Apttus Corp. is out to help sales reps rely on far more than a hunch when trying to sell products and close deals with customers.
Several venture capital firms agree with its strategy and have provided it with funding approaching $300 million, helping it develop new ways for companies to interact with their customers through cloud-based sales-management tools that can be activated by voice commands and other means.
Apttus develops and sells a quote-to-cash suite of software, including a business-to-business e-commerce application, that companies use to manage and record interactions with customers from the time a customer requests a price quote until the seller receives payment.
The latest funding is for $88 million, from investors including K1, Iconiq and KIA, and brings the company’s total funding through four rounds to $274 million. Founded in 2006, Apttus accepted its first round of investment in 2013.
“Today, we’ve secured funds that will return us to operational profitability and continue our advancement of the industry we created over a decade ago,” Kirk Krappe, CEO and co-founder of Apttus, said on Sept. 29. He added that the latest funding was an “enormous step forward” is the company’s path to an initial public offering of stock. He didn’t elaborate on timing for IPO plans.
One of the company’s latest technology developments is its Max “intelligent agent,” a cloud-based software application that Apttus clients can use to access information on sales, customer activity and other data that sales reps need to work out contracts with customers—for example, to recommend a product that a customer may not realize is due for replacement. Max lets users get the information they need through methods including voice commands and text messages. Augmented reality combines computer-generated images with real-world images, providing ways for users to view, for example, how an industrial tool would appear attached to another tool.
Max users develop and view the augmented reality displays through Microsoft Corp.’s Hololens technology for creating holograms and 3-D images, which enables them to immerse a main product image into related images to produce newly configured product image.– in essence, a headshot that enables complete immersion. Set-up is tailored to the use-case: usually “It usually involves a baseline offering with additional assets added based on the product catalogue: for example, a jet can have seats configured, aisles arranged and TV Monitors,” an Apttus spokeswoman says.
“Max will execute any command, taking away the hundreds of mundane, repetitive tasks that users typically need to perform in the revenue process,” Apttus says. The company adds that Max can produce information from Apttus machine-learning applications, which typically use algorithms and sources of large amounts of data to, for example, to predict how particular customers will respond to particular promotional offers.
Predrag PJ Jakovljevic, a principal analyst at research and advisory firm Technology Evaluation Centers, says Apttus is in a “uniquely qualified” position with its decade of experience in quote-to-cash technology to help companies improve their processes of managing customer contracts and revenue. “The days of companies relying on the ‘alpha’ sales folks who would use only their hunch to close deals are gone,” Jakovljevic says. “Nowadays, intelligent software solutions like Apttus’ Max can level the playing field for more sales employees and raise the performance of sales organizations.”
Apttus, whose technology was developed to integrate with the cloud-based CRM software platform from Salesforce.com Inc., says it has more than 500 customers worldwide, including 100 of the Fortune 500. One of its customers, Deere & Co., the manufacturer of John Deere farm tractors and other heavy machinery, is working with Apttus to develop an online marketplace for its customers and suppliers.
The company declines to comment on the cost of deploying its technology applications.
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