This article was originally published in Techcrunch.
Qualified, a startup co-founded by former Salesforce executives Kraig Swensrud and Sean Whiteley, has raised $12 million in Series A funding.
Swensrud (Qualified’s CEO) said the startup is meant to solve a problem that he faced when he was CMO at Salesforce. Apparently he’d complain about being “blind,” because he knew so little about who was visiting the Salesforce website.
“There could be 10 or 100 or 100,000 people on my website right now, and I don’t know who they are, I don’t know what they’re interested in, my sales team has no idea that they’re even there,” he said.
Apparently, this is a big problem in business-to-business sales, where waiting five minutes after a lead leaves your website can result in a 10x decrease in the odds of making contact. But the solution currently adopted by many websites is just a chatbot that treats every visitor similarly.
Qualified, meanwhile, connects real-time website visitor information with a company’s Salesforce customer database. That means it can identify visitors from high-value accounts and route them to the correct salesperson while they’re still on the website, turning into a full-on sales meeting that can also include a phone call and screensharing.
Of course, the amount of data Qualified has access to will differ from visitor to visitor. Some visitors may be purely incognito, while in other cases, the platform might simply know your city or where you work. In still others (say if you click on a link from marketing email), it can identify you individually.
That’s something I experienced myself, when I decided to take a look at the Qualified website this morning and was quickly greeted with a message that read, "Welcome TechCrunch! We’re excited about our funding announcement…” It was a little creepy, but also much more effective than my visits to other marketing technology websites, where someone usually sends me a generic sales message.
Swensrud acknowledged that using Qualified represents “a change to people’s selling processes,” as it requires sales to respond in real time to website visitors (as a last resort, Qualified can also use chatbots and schedule future calls), but he argued that it’s a necessary change.
“If you email them later, some percentage of those people, they ghost you, they get bored, they moved on to the competition,” he said. “This real-time approach, it forces organizations to think differently in terms of their process.”
And it’s an approach that seems to be working. Among Qualified’s customers, the company says ThoughtSpot increased conversations with its target accounts by 10x, Bitly grew its enterprise sales pipeline by 6x and Gamma drove over $2.5 million in new business pipeline.
The Series A brings Qualified’s total funding to $17 million. It was led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors including Redpoint Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. Norwest’s Scott Beechuk is joining Qualified’s board of directors.
“The conversational model is simply a better way to connect with new customers,” Beechuk said in a statement. “Buyers love the real-time engagement, sellers love the instant connections, and marketers have the confidence that every dollar spent on demand generation is maximized. The multi-billion-dollar market for Salesforce automation software is going to adopt this new model, and Qualified is perfectly positioned to capture that demand.”