BrainSell announced the immediate availability of their SalesLoft Plug-in for Sugar Sell. The native integration provides SalesLoft multi-channel, cadence-based sales engagement from within SugarCRM. The plug-in supports data syncing for Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Emails, Calls, and user data. SugarCRM customers can create, update, and convert leads inside of SalesLoft.
“With the Sugar Sell integration, mutual customers gain an automated data flow between both systems. This means users maximize efficiency with less manual data processes and streamlined employee workflows,” wrote BrainSell.
“SugarCRM’s no-touch, time-aware customer experience platform acts as the nucleus of your company’s tech ecosystem to help companies create customers for life. We’re proud to have a partner like BrainSell focused on innovating the way they help customers grow. This integration completely streamlines and optimizes sales and development reps’ productivity by giving them tools like SalesLoft designed specifically for their role, all while ensuring data is pushed back and forth between Sugar Sell.”
Clint Oram, Chief Strategy Officer of SugarCRM
“At SalesLoft, we take pride in the deep partnerships we have with companies like BrainSell to maximize the value our customers gain from using our solution,” said Sean Kester, SalesLoft VP of Platform Strategy. “With partners like BrainSell, we’re excited to expand the value of our platform by enabling our customers to integrate all their data in Sugar Sell, all while positioning sales teams to continue working within SalesLoft.”
The integration is available through SugarOutfitters for $2,495 per year for an unlimited number of users. The connector supports SugarCRM 7.0.0 and above.
Last month, BrainSell released a similar plug-in for Outreach. It is also available through SugarOutfitters for $2,495.
Continuing on the Vidyard theme from yesterday, Personal Experience platform Alyce has integrated Vidyard into its e-gifting service. The Vidyard partnership lets customers record or insert personalized videos “within the Alyce gifting flow, helping sales reps create deeper, more personal bonds and connections with prospects and customers.”
Alyce customers with a Vidyard Enterprise account may insert videos from the Vidyard library or record a custom video that is displayed on the Alyce gift landing page. Recommended gifts are based on an AI analysis of the “#5to9” experiences of individuals, ensuring that the gift and messaging are better targeted than generic swag and marketing templates.
As Sales Engagement platforms have noted improved open and response rates associated with personalized video, it is likely that customers and prospects will well receive a recorded message. Alyce claims up to a 50% improvement in click-through rates when personal videos are included in email invitations and a nearly 80% lift in landing page conversion rates.
“Our integration with Alyce provides customers with the ultimate way to deliver end-to-end personal experiences to prospects and customers by pairing personal video and personal gifting in one platform,” said Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard. “This partnership strengthens the movement around being personal in marketing and sales, which we and our customers embrace to build rapport and trust through the more engaging combined experience.”
Mutual customers can add a personalized video to Alyce’s email invitations. The thumbnail and associated video help “put a face to the name, and up your ability to be personal even more.” The video also appears o the gift landing page.
Marketing can deploy campaign-based videos. For example, a webinar follow-on Alyce message may be sent to webinar attendees or before events.
Alyce does not send a standard, generic item to customers and prospects. Instead, recipients can choose the recommended item, select an alternate item from the Alyce gift marketplace, or donate the value of the gift to a charity of their choice.
“The Personal Experience approach has a multitude of amazing use-cases to strengthen and enhance building personal bonds and professional relationships to help grow business. Integrating Vidyard personal video into Alyce platform itself to deliver face-to-face PX moments is a game-changer.”
Greg Segall, CEO of Alyce
Direct Marketing swag companies such as Alyce, PFL, and Sendoso seem to be trying out various names for their industry. Other frequent terms are one-to-one gifting, sending platform, and tactile marketing automation. Personal Experience seems too far afield as e-gifting usually involves swag, not services.
Alyce is based in Boston and has 170 employees in seven countries.
Vidyard redesigned its video creation and collaboration platform with a set of enhanced editing and security features. New capabilities include a Zoom integration, updates to its video hosting platform, an Android app, video commenting, and single sign-on (SSO) security.
The service continues to be available on a freemium basis with a series of tiers from free to enterprise (see the pricing table on the right).
Vidyard added new on-screen drawing and highlighting tools to its webcam and screen recording service. Users can customize videos by highlighting their screens with a variety of brush sizes and colors. When recording their screen and webcam at the same time, users can move their camera window on-the-fly to avoid covering up important visuals. Users may also add speaker’s notes, bullets, and talking points “on-screen, directly above their webcam.”
Vidyard updated its iOS app and added an Android app, helping users “record and share videos anytime, anywhere.” Videos may be quickly recorded and shared with a branded video sharing page. Both the app and desktop applications share a common video library, providing access to the same set of pre-recorded videos.
Viewers can leave comments and replies to shared videos, allowing colleagues and prospects to collaborate, provide feedback, or ask questions. The senders receive comment notifications to help expedite closing the communications loop. This feature is available for Pro, Teams, and Enterprise users.
Pro, Team, and Enterprise video users may secure access via private passwords and SSO.
New enterprise features include transcribing, closed captioning, video thumbnail customization, viewer permissioning, and publishing to public and private channels.
A new Zoom integration for Business and Enterprise licensors lets users automatically sync recorded Zoom calls into their accounts once the call completes. Recording security features include SSO and passwords. Recorded sessions may be viewed on a dedicated video sharing page.
“Businesses are quickly evolving their sales, marketing, and communications strategies to align with a digital-first communication world. Video is a huge part of that, as it’s simply more efficient, more expressive, and more effective than standard text. Today’s businesses need a simpler, smarter, and more scalable way to put the power of video into their people’s hands. We’re excited to deliver on that need with a new breed of video creation and hosting solutions that turn any business professional into a video creator and any organization into a video-first business.”
Vidyard CEO Michael Litt
“We’re only scratching the surface of how video can be used to create a more connected, engaged, and efficient workforce in the digital age,” said Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard. “With the barriers to video creation and sharing all but gone, we’re excited to see how businesses across all markets will capitalize on the power of video in the months and years ahead to enhance everything from sales and marketing to internal communications and employee engagement.”
Vidyard has 220 employees based in Kitchener (Ontario), Vancouver, Boston, and Dublin. The firm’s conversion rate from freemium to paid has increased during the pandemic.
Tomorrow I will be discussing the Vidyard integration into Alyce’s Personal Experience (gifting) platform.
HubSpot has measured aggregated sales and marketing platform activity across its 70,000 customers since the pandemic began and benchmarking this activity against the pre-COVID level (January through early March). Looking back at Q2, CMO Kipp Bodnar noted that “the data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.”
Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer,” commented Bodnar. “While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.”
Marketing email open rates are up ten to twenty percent above pre-COVID levels, with the last week of June running 18% above the baseline.
Sales teams have been less successful in their outbound communications. While sales emails have risen 60% since mid-March, “response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.”
Sales email open rates are down 25 to 30%. “As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes,” warned Bodnar. “So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.”
“Volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.”
HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar
Website traffic increased during the pandemic as decisionmakers and influencers began working from home. Global site traffic is up 16% in Q2 vs. Q1 with it peaking at 24% above the benchmark on April 20th. Software industry site traffic is running at 40% above pre-pandemic levels.
Customer-initiated chat levels have also risen sharply during the pandemic. Total volume is up 31% over the pre-pandemic baseline, with every measured industry seeing increased volume. “Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support,” observed Bodnar.
Call prospecting has dropped significantly during the pandemic as it has become more difficult to reach individuals who are now working at home. Call prospecting fell as much as 27% below baseline the week of April 6th and now is down around 9%. Before COVID, there was a rough balance between phone and email prospecting, but in Q2, email activity doubled that of phone calls. “Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates,” argued Bodnar.
Deal Creation has improved in eight of the eleven weeks since April 6th, with deal creation up the past four weeks. APAC deal creation was down 5% in Q2, North America down 6%, EMEA down 12%, and LATAM down 12%. Large companies have recovered deal creation activity faster than small firms. Computer Software deal creation was down 3% in Q2.
Deal Won has improved ten of the last eleven weeks, after dropping to 36% below baseline the week of April 6th. For the full quarter, deals won were down 11%. Smaller firms did best at closing deals, with larger firms posting the weakest performance, likely due to large firms selling a greater percentage of high-dollar, strategic deals that would have stalled in their pipeline. Computer software Q2 was 14% above baseline, but this probably overstates industry performance due to Q1 often being the slowest month of the year and the loss of many “hockey stick” end of quarter deals at the end of Q1 as the pandemic struck. Some of these likely slipped into Q2.
Bodnar provided three suggestions for Q3: invest in chat, shift from quantity to quality in sales prospecting and communications, and invest in online discoverability.
Sales Engagement vendor Outreach presented its 2020 product roadmap at its Unleash virtual conference. The most compelling announcement was Kaia, its voice-enabled sales assistant that works alongside sales reps during video calls to record, transcribe, and deliver real-time assistance. Other new capabilities include Sequence Intent Reporting, Outreach Voice Connectors, and Bombora Intent Scores.
“I’ve been waiting five years for Outreach Kaia. This is the most powerful tool to be introduced in the sales industry in a long time, and we are very excited to be bringing the next generation of sales technology to life,” crowed Outreach CEO Manny Medina, who demoed the digital assistant during his keynote. “Now more than ever, sales teams need Outreach Kaia — especially when so many of them are working remotely. Outreach Kaia’s ability to surface real-time information exactly when a sales rep needs it during a live conversation is powerful.”
“Imagine you’re on a sales call, and someone asks you a question about your product or your competitor’s pricing, and you don’t know the answer. Well, Outreach Kaia will automatically pull up the information you need – in real-time. This level of intelligent assistance will make sales teams productive immediately. Outreach already drives a nearly 5x return for our customers. Now, with Outreach Kaia, we expect that ROI to soar.”
Outreach CEO Manny Medina
Kaia (Knowledge AIAssistant) delivers guided engagement for sales reps. At the outset, reps are shown meeting and attendee information. Tabs provide additional details on the account and opportunity, providing a quick pre-meeting review opportunity. As the call gets underway, real-time transcription and analysis take place so that reps do not need to jot many notes during the call. At any point, the rep can set a bookmark or add a short note. As the note is stored in context, it might only require a word or two (e.g. Roadblock, Budget).
Kaia both records and analyzes the discussion, providing in-line prompts to the rep, such as a quick overview of a third-party mentioned during the call, short answers to technical and product questions, or objection handling tips. The answers and objection handling are customer-defined, ensuring that company-specific details are displayed on a just-in-time basis. Not only does each content card provide a technical and product backstop for new sales reps, but it allows experienced reps to speak with confidence on more technical details or dynamic topics from which they might shy away.
Content and people cards are trackable, “so managers can see which cards produce the best results and scale these insights across their teams,” wrote Product Storyteller Sunny Bjerk.
Kaia also notes action items during the call, again relieving reps of note-taking duties. After the call, a summary is emailed to the rep with a set of action items, bookmarks, notes, and attendees. The rep can then customize the document and share it with other stakeholders.
Kaia is displayed as a meeting participant, with attendees alerted at the beginning of the call that is it being recorded. Transcripts and recordings are “securely stored within Outreach, which has enterprise-grade security measures already in place.” Transcripts are available for training or review after the call.
Outreach Kaia is available for Early Access Signup for the summer 2020 beta and will be generally available in late 2020. It is currently available for Zoom video conferencing with additional video partners in development.
CEO Manny Medina used his Outreach Unleash virtual conference, which was rescheduled from an early April live event, to inspire and motivate leaders to pivot their businesses. Noting that his company nearly failed before finding value in some internal sales engagement tools that saved his company, he discussed two strategies for companies: hunkering down or pivoting. His recommendation was to pivot into new markets, products, and messaging. For most companies, their “customer’s realities have changed, and the old value proposition won’t work.”
Some will hunker down, pare employees, marketing, and spend, hoping to wait out the storm. This is a survival strategy, but it leaves the company weakened when things improve and demand returns. Hunkering down assumes that the current situation is temporary and won’t have a long-term impact on their markets. Firms that hunker down may survive, but they cede market share, ongoing product development, and an understanding of evolving market requirements. Bolder competitors continue to build their product, establish relationships, and prepare for the thaw.
There are a few companies in segments where demand is exploding. These lucky firms need to manage explosive growth around e-commerce, e-delivery, or digital services. To these firms, Outreach is asking how can we best meet your needs? But most companies do not fall into those categories.
“A lot of customers are coming to us looking for guidance on how to get through this. They want insight into how to manage their teams remotely and how to pivot their business.”
Outreach CEO Manny Medina
Medina recommends pivoting in search of new markets, products, and opportunities. Doing so requires that firms carefully analyze their skills, assets, and messaging. Firms need to “measure and iterate,” “be one with the customer,” and “act with urgency.” Sales reps and management need to be doing more check-ins with clients. The goal isn’t to be selling today, but sharing ideas, building trust, and empathetically discussing needs. Sales reps need to be disciplined and ”listen to understand, not to respond,” while management must identify new markets, personas, and messaging.
Medina views the pandemic and subsequent crisis in demand as an opportunity to grow, become more efficient, and get closer to one’s customers. In a shrinking market, the bold may not grow revenue; still, they will increase market share, investigate new opportunities, and build relationships, which will allow them to outperform when the market improves.
Outreach is “working hard to master the ability to create trusting relationships — at a distance,” said Medina. “Only two months ago, it was religion that you needed to meet someone in person to build trust – now we are doing it all over video.”
Now, COVID has given everyone an excuse to come in below their number this year. However, you have no excuse for not answering yes to the following questions.
– Did your teams become more efficient? – Did you iterate and pivot until you found a sweet spot that worked? – Did you level up your sales process to make WFH successful?
Now is the time to act on the things you CAN control. To build for the future.
Outreach CMO Max Altschuler
Internally, Medina has emphasized communications, switching from weekly emails to weekly videos and weekly office hours via Zoom. “It helps me be visible and showcase both a serious tone and an optimistic one.”
Outreach is also building loyalty amongst its staff. It has retained all of its 550 employees. To assist WFH parents, Outreach is providing $100 per week for educational materials, tutoring, tools, and supplies. Outreach has also provided additional support beyond its healthcare plan to employee families impacted by COVID-19.
Outreach chose not to apply for PPP loans even though its investors suggested they do so. The firm, however, continues to invest 40% of its revenue in product development, preparing for the next market inflection point.
Outreach also chose to continue its expansion. It opened a London EMEA office in February with plans to its first East Coast office in New York City later this year. The firm has over 400 clients headquartered in NYC, nearly ten percent of its customer base. The new office will be led by Regional VP David Rubenstein who has over fifteen years of industry experience, the past six years at Salesforce.
Sales Engagement vendor Groove secured $12 million in Series A Funding. The round was led by Level Equity and Capital One Ventures, who joined existing investors Uncork Capital and Quest Venture Partners. The round brought total investment to $16 million. Groove has roughly doubled its revenue each year, reinvesting its income into product and engineering. The San Francisco-based firm was founded in 2014.
The new funds will be deployed to “drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”
“Groove has grown 103% year over year on average in a largely organic way and has invested deeply in product and engineering up until this point. This funding round enables us to drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”
Groove CEO Chris Rothstein
Rothstein is a former Google sales manager who co-founded Groove to address the sales problems that his reps faced at Google. Rothstein then signed Google as Groove’s first client.
“We believe that sales engagement will become a multi-billion-dollar market,” said Craig Rosenberg, chief analyst of TOPO Research. “Until now, the sales engagement market has been concentrated in the tech industry and focused on the prospecting use case. Other industries don’t have sales development teams dedicated solely to prospecting, but they do have thousands of sales reps trying to engage with their customers. Successful expansion into account executives will open the enterprise market for these platforms. We are seeing this trend accelerate post-COVID-19 as companies that have been slower to adopt remote working technologies are forced to embrace digital transformation.”
Groove describes itself as “the only sales engagement platform optimized to meet the customization and security requirements of enterprise revenue teams.” While most Sales Engagement Platforms initially focused on the Sales Development Rep (SDR) and later expanded into other roles, Groove was built to increase productivity for Account Executives with an emphasis on “ease-of-use, advanced activity capture, and cross-team collaboration.” Operations managers can configure the Groove platform “to meet the complex requirements of different divisions and organizations within an enterprise.” The firm also touts its unique architecture that “ensures the highest levels of security and compliance.”
Another difference between Groove and other SEPs is its data architecture. Other firms maintain a standalone database and sync it with Salesforce, but Groove leverages Salesforce as the system of record and runs as a managed package within SFDC. Employing Salesforce as their system of record allows Groove to manage custom objects, deliver zero-latency data display and reporting, and reduce administrative work. All fields are updated in real-time. Groove emphasizes that this architecture allows firms to quickly “onboard new hires into a proven system,” which supports “deployments of any size.”
Core features include
Flows (i.e. cadences), including phone, email, SMS, Sendoso (swag), and LinkedIn SNAP (Connect and Send InMail) steps
Email templates that pull dynamic variables from all Salesforce fields. Reps may personalize emails with the platform calculating personalization percent.
Email event capture, including reply, bounce, complete, import, open, and meeting booked. Branching logic supports task creation, linked flows, stop flow, and stop all flows across the account.
An integrated click dialer supports local presence, call outcome logging, voicemail drops, call recording, and international dialing. The click dialer is available within Gmail, Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Groove, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Call coaching features, including whisper, join, and listen
Inbound calls support a popup with reverse call lookup. Calls are routed to either a softphone or a mobile device.
Editable, customizable account lists which update Salesforce
Activity capture, including custom fields and objects. Firms can track the type of meeting, type of interaction, primary topic, and meeting outcome, helping managers understand “how much time they’re spending on demos versus support calls, or how many emails are cold prospecting emails versus answering questions about pricing.”
Analytics include activity reporting, account-based engagement levels, the best time of day and week for calling, and template performance.
A native meeting scheduler, which supports round-robin scheduling, calendar view links, and the option to offer specific times in emails. The scheduler supports custom field display based upon the type of meeting.
A Chrome extension that works alongside Gmail, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce. The sidebar is customized by role and allows users to click to related objects and search on all activities.
Out of Office capture with Flow pause
GDPR and CCPA compliance
Workspaces are a unique feature that allow users to build custom reports with flexible report selects and custom fields. Workspaces may be shared with colleagues and support task assignments. Groove describes the functionality as a dynamic worksheet with Salesforce data.
Because it is native to Salesforce, Groove can integrate with over 7.5 million applications via the Salesforce AppExchange. Additional direct partners include LinkedIn, Sendoso, Gong, Chorus, Vidyard, and HighSpot.
At some customers, Groove is deployed alongside Outreach, with Groove supporting Account Execs, Customer Success, and Business Development and Outreach deployed for SDRs.
Groove supports all revenue and customer success functions.
For a Series A funded Sales Engagement Platform, Groove provides a deep set of functionality and configurability; however, there are a few gaps. While the service offers many of the key partners supported by other vendors, integrations are primarily available through the Salesforce AppExchange. Groove does not provide any sales intelligence partners for lead generation or data enrichment. A power dialer for SDRs and a mobile app are also missing, though their platform is mobile responsive. Finally, Groove does not support AI-driven lead prioritization or next best actions, but it does have other AI-based capabilities.
Groove caught the attention of Capital One Ventures after it was successfully rolled out to Capital One field sales reps “while providing sales leadership with real-time visibility into their daily sales activities and performance.” Other business lines subsequently adopted the platform as a result of its initial success.
“When evaluating Groove as an investment, we felt that the company was poised to be the clear category winner. The sales engagement space is thriving right now, and Groove’s focus on supporting sophisticated AE use-cases and complex enterprise environments is setting them apart from the rest of the pack. As enterprises in new industries continue to adopt sales engagement platforms to make their revenue teams more productive, they will quickly see the unique advantages that Groove offers in terms of internal adoption, customization, and security.”
George McCulloch, Co-CEO, Level Equity
Groove has over 450 clients, including Google, Uber, Capital One, Atlassian, BBVA, and Veola Water. Over 50,000 sales, marketing, and customer success professionals use the Groove platform, with the average installation supporting 88 users. Core segments include Internet Services and Software, Financial Services, Education, Media, Manufacturing, and Professional Services. 17% of Groove’s revenue is derived from international clients.
Pricing is on a per-seat basis and runs $110 per user for all applications. Clients may also purchase seats by function with a subset of features at a lower per-seat price.
Groove was also one of 395 companies to make Inc.’s Top Places to Work list. The firm scored 100% on employee engagement. Groove also made the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, ranking #407.
“While Groove is in the business of helping sales and customer-facing teams drive more revenue, productivity, and customer satisfaction, we are equally committed to fostering a culture where employees feel supported, challenged, and fulfilled,“ said CEO Chris Rothstein.
Groove continues to list over twenty open jobs across product development, engineering, sales, and customer support.
Continuing my conversation with Sunshine Levin (Part I), Director of Customer and Analyst Relations at SalesLoft. One of the key features of Sales Engagement Platforms is cadences (aka sequences) which automate a set of outbound, multi-channel communications and monitor the response.
Because cadences are automated, reps do not need to schedule most tasks. Instead, next steps are automatically tracked, and current activity is recorded and synced with Salesforce. Furthermore, SEPs monitor response rates and support A/B testing. Levin recommends that admins review reports and dashboards to determine changes in the efficacy of tactics and messaging.
Another benefit of activity tracking concerns management visibility into sales rep activity and prospect engagement. In the current environment, where family members may be ill, and children are at home, managers need to be sensitive to each rep’s situation and not focus on traditional productivity metrics. To assist with planning, SalesLoft offers prioritization tools such as Hot Leads and a Pipeline View, their newly introduced, native offering resulting from the recently acquired Costello solution:
“For Salesforce users, SalesLoft Deals can give you a holistic view of everything that matters when managing a deal. Within SalesLoft Deals, Pipeline View will help your team prevent opportunities from slipping through the cracks, while Deal View can facilitate coaching and strategy conversations about opportunities during one-on-ones. Finally, keep an eye on deal health by reviewing Deal Gaps to identify opportunities that may be slipping and what you should do to get deals back on track.”
Live Call Studio and Conversation Intelligence allows managers and trainers to listen in on sales calls, whisper suggestions to the rep, and join calls. These tools are particularly valuable for new reps that may have had little face-to-face training before offices were closed and for target accounts where reps are looking for additional assistance on major deals. Calls may be recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, providing a basis for call post-mortems and training. Automated indexing allows reps and managers to review critical points (e.g. Next Steps, Pricing, Competitors) afterward. Analytics also assess engagement (was it a true back and forth or a few comments with long monologues) and calculate the frequency of filler words. Playlists provide a library of sales best practices, allowing new hires to listen to snippets around product, pricing, competition, objection handling, etc. Should a rep have difficulties on a topic, she can forward a conversational snippet to the appropriate expert or subject owner (e.g. manager, product marketing, customer support) for feedback. Conversational snippets present the voice of the customer to the subject matter expert, providing an unfiltered view of the question or concern.
Leaderboards help encourage healthy rivalry between reps.
SalesLoft noted that home Wi-Fi connections could be spotty, so reps may need to connect through their router directly. A second option is to set up call passthrough where the call is initiated from a mobile app or the browser and is handled as a mobile or landline call. Call passthrough provides an alternate, higher quality channel while recording both sales activity and conversational intelligence.
SalesLoft’s platform has matured from a Cadence service to SDRs to a broader sales engagement platform that supports account execs, customer success managers, and WFH use cases. The core cadence feature set is now accompanied by conversational intelligence, enhanced analytics, and deal management tools buttressed by a growing ecosystem of application partners.
I had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of using Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) for work from home (WFH) staff with Sunshine Levin of SalesLoft. Levin emphasized that many Sales Engagement tools assist remote sales reps and managers. SEPs help with sales productivity, activity and account prioritization, sales messaging, activity capture, pipeline analytics, and rep coaching.
Levin was recently promoted to Director of Customer and Analyst Relations and had expected to be discussing SalesLoft’s new product positioning and product packaging at their March REV2020 conference. Instead of greeting 2000 customers and prospects in San Francisco, the firm conducted its keynote session virtually and is now communicating their value proposition in a new work environment.
At the heart of Sales Engagement Platforms are multi-channel cadences that provide a multi-step approach to establishing an initial relationship with prospects. Reps are not only working from home but so are most of their likely targets. Thus, cadences and messaging should be adjusted in the near-term. Reaching out to prospects via standard channels is likely to be low yield due to WFH, so diversifying communications across multiple channels such as phone, email, social, SMS, and tactile (swag and e-gifting) make sense.
Also, with prospects at home feeling isolated, personalized one-to-one videos are likely to be even more effective. Reps can insert personal videos into emails or social links. SalesLoft research indicates that videos from Vidyard, Videolicious, and VidGrid generate two to three times the email open rates versus general emails.
While Sales Engagement Platforms offer templated emails, they are more effective if personalized. SalesLoft’s research found that 20% personalization is optimal. Personalization helps refine the message for each client and conveys authenticity. It also allows reps to modify their messaging around the current work, health, and economic environment.
SalesLoft, along with many of its peers, offers LinkedIn SNAP connectors, which are integrated into cadences. Reps can send InMails, request connections, submit introduction requests, and conduct research from within SEPs and CRMs.
“LinkedIn-specific steps help salespeople stay focused, do less application switching, and deliver a better sales experience.”
Sunshine Levin, SalesLoft Director of Customer and Analyst Relations
SalesLoft now supports LinkedIn’s Data Validation Flag, which warns users that a contact is no longer at a company listed in the CRM. If the company differs between LinkedIn and the CRM, a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM. The flag is displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns. SalesLoft automation rules can then trigger workflows based on whether a buying committee member has left or whether an admin or champion at a customer has changed jobs. These insights help reps evaluate whether an opportunity may be in jeopardy, the likelihood of closing this quarter pushed out, or they need to move quickly to identify new buying committee members or champions.
“Customers leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator Data Validation are now able to use real-time insights to influence critical workflows when their prospects and customers change jobs,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan. “Ultimately, this saves time spent reviewing customer data manually, and it will increase the quality of all opportunities as salespeople progress through the buying cycle.”
AI-powered sales engagement service ScaleX.AI announced the availability of SocialFlow, which leverages employee networks for warm introductions at target buyer personas. According to ScaleX, most firms use only 3% of their employees’ professional networks. Social Flow unlocks the remaining 97% of connections for generating warm introductions.
“Successful outbound requires a perfect mix of quality and quantity. With the launch of SocialFlow, we’re further enhancing the quality that our clients have come to expect. This is truly the first-ever AI for Social Selling engine on the market today!”
ScaleX CEO Chad Burmeister
virtual BDR automates social outreach in parallel to phone and email. Once
one of these channels makes a connection, the other channels are halted.
ScaleX features include
Social & Email Automated Cadences
Agent-assisted power dialing
Social & Email templates with proven conversions
Leads from Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, Lead411, and SalesIntel at a monthly rate vs. an annual commitment
Digital paid ads optimized for impressions
positions itself as an automated BDR at a lower cost than direct sales
staff. The firm describes its ideal customer as “companies who
either can’t afford to hire a full-time SDR or BDR (Sales or Business
Development Representative) or companies who want to augment their in-house
sales team with outsourced Virtual BDRs that are 7-10X more productive.”
ScaleX Virtual BDR (BDR as a Service) starts at $3,000 per month for data and
digital outreach, and $7,000/month for data + digital (email, social, paid-ads)
+ data. Monthly outbound communications include around 3,000 emails per
month, 3,000 social sales activities, thousands of impressions, and 3,000
cited research by one of their Board members that the SDR function grew 500
percent from 2012 to 2017 and another 80-90 percent in 2017-2019. Burmeister
questions how long SDR employment growth will last before automation improves
the efficiency and effectiveness of SDRs, causing the role to plateau, and
was originally called Sales Hack, but they changed their name when Outreach
acquired Sales Hacker.