The thermometer outside says it’s 90 degrees, but as I sit gently cooking at my desk, the real heat these days is in the sales tech market. The last four weeks have seen four major funding announcements in what I’ve broadly called the B2B seller enablement space. The amounts raised range from $80 million to $250 million with valuations from several hundred million to several billion dollars.
Don’t let the stupefying numbers (and temperatures) fool you—these companies are hot for good reason. Though none of the four are direct competitors (yet), they all address some of the fundamental challenges of selling effectively, each with its own particular focus and specialisms. They also fill one essential gap that has existed in traditional CRM systems for the past two decades: automating data capture and updates. This simple yet powerful ability to liberate sellers from administrative work is the single unifying factor among every vendor in this category, including the four companies here. It’s also the foundation of all the other capabilities that help improve the ways companies sell.
Here are the big announcements in order of recency:
Introhive Dials in Relationship Intelligence
On June 16, Introhive announced $100 million in Series C funding, led by PSG and including several existing investors. That’s a substantial increase from previous funding rounds totaling $40 million. Introhive, founded in 2012, has developed its offerings around the needs of businesses that build long-term relationships with their clients—think consultancies, law firms, recruitment companies, and, increasingly, financial services and technology companies. For these businesses, building customer relationships is often the job of partners and principals, not necessarily sales teams.
What distinguishes Introhive’s offerings in the market, aside from a clear understanding of how relationship-driven businesses operate, are relationship mapping and an almost obsessive focus on data quality. The company’s automated data capture uses machine learning to populate CRM systems with the timing and nature of customer interactions. At the same time, the system uses that data to build and score relationship maps across organizations, while also identifying important insights about customer accounts.
Introhive also has a specific offering around data cleansing, using AI to incorporate both internal and external data sources to validate data in CRM. The emphasis on data quality has substantial impact on the accuracy and reliability of the analysis Inrohive provides. This spans account intelligence, relationship maps, coaching opportunities, and pipeline analysis.
Gong’s Conversational AI Drives Revenue Intelligence
Gong announced $250 million (the largest in our assortment here) in Series E funding on June 3. The round was led by Franklin Templeton along with numerous other existing investors. This brings the company’s total funding so far to $584 million and values Gong at $7.25 billion.
Founded in 2015, Gong’s claim to fame is using natural language processing (NLP) to understand and assess sales calls and communications. In addition to automated data capture and CRM updates from email, chat, phone, and video calls, Gong uses NLP to analyze the substance of those conversations. By identifying and extracting key words, Gong filters insights into deal intelligence, people intelligence, and market intelligence.
Deal intelligence provides sellers with a clear view into how opportunities are trending and what actions are most likely to close deals. People intelligence gives sales managers and leaders insight into what the most effective sellers are doing and when, as well as identifying where individuals may need coaching, training, or additional support. Market intelligence highlights trends across opportunities like key competitors, emerging trends, and the most effective value propositions.
Outreach Ups the Ante on Remote Selling
On June 2, one day before Gong, Outreach announced $200 million in—wait for it—Series G funding, increasing the company’s valuation to $4.2 billion and total funding to $489 million. This latest round was led by Premji Invest and Steadfast Capital Ventures, with additional investors participating.
Outreach’s founders initially developed the company’s technology when they were running a previous startup and realized their biggest challenge was identifying and pursuing customer leads with limited manpower. They needed to make sales but with a small staff, couldn’t afford to waste time on low-value admin tasks or pursing apparent prospects that weren’t really interested.
To make the best use of what time and resources were available, they used machine learning to capture data from email exchanges and leveraged calendar plugins to automate meeting scheduling. From there, Outreach, founded in 2014, began to focus on developing automated cadences to maintain communication with prospects, gauge their level of interest, and focus on those most likely to close. Initially, the company’s bread and butter was supporting inside sales teams responsible for opportunity identification and qualification. With the pandemic-driven move to remote sales for all kinds of sellers, Outreach has expanded the scope of sales constituents it serves.
Dooly Does It
News about Dooly’s somewhat stealthy $80 million Series B funding round came out on May 20. The round, hot on the heels of Series A funding, was led by Spark Capital with participation by several other investors. According to Tech Crunch, this round, which brings total funding to $100 million, values the company at $300 million. Dooly was founded in 2016.
Dooly brings a straightforward yet extremely powerful offering to the seller enablement market: automated note taking and data syncing across a wide range of applications, including CRM. Through integrations with videoconference platforms, collaboration tools, email, calendar, document stores, and even other seller enablement tools, Dooly uses NLP to identify relevant keywords. This allows users and ops teams alike to build playbooks, connect useful information to keywords, and surface relevant supporting documents at the moment they’re needed.
The flexibility and extensibility of Dooly have broad application across customer-facing teams. By focusing on capturing insights and synchronizing them across multiple systems, Dooly removes a significant admin burden while improving transparency and coordination.
There’s a Big Waterfront to Play In
Looking across these four announcements, what strikes me most is the tremendous potential these companies (and others in this space) have to fundamentally change the way we work, starting with the way we sell. All these technologies are focused on making the job of selling easier and the experience of buyers better as a result. That’s a big reason why the people using each of them seem to be such big fans.
And, fascinatingly, it’s not uncommon to see two or three of the vendors here happily coexisting with a single customer. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear of all four of them being used in the same business. At some point growth, expansion, and eventual market consolidation will draw starker competitive lines between them. For now though, the diversity of approaches to tackling the challenges of B2B selling is a good thing. It means plenty of options for companies trying to find the right solutions to match the way they work—and the way they want to in future.
When you consider how much of the economy is comprised of companies that sell to other businesses, it’s easy to see just how big the opportunity really is. Every company has to sell, and everyone wants to do it better. Just wait until marketing is brought into the fold. What we’ve seen so far is still just a drop in the bucket.
On that note, time to go for a swim to cool off…
For more information and detailed discussion of the seller enablement market, see “B2B Relationship Selling in the Virtual Age: New Seller Enablement Tools Facilitate Old-School Fundamentals,” by yours truly.