InsideView: CRM Connector Enhancements

The new Discovery Center provides company insights, firmographics, and contacts for 12 million global companies.
The new Discovery Center provides company insights, firmographics, and contacts for 12 million global companies.

Sales Intelligence vendor InsideView released a pair of enhanced connectors for and MS Dynamics 365.  The Microsoft connector is the next generation of their Dynamics partnership.  The Salesforce Target connector provides company and contact prospecting within the AppExchange.

Insights version 4.0 is being released as part of MS Dynamics 365.  Said InsideView, “Insights 4.0 is more deeply embedded in the sales workflow than ever, so sellers can quickly find data, insights, and connections wherever they are within their Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment and use that intelligence to close deals faster.”

InsideView lists the following new capabilities:

  • Global contact filtering to assist with contact discovery
  • A new Discovery Center for searching InsideView’s universe of global companies.  Discovery Center supports company searching against companies not yet added as accounts. Users can view firmographic data, key contacts, and company news. Users can add companies as accounts or to a Watchlist.
  • Custom field mapping
  • Social feed suppression to enable/disable social media integration and social media stream customization

“Microsoft is the only major CRM provider to embed external customer data, millions of key contacts, and timely, actionable insights within CRM at no additional cost. That’s leadership,” said Heidi Tucker, VP of Global Alliances at InsideView. “Buyers expect salespeople to be relevant, understand their business issues, and come prepared with meaningful solutions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 subscribers get that advantage included with their CRM Online license. All they have to do is turn it on. And now, it’s even easier with Insights 4.0.”

Contact Insights include news. co-workers, connections, buzz (twitter, Facebook, blogs), and conversation starters.
Contact Insights include news. co-workers, connections, buzz (twitter, Facebook, blogs), and conversation starters.

Insights is bundled into the following MS Dynamics products: Dynamics CRM Online Professional and Enterprise, Dynamics 365 Plan 1 and Plan 2, Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation.

InsideView also announced immediate availability of InsideView Target for Salesforce which provides company and contact prospecting from within SFDC.  Target provides dynamic list building using firmographic, biographic, and technographic variables.  Screening variables include eighteen high-precision trigger events, news keywords, the presence of emails or phones, and technologies employed (2,200 categories across 525,000 companies).  Trigger events (“InsideView Agents”) and news go out as far as thirty days and may be combined with keywords (e.g. Partnership triggers mentioning Apple).

Although the InsideView database contains global companies, screening variables are not internationalized beyond country and international region.  Revenue sizing is in US dollars and there are no international industry codes, indexes, or sub-regions.

InsideView Target Technology Screening
InsideView Target Technology Screening

Other features include deduplication, custom field mapping, saved searches, and one-click pushing of records to Eloqua and Marketo.

InsideView provides a screenable dataset of 12 million global companies and 30 million “director-and-above decision-makers.”  InsideView positions their smaller dataset as a valuable feature.  “No noise, no mom-and-pop companies, and none of the clutter from lower-level contacts and tiny businesses.”

Earlier this year, InsideView released a refreshed user interface for their sales product on the AppExchange along with the automated Refresh hygiene service.

InsideView Target is sold on a pre-purchased credit basis.  Both company and contact records are counted towards the contract allotment.  If a record has been previously purchased during the contract period, the marketer is not charged a second time.

InsideView has invested heavily in CRM and MAP connectors over the past five years.  They support a broad set of partner platforms with rich content and functionality.

Avention: Expanded Asian Presence and Coverage

Avention's Global Business Browser is now available in Chinese and Japanese editions.
Avention’s OneSource Global Business Browser is now available in Chinese and Japanese editions.

Sales Intelligence vendor Avention, which has long had a sales presence in Asia, continues to expand its presence in the region via direct sales teams and channel partners.  They also have significantly expanded their AsiaPac company and contact information sets.

Over the past year, Avention extended its coverage in India, China, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and added additional staff in their Singapore office.  Avention has AsiaPac offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Delhi, Sydney, and Melbourne along with affiliates in China, Japan, and Korea.

Along with Asian companies and contacts, Avention provides global family trees, industry market research, company news and sales triggers, and public company coverage of listed firms in AsiaPac and the rest of the world.


Avention designated Nikkei Media Marketing as their sole channel distributor in the Japanese market acting as the “exclusive and general agent” for all Avention products in Japan.  Avention recently launched a Japanese language version of their OneSource Global Business Browser service.  Over the past year, Avention has trebled their Japanese company coverage and quadrupled their Japanese contact coverage.

“This agreement is a terrific step for Avention OneSource Solutions as we focus our growth plans in Asia-Pacific,” said SVP of International Paul Charmatz.  “Combined with the launch of our Japanese product, Nikkei’s Media Marketing’s unrivalled network and reach will take our Japanese presence to the next level. OneSource now covers well over 50 million companies globally, giving our customers in Japan access to unrivalled business insights. As a result of this agreement, our customers will be able to make smarter, more informed, data-driven decisions.”


In India, Avention has taken a direct sales approach.  Avention first opened a Gurgaon, Delhi sales office in 2006.  It has since quadrupled its sales presence in India with offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai.  Avention has added five staff to its India operations including Nittin Maheshwari, who joined as Director of India & MEA in April.

“India is a big focus for us at Avention OneSource Solutions, as the country is pegged to become the driver of growth across global markets for decades to come,” said Paul Charmatz, SVP of International.  “We are fully committed to helping our customers here achieve their business goals as the country’s importance as an economic hub grows. Our Indian business continues to go from strength to strength as increasing numbers of companies reap the benefits of our increased data coverage and cutting edge product offering.”

Avention’s Indian coverage now spans the full universe of Indian registered companies.


Avention has chosen to fully enter the Chinese market with a Chinese language version of their sales intelligence and business research product.  They also increased coverage of China and the Asia-Pacific region.  Expanded Chinese and global coverage presented through a Chinese UI has resulted in the firm signing “a significant number of new customers each month.”

Coverage of Chinese companies, which was slightly above 300,000 firms for nearly a decade, has been increased nearly ten-fold to 2.7 million domestic companies with plans to grow coverage to over 3 ½ million profiles by the end of the year.  This coverage growth is part of an expansion of the Avention global company database from 25 million to 70 million companies this year.

Chinese customers can now “access the platform in their local language, making it far easier for them to identify international prospects and be armed with the insight to build relationships,” said Regional Director Lon Shing.  “Offering our platform in Chinese is just one sign of our commitment to the region and the businesses there – as well as testament to the massive growth opportunities we see, both for our customers and for Avention”

Note: I was the Product Manager for OneSource Global Business Browser: Asia in 2001-2002 when the service was first launched.

With AI, It is Garbage In, Garbage Out


A few weeks ago, Salesforce announced its new Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality called Einstein.  The new features promise to provide improved decision making based upon predictive scores and recommendations to sales, marketing, service, and other functions.  Likewise, Microsoft announced yesterday that they have formed a dedicated AI group working on infusing Microsoft products with intelligent capabilities.

However, as AI and Predictive Analytics become key technologies for companies, it is important to remember the old GIGO maxim:

Garbage In, Garbage Out

These tools simply won’t work well if your information is inaccurate, out of date, or incomplete.  Best case, bad data results in weak predictions that aren’t trusted.  Worst case, they provide a false confidence that wastes resources and misdirects corporate activities.

John Bruno, an analyst at Forrester, described this problem well in a recent blog:

The future analytics-driven sales processes is bright, but the path ahead is not without its challenges. Current and potential Salesforce customers should be mindful that intelligent recommendations require a large volume of quality data. If poor data goes in, poor recommendations will come out. Cleansing data and iterating the fine-tuning of recommendations will be vital to long-term success.  Another major hurdle is adoption. Many sellers still lack trust in “intelligent” recommendations. You will need to handhold these sellers until they form trust. This means starting with small recommendations and scaling from there.

The good news is that many of the sales intelligence companies are now offering data hygiene services for lead, contact, and account records.  The processing can be performed via CRM or MAP connectors or by uploading files to their cloud services.  The vendors match sales and marketing files against their reference datasets and then augment the files with firmographics, biographics, technographics, etc.  Matching can be done both in real-time to support both list uploads and web forms and via batch processing to support on going maintenance of corporate data.

While no company and contact database is 100% accurate, they are far more accurate than most marketing automation platforms and CRMs.  Furthermore, they have better field fill rates, standardized values (important for segmentation and analytics), and more rapid update cycles.

The predictive analytics companies are also beginning to provide enrichment services.



DemandBase: DemandGraph Company Ecosystem

Demandbase DemandGraph
Demandbase DemandGraph

ABM vendor DemandBase announced a new dataset it calls the DemandGraph which combines its WhoToo dataset of crawled business information with Spiderbook relationship data.  The expanded content set employs semantic mining and machine learning to assemble the “entire business network of a company” which helps  “identify which companies and buying committees are in-market for particular solutions.”  The DemandGraph helps users target in-market accounts, identify key buyers, uncover meaningful insights, and deliver personalized content.  While they have not announced specific predictive tools or capabilities, they are hinting at such tools.

This expanded information set of customers, partners, suppliers, competitors, and investments is built from:

  • Unstructured business knowledge such as SEC filings and annual reports
  • Demandbase’s proprietary identification technology that maps billions of network IP addresses to businesses worldwide
  • Complex corporate hierarchies extending beyond subsidiaries and remote offices to include vendor, customer and partner relationships
  • The digital footprint of web activity by businesses including ad impressions and web traffic from more than 3 billion B2B interactions every month

“DemandGraph isn’t exactly a product but rather a resource that Demandbase will use to power other products,” said analyst David Raab of Raab Associates.  “It lets Demandbase more easily build detailed profiles of people and companies, including history, interests, and relationships. It can then use the information to predict future purchases and guide marketing and sales messages. There’s also a liberal sprinkling of artificial intelligence throughout DemandGraph, used mostly in Spiderbook’s processing of unstructured Web data but also in some of the predictive functions. If I’m sounding vague here it’s because, frankly, so was Demandbase. But it’s still clear that DemandGraph represents a major improvement in the power and scope of data available to business marketers.”

The DemandGraph captures what I’ve long called the “company ecosystem” that goes beyond lists of competitors to include partners, advisors, investors, customers, etc.  An understanding of corporate relationships creates an opportunity to extend beyond traditional six degrees solutions when looking for introductions and relationships.  A few companies have attempted to gather this data, but none have figured out how to market this broader relationship intelligence outside of industry niches such as technology (e.g. DiscoverOrg, RainKing, HG Data), advertising (e.g. TheList/WinMo), and PE/VC datasets (e.g. CB Insights, Mattermark, DataFox, Crunchbase).

Likewise, when LinkedIn describes their Economic Graph, they are focused on people and their relationships to other people and organizations, not the relationships between organizations.

Demandbase claims that company relationships captured within their business graphs offer twenty times the predictive power of social network relationships.  Demandbase SVP of Technology Aman Naimat asserted that “DemandGraph has proven that it can be 7-8 times more accurate than an account executive trying to predict a potential customer, which provides better targeting and conversion.”

Chief Product Officer Alan Fletcher dubbed DemandGraph a “personal concierge” which supports personalization across all sales and marketing touchpoints. “That consistency in messaging throughout the whole sales funnel is what we’re trying to do, and you can only do that if you have the underlying data.  It’s what the best account managers already do today, but it obviously doesn’t scale. Large companies can only do it for their top 200 targets.”

Fletcher suggested that this relationship ecosystem is also predictive of investments, acquisitions, and potential partnerships but that the company is “focused on predicting the next customer.”  The DemandGraph provides insights into the culture of an organization.  “Do they do businesses with startups?  Do they only like to do business with established companies?  Do they typically sell t0 people that are only involved with McKinsey?” asked Fletcher.  “There are a bunch of signals that may not be directly related to you and your products.”

Quip: Rethinking Productivity Tools at SFDC

A few months ago, purchased team productivity tool Quip.  This month’s  Dreamforce show was SFDC’s first opportunity to broadly promote Quip and their vision of productivity tools.  Quip’s mission is to “change the way people work together,” according to Quip CEO Bret Taylor.  Unfortunately, “the way that all of our teams work has completely shifted over the past decade, but the tools we use at work just haven’t kept up.”

The “path forward” is away from email attachments, meetings, and continuous monitoring of email inboxes.  Taylor was the CTO at Facebook when it transformed from a browser platform to a mobile first platform.  As this transformation took place, he realized that Facebook users were enjoying cutting edge apps running on a mobile phone while the state of the art inside the company was working with 8 ½ x 11 virtual documents and attaching them to email.  When founding Quip, he threw out the “preconceived notions” around productivity software and asked “what would productivity software look like in a decade if you were to start from scratch” if you designed it around mobility and communication?

One of the problems with building such a tool was that productivity has been defined by Microsoft and its Office Suite and has been framed by this unitary vision for decades.  They concluded that the goal of productivity tools was to “enhance communications.”  Thus, typewriters let anyone set copy and photocopiers let anyone run a printing press.  Likewise, the Office Suite digitized communication tools that already existed (e.g. typed documents to Word, overhead slides to PowerPoint, calculators to Excel).  Email then made it easier to attach virtual documents and transmit them globally in milliseconds.

But with the smartphone, productivity has failed to keep up.  Users have shifted to thumb typing emails on their phone instead of using productivity tools.  “All of us have willingly given up thirty years of R&D in the word processor to thumb type emails for one simple reason: it’s more important that the recipient of what you’re writing can click reply than that you have footnotes or fonts.  Communication is the most important feature of productivity and that’s why communication is the foundation of Quip.”

The goal of Quip was to avoid email entirely, otherwise they would simply be creating another attachment file type.  “Quip combines communication and writing in a single integrated product experience so you can work and communicate with your team without going back to our email inbox.”

Quip allows multiple simultaneous editors on any device with a chat thread attached to each document,” said Taylor.  “In Quip, that forty-email chain in making a decision is a shared document with a state of the decision right there for everyone to see.  And all the conversation that went into that decision is attached to it.”

Quip is based on four key values:

  1. Quip is built for teams with every feature “designed to move teamwork forward faster.”
  2. Quip was designed mobile-first.  While not all documents will be created on phones, they all will work on phones.  “With Quip, you can truly run your company from your phone.”
  3. Quip is deeply integrated with the Salesforce productivity cloud.  A Lightning module allows Quip documents to be embedded within SFDC records so that “all of the spreadsheets, documents, and discussions about an opportunity are attached to the opportunity itself.”  Salesforce fields can be pulled directly into documents and spreadsheets with automatic updating.
  4. Quip is collaborative.

A customer survey found that Quip reduced daily meetings by 28%, cut time to project completion by 28%, lowered email communications by 32%, and raised team communication by 43%.  The net was a 38% increase in team productivity.

A Quip document with text, spreadsheet, chart, and checklist.
A Quip document with text, spreadsheet, chart, and checklist.

Quip does not offer multiple tools, but instead provides a single app for mixing and matching checklists, spreadsheets, text, and images within a single canvas.  An integrated checklist provides a meeting notes canvas with assigned tasks via @mentions.  By tracking actions within the meeting notes, follow-up meetings are reduced.

Spreadsheets are embedded within documents such that “documents don’t need to be a separate file attachment that can live right in the context of the project you are working on.  And the data in spreadsheets isn’t trapped within a spreadsheet.  You can reference the data from spreadsheets inside of your document,” said Taylor.  “And it means that you can have an executive summary that automatically updates when the finance folks update the spreadsheet.  It’s a really connected platform.”

Quip embedded spreadsheet data updates automatically.
Quip embedded spreadsheet data updates automatically.

And because each document includes an integrated conversation, teams can work entirely within the document without returning to their email.

Quip is priced at $30 per month for a team of 5 and $10 per month for each additional person.  The Enterprise edition is priced at $25 per user per month.

Quip customers include Facebook, Electronic Arts, Ultimate Software, Instagram, CNN, Snapchat, Airbnb, and Pinterest.

SalesLoft: Excellence in Product Release Announcements

sl-product-releaseAs part of the update to my Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors, I’m working my way through the product updates of nearly two dozen vendors.  In most cases, this information is only available to non-users as press releases and blogs.  But one of my profiled companies, SalesLoft, has a better way to communicate to its customers and prospects.  Their VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester records a ninety second video for each release which includes a mini-demo and user benefits discussion.

These videos are short and professional with optional closed captioning and a full transcript.  Furthermore, the videos are in plain English so that they can be easily understood by end users.  You won’t hear the typical tech speak.

And videos that start, “Hey, Guys, Sean here with SalesLoft” help to reinforce the brand and convey a sense of friendliness and ease of use.

Here is a sample transcript:

Hey Guys, Sean here with SalesLoft. We are excited to announce the new SalesLoft platform UI.

Today we’re introducing a new look. You’ll see an updated platform design for SalesLoft. Inspired by the desire to deliver consistency, the new UI represents a simpler interface, standardizing all the pages within the platform.

We made changes to how users interact with the interface:

The simpler design puts more focus on the information that matters without changing how you navigate throughout the platform…

The SalesLoft community has evolved over the past few years, becoming the application of record for the specialized inside sales organization.

The updated UI reflects your feedback, making it easier to quickly execute your tasks in addition to laying a foundation for faster innovation and increased value delivery to you, our users.

Thank you for enabling SalesLoft to continue to serve you. As always, we are excited to hear your feedback!

What’s more, it is clear that they understand that meeting the needs of their customers drives their success.


Avention: Oracle Marketing Cloud Connector

Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor Avention announced availability of an Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua) connector which infuses Eloqua with Avention account insights and predictive analytics.  The new connector supports three marketing use cases: web form enrichment, uploaded list matching via the OneSource platform, and prospect list building within OneSource.  Lists built and enriched within OneSource are then fed to Eloqua.

The service supports customized field mapping against 58 fields including revenue, assets, liabilities, and pre-tax profit across four currencies (USD, GBP, EUR, and As Reported); industry codes (US SIC, NAICS, UK SIC); corporate linkages; full address; and firmographics.

Avention continues to grow its Global Content Live Database with support for fifty million global companies and eighty million contacts.  Marketers can build lists from this database using a broad set of selection criteria including business signals, technographics, firmographics, corporate linkage, advanced financials, and contact variables.

Avention OneSource provides broad prospecting with direct export to Eloqua.
Avention OneSource provides broad prospecting with direct export to Eloqua.

“Our customers are finding that marketing and sales teams need to align their data more than ever to achieve account-based marketing success,” remarked Avention CEO Steve Pogorzelski. “The Oracle Marketing Cloud connector will offer our mutual customers the strength of the combined applications to help grow their businesses and achieve ROI from their ABM campaigns.”

Web form enrichment is a new capability from Avention.  Marketers can set up matches based upon company name and country, although additional fields are recommended to improve match accuracy.  Limiting the number of required fields and enriching the remaining fields from a standardized database is a best practice.  Short forms minimize the form abandonment rate, reduce the instance of bogus data entry, ensure that standardized fields are employed, and enrich records with fields not easily garnered from web forms (e.g. company linkage, revenue figures).

Avention is a Gold Level member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork and also offers a OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connector.

Note: I am a former OneSource employee and current blogger for Avention.