Lead generation is an essential lifeblood in the world of sales – in a seemingly endless sea of potential customers, you need to know who wants to buy, or who might buy, what you’re selling so you can focus your arguments (and your time and energy) in a more targeted way. Today, a startup that creates tools for businesses to help with lead generation, especially in B2B sales, announces a major fundraising round on the back of strong growth over the past year. .
Qualified, a pipeline-building platform designed specifically for Salesforce users, raised $95 million in a Series C funding round, money it plans to use to continue growing its technology and grow its global business. The funding is led by Sapphire (formerly the venture capital arm of another major CRM player, now independent SAP), with major participation from Tiger Global and previous backers Norwest Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Salesforce Ventures . (Salesforce led Qualified Series B last year.)
The valuation is undisclosed, but for a point of reference, PitchBook estimated it at $376 million last year, and it likely reached more than just a $376+95 million valuation, given Qualified’s other growth: The San Francisco startup’s revenue is up 400% year over year, and net customer retention is currently at 150%, CEO Kraig Swensrud told me. in an interview. Customers include Autodesk, Fujitsu, GE Healthcare, GrubHub, HashiCorp, iHeartMedia, LaunchDarkly, Matterport, Netskope, OwnBackup, Poly, Recurly, Talend, Transplace, and Vonage.
Swensrud’s focus on Salesforce is both practical and cultural. Not only is it the most popular CRM package in use today, giving Qualified a very qualified audience of potential customers, so to speak, but he and his co-founder Sean Whiteley used to work at the company – respectively as CMO and an SVP — and therefore knows both its potentials but also its shortcomings in terms of functionality.
(Appropriately, Qualified now calls its platform the “Pipeline Cloud,” a reference to the nomenclature Salesforce uses for all of its own product lines.)
“We’re focused on Salesforce customers,” Swensrud said. “This market alone has hundreds of thousands of B2B customers and allows us to speak their language. Our plans are not to work with other CRM vendors. We are solely and exclusively focused here.
The challenge and opportunity that Qualified has identified and is poised to address is the fact that most B2B sales these days are initiated, if not entirely completed end-to-end, on digital platforms, anchored by the company’s website. ‘a company. This has been a growing trend but has absolutely accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic where many in-person meetings have evaporated.
The problem with online sales is that you lose a lot of the human touch that is so essential to initiating, developing and closing deals. The opportunity is that as a seller you have access to a lot more data about who is interested in a product – as long as you know how to leverage that data.
That’s where Qualified comes in: the company provides a suite of tools that integrate with a site and other digital channels, as well as a sales dashboard, to better understand visitors to their site, to learn more about them. and to see how they could “qualify” as an interesting lead for them. Notably, these are no different from the type of programmatic, anonymized tools that ad tech or marketers might use to measure web audiences, except that they are here applied to a use case more specific B2B sales strategy. They can see how a visitor came to a site, whether they are existing customers, and link them to broader data in a company’s Salesforce database.
“There, we take those and buyers who are ‘qualified’ so you can have a conversation with them,” Swensrud said.
The idea is that traditional digital tools – like filling in some details to read a white paper – are no longer enough. They are not only tedious and boring, but are now becoming very outdated, given people’s increasingly low tolerance for sharing personal information or other identifiable information about themselves, and in the future to be spammed (or worse) based on this.
Given the extent of consumer engagement across social media, apps, and other channels, it’s interesting to see how Qualified perceives a website’s positioning, which becomes the digital proxy of a website. a physical office, head office or physical event. It becomes the place where “meetings” take place
“Qualified’s vision to transform the website into a sales and marketing machine for businesses by harnessing buyer intent data and delivering a personalized in-the-moment sales experience will transform the way B2B companies approach their pipeline generation process,” said Rajeev Dham, a partner. at Sapphire, in a press release. He also joins Qualified’s board with this round.