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 Venture 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 under $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.