SalesLoft Round D

SalesLoft Round D
SalesLoft Round D

On the heels of Outreach’s $114 million Series E, SalesLoft landed a $70 million round D led by Insight Partners with participation from HarbourVest Partners, Emergence Capital, and LinkedIn.  Total funding reached $145 million.

While the market valuation was not disclosed, TechCrunch indicated that the valuation was around $600 million.  Last year’s Round C valued the firm at $250 million.

“As the creators of the Sales Engagement category, we’ll use this investment to continue leading the innovation that has come to define the category,” blogged CEO Kyle Porter.  “This means investments in our ecosystem API, the mobile application, and our AI-powered sales coaching network.”

Porter laid out a vision for The Sales Coaching Network of full-time digital assistants which “gathers data from our network of distributed sellers and identifies what works and what doesn’t.”  

The Sales Coaching Network “learns best practices, proven effective across a variety of situations.  It identifies those outlier cases where a creative seller finds a new, better solution, and adds those techniques to its coaching.  This allows others to learn from the experience of those more creative sellers.”

Coaching advice will be tailored to individual sellers and their current activities.  According to Porter’s vision:

The Sales Coaching Network brings out the best in every authentic human-to-human interaction.  Sales can never be fully automated, but machines can coach humans in ways that improve our ability to deliver the customer with the best sales experiences while making decisions that allow them to generate the most revenue.

The additional funds will also be directed towards expanding their services team, certified partner network, professional services, and global support.

Over the past few years, SalesLoft has evolved from a cadence service to a multi-channel communications platform which supports inbound and outbound leads, meeting management, analytics, and a partner ecosystem.  Its top partner, LinkedIn, is also an investor.

“We are seeing the highest usage in our LinkedIn integration among all the other integrations we provide,” said Porter.  “Our customers find that it’s the third most important behind email and phone calls.”

Porter called many of the sales tools on the market “dumb databases or repositories” which “are not focused on improving how to connect buyers to sales teams in sincere ways,” said Porter.  “And anytime a company like Salesforce has moved into tangential areas like these, they haven’t built from the ground up, but through acquisitions.  It’s just hard to move giant aircraft carriers.”

SalesLoft doubled revenues the past two years and recently opened an EMEA sales and support office in London.  Recurring revenue has grown ten-fold over the past three years.

Porter listed a set of reasons for Salesforce’s customer success including company purpose, reliability, adoption, and impact.  SalesLoft’s purpose is to elevate the sales profession and promote authentic selling:

SalesLoft exists to activate the authentic seller in all of us.  While some focus on simply sending more email, we focus on elevating the sales professional as a whole.  Today’s buyers deserve an incredible sales experience… one that is sincere, human, and relevant to their needs.  They want sellers to provide insights and solve their problems.  It’s essential for sellers to take a buyer-centric approach.  This is the heart of what we do.

Great sellers also need to be methodical and efficient.  At SalesLoft we’re dedicated to helping you codify a scalable and effective sales process so you can consistently hit and exceed your targets.

Reliability is based upon email deliverability, phone quality, and application speed.

Adoption is evidenced by their leadership position on the G2.com grid for Sales Engagement while impact was borne out by a recent Forrester “Total Economic Impact of SalesLoft” study which measured a 329% ROI, a 20% lift in Sales Qualified Leads to Opportunity Conversion Rates, and a 13% improvement in customer renewal rates.

“So many software companies build a product to meet a market need and then focus purely on selling.  SalesLoft is different.  This team is continually innovating, pushing the boundaries, and changing the face of sales,” said Jeff Horing, co-founder and MD of Insight Venture Partners.  “This is one reason the company’s customers are so devoted to them.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q1 Release (Part II: SNAP)

The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.
The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.

As part of their Q1 2019 release, LinkedIn rolled out a set of new SNAP (Sales Navigator Application Platform) partners including Altify, Drift, G2 Crowd, and Mixmax.  

The Drift partnership allows sales reps to “continue website conversations” after a prospect drops off of a Drift chat: “sometimes people leave your conversation abruptly – it happens. But as an SDR, that’s a potential meeting walking out the door. So what do you do? Well now you can send a connection request or follow up message with InMail right from within Drift.”

The Drift integration also displays contact and company intelligence including shared connections while a sales rep is chatting with a prospect visiting her website (see image on right).

“Gone are the days of toggling back and forth between LinkedIn and your ongoing sales conversation,” said Drift Product Marketer Daniel Murphy.  “Say goodbye to awkward lags in conversations. Prospects will never again have to wait for a response while SDRs search LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Salesforce to determine if they’re a good fit.  Now they can research a prospect’s company, see mutual connections, and grab other insights and conversation starters – all in real-time.”

G2 Crowd gathers intent data from 24 million technology searchers.  Intent data is collected from G2 profile and category views along with competitor comparisons.  Sales reps are notified when followed accounts are researching on G2 based on contact connections, sales preferences, search histories, and profile interactions.

“People don’t buy today as a result of cold calls and emails. The power is in the hands of the buyers doing more research than ever before. As sales teams, we need to focus on accepting the modern buyer journey and connecting to the right buyers at the right time. We’ve always been aligned with LinkedIn on this vision, and this integration helps us make it a reality.”


G2 Chief Revenue Officer Matt Gorniak

The Mixmax SNAP integration supports InMail and Connection requests and profile views from Gmail.

Altify’s org-chart software now displays insights and helps users identify key buyers across an organization.

Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.
Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.

LinkedIn also noted that it will be available within the Salesforce Winter 2019 release.  Salesforce admins can install the application from the Lightning Setup Console instead of the AppExchange.

One problem that has long dogged sales intelligence vendors is ongoing training and product exploration.  To encourage exploration, Sales Navigator added a coaching feature to extend product knowledge.  Sales Navigator Coach is a new dashboard that “suggests actions for customers to take and links to short learning videos.”  Actions are associated with core workflows.  The videos run thirty to forty seconds.

The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.
The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.

Finally, GDPR opt-outs are being added to PointDrive presentations.  PointDrive recipients will be able to revoke viewer tracking permission, effectively anonymizing their viewing data from sales reps.


Part 1 (Shared Custom Lists) posted yesterday.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

The task of software product developers has become increasingly difficult.  It used to be that marketing could “put lipstick on a pig” and sell a poorly designed product based upon futures, a few cool features, and a high ROI claim.  But increasing competition and higher user expectations make dressing up a weak product more difficult for several reasons:

  1. Buyers do much of their research up front, so marketers and sales no longer control the narrative.  Purchasers are now able to frame their requirements and conduct much of their basic research before raising their hands.
  2. Review sites such as G2.com (FKA G2 Crowd) and TrustRadius provide input on what users like and dislike about software products.  If there is a disconnect between promises and reality, these problems will be surfaced.  If there are connectivity, performance, or scaling issues, these will also be flagged. (Warning: be wary of reviews that are manufactured by vendor campaigns.  Look at the review dates and note if reviews are tightly bunched in time or if a small vendor has several-fold more reviews than its larger competitors.  These reviews are often derived by campaigns, some with rewards, for reviews.)
  3. We’ve all come to appreciate great design thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple.  Most of us are not experts in what makes for great design, but we are much better at identifying poor design, balky workflows, and ugly interfaces.
  4. Services must integrate with each other.  It is no longer possible to build a product that only weakly integrates with key vendors.  Simply providing a download CSV for enterprise software platforms is unacceptable to admins.  The AppExchange has thousands of vendors on it.  In SalesTech and Martech, it is expected that your service integrates with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Adobe/Marketo, and Eloqua/Oracle.  Other common integrations are Chrome Connectors, Hubspot, Gmail, Exchange, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator (SNAP).  We are already seeing Sales Engagement vendors such as SalesLoft and Outreach.io build their own partner ecosystems.
  5. Competition is fierce.  In the Marketing Technology space, Scott Brinker identified approximately 3,500 Martech vendors in his 2016 graphic, up 87% over 2015.  By 2019, the vendor count had doubled to 7,040. That is a large gaggle of voices calling for attention.

"Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2016)" courtesy of Scott Brinker and Chiefmartec.
“Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2016)” courtesy of Scott Brinker and Chiefmartec.

Products rarely succeed if they are backed by poor marketing.  But is increasingly difficult for poor products to gain traction by marketing alone.  Firms now must tie strong marketing to strong design and an unmet user need.  A company like SalesLoft identified an underserved market (Sales Development professionals) and gave them “sincerity at scale.”  Likewise, DemandBase was talking about Account Based Marketing for years (and supporting it with their programmatic marketing platform) before other vendors recognized the value of targeting your best clients and prospects.

In a blog, Gartner Research VP Jake Sorofman warned marketers:

When your value proposition, use cases and features are all in perfect harmony with a high-value need, customers take notice. You’ve won their minds. When the user experience doesn’t just fulfill these use cases, but does so with artful simplicity and deep respect for the user, you’ve won their hearts, too.

When I’m evaluating which products to profile, a poor UI is a red flag.  I’m also wary of profiling products that lack an integration story, have typos on their website, push marketing puffery into bald-faced lies, or whose pitches suffer from featuritis.

So be wary of the firms that sell features over value, that promise ROI with gauzy claims of indirect benefits, or that fail to understand the underlying needs of their customers.  A pig with lipstick is still just a pig.