Sales teams, under pressure to -- pardon the cliché -- do more with less as inflation strains the economy, are increasingly turning to AI-powered software in search of a competitive edge. Vendors like Winn.AI provide AI assistants for sales calls that automatically track, capture and update customer relationship management entries. There's also Unique and Jiminny, two different platforms that both use AI to analyze customer conversations.
Convinced that there's room for another startup in the burgeoning space, Jason Dorfman co-founded Orum with Karthik Viswanathan in 2018. The company bills itself as a "live conversation" platform that helps sales reps connect with prospects while automating some of the more tedious parts of the sales development process.
"The pandemic changed the way that outbound sales teams communicate with their prospects. As companies shifted from face to face interactions to digital ones, the need for real, voice communication in order to build rich connections has become an even more important part of the equation," Dorfman told TechCrunch in an email interview. "By automating workflows ... reps using Orum are able to focus on hosting quality conversations with prospective customers rather than doing the hard and repetitive work of just trying to get ahold of them."
Orum leverages AI to detect, identify and connect with sales prospects by automatically navigating time sinks like phone trees. The algorithm attempts to determine when a sales rep has connected with a real person, hit a voicemail or reached a bad number, aiming to save the rep time. A data enrichment tool automatically surfaces new numbers for potential leads, syncing contact data between Orum and platforms such as HubSpot.
Prior to starting Orum, Viswanathan headed engineering at Affinity, a "relationship intelligence" platform focused on investment banking and private equity firms. Dorfman led corporate sales at Rubrik, launching an initiative to bring cloud data management products to the small- and medium-sized business market.
Orum's software uses AI to identify callers and navigate phone trees, as well as detect "dead" numbers. Image Credits: Orum
"For business-to-business customers, having time for meaningful, live conversations is paramount to a successful sales process. However, there's no value for a business in having your high-price sales reps spend their day listening to the phone ring, navigating dial by name directories and manually dropping voicemails," Dorfman said. "Orum enables teams to make hundreds of calls in just minutes, while helping automate lead data and improve it over time."
Orum solves a real problem. According to Gartner, it can take 60 to 90 dials to get an appointment with a prospect, and conversion rates for cold calls are typically about 2% compared with 20% for solid leads and 50% for referrals.
But the question is whether it's differentiated enough from the other AI-powered sales tools on the market. Dorfman claims that it is, pointing to Orum's ability to provide full contact details, notes and campaign information to reps and allow managers to listen to -- and search through -- transcribed calls. While platforms like Connect and Sell, Connect Leader, Xant, the recently acquired Five9 and incumbents like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud do this, Dorfman argues that Orum is more robust than most.
Customers like QTS and Workato believe this to be the case, it seems -- as well as Orum's investors. Orum today closed a $22 million Series B round led by Tribe Capital with participation from Craft Ventures and Unusual Ventures at "triple" the company's previous -- but unfortunately undisclosed -- valuation. Bringing the company's total raised to more than $50 million, the proceeds will be put toward expanding Orum's engineering and product teams and product development, Dorfman said.
"The ongoing macro environment has led companies to experience financial pressures, which means the need for automation and efficiency is greater than it's ever been," Dorfman said. "But also, as stewardship is one of our values as a company, we've always been incredibly intentional about fundraising and where we spend dollars. In the last year, we’ve focused on growing our teams and innovating our product, which has resulted in how we’ve been able to show up and serve our customers as new economic pressures have changed their needs."
Orum's employee base currently numbers "just shy" of 130 people. Dorfman expects that the company, which is entirely remote, will grow by around 40% by the end of the year.