Covering several venture capital deals worlwide daily, in the latest period, I have noticed an always major interest by investors for software and applications that focus on improving the selling process from the initial contact, to product demonstrations, trial periods, bidding, price negotiations, signing of contracts… and later. In order to increase their productivity, get closer to prospects and avoid losing time and resources on indirect activities, sales professionals can be supported in different ways. For example, they need tools to organize and prioritize contacts, not to miss important emails, access to quality (hot) leads, as well as to analytics and predictive solutions, alerts and info to track prospects, etc.
If it is true that software is eating the world, several startups are launching dedicated SaaS-based and mobile-first platforms to satisfy the always more pressing needs of sales reps and team managers in different fields. Given the above, let’s have a look at some interesting early stage companies whose solutions aim to impact directly on the work of sales people and which have received support from investors during 2014. In the US, Provo, Utah-based InsideSales.com offers a software-as-a-service-based sales acceleration technology platform that features which features communications for immediate response, gamification for motivation, predictive analytics for lead prioritization, and sales data visualization. In April, the company closed a $100m Series C financing led by Polaris Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from Acadia Woods, EPIC Ventures, salesforce.com, Zetta Venture Partners, Hummer Winblad and U.S. Venture Partners. ClientSuccess, which has just raised $1m in seed funding from Peak Ventures, Plus550, Techstars Bullet Time Ventures, etc., provides a platform dedicated to enabling SaaS companies to access to actionable insights, customer analytics, and best practices to define, manage, and measure success throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Users can leverage best practice methodologies for onboarding, deployment, adoption, growth, and renewal, and customize their own methodology with key activities, goals and milestones that are specific to their product and approach, supporting multiple cycles and segments. In order to increase productivity, Denver, Colorado-based CommercialTribe provides a cloud-based social sales learning platform that enables sales reps to teach and learn from one another using video and other content. The company secured $3.2m in Series A funding in April. In November, Washington, D.C.-based Contactually, which provides a relationship management platform, closed a $2m funding round from Point Nine Capital, Boston Seed, Middlebridge Partners, 500 Startups, Middleland Capital, Crystal Tech and Gil Penchina’s AngelList syndicate. Founded in 2011, the company provides a SaaS solution that automatically reminds the user to follow up with important people he/she is in touch with through connecting his/her multiple accounts (email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It has 7,500 customers across 100 countries.
In Israel, Valooto, a provider of a SaaS collaborative sales engagement platform, closed a $1.5M seed round with Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) Media Labs in October 2014. Founded in October 2013, the company leverages built-in tracking and web analytics to offer a tool that converts sales proposals into live, online, interactive documents that can be shared, collaborated on, and approved by customers. The platform operates natively within Salesforce.com or any cloud-based CRM. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, SalesPredict provides a SaaS platform for B2B companies to unveil hot leads using predictive analytics. The company, which has raised $4.1m in Series A funding from Yandex and KGC Capital, has developed a comprehensive solution that combines and analyzes prospect and customer data from a company’s CRM and marketing automation solutions, along with proprietary data sources, social media, and the open web, to identify best potential prospects and access information and purchase signal insights to accelerate sales cycles and improve conversion rates.
Coming to Europe, Barcelona, Spain-based ForceManager, which provides a sales force automation software system, closed a €2.8m financing round led by Nauta Capital, with participation from existing investor Histemi Investments. Founded in 2011, the company provides tablet and smartphone native mobile apps for on-the-go sales reps to access information they need “to focus on selling, not on reporting” and for sales managers to access to a complete picture and real time insight into the activity of their sales force.