This story first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The culture of sales is changing dramatically — and so are the tools that help enterprise businesses manage their customer bases. Kyle Porter, co-founder and CEO of SalesLoft, an Atlanta-based sales management and projection platform, believes his software will usher in a new era of effective prospecting.
The SalesLoft product suite combines several features, including email templates and tracking and an auto-dialer and built-in recorder to complete and track more sales calls. The platform integrates with customer relationship management tools such as Salesforce.
Porter founded SalesLoft in 2011 with David Cummings, whose marketing software Pardot was acquired by automated marketing giant ExactTarget for nearly $100 million. The SalesLoft team began with $1 million in seed funding and joined the TechStars accelerator the following summer.
After a series of managerial missteps, orders were piling up but SalesLoft had no product to deliver. Porter, who had stopped taking a salary, was forced to lay off the staff and start over. “I’d been a scholar of sales and marketing but never a product manager,” he says, noting that he had to learn to recruit the right technical talent and lead the team.
SalesLoft 2.0 launched in January 2013 with a new team and overhauled product. Everything but the name had changed. Most critical was the addition of execs with engineering and technical expertise, including COO Rob Forman, who had previously built security products for the Department of Defense and National Security Agency and co-founded HR software company HireIQ.
The revamped SalesLoft product automates sales processes — auto-dialing clients, setting up demo appointments, managing email templates and tracking open rates, as well as lead generation and prospecting — on one platform. Customers include telephony and messaging startup Twilio; employee engagement platform AnyPerk; and MuleSoft, a San Francisco-based data integration company. Steven Broudy, head of North America account development at MuleSoft, explains that companies cannot respond effectively to increasing demand if they are “mired in poor tooling or inefficient processes.” SalesLoft’s “single pane of glass,” as he calls it, allows his company to excel “in each and every customer interaction.”
In April 2015, SalesLoft raised $10.2 million in a Series A funding round led by Emergence Capital, with additional funding from Storm Ventures, both prominent Silicon Valley firms known for investing in cloud computing and software-as-a-service companies such as Box and Marketo.
Jason Green, a general partner at Emergence Capital, says Porter’s leadership skills and ability to hire top talent made SalesLoft an attractive prospect. What’s more, “customers love the product and company.” The combination, he says, was “too compelling to resist.”
As of September, SalesLoft had hired more than 70 employees. The company will invest the cash infusion to expand its engineering team. “With more funding,” Porter says, “we can transform from offering a product to being a platform on top of the sales development funnel.”