European Sales Acceleration vendor Cognism continues to demonstrate strong
momentum out of the gate with a second funding round. The firm closed on
a £2.8 million round from investors including Oliver Wyman, South Central
Ventures, LCIF, Newable, and existing investors.
The expansion capital will be
“used to enhance the solution for Enterprises and also expand the offering into
the Financial Services sector.”
“Cognism is moving beyond
sales intelligence and applying its patented machine intelligence technology to
understand the revenue challenges at the Enterprise level,” said CEO James
Isilay. “There is a natural fit between the data and analytics the
Cognism platform provides and the strategy that can then be derived to enhance
revenue at the Enterprise level. We are keen to showcase this value to this
sector and hope our collaboration with Oliver Wyman will propel us forward and
continue our strong growth.”
Cognism, which was founded in 2016, already has over 200 customers and has posted 617% revenue growth year-to-date. The firm offers a data set of 400 million global companies and contacts. Their Prospector service supports persona based prospecting, sales intelligence, and CRM connectors. Other products include Refresh CRM enrichment and Engage sales acceleration (sales engagement).
“Our clients are continuously looking for new ways to accelerate growth. Cognism technology will provide our clients with dynamic insights into their existing client base, enabling them to develop more targeted solutions and improving sales success. At the same time, Cognism technology will allow our clients to make a step change in their prospecting efforts. Cognism’s data asset will allow our clients to identify prospects matching detailed personas, leveraging data on over 400M companies and individuals.”
Kai Upadek, Partner at Oliver Wyman
Cognism also announced the addition of Vidyard GoVideo to outbound emails. Vidyard’s video “selfies” help sales reps personalize communications and “build stronger relationships with their prospects” with “one-to-one videos on-demand in a matter of moments.”
Sales Acceleration vendor SalesLoft added two new integrated features at the end of last year. From a SalesLoft smart panel, sales reps can view, edit, create, and one-click access Salesforce Opportunities. SalesLoft also added a “log emails from anywhere” feature which captures prospect and customer communications from mobile devices.
Integrated Salesforce Opportunity data provides greater conversational context by surfacing current and historical opportunities and associated information. It also reduces the workflow involved in toggling between applications and rekeying key details across platforms. Bi-directional synching ensures that “opportunity status and stages synced as you’re engaging with your prospects and customers.” SalesLoft also supports one-click new Opportunity creation functionality.
“Opportunities are both a core component of your sales cycle and a leading indicator of the success of your revenue team. Your SDRs are hustling to create them, your AEs are actively working them and bringing them over the line, and your success team is keeping your customers happy and renewing them.”
Product Marketing Director Chris Murphy
The new email synching feature helps teams “log all email activities from their connected email accounts regardless of the device that it was sent from or whether they ‘loft’ their emails from Gmail or Outlook.” Admins control which team members are logged and can choose which domains to capture.
“So, for example, we will automatically prevent emails sent to your company email domain from being logged as activities as well as those “pick up milk on the way home” reminder emails sent to your personal email address,” said Murphy.
SalesLoft also announced an extended partnership with Vidyard which provides freemium recording and transmission of videos from within SalesLoft. Sales reps may attach video “selfies” to emails and email templates which display a custom video image. The integration also supports video playlists, making it easy for reps to include topical videos which address customer questions or concerns. Vidyard maintains view analytics, providing sales and marketing information about who watched and for how long, helping sales reps hone both messaging and identifying which videos are connecting with prospects.
SalesLoft claims significant improvements in response and bottom line impacts from including video in the communications mix:
8X higher response rates
5X higher click-through rates
20% higher close rates
30% larger annual contract values
“We all know you can’t simply communicate through a single channel,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester. “However, when paired together in an intelligent combination of communication channels, process, and technology will ultimately increase conversion rates.”
Sales Acceleration vendor Outreach is promoting its Outbound Analytics module which is currently in beta. Outreach describes itself as a complementary platform to CRMs which “triples the volume of meetings and increases qualified pipeline for front-line sales representatives.” The Account Based Sales Development vendor supports sales reps through personalized outbound programs which are logged back to the CRM. Other Outreach tools include workflow management, email templates, phone dialer, response detection, and a partner ecosystem. The system also supports integrations with Gmail, Salesforce, and Exchange.
“For far too long, sales teams have been severely underserved when it comes to their technology toolkit, with insufficient tools that act more like obstacles than accelerators,” said CEO Manny Medina. “Outreach takes a completely fresh approach to the old ‘sales as usual’ mentality, freeing up sales reps and giving them back valuable time to focus on selling. Building on the success of our core platform, we’re excited to announce Outbound Analytics that move customers a giant step forward in solving the active selling problem, giving sales reps actionable intelligence on where to spend their time and how best to engage with prospects. Combined with our automated workflows, sales reps become unstoppable.”
The new analytics module, which will be released in early 2017, supports Coaching Analytics, Prospect Intelligence and Engagement Insights.
Coaching Analytics identifies team members that are in need of mentoring as well as high performers who would make good coaches. “This eliminates the black box of sales communication by revealing insights on top performing sales techniques and providing detailed team performance measurement metrics,” said the firm.
Prospect Intelligence is gathered from Twitter, Owler, Compile, Datanyze, DiscoverOrg, and additional data vendors. The sales intelligence helps sales reps “monitor engagement and key buying signals at both the individual prospect and account levels.”
Engagement Insights are a set of recommendations which helps reps “pinpoint the most intelligent first move of engagement” whether that be phone, email or social along with the optimal time of day and content.
“The truth is out there and the question is how do you discover that and how do you put that into action,” said Chief Product Officer Andrew Kinzer. “When we look at analytics, what we’re really seeing is answers waiting to be discovered.”
“The best salespeople are people who are able to get into the customer’s head, empathize with the customer, and really solve a problem,” said Medina. “Our first goal in Outreach is to give them time back, so they can do more of it. Now what we are doing is we are actually taking some of the learnings that we got from being in the workflow and applying it to be more intelligent so their actions are more deliberate and more efficient.”
Medina argues that sales is becoming more outbound with reps now knowing much more about buyers that they did previously. Outreach is consolidating this online intelligence to reduce the time spent gathering information across “five to ten different websites” before returning to your “system of action to take an action.”
Outreach’s goals over the next few quarters is to build out their analytics module and have it “permeate every aspect of the product,” said Kinzer.
Outreach clients include Cloudera, CenturyLink, Pandora, Adobe and Zillow.
InsideSales.com is now offering “InsideSales Essentials,” a cloud-based sales acceleration service for SMBs (I have generally classified companies like this as Account Based Sales Development [ABSD], but Sales Acceleration is also a descriptor used by vendors in this category). The new offering supports email tracking and analytics, integrated dialer, email templates, call recording and monitoring, and automated voicemails. The service also bundles in local call number display in the top twenty-five metro areas. InsideSales claims that local number presentation improves contact rates by up to 38%.
“InsideSales has mastered sales across the enterprise, powering companies like Microsoft, ADP, and Groupon to increase revenue growth by up to 30 percent. With this new package, we’re taking what’s proven to work for some of the biggest brands and tailoring it for small business needs,” said Gabe Larsen, director of InsideSales.com Labs. “Essentials gives small and medium-sized businesses the power to sell smarter and help expand their company through strategic sales plays.”
InsideSales Essentials begins at $5,000 for five seats.
“Our mission is to leverage big data and cloud capabilities to unlock human potential through predictive analytics and machine learning,” said InsideSales CEO Dave 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.”
The firm was also just named to Forbes Cloud 100, placing it amongst the top private cloud companies in the world.
ABSD / Sales Acceleration is a rapidly growing field as firms look to formalize ABM processes amongst their sales development teams. I have seen such rapid growth amongst ABSD firms that I am including profiles of four ABSD vendors (QuotaFactory, KiteDesk, Outreach, and SalesLoft) in the next edition of my Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors. Inclusion is based upon the existence of a partner ecosystem which includes sales intelligence vendors. Because InsideSales.com does not offer such an ecosystem, they did not make the cut. However, the firm has seen rapid growth and would be considered amongst the leaders in this burgeoning field.
Mark Kovac of Bain and Company wrote an interesting piece on the topic of digital exhaust in Harvard Business Review. The short piece, titled “Using Digital Exhaust to Improve Sales,” provides three examples of how software vendors are combining big data and analytics to provide new tools to sales management.
Kovac defines digital exhaust as “the data generated from the regular activities of a sales force or their customers, to change the behavior of frontline sales representatives in ways that dramatically improve sales productivity and effectiveness” and provides examples from three firms including Lattice Engines.
The first firm, Volometrix, was acquired by Microsoft last year. Volometrix performs resource analyses to determine where sales reps are spending their time and which behaviors are positively correlated with sales performance. Unfortunately, the use case Kovac provides is about a firm that realigned company priorities providing more time for selling and therefore “too much sales capacity.” While efficiency is desirable, if software solutions result in efficiency improvements without much improvement in efficacy (ability to sell), then they will be resisted. This isn’t too say that Volometrix doesn’t provide efficacy gains (I only know them from the story), but case studies which focus on cost savings (efficiency) over revenue gains (effectiveness) may create situations where sales reps refuse to cooperate.
The second vendor discussed is GoToMeeting which is performing voice-to-text semantic analysis and discerning which phrases and approaches are more effective. The data gathered is anonymous (though I still see issues with recording calls, particularly in certain jurisdictions) and provides insights in how to more effectively sell. The software sounds a bit like SalesforceIQ but instead of focusing on email analysis, GoToMeeting is using conversations.
The final case study was predictive analytics company Lattice Engines which helps firms improve “call response rates, close rates and average order value.” Predictive analytics for sales and marketing is a growing class of recommendation software with a broad set of competitors including Leadspace, Infer, 6Sense, and Mintigo. Lattice Engines combines first-party and third-party data sets to score leads and recommend sales approaches. Unfortunately, Kovac focuses on the matched third-party data instead of the digital exhaust captured by the firm (he does mention loyalty scores and product purchase history).
There is a growing set of SalesTech vendors that are applying digital analysis to previously inaccessible datasets. While sales remains an art, these solutions are shifting the sales profession from a craft to a science. If vendors are to be successful, they need to focus more on efficacy versus efficiency. While sales could certainly become more efficient by reducing non-productive administrative activities (and reps are always happy to reduce dead weight time spent tracking problems, navigating contract signatures, and entering data), the focus should be on top-line growth and exceeding quota, not cost reduction. Otherwise, sales reps will resist their adoption.
Two weeks ago, Quota Factory announced a series of content and platform partnerships to their Prospect Relationship Management (PRM) service. The new Sales Development Hub partnerships address connectivity, analytics, gamification, prospecting, and data enrichment.
Quota Factory, which was incubated by Salesworks AG, launched its PRM service last September. Quota Factory is based upon fifteen years of experience refining account based prospecting for Sales Development Reps (SDRs). “After years of successful sales development operations, we productized our internal know-how into the most user-friendly and impactful B2B prospecting platform available today,” said Quota Factory CEO Peter Gracey. “With one platform for data, outbound messaging, call planning, reporting and automation, SDRs can now ditch the eight different logins for all the solutions they’re currently using and free up their time to do what they were hired to do – speak live with prospects.”
Quota Factory helps firms define an ideal customer profile and develops a phone and email database of targeted prospects. Tools include automated dialing, messaging templates, pre-built call planning, and daily objectives. The service also supports “rigorous rules around qualification criteria, ensuring that each rep fully qualifies and passes as many targeted prospects as possible through meaningful conversations.”
Gracey emphasized that the firm is self-financed. “We aren’t a venture backed firm and we are proud of that. We built our product with the profits made from our outsourcing business. Basically, we earned the right to build the best Prospect Relationship Management (PRM) platform by being phenomenal at…wait for it…sales development! No smoke and mirrors here. If it finds it’s way into QuotaFactory, you can bet the family dog it’s been vetted by actual SDRs first.”
Quota Factory announced new or expanded partnerships with
Bedrock Data: Data management and API connectivity
Ambition: Sales analytics and gamification tools
InsideView: Account and contact prospecting, data enrichment, and account intelligence (expanded)
HG Data: Technology vendors and products
Quota Factory worked with Bedrock Data to build its Sales Development Hub. Bedrock offers a data management platform which provides broad API connections. Bedrock Data helps firms “synchronize and manage” data across multiple data APIs. Quota Factory chose to work with a partner instead of building their own data store because “integrations are a tricky business. Companies can either choose to build each one individually on their own, or they can seek out an expert to do it for them. We fall into the latter category,” said Gracey. “Why learn on the job (and run the risk of hurting your customers as a result) when you can partner with a firm that does what you need for a living?”
“Empowering companies to get the most out of their business systems has always been our goal, said Bedrock CEO John Marcus. “By connecting QuotaFactory users to multiple prospecting data sources of their choice – through the Bedrock Data platform – sales professionals will gain an unfair advantage by having real-time access to critical sales and marketing data.”
The second partnership is with gamification and sales analytics platform Ambition which OEM’d its platform to Quota Factory. The integration provides account and management dashboards, challenge dashboards for contests, benchmarking reports, and custom reporting.
Gamification tools include “both SPIF-style challenges and ‘Fantasy Football’ style team competitions,” said Gracey. Contests can be built on the fly using “any metric, role, or timeframe.” Ambition then provides real-time contest tracking and shares the results with the team.
Quota Factory tested Ambition before licensing the service, providing it to their sales development reps and managers for feedback. “As part of any pre-partnership due diligence, we had to check out the software for ourselves first,” said Gracey. “Our internal team of SDRs love it, our managers can’t live without it, and as a result, our customers now get to use it. In fact, we were so impressed with the functionality, versatility, and impact that it had on our business, we gave it some prime real estate in our platform.”
InsideView is an existing partner, but Quota Factory expanded their license to support account and contact prospecting, data enrichment, and account research. Previously, account and contact actions were limited to single records managed by the SDR.
Gracey praised the flexibility of InsideView’s API for prospecting, account research, and data enrichment. Account and contact records can be enriched en masse or individually. When managed in bulk, the records can be cleansed (overwritten with InsideView values) or appended (enrich only null fields).
T0 promote the partnership, Quota Factory is including 10,000 free record enrichments to new and existing PRM customers.
Account information includes firmographics, recent news, and contacts.
HG Data is providing technology vendor and product data for companies. As with their other partners, Quota Factory vetted the partner through their own SDRs.
“Knowing the incumbent landscape you are entering before you even pick up the phone is pure gold for an SDR,” observed Gracey. “This is especially the case now that account based sales development (ABSD) is rising in prevalence and demanding a more focused and customized approach to prospecting. Focused prospect messaging driven by competitive intel builds confidence, promotes pre-call research, and drives quality conversation rates northward.”