Outreach KAIA Meeting Assistant

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 AI Assistant) 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).  

Outreach Kaia operates as a real-time intelligent assistant that supports sales reps during customer calls. It transcribes the call, sets bookmarks for review, notes attendees and action items, and provides topical summary cards.

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.

Zoominfo Reaffirms IPO Plans

I have put together a detailed analysis of Zoominfo as it prepares for its IPO. The analysis is based upon twenty years of experience in the Sales & Marketing Intelligence Space, the past eight as an independent analyst.

Topics include an Overview, COVID Impact, Risks, Market Overview, Key Industry Trends, Content & Functionality, Growth Strategy Analysis, SWOT Analysis, and Key Events. The 100+ slide presentation is bundled with a phone consult. If you are interested in licensing the analysis, please contact me.

I also publish a weekly subscription newsletter which covers Sales & Marketing, B2B DaaS, and B2B Data. Here is my article on the planned IPO:


Zoominfo reaffirmed its plans to IPO, possibly launching a virtual roadshow next month.  In Q1 2020, revenue nearly doubled to $102 million year-over-year.  The firm also significantly reduced its losses to $5.9 million in Q1 compared to $40.2 million in Q1 2019.  

Losses were driven by debt, much of it associated with the Zoom Information acquisition in February 2019.  EBITDA rose 55%, year-over-year, to $51 million in Q1.  At the end of Q1, long-term debt stood at $1,238.8 million.

Zoominfo included Annualized Contract Value (ACV) data in its amended prospectus.  They likely wanted to emphasize that they are doing well during the recession, and revenue figures, which are a trailing indicator of sales success at subscription services, were not going to make that case as strongly as the ACV data.

ACV grew 87% year-over-year in April, with the customer base now above 15,000.  As revenue is recognized over the life of a subscription contract, ACV increases precede revenue growth.  Prepaid subscription revenue is displayed as a Balance Sheet liability that is reversed over the lifetime of each deal.  

Paid users rose to 202,000.

Net ACV growth remains strong, with ACV increasing $9.9 million in March and $10.4 million in April.  The April growth was their best first month of any quarter, surpassing October 2019 by ten percent.

The number of customers with ACV greater than or equal to $100,000 grew from 580 on December 31, 2019, to 630 on March 31, 2020.  Over 25% of ACV is tied to multi-year contracts.

The size and date of the IPO were not disclosed.  In February, a placeholder value of $500 million was provided.  The Zoominfo NASDAQ ticker will be ZI.

“Because of our largely subscription-based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations and overall financial condition until future periods, if at all.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

As the original S-1 was released before COVID-19 hit the US, this week’s amended prospectus contained the first mention of COVID as a business risk.  The pandemic has disrupted global business and could negatively impact Zoominfo’s stock price.  Zoominfo listed retail, restaurants, hospitality, airlines, oil, and gas as affected industries.  While none of these segments are part of their ICP (except for possibly their NeverBounce email verification subsidiary), they will be negatively impacted in recruitment (roughly ten percent of revenue) and event management.  Zoominfo lists recruitment as a targeted job function for ongoing development.

Furthermore, Zoominfo’s strategy is to expand beyond its moat of technology firms into broader sales intelligence and marketing services.  The recession reduces the number of favorable segments for executing this expansion strategy.

Zoominfo lists its Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $24 billion with a 2% penetration rate.

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect we will experience slowed growth or decline in new customer demand for our platform and lower demand from our existing customers for upgrades within our platform, as well as existing and potential customers reducing or delaying purchasing decisions.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

A secondary impact of the pandemic and subsequent recession is increased buyer negotiating power.  Customers are expecting more significant discounts and more favorable contract terms.  They are also asking for early contract terminations and waivers of payment obligations.

However, Zoominfo’s core business is reasonably well protected from the recession.  In 2019, 39% of their ACV was generated in the software industry and 29% in business services.  These segments are less exposed than retail, travel, hospitality, and energy.  Software has heavily shifted to subscription models over the past few years, making revenue less volatile.  While their core industries are subject to layoffs in revenue operations, Zoominfo offers multiple features that make sales and marketing more efficient and effective in reaching WFH buying committee members.  Features and content sets that support WFH outreach include direct-dial and mobile numbers, org charts, deep contacts across the organization, data as a service for enriching and updating enterprise software platforms, the ReachOut Chrome plug-in, ICP/TAM tools, technographics, Scoops (sales triggers), Bombora intent data, and executive change alerts.  

New services such as Form Complete (web forms), WebSights (visitor intelligence), Komiko InboxAI (email insights), and Workflows (triggered sequences) help with collecting and enriching activity data.

Zoominfo, which has significant operations in Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Israel, has fully transitioned to remote employment.  They have also implemented travel restrictions and shifted to virtual event marketing.

Flash: Groove Series A

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.
  • A/B testing
  • 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.

Groove Workspaces are configurable, top-down worksheets that support distributed reps and account managers. Users may view engagement by account, division, or individual.

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.

Marketing Technology Landscape

Scott Brinker and ChiefMartec published their annual eye chart of MarTech companies.  The list grew another 13.6% to 8,000 companies.  However, the attrition rate was 8.7% as one in twelve companies on last year’s list were either acquired or folded.

The Data category grew by 25.5% to 1,258 companies.  Within the data grouping, Governance, Compliance, and Privacy rose 68%.  Other sub-segments with rapid growth include Conversational Marketing and Chat (up 70%), Projects and Workflow (up 41%), Print Advertising and Promotion (up 35%), and Video Marketing (up 26%).

While MarTech continues to expand, Brinker contends that the industry has a long-tail with one to two dozen platforms that “dominate global market share.”  These are followed by a few hundred category leaders, each with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Brinker argues that MarTech has evolved from suites to platform ecosystems that look to leverage the capabilities of long-tail builders and entrepreneurs, providing niche solutions integrated into their platforms.  “The stability of a major platform as the backbone of a marketing stack augmented with a set of specialized apps designed to plug deeply into that platform is a powerful combination.  A “point solution” — which used to be a negative label — isn’t a point solution any more when it seamlessly integrates into your primary platform.  It becomes part of the fabric of your stack.  Literally: it’s a feature, not a bug.”

“At the same time, these characteristics give long-tail Martech businesses a certain degree of robustness,” continued Brinker.  “By integrating deeply with a major platform, they overcome buyer objections to unintegrated software.  They tap network effects with other integrated apps that can benefit from each other’s data and services.  And they can focus their marketing and sales energies toward a well-defined target audience — customers of that platform — often through online marketplaces run expressly for that purpose.”

This logic is being replicated in newer categories such as Sales Engagement.  Outreach and SalesLoft have offered partner ecosystems for several years that augment their capabilities and provide flexibility to their offerings.  Just as Salesforce has acquired companies to extend its capabilities, SalesLoft has acquired partners (NoteNinja and Costello) to extend core capabilities.  Smaller vendors may not offer formal app directories, but usually partner with a few best-of-breed vendors in various categories (e.g. LinkedIn SNAP, Vidyard, Drift, Zoominfo).

Now, this year’s data was collected before the coronavirus pandemic exploded globally in March 2020.  The elephant-in-the-room question, of course, is what impact will this crisis have on the Martech industry?  What will the Martech landscape look like in 2021?

Scott Brinker, ChiefMartec

Brinker sees the pandemic as “more of a short-term hit than a long-term death” as “it’s going to be a tough time for their customers,” resulting in a culling of weaker vendors.  Certainly, business spending will be reduced due to economic uncertainty.  Brinker also cautions that marketing operations will be stretched thin, dealing with crisis operations, and a reduction in VC funding will increase the perceived vendor risk for startups.

But the pandemic is not entirely negative for MarTech companies.  On the positive side, businesses will “lean in to digital engagement / transformation,” focus on performance marketing, and benefit lower-priced products tied to platform ecosystems.

“The world is going to continue to become more digital.  If anything, this crisis will accelerate the motivation for firms to embrace digital operations and digital customer experience.  And that’s where MarTech thrives.”

Finally, Brinker noted market analysis conducted by Luma Partners.  While the S&P 500 was down 25% in Q1, MarTech public companies were down only 8%.  This mild decline is an indicator that MarTech is viewed more favorably by the market than other categories (and far better than AdTech, which declined 32%).


Hybrid Engagement Platforms

Cognism Intelligence within Salesforce. Hybrid Engagement Platforms Continuously update CRMs and MAPs.

The market is beginning to evolve a set of hybrid engagement vendors that deliver a broad set of sales and marketing services.  The boundary between sales and marketing is quickly crumbling.  Hybrid engagement services manage both data and workflows.  Features include

Future functionality will include Next Best Actions, Embedded 1:1 Video, SNAP (Sales Navigator) Integrations, and Programmatic Advertising.

No vendor provides all of these services and some provide them as separate offerings, but firms such as Dun & Bradstreet, Zoominfo, Infogroup (Salesgenie), Lead411, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Cognism have all taken steps over the past two years to meet the emerging requirements of the CRO.

For the moment, I’m calling these emerging offerings Hybrid Engage Platforms, but that is a placeholder name as the market evolves.

SalesTech Spend Continues to Increase

SalesTech adoption rates and spend continue to increase according to a recent SalesTech study of 268 B2B sales and marketing managers conducted by Smart Selling Tools.  Only 3% of respondents are planning on reducing their SalesTech spend in 2020 while 6% plan to spend significantly more in 2020 and 41% slightly more.  Expanded spending will be focused on the top and middle of the funnel followed by management and reporting.  Skills Development, Onboarding, and Bottom of the Funnel expenditures have a lower priority.

Over the past year, SalesTech spend per user has increased significantly.  In 2017, only one-third of respondents spent in excess of $150 per user, but two years later, 65% spend more than $150 per user.  As the average number of sales tools in use rose only modestly from 4.5 to 4.9 over the past two years, the spend per product has likely increased.  The number of applications that are used by a majority of respondents trebled to six (CRM, Online Meetings, Lead List/Database, Social Selling, Account Targeting, and Skills Training & Reinforcement) with an additional four at 47% or higher.  CRMs are used by 75% of respondents, lead/list databases by 65%, and social selling by 60%.  The one category that dropped in usage was online meetings.

Adoption rates of technologies were fairly even by company size with large firm (500+) employees more likely to have adopted Sales Enablement, Skills Training & Reinforcement, and Sales Performance & Compensation.  Conversely, firms with fewer than 500 employees were more likely to have adopted Prospect Engagement (Sales Engagement) solutions.

Account targeting tools for ideal customer prospecting grew from 4% to 51% over the past year, a clear indication that ABM strategies have been adopted.  Lead Engagement (communicating at scale with early-stage, unqualified leads) grew from 11% to 49%, while social selling grew from 10% to 60%.

“The significant increase in usage of sales tools across the board indicates a trend (likely irreversible).  If your organization is slow to take up the use of sales tools, you could get left behind. Even so, we don’t recommend adding new sales tools without considering what’s required to keep them up to date and who will be responsible, having a plan for measuring success (what does “Good” look like?), and deciding what’s required to establish and grow user adoption.”

Smart Selling Tools founder Nancy Nardin.

The top three industries represented in the study were technology (42%), Financial Services (9.3%), and Manufacturing (8.7%).

Drift Video Launched

Drift Video allows customers and prospects to immediately engage in a chat.

Drift, which has quickly established itself as a leader in the chatbot space, is upping the ante by integrating video and chat.  Users will be able to share and record videos via a Chrome extension or mobile app.  Recorded videos can then be dropped into emails and sent to customers or prospects.

Videos are “private and secure” with single sign-on functionality from Okta, OneLogin, and Microsoft Azure.  Users can restrict viewing to a specific email or email list and “everyone else will have to request permission, just like you would with a Google Doc.”

Drift suggests three sales use cases for video: as a conversation starter, as a second chance to refine a message after a call, and as a group selling tool (team share).

Drift Video provides real-time desktop and mobile notifications when viewed.  Users can immediately start a conversation while somebody is viewing their video “so you can reach out and say hello or follow-up at the perfect time.”

It is the immediate notification element which Drift claims to be its product differentiation.

“There are a few good software products out there that make it easy to capture and share videos.  But we took a look around the market and noticed one big thing missing: none of those products create a better buying experience because they don’t actually help you start conversations with potential customers.  You still have to make a video, send an email, and hope to get a response.  But with Drift Video, you can get a notification in real-time while someone is watching your video and then hop right in and say hello.”

Drift Website

“Since starting Drift, we’ve said there are two mega-trends that would shape the future of B2B sales and marketing: messaging and video,” said CEO David Cancel.  “Over the last few years we’ve built an industry-leading messaging platform used by over 150,000 businesses, and now we’re expanding our Conversational Marketing platform by adding video.”

Video is driving global IP demand.  According to Cisco, one million minutes of video will be crossing the Internet every second by 2020 and 82% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021.

Drift video is available today as part of the Drift offering.  There is no surcharge for video functionality for up to ten videos per month with a chat option embedded into the video.  For $12 per seat per month or $120 per annum, reps are provided with a Pro license which includes unlimited HD quality video sharing and storage.  Only the Pro version restricts video sharing.

Future features include Team Analytics, Book Meetings from Video, and integrations with Salesforce, Pardot, and Marketo.

“We’ve spent the last year working on Drift Video and it was one of the main reasons for raising our Series C in April 2018,” stated Cancel.  “In looking at the market over that time, we saw that while there are many products that make it easy to create and share videos, none of them were built to help to start conversations and create a better buying experience.  After a private beta with some great early customers, that’s what we’re bringing to market today with Drift Video.”

Drift has integrated video in its own sales process with 50% of Drift revenue “influenced by video in the selling process.”

“Video is the greatest conversation starter in B2B buying,” said Alexa Nguyen in a Drift video.  “In a world of faceless phone calls and emails, video has helped us build trust, and video has helped us close more deals.”

Video is another way for salespeople to engage with their prospects outside of the norm.  Prospects are constantly bombarded with emails and phone calls asking for their attention.  But it’s hard to cut through that noise because they don’t trust easily.  In order to build that trust, you need to build a personal connection.  And all personal connections start with a conversation.  Video allows people to be personal, show that they’re human, and help build that connection that might be lost through text in an email. 

Lacey Berrien, Drift’s PR Senior Manager

According to research from Forrester and Boston Consulting Group, 75% of B2B transactions have little or no sales interaction.  Thus, video offers a valuable channel through which sales reps can avoid being disintermediated.  However, sales reps could push this functionality too far.  While chat functionality sounds like the next step for video, reps should be careful not to step over the line from personable to creepy. 

When prospects view an email, most understand that the act of opening an email triggers a notification to the sender, but they don’t expect that the viewing of a video will be treated as a real-time permission for a call or chat.  Immediately reaching out to customers and prospects may be viewed as a non-permissioned extension of an asynchronous communication into synchronous.  Drift does not discuss GDPR in the announcement, but this seems to cross the boundary into non-permissioned communications and the release of personally identifiable information (“John@B2BProspect.com is viewing your video.  Call immediately”).  The video privacy permissions are focused on the seller (ensuring they aren’t shared with others), but there does not seem to be any functionality to limit the “call me back” immediacy of the service.  If anything, the immediate messaging will drive down the open rate of all embedded video and kill its efficacy.

When I raised this concern to Drift, they offered a best practice to address this issue.  Lacey Berrien, Drift’s PR Senior Manager, suggested that sales reps could either wait for the contact to initiate the chat or use a message such as “Thanks for watching my video!  I’m here if you have any questions.”  This approach makes sense.  By utilizing a generic message that sounds automated, it feels less invasive.  This may be a situation where a generic message may be welcome as it serves as an invitation to chat while a personalized message may be off-putting.

The user can take one of two roads — proactively engage with the video viewer while they’re watching via the chat functionality OR not engage at all and allow the video viewer to chat with them at their own discretion…Other customers have gone the route of not messaging and just offering the viewer another channel to engage with them outside of email or a phone call.  Buyers have all of the power.  And the ultimate goal is to meet them where they are…and to always be available to help.

Lacey Berrien, Drift’s PR Senior Manager

There appears to be a Gresham’s Law of MarTech (“Bad money drives out good”); an effective channel or marketing tool quickly becomes overused or misused, resulting in lowered efficacy.  Embedded video could quickly convert a golden channel into chaff through overuse and perceived creepiness.  What makes embedded video so compelling today is its ability to personalize and deliver a relevant message on a 1:1 basis.  If embedded video overwhelms prospects or is seen as inviting immediate, unwanted contact, it will kill the golden goose.  A softer touch is likely the best practice.  If viewers maintain the control and opt into contact, then it will enhance the value of a video by providing a Call to Action that the prospect controls.

MarTech Industry Grows to 7,040

MarTech Growth Rate chart courtesy of Scott Brinker and Chief Martech
MarTech growth rate chart courtesy of Scott Brinker and Chief Martech

Scott Brinker published his 2019 Chief Martech eye chart and it now spans 7,040 companies, up 211 since last year.  While the industry continues to grow, the rate of growth appears to have moderated.  Between 2014 and 2018, the industry was adding over 1,000 companies each year with the biggest jump for the 2018 chart (1,800).  

The super-graphic is available to the public and may be reprinted at up to 1600 x 900.  Brinker has also made a spreadsheet available.

“That’s not so much a slowing down as a flattening out, a plateau,” said Brinker.  “At face value, it would seem that, indeed, we have achieved ‘peak martech.’ (pause for dramatic effect)”

While industry growth may have plateaued, Brinker admitted that 7,040 significantly underestimates the total number of Martech firms and joked that he may have hit “peak martech landscape.”  Brinker noted five areas where his chart is underweighted:

  • Regionally – When comparing to national MarTech landscapes, Brinker spotted hundreds of companies on the UK, Canadian, Chinese, German, Swedish, and Finnish country charts that were absent on the 2019 Chief Martech chart.
  • Vertical – Likewise, verticalized solutions are also underrepresented.
  • Apps built for specific MarTech platform ecosystems
  • Apps built by services companies (but packaged as products)
  • Apps built with low-code/no-code citizen developer platforms

“Each of these trends — the growth of platform ecosystems, the blending of software and services businesses, and the rise of citizen developer platforms — are birthing whole new galaxies of martech apps.

The major marketing suites have all embraced becoming true marketing platforms, with ever more open APIs and official marketplaces for third-party apps.”

Brinker lists Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, Microsoft, and G Suite amongst the platform ecosystems, but one would also include browser extensions, mobile apps, and sales engagement platforms (technically, SalesTech, but there is a fair amount of overlap between MarTech and SalesTech these days) to the list.  Brinker noted that WordPress has 54,480 plugins.

Audience / Marketing Data & Data Enhancement (2018 MarTech Landscape)
Audience / Marketing Data & Data Enhancement (2018 MarTech Landscape)

Many of the DaaS and Sales Intelligence vendors covered in this newsletter are amongst the 204 vendors listed in the Audience / Marketing Data & Data Enrichment category and the 457 vendors listed in the Sales Automation Enablement & Intelligence grouping.

SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Keynote

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter Gave the Opening Keynote at the SalesLoft Rainmaker 2019 Sales Conference.

At their Rainmaker 2019 conference, SalesLoft announced a doubling of their ecosystem, mobile functionality, a rebuilt analytics engine, and a hot leads feature.  The show attracted 1,300 attendees to hear 164 speakers.

“We’re in the middle of an evolution in the relationship between sellers and buyers,” said SalesLoft’s CEO, Kyle Porter.  “Sales teams need to tear up their playbooks and start fresh with a blend of human, relevant sales tactics and the modern technology needed to create an authentic sales experience that is repeatable and scalable.”

SalesLoft’s purpose is to “to activate the authentic seller in all of us” and elevate the sales profession by offering “world-class experiences.”  The firm operates under a quintet of values that inform its hiring and operations:


SalesLoft Operating Principles.

These principles led to SalesLoft being named the top-midsized employer in Atlanta for the second year in a row.  “We embrace the transformative power of technology innovation for our customers, but we believe in people first,” said Porter.  “Our founding purpose is to create an environment where others can come to learn more, do more, and become more.  Team members are encouraged to take their talents and skills and apply them to serve others and find fulfillment.  We show love to our people so they can share that sentiment with our customers.”

SalesLoft’s sales engagement platform is designed to support evolving buying behavior.  B2B buyers are swamped by messaging and “super busy,” yet need to solve complex problems.  Buyers are looking for an “engaging, authentic experience” that understands buyer needs and solves their problems.  However, sellers are inefficient and operate with broken processes.  SalesLoft is looking to address process failures by centralizing sales workflows and encouraging best practices.  Objectives include elevating the sales profession through community, encouraging diversity amongst its staff and event speakers (54% of whom were women or minorities at Rainmaker), and transparency in its policies and outcomes.

Porter described his future vision of sales where “every single seller has a digital assistant by their side” along with a “sales coaching network” which is a “giant distributed network of sales activity.”  Sales reps are supported by a digital assistant which delivers broad data and context-specific insights based on seller, stage, and customer to help reps “connect authentically with the buyer.”

Porter contends that “you can’t take the human out of the equation” but you can make it “easier to distribute a world-class experience to your customer.”

“[It’s time to] elevate the profession of sales to focus on delivering customers world-class experiences.  With that, you can maximize revenue.  A sales experience must be authentic, engaging, relevant, human, one-to-one and, most importantly, it understands buyers’ needs and solves their problems.”


SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

Sales reps have long suffered from a bad reputation, being forced to take ethical shortcuts to meet managerial demands.  SalesLoft is looking to lead by example.  According to Porter, when “we do right,” SalesLoft customers are able to hire, innovate, and invent new things.

SalesLoft’s other goal is to improve the efficiency and efficacy of sales teams.  A SalesLoft study found a 22% increase in opportunities created when comparing the 90-day windows before and after implementing their platform.  To back up their research, they commissioned a Forrester study of their customers which found a

  • 2.5X improvement in response rates
  • 20% lift in conversion and productivity
  • Doubling of the funnel
  • 13% increase in renewals
  • 329% ROI

“Many people say we’re in a state of digital transformation,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan.  “For sales, we’re entering a revolution of how we engage customers.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”

Buyers are looking for partners that work with them to identify and resolve issues.  “Today’s successful seller has to be a problem solver and you do that by asking great questions and collectively solving the problem with and for your customer,” said Sloan.  “It doesn’t matter if the product goes 10 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour, it’s the people I want to work with in partnership and, at the end of the day, it’s the people I want to work with.  I’ll pick a company because of the relationship.  The product still has to solve my problems but if two things are equal, I’ll go with the partnership.”


Part II: SalesLoft Rainmaker Product Announcements