How 6sense is paving the way to the future with AI

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher May 2, 2022
Summary:
Building out the future, leveraging AI off Big Data.

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The future is now, says 6sense, and that future is inevitably packed with AI. The company recently held its 'Future is Now' event, sharing what they are working on and how they are using their own product to build their own customer base. While I couldn’t make the event, I did get to talk with CEO Jason Zintak to get an update on the company, including recent acquisitions, the market for account-based experiences, and 6sense’s plans for the future.

6sense is not a platform for marketers alone; it’s for the entire revenue team, marketing, sales, customer success, and more. It brings together data from the systems all these teams use and applies machine learning and AI to give every team member the insights and recommendations to perform their jobs.

Leveraging AI across the revenue team

According to Zintak, 6sense’s whole thesis has always been about leveraging AI off Big Data. Which is why, he said, any acquisition that 6sense makes or anything they develop internally must have an AI component.

Let’s look at the three latest acquisitions:

  • Fortella provides pipeline forecasting and planning. Zintak said the solution doesn’t predict what’s going to close. Instead, it tells you what pipeline you need, why, and where the gaps may form, applying machine learning to those patterns. With Fortella, the revenue team can understand what to do and how to plan around a pipeline. It also alerts marketers on statistical patterns around pipeline needs, gaps, and augmentation.
  • Slintel is a Zoominfo equivalent, essentially collecting data on contacts. 6sense is data agnostic, but Zintak said some of their customers wanted them to expand the data they collected internally in the company ID graph, so that’s what they are doing with the acquisition of this solution. This acquisition ensures they are vertically integrated and competitive, and, said Zintak, it allows them to control their destiny.
  • Then there is Saleswhale, an email tool that uses GPT 3 and NLP to auto write emails and auto-respond. Zintak explained that if the AI sees intent, it responds via email. He referred to it as a “first-responder” email, saying that studies have shown that if you engage with someone showing intent within 24 hours, that person is 10x more like to engage back. However, you don’t have to rely entirely on the AI with Saleswhale. You can choose to stage the data to someone to approve the engagement, or you can do a mix, where the AI might respond first, and if an answer is received, it’s passed onto a salesperson. Saleswhale also works with native email through Marketo or Hubspot, or it could work with a display ad or a LinkedIn or Facebook post. This acquisition came because customers were asking for it as well.

In addition to acquisitions, 6sense has also delivered custom development updates over the last year, including Funnel Insights Reporting, which assess the health of the revenue generation funnel, and the Recommended Actions Dashboard for sales teams. It has also added new intent data through partnerships with Bombora, G2, and TrustRadius, and expanded partnerships with other SalesTech and MarTech vendors such as Drift, Mediafly, and Salesloft.

On cookies, IP, and intent data

Companies that rely on third-party cookies to get their intent data struggle to find a workaround to the end of these cookies. 6sense isn’t one of them. Zintak said that the company prepared itself about three to five years ago for this to happen.

Much of the intent data it captures today uses its patented account identification technology (6signal) which uses IP addresses as the primary identifier. The company continues to improve its marketing lead identification capabilities and targeting capabilities and has already incorporated new non-cookie-based identifiers into 6signal.

In addition, 6sense is well-prepared for privacy regulations and ready to adopt any new regulations that may come along. Zintak said that some of their biggest customers are security companies, so they’re always forward-thinking regarding privacy.

Zintak also made it clear that intent data is only one part of 6sense. Companies also use 6sense to make sense of their first-party data, automating workflows across the revenue team. The company has a vision to unite everyone in a company on one common dataset.

Supporting companies of all sizes

You might think that products like 6sense and other account-based experience (ABX) solutions are built for mid-to-enterprise companies. But Zintak told me that its fastest-growing segment for the last two years is its small commercial business with 300-550 employees.

He explained that the firm decided to experiment with small companies two years ago. It wasn’t that it was thought that the product wouldn't work, but there was a question of whether these companies could dedicate the time. In fact, those companies treated 6sense like an extension of a sales or marketing force they didn’t have. Today, 6sense has an entire organization and customer success team around this group.

6sense completes a “Business Impact Framework (BIF)” every quarter. This framework analyzes all customer segments using the Advanced package of its platform for at least a year to understand how it’s working for them. Remove the top and bottom 20% of companies; the numbers are pretty compelling: opportunity volume has increased 39%, win rate increased 13%, deal size increased 45%, and time to close decreased by 38%.

Teaching customers what it means to leverage AI

For Zintak and 6sense, it’s not about whether companies need to use AI but how to use it. Of course, the machine isn’t always right. Still, the alternative of doing things manually is next to impossible with the continual increase in the amount of data a company collects and has access to.

In a customer advisory board meeting, Zintak said one customer referred to 6sense as a “compass - not a silver bullet.” The key is to understand what 6sense does and how to use it.

6sense is also not a replacement for all the other applications revenue teams use. Instead, Zintak said they want customers to think of 6sense as a central nervous system or a central intelligence platform, where teams can make decisions and then execute strategies based on those decisions in another system.

Zintak said the company is on a mission - the RevTech Revolution - ensuring companies have the ability to “know everything, do anything.” There are no plans to become a monolithic, single-source solution for everything; it will continue to maintain an open API so its customers can continue to work with their stack partners.

My take

6sense is one of the top ABX platforms on the market, sitting next to Demandbase and Terminus. They don’t all offer the exact same features, and one may be better at a capability than another, but they all provide that ability to look at accounts and get the insights needed to figure out the next best step.

Seeing the growth of this company over the last couple of years has been interesting. A good mix of acquisition and internal development, a clear focus on revenue teams, and creating a single customer data view that all teams leverage to support customers across the complete lifecycle are driving that growth (along with a couple of healthy funding rounds).

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