Skip to main content

Clari - Nipping at Salesforce's Heels?

Clari - Nipping at Salesforce's Heels?
Clari - Nipping at Salesforce's Heels?

A brief while ago I had the chance of talking to Andy Byrne, CEO of Clari, about how AI can help making sales organizations more effective and efficient. Clari is a vendor of Opportunity-to-Close solutions. G2Crowd lists the company amongst the leaders of its Sales Analytics Software quadrant, while Gartner Group in 2017 named it a cool vendor in the Tech Go-To-Market.
Shortly after the conversation Clari announced the closure of a $35 Million funding round “following record growth”, essentially a tripling of their customer base while maintaining a near 100 per cent renewal rate.
According to Andy, the company applies “machine learning focused on sales”, i.e. predictive and prescriptive analytics to improve pipeline visibility and to get more insight into which opportunities are more likely to close than others. This helps in focusing on these opportunities.
This solution was developed after having in depth conversation with a number of big sales teams, figuring out their challenges/problems.
As a result of this the company is addressing three problems.
1.     Many to most sales reps do not consider CRM systems (or SFA systems, for that matter) as particularly helpful.
2.     Sales managers do have a poor visibility into what their teams are doing, with which opportunities they spend their time.
3.     Executives and Sales Operations are dealing with “XLS hell” because the system’s forecasting ability is broken.
All in all, points two and three are consequences of point one.
If a system is not of help it is a time-waster and tends to be avoided. Data about opportunities will not be entered in a timely manner nor will it be very accurate.
Clari’s solution to this is to help the sales reps by taking the chores out of the process by tying other systems into the opportunity management process. These systems include Gmail and Exchange for email and calendaring, but also attachments. Further connections to marketing information systems (e.g. Marketo,), Docusign, Xactly, ClearSlide, and others are in the pipeline.
Data coming from all these sources is used to feed Clari’s prediction- and prescription engine to score the opportunities as well as suggest activities for opportunities.
That way, Clari wants to improve sales reps’ productivity, while giving managers insight and the chance of coaching their teams – all with the goal of increasing the conversion rate.
At this moment Clari integrates with Salesforce, but plans to integrate to other CRM/SFA systems, too. The approach is to not position itself as a competition but to augment and enhance the user experience by “marrying AI with beautiful design”.

MyPoV and Analysis

Having seen the capabilities and the UI of Clari, I came away duly impressed. Clari offers a clean user interface that helps people in instantly grasping the status and risk of the pipeline as well as the individual opportunities along with the activities going on to pursue them.
 Opportunity Analysis with Clari
Opportunity Analysis with Clari

And, looking at Salesforce being the main system to integrate into, this is quite a proposition, especially as Salesforce’s Einstein is still quite tied to Salesforce data. However, Salesforce is addressing exactly the challenges that Clari looks at. The company recently announced corresponding improvements to Sales Cloud Einstein, the Salesforce, Inbox and improved sales analytics. And the recent acquisitions of Cloudcraze and especially Mulesoft will improve Salesforce’s ability of tapping into very relevant data, which improves the company’s position.
The same holds true for Microsoft and SAP Hybris. Both solutions also offer opportunity-scoring solutions based upon machine learning. In the case of Microsoft already since late 2016. Both solutions take in data from various sources, too, although the link to past sales rep activities is less pronounced. Still, all three vendors, Microsoft, Salesforce, and SAP, offer activity recommendations targeted at optimizing the chances to successfully close opportunities.
And there are not only doing it for opportunities but also for leads and other entities.
Still, the VC community is upbeat about Clari, as evidenced by the successful recent funding round.

The Cautions

While Clari seems to have a strong Opportunity-to-Closure solution this laser focus also puts the company into a niche that the big vendors will close themselves, if not as good as Clari does, but still ‘good enough’. And they are on it. Personally I do not see Clari as an acquisition target of one of the big 4 (yet).
Further, there are not yet many partnerships with CRM vendors. Salesforce is a good starting place, but it is exactly that: A start. And Salesforce is known for usurping spaces that are owned by partners, if it sees an opportunity (this is not only true for Salesforce, of course).
For Clari this means that the company needs to do four things
·      Stay ahead of the competition from an output point of view. Integrating with Clari must show clear and measurable benefits for customers using a CRM system which already offers similar functionality
·      Go SMB. This is a largely underserved market that is still very fragmented and mainly covered by vendors that do not have the scale to offer wide solutions
·      Partner, partner, partner with vendors of CRM solutions, to gain broader exposure
·      Based upon the current offering, build complementary solutions that solve real business problems
And all this while staying at an attractive price point.
All in all, Clari offers a solution that enterprises and SMBs should look at.

Related Posts


Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

SAP CRM and SAP Jam - News from CRM evolution

During CRM Evolution 2017 I had the chance of talking with Volker Hildebrand and Anthony Leaper from SAP. Volker is SAP’s Global Vice President SAP Hybris and Anthony is Senior Vice President and Sales GM - Enterprise Social Software at SAP. Topics that we covered were things CRM and collaboration, how and where SAP’s solutions are moving and, of course, the impact that the recent reshuffling in the executive board has. Starting with the latter, there is common agreement, that if at all it is positive as likely to streamline reporting lines and hence decision processes. First things first – after all I am a CRM guy. Having the distinct impression that the SAP Hybris set of solutions is going a good way I was most interested in learning from Volker about how there is going to be a CRM for S4/HANA. SAP’s new generation ERP system is growing at a good clip, and according to the Q1/2017 earnings call, now has 5,800 customers with 400 new customers in the last quarter alone. Many

SugarCRM explains how the third wave of CRM adds value

The news On October 4 and 5, 2023, SugarCRM held its Connected event followed by an analyst summit in London. The first day – Connected – was targeted mostly at customers while the second day focused on analysts.  The event started off with an intense speech by Katherine Grainger, DBE , a British rowing champion. Her core messages were about team bonding, the importance of communication, continuous improvement, and perseverance (well, at least that’s my take). This was followed by information about what is new in the software and, more importantly, a customer panel.  The main sponsor, Mobileforce , placed some words about the partnership. In addition, the analysts had 1:1s with customers, partners, and Sugar executives. The second day was filled with information targeted at analysts. CEO Craig Charlton and his executive team shared about financial status, strategy and more in-depth product news. Sugar being a privately held, VC backed company, the financials are of course under NDA, s

How to play the long game Zoho style

The news On February 7 and 8 2024, Zoho held its annual ZohoDay conference, along with a pre-conference get together and an optional visit to SpacX’s not-too-far-away Starbase. Our guide, who went by Chief, and is probably best described as a SpaceX-paparazzi was full of facts and anecdotes, which made the visit very interesting although we couldn’t enter Starbase itself. The event was jam-packed with 125 analysts, 17 customer speakers, and of course Zoho staff for us analysts to talk to. This was a chance we took up eagerly. This time, the event took place in MacAllen, TX, instead of Austin, TX. The reason behind this is once more Zoho’s ruralization strategy, transnational localism.  Which gives also one of the main themes of the event. It was more about understanding Zoho than about individual products, although Zoho disclosed some roadmaps. More about understanding Zoho in a second.  The second main theme was customer success and testimonials. Instead of bombarding us with presenta

Relevance, reliability, responsibility are key for AI – the SAP way

The News A lot is going on in the SAPverse during October and the early days of November 2023. First, SAP conducted its CXLive event with CX-related announcements, then the company reported good Q3/2023 figures, a new version of its CX software that includes new generative AI capabilities got released and lastly, it executed its SAP TechEd event with a good number of AI-, BTP-, and ERP related announcements. As this is quite a lot, I covered the CX world in a previous post and will cover the TechEd related news in this post.  So, what is new at SAP TechEd ? For one, it is enough to fill a 17-page pre-event news guide that SAP sent out. SAP certainly is able to stack up the news for major events. I took the liberty to ask ChatGPT for a summary of the document, which I slightly edited afterwards. Here we are: AI and Development Environments: ·       SAP introduces SAP Build Code with generative AI, improving application development and testing, while new AI capabilities are integrate

The Generative AI Game of Thrones - Is OpenAI toast?

The News This has been an exciting weekend for the generative AI industry. On Friday November 17, OpenAI announced that the company fired its figurehead CEO Sam Altmann and appointed Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati as interims CEO in a surprise move. The press release states that Altmann “ was not consistently candid in his communications with the board .” Surprised was apparently not only Sam Altmann, but also the till then chairman of the board Greg Brockman who first stepped down from this position and subsequently quit OpenAI. Investors, notably Microsoft, found themselves blindsided, too – or flat footed depending on the individual point of view. Satya Nadella was compelled to state that Microsoft stays committed to the partnership with OpenAI in a blog post that got updated on November 19, 11:55 pm. All hell broke loose. Microsoft shares took a significant hit. A number of additional senior OpenAI personnel quit. Both, Altman and Brockman, voiced the idea of founding anoth