Shortly after Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce’s big annual conference, Insidesales.com CEO Dave Elkington received a surprise email from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
“I want you to present to my entire leadership team,” the email said.
Insidesales, which provides predictive data to help salespeople do a better job, was growing so fast — and drawing the biggest crowd at Dreamforce — that Benioff wanted to learn more about it.
A few days later, as Elkington showed up at Salesforce’s headquarters in San Francisco, 50 of its top executives were waiting in a conference room, eager to hear Elkington’s presentation.
“We got grilled pretty good,” Elkington told Business Insider. “But I think they were really impressed.”
They weren’t’t just impressed — they were “absolutely blown away,” according to former Salesforce sales leader Jim Steele, who was also in that meeting.
“[Insidesales] is like the holy grail of what sales organisations have been looking for,” Steele told us in a previous interview.
In fact, Steele liked it so much that he ended up joining Insidesales as president of worldwide sales in December. Steele’s big move inspired a bunch of other Salesforce executives to jump ship as well. David Rudnitsky, who played a major role in signing up big, enterprise clients at Salesforce, is now senior VP of enterprise sales. Lindsey Armstrong, who was in charge of Salesforce’s global expansion, is senior VP of international strategy.
And on Wednesday, Insidesales announced that Salesforce will lead its latest round of funding. It’s a $US60 million raise, valuing the company “well north of $US1 billion,” the company says. Microsoft will also be part of this round, joining other big time investors like Kleiner Perkins, Polaris Partners, and US Venture Partners. It’s raised more than $US200 million so far.
So what exactly is making Insidesales so hot? Elkington says Neuralytics, its self-learning, predictive analytics sales software, is the reason. It’s basically a massive, crowd-sourcing software that collects tons of sales data, from email and phone records to things as menial as weather and sports games, to come up with a more predictive sales strategy. For example, it can predict how the Super Bowl affects sales call rates.
And as it gathers more data — it now has over 14 billion sales interaction data — the software becomes “smarter,” pushing out even more in-depth analysis. Elkington says its users see an average 30% boost in sales within the first 90 days of using his product. More than 2,000 companies currently use it, including Microsoft, ADP, and Groupon.
To be fair, Insidesales isn’t the only one in this space, which is called sales acceleration. Companies like RelateIQ and Velocify are also fighting over market share. But Insidesales is clearly one of the fastest-growing: its business has doubled in size over the past five years, according to Elkington.
“We want to do something that’s going to change the world,” Elkington says. “And we think we have an opportunity to do something big around predictive analytics.”