AI for Sales
Updated: June 18, 2021
2021. Introhive raises $100M for AI-powered sales tools
Introhive, a startup which has built an AI engine that ingests huge amounts of data from across disparate applications to help companies (and specifically anyone in their organization that is selling to someone) to build better “relationship graphs” for target organizations, has raised $100 million in funding. There is something about the service that reminds me a bit of LinkedIn or ZoomInfo — which you may use in your own work, or come across when Googling someone online for some reason (hey — I’m not asking why here) — for providing some kind of data base/org chart of people connected to a business. But to be very clear, the data that Introhive builds for a customer stays with that customer, and doesn’t go anywhere else.
2021. Dooly closes $20M for AI-based tools to help salespeople with their busywork
Dooly, a Vancouver, Canada-based startup that has built a set of AI-based tools that automate the busywork that goes into updating data in their sales software, and namely Salesforce, has picked up $20M. The idea with Dooly is that you turn it on, connect it to what you are using — starting with Salesforce — and Dooly lets you make notes which it then organises and puts into the right places in the rest of your apps. The product currently also integrates with Slack, G-Cal and G-Drive.
2021. SetSail nabs $26M Series A to rethink sales compensation
SetSail, the startup that wants to upend the way sales people get compensated by paying them throughout the sales cycle, rather than a single commission after the sale closes, has raised a $26 million Series A. SetSail connects to your CRM, email, calendar and other systems that have signals about the progress of a particular sale, and then using machine learning looks at points in the sales cycle where it would make sense to reward the sales person for the progress they are making. SetSail leverages machine learning to analyze customer interactions and uncover what’s driving progress in your deals.
2021. SalesLoft raises $100M for its AI-based sales platform
SalesLoft, a sales platform 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 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. The company competes against a plethora of others, including Clari, Chorus.ai, Gong, Conversica, Afiniti and Outreach, as well as biggies like Salesforce.
2020. Sales productivity platform Nektar raises $2.15M
Singapore-based Nektar.ai, a productivity platform for sales teams, has raised $2.15 million in seed funding. Nektar lets sales teams integrate workplace tools, like Slack, Google Meet, Microsoft Team, Microsoft Exchange and WhatsApp, with CRM platforms, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Hubspot. This helps sales teams by reducing time spent on administrative tasks and enabling them to feed data from various software into analytics tools and automated to-do lists. One of Nektar’s features are “playbooks,” or sets of best practices, goals and alerts that sales, customer support and marketing teams can collaborate on and reference.
2020. Vivun announces $18M for its AI pre-sales platform
Vivun, the company building AI-based pre-sales platform, announced an $18 million Series A. Vivun has caught the attention of investors because this is a unique product category and there has been a lot of demand for it. It turns out that businesses of all sizes, startups and enterprises, are really craving a solution like Vivun, which is dedicated to pre-sales. Vivun's business has grown this year. Large businesses like Okta, Autodesk and Dell Secureworks have filled in nicely, and the product actually fits well in larger enterprise organizations.
2020. Tone raises $4M to help e-commerce brands text with their customers
While many companies are using chatbots and other forms of automation to manage their communication with customers, Tone is betting that humans (using AI) will remain a key part of the equation. Tone employs its own team of human agents to actually do the texting, assisted by software that helps them find the information they need. The agents are assigned to specific brands, which means that customers will be talking to the same person whenever they have a question for that business. Tone integrates with e-commerce systems like Shopify and Magento, and it’s already working with more than 1,000 brands like ThirdLove, Peak Design and Usual Wines — which are seeing as much as a 26% increase in revenue and a 15% increase in order size.
2020. SugarCRM acquires Node to gain predictive customer intelligence
SugarCRM announced this morning it has acquired customer intelligence startup, Node. While Sugar gains a ton of AI expertise, it also adds a customer prediction element to the platform, such as figuring out the customers most likely to convert or most likely to leave. This puts it in more direct competition with Adobe and Salesforce, which for some time have had intelligence layers that provide that kind of predictability. Node was founded in 2014 and has raised over $43 million. It fills a gap for SugarCRM adding engagement analytics and action at both ends of the business, and at the same time provides a market differentiator for them.
2020. iKala, an AI-based customer engagement platform, raises $17M
Taiwanese startup iKala, which offers an artificial intelligence-based customer acquisition and engagement platform, will expand into new Southeast Asian markets after raising a $17 million Series B. IKala’s products are targeted toward e-commerce companies, and include KOL Radar, for influencer marketing, and Shoplus, a social commerce service focused on Southeast Asian markets. iKala implements a state-of-the-art DAA flywheel (Digitalization, Analytics, and Application flywheel) framework to provide a clear roadmap and strategy for AI adoption.
2020. Gong.io nabs $200M to enhance CRM with voice recognition
Gong has raised a significant $200 million on a $2.2 billion valuation. Gong is trying to create a category it have dubbed “revenue intelligence.” Today sales data is stored in a CRM database consisting of descriptions of customer interactions as described by the salesperson or CSR. Gong is trying to transform that process by capturing both sides of the interaction, then, using artificial intelligence, it transcribes and analyzes those interactions. It extracts important bits out of the conversation to provide insights to customer-facing people about how they can get better at what they do, while providing insights to management about how staff is performing. It takes it one step further by offering strategic input like how your competitors are trending or how are customers responding to your products.
2019. Sales assistant software Vymo raised $18M
Vymo, the startup that operates an eponymous mobile-first service to help salespeople manage their leads and get more work done, has raised $18 million in a new financing round to expand its footprint in the U.S. and other markets. Vymo serves as a CRM (customer relationship management) solution and also works with other popular CRMs such as Salesforce. The service helps salespeople automatically capture their business calls, visits, messages, emails, calendar and the engagement levels to better track and manage their leads. Vymo, which employs about 100 people, has amassed over 40 enterprise customers, including life insurance firms AIA Group and AXA, in seven nations. More than 100,000 salespeople use Vymo’s service.
2019. Microsoft PowerPoint adds AI presentation coach
During last few years, Microsoft started to bring some of its AI smarts to PowerPoint to help you design good-looking slides. Today, it’s launching a number of updates and new features that make this even easier. Even the best-designed presentation isn’t going to have much of an impact if you’re not a good public speaker. That’s a skill that takes a lot of practice to master, and to help you get better, Microsoft created Presenter Coach for PowerPoint, a new AI tool that gives you feedback while you’re practicing your presentation in front of your computer. For example it tells you whether you are using inclusive language and how many filler words you use. It also makes sure that you don’t commit the greatest sin of presenting: just reading the slides. After your rehearsal session, PowerPoint will show you a dashboard with a summary of your performance and what to focus on to improve your skills.
2019. Oracle adds more AI features to its suite of sales tools
Oracle adds several AI-fueled features for its suite of sales tools. For starters, the company wants to help managers and salespeople understand the market better to identify the best prospects in the pipeline. To that end, Oracle is announcing integration with DataFox, the company it purchased last fall. The acquisition gave Oracle the ability to integrate highly detailed company profiles into their Customer Experience Cloud, including information such as SEC filings, job postings, news stories and other data about the company. The company also announced an AI sales planning tool. Tarkoff says that Oracle created this tool in conjunction with its ERP team. The goal is to use machine learning to help finance make more accurate performance predictions based on internal data.
2018. Salesforce allows to enter data to CRM via voice
Sales managers love to talk. In fact, talking is their job. But when it comes to entering customer data to CRM system, they have to type. Salesforce wants to save salespeople from such a cognitive dissonance. New feature - Einstein Voice - allows to enter data into the system using natural speech. Imagine, when getting behind the wheel, you simply launch the mobile app and talk to virtual assistant: "I just met John Smith. He is interested in buying, but asked to call him in a week ...". And the virtual assistant gently adds a note to this customer history in CRM. But Salesforce should do something with personality of their virtual assistant. It looks wrong to force Einstein to perform such simple tasks.
2018. Microsoft launches new AI applications for Dynamics 365 CRM
A year ago Microsoft introduced its first Dynamics 365 AI solutions and today it’s expanding this portfolio with the launch of three new products: Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, Customer Service and Market Insights. Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, unsurprisingly, is meant to help sales teams get deeper insights into their prospects using sentiment analysis. That’s obviously among the most basic of machine learning applications these days, but AI for Sales also helps these salespeople understand what actions they should take next and which prospects to prioritize. Similarly, the Customer Service app focuses on using natural language understanding to understand and predict customer service problems and leverage virtual agents to lower costs. Finally, Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights does just what the name implies: it provides teams with data about social sentiment, but this, too, goes a bit deeper.
2018. Salesforce added automated query building feature in Einstein Analytics
Salesforce introduced a new feature to Einstein Analytics Conversational Queries. It recognize the most common phrasing as you’re typing, providing an automated way to build queries and access data. With Conversational Queries, users can type phrases related to their data — such as “show me top accounts by annual revenue” or “rank accounts decreasing by annual revenue and billing country” — and instantly view answers in automatically configured dynamic charts. By putting the queries into plain language, helping you build the query automatically, then building the charts based on the automated phrasing, it puts the ability to access analytics into more hands.
2017. Zoho CRM got AI assistant
Zoho has introduced Zia - the Artificial Intelligence-powered Sales Assistant for Zoho CRM. Zia lets you know when something is going extraordinarily well –or wrong- in your sales operation, knows what you want to do – and helps you do it faster and bring the end of voicemails and unread emails. Zia is capable of learning, over time, the most frequent actions a particular user takes on Zoho CRM. Besides, Zoho introduced Blueprint, a sales process automation platform and upgraded two features to platforms: Zoho PhoneBridge, which connects a customer's PBX system to the Zoho CRM system, and SalesSignals, which provides real-time information about the activities of customers and prospects.