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Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Handshakez, Measuring Customer Engagement, Lands $3.6M Series A

handshakezMore often than not, how you sell something is as important as what you sell. When you make the process of getting a deal done pleasant and engaging for the customer, they’re more likely to come back for more.

This level of engagement is at least one motivation behind a new company called Handshakez that today will announce it has landed a $3.6 million Series A round of funding led by Austin Ventures, with First Round Capital, Floodgate, CrunchFund and Valhalla Partners also participating.

CEO Jason Wesbecher explained it to me like this: Interactions between a seller and a customer are moved out of the normal channels like email and into a private collaborative space on the Web, called a “room.” Every interaction is measured and assigned a value that gets reinterpreted as a “temperature.” As you might expect, the warmer the temperature in the room, the better the relationship is. A “hot” room might signal that it’s time to raise the level of the relationship with a customer, while a “colder” room might signal that the customer needs more attention.

All these temperatures can then be shared within Salesforce.com and create an additional signal on the status of the customer relationship, Wesbecher told me. “If you think about how companies like Marketo and Eloqua and HubSpot have done on the lead-scoring side, we pick up where they leave off,” he said. Sales managers like it, Wesbecher says, because the data inside Salesforce.com can be kind of subjective: People on sales teams might underreport the nature of their relationship with the customer, or they might make it look better than it is. “This eliminates the subject nature of the forecast by adding a consistent and objective measure,” he says.

Wesbecher said Handshakez is closing the round earlier than expected. “We weren’t planning on doing an A round before this summer, but we saw some great momentum in the fourth quarter of 2012, and decided to add a little rocket fuel,” he said.

He’s a veteran marketing exec with stops at Jive Software, Siebel Systems and Tibco on his resume. The other co-founders are Michael Osborne, the chief revenue officer, who led Bazaarvoice through its IPO last year; and Scott Brittain, the CTO, a former VP at Appconomy and SolarWinds.

Customers of Handshakez so far include Corel, which saw the size of its deals grow by 45 percent, and Punchh, a social loyalty platform aimed at restaurants, which reported saving 10 hours a week on sales administrative work. Another customer, AlterPoint, a network governance provider, says it saw its renewal rates increase by 10 percent.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google