Alyce for Salesloft

Keeping on the gifting theme, Boston-based Alyce announced a partnership with Salesloft to support “smart gifting” on the Salesloft Sales Engagement Platform.  The partnership lets sales and marketing teams natively send gifts through Salesloft. 

Alyce appears within the Salesloft People page side panel, where reps can select a gift and personalize the message.  Gifting options include physical gifts, gift cards, subscriptions, branded swag, on-demand services (e.g., in-home massage, portrait session), experiences (e.g., walking tours, helicopter rides), and donations.  Alyce’s AI suggests three gift choices, but reps can select other choices from the marketplace.

“Actionable insights, seamlessly integrated together can help your sales team say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time with the right gift to drive action that’ll ensure your team hits your targets month after month,” wrote Alyce.

A gifting history provides details on which gifts have been received and how the prospect engaged with the gift, helping revenue teams “optimize follow-up to drive greater impact.”

Alyce employs AI to assist with gift selection from its curated global marketplace.  Alyce recipients are sent a physical or digital notification of a gift, which they can choose to accept, exchange, donate, or decline.

“Our partnership with Salesloft is such a natural match. We are both committed to enabling revenue teams to build strong relationships and improve business results with the help of smart technology.  At Alyce, we are thrilled that our integration with Salesloft is giving marketing and sales teams new gifting superpowers right in their workflow that will allow them to deliver meaningful moments, increase revenue, and create greater impact.”

Alyce CEO Greg Segall

In a case study, Salesloft enjoyed a 50% increase in alignment between BDRs and strategic marketing with Alyce and drove a 9% increase in meeting attendance.  Furthermore, twenty percent of gifts sent resulted in new opportunities.

“Through the platform, we have uncovered an increase in the sales team’s ability to sell to our target personas,” stated Nabiha Balala, Senior Manager of Enterprise Marketing at Salesloft. “Alyce has been such a game-changer. It’s organically become part of our everyday sales process.”

Alyce’s physical gifting is currently limited to the US and Canada. However, gift cards may be sent to the US, Canada, Britain, and Ireland.

Alyce raised a $30 million Series B in April.


I’ve been running a series on Offline Marketing Automation (E-Gifting and Event Marketing) this week: My other posts:

Postal.io $22M Series B

A Second City Improv show is one of the most popular Events on Postal.

Offline Marketing Automation Platform Postal.io closed on a $22 million Series B led by OMERS Ventures, with current investor Mayfield Fund also joining the round.  The series raised total funding to $31 million.

The funds will be directed toward growing the Postal.io team, ongoing product development, and international expansion.  The firm is looking to address the lack of tracking, attribution, automation, and scale in the $120 billion market for direct mail, personalized incentives, branded swag, and corporate gifting.

Postal offers an “expansive marketplace featuring high-end, locally curated items from specialized vendors” that foster “meaningful experiences to drive better engagement with prospects, increase conversion rates, and boost employee engagement.”

“Teams that were once manually sending offline touchpoints are now able to efficiently automate and track direct mail, branded company swag, personalized gifts, and virtual events at scale.  We help companies leverage this proven channel with a frictionless, team-agnostic platform.  Companies are using Postal.io across their organization to deliver more meaningful, impactful, and delightful experiences.”

Postal.io CEO Erik Kostelnik

Events began as mostly marketing activities, but with so many employees working from home, roughly half of their events are employee team-building activities or celebrations.  Postal claims an average attendance rate of 90% for its events.

Postal offers a concierge team that operates as an “extension of your marketing team.”  Postal Concierge assists with managing “curated, branded, specialty items, and experiences that are guaranteed to surprise and delight your prospects and clients.”  The Concierge team also assists with event customization and talent booking.

A Postal collection that provides a set of coffee or tea options.  The collection is being displayed with the rep’s name via a Magic Link.

Another feature is collections.  Instead of picking a single item, the rep sends a link to an array of themed items, allowing the user to choose from the collection.  Thus, a drink collection would include coffee, tea, and cocoa options.  Likewise, a cocktail-making event would offer a mocktail option.


Part II continues with a discussion of the Postal Marketplace and integrations.

Sendoso $100M Series C

With travel restricted and many executives continuing to work from home part-time or full time, face-to-face meetings and tradeshows will remain difficult for the foreseeable future. One of the successful workarounds has been offline marketing and e-gifting. Firms such as Sendoso, Alyce, PFL, and Postal have had significant success in rising above the din of digital marketing. I will be posting a set of articles on these firms over the coming days, beginning with Sendoso’s recent funding round.

San Francisco-based e-gifting platform Sendoso closed on a $100 million Series C round and announced plans to open a European headquarters in Dublin.  The Irish office will include a dedicated logistics and supply center to support the firm’s 20,000 global customers.  The new facility supports its multinational customers and expands its opportunities within the EU.  Beyond logistics and warehousing, the Dublin office will host an engineering team, marketers, customer success, and an inside sales team focused on European sales.

The funding round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and raised Sendoso’s total funding to $152.7 million.  Existing investors Oak HC/FT, Struck Capital, Stage 2 Capital, Craft Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, and Felicis Ventures also participated.

“We believe Sendoso offers the most comprehensive end-to-end gifting platform in the market,” said Priya Saiprasad, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers.  “Their platform includes a global marketplace of curated vendors, seamless integration with existing tools, global logistics, and deep analytics.  As a result, Sendoso serves as the backbone to enterprises’ engagement programs with prospective customers, existing customers, employees, and other key stakeholders.”

Sendoso Funding Rounds (Source: Crunchbase)

CEO Kris Rudeegraap termed the round a “major milestone” for the firm.  The funds will be deployed to expand its products, services, and global footprint, including the Dublin facilities.

Sendoso sends corporate swag, regular physical gifts, and gift cards on behalf of its sales and marketing clients. In addition, the platform supports gift ordering, logistics, packing, custom packaging, and shipping.  Sendoso is integrated with CRMs, MAPs, and SEPs, including Salesforce, MS Dynamics, HubSpot, Marketo, Outreach, Salesloft, and Groove.  The firm has also partnered with ABM Platforms Terminus, Demandbase, and RollWorks.

Sales reps can order gifts and send follow-on emails to customers and prospects via the Outreach / Sendoso integration.

According to Sendoso, customers enjoy a 55% net increase in new opportunities by “creating authentic connections that show prospects you care.”  The firm suggests that marketers “send a coffee eGift before an event to encourage prospects to stop by your booth.”  Reps can then “show them you’re listening by sending personalized gifts based on their interests and hobbies. If they’re a sports fan, send them a blanket with their favorite team or give them tickets to a game.”

In the absence of face-to-face meetings, e-gifting has helped build relationships and break through the digital noise.  According to HubSpot platform data, virtual selling became significantly more difficult due to a flood of messages during the pandemic.  For example, sales emails spiked 59% in Q2 2020 compared to pre-Covid levels, causing a thirty percent drop in buyer response rates compared to before the pandemic.

“Everyone was stuck at home by themselves, saturated with emails,” said Rudeegraap. “Having a personal connection to sales prospects, employees, and others just meant more.” Sendoso claims that it has the “marketplace selection and logistics precision of Amazon.com,” but with greater personalization.  For example, Sendoso supports handwritten notes, special boxing, and an Amazon partnership that routes Amazon orders to Sendoso for repackaging.

“There are a lot of things we do uniquely in terms of what we have built throughout our software, gifting options, and logistics centre. We really personalize our gifts at scale with handwritten notes, special boxing, and more,” something that Amazon cannot do.  We have built a lot of unique technology and logistics software that would make it hard for Amazon to compete.” He said that one of Sendoso’s integrations is actually with Amazon, so Sendoso users can order through there, but then the gift is first routed to Sendoso to be repackaged in a nicer way before being sent out.”

Sendoso CEO Kris Rudeegraap

Rudeegraap is a former sales executive who found gift-sending valuable but cumbersome.  This experience led him to found Sendoso in 2016 with Chief Alliances Officer Braydan Young.  The firm has fulfilled three million gifts over the past half-decade.

“I was manually packing boxes, grabbing swag, coming up with handwritten notes,” he recalled. “It was inefficient, but it worked so well. So I dreamed up an idea: why not be able to click a button in Salesforce to do this automatically? Sometimes the best company is one that solves a pain point of your own.”

Sendoso has 500 global employees with plans to grow its headcount by thirty percent by the end of the year. Sendoso did not disclose its valuation, but TechCrunch estimated it at $640 million.


Continue to part I of my coverage of Postal.io which closed on a $22 million Series B last week.

Drift the Latest RevTech Unicorn

Drift Founders Elias Torres and David Cancel.

Drift became the latest RevTech unicorn following a strategic equity investment by Vista Equity Partners.  The firm did not disclose the size of the investment nor its valuation, only that the valuation exceeded $1 billion.  Vista will hold a majority stake in Drift when the transaction closes in Q4.

“In partnership with Vista, Drift will continue to invest in its customers’ success while expanding its product leadership, scaling globally and bringing Conversational Commerce to more B2B businesses,” announced the firm.

Vista exclusively invests in enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled businesses.

Cancel told TechCrunch that Drift’s goal wasn’t to create a unicorn but that he and founder Elias Torres are proud to be examples for other Latino entrepreneurs:

“Drift is now part of the less than 1% of #latinx founded companies to ever achieve that milestone [$1B+ valuation].

Elias Torres ⚡️ and I believe we have a responsibility to pay it forward, to inspire other people, who are often marginalized and don’t believe they can break the glass ceiling to know that they too can do it. So today we want our #latinx community to know that together we have taken another step forward in our fight for an equitable future.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift, which offers “conversational commerce for B2B,” has over 50,000 sales and marketing customer teams on its Conversational Sales platform.  Drift integrates chat, email, video, and artificial intelligence to power conversations on the website and with sales reps.

75% of its customers were described as mid-market enterprise clients by Cancel.  Customers include ServiceNow, Okta, Grubhub, Mindbody, Adobe, Ellie May, and Snowflake.

“Over the next decade messaging will continue to eat the world and that in order to survive and compete, enterprise businesses will need to flip the traditional model, remove friction, and put customers first. The businesses that win will be the ones that make it simpler for customers to buy from them…

Our bet is that conversations will transform the entire B2B revenue function, and with a partner like Vista, who has helped to transform and grow companies like Marketo and Wrike in recent years, we are excited for what’s next.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift continues on its hypergrowth path, growing ARR 70% in 2020 with a similar growth trajectory this year. However, the company is not yet profitable as it is focused on growth. 

“Our purpose as a company remains simple and consistent: Build a platform that makes it simpler for customers to buy from you. We have an opportunity to bring learnings from the B2C buyer experience to the enterprise and introduce Conversational Commerce as a new B2B category,” said Drift CEO David Cancel.  “Given its extensive experience investing in next-generation SaaS companies, we believe Vista is the best partner to help Drift – and our customers – further these efforts.  I am excited to work with Vista’s team of investors, operators, and technologists who will help us fulfill our ambitious vision and lead the Conversational Commerce category for decades to come.”

Cancel has his eye on taking the company public, with Vista providing a “clear path” to an IPO.

“As a next-generation SaaS company with a strong leadership team, differentiated platform, and passionate customer base, Drift is uniquely qualified and well-positioned to define and lead this new market of Conversational Commerce,” said Monti Saroya, co-head of the Flagship Fund and senior managing director at Vista. “It is a privilege to partner with talented founders like David and Elias, and we look forward to supporting them and the entire Drift team to help advance their vision to remove the friction from business buying, and in turn, create tremendous value for customers as Drift’s hypergrowth continues to accelerate.”

Boston-based Drift slowed its employment growth rate with the advent of the pandemic but accelerated its hiring in 2021, with an increase of 151 employees since December. In addition, the sales team has grown 33% over the past six months to 136. 

Drift accelerated its headcount growth in 2021 after slowing it at the advent of the pandemic (Source: LinkedIn)

The company appears to have started a consulting organization, growing from 2 to 18 consultants over the past year.  In August, the firm hired Ryan Slinkard as their VP of Professional Services.

RevTech is a field with several minority immigrant founders of unicorns. I have recently also covered Manny Medina (Outreach CEO; Ecuador; $4.4 billion Valuation) and Tope Awotona (Calendly; Nigeria; $3B+ Valuation). Awotona was recently named a board member of SalesLoft, another RevTech unicorn.

SalesLoft Hits $100M ARR (Part II)

(Continued from Part I) SalesLoft also announced that Calendly’s founder and CEO Tope Awotona joined SalesLoft’s Board of Directors.  Both RevTech firms are based in Atlanta.  Porter and Awotona met seven years ago at Atlanta Tech Village.

“It was clear from day one [that] he was an incredible leader who had a clear vision harnessed around delivering delightful customer experiences,” posted Porter on LinkedIn.  “Most of us know the success of Calendly and have learned of Tope‘s fascinating story.  We’re stoked to partner together and grow from his strategic wisdom, leadership learnings, and product-focused excellence.  Our ultimate goal together is helping our current and future customers deliver revenue excellence at scale.”

Salesloft Calendaring Functionality

Porter and Awotona discussed potential conflicts of interest, but those concerns were laid aside.  While SalesLoft has calendaring features similar to Calendly, SalesLoft maintains an open architecture and partner ecosystem with Calendly as a partner.

Porter echoed a recent Gartner observation that SalesTech is in a period of “mayhem” where customers are looking to consolidate their revenue platforms to simplify workflows and operations.  Porter sees SalesLoft as being at the vanguard of this preference for broad, open platforms.

“There’s been massive trends towards digital selling that have taken place,” said Porter.  “And then there’s another trend that we’ve seen emerge, which is companies have been using so many different revenue tools, but they really want to consolidate on a very few that they love, and that’s where SalesLoft comes in.”


Continue to Part III which discusses Porter’s long-term plans for SalesLoft.

ZoomInfo Sales Efficiency and LTV/CAC Ratios

ZoomInfo has been talking about its LTV/CAC (Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost) ratio for a few years and is now boasting about its sales efficiency ratio.  For every dollar the firm invests in Sales and Marketing, it is growing $1.50 to $2.00 in revenue with even better results on the retention business side.  These values are well above the SaaS industry average and indicate that the firm should increase its revenue operations investment.

“On the new business side, we aim for somewhere between one and a half to two X return for every dollar that we spend on a customer. And then on the retention and growth or account management side, we look for a six to eight X return for every dollar that we spend there. It’s a super-efficient go-to-market motion.  Most software businesses, you put a dollar in, you get like 70 cents out in the first year.  We’re putting a dollar in and getting one and a half to two X out.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

Schuck described their go-to-market efficiency as one of their “big strategic levers” when acquiring firms with less mature go-to-market motions.  ”So when we find companies that don’t have a very sophisticated go-to-market motion, that aren’t truly optimized in the way that they get clients, they’re not doing one and a half to two X efficiency or a 15 X LTV to CAC.  Those are great fits for us.” 

ZoomInfo has a track record of improving sales efficiency, helping unlock value in acquired assets where the go-to-market motions are aligned.  “In our big acquisitions – RainKing, ZoomInfo, and, most recently, Chorus.AI — we really felt like we could leverage the go-to-market motion to accelerate growth within those companies. That’s a key piece.”

When DiscoverOrg acquired RainKing, which had a $40 million ARR, he was convinced that DiscoverOrg could treble their EBITDA to $30 million and accelerate their top-line growth within six months.  Within one year of acquiring RainKing, DiscoverOrg’s market valuation grew from roughly $600 million to $2 billion.

One of the inherent advantages of SalesTech is you don’t have to teach sales reps the value and use cases of your product.  This shortens ZoomInfo’s ramp time for new reps from several quarters to four months.  “it makes it way easier for you to be able to sell to your counterpart on the other end of the line.  It’s a big difference for us,” said Schuck. 

ZoomInfo heavily hires sales reps directly out of college or soon after and trains them as SDRs, responding to inbound leads and performing outbound prospecting.  “In nine months, we start promoting them into the account executive role.  So we got value out of them in that ramp time. Then four months after they’ve gone into the account executive role, they’re fully ramped. Thirteen months from when you’ve never sold something until you’re an account executive at one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, that’s a really fun promotion to see.”

And because ZoomInfo is hiring sales reps to sell sales and marketing solutions, Schuck does not consider complicated or technical product categories for acquisition.  Instead, he looks for solutions that broadly meet the needs of his 20,000 customers and which are easy to understand.  Chorus.AI, the Conversation Intelligence vendor that ZoomInfo acquired last month, fits the bill: “We use it, all of our sellers use it. It’s really simple to understand, ‘Hey, we’re going to record and transcribe all your calls, and then you can go do instant coaching on the key moments in those calls’,” remarked Schuck.

The Chorus app for Zoom records, transcribes, indexes, and analyzes calls, providing insights to sales reps and sales managers. As reps no longer need to worry about notetaking, they can focus on the topics at hand and be more present during the meetings.

Gong Expands into Europe

Gong’s Five Operating Principles of Revenue Intelligence.

Revenue Intelligence vendor Gong announced plans to open its first European office in Dublin.  It already has over one hundred European clients, including Aircall, Hopin, GoCardless, and MOO.

“After many international companies reached out to us, looking for access to the insight uncovered by our revenue intelligence platform, we knew it was time to meet global demand in a strategic and thoughtful way,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov.  “With a physical presence in Europe, we can continue to demonstrate our category leadership, support the massive growth we’ve seen in the past year, and deliver the product customers are asking for.”

The new office will be managed by Gong’s newly appointed VP of EMEA, Wendy Harris, who previously led European sales for CarGurus and Dropbox.  The firm is hiring for sales, marketing, customer success, and G&A positions.

“Gong’s revenue intelligence platform is transforming the way companies do business by empowering sales organizations to adopt data-driven strategies,” she said. “Joining a high-growth company and leading its global expansion in my hometown of Dublin is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Gong supports 26 languages, including French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese, with additional languages planned.  The Revenue Intelligence platform captures and analyzes phone, email, and meeting conversations, providing insights into deals, people, and the market.

Gong has also been building out its partner network, including Bain & Company, Sandler, and SBR Consulting.

Gong’s June Series E valued the firm at $7.25 billion.  Over the past year, it grew its headcount by 89% to over 700 employees.  The Israeli firm was founded in 2015. The firm will see stiffer competition from Chorus, which was acquired by ZoomInfo two weeks ago. ZoomInfo provides it with deep pockets, global data enrichment, workflow tools, a chatbot, and a sales engagement platform.

Gong Employment Growth (Source: LinkedIn)

ZoomInfo Business Contact Preference Registry

ZoomInfo launched its Business Contact Preference Registry (BCPR), a centralized registry for recording B2B opt-out requests which will be shared across the industry.  The BCPR is ZoomInfo’s latest step in burnishing its data privacy positioning.

“The collection of data is central to businesses in the B2B data industry, but the responsibility of ethical data stewardship falls onto the shoulders of each individual company,” wrote the firm.  “As industry leaders in data privacy, ZoomInfo has made it easier for businesses in the B2B data marketplace to address the preferences of consumers by building, maintaining, and sharing access to the BCPR.”

“It’s critical for data-focused companies to prioritize privacy. The Business Contact Preference Registry offers businesses a convenient way to prioritize privacy by supplying the entire B2B data industry with a ready-made list of consumer opt-outs. We’re proactively sharing our opt-outs as an invitation to B2B companies to join us in putting privacy first.”

Bubba Nunnery, ZoomInfo’s Senior Director of Privacy and Public Policy

I had been flagging data privacy as a weakness in ZoomInfo’s model, which could slow their entry to the European market post-COVID, but they have been actively working to shore up their data privacy practices and demonstrate that they are respectful of the data they hold. 

ZoomInfo developed a proactive data compliance program based upon “notice and choice” that notifies business professionals about ZoomInfo’s data.  The program is global in scope, so not limited to countries that require notifications.  ZoomInfo also expanded its data privacy team earlier this year, naming Hannah Zimmerman, ZoomInfo’s Privacy Counsel and Bubba Nunnery, Senior Director, Privacy and Public Policy.

ZoomInfo data privacy certifications

“Our business is founded on the trust our customers have in our data,” said General Counsel Anthony Stark back in March. “Collecting data is central to all businesses, and it’s our job to be ethical stewards of the data we hold.  ZoomInfo adheres to its core privacy tenets of transparency and control, showcasing that we are respectful of the rights of consumers while providing critical service to our customers.”

In May, ZoomInfo announced that it received GDPR and CCPA Practices Validation from TrustArc, saying that its policies “are in line with the strictest privacy regulations in the world.”

“Organizations of all sizes must become privacy-forward to earn the trust of their customers,” said Chris Babel, CEO, TrustArc. “ZoomInfo understands that building trust requires an ongoing, scalable approach to data privacy. The organization has consistently prioritized privacy as the enabler of a better experience for its customers and their subscribers, and the TrustArc GDPR and CCPA Validations reinforce that standing.”

“ZoomInfo is leading the way in data privacy.  We are working to accept opt-outs from other vendors as part of our efforts to elevate privacy standards across the B2B data industry.”

CEO Henry Schuck

The BCPR is an excellent idea, but I’m not sure whether the registry should be hosted by one of the major vendors in the space.  ZoomInfo plans on accepting opt outs from other vendors, but It is unclear whether other vendors would promote ZoomInfo in the lead data collection role. Preferably, it would be hosted by a government agency such as the FTC, which manages the US Do Not Call Registry, or a neutral body similar to the ICANN domain registry.  DataGrail, a leader in data privacy compliance, could administer an independent database across businesses and consumers.

Drift Sales Seat

Drift Sales Seat can activate SEP sequences in Outreach.

Revenue Acceleration vendor Drift announced a pair of new services last week. I covered Fastlane, its new webforms/chatbot hybrid service yesterday. Today I’ll be discussing Sales Seat, Drift’s entry into SalesTech.

Sales Seat alerts reps when intent and engagement signals have exhibited buying activity.  Drift monitors the website, SEPs, MAPs, and CRMs for buying intent.  Sales Seat is Drift’s first sales product and helps reps with timing, messaging, and discovering the buying committee.  Sales professionals can reach out with personalized messages via chat, email, or video, based on intent and engagement.

Sales Seat is integrated with Outreach, letting reps create sequences from the service.

A mobile app notifies reps, supports conversations, and lets reps record and send Drift videos.

A Chrome extension displays all conversations happening in Drift, monitor engagement (e.g. email opens and clickthroughs, page visits), and drop calendar information in Gmails. Reps can optionally bcc Gmails to their CRM for tracking.

Drift Profile Page

The Drift Profile acts as an online business card with a link that can be dropped into emails and social media messages. Recipients can chat with the rep or book a meeting. The profile contains the rep’s title, location, a short bio, headshot, phone, and social links. The chat supports default messages to display when the rep is available and when not.

“Sales success is all about engaging today’s buyers on their terms: Digitally and immediately when they express interest,” said Drift Chief Product Officer Leo Teneblat.  “With Fastlane and Sales Seat, Drift customers can ensure their best buyers and highest intent visitors receive express treatment without overloading the sales team. Not only that, but sellers have context to engage buyers with a personalized experience on the exact topics they care about in the moment they’re expressing interest.”

Here’s How to 6x Your Chance of Booking a Meeting,” Gauri Iyengar, Drift Blog (April 13, 2021).

According to Drift, reps are six-fold more likely to book a meeting if they engage with a buyer during the first hour.  Thus, immediately transitioning webform submissions into chats and notifying reps that high-scoring prospects are engaging with the company dramatically increases the likelihood of converting a lead into a meeting.

Sales Engagement vendor XANT has found similar numbers from rapid response times while noting that companies are slow in delivering and prioritizing inbound leads.

“Not all accounts are created equal. Your target accounts should receive the most personalized and high-touch buying experiences. Account-based marketing lets you create this experience while engaging with VIP buyers and connecting them to sales. By cutting through the noise, you can close more deals – faster,” blogged Drift Product Education Marketer Gauri Iyengar.  “When it comes to booking meetings, there is literally no time to waste. Speed is essential to not just set up a meeting but to turn that meeting into revenue.”

The pair of services was released to early adopters that enjoyed an 82% increase in meetings booked, a 77% jump in opportunities created, and a 67% rise in pipeline influenced.

LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021 (Part II)

Continuing from yesterday’s discussion of LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021

LinkedIn State of Sales 2021 Trends

Sales managers are looking to diversify their hiring across two dimensions: geographic and cultural.  With work from home proving itself over the past year, managers are now confident that they can hire the best talent, regardless of location.

Likewise, sales professionals believe that their firms have succeeded in their efforts in opening up sales teams by gender, race, etc.  35% of sales professionals believe their sales organizations have “exceeded goals around diversity hiring initiatives,” while another 45% say their sales organization has “met” their diversity hiring goal.

On the buying side, 83% of purchasers said that all things being equal, they would give a preference to more diverse teams.

LinkedIn argues that Sales Intelligence is a crucial tool for building trust in the absence of face-to-face meetings.  LinkedIn broadly uses the term to include Conversational Intelligence tools such as Gong and Chorus, which help understand the prospect’s state of mind, and sales intelligence solutions such as Sales Navigator.

“With in-person meetings limited, sales technology provides a key pathway to gaining insight and understanding into potential customers. It’s no surprise, then, that our survey indicates that both usage of and investment in sales technology are increasing,” stated LinkedIn.

73% of respondents employ a sales intelligence solution weekly, and 23% use one daily.  54% said SalesTech helps reps build stronger relationships, and an equal percent said it helps them close more deals.  The top three categories for closing deals were CRM (70%), sales intelligence (69%), and sales enablement (69%).

Both usage and investment in SalesTech will increase in 2021, with CRM (49%), Sales Intelligence (43%), and Sales Planning (42%) seeing increased usage.  On the investment side, the top categories are CRM (41%), sales intelligence (40%), and sales engagement (40%).  Nearly seven in ten sales professionals anticipate greater SalesTech investment this year.

Data continues to be seen as critical, with 47% of sales organizations using it for account targeting, 44% for industry targeting, 43% for performance assessment, 41% for geographic targeting, and 39% for defining the buying committee.

While LinkedIn did not delve further into buying committee discovery, this is a nascent development area with multiple approaches, including conversational intelligence (meetings, emails) and machine learning.

Understanding the demand unit is critical for sales teams.  85% of reps reported that at least one opportunity was lost or delayed due to the departure of a client stakeholder.

Sales Navigator usage continues to be robust, with a 400% increase in self-bought Sales Navigator licenses over the past two years, “a surge that indicates sales professionals are investing in their own growth and have a willingness to use sales tech even if not prescribed by their company.”

59% of the Forbes Global 500 companies and 64% of the Forbes fastest-growing companies have Sales Navigator users.

Finally, message quality trumps quantity.  Simply sending high volumes of email or sharing many content pieces does not move the revenue needle.  The key is quality outreach that generates engagement and message acceptance.  “This is a strong indication that salespersons ought to be mindful of the value to the customer before sharing content or sending an InMail.”

InMails should be “short, personalized, and conversational.”  Messages with fewer than 400 characters are the most effective, with a sharp drop-off in response rates for long-in-the-tooth messages.

LinkedIn surveyed 400 sales and 400 US and Canadian purchasing professionals in January 2021.  Separate surveys were conducted for other geographies but have yet to be published. [Original Report]