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Sales enablement platform Seismic acquires Lessonly, nabs $170M

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Seismic, a sales enablement and marketing orchestration platform based in San Diego, California, today announced that it closed a $170 million series G round led by Permira, JMI Equity, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Jackson Square Ventures, Ameriprise, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price. The latest funding, which brings Seismic’s valuation to $3 billion and total raised to $440 million, comes as the company acquires Lessonly, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based developer of sales training, coaching, and enablement solutions.

The sales enablement platform market, which is expected to be worth $2.6 billion by 2024, continued to grow throughout the pandemic — largely driven by the shift to remote work. As trends like remote selling and buying accelerated, enterprises invested in software with the notion that these new ways of doing business were going to stick around post-pandemic. Over 41% of of salespeople now say that their phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal. And according to HubSpot, eight out of 10 prospects want to talk to sales reps via email over any other medium.

Seismic was founded in 2010 by friends and colleagues Doug Winter, Ed Calnan, Fred Xie, Marc Romano, and Nasser Barghouti. In a nutshell, the platform aims to make sales teams more productive and engaged with buyers by delivering guidance to improve behavior, content, and skills.

Above: Seismic’s sales enablement dashboard.

“[We] recognized the challenges and disconnect between marketing and sales teams to drive revenue together for larger enterprises,” CEO Winter, a former Dell EMC VP, told VentureBeat via email. “This was before ‘sales enablement’ became a well-known term. Since then, we’re proud to have built this business to become the global leader in sales enablement with more than 1,300 employees across 13 different offices — now with Lessonly — around the world. Today, our customers range from emerging startups to some of the world’s largest and most successful organizations, and we’re excited to welcome Lessonly and its 1,200 customers to the Seismic family. Of the five original founders, four are still helping lead the company — Romano, Calnan, Xie, and myself.”

Seismic expansion

Seismic is often compared with vendors like Highspot and Showpad, but Winter says that the company’s investment in automation — as well as platforms like Lessonly — help it to stand out from the pack. It taps AI to automate parts of the sales and marketing cycle and personalize documents for sales reps, gleaning useful info from sales content, like how much revenue assets are producing and the amount of time customers spend viewing them. Seismic makes those insights actionable by revealing the impact of messaging and materials, recommending, for example, that the most popular materials be used as a sales funnel.

This spring, Seismic released Aura, an engine that delivers content recommendations based on data from similar buyers as well as context like customer engagement history and engagements with other company representatives. The Lessonly acquisition will add other AI features, Winter says, like search technology that leverages natural language processing and machine learning algorithms that find and surface knowledge from silos including Confluence, Google Drive, and wikis — some of which Lessonly inherited with its acquisition of AI startup Obie earlier this year.

“Today’s news is all about creating a better experience for sellers using our platform, and providing a unified experience for sellers now that Lessonly is natively integrated into Seismic,” Winter said. “Lessonly currently integrates with Seismic’s sales enablement platform so that sales leaders can import coaching plans and lessons right into Seismic. This creates a seamless experience for sellers, who can access training content and lessons alongside associated sales content in one central location: the Seismic platform. Not only will content be consolidated into one platform, but also the data and analytics for business leaders to see what’s working, what’s not, what training content is most effective and what’s not sticking.”

Lessonly, the brainchild of Eric Tobias, Kristian Andersen, Max Yoder, and Mike Fitzgerald, gives sellers access to sales and marketing content alongside learning programs, practice scenarios, and coaching plans. In conjunction with the seller experience, it offers data and analytics dashboards that lets users track lesson usage, analyze training trends, and identify the content leveraged by top performers.

Since its founding in 2012, Lessonly — which had raised $30.2 million in venture capital — claims to have served nearly four million users worldwide for companies including Scholastic, Jostens, and U.S. Cellular. Seismic plans to keep 19-employee-strong Lessonly’s existing office in Indianapolis when the acquisition closes, which will become Seismic’s 13th global office.

As for Seismic, factoring in the Lessonly buy, it has nearly 2,000 customers and millions of users across over 100 countries. As of June, the company’s annual revenue run rate stood at over $200 million.

“[Seismic] experienced its best first quarter in company history earlier this year, adding more than 50 new customers. Q1 also saw incredible momentum in EMEA and APAC with 182% year-over-year growth in sales [and we] just closed a strong second quarter and now with Lessonly,” Winter said. “Adding native sales readiness support to our platform is just one more piece to building the most powerful and comprehensive sales enablement platform on the market. We will continue to look at opportunities to enhance and expand our platform through our homegrown technology and through strategic, targeted acquisitions. For example, our new funding will be used to continue expanding the company’s platform, research and development, and [international] footprint.”

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