Declining Sales Enablement SaaS vendors getting scooped up by larger players

InsightSquared @insightsquared provider of revenue intelligence solutions, acquired Olono @OlonoAI on 3-Oct-2019. Together, InsightSquared & Olono offer an end-to-end revenue operations (RevOps) platform, connecting your sales & marketing data with historical & real-time activity & engagement data to boost sales execution & grow revenue. InsightSquared alone had estimated $9M USD in annual revenue & Olono estimated $5.1M USD. 17-DEC-2021, Mediafly is acquiring InsightSquared to provide revenue teams with 360-degree deal intelligence & prescriptive next steps.

Screen Shot 2022-01-02 at 8.35.18 pm5-Oct-2021: Aurea Software Revives InsideSales Brand, Retires XANT. Aurea acquired XANT summer 2021 & will make InsideSales a pillar in its commerce solutions portfolio. The name change to XANT took place in November 2019. “InsideSales is a storied name in enterprise software,” said Aurea CEO Scott Brighton in a statement. “Over the course of 15 years—from 2004 to 2019—it became one of the most recognizable brands in the industry. We’re excited to honor that track record of success, innovation, and commitment to improving how B2B enterprises sell to each other by restoring the classic brand name immediately.”

2-Aug-2021: Aurea calls itself a “business software library” because it offers one subscription that covers dozens of business software products. They added sales engagement tool XANT, which recently changed its name from Inside Sales and will now change it back. Other familiar brands on the shelf at Aurea include Jive, Infer, FirstRain, Artemis, Interleaf, and CloudFix.

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 9.01.39 pmMindTouch @MindTouch knowledge management solution: Improves support agent productivity, increases case deflection, & fuels self-service support. NICE @NICELtd NICE Ltd snapped up privately held ContentEngine in Jul-2021, which came soon after its Apr-2021 acquisition of MindTouch to expand its CXone offering. “Our recent acquisitions of ContactEngine and MindTouch, plus our native Enlighten AI and data lake investments, puts NICE CXone in the unique position to cover 100% of customer need events through the addition of proactive outbound, intelligent self-service, and self-learning AI to make better bots faster,” said Chris Bauserman, NICE CXone vice president of marketing.

Landslide Technologies Inc resource library for easy sharing, retrieval & managing: j2 Global acquired Landslide. or 7-Oct-2021, J2 Global, Inc. (Nasdaq: JCOM) completed the separation of its Consensus business into an independent, public company to J2 Global, Inc. shareholders. The new company, named Consensus Cloud Solutions, Inc., is a Nasdaq-listed company trading under the ticker symbol CCSI. In conjunction with this announcement, J2 Global, Inc. changed its name to Ziff Davis, Inc. & now trades on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ZD. offline as of 5-Nov-2021. The new Consensus Cloud Solutions, Inc stands for interoperable digital cloud technology & moved from simple digital documents to advanced healthcare standards & secure data transport & Natural Language Processing (NLP) & AI to convert unstructured documents to meaningful structured data. Their interoperability suite of solutions offer a unified digital environment that optimizes workflows, provides real-time event notifications, on-demand patient query, direct secure messaging, universal APIs, electronic signature & eFax. Screen Shot 2021-11-05 at 11.19.28 amCampaigner @CampaignerEmail helps email marketers unlock the power of their customer data to create personalized, 1:1 interactions that drive incremental revenue & engagement. Ottawa, Canada. Owned by Ziff Davis, Inc. or its subsidiaries (collectively, “Ziff Davis”). All rights reserved. Campaigner is a trademark or registered trademark of Ziff Davis.

Screen Shot 2021-10-12 at 9.08.35 pmOn 4-May-2021, Demandbase, announced the acquisition of both InsideView (sales & marketing intelligence) and DemandMatrix (a provider of technographic data & intelligence). Demandbase signed a definitive agreement to acquire InsideView & DemandMatrix and launched the Demandbase Data Cloud & Sales Intelligence Cloud. Together, these companies create a B2B data & intelligence solution, moving Demandbase to a full B2B go-to-market suite.

On 22-Sep-2021@LevelJumpS from Toronto, Ontario, Canada – formerly Lurniture – was acquired by Salesforce.

Screen Shot 2021-09-23 at 8.44.20 am

There seems to be a trend of the declining Sales Enablement vendors getting scooped up by larger ones or those that can’t grow [fast enough] organically & have to buy recurring revenue via acquisitions.

In August/September 2021, Bigtincan (ASX:BTH) raised AUD $135.3M in equity to buy Brainshark, paying AUD $116M (USD $86M) to acquire 100% of the equity in Brainshark & creating a combined business with the hope of AUD $119M in ARR (Annual recurring revenue).

That purchase price for Brainshark represented approx. 2.5 X ~AUD $46M estimated sustainable ARR at completion, which would be in the low 30s million in USD – whilst the site had Brainshark at USD $20.6M in revenue in 2020. 


Vendors that keep acquiring competitors & complementary software tools will talk about opportunity for cross-selling & up-selling.

Screen Shot 2021-09-23 at 8.57.08 am

From my own experience working in product management for software I agree with Brian’s tweet above & can only warn about the complexity & inconsistent user experience when integrating even just two pieces of software.

The whole point of my market overview (here as an Airtable to export) [includes not just competitors but also alternatives] is actually to show the amount of acquisitions.

Microsoft Office / Microsoft CRM Dynamics 365 / Teams / Microsoft Delve / SharePoint / Dynamics / Xbox / Microsoft Mesh / Microsoft Loop / Yammer / Skype / LinkedIn Learning & LinkedIn (PointDrive) sold SlideShare 14
Bigtincan: Contondo, FatStax, Zunos, Veelo (mobilepaks) Asdeq Labs, XINN, Agnitio A/S, ClearSlide (SlideRocket), VoiceVibes, Vidinoti, Brainshark 13
Salesforce CRM CMS / Sites / Content / Chatter / Quip / Einstein / AppExchange / Trailhead / Slack / LevelJump formerly known as Lurniture 13
Showpad (LearnCore, LIA, Voicefox, Hickup, Taptera) 7
SAP (Callidus, iCentera, Litmos LMS, Emarsys, Signavio CRM, CPQ, CLM 7
Seismic (SAVO, KnowledgeTree, Zensight, Percolate, Grapevine6, Lessonly [Obie acquired by Lessonly 29-Jul-2021]) 8
Upland Software: Altify, Kapost, RO|innovation, Qvidian (Sant & Kadient), BlueVenn, Objectif Lune Inc. @objlune 8
Adobe Experience Cloud / Marketo / ToutApp 4
Conga (Octiv [formerly TinderBox]) acquired by Apttus owned by Thoma Bravo 4
ZoomInfo Technologies (acquired by DiscoverOrg) acquired TellWise, Clickagy AI, Komiko 4
Mediafly (Alinean / iPresent / Presentify / InsightSquared [acquired Olono]) 4
Dropbox (HelloSign, DocSend 3
Episerver Inc. (Insite Software acquired Storyworks Ondemand / Storyworks1. Optimizely acquired Insite Sep-2020, Episerver [Acquired by Insight Partners] acquired Optimizely In Bid To Drive ‘Experimentation’) 4
Aurea, Inc. an ESW Capital Group Company (Jive Software / XANT, Inc. [now once again] PLAYBOOKS) 3
Nitro Software, Inc. (doxIQ @doxiqteam / Connective a European eSign company) 3 (Vayo, ONDiGO) 2
NICE @NICELtd NICE Ltd / NICE Systems Ltd. (ContentEngine / MindTouch @MindTouch) 2

Here are some anecdotal points on the buying process for Sales Enablement software as a service:

Someone first posted into the discussion board of the Sales Enablement Society in March & then 5+ months later was not even close to a buying decision. They had created a requirements specification & shared it with core stakeholders.

It appears the increasing clarity deriving from that exercise has help him to reduce vendors by 50% and that filtering out will continue to get to a shortlist of 3 possible vendors. Then there’ll be the show and tells from the 3 followed by the core teams final choice and recommendation to all stakeholders. Please note: there is no Discovery engagement, no sales methodology relating to requirements e.g. SPIN, Challenger, Consultative Selling – all of that has been done internally!

They were “doing the legwork internally to get full stakeholder buy-in – we don’t know how many stakeholders but the research points to circa 10 others.

It looks like 17 vendors won’t even get an opportunity.

Meanwhile sales is relegated to progressing how the purchasing process is unfolding. […]”

My alert is to vendors and I simply want to point out that this, is a real live example of how a selling process has become a purchasing process, particularly in B2B Enterprise. Sellers currently have no relevant response that allows them to adapt to this new commercial reality.

Sales processes for Sales Enablement platforms can be lengthy – “[…] just finished a project for a massive FS company that started in November 2019. The winning vendor was only informed of their success in April 2021 and are currently being onboarded.”

In short that involved a massive amount of upfront research, vendor demos and discussions, shortlisting vendors for a RFP, analysing the response, pitch rounds, 2 x POCs with the finalist vendors, pricing negotiations, internal budget sign-off, infosec approval, procurement approval, legal contracts. Why does the process take so long?

…loads of reasons but rolling out a Sales Enablement platform “across a large enterprise doesn’t come cheap and an investment of several million dollars involves a massive internal sales exercise. Its also perceived as a nice to have not a must have bit of kit. We found that vendor’s ROI numbers just don’t hold much sway with senior execs even when they run into the hundreds or over a thousand per cent. Ditto efficiency gains. Our internal business case revolved around two metrics:

Research suggested that an” Sales Enablement platform typically increased win rates by 7%

Pitch feedback suggested that we were missing out to our main rival because we lacked the ‘wow’ factor (that they had) in the sales process – this massively hit a raw nerve internally and prompted action

During this time the project snowballed to other divisions. Some of which became directly involved in the process whereas others were happy to wait in the wings letting you be the guinea pig. In effect we’re selecting for the entire company and there’s added pressure to get that decision right…which delays you again as you need to be 100% sure you’ve got the right vendor. So almost two years and counting but it can be done much quicker of course.

“Quick Take: What Does This Current Sales Enablement Tech Consolidation Mean?” by Peter Ostrow, VP, Research Director, 23-Aug-2021:

I’ve been an analyst for 14 years and have never seen an environment like this: aggressive consolidation with very few new solutions gaining any footholds within the sales enablement function. Why is this happening? Well, I’m the furthest thing from a financial expert, so I’ll simply report what others have said about the market: that the dollars invested in sales enablement have been overly ambitious and spread too thinly, resulting in a significant number of competitive acquisitions — including many that do not seem to represent the optimistic pay-off strategies that founders and investors desire.

More significant than venture capital spending and acquisition moves, let’s focus on the “what’s in it for me?” among sales enablement practitioners. I can’t count how often our team gets a humorously baffling request like this:

“Hi, can you please help us select a sales enablement solution? Currently, we’re thinking about, or currently using, [sales content solution], [sales readiness solution], [1–2 sales ops solutions], [enterprise social collaboration solution], and [SFA/CRM platform].”

I’m not exaggerating. There are still far too many opportunistic, evasive, and muddled messages and offerings in the space, often unfortunately driven more by providers’ MRR business models than by what end users actually need. But one thing is clearer today than it was just a few weeks ago: Sales enablement leaders desire fewer technology solutions — or they want one single vendor — for many reasons, the most significant of which is the ability to coalesce their needs in a simpler way for executive leadership to comprehend, sponsor, and fund. This doesn’t mean that best-of-breed content and readiness deliverables aren’t available from nonconsolidated providers — indeed, all of them integrate with pretty much everyone else these days — but the writing mostly seems to be on the wall. Plus, enablement pros are finally understanding that facilitating better buyer interactions requires a holistic sales preparation environment that, by design, breaks down the barrier between content and readiness.

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