Our Investment In People.ai
In the last 10 years, the world of sales has changed dramatically. Every aspect of a sales rep’s daily workflow has been augmented with some kind of workflow automation tool — from email to demos to calls. Additionally, a bunch of solutions have come up to augment the sales process with better data around which prospects in the pipeline are ripe for conversion. But as the sales software market has become more and more crowded, there is a critical aspect that has been forgotten. It is that sales remains a very people-driven business. Ultimately, who you hire, how you coach them, who’s showing the daily hustle, how they handle conversations with customers matters much more than anything else in sales. Ultimately, the base unit of enterprise sales is a sales rep, and the key to their performance is Smarts + Hustle.
This is the thesis that led us to invest in People.ai in Oct-2016. I first met Oleg Rogynskyy, founder and CEO of People.ai, early last year. At the time, he was working on a slightly different idea in the sales ecosystem. We had a great conversation. While I didn’t fall in love with his initial idea, Oleg came across as the type of founder I wanted to stay close to. He was bold, hungry, articulate and intellectually honest about his opportunities and challenges. Over the next 3–4 months, as Oleg went through YC, he kept refining the thesis he was working on. Every time I would see him, he’d articulate a more refined vision for where he was taking the product and the company. But probably the thing that stood out the most about Oleg was his ambition and drive. He was constantly in front of prospective customers, getting their feedback, refining his product and going back to them for more feedback, all this while being strategic about which set of problems are more horizontal vs. specific to a few companies. Ultimately, Oleg came to the realization that he wanted to build a sales management platform that enables sales leaders to have full visibility on what their sales reps are doing, provides a workflow to manage those teams, and then provides an intelligence layer on top to help them optimize those activities towards greater success. I had already made up my mind that I wanted to partner with Oleg in some capacity. Once he had firmed up his product thesis, it was a pretty simple decision on our side to want to work with him, and we signed up to do so right after YC’s demo day.
So what does People.ai do?
Oleg and team have built out a platform that presents sales managers a people based view of their organization. Salesforce.com and a bunch of other analytics solutions present sales leaders an account based view of their world. Oleg’s core thesis here is that sales management is about hiring the best reps, coaching them well, and identifying what’s working vs. not working in your team on a rep basis vs. account basis. All reps are not equal. The coaching they need is not the same. The weekly 1-on-1 they have with their managers should be based on the data around their specific strengths, weaknesses and hustle. People.ai’s platform connects into CRM, email, calendar, VoIP and presents to sales manager a detailed visualization of what activities are happening going on every day, every week at a team as well as rep level + intelligent recommendations on how to fix potential problems.
- You want to know how much time your reps are spending on new customer sales vs. upsell? People.ai can tell you that.
- You want to know how does your best performing rep split their time between email, demos, calls, and research? People.ai can tell you that.
- When you hire a new rep, you want to set their ramp goals based on what your best performing rep did during her ramp period 3 years ago? People.ai can help you set those ramp goals, and track against those.
- Want to know what specifically is leading to some reps underperforming? People.ai can recommend which part of the sales funnel is lagging behind for an underperforming rep vs. your top decile reps.
People.ai not only informs sales managers on how to coach and manage their teams, but also who to hire and who are likely to not work out. It is an end-to-end platform to manage your sales team. Salesforce.com and ancillary solutions provide an account based view of what’s going on in your sales organization. People.ai sits right next to Salesforce and provides a people based view of your sales organization.
This morning, People.ai announced their Series A led by Lightspeed. We couldn’t be more excited about partnering with Oleg and his team. They’re already off to a great start with customers like Gainsight, Algolia, Rubrik, and several other best-in-class enterprise sales teams. If you’re a sales leader who wants to maximize your team’s performance, I would highly recommend checking out People.ai.