Tech between the lines: SubStrata offers a non-verbal approach to business negotiations

Ori Manor

Roughly 80% of all Sales Qualified Leads in B2B fail to close.”

Ori Manor Zuckerman

What if you could close more deals by being more aware of how you are perceived by your prospects?

Ori Manor Zuckerman is the Co-Founder and CEO of SubStrata, a real-time interaction analysis technology for dealmakers and negotiators. Developed by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and expert researchers, SubStrata’s solution understands the meaning behind non-verbal communication cues and guides your responses during negotiations. By helping you to understand how you’re being perceived and respond with confidence, Substrata enables you to close more deals. Start-Up Nation Central Information Specialist Maor Perlov sat down with Zuckerman for an interview about his company and its place in the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

MAOR: What problem did you see in the world that inspired you to create your company?

ORI: Spending over a decade in the sales technology space I noticed that the biggest single challenge salespeople face isn’t about specific technicalities like knowing your product inside-out, recognizing your customers’ needs, removing friction from the process, or even giving impressive demos to clients. The biggest single challenge salespeople have is getting the other side to respect them as an authority in their space. This requires tuning in to subtle social cues that most salespeople miss by being too focused on “pitching” and promoting their agenda.

My previous startup company Unomy was a sales intelligence business, similar to Zoominfo, D&B, or Lusha. It was acquired by WeWork in 2017 and I found myself working for a big company, closing large partnership deals for over two years. Then, I felt the famous old “tingle” and decided to start something new again. Serving hundreds of B2B sales crews as clients at Unomy, I knew first hand that this area is still very much unsolved: there’s plenty of sales tools around that help manage the data of the sales process such as CRMs, sales enablement, pipeline, and analytics tools – but there’s hardly any tools out there that actually help you sell.

The “sales problem” isn’t new. Roughly 80% of all SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) in B2B fail to close and the same goes for 54% of all committed forecasted opportunities (predetermined to close at 90%). If that’s not horrible enough, B2B sales departments suffer from an unbelievable employee turnover rate – three times larger than any other department on average. There’s little doubt that sales hasn’t been figured out yet.

MAOR: How did you come up with the idea for your solution?

ORI: I wanted to find a way to help salespeople and dealmakers become more aware and attuned to how they’re being perceived by their prospects. I also wanted to give them the guidance to push deals forward with confidence, knowing that this allows them to hone their soft skills and optimize how they handle complex deal-related situations that are filled with implicit conflicts, ego-wars, and power moves. The idea came from a combination of intuition and research. Plenty of research. My team and I went beyond “sales.” We entered the realms of communication, language pragmatics, and social and behavioral psychology. We talked with dozens of professors – six ended up joining us as academic advisors. At a certain point, we just connected the dots: it’s all about pragmatics in social and interpersonal situations, including sales. Pragmatic meaning is conveyed through implicit cues, mostly non-verbal ones like tonality, body language, and more. 

MAOR: What were some of the obstacles along the way?

ORI: The biggest domain-related challenge relates to the multidisciplinary nature of what we do: finding the right people to start working on this was super tough, but we made it. We now have a lot of experts in social signal processing, non-verbal communication, prosodic analysis, email analytics, and deep reinforcement.

ORI: We’re not young founders, so our ambition isn’t an exit. We want to build a big business that can acquire other companies, and establish itself as a new category leader. For me, this company embodies who I am, my interests, ambitions, and my future, all in one. 

MAOR: Any advice for the other entrepreneurs out there reading this?

ORI: Well, it’s a tough and messy business. I don’t like to give my two cents without context, but if I really have to, I’d say – if you truly believe in what you’re doing, never ever give up, even when it’s really tough. Clean up your “mental backlog”. Every day is a platform for new opportunities and big breakthroughs. Good things can happen even when things look dark and gloomy. Fight the stress and stay at your best. 

MAOR: We always end with a fun question aimed at international visitors to Israel. Do you have any recommendations for a fun activity?

ORI: Jerusalem is fascinating. Take a temple-mount tour. Visit the 3,000-year-old City of David. I’m a big Jewish history and archeology fan. 

Click here to learn more about SubStrata on Start-Up Nation Finder, your innovation business platform. Finder enables you to gain insights about industries and connect to companies, investors, and multinational corporations, functioning as an engagement space for identifying and growing business opportunities.


  • CHALLENGE: Losing deals.
  • PRODUCT: Real-time communication analysis and advice for dealmakers
  • BENEFITS: Closing more deals through better understanding and communication with prospects.
  • MAIN FEATURES: Analyzing subtext and nonverbal cues in real time, real-time insights to help push any deals forward, Integration to popular sales tech stacks
  • TECHNOLOGY: ML/DL, Social-Signal-Processing, Textless NL
  • USE CASES: B2B Sales, Investment Banking, VC/PE, Business Development, M&A
  • SEEKING: Partners, global expansion, talent

Maor Perlov is an Information Specialist at Start-Up Nation Central.

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