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Outreach raises $50 million to launch new AI sales engagement solutions

Outreach, a Seattle, Washington-based software startup developing a semiautomated sales engagement platform, today announced it has raised $50 million at a $1.33 billion valuation (up from $1.1 billion in April 2019.) Outreach says it will use the funds to develop new products and invest in international markets, opening offices and growing its presence in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Over 40% of salespeople say that prospecting — i.e., identifying potential customers — is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing and determining whether a prospect is worth the time. A recent survey by HubSpot found that 42% of sales reps feel they don’t have enough information before making a call and 85% of prospects and customers are dissatisfied with their on-the-phone experience.

Outreach aims to address these challenges in part through AI-enabled solutions. First up is Kaia, a voice-powered knowledge assistant scheduled to launch in beta this summer that brings together elements of intelligent sales enablement and automation. Kaia integrates with Zoom and supports video recording with real-time screen sharing, call recording, and transcription. Moreover, it lets sales reps review calls for training and coaching, and it provides flashcards that highlight information on topics like product specifications, competitor comparisons, and stakeholder knowledge.

Kaia also captures critical sales tasks and action items as they’re mentioned in conversation and collates them in a summary that spotlights meeting attendees, notes, and key minutes from the meeting. To comply with local laws and regulations, participants are alerted to recording prior to and at the beginning of meetings, when Kaia visibly joins as a participant, Outreach says.

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Beyond Kaia, Outreach offers sequence intent reporting, a feature of the company’s Amplify AI suite that leverages machine learning to classify the intent of a prospect’s email into categories. Instead of simple “yes or no” replies, sequence intent reporting categorizes responses according to “positive,” “objections,” “referrals,” and “unsubscribe” requests.

Outreach’s suite of tools also automates repetitive sales tasks like rescheduling meetings and booking times on behalf of coworkers while prioritizing key customer touchpoints. And it furnishes sales reps with on-demand analytics and engagement prospects via existing platforms from Microsoft (for example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales and Outlook), Salesforce, and SAP.

Through an Amazon Web Services (AWS)-hosted dashboard, users can quickly queue up activities like calls, texts, and emails with auto-populating templates and custom fields, drawing on data sources like LinkedIn, Twitter, Owler, Compile, and Datanyze to surface times, channels, and other relevant info. Outreach supports triggers for adding sales prospects to sequences and call recording, and it can autonomously send emails, provide call quality feedback, and more.

Voice connectors enable reps to contact customers within Outreach, courtesy of integrations with IP telephony solutions like Dialpad and RingCentral. And Outreach’s collaborations with partners like Bombora deliver intent scores that help prioritize engagement. Administrators and managers have full control over user profiles, enabling them to build out teams and role hierarchies for targeted reporting and governance. And Outreach says all sensitive data is encrypted both at rest and in transit over public networks and its products are compliant with SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, and EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

AI-driven sales engagement startups continue to attract funding. People.ai, which takes into account customer contacts and activity to deliver actionable insights, raised tens of million late last year. Automated conversation company Conversica raked in $31 million last October, and Chorus.ai — a startup developing AI that listens in on sales calls — secured $33 million less than six months ago.

Outreach says a Forrester study it recently commissioned showed the company’s platform achieved a 387% average return on investment over a three-year period and a payback window of less than three months from investment. This performance has spurred growth during the pandemic. More than 4,000 companies — including Adobe, Tableau, DoorDash, Splunk, and DocuSign — now use its platform, up from 3,300 last April.

Sands Capital led the latest funding round, with participation from Salesforce Ventures. New investor Operator Collective also participated, as did existing investors Lone Pine Capital, Spark Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Trinity Ventures, Mayfield, and Sapphire Ventures. The round brings Outreach’s total funding to $289 million, following a $114 million round in April 2019.

Outreach also confirmed the appointment of Melissa Fisher as CFO. Fisher was most recently with Qualys, a provider of cloud-based IT, security, and compliance software-as-a-service solutions, and she oversaw the expansion of its EBITDA margins by 44% and the increase of its stock price by more than 400%.

Outreach currently employees 600 people — nearly double its workforce of just over a year ago — across new locations in the U.S. and U.K. Outreach CEO Manny Medina previously said he expects the company to achieve an annualized sales rate of $100 million in 2020.

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