Jan
06
2021
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Atlanta’s SalesLoft raises $100M for its digital sales platform, now valued at $1.1B

The COVID-19 pandemic and specifically need for social distancing to slow the spread of the virus have continued to keep many of us away from the office. Now, increasingly, many organizations and people believe that it could usher in a more permanent shift to remote, distributed and virtual work. Today, a startup that has built a set of tools specifically to help salespeople with that change — by way of digital sales — has raised a substantial growth round to meet that demand.

SalesLoft, a sales platform based out of Atlanta, Georgia that provides AI-based tools to help salespeople run their sales process virtually — from finding and following up on leads, through to helping them sell with virtual coaching tools, and then assisting in the post-sales process — has closed $100 million in funding.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Kyle Porter confirmed to TechCrunch that the company is now valued at $1.1 billion post-money, a substantial hike on its previous valuation. In April 2019, well before any global health pandemics, the company had raised a Series D of $70 million at around a $600 million valuation (a figure we confirmed at the time with sources close to the company).

This latest round is being led by Owl Rock Capital, with previous investors Insight Partners, HarbourVest, and Emergence Capital — a VC focused specifically on enterprise startups, which notably was an early backer of Zoom and many others — also participating.

SalesLoft has now raised some $245 million, an impressive sum for any startup, but also worth pointing out for the fact that it’s not based out of the Valley but Atlanta, Georgia (a state in the news for other reasons at the moment, as the focus of a hotly contested U.S. Senate runoff election).

The company has been on a growth tear for several years now, as one of the big players in the area of so-called sales engagement: tools to help salespeople sell better to clients (or would-be clients), which can include real-time monitoring of interactions to provide coaching to improve the process, suggestions for supplementary content to enhance the pitch and more basic software simply to manage records and communications.

Even before the pandemic hit, this was a key growth area in enterprise software, with both in-person and online/digital salespeople relying on these kinds of products to help them get more of an edge with their work, but a lot of the focus had really been on inside sales (B2B sales focusing on bigger purchases). Porter described the effect of COVID-19 as a “tailwind” propelling that already strong trend.

“The effects of COVID have been a tailwind due to the effects of digital selling,” he said. “All sellers immediately became remote. But now the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in. It’s meant that inside sales are now all sales. Whether the opportunities are mid-funnel or upgrades or renewals, we are establishing ourselves as the engagement platform of record because it’s all becoming digital and all sellers are finding more success.”

He added that SalesLoft’s own sales cycle has improved by 40% since the pandemic, a reflection, he said, of the “urgency and need” for tools like those that the startup develops.

Another shift has been in terms of the kinds of customers SalesLoft works with. The company originally was focused on the mid-market, but that has changed with more larger enterprises also coming on board. Google, LinkedIn (which backs SalesLoft and is in a strategic partnership with it), Cisco, Dell and IBM are all customers, and Porter said that more “mainstream” businesses like Cargil, 3M and Standard & Poor are also increasingly becoming clients.

That is leading the startup to building out bigger solutions, beyond the basic pitch of “sales engagement” that has been SalesLoft’s mainstay up to now. The company competes against a plethora of others, including ClariChorus.aiGongConversicaAfiniti and Outreach, as well as biggies like Salesforce. Outreach, notably, had a big mid-COVID round of its own, raising at a $1.3 billion valuation in June last year, a mark of that wider market demand. Porter notes that SalesLoft’s big selling point is that it offers an increasingly end-to-end sales solution to customers, meaning less shopping around.

Jul
26
2019
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Emergence’s Jason Green joins TC Sessions: Enterprise this September

Picking winners from the herd of early-stage enterprise startups is challenging — so much competition, so many disruptive technologies, including mobile, cloud and AI. One investor who has consistently identified winners is Jason Green, founder and general partner at Emergence, and TechCrunch is very pleased to announce that he will join the investor panel at TC Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. He will join two other highly accomplished VCs, Maha Ibrahim, general partner at Canaan Partners and Rebecca Lynn, co-founder and general partner at Canvas Ventures. They will join TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos to discuss important trends in early-stage enterprise investments as well as the sectors and companies that have their attention. Green will also join us for the investor Q&A in a separate session.

Jason Green founded Emergence in 2003 with the aim of “looking around the corner, identifying themes and aiming to win big in the long run.” The firm has made 162 investments, led 64 rounds and seen 29 exits to date. Among the firm’s wins are Zoom, Box, Sage Intacct, ServiceMax, Box and SuccessFactors. Emergence has raised $1.4 billion over six funds.

Green is also the founding chairman of the Kauffman Fellow Program and a founding member of Endeavor. He serves on the boards of BetterWorks, Drishti, GroundTruth, Lotame, Replicon and SalesLoft.

Come hear from Green and these other amazing investors at TC Sessions: Enterprise by booking your tickets today — $249 early-bird tickets are still on sale for the next two weeks before prices go up by $100. Book your tickets here.

Startups, get noticed with a demo table at the conference. Demo tables come with four tickets to the show and prime exhibition space for you to showcase your latest enterprise technology to some of the most influential people in the business. Book your $2,000 demo table right here.

Apr
25
2019
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SalesLoft nabs $70M at around $600M valuation for its sales engagement platform

Artificial intelligence and other tech for automating some of the more repetitive aspects of human jobs continues to be a growing category of software, and today a company that builds tools to address this need for salespeople has raised a tidy sum to grow its business.

SalesLoft, an Atlanta-based startup that has built a platform for salespeople to help them engage with their clients — providing communications tools, supporting data and finally analytics to “coach” salespeople to improve their processes — has raised $70 million in a Series D round of funding led by Insight Partners with participation from HarbourVest.

Kyle Porter, SalesLoft’s co-founder and CEO, would not disclose the amount of funding in an interview, but he did confirm that it is more than double its valuation from the previous round — a $50 million Series C that included LinkedIn among the investors (more on that below) — but less than $1 billion. That round was just over a year ago and would have valued the firm at $250 million. That would put SalesLoft’s current valuation at more than $500 million, and a source close to the company notes that it’s around $600 million.

While there are a number of CRM and sales tools out in the market today, Porter believes that many of the big ones might better be described as “dumb databases or repositories” of information rather than natively aimed at helping source and utilise data more effectively.

“They are not focused on improving how to connect buyers to sales teams in sincere ways,” he said. “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.”

SalesLoft is not the only one that has spotted this opportunity, of course. There are dozens of others that are either competing on single or all aspects of the same services that SalesLoft provides, including the likes of Clari, Chorus.ai, Gong, Conversica, Afiniti and not least Outreach — which is seen as a direct competitor on sales engagement and itself raised $114 million on a $1.1 billion valuation earlier this month.

One of the notable distinctions for SalesLoft is that one of its strategic investors is LinkedIn, which participated in its Series C. Before Microsoft acquired it, LinkedIn was seen as a potential competitor to Salesforce, and many thought that Microsoft’s acquisition was made squarely to help it compete against the CRM giant.

These days, Porter said that his company and LinkedIn have a tight integration by way of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator product, which SalesLoft users can access and utilise directly within SalesLoft, and they have a hotline to be apprised of and help shape LinkedIn’s API developments. SalesLoft is also increasingly building links into Microsoft Dynamics, the company’s CRM business.

“We are seeing the highest usage in our LinkedIn integration among all the other integrations we provide,” Porter told me. “Our customers find that it’s the third most important behind email and phone calls.” Email, for all its cons, remains the first.

The fact that this is a crowded area of the market does speak to the opportunity and need for something effective, however, and the fact that SalesLoft has grown revenues 100 percent in each of the last two years, according to Porter, makes it a particularly attractive horse to bet on.

“So many 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, in a statement. “This is one reason the company’s customers are so devoted to them. We are privileged to partner with this innovative company on their mission to improve selling experiences all over the world.”

Going forward, Porter said that in addition to expanding its footprint globally — recent openings include a new office in London — the company is going to go big on more AI and “intelligence” tools. The company already offers something it calls its “coaching network,” which is not human but AI-based and analyses calls as they happen to provide pointers and feedback after the fact (similar to others like Gong and Chorus, I should note).

“We want to give people a better way to deliver an authentic but ultimately human way to sell,” he said.

Apr
03
2018
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SalesLoft soars with $50 M Series C

SalesLoft, an Atlanta-based startup that helps companies manage the contact phase of the sales process, announced a $50 million Series C today.

Insight Venture Partners was lead investor with participation from LinkedIn and Emergence Capital, which also participated in the company’s A and B rounds. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $75 million, so this was a significant capital infusion.

What attracted investors was that SalesLoft has concentrated on an area of the sales pipeline called ‘sales engagement.’ It provides a framework for sales people around how to contact potential customers, how often and with what language. It is significant enough that it caught the attention of Jeff Horing, co-founder and managing director at Insight Venture Partners, who was willing to write a big check.

He sees sales engagement an emerging and fast-growing area of the sales stack. “SalesLoft consistently helps customers increase their pipelines, but also strengthen their relationships with buyers — that’s a huge differentiator,” Horing said in a statement.

Kyle Porter, co-founder and CEO at SalesLoft says that what his company does is essentially create a contact workflow for the sales team. It provides a framework or blueprint, while applying a measurable structure to the process for management. Whether the sale is successful or not, there is an audit trail of all the interactions and what the software recommended for actions and what actions the sales person took.

That involves providing the sales team with the next best actions, which could be an email, a phone call or even a handwritten note.”The suggested email content and phone scripts come from experience with buyers. Here’s the right way to communicate,” Porter said. “At the end of the day, we are enabling our customers to deliver better sales experience,” he added.

The software can recommend the best person to email next with suggested text. Photo: SalesLoft

Machine learning will play an increasing role in building that workflow, as the system learns what types of interactions work best for certain types of customers, it will learn from that, and the system’s recommendations should improve over time.

It appears to be working. The company, which launched in 2011, currently has 230 employees and over 2000 customers including Square, Cisco, Alteryx, Dell and MuleSoft (which Salesforce bought last month for $6.5 billion.) The company reported that they have increased revenue over the last two years by 800 percent (yes, 800 percent).

Porter says this money sets them up to really scale the company with plans to reach 350 employees by the end of the year. In fact, they have more than 40 openings at the moment.

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