Rarefied Air

10 minutes
Jan 20, 2022
Company

Today marks another milestone on an incredible journey for 6sense, our customers, partners, investors, and employees.  I am very excited to share that we have closed our Series E funding...

Today marks another milestone on an incredible journey for 6sense, our customers, partners, investors, and employees. 

I am very excited to share that we have closed our Series E funding of $200M, increasing our valuation to $5.2B. 

With this new round of funding, we’ll further expand operations into EMEA, Australia, and other international markets. We’ll continue to up our investments in the people and technology we need to deliver against our aggressive product roadmap vision and innovation strategy, including integrating recently acquired Fortella and Slintel. And we’ll aggressively address the growing demand from the Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Health and Life Services industries, eager to transform their go-to-market capabilities. 

I’m also thrilled to announce the acquisition of Saleswhale, an AI-driven email marketing platform that expands 6sense’s engagement capabilities, allowing customers to deliver personalized, relevant, and timely emails that convert qualified prospects into opportunities. 

Sharing this kind of news only 10 months after we announced our Series D round back in March makes me not only take a step back and appreciate the tremendous momentum in our business and industry overall, but also recognize the unique relationship we have with our customers. 

This past December, I delivered an address at Breakthrough — our annual customer conference — where I talked about how we are in “rarefied air.” Live on stage in the moment, I was struck by how absolutely rare it is for a company to double customers, employees, and revenue for three consecutive years. It just doesn’t happen. And yet, it was happening to us. 

The “us” I was talking about wasn’t just 6sense, it included the audience of several hundred customers in attendance as well. I truly believe we are in this together in every sense of the word. Our mission is to transform the way organizations create, manage and convert pipeline to revenue and that requires a willingness to change. And change requires advocates, champions, evangelists, and maybe even a few radicals. This kind of change doesn’t happen because of a few process enhancements, or even better technology. It requires a movement.  

This is why 6sense is leading what we’re calling the RevTech Revolution – the convergence of martech and salestech that’s revolutionizing the way B2B revenue teams go-to-market with data, insights, and orchestration capabilities at the core. We believe 6sense and our customers are uniquely positioned to drive this transformation.

Is it working? 

We wanted to find out, so we recently analyzed 500 quarters of customer data across industries, geographies, and size to better understand how using an intent-based, predictive approach compares to a traditional lead-based (MQL-focused) approach. We discovered that, on average, revenue teams using data and insights to focus efforts on in-market accounts (accounts that have been scored by 6sense’s proprietary prediction engine and determined to be in an active buying cycle) experience dramatic improvements in deal size, win rates, and time-to-close versus those using a traditional MQL-based approach.

And it makes sense that focusing effort on accounts that are actively in-market would yield better results, but there’s more to the story. Understanding which accounts to focus on is just the tip of the iceberg. Engaging buyers by talking about the things they care about, on their preferred channel, and on their preferred timeline is really the point. 

A Perfect Storm

At no time in the history of B2B sales and marketing has there been such a need for this kind of profound transformation. And, like all revolutions, a series of events need to come together at a moment in time to ignite demand for change.

In our space, the deep dissatisfaction and frustration of people, processes, data and tools continuing to exist in silos has been smoldering among revenue teams for some time. The false leads, long sales cycles, wasted time and resources, missed opportunities, inability to collaborate, and burnt out sales people seemed to be an acceptance of the attitude — if not reality — that most are “doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

Add to that an evolving B2B selling environment, where buyers today choose to remain anonymous well into their purchase journey, and there is no one decision maker who can be easily wooed by a couple of steak dinners. Rather, today’s sellers must navigate buying committees of ten, fifteen, or more individuals, each with their own set of distinct buying jobs to complete. The lack of insights into what these buying team members care about only makes the seller’s job more frustrating, adding fuel to the fire.

Now, hit the whole thing with a flamethrower called Covid-19 and you’ve got an inferno. The impact of Covid on all of our businesses and lives can’t be understated, and likely won’t fully be understood for years. But what we do know is that for the foreseeable future, we’ll be operating in hybrid workplaces — making it even more difficult for sellers to reach interested B2B buyers. 

All of this has rapidly accelerated the demand for a new approach in how sales, marketing, and customer success teams achieve predictable revenue growth. 

What does the RevTech Revolution Look Like? (…and why now?)

We’ve seen the ABM market grow and mature over the past few years, and it has become clear that transitioning from a lead-based to an account-based approach is only a small part of the overall market transformation needed for organizations to achieve predictable revenue growth. 

This is precisely what the RevTech Revolution is all about: the convergence of martech and salestech that’s revolutionizing the way B2B revenue teams go-to-market with data, insights, and orchestration capabilities at the core. 

I believe 6sense is uniquely positioned to deliver this transformation today, and continue to lead into the future based on several converging trends.

Trend 1: The B2B buying cycle will increasingly be anonymous, with more people from more locations (including WFH) involved in buying decisions.

Anonymous buying will increase as B2B buyers behave more B2C-like, making it even more critical for revenue teams to understand buyer behavior and know when accounts are actively in-market for their solution. Over the next three years, we see the need for accurate account identification as paramount to delivering personalized experiences, especially as more buyers across locations are involved in decisions. 

Trend 2: Sales, marketing, and customer success teams will increasingly be expected to operate as one revenue team and deliver against an overall revenue plan.

Operating/data silos are going away. A unified approach will require a platform that brings together data, connects it to accounts, layers in insights and decision-making support, and informs execution channels. Unified analytics, insights, and pipeline forecasting/tracking will be critical. We’ve invested heavily in these areas, including our embedded CDP, because today’s stand-alone B2C CDPs are not built for the ever-changing complexities of B2B.

Trend 3: Foundational AI platforms will replace traditional sales and marketing automation.

Traditional rules-based sales and marketing platforms can’t meet challenges facing today’s revenue teams, leading to inefficiencies and guesswork. We believe revenue teams will demand a foundational platform that enables data-based decisioning with true AI, like selecting accounts to pursue based on greatest likelihood of opening an opportunity or churning. 

Our research shows that when revenue teams focus on accounts 6sense identifies as in-market using our patented predictions for timing, they generate opportunities with a 2X higher ASP, a 10% better win rate, and a 25% reduction in cycle time. It’s clear that AI decision-making is far superior to traditional automation as more and more revenue teams are benefiting from powering their entire stack and GTM motions with 6sense at the core. This is why we invest heavily in partners while continually expanding native data sources and execution channels. As execution channels become more commoditized, the underlying AI decisioning will be our biggest differentiator. 

Trend 4: Marketers and sellers will continue to rely heavily on email – which means they’ll need to differentiate to stand out.

Marketers and sellers continue to rely on email but struggle to create personalized outreach at scale. We see an opportunity to reimagine email. It’s no longer about how many emails you send; it’s about what you send, who you’re sending it to, and when it’s sent. 

We see AI decisioning as the way to intelligently match accounts and people to the right content and message at the right time based on real-time buyer behavior, not a set of predetermined logic. Smart email requires a connection to the data and insights generated by marketing to ensure every communication is personalized, delivers value, and is sent when the prospect is ready. We are eagerly taking on the challenge of eliminating the daily bombardment that plague all of our in boxes.

Trend 5: Sales, marketing, and customer success teams will need even more data.

When it comes to AI decisioning, there’s no such thing as too much data — as long as it’s structured, connected to accounts, and analyzed to provide usable insights. We see a continuing trend of marketing increasing spend on data as well as traditional data providers adding functionality, and traditional app vendors coming to market with data baked in. 

We believe that the more data (native sources, integrations) we bring to the party, the better equipped we are to be the intelligent decision engine that powers every execution channel, moving us from a nice-to-have, to a must-have foundational piece of any modern RevTech stack.

Trend 6: Marketing and sales orgs/roles will change as account-based becomes more mainstream.

Winning platforms must not only create amazing technology, but also inspire a new generation of marketers and sellers to think (and act) differently. This is why we’re investing in change management, thought leadership, certification programs, strategy services, and high-touch customer success models. We also strongly believe that building a thriving partner ecosystem along with peer-to-peer communities will provide the organizational support customers need to make the shift, ensure we maintain our best-in-class net customer retention, and lead the RevTech category.

Why I Believe We’ll Win

Our phenomenal growth affords us the resources and scale to rapidly build more value into our solution through our roadmap and M&A — things our competition simply can’t do. And here’s the cool part: Our solution drives revenue growth — and we use our own platform to do just that. We assume our competitors use their own tools to do the same — but with nowhere near the same results. And that’s telling.

I believe our business model is a key differentiator. We sell change, not software. That’s why our investments in market education, community development, and thought leadership are so important. They drive and enable the transformation across the entire revenue team that will be necessary to fuel the RevTech Revolution. Our high-touch CSM model for every customer also sets us apart from others in our space. Our CSMs support half the number of customers compared to the industry average. This level of superior customer support is what I believe will be the difference between becoming shelfware, and being the foundational platform for change.  

A Final (for now) Word of Thanks

Obviously, none of this is possible without the support of our customers, partners, investors and employees. I am overwhelmed by how many of you are rooting for our success. It’s an amazing, humbling feeling, but I want to assure you that we understand the responsibility that comes with it.

To our customers, I say thank you for continuing to put your trust in us to deliver the product innovation you crave. We will continue to listen to you, learn from you, and partner with you to reimagine what’s possible.

To our partners, I say thank you for joining us in the RevTech Revolution. We will continue to work with you in open collaboration to deliver world-class, innovative solutions for all of our customers.

To our investors, I say thank you for betting on us to be the future of RevTech. We will continue to grow and deliver results, working everyday to prove you right.

And finally, to our employees I say none of this would be possible without you, and I personally wouldn’t want to do it without each of you along for the ride. We will continue to strive to be the best stop on your career journey, surrounding you with teams and people who will challenge you, inspire you, and support you like never before. I know each of you are capable of extraordinary things that will impact the business and grow your career to new heights. I also know you’ll leave it all on the field, and show up tomorrow brimming with excitement for what’s ahead. And that is the most rarefied air.