Carl Fritjofsson 1 November 2023

The AI-first RevTech (Rev)olution

The mass-market introduction of LLMs and Generative AI has led to one of the fastest eras of innovation in computation and software in modern times. It is not unrealistic to expect every software category will be impacted, meaning there will be immense opportunities for founders to go after.

At Creandum we are putting a lot of thought into trying to understand where the impact of AI will be most prevalent, and the value creation generated from this. We recently wrote about the impact of AI in vertical and horizontal SaaS and in this article explore RevTech and the trends and opportunities that are emerging through an “AI-first lense”.

What is RevTech?

RevTech (Revenue Technology) is any software that powers sales and marketing functions. These are the tools where you find, attract, land, communicate with, manage, and analyze your customers. Needless to say, RevTech is one of the most critical parts of any company’s software stack. 

When we think about RevTech we categorize it against stages of a typical customer journey or sales funnel supported by underlying internal tools to better manage such operations. 

We think a great chunk of the potential of GenAI in RevTech will come from two simple effects: i) task automation which will create immense productivity increases, and ii) unlocking new insights previously not obtainable, e.g. better informed sales calls doubling conversion rate. 

Let’s look deeper into the specific trends within each sub-category.

A snapshot of the future of RevTech

1. Prospecting and lead management: involves identifying potential customers, guiding them through the conversion funnel, and analyzing their data to assess purchase likelihood. 

In the ever-evolving landscape of prospecting and lead management, several key trends have emerged, reshaping how businesses identify and engage potential customers. The implementation of advanced algorithms that automatically prioritize leads using diverse data points is notable. This method allows businesses to focus their efforts on leads with the highest likelihood of conversion, improving efficiency and maximizing ROI. 

Hyper-integration, where technologies seamlessly merge finding and scoring leads with AI-generated outbound emails and CRM integration are reshaping how outbound leads are generated. There's also a growing emphasis on optimizing chatbots for lead prospecting. These AI-powered chatbots serve as the first point of contact, engaging prospects in meaningful conversations, gathering valuable information, and nurturing leads effectively.

Among other established players in this space, there are some who have already launched interesting AI features. Apollo (from California/US, total funding: $251.3M) recently launched Apollo AI enabling AI-generated follow-up emails matching the sentiment of each response. Vidyard (from Ontario/Canada, total funding of $75.7M) integrated AI for Script generation & AI-powered prospecting

Some of the interesting early-stage companies in this category

  • Coho AI (from New York/US, total funding $8.5M). AI-powered segmentations to dig deep into user behaviors, identifying opportunities for engagement and conversion across the customer journey.

  • Clay (from New York/US). Combining 50+ data providers, real-time scraping, and AI to send 1-1 personalized campaigns.

  • Ripe (from Stockholm/SE, total funding: $2m). No-code platform that helps sales teams qualify, route, and convert top-of-funnel product usage into revenue.

  • Plena (from Utah/US, total funding: $11.5M). AI-robots for sales and marketing automation.

  • Koala (from SF/US). Identify warm prospects already showing buying intent on site/product, especially useful for PLG companies.

  • OneShot (from London/UK). Leveraging AI & machine learning to pinpoint ideal leads and generate highly personalized, ChatGPT-powered messaging.

  • Honeysales (from Berlin/DE, total funding: $2.7M). Fully automated Sales AI generating meetings on autopilot.

  • Groundswell (from Texas/US). Get qualified meetings booked directly onto your sales reps’ calendars powered by GenAI.

  • Rightbound (from Kirkland/US, total funding: $27.5M). AI-engine delivers prospects with verified contacts into CRM.

  • Lemlist (from Paris/FR). Advanced AI-powered sales engagement platform.

  • Snitcher (Hilversum/NL). Empowering B2B teams to understand, engage, and convert anonymous website visitors into potential leads using cutting-edge identification technology. 

  • AiSDR (Madison/US). Automating meeting scheduling by categorizing leads, speaking with prospects, designing email campaigns, and utilizing AI technology.

2. CRM: centralizes sales and customer data, including communications, documents, quotes, purchases and tasks.

Anyone ever working in sales will recognize the pain of manual data entry and extraction from a CRM, but luckily those days may soon be long gone. AI enabling intelligent workflow automation leads to an era of unprecedented efficiency. As a result, companies can optimize their operations, reduce costs, and deliver superior experiences. Additionally, the rise of customizable CRM and workflows empower organizations to take control of their data and processes. Customizable workflows ensure that internal processes align seamlessly with business objectives, fostering efficiency and agility within the organization.

The CRM giants of the world are not sitting idle. Salesforce recently announced Einstein GTP to bring AI intelligence across their platform. Hubspot, equally so, launched ChatSpot which promises a natural language interface to their CRM. And finally, Pipedrive joined the train with their personal AI sales assistant.

At the earlier stages there are some promising startups, and while these may not be inherently 'AI first' companies, we chose to feature them because we speculate that the future of CRM will be revolutionized through innovative AI features directly influencing its workflow and functionality. Some of the interesting ones:

  • Attio (from London/UK, total funding $31.2M). Low-code, flexible and customizable CRM.

  • Twenty (from San Francisco/US). Flexible, open-source CRM.

  • Durable (from San Francisco/US, total funding: $12.5M). CRM designed for small businesses.

  • Formaloo (from Tallinn/EE, total funding: $2.5M). Collaboration platform that helps non-technical teams build customizable CRM.

3. Sales enablement: equips your team with essential resources like content, tools and knowledge to more effectively close new customers.

The adoption of a data-driven guided sales process is a pivotal strategy. By harnessing the power of data analytics, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behaviors and preferences. Secondly, the integration of on-demand AI-powered customized sales content, e.g., based on prospects' industry and experience is transforming sales calls and interactions. 

By leveraging artificial intelligence, businesses can now deliver highly relevant and timely content, establishing a deeper connection with potential clients. The emphasis on a usability-first approach is transforming the way sales tools and platforms are designed. User-friendly interfaces and intuitive workflows empower sales professionals, allowing them to focus on building relationships rather than navigating complex systems.

Showpad, which was founded in Belgium in 2011 recently embedded multiple AI features inside their product like PitchAI, AI-powered test questions & summaries. Also, Highspot became a household name by managing content, guiding, training, and coaching sales reps. Highspot recently launched its AI-Copilot including features like real-time answering based on company resources, email drafting and meeting summaries. Outreach has added AI-powered predictive analytics to its platform, and Creandum portfolio company Mixmax offers Mixmax AI as an assistant for creating faster and better email sequence campaigns. 

There is also a lot of activity at the early stages. Some prime examples are:

  • Hypertype (from Stockholm/SE, total funding: $1.5m). Writing smart emails and getting AI-powered drafts using company intelligence.

  • Crono (from London/UK, total funding $0.55M). Smarter prospecting and faster outreach using AI. 

  • AutogenAI (from London/UK, total funding: $22.3M). Point solution for automated crafting of high-quality bids, proposals and tenders building secure, bespoke language engines for each client via AI.

  • Glyphic.ai (from London/UK, total funding: $5.4M). Guiding reps through the entire sales process using AI.

  • Demodesk (from Munich/DE, total funding: $10.6M). Guiding reps in real-time through customer calls and receiving real-time feedback with AI.

  • Sweep.io (from New York/US, total funding: $28M). Customizing and scaling Salesforce configurations, while harnessing OpenAI to enable first-of-its-kind visibility.

  • Rattle (from San Francisco/US, total funding: $28.8M). Revenue orchestration platform that services all customer-facing departments, while using AI to extract insights from calls and validate data entry. 

  • Saleo (Atlanta/US, total funding: $13.4M). No-code AI modeling engine to deliver authentic and powerful demo capabilities. 

  • Amplemarket (San Francisco/US, total funding: $12M). AI platform simplifying the way companies discover, engage, and convert customers.

  • Piper (Barcelona/ES). Automatically fills the CRM, takes meeting notes, drafts emails, and schedules calls using AI.

  • Osmo (Paris/FR). Autonomous sales action recommendation for sales teams. 

  • Ctrl (Tel Aviv/IL, total funding: $9M). Leverage AI to create personalized follow-up emails that uses context from your meetings and CRM data.

  • Momentum (San Francisco/US, total funding: $5M). AI-powered revenue platform that streamlines pipeline management and Salesforce hygiene

4. Customer success and support

... is the proactive/reactive approach to answering customer questions, resolving challenges, and providing solutions. This not only assists users in navigating your product but also emphasizes understanding their individual goals and objectives. It also allows tracking of customer usage for informed self-service improvements.

We see the strategic implementation of GenAI, harnessing its power to craft personalized one-to-one messages for effective churn management as a key trend. By analyzing individual customer behavior, businesses can tailor their communication, addressing concerns and reinforcing the value proposition in a highly customized manner. Moreover, the rise of AI-automated chatbots equipped with features like intent recognition and authentication has streamlined customer interactions. These smart bots efficiently handle routine queries, allowing employees to focus on more value-adding tasks that require a human touch. Providing context and knowledge at the right time for the right customer has become a pivotal approach. With the aid of advanced analytics, businesses can anticipate customer needs, offering relevant information precisely when needed. This not only enhances customer experiences but also demonstrates a deep understanding of their requirements.

In customer success/support, we want to highlight three companies gaining traction over the years and that have implemented AI features early on. Creandum funds’ portfolio company Planhat is a customer platform built to give insights, manage workflow and drive customer experience. Their entire product is about unifying all customer data into Planhat, and powered by AI intelligence for the success team to better manage their customers. Gainsight, a competitor of Planhat, recently launched Horizon AI with features like impact analyzer and renewal likelihood scoring. Zendesk, founded in 2007 and acquired by Hellman & Friedman and Permira, is one of the leading platforms focusing on customer support. They recently launched Zendesk AI which integrates OpenAI with Zendesk, with features like content summarization, knowledge base and intelligent bot creation. 

Customer success and support is also seeing a lot of innovation from the earlier stages with companies such as:

  • OfferFit (from Boston/US, total funding: $14M). Automated AI-powered experimentation platform that makes A/B testing obsolete.

  • Kaizan (from London/UK, total funding $1.2M). AI client communication to measure client health and understand what’s stopping retention and growth.

  • Ultimate AI (from Berlin/DE, total funding $27.4M). Virtual AI-agent platform that offers customer service automation.

  • MonkeyLearn (from California/US, $4.2M). Text Analysis platform to clean, label and visualize customer feedback.

  • Revmap (from Amsterdam/NL). Bridging product and sales teams.

  • Reveall (from Amsterdam/NL, total funding: $1.7M). Platform for managing customer insights from customer research and feedback. Recently launched their AI product here: get insights from unstructured data.

  • Endgame (from San Francisco/US, total funding $52.3M). Using behavioral signals to prioritize sales-ready accounts.

  • Vitally (from New York/US, total funding: $39M). Customer success platform (CSP) designed for maximizing productivity, visibility and collaboration, building AI tools into their product starting with a first call success generator. 

  • Parloa (from Berlin/DE, total funding: $26M). Conversational AI platform for automating omnichannel customer service in phone bots or chatbots. 

  • Brainfish (from Sydney/AU). AI-driven customer experience software that automates and uplifts the post-sales experience for customers.

  • PolyAI (London/UK, total funding $66M). Machine learning platform for conversational artificial intelligence.

  • Klaus (portfolio company from Tallinn/EE, total funding: $19.3M). Use AI to pinpoint and fix gaps in your customer service.

  • Mavenoid (portfolio company from Stockholm/SE, total funding: $39.9M). AI-driven product support and troubleshooting platform for hardware companies.

5. Communication: enabling real-time communication between companies and clients leveraging tools including live chat, chatbots and digital channels for immediate customer communication.

We have all experienced chatbots which are slow, not very intelligent and painful to engage with. Hopefully, those will soon be memories of the past. Integrating modern AI models into your chat communications for real-time chat will have a major positive impact on customer satisfaction. 

We’ve also come across the integration of chats in new contexts, such as transforming landing pages into interactive chat pages, which revolutionizes customer engagement. By making conversations easily accessible and interactive, businesses are creating seamless communication channels, enabling immediate interactions and fostering a more personalized sales experience. 

Freshchat from Freshworks, founded in 2010 is an amazing example of an established player expanding its product offering with useful AI tools. Freshchat engages customers with smarter conversations on any channel. Also, Intercom is making the obvious move of upgrading their platform with AI Bot, AI Help Desk, and Proactive Support. 

GenAI startups

  • Tidio (from California/US, total funding: $26.8M). Live-chat app combining all channels. Tidio AI answers up to 70% of customer questions with automated human-like conversations and provides personalized support.

  • Walnut (from New York/US, total funding: $56M). AI-powered product demo experience platform.

  • Text (from Wroclaw/PL). Customer service at scale by analyzing, enriching, and automating text communication. Enhance the message, adjust the tone, and communicate flawlessly using their AI features.

  • Compose (from London/UK). A productivity tool for sales professionals using Whatsapp, leveraging AI for faster response and messaging.

6. Sales professional development: refers to the continuous process of enhancing the knowledge, skills and expertise of the sales team.

One of the prominent AI trends we see in sales professional development is the emergence of personalized learning experiences. Artificial intelligence enables businesses to customize training materials according to individual needs. By harnessing AI-driven insights, companies can ensure that sales professionals receive tailored and relevant content, enhancing their skills and knowledge in a way that traditional training methods cannot match. Another significant trend in sales professional development is the integration of AI-based real-time feedback systems. Through advanced AI algorithms, businesses can provide instantaneous feedback to sales teams, helping them refine their strategies and techniques on the go. 

People AI has been building an AI-powered sales development platform since 2016 and is continuing to evolve quickly. Another established player is Gong which offers an AI-powered sales coach. We are also seeing more horizontal tools like Sana, out of Stockholm/SE, which is pushing deeper into sales enablement training with a dedicated onboarding and learning suite.

Earlier-stage startups in this category building interesting AI-enabled products are:

  • Lavender (from New York/US, total funding: $13.2M). Real-time AI sales email coach.

  • Wonderway (from Berlin/DE, total funding: $3.6M). Automatic scoring and feedback on every single call.

  • Solidroad (from Dublin/IE). AI-driven conversational training platform for sales teams.

7. Data and RevOps: aligns sales, marketing and customer success operations to drive growth through efficiency and revenue accountability, enhancing collaboration and customer value.

The shift towards AI-driven demand forecasting is poised to be the bedrock of operational excellence. With AI-generated demand insights, RevOps can craft strategies finely tuned to customer preferences, ensuring tailored experiences. 

Additionally, AI is playing a crucial role in enabling dynamic pricing strategies, allowing companies to adapt swiftly to market fluctuations. This agility ensures that products and services are priced competitively, maximizing revenue potential. 

Another key development is signal-based selling, where businesses analyze diverse data points and their contextual information. By understanding the nuances of customer interactions, companies can identify opportunities to enhance customer lifetime value.

Some established players in this space include Zoominfo providing B2B contacts and company information, and Clari developing an end-to-end sales analytics and forecasting platform, also via the acquisition of AI-powered Wingman and Groove. Zoominfo acquired Chorus AI in 2021 to enable conversation intelligence. Clari also provides AI features, e.g., health scores for opportunity management. 6sense, supports sales teams in creating, managing and converting pipeline into revenue, utilizing their Revenue AI™ platform.

Naturally, there is also an impressive number of creative early-stage companies within Data/RevOps such as:

  • Clearbit (from San Francisco/US, total funding $17M). AI Native Data Provider - enriching records, revealing buying intent.

  • Leadgenius (from Berkeley/US, total funding: $24.2M). Creating unique and personalized data sets. Launching multiple AI initiatives.

  • Kluster (London/UK, total funding: $6M). Data-driven sales analytics and forecasting solutions harnessing the power of AI.

  • BoostUp (Santa Clara/US, total funding: $56.8M). RevenueBI Platform, including Deal Intelligence, AI-Forecasting Intelligence and Revenue Analytics.

  • Superlayer (London/UK, total funding: $1.3M). Supporting reps with pipeline reviews, conversation intelligence, forecasting and coaching. 

In short

There’s a lot of movement in RevTech at the moment. Literally, every company is incorporating AI into its product - big and small. Customizability will become king as customers get used to a personalized experience as well as personalized processes/workflows based on their sales cycles and taste. Ultimately, these next generation tools will win through increasing productivity and efficiency for sales teams.

With portfolio companies like Planhat, Mixmax, Klaus and Mavenoid, it’s fair to say Creandum is no stranger to RevTech. With the adoption of modern AI, we are more excited than ever about this category and hope to add more companies to that roster. If you’re building in RevTech - let’s talk!

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