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3/24/2011
07:46 PM
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InsideView's Social Selling Attracts $12 Million From VC

The company's sales prospecting and lead qualifying tools can be embedded in several leading CRM tools, including Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft CRM, and SugarCRM.

InsideView, a social selling and sales intelligence firm, announced Thursday that it had closed a $12 million Series C venture financing round led by Foundation Capital.

"This was a clear opportunity to invest in a market leader," Foundation Capital General Partner and enterprise technology veteran Paul Holland said in a statement. Holland will join the board of InsideView, which makes its tools for prospecting and qualifying sales leads available as an embedded capability of popular CRM tools including Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft CRM, and SugarCRM. InsideView also offers an independent Web service.

CEO Umberto Milletti said in an interview he sees his product doing for salespeople what the Bloomberg terminal did for stock traders, giving them an aggregated view of the news and information they need to be more successful. InsideView competes with companies like Hoovers that employ editorial teams to compile information about companies and contacts, but the challenge is no longer the same as when those companies were started, he said.

"Things happen in real-time, and it's impossible for those editors to keep up. That's why InsideView uses technology. Lack of information about business is no longer the issue -- if anything, the issue is the opposite, too much information," Milletti said. So the focus needs to be as much on boiling it down to the relevant essentials as on gathering more information, he said.

InsideView has been building its technology platform for six years, concentrating on text analytics that can distinguish between a mention of Apple, the company, and apple, the fruit, or sort out which of the social media profiles associated with the same name actually belong to the same person. The service takes in news feeds from Reuters and company profiles from Capital IQ, but also combs social media personal and company profiles and feeds.

Users can authorize the application to reach into their own networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to identify connections useful for establishing a connection or figuring out whether a prospect has a budget to spend and authority to spend it. You can sign up for a free account, but upgrading to the paid version brings additional capabilities for sharing contacts across teams and managing the assignment of leads.

Between traditional data sources, "the truth is both are important," Milletti said. "You want to know what the press is writing about that company and that person, but you also want to see what that person is saying about themselves, or what the company is saying about itself."

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