Erica is an account executive at a large IT services company, say ABC. Her job involves selling bespoke solutions for critical business problems to truly large enterprises. She recently won a contract to help XYZ, a large European retailer, reconfigure their loyalty management system. Designing the right solution, and getting buy-in for the same, took significant time because of the underlying complexity of the problem. ABC had to upgrade five different legacy systems employed by XYZ without compromising business as usual, comply with a multitude of pricing norms in different countries, while giving different verticals within XYZ (like apparel, electronics, food) the flexibility to manage their individual businesses. This also led to associated complexity in the sales process; just discovering the right set of decision-makers was itself a challenge, which was then followed by the careful management of a long drawn decision-making process.

The above situation is not an outlier. Account Executives (AEs) at large services firms are constantly pitching solutions to senior executives at large corporations for their most pressing business problems, these solutions are bespoke, contract sizes regularly exceed tens of millions of dollars, and deals take forever to close because of business criticality and a multitude of stakeholders. They spend significant time scouting new opportunities, identifying relevant stakeholders for these opportunities, researching the business of their prospects to develop a point of view on how they can help them and position themselves as  trusted advisors, and writing proposals to target these opportunities.

The idea of using technology for top of the funnel in sales is not new. We, at Stellaris, backed Slintel in 2019 which was acquired by 6Sense in 2021. However, use of technology has been limited to SMB centric/ more transactional sales. Software like Slintel, Zoominfo, Apollo and many others can help identify a large number of prospects that match your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and help you run campaigns for them. The same problem for large enterprises, and particularly for bespoke multi-million dollar services contracts is much harder, and therefore unsolved as well. There has also been high resistance on part of these highly experienced AEs who are trusted advisors to large enterprises on adopting technology, as they believe it is their specialised skills and knowledge that allows them to identify (and solve for) these unique, bespoke opportunities.

This is where OrbitShift steps in. They crawl a vast amount of public information about target accounts e.g. news, analyst reports, annual reports, management interviews and run that through an in-house classification engine to determine areas where companies could be looking for solutions. As an example, if a Chief Information Officer (CIO), in a recent interview, mentioned that he was looking for cloud security solutions, OrbitShift would understand that it could be a priority for the organization. If cloud security happened to also be an area of strength for the provider, with strong references in that space, OrbitShift would flag that as a potential opportunity for the provider to chase. Not only would OrbitShift do that, it would also identify potential champions within the target accounts, as well as comb through providers’ content repository to create compelling communication for AEs to use in her reach-outs.

OrbitShift’s vision is to build a comprehensive co-pilot for the sales teams of large IT/ business services companies. While they identified top of the funnel as their beachhead, the team has added many different capabilities – e.g. account research, automated proposal building/ RFP response and executive briefings – which are part of the everyday workflow for sales executives.

When Saurabh and Swapnil first described their vision for OrbitShift to us, almost two years ago, we were sceptical, and (we still believe) for good reason – after all, it’s an account executive’s job to be well-informed about what is happening within their accounts, and they practically live inside target accounts. Expecting technology to surpass a human in this field seemed far-fetched. 

That said, Saurabh and Swapnil are a special team, and we made sure to closely follow their progress. Over time, as we saw how the business shaped up, and spoke with their customers, we understood the nuance that had eluded us earlier. Expecting technology to surpass a human was the wrong baseline. The right lens was to see how technology could complement and aid humans to do their jobs better. While we were sceptical of anyone building a credible solution to solve this problem, we were amazed by the quality of customer reference calls and the value they had already attributed to the OrbitShift solution. In each customer conversation, we found AEs who were initially resistant, but who had become ‘converts’ over time.

We believe enterprise sales in the world of AI will be materially different, for the better, and OrbitShift will lead that charge. In addition to being a great example of the kind of AI application that we like, OrbitShift is led by a world-class founding team uniquely suited to solving this particular problem. Saurabh was a partner with McKinsey, where he advised IT companies on sales acceleration problems. There are few people in the world better suited to solve this problem – it is hard to miss his knowledge of, and passion for, this topic in any conversation with him. Swapnil helped build the ads business for Amazon India for many years, where, among other things, he developed cutting edge AI systems at scale. We are amazed by the speed and frugality with which he has built an enterprise class solution.

Saurabh and Swapnil bring complementary skills, but a shared vision and ambition, to the table. They have taken to the scrappiness of a 0 to 1 journey like ducks out of water – we have rarely seen companies targeting large enterprises get off the blocks so quickly – and we are thrilled to partner with them on this journey.

Read the media coverage here