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How RelateIQ Just Led Enterprise SaaS into the Future

One of the greatest startup success stories of 2014, RelateIQ sold for a massive amount of money to Salesforce. The company's success offers some great lessons on building a startup, the value of engineering and innovation, and making a great SaaS product.

RelateIQ, a startup enterprise technology company selling what many have billed as the World's First Smart CRM, just got purchased for nearly $400 million dollars. Our key takeaways: 

Last week, we wrote a guest editorial for Information Age that seemed to strike a chord with the tech industry. In the piece, we advocated that other members of the enterprise gamification industry need to follow Ambition's lead and provide more tangible user value, better data analytics, and a focus on engineering sustainable impact.

Sure enough, the major enterprise tech news that emerged last week dramatically reinforces those exact points.

Ideas + Engineering Matter Most in Enterprise SaaS

Last Friday, a tech company whose product did not even go to market until 2013 became the recipient of a handsome $390 million dollar acquisition from SalesForce. Everyone should take a good long look at the Forbes article detailing the nine-digit dollar signs RelateIQ is seeing right now.

This is how you do tech the right way. RelateIQ found a real problem that permeates enterprise -- the prevalence of tedious, time-wasting data entry -- and spent two years engineering a powerful, effective solution. Not only that, they incorporated a host of valuable additional features that provide serious customer intelligence and better team coordination.  

The result is a true landmark in enterprise software: the first Smart CRM.

Getting there required a conscious commitment to engineering.  RelateIQ spent 2+ years stealth testing and refining their product before they put it to market. They brought on some of the best minds in data science and software engineering. (By June 2013, their data science team were four PhD.'s in physics, statistics and fluid dynamics). And that was before DJ Patil became Vice-President of Product.

RelateIQ didn't just streamline a process, they created an enhanced form of attack. The sticker price of Friday's acquisition nearly equaled the cost of purchasing the Milwaukee Bucks. Their accomplishments are indicators as to how all enterprise tech solutions should work, and thus are worth examining. 

Automation

The origins of RelateIQ are very simple: Co-founders Adam Evans and Steve Loughlin found an inefficieny in CRM usage and set out to resolve it. Their process was immense and complex: work with large-scale data-mining technologies, build an algorithm, and keep refining until the scope and accuracy of the product's automation capabilities reach satisfaction.

You can see that the commitment to engineering has paid off. 

RelateIQ's Data Automation feature is a thing of beauty. Every time a RelateIQ user enters information or performs an activity plugged into their CRM, he begins receiving automated assistance to increase that process's efficiency. Some important specs on the feature: 

  1. RelateIQ scans about 10,000 emails, calendar entries, and other data points per-minute at first run.
  2. Case studies have proven that the product saves users as much as 10 hours per week. The product pays for itself by allocating more time for users to perform substantive sales activites.
  3. RelateIQ's integration capabilities connect with dozens of major business apps, allowing it to better tailor its automation for users.

Actionable Insights

The long-term value of RelateIQ is forged in actionable insights. In terms of functionality, the tools here are apex level. They also hallmark the factors that determine business intelligence value: actionability of insights and frequency with which they occur. 

Actionable insights are where you win your clients' hearts and minds. The novelty of automation will one day wear off, but actionable insights are the gift that keeps on giving. 

I want to highlight two features that powerfully testify to the product's engineering and innovation. One adds more horsepower to an existing concept, while the other showcases imaginative product development.

Inbound Activity Tracking: This is a feat of engineering. RelateIQ's email tracking insights go so deep, their potential actionability is nearly limitless.  

It measures a customer's average response time interval, and then it tells you whether a lead is growing warmer or stagnating. It detects the punctuation and grammar styles in emails that elicit responses, then offers you suggestions when you are composing. There is amazing utility here.

Closest Connections: The "Closest Connections" feature identifies warm introductions for potential prospects based on their past interactions with colleagues. RelateIQ combs through activity that has occurred within a team's email inboxes, calendars, and social networks to distinguish if someone on the team already has prospect intelligence that they can share. 

The value of this particular tool is incredible. You can spot a mutual connection on LinkedIn, but Closest Connections gives you the deeper insights needed to develop a strategic plan of attack.

User Respect 

RelateIQ clearly respects and values its users. Their developers jam-packed the product with valuable additional features like the ones listed below. The following extras compel users to share the love, and are the type of design elements that gets a product to market with 100 clients already in tow

Stream: Another neat feature that reduces an inefficiency is Stream, which allows company members to communicate internally without resorting to email.  Stream users can share notes and Status field updates. They can @reference specific teammates or blast their message to  another department. 

Mobile Application: RelateIQ invested heavily in engineering a highly-functional mobile version of its product.

Privacy Options: While data mining is more accepted in the enterprise context, RelateIQ offers privacy controls for its users, allowing them to block content in emails sent from their colleagues. 

The Impact of RelateIQ on Enterprise SaaS

RelateIQ's patience and commitment to innovation sets a powerful template to follow. The company identified a real problem, invested heavily in product design and engineering, and provided a valuable solution.

Three final points:

  1. More money and time spent on front-end development means less money spent on back-end sales and marketing.
  2. Customer Referrals are a SaaS company's best marketing source; minimized customer churn creates the easiest path to Predictable Revenue.
  3. Quality of product and scope of need addressed dictates growth ceiling.  

Ambition: Give Reps 360° Sales Coaching and Analytics

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs business teams, data sources, and performance metrics on one system.

Sales leaders use Ambition to enhance sales performance insights and build sales reports, scorecards, contests, and TVs that supercharge focus, effort and accountability.  

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review and AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization). Hear more from business leaders who use Ambition in their organization.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  1. ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  2. Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  3. AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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About Ambition
Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. Funded by Google, used by the Fortune 500, endorsed by the Harvard Business Review.

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