ClearSlide offers painless pitching for sales pros, achieves impressive growth

Even in a pre-internet world of cubicles, carbon copies and universally co-located teams, sales folks were the original remote employees, often living a road warrior lifestyle that saw them roving from the office to meet with clients and pitch products. The introduction of web-based tools changed some aspects of a life in sales – CRMs evolved, for example — but “sales reps used a hodgepodge of different solutions,” to communicate with clients, according to Jim Benton, COO and co-founder of ClearSlide.

Created three years ago along with fellow Evite alum Al Lieb, ClearSlide aims to update sales for the wired present, rescuing reps from thumb drives, massive attachments and clunky web conferencing solutions, offering a simple, cloud-based solution for sales pros to share content either over email, during a live pitch or at an in-person presentation. Teams upload all their decks, videos and other content to ClearSlide (the product doesn’t include authoring), which generates a branded link that a prospect can click to view the material in a quick, clean environment, no downloading required. Reps can also lead prospects through the material, interacting with rich media such as calculators or live web pages within it and pulling up additional materials to answer prospects’ objections.

“When we looked at the market, all the investment in the space has been in CRM. There’s really nothing for sales to help them communicate with customers. We saw a big need there,” Lieb told GigaOM. His company’s approach to filling that gap appears to be working, with ClearSlide announcing a handful of new customers today, including CareerBuilder, Gannett., ShareThis and Wayfair, as well as revenue growth of 400 percent in the last year. Expedia, Yahoo, Amazon are already customers and ClearSlide received $11 million in series A funding led by Greylock Partners in September of last year.

Of course, ClearSlide isn’t the only company helping folks share presentations. WebEx, GoToMeeting and SlideRocket offer some of the same capabilities, but ClearSlide is more specifically focused on sales, combining tools for email and in-person presenting, as well as the virtual pitch. “Most of the solutions in the space are designed around web conferencing, WebEx for example,” explains Lieb. “One of the things we think is unique about ClearSlide is we have a broad horizontal package that ties it all together. It’s really email we’re competing with.” Plus, ClearSlide offers analytics.

Send a link to prospects and ClearSlide will tell you not only when they open it but how long they spend on each slide, as well as aggregating data on a specific deck to show managers what’s getting looked at and what’s being ignored. “We’re giving sales reps back-end data that’s really actionable, so we’re helping them better service their prospects by understanding how they have engaged with the content. Sales guys are able to follow up smarter,” says Benton.

It’s a big reason online home goods retailer Wayfair chose ClearSlide, according to Andrew Garcia, local media manager for the company. He runs a small team within Wayfair that sells media to brick and mortar stores that has been using ClearSlide for a couple of years, and he says the ability to know exactly what his prospects are spending time on has been valuable. “We think where ClearSlide wins for us is really as a sales intelligence tool,” he says. “We end up selling smarter. For my sales guys, it’s important to them to know the right time to follow up with their prospects. In the case of ClearSlide, we actually know when prospects have been looking at our email decks. In the old world, you’d have someone maybe badgering you day after day– ‘Did you look at my deck?’ – but now we just know, which is great.”

“And we’re selling more efficiently because we just know what topics to address,” he adds. “We see the prospect looking at a particular slide and say, OK, the prospect is interested in a particular testimonial so we have to be sure to bring that up when we talk to them.” A review of the last six months of sales revealed at least half involved ClearSlide at some time during the process, he notes.

The analytics may win over the cool heads of sales managers, but the product wins the hearts of sales pros in the trenches and their distant prospects with its elegant content sharing, according to Benton. “There’s a little bit more of a warmth to this because you don’t have a lot of technology in the way. It’s just the visuals and the conversation,” he says. The result? No matter the distance, “you feel like you’re just sitting next to somebody.”

ClearSlide users out there, what’s been your personal experience with the platform – have you found any drawbacks?

Image courtesy of ClearSlide.