Outreach has developed software to help salespeople manage their customer relations. But this young Seattle-based company is far from being the only firm in the sales acceleration technology market.

Automating Sales Tasks to Increase Efficiency

A salesperson spends a large part of the day contacting customers and getting back in touch with his/her many potential clients, mainly via email or the telephone. Drowning in floods of follow-up calls and getting lost among the many tasks on the to-do list, there is a considerable risk that s/he will forget to call an important customer back at an agreed time, fail to get back as promised to someone that s/he spoke to a few hours earlier, or even send an email to the wrong recipient. Based on these observations, Outreach has come up with a software programme that automates part of this tedious work. The software automatically keeps track of emails which have been answered and calls that have been made, and sends the salesperson suggestions for the next step. You can also plan in advance a schedule for sending out reminders. If in the meantime a reply does come in, the Outreach tool will spot it and automatically cancel the reminder. Unsurprisingly, Outreach is not the only company making headway in this clearly promising niche market.

Sales acceleration services now a competitive market…

Outreach’s competitors include for example SalesLoft, an Atlanta, Georgia-based firm founded in 2011. SalesLoft raised over $10 million in investor capital in April, which values the company at $40 million. Like Outreach, the firm set out to automate some of the sales force’s tasks, providing tools to streamline communication with customers. There is also San Francisco-based ToutApp, which is positioned slightly differently as it combines a range of sales tools into one intuitive, user-friendly system. ToutApp provides a range of planning, communication and collaboration tools covering the entire sales process, designed to help salespeople make the best decisions at each stage. ToutApp, which was also founded in 2011, currently has around 400 customers, including Dropbox. According to  a report from InsideSales, a cloud-based sales acceleration technologies and solutions firm, North American companies spent $12.8 billion on sales acceleration technology in 2013.

…with investor appeal

Outreach claims that its software helps save salespeople precious time, and reduces the risk of their forgetting tasks or making errors which could cost them an important contract. Investors seem to buy these arguments – the company has just raised $2 million in seed funding, bringing the total amount raised to date to $2.4 million. This is a very respectable figure for a company that was only set up two years ago. Among its investors are MHS Capital and Floodgate, who have just joined original stakeholders Version One Ventures and former LinkedIn executives Sarah Imbach and Ellen Levy. Outreach CEO Manny Medina told technology news site VentureBeat that he intended to use the newly-raised funds to continue developing the product, take on more staff – currently there are twenty employees – and grow the company’s customer base, which at the moment stands at 250 firms. Medina also told the news site that one client, Fliptot, actually doubled its sales within the first few weeks of using the Outreach software.



By Guillaume Renouard