Sales Communications: The Battle Between Brainshark and ClearSlide
By Jim Lundy
A battle has been brewing in the race to own the emerging market for Sales Communications. The two main players in this battle are market leader Brainshark and venture-funded Clearslide. We identified sales communications as an emerging business application last year and highlighted it in our recent Technology Arc for Innovation and Digital Business. This post is about two of the main players competing in this space.
Sales Communications: Part of Sales Enablement
Sales enablement, sales performance management and social selling are among the many terms that describe the act of providing tools to sales professionals that help them get their jobs done. Sales communications is not new, but this category is. It focuses specifically on the process of communicating with a prospect or customer and being able to track the interaction. It is similar to marketing automation, but driven by and managed by a salesperson.
Sales Communications: Brainshark
That brings us back to the battle. Brainshark is the incumbent—the established player. A Boston-based firm, Brainshark has been in the business of training and sales enablement for years. It has thousands of customers across many industries. Its sales communications product is called the Brainshark Sales Cloud. It is an attractive bundle that works well. Brainshark also has a very popular tool for sales professionals called SlideShark, which displays PowerPoint presentations on an iPad without running PowerPoint on the tablet.
Sales Communications: ClearSlide
Brainshark is larger than ClearSlide and has more customers. That said, Clearslide is making a strong push into the market from its West Coast headquarters. ClearSlide has been buying functionality vs building it all natively, and has also been raising capital. In fact, it raised another $50 million in February 2014. The lead investor was Social+Capital Partnership, along with past investors including Greylock Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and Felicis Ventures.
ClearSlide is the newcomer to the space, but it has done a nice job of creating demand and cementing the sales communications category. Big firms are using its product. In fact, I got an email earlier this year from a sales rep at Oracle that included a ClearSlide presentation in the email. It was a nice email, and was convincing enough to get me to open it.
So the stage is set. Numerous other players are competing in this emerging space (Fileboard, MyDocket, ToutApp and many others). With the role of sales being so critical to a firm’s overall success, we don’t see anything that will stop the adoption of sales communications tools—unless email systems get a lot smarter. We will watch this space and publish more research about how to leverage sales communications effectively. In the meantime, test-drive some of the options (Brainshark has freemium options, Clearslide only has a free trial) and let us know your thoughts.