finds Chorus’ value proposition is multi-faceted as it offers vital benefits for various personnel, including sales, customer success, sales development, and frontline managers, as well as long-term solutions designed to promote employee skill growth,” wrote Samantha Fisher, Best Practices Research Analyst.

The deal was priced about $575 million in cash.  The purchase price includes a cash tax benefit related to the asset purchase of more than $100 million, ZoomInfo said. The transaction will be funded with cash on hand and $500 million in additional financing.

Outreach Closes $200M Round

Sales Engagement Platform vendor Outreach closed on a $200 million financing round that values the firm at $4.4 billion and brings total funding to $489 million.  The round trebled its market cap over the past year.

Premji Invest and STEADFAST Capital Ventures led the round.  Other new investors include Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Vista Public Strategies, and one of the largest U.S. asset managers based on the West Coast.  Existing Outreach investors, including Salesforce Ventures, Lone Pine Capital, Sands Capital, Mayfield Fund, DFJ Growth, and Trinity Ventures, also participated in the round.

Outreach continued its rapid growth during the pandemic, with B2B firms looking to operationalize their sales outreach, improve remote coaching, refine forecasts, and monitor sales activities and engagement. 

The firm more than doubled Q1 ARR year-over-year and has signed 18 of the top 24 fastest-growing public software companies.  ARR is around $125 million, according to Nathan Latka.  LinkedIn shows them adding sixty employees a month over the past three months.

Outreach has grown to more than 871 global employees, with recently opened offices in Prague and London.  The firm is based in Seattle and has a San Francisco office.

Data Collected by Nathan Latka based on a June 1, 2021, interview of Manny Medina.

At their Unleash user conference last month, they released their real-time conversational intelligence platform Outreach Kaia along with Outreach Insights, their buyer emotive signals and sentiment service.

Outreach Success Plans, which is currently in beta, was also unveiled at Unleash.  Success Plans align buyers and sellers to improve action and predictability.  They act as a buying hub that allows buyers and sellers to agree on shared success criteria, objectives, and timelines.  Success Plans also support shared access to project resources, allowing new demand unit members to quickly access project documents.

“This past year represents a true moment of maturity for Outreach – we are now a mission-critical part of the revenue tech stack for customers. The bets we made years ago, including significant investments in artificial intelligence combined with prospecting, closing, and customer success capabilities integrated into one holistic platform, are what revenue organizations need most right now to be successful. We continue to lead and expand the vision for sales engagement. Now, we are poised to deliver more meaningful business outcomes for our customers than ever before – from the rep to the CRO and from small businesses to the enterprise.”

Outreach CEO Manny Medina

Outreach will deploy the additional funds to expand its sales and marketing functions to meet “the growing demand” for its Sales Engagement Platform.  Funds will also be used to build, acquire, and deliver “new revolutionary technologies.”  Finally, the funds will support expansion plans and new market investments.

“Over the past five years as I’ve served on the board, Outreach emerged as a definitive standard for sales and customer engagement – proven by thousands of companies that use Outreach every day as a critical component of their workflow and their tech stack,” said Karan Mehandru, Managing Director of STEADFAST and Outreach board member. “Companies across every industry are reaccelerating growth and hiring post-pandemic and embracing intelligent automation to power their revenue teams.”

Mehandru told Bloomberg that he expects to see multiple sales software startups succeed with “multiple winners in the category.”  Mehandru likened Outreach to a modern-day Salesforce.

“If (Salesforce CEO) Benioff were to start a sales company today, it would look a lot more like Outreach,” stated Mehandru. Mehandru did not forecast when an IPO would take place but said, “We do think going public is an important event in the company’s cycle.”

Manny Medina LinkedIn Post (June 2, 2021)

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.

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).

Gong and Chorus Growing Rapidly During Pandemic

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

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

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

David Raab, CDP Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gong Partners include

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Chorus.AI CEO Jim Benton

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

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

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

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