Greylock’s Corinne Riley: Solving Data and Automation With Intelligent Go-To-Market Tools
Thesis BriefsCorinne RileyGreylock PartnersAI/MLGongEVC List 2022

Terra Nova Insights Team,

Greylock’s Corinne Riley: Solving Data and Automation With Intelligent Go-To-Market Tools



As companies look to navigate growth in turbulent markets, optimizing various parts of their go-to-market processes can help eliminate noise and drive sales effectiveness. Organizations are seeking to optimize everything from prospecting to customer relationship management, while incorporating advancements in AI and data tools. Corinne Riley, investor at Greylock Partners, explores how intelligent GTM tools could enable “best-of-breed” sales applications and improve top-line performance for organizations.


Why are intelliegnt GTM tools such an important cartegory going forward?

  • One of the main challenges facing the sales stack is surfacing actionable insights from data. GTM Ops teams are being hired to help analyze large amounts of customer data, including insights on companies, triggers for specific buyers, and data and product analytics insights from communities, so they can create a more efficient and effective sales cycle. Building an intelligent GTM tool is a technically challenging problem, but it can lead to significant opportunities for the companies that are able to solve it.
  • Optimizing the GTM stack is top of mind in any market, and companies are starting to use intelligent tools to improve every part of the sales process. From the early stages of sales prospecting all the way through post-sales implementation and customer success workflows, companies are looking for ways to target their customers more efficiently and improve the engagement process. “Ways to measure ‘success’ in the sales stack come in multiple forms of top-line growth, such as increases in newly qualified opportunities, improvements in customer-tailored outbound, or overall faster sales cycles,” says Riley.

What are the business models, use cases, or applications that might be attached to this category?

  • Intelligent Prospecting. Startups are exploring ways to improve lead prospecting using innovative data points on potential buyers. This can range from simple things like flagging a buyer's title change, to more complex analysis, such as cross-referencing competitors used at their previous employer to anticipate common questions. A better prospecting tool can bring in more qualified leads and provide a more predictable pipeline. For example, a cybersecurity company could identify a potential customer by targeting a newly hired decision-maker who already downloaded a white-paper.
  • Real-time sales coaching can help maximize the potential of sales reps. This can include real-time sales call coaching for individual reps or team-wide call insights.“The ability to analyze and learn from sales calls is becoming more common. As sentiment analysis becomes more commoditized, value may accrue to players who already own call recordings, such as Gong,” says Riley.

As sentiment analysis becomes more commoditized, value may accrue to players who already own sales call recordings, such as Gong

Corinne Riley~quoteblock

What are some of the potential roadblocks?

  • Emerging startups looking to disrupt the space may face stiff competition from incumbents with the power of distribution from their existing platform. “The ‘trick’ for new startups is to figure out a hook that is deep and unique enough to warrant expansion of the product surface area, as opposed to a mere feature that gets quickly commoditized by the incumbents,” says Riley.


saidbyblock~ Corinne Riley via email correspondence.
Corinne Riley

What’s interesting about the GTM stack is that, at its core, the pain point to be solved is a data and automation problem. The volume of information available about one’s customers is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, companies can learn more about their prospects and current customers than ever before in order to better predict revenue, upsell more effectively, and even automate away tedious parts of the lead warming process.

At the same time, the sheer amount of talent that it would take to make all that happen is burdensome for any growing company. A number of intelligent apps are emerging to fill that void, whether they be new players or innovative add-ons from existing incumbents.

Tools that provide valuable insights and tangible ROI are going to have the opportunity to own a slice of the very valuable GTM stack pie, and hopefully grow from there.


Q: What can you say about the timing? What is the time horizon for broad business/corporate adoption of the technologies or behaviors that underpin your Thesis?

A: "This is all happening in real time, the question is whether value is going to accrue to new players that are able to leverage AI to create best-in-breed wedges, or if existing incumbents will prove themselves agile enough to add to their existing platforms."


While we rarely see it fully implemented, Intelligent GTMOps could augment and connect several aspects of the sales process. “GTM Operations refers to the idea that coordinating customer facing teams, particularly sales ops, marketing ops, and customer success, can improve GTM channels and create a more efficient sales process” says Riley. “Essentially, a lot of data needs to be shared and operationalized across different parts of the organization. While there is still a lot to be done at a structural level to enable this type of work, I think there are opportunities to use natural language to improve data discovery accessibility, and to then intelligently surface customer opportunities and automatically trigger outbound engagement processes” she says.

The 2022 EVC List honors the top 50 rising starts in venture capital. Terra Nova’s Thesis Brief series showcases each investor’s insights and category expertise.

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