I am pleased to announce that my next enterprise software purchasing report is available through this website and my partners at Tenbound. “Evaluating Sales Engagement Platforms: A Guide for Purchasing SEPs” assists with the purchasing decision of this rapidly developing SalesTech category.
Evaluating Sales Engagement Platforms
Single User License (October Discounted Price)
The report is available as both a single buyer license for smaller firms evaluating the sector and as a buyer-committee license for larger firms. The Buyer Committee license covers a team of seven and includes a Word document checklist to assist with the evaluation.
So congratulations to CEO Manny Medina and the team at Outreach. The Sales engagement firm has been going head-to-head with SalesLoft to become the leading vendor in its category.
Outreach is based in Seattle and reached unicorn status earlier this year, a rather impressive feat for a five-year old company that doesn’t rent scooters. It is on track to hit 450 employees by the end of the year and has doubled its revenue growth each year since 2016.
Outreach has 3,500 customers including Adobe, DocuSign and eBay.
One area of rapid growth is in its Galaxy partner ecosystem. New partners include Seismic, BombBomb, and Sendoso. The Seismic integration allows reps to insert Seismic content into emails and multi-recipient sequences via a Seismic icon. Reps are notified when prospects view content, allowing them to “transition the prospect into a high-priority, more personalized Sequence.” Sales reps can also send follow-up content after a successful demo or meeting and modify messaging based upon which Seismic content is resonating.
BombBomb supports personalized videos which are inserted into
sequences. When a recipient watches the
video, reps can trigger an urgent call task or place the viewer into a
high-touch sequence. Recorded videos and
screen captures are also supported. BombBomb is priced at $29.99 per seat per
month with volume discounts.
Sendoso supports sequences which include e-gift or direct mail steps. Reps can also setup triggers when e-gift links are activated or direct mail items received. For example, I recently attended a trade show and received a box of mini-cupcakes afterwards with an accompanying note from the Sendoso sales rep.
Clari is the latest vendor to join the SalesLoft app directory of over fifty partners. Clari’s Connected Revenue Operations Platform “automatically tracks sales activity data and engagement for your entire revenue operations team so you can measure the health of your pipeline and forecast more accurately,” announced SalesLoft. “Increased signal intelligence helps reps and managers understand which opportunities are trending in the right direction, and which can use more engagement to drive them forward.”
engine analyzes SalesLoft engagement activity including email opens, calls made, and LinkedIn messaging to help “reps focus on
the right deals and managers make more accurate forecasts.”
noted that the buyer’s journey is complex with enterprise deals touching eight
buyers and influencers at enterprise prospects. Thus, “it can be tough to
know what activities have occurred with which personas and even tougher to know
which activities to attempt next to move the needle.”
joint solution provides a single pane of glass for assessing sales rep
activities, determining which activities move deals forward, and planning for
“Too often, go-to-market teams operate in disconnected silos. We’re fixing this by using AI and automation to connect real-time business activity with back-office systems and processes so teams spend less time entering data, and sales, marketing, and customer success are always on the same page. Bridging these silos makes every campaign, QBR [Quarterly Business Review], and forecast call more data-driven and actionable.”
Clari CEO Andy Byrne
Besides SalesLoft, Clari application partners include Outreach, Yesware, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, DiscoverOrg, Salesforce, Marketo, Slack, Gmail, and Outlook.
Sales Engagement vendor Outreach achieved unicorn status following a $114 million round which valued the firm at $1.1 billion. Total funding reached $239 million. Round E was led by hedge fund manager Lone Pine Capital with Meritech Capital Partners and Lemonade Capital joining the round. Also participating were previous investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, Microsoft Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital, and Trinity Ventures.
a very strong 2018 and now has over 3,300 customers and 50,000 users. The
firm more than doubled its revenue last year and grew to 315 employees. Outreach
expects to close 2019 with 450 headcount and hit annualized recurring revenue
of $100 million in the next year.
financing will enable us to infuse every aspect of the customer journey with
the power of machine learning so organizations can identify the actions that
move the needle in order to make better, faster decisions,” blogged CEO Manny
Medina. “We will also expand in the coming months by doubling our machine
learning team, increasing our international footprint, and investing in our
partner ecosystem, Galaxy, as well as our recently announced integration with
Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales.”
Outreach offers Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors and plans to release an SAP SE connector by year end.
It’s top competitor, SalesLoft, also received a large funding round. I will cover that tomorrow.
Vidyard announced six additional sales platforms for its GoVideo platform: Outreach, EveryoneSocial, Reply.io, 366 Degrees, ConnectLeader, and FunnelAmplified. Previously announced partners include SalesLoft, InsideSales, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, and Salesforce. Vidyard supports over 40 sales and marketing solutions.
Integrated video helps personalize a message and increases open and clickthrough rates.
Outreach and ConnectLeader offer Sales Engagement platforms with personalized videos being integrated into email steps. Outreach sales reps can include personal video within their sequences and monitor video engagement.
provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach sequences.
For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send videos within
your Outreach email. And when your prospect views the video, that
activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action to convert
at the highest level.”
becoming more personal every day. You must use the right channel for the
right engagement for the right prospect and customer, and we’re finding video
to be a key channel in engaging buyers,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.
“Vidyard has been tightly integrated with ConnectLeader, which transforms your videos into lead generation machines,” wrote ConnectLeader. Features include camera recording, screen recording, and video uploading of previously saved content in Vidyard.
Reply.io is an email-centric platform with contact management, drip campaigns, reply recommendations, email validation, and reply prioritization. The joint solution “lets users personalize sales drip campaigns, create personal intro videos or product demos, add them to email sequences in Reply.io, and automate one-to-one email engagement at scale.”
EveryoneSocial provides social selling tools for sales, marketing, communications, and recruitment teams. Users can select pre-recorded videos from a library or record custom videos and share with prospects and connections.
366 Degrees and Vidyard support SMB marketing with dynamic content, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and campaign metrics. Video can be integrated into newsletters, promotions, social media, and landing pages.
changing behaviours of today’s buyers and the availability of new technologies,
sales development is becoming a sophisticated business function that takes a
strategic approach to identifying and developing new sales opportunities based
a wide range of buying signals and sales engagement techniques,” blogged
Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard. “On average, SDRs use six
different tools. And the days of SDR teams inheriting tech from the
broader sales and marketing teams—such as customer relationship management
(CRM), email automation, and social listening—and adapting them to meet their
unique requirements for scalable sales prospecting are quickly coming to an
Over the past year, Sales Engagement has become the third pillar of my coverage (alongside Sales Intelligence and B2B DaaS). So it is only fair that I write an overview of the space.
Sales Engagement began about four or five years ago as Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) with a focus on automating the SDR function. Its initial functionality consisted of a cadence tool which automated emails and outbound dialing for appointment setting. Cadences, also called sequences, are a set of scheduled steps that usually begin with an email but also include outbound calls, social steps (many vendors have integrated LinkedIn Sales Navigator via SNAP connectors), and direct mail.
Cadences can be paused if the prospect is out of office or halted if the prospect unsubscribes. Outreach just announced out of office functionality which pauses the call and checks whether an alternate contact is listed. Functionality is similar to that of LeadGnome. Outreach noted that 18% of email responses are out of office emails. 25% of out of office emails include an alternate contact name with over half the names being manager titles or above. The Out of Office reply detection extracts the return date and alternate names then pauses sequences until the prospect returns. The sales rep is notified of automated actions.
Email is supported by targeted templates which can be personalized. Thus, reps can call cadences by function, level, industry, etc. and the associated templates are customized by target audience. Reps can view the emails prior to sending and personalize them. This helps bring authenticity to the email. SalesLoft estimates that the peak personalization level is 20%.
Most sales engagement solutions include a digital dialer for outbound calling. The system suggests the best time of day and adjusts for time zones. Other features include local dialing, call recording, and voice mail drops. Upon completion, the rep enters call disposition and sentiment information which is synched with the CRM.
Once calls are recorded, they are transcribed and indexed, allowing sales reps or managers to quickly review calls and quickly locate pain points, objections, pricing, and next steps. Vendors such as Outreach and SalesLoft are going a step further and analyzing the calls, providing a set of team reports. More broadly, machine learning tools are being applied against the calls to determine best sales practices.
Meeting Management is emerging as a key feature set. Some vendors offer simple Calendly-like scheduling while others provide full meeting transcription and analytics.
Video is becoming increasingly important. Vendors support both video meetings (e.g. Webex, Zoom, BlueJeans, JoinMe) and video attachments (e.g. Vidyard, Videolicious).
Other information and decisioning tools include leaderboards, dashboards, AI recommendations (e.g. who to call or email next), CRM synchronization, and A/B testing. Some of these tools are directly integrated into the service while others are available through app directories. Similar to the Salesforce AppExchange or Marketo LaunchPoint, functionality may be free, freemium, or premium. Likewise, you may need to separately license the partner solution prior to enabling the integration. Outreach and SalesLoft offer a broad set of app partners.
Sales Engagement platforms are evolving into a system of engagement that sits alongside CRMs (systems of record). There is already a shift taking place from CRMs to Sales Engagement platforms. While Sales Engagement platforms are not looking to displace CRMs, sales reps are increasingly shifting screen time from CRMs to Sales Engagement platforms with the Sales Engagement platforms syncing with the CRMs. This is one of the reasons that Salesforce.com recently launched its High Velocity Sales service which combines cadences, Salesforce Inbox, the Lightning Dialer, work queues, and Einstein. High Velocity Sales starts at $75 per user per month ($90 with outbound calling).
At the Salesforce World Tour in Boston this week, a sales rep told me that Salesforce is heavily investing in Sales Engagement and hopes to catch up to the market leaders in the next year (I think this is overly optimistic as the leaders are quickly building out functionality and partnerships). While Salesforce could catch up in a few years, I believe it is more likely that SFDC will acquire one of the leaders in the space followed quickly by Microsoft and Oracle acquisitions in the sector (of course, Microsoft or Oracle could be the first movers). Adobe, which recently acquired Marketo, may also be interested in expanding its presence in B2B sales and marketing applications.
The top vendors in the space are SalesLoft, Outreach, and InsideSales. Other vendors include ConnectLeader, Yesware, Toutapp (Marketo), Mixmax, and VanillaSoft.
At its Unleash user conference, Outreach rolled out its expanded Galaxy partner ecosystem that “offers deeper partner integrations and enables sales teams to more effectively access multiple sales tools directly from the Outreach platform.” Outreach also announced a set of new partners including Vidyard (1-to-1 video), Intercom, (chat) and Sendoso (direct mail) along with a set of new plugins for composing emails, event streams, and link encoding.
“More visibility on information and actions performed by third-party applications like video views or website chats. Outreach Galaxy puts actionable information at reps’ fingertips so they can have more contextual conversations.
‘Next best actions’ enabled through integration partners. Outreach automates customer touchpoints and can trigger or be triggered by external information fed into Outreach.
Greater ability to meet changing buyer preferences. Outreach is the system of action for modern sales teams, and now enables reps to communicate with buyers through even more mediums.“
is evolving to become more personal and accurate. You must use the right
channel for the right engagement for the right prospect and customer,” said
Outreach CEO Manny Medina. “A sales engagement platform must be
multichannel and have the ability to optimize on each depending on the
customer. Now you can do that, with Galaxy.”
Marketing Automation vendor (Translation: Direct Mail Swag) PFL also announced
an Outreach integration. Sales reps include a direct mail or reward step within
all inundated with thousands of digital messages a day, but studies show that
touching something physical stimulates our emotions and ultimately improves the
perception of a brand,” said PFL CEO Andrew Field. “We are joining
the Outreach Galaxy partner program to put the power of direct mail and high
impact packages directly into the hands of sales reps so they can engage
prospects and customers. Together with Outreach, we are pioneering a new
approach to B2B marketing that empowers sales reps to do what they do best:
stand out, get noticed and close more deals.”
listed a set of future partners including Alyce, BombBomb, Clari, LeanData,
OneMob, and Tiled.
When composing emails, third-party content is immediately accessible. Vendors leveraging the new plug-in capability include Vidyard and Sendoso.
events stream plugin feeds third-party events to the Outreach activity feed.
These events can then act as triggers for additional action.
Encoding provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach
sequences. For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send
videos within your Outreach email. And when your prospect views the
video, that activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action
to convert at the highest level.”
Outreach will roll out an enhanced Team Performance Dashboard and expanded
Sequence Analytics to help sales managers and sales operations professionals
better determine best practices.
Outreach customers have has already built integrated solutions using the
Outreach API. The firm has over 40,000 weekly active users performing 47
Outreach added Out of Office reply detection. The firm noted that 18% of email responses are out of office emails. Amongst out of office messages, 25% include an alternate contact name with over half the names being manager titles or above. The Out of Office reply detection extracts the return date and alternate names then pauses cadences until the prospect returns. The sales rep is notified of automated actions.
“Modern sales means using technology to interact with buyers in the ways they expect. Outreach has the responsibility to enable this, but we can’t do it alone. The solution is a variety of different technologies. Unfortunately, these solutions aren’t well coordinated, if at all. They’re used on multiple computer windows, by multiple departments, using different devices. We owe it to our mutual customers to string everything together, for reps to do their jobs on one single pane of glass with each action informing the next.”
Outreach Strategic Programs Manager Stephen Farnsworth
Congratulations to Outreach (#15) and Drift (#22) for making the LinkedIn Top 25 U.S. Startups list. To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held, and headquartered in the U.S. Selection is based upon employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018
Coincidentally, I just began covering Drift in my subscription newsletter. They will be covered here in two weeks following my standard embargo. I’ve been covering Outreach for several years.
Outreach is a sales engagement platform that helps sales reps manage their multi-channel communications with customers and prospects. Along with templates and cadence tools, Outreach offers call recording and coaching, analytics, a partner ecosystem, and meeting management. The firm has 285 employees and is looking to double its headcount over the next year following a $65 million funding round. LinkedIn noted that they have 2,400 customers.
Conversational marketing firm Drift landed a $60 million Series C round earlier this year. The funds will be used to quadruple its office space with an expanded presence in Boston and new space in San Francisco. As one-third of their clients are outside of the United States, they plan to open international offices later this year.
The Drift platform removes webforms and offers chatbots for conversational discovery and qualification. “A sale doesn’t get made until a conversation happens. So, with Conversational Marketing, we created a new way of doing marketing and sales that removed the roadblocks and hurdles that can get in the way of someone talking to your business. This creates a better customer experience, makes it easier for people to buy, and ultimately creates a faster path to revenue,” said CEO David Cancel.
Drift supports email sequencing, revenue reporting, visitor id, chatbots, playbooks (templates), reporting, email reply management, and meeting scheduling. A new Conversational Advertising capability provides conversational landing pages instead of webforms.
Drift’s goal is to be the Amazon for Business. “Amazon revolutionized how people buy with the one-click buying experience, and that’s what we all expect online today,” said Cancel. “But when it comes to B2B, the buying process is painful. Companies force buyers to fill out forms and jump through so many hoops just to talk to them, despite the fact that most buying decisions have already been made by the time someone comes to your website. We’re on a mission to build the most customer-centric company in the world and make B2B buying as easy as buying from Amazon.”
Sales Engagement vendor Outreach acquired sales training firm Sales Hacker. The acquisition amount was not disclosed.
Sales Hacker offers sales training webinars, conferences, podcasts, and online courses. Its blog draws 150,000 unique monthly visitors, and it runs meetups in more than thirty cities. The acquisition will allow Sales Hacker to drop sponsored content, raise the quality of its content, and enjoy access to a deeper set of industry insights.
“Sales is the only profession where the score gets zeroed every few months, which means the best reps are always looking for new ways to stay fresh and attack the coming quarter,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina. “By providing relevant, unbiased and actionable content directly from seasoned practitioners, Sales Hacker plays a key role in helping today’s reps understand the latest trends, get inside the mind of their buyer, and ensure they are not left behind.”
Sales Hackers’ eight remote employees will be retained including CEO Max Altschuler who will join Outreach as the VP of Marketing. However, Medina told GeekWire that Sales Hacker will continue as an independent company and will not provide preferential treatment to Outreach in its coverage. There will be no Outreach branding on the Sales Hacker site nor will Outreach have access to the Sales Hacker database.
“Our main impediment to growth is awareness that this [sales technology] category exists,” said Medina. “Given that we are the largest, the fastest growing, and the leader in the space, I felt like it was upon us to inject the tide that will raise all boats.”
Medina argued that his competitors will also benefit from greater category awareness, but “given that we are the biggest, we have the most funding, we are the fastest growing, it’s kind of like our responsibility to make sure that the industry continues to grow and the category continues to grow,” said Medina.
“The mission is bigger than just building a company,” said Altschuler. “It’s about building a whole new category around Sales Engagement and Revenue Efficiency. Like how Salesforce pioneered the Cloud and HubSpot pioneered Inbound.”
The deal came together at Outreach’s user conference when Altschuler, an angel investor in Outreach, sat down with Medina.
“Max has this incredible asset, and every year he needs to figure out a growth plan for it, and we have an incredible need to educate the community that sales engagement exists,” Medina said. “So we came together almost magically when we sat down to map out what our problems were, what his problems were, we realized ‘hey we have a lot of alignment here.’”
Outreach is valued at a half billion dollars following a $65 million round D in May. The firm has approximately 300 employees and plans to hire another 50 before the end of the year. It has grown from $0 to $30 million in annualized recurring revenue in three years.
“Outreach has passed the inflection point where it’s less about marketing the company and more about creating a market for the company,” said Altschuler. “Investing in Sales Hacker in this way will allow us to create a better content experience for our readers and our customers.”
Customer engagement platform Outreach announced a $65 million Series D last week, bringing its total funding to $125 million. The round was led by Spark Capital and includes investment from Sapphire Ventures as well as from existing investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, MHS Capital, Microsoft Ventures and Trinity Ventures.
Business Insider placed the valuation around $500 million, more than double the Series C valuation. The firm is eyeing an IPO in 2021 subject to market conditions.
Funds will be deployed towards product development “with a specific focus on machine learning and extending the platform beyond the sales team to every customer-facing role.”
Outreach rolled out the first application of its Amplify AI platform in March for intent classification. “This feature detects the intent of an email reply from a prospect and uses that intent to automate or recommend the next best action for the sales rep to take,” blogged product storyteller Chelsey Feldman. “Our intent classification capabilities use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to go beyond reply rates and measure whether replies are positive, objections, or unsubscribe requests…The result is the ability to measure email effectiveness and classify intent at scale.”
The firm now describes itself as a Customer Engagement company that is employing machine learning “to scientifically test, measure and optimize the performance of sales teams, while also automating non sales-related tasks.”
Medina blogged about this broader company vision last week:
Our mission is to help innovators, the evangelists of new technologies who face a lot of no’s before reaching the yes, to get their products to the people who need them, to successfully build new markets, and to fund the cycle of continuous innovation. For the past couple of years we delivered against that mission by equipping sales reps and leaders to drive predictable and measurable growth, to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the team, and to improve visibility into sales activities and team performance. We pioneered a new category of technology – the Sales Engagement Platform – that drove significant bottom line results for our customers.
But achieving revenue efficiency and delivering a world-class experience to every customer is the job not just of your sales team, but of every customer-facing employee. Many of our customers have already realized the power of Outreach to drive efficiency and lift across the revenue organization and are using Outreach for account management and customer success in addition to pipeline generation and closing. The category has effectively grown beyond Sales Engagement to become Customer Engagement…
You can only make smart decisions around improving customer experience if you can measure the outcomes of every process for all customer scenarios, and understand how those outcomes directly impact revenue. The next revolution in business will be driven not by big bang AI programs that produce lofty recommendations that are difficult to put into action, but by stacking thousands of these quick wins on top of each other to drive efficiency into every corner of the business.
“Outreach has been instrumental in creating and evolving the customer engagement category, which is growing at an exponential rate,” said Alex Clayton, Investor at Spark Capital. “Outreach’s technology, approach and leadership team make it poised to capture this multi-billion dollar opportunity.”
The Series D follows after a strong 2017 where the company doubled its customer base and posted more than 100% revenue growth. Outreach also doubled its headcount over the past year to 300 employees with a goal of 350 by the end of the year. The firm has 22,000 global users and 2,400 customers including Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, and DocuSign.
“The customer engagement category is experiencing explosive growth, due in large part to high rates of usage, a rarity for enterprise software which is often used as a data repository or even worse, purchased and forgotten,” said CEO Manny Medina. “Our north star isn’t number of customers, it’s number of Weekly Active Users. This metric is proof we have created a technology that not only drives revenue, but also is viewed as indispensable to every member of the revenue team.”
Usage remains high with 75% of sales reps signing in daily. “Now salespeople have a place to live,” Medina said.