[Tech50] This sales engagement platform is eliminating ‘guesswork’ in sales prospecting with data-backed guided selling

YourStory's Tech50 2021 startup Upscale uses data-driven insights and helps sales representatives engage with their prospects through multiple channels including email, calls, LinkedIn, and more.
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Those days when a sales representative could just pick up the phone and reach out to a prospective client with a ‘hit and trial’ strategy are long behind us. Amidst aggressive competition, one has to understand the buyer’s sentiment and requirements before reaching out to them. The order of the day is leveraging the power of data for pretty much every function of business. But, oftentimes, sales development representatives (SDRs) end up spending extensive time doing repetitive tasks that don't really add value to the revenue pipeline. Bengaluru-based startup Upscale aims to replace guesswork and repetitive tasks with data-driven decision making. 

Incorporated in 2020, Upscale AI, which is among YourStory's Tech50 list of most promising early stage startups, aims to make revenue generation a predictable process. The B2B (business-to-business) sales engagement platform allows sales reps to streamline their processes through a multi-channel outreach and helps them design the right prospecting workflows and execute personalised sales activities. The startup is working towards including artificial intelligence (AI)-based sales prospecting playbooks.

Second Innings  

Majority of startup ideas and disruptions take shape from the seeds of founders' personal experiences. Long-time friends Sandeep Singh and Yeshu Singh encountered similar challenges in their sales processes at their respective startups, InfiSecure (a B2B bot mitigation platform) and Gopigeon (an end-to-end logistics management SaaS platform).  While the former was acquired by Barracuda Networks in 2019, the latter was sold to US-based enterprise SaaS platform Narvar in 2017. 

 

“One of our primary roadblocks and learnings was sales engagement. How do we get better at booking qualified meetings at scale and how do we make revenue a predictable process? This involved streamlining all sales activities and making sure that we get enough intelligence from those activities to make the most out of them and subsequently increase revenue,” says Sandeep, who has previously worked with organisations such as Near, Microsoft, and People10 Technologies Inc among others. 

 

Majority of the companies are unable to meet the ever-increasing demand for high-volume prospecting, according to Sandeep. Most tools helped SDRs manage existing opportunities and already identified accounts, he adds while highlighting that without a central workflow or sequence, prospecting remained inefficient especially for multi-channel outreach. 

“Everything is manual. Sales reps acquire information from multiple sources like CRM (customer relationship management) systems, social media sites, manual notes, among others. This is time-consuming when done manually. We are trying to reverse this trend by streamlining the sales outreach process with insights on the most relevant prospects.” 

Based on initial market research, coupled with their first-hand experience, the duo realised that the sales engagement solutions and tools available in the market were extremely expensive and restricted in what they offered. Following their successful exits, Sandeep and Yeshu, along with their third partner Amit Mustud, embarked on their second startup innings with Upscale in August 2020. 

 

By December 2020, the startup managed to raise $200,000 in its pre-seed funding round from GSF Accelerator, Java Capital and a bunch of angel investors. In July 2021, the alpha version of the platform went live.  

Going beyond manual research and tools 

The B2B sales engagement platform provides visibility of sales activities, pipelines, risk accounts, and the impact of such risks on the forecasted revenue. Listed in YouStory's Tech50 2021 report, Upscale has helped companies put sales prospecting at the heart of their ‘go-to-market’ strategy to book qualified meetings at scale. 

“The game is about guiding the sales reps to execute sales activities that are personalised to prospects and replicate winning behavior through a playbook across the team,” says Sandeep.

The two-year-old startup leverages artificial intelligence to empower sales teams of B2B businesses, to book more meetings faster and maximise revenue growth. It further allows them to streamline the process of reaching out to prospects through a multi-channel outreach that includes emails and phone calls, LinkedIn actions, text messages, and more, thus solving the problem of generating qualified meetings. It also equips sales teams with performance reports and insights on their workflows and sequences.

Expanding market reach 

The startup currently works with over 60 clients, including Affle and Logiq.ai among others, across the US, South East Asia and India. 

 

“We are in the midst of closing another round of funding which will help us build a presence in the mid-market segment in the US, and hire senior leaders in sales and product.” 

 

The startup competes with the likes of the US-based unicorns Outreach.io and Salesloft, which provide more holistic and in-depth solutions, along with Indian companies such as the Sequoia-backed Outplay

 

“They all provide tools where teams will have to create their own processes. We aim to build an entire playbook for these teams based on their industry, sales motion, maturity, and growth stage. The data will continuously be fed into the feedback loop to improvise the playbook.”  

 

According to MarketsandMarkets, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for sales enablement platforms is projected to reach a size of $4.5 billion by 2027 from $1.3 billion in 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5 percent over 2020-2027. This has created a lot of potential for players such as Upscale that are using B2B technology innovations to transform sales performance and enhance productivity.

Upscale is a YourStory Tech50 startup for 2021. 

Edited by Ramarko Sengupta

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