Conventional approaches to sales are full of frustration. The sales team sends out thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of messages to potential customers, hoping that at least some of them will turn into sales leads and, eventually, paying customers. The spray and pray approach, as it’s known, is highly inefficient and delivers increasingly miserable conversion rates. It may even alienate customers – in a world where personalised marketing is becoming the norm, people often feel hostile to sales messaging that is so obviously randomised and untargeted.
It is this problem that former Salesforce executive Peda Pola hopes to confront with OneShot.ai, the Californian-based start-up that he launched two years ago with co-founder Gautam Rishi. It thinks artificial intelligence technology can do a far better job of identifying prospects for enterprises selling products and services to other businesses. “The outbound sales model is broken, but companies are still spending a fortune on the same old practices,” Pola says. “We think a more scientific, data-driven approach will have much better results.”
OneShot.ai’s technology focuses initially on the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) systems, mining this resource to identify what an ideal customer looks like for the business, as well as the typical reasons that customers sign up for its service – their “intent signals”. The data held in CRM systems contains huge insight, Pola argues, but sales teams completely overlook it.
Next, OneShot.ai’s technology searches a wide range of data providers and directories, including LinkedIn profiles, company websites, search engine results, financial reports, and platforms such as G2, Glassdoor and Twitter. The goal is to identify targets that closely resemble the ideal customer profile identified – including those that exhibit similar intent signals to the signals that prompted existing customers to buy.
The end result is intended to be a far more curated list of potential sales targets for the company – to identify likely customers where the sales team will effectively be pushing at an open door. OneShot.ai’s technology can also help businesses create the content these leads then receive; its platform can be used to generate personalised content that can be sent through multiple channels – including email, LinkedIn contact, WhatsApp messages and even voice and video – with advice on what is likely to work best.
“We are helping reps get better results by delegating manual work to automated, intelligent systems,” adds Pola. “Simultaneously, we are enabling and promoting the creative strategies required for successful outreach that only humans can do.”
The question, naturally, is whether the technology works. Pola says the results seen by early adopters of its platform – the company has signed up 35 or so customers so far – are encouraging. Some clients report that the number of meetings their sales teams have been able to secure with potential customers has doubled, OneShot.ai says. There are also speed and efficiency gains for marketing teams, Pola adds.
Gautam Rishi believes new technology can restore sales and marketing’s faith in methods that used to work but which have become unproductive in recent years. “Over reliance on automation and the predictable revenue model ruined the effectiveness of outbound sales”, he argues. “High costs and poor results caused sales teams to give up on what is still a great strategy for revenue growth.
Still, the business will need to overcome stiff competition if it is to grow revenues substantially and rapidly – building on the $1 million of annual revenues it has reached to date. Rivals such as Outreach and Salesloft also make bold claims for what their technology can do for sales teams, and are more established.
Funding support from strong backers will help OneShot.ai accelerate, with the company boasting backing from venture capital fund 42CAP, the UK investor Seedcamp and Addvia Ventures. In total, the business has raised around $2.9 million over the past two years.
“OneShot.ai isn’t just focused on addressing a narrow problem, they’re creating a salesperson’s personal AI-powered prospecting assistant,” argues Moritz Zimmermann, general partner at 42CAP. “The way we do outbound sales is due for disruption, and OneShot.ai, led by founders with both deep technical know-how and extensive enterprise sales experience, is well positioned to provide the solution.”