Phil Garlick joined sales enablement vendor Brainshark as their VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships. Garlick held a similar role at Zoominfo prior to its February acquisition by DiscoverOrg. Before Zoominfo, Garlick was a founder of OneSource Information Services, a pioneer in the sales intelligence space. He guided the sales and marketing functions before ascending to President. He is joining Brainshark at a point when partnerships and integrated workflows are critical for sales and marketing teams.
“Phil’s deep experience in the sales intelligence and sales enablement markets, and his track record of success driving business growth, make him a valuable asset to our leadership team,” said Brainshark CEO Greg Flynn. “As Brainshark continues to expand its network of strategic partnerships, we’re confident that Phil’s expertise and customer-centric approach will help us continue to forge strong alliances that deliver great value to clients and improve their sales outcomes.”
Brainshark supports content authoring & management, sales training,
video coaching & practice, dashboards & analytics, and creative
Over the past half-decade, there has been a steady flow of former OneSource sales reps and management to Brainshark. Brainshark’s Chief Sales Officer, Colleen Honan, held a similar role at OneSource alongside Garlick.
“I’ve long admired Brainshark’s commitment to helping companies improve the readiness and results of their sales teams. This is a persistent challenge for organizations across industries and an area I’m passionate about. As Brainshark continues to innovate and enable sales teams to maximize their productivity, it’s an exciting time to join the company.”
Phil Garlick, Brainshark VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships
Note: Garlick was the President of OneSource Information Services while I was a Product Marketing Manager.
On the heels of Outreach’s $114 million Series E, SalesLoft landed a $70 million round D led by Insight Partners with participation from HarbourVest Partners, Emergence Capital, and LinkedIn. Total funding reached $145 million.
market valuation was not disclosed, TechCrunch indicated that the
valuation was around $600 million. Last year’s Round C valued the firm at
“As the creators of the Sales Engagement category, we’ll use this investment to continue leading the innovation that has come to define the category,” blogged CEO Kyle Porter. “This means investments in our ecosystem API, the mobile application, and our AI-powered sales coaching network.”
out a vision for The Sales Coaching Network of full-time digital assistants
which “gathers data from our network of distributed sellers and identifies what
works and what doesn’t.”
Coaching Network “learns best practices, proven effective across a variety of
situations. It identifies those outlier cases where a creative seller
finds a new, better solution, and adds those techniques to its coaching. This
allows others to learn from the experience of those more creative sellers.”
advice will be tailored to individual sellers and their current activities. According
to Porter’s vision:
The Sales Coaching Network brings out the best in every authentic human-to-human interaction. Sales can never be fully automated, but machines can coach humans in ways that improve our ability to deliver the customer with the best sales experiences while making decisions that allow them to generate the most revenue.
additional funds will also be directed towards expanding their services team,
certified partner network, professional services, and global support.
past few years, SalesLoft has evolved from a cadence service to a multi-channel
communications platform which supports inbound and outbound leads, meeting
management, analytics, and a partner ecosystem. Its top partner,
LinkedIn, is also an investor.
“We are seeing the highest usage in our LinkedIn integration among all the other integrations we provide,” said Porter. “Our customers find that it’s the third most important behind email and phone calls.”
called many of the sales tools on the market “dumb databases or repositories” which
“are not focused on improving how to connect buyers to sales teams in sincere
ways,” said Porter. “And anytime a company like Salesforce has moved into
tangential areas like these, they haven’t built from the ground up, but through
acquisitions. It’s just hard to move giant aircraft carriers.”
doubled revenues the past two years and recently opened an EMEA sales and
support office in London. Recurring revenue has grown ten-fold over the
past three years.
listed a set of reasons for Salesforce’s customer success including company
purpose, reliability, adoption, and impact. SalesLoft’s purpose is to
elevate the sales profession and promote authentic selling:
SalesLoft exists to activate the authentic seller in all of us. While some focus on simply sending more email, we focus on elevating the sales professional as a whole. Today’s buyers deserve an incredible sales experience… one that is sincere, human, and relevant to their needs. They want sellers to provide insights and solve their problems. It’s essential for sellers to take a buyer-centric approach. This is the heart of what we do.
Great sellers also need to be methodical and efficient. At SalesLoft we’re dedicated to helping you codify a scalable and effective sales process so you can consistently hit and exceed your targets.
is based upon email deliverability, phone quality, and application speed.
evidenced by their leadership position on the G2.com grid for Sales Engagement
while impact was borne out by a recent Forrester “Total
Economic Impact of SalesLoft” study which measured a 329% ROI, a 20% lift
in Sales Qualified Leads to Opportunity Conversion Rates, and a 13% improvement
in customer renewal rates.
software companies build a product to meet a market need and then focus purely
on selling. SalesLoft is different. This team is continually
innovating, pushing the boundaries, and changing the face of sales,” said Jeff
Horing, co-founder and MD of Insight Venture Partners. “This is one
reason the company’s customers are so devoted to them.”
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.”
Sales Engagement vendor SalesLoft acquired B2B SaaS Collaboration tool Noteninja. Durham-based NoteNinja provides meeting intelligence which transcribes, tags, and annotates meeting recordings. The service is managed by an AI bot which recognizes upcoming meetings on the rep’s calendar and attends the meeting.
“I realized our category of software was missing something important,” said SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter. “Neither us nor other engagement solutions were solving an additional problem. Customers told me they need more insights on what’s actually happening during sales meetings. They realize (and Gartner reports) ‘three out of four customers report spending more with a company because of a positive buying experience’. Modern revenue organizations need meeting intelligence software to solve painful problems.”
SalesLoft listed a set of sales challenges that are addressed by meeting intelligence platforms:
Tagging assists with meeting review, helping users search for key moments such as pricing discussions or prospect objections. According to Noteninja, “No longer do you have to click around a meeting aimlessly looking for the right spot. Save time and quickly hone [sic] in on the moments that matter for you and your team.”
Comments can be shared with co-workers or management, providing “game-film for meetings.” These excerpts can also be used for new hire training, objection handling, and learning from top reps.
“I’m incredibly proud for what this means to our customers and the advanced opportunity they will now have to deliver a better selling experience to their customers. With the acquisition of Noteninja, SalesLoft is providing our customers with the first full suite Sales Engagement Platform that combines sales cadences with sales intelligence, serving AEs, SDRs, CSMs, managers, and execs to generate the most revenue.”
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter
Noteninja supports major web conferencing services including GoToMeeting, Zoom, JoinMe, and WebEx. Google Calendar, Exchange, and Office 365 productivity applications are also supported. While a SalesLoft connector already exists, the firm is working on a native integration of NoteNinja capabilities which will be offered as a premium feature set within their product line. SalesLoft is targeting August for native availability.
SalesLoft complies with state privacy laws. “We deploy call recording governance for our current dialer and will be incorporating our technology across the platform as we integrate,” said VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester. “We also work alongside the governance and compliance assets deployed by screen sharing technologies.”
NoteNinja does not automatically join meetings with generic (consumer) emails nor does it join meetings with only internal staff. However, this rule can be overridden by including the Noteninja assistant in the attendees list.
Acquisition terms were not disclosed.
SalesLoft has grown to 277 employees with offices in Atlanta, Durham, and San Francisco. SalesLoft supports over 2,000 companies including Square, MuleSoft, Alteryx and Dell.
SalesLoft is ahead of plan in 2018. Q1 was above a “very aggressive” revenue plan to once again double revenue in 2018. Q2 is tracking 120% of plan.
Approximately one-third of NoteNinja customers are joint licensors of the SalesLoft solution.
Todd Berkowitz, Research Vice President at Gartner, sees Account Based Marketing (ABM) as increasing tensions between sales and marketing in the short-term. While ABM has long been advocated as a facilitator of departmental alignment, he sees ABM as disrupting sales processes and generating friction:
“Between ABM and adoption of various new technologies and data types, there is a lot of disruption that is happening with regards to sales teams. Even if these changes are going to be beneficial to tech companies in the medium-term, and some of the “A sellers” get on board quickly with the changes, there are many sales reps that will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world. (This is why I always advise trying an ABM pilot with a select set of reps). So even if there is pretty good alignment and agreement between CMOs and sales leaders, don’t expect all reps to magically do what they are being asked to do. There needs to be an adjustment period, along with good sales enablement, before everyone plays nicely.”
So, while ABM will facilitate agreements in process, messaging, and metrics in the medium-term, it will generate resistance amongst sales reps unwilling to adopt new processes and tools or unconvinced of its value. This friction is probably exacerbated by predictions of sales force reductions due to the implementation of AI and other information and workflow technologies.
Resistance to technological change has long been an issue. Early in the Industrial Revolution, The Luddites sabotaged British plants, particularly cotton and wool mills. While sales reps are unlikely to sabotage initiatives (or their careers), they may hesitate to learn new platforms or adopt new processes. As such, the problem may be more akin to soldiering, the assembly line equivalent of reducing individual productivity to the level of the laggards on the line. Frederick Taylor, the father of time and motion studies, was very concerned about soldiering and recommended piece work rates to create productivity incentives. But sales reps are very attuned to incentives. While they may be hesitant to adopt new technologies, they will do so if they help make them more efficient and effective at selling. So long as sales reps are paid on a commission basis and long-term employment is tied to making quota, the level of soldiering should be minimal.
This isn’t to say that sales reps won’t resist learning new tools. If they believe the time invested in such training is less than the incremental revenue for the lost selling time spent in training, then they will avoid training and learning new tools. However, if they see others on their team benefiting from the new tools, they will not hold out long term. Thus, tool training needs to be visibly supported by management with an emphasis upon the benefits to sales reps (e.g. less time spent on non-sales tasks and more time interacting with customers and prospects, improved account intelligence, improved account targeting and message timing). With the proper incentives and information, resistance should be minimal.
To help ensure adoption, vendors should be looking to integrate solutions into CRMs, email, and mobile devices so that new tools are integrated into current workflows. They should also be providing inline tool tips, initial training focused on their capabilities which provide high levels of efficiency and efficacy improvements, tool-based win stories, and usage tools for tracking training, usage, and ROI. A few gamification elements may also be in order, but they should be organic to the product and not hokey.
When training sales reps, I emphasize staying “above the fray.” Besmirching a competitor’s product also sullies your reputation. It shows a lack of class and a sense of desperation. Oftentimes it can backfire.
“It is a mistake to believe that you can win hearts and minds by attacking your competitor. When you have no idea how strong the relationship is, you can make a complete fool of yourself, doing more harm than good, and doing nothing to create a real opportunity.
Speaking ill of your competitor is an indication of who you are, not who they are. There are better strategies available to you.”
It is much better to position the value of your offering and focus on areas of differentiation than it is to throw mud. You should lay landmines for competitors, not besmirch their reputation.
A landmine is simply an emphasis upon those features and benefits where your product or service offering excels. The goal is to frame the discussion around the dimensions in which your product provides superior value to the end user. Keep in mind that value is dependent upon the customer in question, so you need to factor in job function, industry, company size, etc. Also, be careful to select areas in which your firm excels overall, not dimensions in which you are superior to competitor X that is vying for the deal but inferior to competitor Y. Otherwise, you may later find out you lost the deal to Y.
Likewise, you should expect your competitors to be laying landmines for your sales reps. They need to understand where these mines are laid and how to diffuse them.
One tool I recommend is the quick parry. This is a quick response to the question, “how are you better / different than company X?” A quick parry is only three or four sentences and usually begins by saying something positive about the competitor before transitioning with a BUT or HOWEVER. The positive item can be a recognition of some dimension in which they are the acknowledged leader or a dimension which is of limited importance to the customer in question. Thus, if you are selling to an SMB, you might emphasize the breadth of their solution for enterprise customers vs. the ease of use, quick implementation, and pricing models you offer for smaller firms. Such a tool differentiates your service from the competitor without throwing mud.
Of course, sales reps will only be able to deploy landmines and respond with quick parries if they understand both the value proposition of their offerings, the needs of their clients, and the strengths and weaknesses of their offerings vis-à-vis competitors. This is where tools and training come into play.
A joint study by DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools of 200 sales and marketing organizations found that high growth companies with at least 40% growth over the past three years are 2.5 times more likely to have adopted an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Furthermore high growth companies are twice as likely to have successful cold calling programs and are more likely to have a dedicated outbound prospecting team. High growth firms are also more likely to hire sales reps based upon their “tech-savvy” than experience and have adopted twice as many sales technologies than their slower growth brethren. With respect to MarTech, high-growth companies have adopted 24% more marketing solutions.
The study also found that fast growth companies provide at least three hours of coaching or training per week to their sales teams. At slower growth companies, training appeared to have less of an effect. According to the report, “While an increase in training hours correlated with a rise in growth rates for the high growth group, it did not with low growth companies. This suggests that training may not in of itself cause growth, but it is critical in sustaining it. Fast growing organizations need to train constantly to maintain momentum and enable teams to perform at a high level. Companies that err on the side of less training and coaching do not appear to set their teams up for the same level of success.”
“The findings clearly demonstrate that achieving fast growth is not as simple as having a great product and hiring experienced sales reps. Sales and marketing teams that are true revenue-generating engines take risks and do the hard things – like cold calling, focusing on data quality, and heavily aligning sales and marketing teams across account-based strategies.”
– DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck
“Technology proliferation in the sales and marketing industry is both a challenge and an opportunity,” added Nancy Nardin, CEO of Smart Selling Tools. “The fastest growing companies are investing in technologies that make their sales and marketing teams more productive and more insightful, while recognizing it is equally as important to have highly trained team members who know how to leverage that technology to its fullest power.”
The primary inhibitor of even faster growth at high growth companies was data quality issues concerning accounts and contacts.
The top technology available to sales reps were CRM (52%) and LinkedIn (free LinkedIn was deployed at 45% , premium LinkedIn at 33%, and Sales Navigator at 27% of sales teams). Pipeline and Opportunity Management software was third at 42%. Rounding out the top five were compensation/commission software and sales intelligence, both with a 38% deployment rate. Surprisingly, 37% of sales teams still employ account and contact data providers / list providers. As sales intelligence vendors support list building along with sales intelligence (and some also data hygiene), there are likely ongoing opportunities to move sales teams up the value chain from list purchases.
Predictive analytics / predictive intelligence placed 36th out of 37 technologies with only a 5% deployment rate. As Gartner estimated the total global market for predictive analytics technology to be between $100 and $150 million, this low penetration rate should not be overly surprising.
The study, conducted in November, used 40% growth between 2013 and 2016 (estimated) as the high growth cutoff as it is represents the recent growth floor for Inc. 5000 membership. Of the 200 firms studied, 17% fell into the high-growth category, 69% fell into the low-growth category (1-39%), 13% had flat revenue, and 1% had declining revenues. The survey was over weighted to technology companies with software, IT Services and Telco as the top three industries surveyed. 82% of the firms were B2B and 85% were headquartered in the US.
Technology Sales Intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg formally launched a sales and marketing training program called TiLT. The certification program is available at no charge to DiscoverOrg clients. Three programs are planned for sales development, marketing, and account executives with a ten module sales development program now available. The marketing program should be available by early Q4.
“DiscoverOrg’s mission is to provide actionable sales and marketing intelligence that enables our customers to open the door to growth like they’ve never experienced, and we are leading by example. Our experience as one of the fastest growing companies in the country over the past decade gives us a unique perspective, and the TiLT training program is grounded in real-life, practical examples of what works and doesn’t work in today’s incredibly tough sales environment,” said Henry Schuck, CEO of DiscoverOrg.
The training sessions are platform and sales methodology agnostic and allow the sales rep to engage in “microburst learning” with a combination of videos and curated content. Each module includes a recorded challenge with students self-reporting their level of sales-skill confidence along the way. Course metrics are then available to sales managers for tracking the progress of their staff. Thus, a new sales development rep might take two sessions per week over the course of five weeks.
DiscoverOrg is looking to improve the success of its sales clients, many of whom have devalued the value of good salesmanship. “Conversation is a lost art due to the advent of technology,” said DiscoverOrg’s Senior VP of Customer Success David Sill.
Sheri Schiffman, Director of Inside Sales for WatchGuard, commented on a recent new hire TiLT training session for their Inside Sales team, “We were looking for a way to decrease ramp-up time for new sales employees, and give them new techniques for converting leads to sales. The TiLT training was relevant and provided immediately applicable information and sales skills. Their commitment to our success is outstanding, and we are looking forward to running other new employees through the training in the future.”
The ten-part sales development program contains the following modules:
When LinkedIn acquired Lynda last year, I expected they would quickly integrate Lynda training tools into Sales Navigator, but they have yet to do so. The Sales Navigator training and tools section is provided by Cornerstone OnDemand, not Lynda. When searching on Lynda, there are five Sales Navigator courses, but four were five to seven minutes overviews and one was a seventy-eight minute Sales Navigator Basics class. Thus, it appears that DiscoverOrg has stolen a march on LinkedIn with respect to professional sales development.
Historically, the sales intelligence vendors have avoided formal training programs. They usually provide a set of short training webinars, both recorded and live, but these have tended towards tool training. DiscoverOrg is going beyond mere tool training to certification training in “the art and science of sales and marketing.”
Steve Silver, a Research Assistant at Sirius Decisions, recently blogged about a client where the overwhelming reason for losing deals was price. But the client had a differentiated service where price should not have been the primary factor.
Silver discovered the reasons for this anomaly: The field was not used by any departments at the firm. Without an owner, the path of least resistance was selected — the first choice in the picklist. And in the case of the client, 90% of the losses were flagged as price-based.
Did we establish value?
Silver omitted a third reason, and one which is common amongst sales reps. Price is an easy scapegoat for lost opportunities. But if your service is well differentiated and you focus on your value proposition, price should not be the primary loss driver. Yes, some deals will be lost because a competitor low balls the deal (a true price loss), or the prospect simply does not have the financial means to purchase your service (a poorly qualified prospect), but in most cases, losing on price is a failure on the part of sales reps. If they thought about it more, they would realize that price is not an exogenous variable outside of their control. That’s because price is tied to value. Price is the critical variable if your value has not been established.
This isn’t to say that pricing could be wrong. If your competitors are quickly moving up the value curve, your historical price may no longer be sustainable as you become less well differentiated. With good data and analytics, you would capture this shift in the competitive marketplace and act accordingly (e.g. R&D to better differentiate your service, better product bundling, or reduced prices), but price should only dominate the loss reasons in a commodity business.
So what else could be gleaned from this situation? First, somebody needs to own data quality within the CRM. If a field is viewed as busywork, your sales reps will populate it with junk data.
Garbage in, Garbage out.
Managers should also be pushing back on reps to better understand why deals were lost so that mistakes can be avoided in the future. Does the sales rep need additional training or coaching? Are additional sales tools needed for competitor handling or establishing value? Are we poorly qualifying opportunities or failing to identify the key decision makers?
Yes, it is easier to move onto the next deal without taking the time to analyze deal losses; but a learning organization needs to understand its failure points.
Sales Operations should be cross-checking fields. If the loss reason is price or features, then a competitor had a better offering. Was the primary competitor recorded in the CRM? If the competitor is blank, then additional explanation should be required. Did you really lose on price or features if you don’t know who the competitor was?
Or did you lose to no decision or the incumbent because there was insufficient value established to warrant funding the purchase or sustaining the switching costs?
If you don’t collect the data or you allow a field to be treated as busywork, it won’t be available for analysis. I have had several instances where my clients did not record the loss reason or the competitors. I have also had others where the fields were usually blank. In short, the firms were operating in a competitive fog and not using their CRM for market monitoring.
In the end, it is important to not only gather win/loss information, but to use the data for sales training and coaching, marketing communications, sales enablement, and product development. When information is valued by the organization, then sales reps are less likely to blithely skip fields or enter the first field in the required picklist.
When launching a new sales intelligence service, it is critical that management participates in the rollout and explains the benefits. If management backs the financial outlay, then reps are more likely to invest as well. Conversely, if management doesn’t participate in the service rollout, why should your sales reps invest their time in learning and personalizing the new service? After all, not only is there effort involved in learning a new service and customizing it to their information requirements, but adopting new tools requires reps to modify their workflows and sales processes. As such, you are asking reps to take a shared risk.
A second way to reinforce the benefits of your sales intelligence investment is to employ tribal lore. Let one or two sales reps discuss an opportunity they discovered or insight that helped close a deal during the trial period. Sales reps are natural story tellers and enjoy talking about their victories. A good story can do more to sell your product (or a sales tool) than a recitation of features and benefits (but make sure they understand the benefits as well). Sales stories should be viewed as internal case studies generated by sales. They are a low cost means of rewarding reps who gain a psychic reward from retelling their victories. Encouraging such tribal knowledge helps motivate sales reps and is akin to the hunter retelling the story of the hunt.
Furthermore, sharing knowledge across teams fits well with millennial transparency and social media practices. Peter Ostrow of the Aberdeen Group emphasized the value of such tribal knowledge in a recent report on Sales Reinforcements:
Today’s millennial sellers are far more willing and comfortable to share with one another, as compared to 20th-century quota-carriers. A generation ago, a sales rep was expected to acquire skills and knowledge predominantly from managers above them in the corporate food chain. Modern enterprise social collaboration platforms are designed to leverage the changing mindset of individual contributors, and help provide companies committed to lifelong sales education with technology platforms that complement their commitment to learning that clearly pays measurable dividends.