InsideSales $50M Funding Round

Since yesterday I discussed SalesLoft’s funding round, I would be remiss to note that Predictive Analytics vendor InsideSales closed on a $50 million funding round which included Microsoft and the Irish government.  In total, the company has raised over $250 million.  The latest round, led by Polaris Capital, included Questmark Partners and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund.  Also participating were existing investors Microsoft, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Hummer Winblad, U.S. Venture Partners, Epic Ventures and Zetta Venture.  The latest round was flat or nominally up, allowing the firm to retain its Unicorn status.

InsideSales’ predictive Accelerate service combines predictive analytics with a phone dialer, sales gamification, and email and web interaction tracking within SFDC.  Accelerate lists at $295 per user per month.  An Essentials service, designed for SMBs, is priced at $25 per seat per month.  The firm also offers products at several price points in between.

InsideSales NeuralView identifies the ”most promising leads, opportunities and accounts” for customers
InsideSales NeuralView identifies the ”most promising leads, opportunities and accounts” for customers

The company stores, anonymous, aggregated data.  “We have over 120 million unique buying personas,” said CEO David Elkington.  “More interestingly, I have almost a hundred billion sales interactions with those 120 million people. A sales interaction’s a conversation, an email, a response, a visit, a purchase. We’re adding roughly five billion of those a month. The reason is because it’s aggregate, it’s crowdsourced.”

Elkington emphasizes the value of data over algorithms.  “We’re basically looking at the way categories of people behave within various different situations.  The mistake people are making is thinking the value is in building the best algorithm. The key is in the data.”

Elkington observed a “generational transition” in sales leadership with millennials “becoming predominant quota carrying reps, taking more sales leadership roles.”

In 2015, InsideSales set out to study the “buying and selling patterns of the next generation of employees.” The firm found that over the past few years, the presence of millennials amongst buyers and sellers has nearly doubled “and their behavior is very different.”

“The way a millennial runs their day is fundamentally different than the way other generations run their day,” noted Elkington. “Millennials don’t want to sit down in their CRM. They live all over the web and move around quite a bit.”

Based on these observations, InsideSales recently released Playbooks, a browser plugin which helps sales reps “prospect, prioritize and connect without juggling multiple tools.”  The Playbooks service also supports CRM synchronization and integrated telephony and emails.

InsideSales research found that the typical millennial has seventy to eighty tabs open at a time.  Thus, Playbooks allows the user to leverage the intelligence in each of those tabs and immediately act on the information.

InsideSales is finding strong usage for Playbooks amongst millennials.  “Reps adopt it much faster with much less training, and satisfaction seems to be higher,” said Elkington.

InsideSales has over 2,000 customers including ADP, Groupon, and Microsoft.  The firm currently employs a staff of 500 located in the “Silicon Slopes” of Utah with an outpost in San Mateo.

“Our mission is to leverage big data and cloud capabilities to unlock human potential through predictive analytics and machine learning,” said Elkington. “We are building an Amazon-style recommendation engine for business — a system capable of intelligently analyzing billions of data points in real-time and recommending the optimal next steps for almost any application or business process. This lays the groundwork for a future where predictive technology can be applied, not just to sales organizations but also to government, healthcare, retail and beyond.”

Marketing Technology Buyer Research from Walker Sands

Walker Sands Marketing Research (N = 313 Marketing Professionals)
Walker Sands Marketing Research
(N = 313 Marketing Professionals)

A recent survey of US marketers by digital marketing firm Walker Sands Communication found that 62% of marketers had led a marketing technology purchasing process in the past three years.  At firms with fewer than 50 employees, 79% of marketers had managed the decision making process with the percentage dropping to 41% at larger organizations.

Amongst millennials, 55% had served in a purchasing leadership role.  “The new martech buyer journey is being shaped by a new generation of marketers,” said Walker Sands’ Director of the Marketing Technology Practice. “B2B brands shouldn’t underestimate the influence end users and millennials have on the marketing technology stack.”

Walker Sands provided the following tip when marketing or selling to millennials:

Millennials are beginning to step into decision-making roles, so it’s important to understand how to sell to them. They’re more tech-savvy than their older counterparts. Emphasize how your technology is more innovative and user-friendly than competitors. Also, it’s important to get more specific with millennials. Exactly how does your technology help them in their day-to-day role? When trying to reach millennials, spend more money on online display and social media marketing because they’re influenced by more information and a variety of content.

“With so many people potentially involved, B2B marketers have to understand who’s driving and influencing the decisions for specific pieces of technology,” said Parro. “Sometimes it’s the CMO, but the end user often has almost as much pull.”

Two-thirds of marketing professionals believed that they were able to provide input into the marketing technology tools used by their firm.

Martech purchasing committees most commonly consist of three to five members (57%) with one-tenth of the committees containing ten or more members.

The biggest obstacles to implementing new marketing technology issues were budget (69%), difficulty of implementation or integration (35%), and internal resistance to change (33%).

When it comes to conducting research, laptops and PCs continue to be the primary tool with 91% of marketing professionals beginning their research on these devices and 92% conducting all or most of their research on their laptops or PCs.  Nevertheless, marketing content should be mobile-enabled as non-research phases (e.g. lead nurturing, quick lookup) are more likely to be from mobile devices.

When beginning to research solutions, buyers see themselves as in control with thirty percent first learning about the technology from peers or colleagues, twenty percent on news publications or blogs, and thirteen percent from search engines.  Sales reps initiated the education process only five percent of the time.

Sales reps also lack much influence over the final decision with only eleven percent of purchasers finding sales reps to be very influential and 58% somewhat influential.  Unsurprisingly, marketers placed more weight on vendor websites or blogs (89% said they were very or somewhat influential) and vendor content (86% found it to be very or somewhat influential).  Trust, though, was placed in peer recommendations (63% very influential), online reviews (44% very influential), and analyst reports (33% very influential).  Of the eleven information sources they asked about, vendor’s social media accounts were the least influential with 48% saying they had no influence on their decisions.

The Martech data aligns closely with a Conference Board study which found that 57% of the purchasing decision is made before reaching out to a sales rep.  Only 14% of purchasers reached out to sales early in the process (zero to twenty percent completed) and only 46% raised their hands to vendors before completing half of their decision making process.  A full quarter of purchasers are eighty percent complete with their purchasing decision before contacting vendors.

The Walker Sands research on Buyer Phase before formally signaling the firm of interest is consistent with other B2B purchasing research.
The Walker Sands research on Buyer Phase before formally signaling the firm of interest is consistent with other B2B purchasing research.

The report noted that “Marketers are doing so much of their own technology research that many have already made a decision and are ready to purchase before contacting a sales rep.”  In total, slightly over one-third of decision makers didn’t self-identify as a purchaser until they were at the decision or purchasing phase leaving little opportunity for companies to actively influence the decision.

Walker Sands advised marketers, “Your customers are almost to a decision before they even contact you. The key is to make sure that your technology is fully represented within the content they’re consuming and that this content is aligned with reviews and other news articles online. Buyers will rule you out if they can’t find the information they’re looking for or are confused during the discovery and research phases. Once you make it to the decision and purchase stages, make sure that you understand the prospect’s needs and why your product is right for them.  Remember, they already know the basics, so you’ll have to sell them on why your product fits their unique needs in order to convince them to make that final decision.”

As to publications, the top five sources of information on marketing technology are all business, technology, or general purpose publications: Forbes (44%), Wired (37%), Wall Street Journal (35%), BusinessWeek (31%), and New York Times (31%).  Only three advertising and marketing publications were seen as go to resources by at least ten percent of those surveyed: AdAge (30%), eMarketer (17%), and MarketingProfs (13%).

Understanding the New MarTech Buyer Journey” was based upon a July survey of 313 marketing professionals.  21% of the respondents were Managers, 26% Senior Executives, and 31% Coordinators or Specialists.