InsideView: Transforming the Sales Traditions

Date:   Wednesday , October 01, 2008

A salesperson from a major network device manufacturer sells routers to various IT companies using SalesView, a Business Search and Intelligence Application developed by InsideView. Instead of following the traditional process, which involves searching various data sources for all the companies opening up in his sales territory, identifying the possible leads from the collected data, calling the companies, and trying persistently to get a meeting with the company head, he now simply logs on to InsideView. He looks for the details of all the companies starting in the area in the recent past in the InsideView database. In case there are any positive results, he looks for the company details and also the right contact person to approach. In addition to this, he also relies on SalesView for information on the executive, contact details, background, prior employers, and his connections to find a common referral. This makes it possible for the salesperson to approach the right company and the right person at the right time, saving his valuable time and increasing his sales productivity.

Founded in 2005, InsideView is a developer of on-demand business search and intelligence applications. It has revolutionized the way sale and marketing people approached customers, by taking advantage of the convergence of social media and enterprise applications and bringing the insights gained from the subscription-based and user-generated sources to the enterprise. InsideView Business Search and Intelligence applications institutionalize collaborative and repeatable workflows to drive sales productivity - automating prospecting, accelerating sales cycles, and ultimately, resulting in more closed deals.

“The art of deal making has become increasingly difficult, as the amount of data available on the Internet has exploded, magnified by increased convergence of previously disparate ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ sources. So too has the need for sales to be able to harness this data to gain a competitive edge and grow topline revenue. However, traditional business information services don’t come anywhere sufficiently close to help sales professionals sort through potential deals and dealmakers. Subscription databases and list building services can give facts, data, and news, but the filtering they provide is rarely enough to help a sales person identify the most relevant prospects for sales and business development activities. Though the search engines are pretty good at finding basic business information quickly, they cannot scale up to build a powerful business intelligence service. Social networks at least can help the sales person identify specific people in trusted relationships, but they rarely expose their current business activities or needs,” says Sesha Rao, Managing Director - India, InsideView. “This is where InsideView solutions come into play. We address the challenges faced by the sales person. For the past three years InsideView has been delivering on the promise of ‘Smart, Fresh, and Complete’ business search and intelligence. SalesView is all about the new science of deal making; The key to solving this problem is recognizing that it’s no longer just who you know that will make business deals happen but “what you know about who you know” tightly synched with “when and where you should know it”. You need to be able to combine the best enterprise-ready information sources with the best insights from social relationships and buyer behavior to identify the right opportunities at the right time and determine the right people.

InsideView captures business insights in real time from thousands of structured and unstructured content sources, including specialized research providers like Hoovers, D&B, and Reuters, and Web 2.0 social networks like Jigsaw, ZoomInfo, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Web-based news sources, blogs, and job postings. SalesView automatically monitors this information on companies, their activities, and personnel. It delivers alerts on key events and business insights, in addition to identifying the best prospects in target markets and customer accounts. It discovers connections between the user and decision makers in target accounts and presents extraordinarily relevant and user-specific intelligence about prospects and customers, at the point of need.

InsideView does this by delivering smart, fresh, and complete insights through a simple, intuitive dashboard interface. It has ‘smart agents’ that discover relevant personal, professional, and corporate data automatically. And, the resulting intelligence is presented within existing CRM applications and business processes, delivering extraordinarily relevant and user-specific information at the point of need.

InsideView presents smart and astonishingly fresh information about compelling events in real-time.It does a complete job in monitoring thousands of data sources including specialized research providers, news sources, social networks, blogs, and job boards.

With SalesView, the user will receive critical details on the opportunity, who to call and why. It finds the key customer relationships through the executive team and board, reference customers, and even previous employers. SalesView gets the right information where it is needed the most by providing seamless integration with leading CRM and SFA solutions, like and SugarCRM.

InsideView deploys natural language processing. NLP is a sub-field of artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. Hence, every time the application looks at each one of the thousands of news items that come in, it ensures that every news article is layered up with the right company and the executive.

Often, Sales 2.0 companies like Eloqua, VisiblePath, Genius, and Jigsaw are compared to InsideView, as they all aim to provide the salespeople with actionable leads and insights they can use. But in terms of competitive positioning, InsideView does not take a stance against these companies; instead, it positions the company against traditional data providers that are getting replaced by Sales 2.0 models.

“We are different from other intelligence tools because most of them focus on only one aspect of content. Search engines like Google, though they provide a lot of information, also give a lot many hits, making them tedious to search for the required information,” claims Rao.

The key to successfully deriving relevant leads, generating agent hits, and providing timely alerts, lies in the technology behind the application. SalesView is a Web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) application that is hosted by InsideView in Santa Clara, CA. Though the company is headquartered in San Francisco, the core research and development work happens at the India center in Hyderabad. The application is built using entirely the components taken from open source. More than the technology, it is the algorithms that are responsible for generating accurate search results for a given agent. The algorithms and NLP are quite challenging to work on and require skilled engineers. The India team, though relatively small at present, is highly skilled as most of those who form the core engineering team of the company come from the IITs and other leading engineering colleges.

In 2007, InsideView acquired TrueAdvantage, which not only helped it leverage itself technologically but also brought TrueAdvantage’s customers to its kitty. At present InsideView is focused only on the North American market where it already has hundreds of customers including Cisco/WebEx, SuccessFactors, Rearden Commerce, Ariba, Centive, JobScience, Lucidera, ServiceSource, Symantec, and others. InsideView also partners with, SugarCRM, Landslide Technologies, and Microsoft. It plans to target other markets also in the future, especially India where the traditional sales process is still very widely prevalent.
The company has secured an investment of $7.4 million from Emergence Capital Partners, Greenhouse Capital Partners, and Rembrandt Venture Partners. From a vertical perspective, it currently targets the sales issues in the technology segment, SalesView being the company’s sole product at the moment. An analyst report has predicted that the sales market in North America alone will be about $10 billion, and InsideView with its competitive edge hopes to position itself better to make the most of it.