Drift Conversational Cloud

Last month, Drift rolled out its Conversation Cloud, which combines the capabilities of its Conversational Marketing, Conversational Sales, and newly launched Conversational Service offerings.  Drift’s Conversational AI guides visitors along any stage of the customer journey, helping them “voice their intent with open text questions, find answers to their own questions, get personalized recommendations, or book a sales meeting.”

“Everything starts with a conversation, and in-person communication and experiences are taking a back seat to the conversations we have online, especially in our business relationships.  Businesses are relying more and more on digital experience platforms – or in our case, conversational experience platforms – to bridge these connections and manage key customer interactions, touchpoints, and engagement. Our guiding philosophy at Drift is to put the buyer at the center of everything we do, and we are excited to bring the Drift Conversation Cloud to market to help our customers deliver a better experience to buyers at each stage of their journey, all while improving their sales teams’ efficiencies and accelerating revenue.”

Drift CPO Leo Tenenblat

Drift Conversational Marketing supports real-time conversations with web visitors, helping to answer questions, deliver desired content, or “qualify and convert best-fit buyers.”  Conversational Marketing functionality includes visitor intelligence, chatbots, meeting scheduling, and Fastlane lead form booking.

Drift Conversational Sales manages customer conversations across chat, video, email, and phone.  Drift routes high value leads to sales reps, notifying them when qualified leads are engaging with the chatbot or the website.  Sales reps can “craft personalized outreach based on what web pages buyers visited, which sales touchpoints they engaged with, and how often they interacted with your brand.”  Prospect activity is automatically logged to Salesforce.

Drift Video asynchronous video sharing on LinkedIn messenger

Reps can also deliver personalized video messages based on site activity intelligence.  Videos may be shared via LinkedIn, Drift, Outreach, or Salesloft.  Drift claims a more than 3X improvement in response rates for asynchronous video.

Drift not only schedules meetings but also offers a new Deal Room module for capturing interactions between buyers and sellers, including meeting transcriptions and document sharing.  Deal Room also provides real-time alerts when prospects engage with the Deal Room and manages Mutual Action Plans.

“Drift Deal Room enables seamless collaboration between your internal team and entire buyer committees in one central location,” blogged Drift Senior Product Marketing Manager Holly Xiao.  “Everyone involved will be able to have conversations, share files, manage action items, schedule meetings, and more — directly in Deal Room.”

Continued Xiao, “Drift Deal Room lets you see who, what, and how buyers interact with your business throughout their entire journey.  So, when it’s time for your next deal review, you’ll come to the table with a clear picture of deal activities and trajectory.  And if you notice opportunities with lower engagement, you can rely on Drift Video, Drift Chat, Drift Email, and more to help you nurture deals in the right channel at the right time and keep them moving in the right direction.”

Drift Dealroom supports document sharing, Mutual Action Plans, meeting scheduling, and on-demand chat.

Conversational Service answers simple support questions, allowing the service team to focus on difficult support problems and high-priority customers.  The Drift Chatbot supports Salesforce and Zendesk knowledge base articles.  Conversational Service lets customers create their own support tickets or hand high-priority requests over to live service reps.

“Translating click-based engagement into buyer-led enablement across interactions requires conversation design that senses and responds to spoken and unspoken buyer needs across complex and connected buying journeys, wrote Forrester Principal Analyst Jessie Johnson last November.   “Conversational interactions help B2B organizations meet buyers where they are in their journey, enable their buyers and customers in the moment, and inform the next interaction.  The impact of poor execution, however, can have a lasting negative impact on the buying journey, customer experience, and even the brand itself.”

Market Flash: ZoomInfo Releases MarketingOS and Unveils RevOS Packaging

ZoomInfo provides a set of data-enabled services for sales, marketing, recruitment, and revenue operations under the RevenueOS brand.

ZoomInfo announced the immediate availability of its new MarketingOS ABM Platform.  The service is part of a broader RevOS offering that supports marketing, sales, operations, and recruitment.  MarketingOS consolidates ZoomInfo’s legacy marketing capabilities, bringing together two recent acquisitions, Insent and RingLead, with new programmatic and audience management functionality.

ZoomInfo also refined its positioning statement from Revenue Acceleration to Revenue Operating System.  It stated that RevOS is “the World’s only revenue operating system of its kind.”

“Our comprehensive B2B database is the key differentiator that sets MarketingOS apart from other ABM solutions,” said ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck.  “ZoomInfo’s unique data science algorithms allow marketers to connect with the right prospects at precisely the right time.  No other solution on the market combines the power of data-driven insights and marketing-optimized workflows like ZoomInfo’s MarketingOS.”

“Marketers typically fail because the data in most ABM platforms is both inaccurate and incomplete.  Current ABM solutions are designed to leverage companies’ own first-party data, which exists in their customer relationship management or marketing automation systems.  Without quality data, marketers pour advertising dollars at the wrong prospects and companies, and, as a result, deliver fruitless leads to sales and waste time and resources.  With ZoomInfo’s best-in-class data and intelligence at its foundation, MarketingOS enables marketers to effectively reach target accounts and drive qualified leads for sales.”

ZoomInfo Press Release, “ZoomInfo Launches New Account-Based Marketing Platform, MarketingOS,” (Feb 8, 2022)

New functionality includes social and display advertising, abandoned from tracking, and audience targeting.  Marketing can build audiences and track campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Marketing can also build campaigns and manage them programmatically through Clickagy DSP (ZoomInfo) or TradeDesk.

Marketing OS looks to address the “Funnel Famine” suffered by traditional marketing teams.  Several issues cause Funnel Famine: crowded B2B advertising channels, dirty data, leaky black-box marketing campaigns, siloed data, and sales’ longtime distrust of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

MarketingOS addresses the issue of leads created by “The Funnel Famine.”

“Most marketing programs begin with data, whether it’s for tailoring your communications, whether it’s for sending an email, whether it’s for sending a direct mail.  It’s all about those accounts that you’re targeting and the professionals at those accounts,” explained ZoomInfo SVP of Product Strategy and Product Marketing Justin Withers to GZ Consulting.  “And the reality is that a lot of data, especially if it’s pulled from the CRM or other systems, is outdated.  It’s inaccurate.  It’s incomplete, and that can actually pollute or even inhibit the lead flow at the top of the funnel, and [it] ultimately leads to poor conversion.  It leads to leaks in the funnel, and all this hard work that marketers put in at every stage of the funnel ultimately spills out before it can even reach sales.”

The reality is that the sales and marketing funnels operate in parallel, not sequentially, as represented in traditional funnel diagrams.  MarketingOS lets marketers run account-based programs in parallel with sales running account-based sales programs “so that everyone’s aligned at every step of the funnel.”

Under current processes, sales and marketing operate in parallel to each other with little coordination and a single point of handoff for MQLs, a situation that “really doesn’t set marketing up for success…and it leaves sales in a bind,” continued Withers.  Thus, marketing complains that sales teams ignore its leads, and sales reps complain about the quality and quantity of marketing-sourced leads.  As a result, there is an “acute misalignment between sales and marketing.”

With MarketingOS, handoffs can occur at different points along the marketing funnel, based on the channel and prospect response.

Sales and Marketing are aligned around a set of target accounts both within and beyond the ICP.  Thus, an ICP account with spiking intent will be passed to sales, even if marketing has had limited conversations.  Furthermore, the rep will know that multiple individuals from the firm have visited the website or that individuals have clicked through on ads or email campaigns.

Likewise, chatbot conversations with target companies can immediately route a chat to the sales rep or schedule a call.

New functionality for managing abandoned forms can revive a prospect.  ZoomInfo claims a 60% increase in lead flow with its abandoned form tracking.

MarketingOS Audience Builder with Audience Segmentation

MarketingOS functionality includes

  • Expanded targeting that leverages the full set of ZoomInfo’s first and third-party intelligence for building and activating audiences.  ZoomInfo selects include firmographics, technographics, biographics (e.g., Title, 192 Job Functions, Job Levels), web forms, and uploaded lists (e.g., tradeshow lists).  Other selects include business events (e.g., funding data, executive changes, projects) and over 300 company attributes (advanced data-mined firmographics such as fleet size and company benefits).  Targeting also ingests account, contact, and lead attributes from Salesforce, HubSpot, and Marketo. 
  • First and third-party intent data time outreach while buyers are in-market, helping to improve marketing and sales efficacy.  Marketers can track up to 500 intent topics, with up to 50 available at a time.  In addition, chat-based targeting is coming soon.
  • An “in-market predictive score” that identifies each prospect’s buying stage, “informing how and when marketers should engage with prospects based on their ranking and helping them to prioritize their outbound efforts on prospects who are most likely to convert.”
  • Campaign Management and Analytics.  Marketers upload their creative, build an audience, set the budget, and select their channels.
  • Webforms, infused with automated enrichment, support shorter forms with reduced abandonment rates
  • Abandoned form tracking, with Workflows passing the lead to sales or additional nurture steps
  • ZoomInfo Chat (FKA Insent), a conversational marketing chatbot that leverages ZoomInfo data to score and route leads.  Chat immediately passes high-scoring, live leads to sales reps.  The chatbot also automates meeting scheduling.
  • Visitor Intelligence, with pages scored differently (e.g., Product Pages are scored higher than Career or Investor Pages)
  • Automated workflows triggered by intent, custom intent, WebSights visitor intelligence, Scoops (e.g., business events, projects), Funding, Technologies, and FormComplete.  Workflows can also be built to expand reach across the potential buying committee by persona.
  • RingLead data orchestration to dedupe, cleanse, enrich, and route leads
  • ZoomInfo Enrich, a set of DaaS enterprise platform integrations for data enrichment and hygiene.

MarketingOS is powered by ZoomInfo’s database spanning 100 million companies, 150 million executives, technographics, intent and engagement data, and event data.

“Marketing and sales funnels work in parallel, so everyone is aligned at every step of the funnel,” explained Justin Withers, SVP of Product Strategy and Product Marketing.  With MarketingOS, “sales and marketing are working in lockstep at every stage of the journey.”

MarketingOS is one of four products branded under the RevOS banner.

Tying together intent and engagement data and processing them through ZoomInfo Workflows is the future of ABM.  Intent data is employed at the top of the funnel when buyers are in the initial research phase.  Once prospects have begun interacting with a vendor, most buyer behavior research falls under the engagement category (e.g., web forms, email responses, chatbots, conversational intelligence, etc.).  Finally, intent data helps identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities at the tail end of the customer lifecycle. 

Engagement and intent data are also valuable churn risk indicators, helping customer success and account managers detect potential cancelations or defections well before decisions have been made.  In addition, intent data can show a spike in research related to product-associated topics and competitors.  Engagement monitoring widens to include customer success interactions, training participation, platform usage, and general account health indicators.

“We can support your new customer acquisition with these signals,” stated Withers.  “We can support your opportunity acceleration with these signals.  We can also support your renewal, upsell, cross-sell motions based on different types of signals that are happening at those accounts.  So, it really is a full customer lifecycle marketing solution.”

MarketingOS will be available as a pair of SKUs:

  • ABM Elite+: The full ABM Platform package, including RingLead Cleanse, Enrich, and Route
  • ABM Advanced+: Package includes everything except RingLead

“The purpose behind the two distinct offerings is to simplify our primary offering for those focused on ABM engagement and marketing programs, as opposed to the more operationally focused data orchestration capabilities,” explained ZoomInfo Analyst Relations Director Michael Basilio to GZ Consulting.

MarketingOS includes ten marketing seats and three administrative seats for RingLead routing and ZoomInfo Chat.

The broader RevOS branding consists of MarketingOS, SalesOS, OperationsOS, and RecruitingOS.  ZoomInfo calls RevOS the “world’s first integrated go-to-market platform.”  All four RevOS services are generally available.

ZoomInfo’s data cloud, orchestration tools (e.g., RingLead, B2B DaaS, Workflows), and engagement tools (advertising, sales engagement, web forms, chat, and conversational intelligence) are at the heart of RevOS.

“There’s nothing more important in business than successfully executing your go-to-market strategy,” states ZoomInfo in its product collateral.  “Get it right, and your business flourishes.  Get it wrong, and you’re toast.  That’s why having one integrated go-to-market platform is so crucial.  You can think of it as your revenue operating system.”

SalesOS bundles together a set of new and legacy sales tools:

  • Sales prospecting
  • Chorus, the conversational sales platform the firm acquired in July
  • Sales insights, including Chorus Momentum
  • Sales CRM integrations and continuous data maintenance
  • The ReachOut browser extension for real-time company and contact research and Send to CRM and SEP functionality
  • ZoomInfo Engage (Sales Engagement Platform)

Sales and Marketing Alignment has been a stated goal of the two functions for at least a decade, but they have operated with different datasets, metrics, objectives, and platforms.  Thus, alignment was more vision than reality.  By aligning ABM on a common platform and reference database, alignment is no longer impaired by an organization’s tech stack and data foundation.

“Crucially, MarketingOS lets marketing teams work from a common data foundation. Only 39% of sales and marketing teams share buyer signals, and half say it’s because their sales and marketing systems don’t integrate. The shared data foundation of SalesOS and MarketingOS tightens key handoffs and unlocks true marketing and sales alignment, eliminating conflicting records, wasted effort, and missed opportunities.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck, “Introducing RevOS: The future of modern go-to-market software,” (Feb 8, 2022)

OperationsOS contains RingLead data orchestration (i.e., match, unify, dedupe, normalize, cleanse, enrich, score, and route data) and B2B DaaS services (e.g., APIs, webhooks, cloud data warehouse integrations).

Finally, RecruitingOS contains ZoomInfo Recruit, its recently launched prospecting and engagement service for HR departments and recruiters.  RecruitingOS also includes a set of Applicant Tracking Service connectors.

“Recruiters can filter and reach more good-fit candidates, use pipeline management tools to collaborate and organize the hiring process, and automate the candidate outreach process,” explains Zoominfo.  “This helps you source and connect with candidates faster, reducing the time to find and hire talent.”

Along with new product positioning, RevOS sports new logos, color palettes, styles, and a “unified in-app experience to create a singular, cohesive go-to-market solution that spans the entire suite of ZoomInfo products.”  There are also redesigned data dashboards and reports that “offer a faster, more responsive experience that allows your sales, marketing, and recruitment teams to visually demonstrate ROI and how their work aligns with broader organizational objectives.”

In short, RevOS unifies sales, marketing, revenue operations, and recruitment on the same set of data, providing “the same source of truth” and “one integrated platform for every stage of the marketing and sales funnel.” “If data is the lifeblood of the modern sales organization, then go-to-market teams must have the technology to act upon that data.  RevOS’ unified data tech stack gives sales, marketing, operations, and recruiting teams a single source of truth from which to launch their campaigns and go-to-market motions, simplifying internal workflows, reducing costs, and maximizing interoperability between teams,” blogged Schuck.  “RevOS is the next chapter in ZoomInfo’s journey as the world’s leading go-to-market platform.”

MarketingOS supports a Campaign Manager for building, sizing, and tracking campaigns.

Drift the Latest RevTech Unicorn

Drift Founders Elias Torres and David Cancel.

Drift became the latest RevTech unicorn following a strategic equity investment by Vista Equity Partners.  The firm did not disclose the size of the investment nor its valuation, only that the valuation exceeded $1 billion.  Vista will hold a majority stake in Drift when the transaction closes in Q4.

“In partnership with Vista, Drift will continue to invest in its customers’ success while expanding its product leadership, scaling globally and bringing Conversational Commerce to more B2B businesses,” announced the firm.

Vista exclusively invests in enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled businesses.

Cancel told TechCrunch that Drift’s goal wasn’t to create a unicorn but that he and founder Elias Torres are proud to be examples for other Latino entrepreneurs:

“Drift is now part of the less than 1% of #latinx founded companies to ever achieve that milestone [$1B+ valuation].

Elias Torres ⚡️ and I believe we have a responsibility to pay it forward, to inspire other people, who are often marginalized and don’t believe they can break the glass ceiling to know that they too can do it. So today we want our #latinx community to know that together we have taken another step forward in our fight for an equitable future.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift, which offers “conversational commerce for B2B,” has over 50,000 sales and marketing customer teams on its Conversational Sales platform.  Drift integrates chat, email, video, and artificial intelligence to power conversations on the website and with sales reps.

75% of its customers were described as mid-market enterprise clients by Cancel.  Customers include ServiceNow, Okta, Grubhub, Mindbody, Adobe, Ellie May, and Snowflake.

“Over the next decade messaging will continue to eat the world and that in order to survive and compete, enterprise businesses will need to flip the traditional model, remove friction, and put customers first. The businesses that win will be the ones that make it simpler for customers to buy from them…

Our bet is that conversations will transform the entire B2B revenue function, and with a partner like Vista, who has helped to transform and grow companies like Marketo and Wrike in recent years, we are excited for what’s next.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift continues on its hypergrowth path, growing ARR 70% in 2020 with a similar growth trajectory this year. However, the company is not yet profitable as it is focused on growth. 

“Our purpose as a company remains simple and consistent: Build a platform that makes it simpler for customers to buy from you. We have an opportunity to bring learnings from the B2C buyer experience to the enterprise and introduce Conversational Commerce as a new B2B category,” said Drift CEO David Cancel.  “Given its extensive experience investing in next-generation SaaS companies, we believe Vista is the best partner to help Drift – and our customers – further these efforts.  I am excited to work with Vista’s team of investors, operators, and technologists who will help us fulfill our ambitious vision and lead the Conversational Commerce category for decades to come.”

Cancel has his eye on taking the company public, with Vista providing a “clear path” to an IPO.

“As a next-generation SaaS company with a strong leadership team, differentiated platform, and passionate customer base, Drift is uniquely qualified and well-positioned to define and lead this new market of Conversational Commerce,” said Monti Saroya, co-head of the Flagship Fund and senior managing director at Vista. “It is a privilege to partner with talented founders like David and Elias, and we look forward to supporting them and the entire Drift team to help advance their vision to remove the friction from business buying, and in turn, create tremendous value for customers as Drift’s hypergrowth continues to accelerate.”

Boston-based Drift slowed its employment growth rate with the advent of the pandemic but accelerated its hiring in 2021, with an increase of 151 employees since December. In addition, the sales team has grown 33% over the past six months to 136. 

Drift accelerated its headcount growth in 2021 after slowing it at the advent of the pandemic (Source: LinkedIn)

The company appears to have started a consulting organization, growing from 2 to 18 consultants over the past year.  In August, the firm hired Ryan Slinkard as their VP of Professional Services.

RevTech is a field with several minority immigrant founders of unicorns. I have recently also covered Manny Medina (Outreach CEO; Ecuador; $4.4 billion Valuation) and Tope Awotona (Calendly; Nigeria; $3B+ Valuation). Awotona was recently named a board member of SalesLoft, another RevTech unicorn.

Terminus Chat Experiences

Terminus announced the immediate availability of its next-generation chat offering, Terminus Chat Experiences, which is native to its ABX platform.  Terminus claims that Terminus Chat Experiences drives a 700% increase in target account engagement and has already powered more than four million conversations.

Chat Experiences builds upon its 2020 acquisition of Ramble.  Built within the Terminus platform, Chat Experiences routes conversations to the appropriate rep “in seconds.”  Along the way, Terminus playbooks collect visitor data, trigger sales automation steps, and qualify inbound traffic in real-time.

Terminus Chat enhancements include new Chat views and dashboards, a new Chat engagement window, and a HubSpot for Chat integration.  Reps can monitor the website and reach out to visitors pro-actively, based upon their viewed content.

The chat builder supports both linear workflows and visual workflows.  Connectors support Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Outreach, SalesLoft, Calendly, and Google Analytics.

Other features include Chat from Anywhere one-click chat links from emails, display ads, social, and other channels; chat routing to the most appropriate available rep based upon Terminus reference data; meeting booking; and a mobile app for booking meetings and chatting when away from the desk.

“Terminus Chat Experiences has identified more than 3.7M target accounts for customers; that’s incredibly powerful,” said Justin McDonald, GM of Channel Applications for Terminus. “Combined with other channels like Ad Experiences and Email Experiences, Chat Experiences is truly a game-changer for modern marketers looking to engage target audiences at any stage of the funnel.  Being native to our platform creates a flywheel of first-party data and account matching that plays a massive role in conversion and revenue for customers.  Native chat is unmatched, and we’re proud to be the first and only ABM platform to make this possible.”

Drift Announces Fastlane Webform / Chatbot Hybrid

Revenue Acceleration vendor Drift rolled out a pair of sales enablement tools to facilitate rapid qualification and lead routing: Fastlane lead forms and Sales Seat intent and engagement alerts.

Drift Fastlane transitions a webform into an immediate chat for high-scoring visitors.

Fastlane combines traditional lead forms with chatbots to create “conversational forms.”  Prospects fill out a lead form with contact information enriched, scored, and routed to the Drift chatbot for high-scoring leads.  Thus, high-scoring prospects immediately move to sales rep conversations from the website.

Low scoring leads are passed to nurture or “other automated activations.”

“As a result, sellers can focus on high-converting buyers while routing lower-priority leads to nurture campaigns or other automated activations,” wrote Drift.  “The net outcome results in more qualified sales pipeline, an efficient workflow for sales reps, and overall revenue acceleration for the organization.”

If the buyers are too busy to speak immediately, they can schedule a meeting through the chatbot. Likewise, if the rep isn’t available for chat, the bot can schedule a meeting after collecting additional prospect intelligence.

It may seem odd that a firm that is a #noforms proponent would choose to begin offering forms, but not all marketers are ready to eliminate forms. 

“For most marketers, it’s the number one source of leads that they drive for their sales team.  And if they didn’t have that, sales teams would be on the hook to create nearly all of their own pipeline – which is very inefficient.  So we realized we had to do more.  We have to support our customers in every way that they work. From the inbound motion that relies on forms to the outbound motion for customers who can’t rely on marketing alone to hit their numbers.”

CEO David Cancel

There are also scenarios where a form makes more sense than a bot.  Registering for a webinar works better as a form than a bot as it is transparent about the requisite data entry.  Likewise, enabling forms with optional bots increases their flexibility and value.


Continue to Part II which discusses Sales Seat and the importance of rapid sales responses for inbound leads.

Qualified Series B

Qualified closed on a $51M Series B which raised total funding to $68M (Source: Crunchbase).

Conversational Marketing Platform Qualified closed on a $51 million Series B round.  Salesforce Ventures led the round, with existing partners Redpoint Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners also joining.  Qualified has received $68 million in total funding.  It is “the only conversational sales and marketing platform purpose-built for Salesforce Sales Cloud,” stated the firm.

Qualified’s Salesforce roots “go deep.”  Along with the Salesforce Ventures funding, Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin joined Qualified as a board observer, and former Salesforce SVP Dan Darcy joined as their Chief Customer Officer.  Multiple execs are former Salesforce employees including CEO Kraig Swensrud who worked on the development of Chatter and served as the firm’s CMO.

“Qualified represents an entirely new way for B2B companies to engage buyers,” said Bill Patterson, Salesforce EVP of CRM Applications.  “When marketing and inbound sales teams use this solution with Sales Cloud…they see a notable impact on pipeline. We are thrilled about our growing partnership with Qualified and their success within the Salesforce ecosystem.”

Qualified will deploy the funds to “fuel product innovation;” build out key functions including engineering, sales, marketing, and customer success; and more than double its headcount before the end of the year.

“Conversational sales and marketing is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ It’s mission critical for fast-growing businesses, and table stakes for modern buyers.  The world’s top CMOs and demand gen leaders are turning to Qualified as a new way to meet with their most important buyers the moment they arrive on the website.  There’s no better partner than Salesforce Ventures to help us accelerate Qualified’s growth and bring this solution to Salesforce customers around the world.”

Qualified CEO Kraig Swensrud

Qualified addresses a “multi-billion problem for enterprise marketing and sales teams,” their inability to identify qualified buyers and message to them while they are on the website.  Thus, the $6 billion spent driving buyers to company websites is poorly converted into sales pipelines.

“In enterprise sales, speed matters: Waiting even five minutes after a lead leaves a website decreases the chances of making contact by 10x,” wrote the firm.  “However, it takes salespeople 38 hours on average to respond to qualified leads.  Studies show that 78% of B2B customers buy from the company that responds to them first.”

Qualified offers real-time visitor intelligence and routing based upon Salesforce.  Visitors may interact with chatbots or talk to reps via chat, voice, and screen sharing.  The service promises 99.9% uptime, GDPR compliance, SOC2 compliance, and Salesforce ISV certification.

“The conversational model is simply a better way to connect with new customers.  Buyers love the real-time engagement, sellers love the instant connections, and marketers have the confidence that every dollar spent on demand generation is maximized,” said Board Member Scott Beechuk.  “The multi-billion-dollar market for Salesforce automation software is going to adopt this new model, and Qualified is perfectly positioned to capture that demand.  If your company uses Salesforce, Qualified will be a multiplier on your sales and marketing investment.”

Qualified saves conversations to Salesforce, including a complete visual recording of the timeline, chat transcript, and screen recording.

Last year, Qualified grew revenue by 800% and posted a 175% customer revenue retention rate.  New customers include Adobe, Matterport, Poly, Sodexo, SurveyMonkey, Talend, Tech Data, and VMware.

According to LinkedIn, Qualified grew its headcount by 92% last year.

Conversational Marketing is hot, but the market is shifting from standalone chat to chat as a front-end to ABX Platforms. ZoomInfo acquired Insent last week and rebranded it ZoomInfo Chat, Drift expanded its product vision into Revenue Acceleration with additional channels, and Terminus acquired Ramble and integrated it into its ABX Platform.

Qualified Conversational Marketing Dashboard.

ZoomInfo Acquires Conversational Marketing Service Insent

ZoomInfo announced that it acquired Conversational Marketing firm Insent.AI this morning.  The new offering was immediately rebranded as ZoomInfo Chat.  Insent, ZoomInfo’s latest post-IPO tuck-in, follows acquisitions of Everstring (firmographics) and Clickagy (intent data) in late 2020.  In total, ZoomInfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) has acquired eight companies over the past four years.

CEO Henry Schuck focuses on acquiring complementary data assets that become significantly more valuable when combined with ZoomInfo’s data assets and are then cross-sold by its sales teams.

Last month Schuck told Yahoo! Finance:

“It [the size of the company] doesn’t really matter because the way that we evaluate M&A is, we look for opportunities where, number one, our data makes a big impact from a competitive differentiation perspective. And number two, which goes to the valuation piece, because we are seeing incredibly high valuations on M&A targets today.

But on that piece, we’re always looking to see, hey, if we buy this company and we integrate it into ZoomInfo, and we have all of our sellers selling that product or service and it’s integrated and it’s gotten better with the data asset that we have, how fast can we grow the business? It’s always much faster than that business is going to grow on its own.

And so, when we’re doing the analysis on what to buy and what to build, the buy equation has a lot to do with how much faster we can grow the business. And so while a valuation today might feel like a lot, when we look at what we’re going to be able to do with that asset over the next year and two years, we look for those assets to be accretive in the short term. And it really becomes a go-to-market exercise for us.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck, Yahoo! Finance interview, May 4, 2021

Conversational Marketing is a rapidly emerging segment that provides value across the revenue team.  Insent, which will be powered by ZoomInfo’s WebSights visitor identification and its global database, performs real-time routing of conversations to sales reps.  Low-scoring prospects are managed by the chatbot, with high-scoring visitors routed to the appropriate sales reps.  Insent, which competes against Intercom, Terminus, and Drift, calls itself a “human-first chatbot.”

“Marketers spend enormous amounts of time, money, and effort to drive traffic to their websites, but only convert less than two percent of visitors into leads – an incredible inefficiency for teams,” said Schuck.  “The acquisition of Insent will combine chat with ZoomInfo’s dynamic IP-to-company graph and insights.  Marketers will be able to instantly identify previously anonymous companies that are on their websites, route prospects to the right account owners, and arm them with ZoomInfo’s key intelligence about their buyers. As a result, they’ll initiate real-time conversations that can yield significant conversions.”

Insent also looks for website triggers such as page visits and scroll locations when launching the chatbot.

“As visitors engage in personalized conversations with a chatbot, the nature of the interaction can further inform and qualify visitors for a seamless transition to a live chat with a sales representative,” blogged Schuck.  This interactive intelligence will be combined with firmographics and other account and contact intelligence related to the prospect.  These insights then “trigger automated sales and marketing workflows, plays, and alerts to create informed, serendipitous, personalized engagement.”

The Insent chatbot supports inline meeting scheduling and additional information gathering for the rep.  ZoomInfo will also support automated follow-up workflows and conversations.

Chatbots have an advantage over traditional web forms.  Not only do they capture and enrich information, but they can engage with prospects when “your brand is top of mind” and selectively pass high-scoring visitors immediately to sales reps.  If the sales rep is not available, the chatbot can schedule a call and collect additional intelligence for the meeting.

“And that opportunity extends beyond the lifetime of that visit,” added Schuck.  “Leveraging the visit as a trigger event, ZoomInfo can expand the audience at an account by identifying other likely members of the buying committee and activating outreach to those professionals following a website visit by one or a number of their peers.”

Insent supports integrations with Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Slack, MS Teams, and Zendesk (customer support).

Real-time integrations between platforms and the chat engine, combined with real-time reference data are key to this deal.  “Without tightly integrated, highly accurate data and timely insights, these systems are merely empty repositories that lack the intelligence to surface, prioritize, and trigger effective, personalized engagement at scale,” blogged Shuck.  “At ZoomInfo, we are actively executing against our vision to build a go-to-market platform that combines our best-in-class data and insights with a tightly integrated engagement layer that activates those insights as they surface. Our system facilitates real-time connection with buyers in their time of need, alerts sales teams to meaningful activity, and feeds engagement activity data back into the system for better future profiling and targeting.”

ZoomInfo Chat will be displayed alongside ZoomInfo WebSights Visitor Intelligence, company overviews, ZoomInfo Scoops, intent topics, technographics, buying committees, and insights.

“ZoomInfo is a trusted leader in go-to-market intelligence and orchestration that enterprises rely on to help them identify and close their ideal customers,” said Insent CEO Arjun Pillai.  “ZoomInfo and Insent will help shape the future of chat by allowing teams to have data-centric, intelligent conversations that can expedite sales cycles.”

Insent isn’t “just building a chatbot that generates leads, but a collaborative platform that is going to help marketers create, nurture qualified opportunities, and shorten sales cycles,” said the firm earlier this year.

The goal is to remove “digital walls” between buyers and sellers by replacing web forms and follow-ups “with instant live conversations on websites” that schedule meetings and deliver “personalized content recommendations based on engagement history.”

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform,” with MAPs, CRMs, and ABM Platforms “to help sales teams talk to engaged prospects while they’re on the website.”

According to Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey, “integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

“By guiding their buyers at the right time and proactively alerting your salespeople, Insent generates new revenue opportunities and accelerates existing ones,” said Pillai.

Initially, the pandemic slowed Instent’s growth as marketing teams reduced budgets and delayed decisions, but chatbots are high on the list of MarTech digital acquisition solutions.  Between May 2020 and January 2021, Insent revenue quadrupled.

Earlier this year, Insent was using 6Sense for visitor identification. “We go and task 6Sense through an API,” said Pillai in February. “We take that data, and we do further processing of that data.  All of this happens in microseconds.  Basically, the moment somebody lands on the website, boom, the API call comes back with the data based on that website, company visitor.”

Insent stress-tested various platforms before settling on MongoDB and AWS.  Pillai contends that the platform gives them a five-year or six-year window before rearchitecting.  The platform was designed with an account-based, versus lead-based, architecture that ties leads to accounts for account-based orchestration.

The new ZoomInfo Chat offering will be available to new and existing customers in Q3.  Deal terms were not disclosed. The acquisition was deemed not to have a material impact on the firm’s 2021 financials.

Pillai will be joining ZoomInfo as the SVP of Strategic Growth.


GZ Consulting offers a detailed analysis of ZoomInfo which includes a one-hour Q&A session. Contact Michael Levy for licensing.

Insent Seed Round

Chatbot vendor Insent.AI closed on a $2 million seed round “to help mid-market B2B companies improve how they identify and communicate with potential buyers.” The firm, which competes against Intercom, Terminus Chat, and Drift, calls itself a “human-first chatbot.”

Insent said that it isn’t “just building a chatbot that generates leads, but a collaborative platform that is going to help marketers create, nurture qualified opportunities, and shorten sales cycles.”

The goal is to remove “digital walls” between buyers and sellers by replacing web forms and follow-ups “with instant live conversations on websites” that schedule meetings and deliver “personalized content recommendations based on engagement history.”

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform,” with MAPs, CRMs, and ABM Platforms “to help sales teams talk to engaged prospects while they’re on the website.”

According to Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey, “integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

“By guiding their buyers at the right time and proactively alerting your salespeople, Insent generates new revenue opportunities and accelerates existing ones,” said CEO Arjun Pillai.

Emergent Ventures led the round with participation from BAM Ventures, TechStars, Arka Venture Labs, Arali Ventures, and Bizable founder Aaron Bird.  Funds will be deployed to expand its chatbot integrations and add engineering, sales, and marketing headcount.  Another area of development is improving its visitor data intelligence to improve personalization.

“We believe the B2B sales process currently has unnecessary friction for both buyers and sellers,” said Anupam Rastogi, Partner at Emergent Ventures.  “As an increasing proportion of sales is digitally intermediated and more leads are generated online, we believe Insent has a tremendous opportunity to help both buyers and sellers do their work more effectively and connect seamlessly.”

Initially, the pandemic slowed Instent’s growth as marketing teams reduced budgets and delayed decisions, but chatbots are high on the list of MarTech digital acquisition solutions.  Since May, revenue has quadrupled.

Aaron Bird, former VP at Adobe and CEO of Bizable, remarked that marketing had undergone two major paradigm shifts over the past few years, the rise of ABM and a focus on the buyer experience at the heart of the sales process; however, “companies are yet to start adapting to this paradigm. Insent is a key piece of the puzzle to help them do so.”

Insent stress-tested various platforms before settling on MongoDB and AWS.  Pillai contends that the platform gives them a five-year or six-year window before rearchitecting.  The platform was designed with an account-based, versus lead-based, architecture that ties leads to accounts for account-based orchestration.

“So, the architecture is obviously manually decided.  But as far as the scaling is concerned, it is all automated,” said Pillai. “There are enough database services that will enable us to run automated services of scaling up and scaling down … to make sure that when you are sleeping if a customer connects a 10 million [record] database, the system scales up.”

Insent is using 6Sense for visitor identification. “We go and task 6Sense through an API,” said Pillai. “We take that data, and we do further processing of that data.  All of this happens in microseconds.  Basically, the moment somebody lands on the website, boom, the API call comes back with the data based on that website, company visitor.”

Insent was founded in 2018 and has forty employees in the US, Canada, and India.

Insent Integrates with MS Teams

Conversation Marketing platform Insent.AI integrated its service with Microsoft Teams, notifying users when customers and prospects are ready to chat.  The conversation is conducted within Teams via an MS Teams AppSource app.

“With the Insent app for Teams, your team can get notifications for the incoming chats from your buyers, view detailed visitor insights to understand the context and strike up more personalized conversations, and make the necessary hand-offs inside your chosen MS channels,” blogged Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey.

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform.”  According to Jey ”integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

Insent offers “Advanced Enterprise-grade routing,” which directs conversations to the CRM account owners.  If the account owner is not available, calls are routed via a set of fallback rules based on time of day and location to other reps or the chatbot.

Insent emphasizes the value of “human-first conversations” with bots serving as a backup channel:

“Chatbots were meant to be your second line of defense, built to support marketing and sales when your team isn’t available – not pretend to be human.”

Insent Website

@ Mentions allow users to include additional staff in the conversation.  It is not necessary to register individual users.  Simply tagging them directs Insent to create a user profile based upon MS Teams data.

Insent also offers integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, and Slack.

Outreach, Cognism, Drift, Alyce, and Sendoso Make LinkedIn’s Top Startups List

Five vendors covered in my newsletters and blog made LinkedIn’s Top 50 US or Top 10 UK startups list, an indicator to the economic vibrancy of SalesTech and MarTech solutions, particularly during the pandemic.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach placed #6 in the US, its second year making the list.

“We work hard to be a great place to work and to create an environment where [the] top talent of any background feels welcome and can thrive,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “We’re always looking for passionate, tenacious employees who think differently and live and breathe our core value of having each other’s backs. I’m thrilled that we continue to attract the best of the best, and LinkedIn named us one of the top startups in the US.”

Outreach focused on “emerging and resilient startups that are navigating the ever-evolving nature of work in the wake of COVID-19.” The firm also focused on delivering sales management tools during the pandemic, helping “leaders closely monitor their team’s success and keep employees motivated and productive.”

Cognism that was named a top 10 UK Startup to Watch, placing at Number 9.  The firm which, was founded in 2015, has performed well during the pandemic and recently acquired German signature-block messaging firm Mailtastic.  They have already opened a UK Mailtastic office and closed their first UK deals.

According to CEO James Isilay, “We have just made a key hire in the US and will be expanding the offering there from October.”

Following a staff survey, Cognism will be moving to a smaller office presence and emphasize WFH options.

“Despite a challenging year with the pandemic, Cognism has continued its strong growth recently passing the key $10 million ARR mark,” wrote CEO James Isilay. “We see growth accelerating next year as we bring our go-to-market intelligence and engagement platform to new markets across Europe.”

Two tactile marketing companies, Alyce (35) and Sendoso (46), made the list.  Both firms positioned direct mail e-gifting as a method to connect with customers and prospects during the pandemic.

“While many companies and entire industries were dramatically impacted by the pandemic, the need to create personal bonds as the world moved almost fully digital in the age of no major trade shows, events, and public networking became ever more paramount,” wrote Alyce. “Alyce actually thrived as a company, and swiftly pivoted to deliver digital gifts for their enterprise customers looking to create personal experience moments for their audience.  Despite the market shifts, Alyce has experienced a milestone year of growth, with a vast percentage of its Annual Recurring Revenue (AAR) coming from its enterprise customer base and new use-case expansion, more than 5x-ing over last year.”

Conversational Marketing firm Drift, which recently broadened its vision to Revenue Acceleration, landed at #21 on the list.  Drift offers chatbots, email, video, and a new Prospector service for intent monitoring.

Firms were based upon four criteria: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from LinkedIn’s Top Companies list.  Startups must be no more than seven years old and have at least 50 employees.