A November study by Demandbase and Wakefield Research of 500 B2B marketers (250+ employees) found that while marketers are confident that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will reshape marketing by 2020, they lack confidence in how to implement the new technology. According to Demandbase, “80 percent of all marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize marketing over the next 5 years, but only 26 percent are very confident they understand how AI is used in marketing and only 10 percent of marketers are currently using AI today.”
Marketers had numerous concerns about implementing AI, including
Integrating AI into their existing technology (60%)
Training employees (54%)
Difficulty interpreting the results (46%)
Implementation costs (42%)
On the benefits side, marketers listed
Better insights into accounts (60%)
More detailed analysis of campaigns (56%)
Identifying prospective customers (53%)
Expediting daily tasks (53%)
“As someone who has been studying AI for many years, I’ve recognized the promise of AI and B2B marketing for some time, which makes it really rewarding to see this vision is now shared by marketing executives,” said Aman Naimat, SVP of Technology at Demandbase. “This data reveals that in order to be successful, marketing leaders need to lead the charge and present opportunities for AI instruction and experience for their teams, to ensure implementing it into their B2B technology stacks is effective.”
In a November Harvard Business Review article titled “How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management,” (Vegard Kolbjørnsrud, Richard Amico, and Robert J. Thomas), the authors offered a set of best practices for managers. Noting that managers spend 54% of their time on administrative tasks such as scheduling, monitoring, and reporting, they suggest that managers transition administrative tasks to AI. Instead managers should focus more on judgment work which combines rules with “their knowledge of organizational history and culture, as well as empathy and ethical reflection.” Thus, there will be a greater emphasis upon “judgment-oriented skills” such as “creative thinking and experimentation, data analysis and interpretation, and strategy development.”
The authors also suggested viewing AI as a trusted colleague instead of a “race against the machine.” Thus, managers can merge judgment with AI-based decision support, simulations, and search and discovery activities. A full 78% of managers believe they will trust the advice of intelligent systems. Furthermore, because AI will be approachable through voice and other intuitive interfaces, AI will be their “always-available assistant and adviser.”
Another recommendation was harnessing the creativity and ideas of co-workers and team members. With time freed from administrative tasks, there is more time for synthesizing multiple ideas and formulating new products and processes. “Manager-designers bring together diverse ideas into integrated, workable, and appealing solutions. They embed design thinking into the practices of their teams and organizations.”
Finally, managers will need to hone their social skills with an emphasis on networking, coaching, and collaborating.
The authors concluded that “writing earnings reports is one thing, but developing messages that can engage a workforce and provide a sense of purpose is human through and through. Tracking schedules and resources may soon fall within the jurisdiction of machines, but drafting strategy remains unmistakably human. Simply put, our recommendation is to adopt AI in order to automate administration and to augment but not replace human judgment.”
LeadGnome, which extracts account based intelligence from reply emails, announced availability of a HubSpot connectors for the Marketing, Sales, and CRM platforms. “We consider this a strategic partnership with HubSpot, helping users increase productivity within their sales and marketing departments. The fact that LeadGnome integrates across all three HubSpot platforms changes the game, providing a new level of account intelligence from the moment an email campaign is executed. This integration delivers new opportunities and increases sales velocity by identifying trigger events, decision makers and influencers,” said LeadGnome CEO Matt Benati.
LeadGnome also provides sales alerts based upon important account changes uncovered by LeadGnome. For example, “new contacts can be emailed an introductory message and sales trigger events can be leveraged to ensure opportunities are captured and closed.”
LeadGnome calls its service “an untapped source of lead gold.” By mining reply emails, Lead Gnome is able to add new account-specific leads, schedule follow-up messages to target contacts based upon out of office information, mine additional company and contact details from signature blocks, derive corporate email address formats, and link out of office emails to specific marketing campaigns.
The service also helps redirect sales activity after a lead has left the organization:
A bounced email happens when somebody leaves the company and what’s really popular right now are “left the company” reply emails; hey, Matt’s no longer with the company but don’t worry, Sally is here to help out. And so what you know is that there has been a significant event within that organization. Matt who you have engaged with or maybe Matt is even your customer has left, you find that out immediately and now you have an opportunity to go find out where Matt went and start talking to him again because as salespeople we all know if you’ve got a great relationship with Matt in his current location, he’s probably going to a parallel or better job that has buying power again so you better go and knock on his door.
And we also give you Sally who has taken over for Matt. Sally is now your go to person at that existing account you have. And then we fill in the size of who did Sally… Jobs get replaced and where did the person that Matt replaced go to? So that adds up to four. And we no longer have to wait for a hard bounce right? We are giving you all the time and advantage you absolutely will beat the competition if you have that information.
Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing doesn’t see LeadGnome as a “silver bullet” but as an incremental process improvement based upon captured intelligence. “In sales and marketing part of the game is adjustments, it’s finding those incremental opportunities to get better, it’s finding marginal improvement at various phases of the sales process that when stitched together creates a fairly compelling competitive advantage. And those little increases in productivity, those little increases in response rate and conversion rate across an entire marketing effort, across an entire sales organization can lead to massive change and massive impact on result,” said Heinz. “we are looking for thunderbolts when we really need to be listening for whispers. We are looking for these big definitive answers on how precisely to sell to everybody and I am not seeing that. I continue to believe that there is no silver bullet like that and yet I feel like our customers are whispering to us all the time and they are giving us these subtle clues that are not always directed to us but they are definitely… It’s an opportunity that they were passing by on too significant a basis.”
LeadGnome pricing is based upon the number of reply emails received each month. The service begins at $19 and is subject to volume discounts. A twenty percent discount applies to firms on annual billing plans. The firm also offers a thirty-day free trial.
Technology Sales Intelligence vendor RainKing began the new year by rolling out a set of enhancements to their native Salesforce.com connector. RainKing focused on incorporating their Inside Scoops (Technology Sales Triggers) into the AppExchange service. New functionality includes searching for recent Scoops within SFDC and building a list of contacts at a company. RainKing also incorporated saved searches and Groups into RainKing for Salesforce.
“The more you can work in one platform while leveraging your other sales tools, the more you can focus on your number one priority: selling,” said RainKing Director of Product Management Mark Sapiano. “RainKing’s daily Inside Scoops are invaluable to anyone who wants to beat their competition to the negotiating table.”
When the user finds an actionable Scoop, she clicks on the “Find the Best Contacts” button and receives a list of account contacts ordered by relevance to the Scoop. RainKing’s ranking function is able to determine the most likely contacts to be working on a project based upon responsibilities and the nature of the Scoop. Sales reps can also apply filters to the contacts (e.g. match strength, management level, job title, keyword) in order to hone the list and select contacts for upload as Salesforce Leads or Contacts. The system also generates an SFDC task and populates it with the Scoop information for reference.
Furthermore, RainKing added an Inside Scoops custom object which displays imported Scoops and associated Leads or Contacts.
Inside Scoops (projects and opportunities) are gathered via direct interviews and updated during subsequent calls. Thus, if a project has selected some of the vendors or hit roadblocks, the additional intelligence is gathered and the Scoop is labeled as updated. Over 1,500 Inside Scoops are gathered per day, tagged to over 70 Scoop Topics and nine Scoop Types. Scoop Topics include Contracts, Technology Updates, Marketing, Pain Point, Project, Spending Trend, Management Changes, and Staffing.
RainKing also ported over their Saved Searches and Group functionality so that users do not need to rekey search filters and parameters. These shared parameters are displayed in the RainKing Search Home Page within Salesforce. According to Sapiano, “You can even run saved searches and groups straight from Salesforce and import the results directly into Salesforce – all without having to login to RainKing first.”
Finally, RainKing streamlined the record import process “making it more intuitive and flexible.” Workflow improvements include custom tags and an additional duplicate detection step.
One of the services I provide to vendors is a weekly newsletter called Market Insights which covers the Sales Intelligence, Data as a Service (DaaS), Data Hygiene, and Predictive Analytics markets. I’ve been writing it since mid-2012 so have built up a significant archive on these topics.
Year one, I had four clients, all located in the United States. Three were in the Sales Intelligence space and one was in Data Hygiene so my focus was on those segments plus DaaS, a key delivery channel. But predictive analytics was beginning to compete with the SI firms so I folded it into my coverage in 2013.
By 2015, Account Based Marketing and Account Based Sales Development were hot topics so they joined my topic list. I was also covering many more sales intelligence companies outside of the United States. On the DaaS side, Marketing Automation Platform and Chrome Connectors have become much more prominent in my coverage.
And interest in my little newsletter has grown to over twenty paid clients including firms in the UK, France, Israel, and India. This list now includes content vendors that market their databases to the sales intelligence, hygiene, and predictive analytics vendors.
What I’m most proud of is that eight of the top nine sales intelligence vendors in North America are now newsletter clients along with three of the top four UK vendors.
Functionality: How are the sales and marketing functions able to leverage the content within these offerings?
User Interface: What have the firms done to improve the presentation and workflow of their products?
Connectors: Which integrations were updated? Which ones were launched? These spanned CRMs, MAPs, Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) platforms, APIs, and Google Chrome.
So far, this framework has only looked at existing products and services. This blog addresses the final question: What new Sales Intelligence products and services were launched in 2016?
Sales Focused Products
Artesian launched the US edition of their sales intelligence offering in 2016. The firm also opened an office in Boston.
DiscoverOrg launched the TiLT certification program for sales development reps and marketers. The program is available at no charge to current clients and provides “microburst” learning with videos, curated content, and challenge tasks.
In early 2016 they announced their Technology, Engineering, Development, and Design (TEDD) offering which focuses on product management and engineering. In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg rolled out datasets for Sales (50,000 new contacts), Fortune 1000 CxOs (30,000 new contacts), and HR (80,000 new contacts) bringing the overall database coverage to one million executives at the end of Q3.
InsideView launched Tech Profiler in 2016. This add-on dataset provides technology profiles within InsideView Sales and can be used as a filter when building lists with Target. The technology information is also available via API and InsideView’s Professional Services. The API offers two new calls: retrieve technology implemented at a company and retrieve companies that have deployed specific technologies.
The dataset provides information about technologies used by InsideView’s top 525,000 global companies. It covers more than 2,600 front-end and back-end technologies in more than 100 categories. InsideView did not disclose whether they collected the technology file themselves or licensed it from another vendor.
Salesgenie Team provides a set of team tools to Salesgenie. New features include lead assignment rules, add messages to leads, customer cloning, and tracking and reporting tools. A new My Leads list displays assigned leads while a Sales Pipeline report provides team member analytics.
Infofree introduced a lower priced version of its service called SalesFlower which removes several features including background checks, business credit reports, CustomerCloner, and the CRM101 SFA platform.
Owler introduced an enterprise API service for calling corporate firmographics, competitors, and news.
Marketing Focused Products
Hoover’s added a trio of Concierge Services to its Hoover’s product line which target SMBs with revenue up to $250 million. Hoover’s is providing three related services:
Targeted List Building – Identifies prospects similar to a client’s best customers.
Effective Email Marketing – Delivers email services including messaging, design, email coding, blasting, and testing. Dun & Bradstreet also supports email verification, analytics, and unsubscribe / bounce management. Landing site hosting is provided via an undisclosed partner.
Optimized Customer Data – Supports data cleansing, standardization, and data enrichment for customer company and contact files.
Avention’sOneSource DataVision is a hosted platform which consolidates and cleanses multiple customer data sources, integrating internal and external customer intelligence. By matching Avention company and contact data against customer and prospect files, Avention improves the accuracy and firmographic fill rates of marketing databases. The result is a unified view of customer data for accurate customer segmentation and targeting based upon enriched data from Avention’s Global Content Live database.
OneSource DataVision also provides analytics and visualization tools for marketers. “As a result, you will be able to identify and leverage key customer and prospect segments to make more informed decisions, identify cross-sell opportunities, key industries, verticals and much more,” states Avention.
OneSource DataVision includes a gap analysis tool which assesses the total addressable market in order to identify underserved markets and growth potential. After enriching and segmenting the data, OneSource DataVision users can prospect for similar companies.
OneSource DataVision, along with the flagship OneSource platform, form the OneSource ABM Solution, also launched in 2016. This solution ensures sales and marketing teams are aligned around the right accounts to target, then provides the deep insights needed to create account plans, and targeted sales messages and content.
Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification). Other tools include a Salesforce.com connector, web form enrichment (FormComplete), and a new Google Chrome Extension called ReachOut which provides quick access to contact information from Zoominfo and LinkedIn contact profiles.
InsideView Refresh was launched as a new product in 2016. Refresh provides automated account cleansing within CRM. It’s currently available for Salesforce CRM.
InsideView also launched an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. It’s a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg launched an Enhanced ABM Toolkit which builds an ideal customer profile and then identifies similar companies. Users upload a file of their best customers which is matched against the DiscoverOrg database. The system then performs firmographic and technographic segmentation analysis and then suggests similar companies.
In 2016, the focus of the established sales intelligence companies was on extending their services into the marketing department and aligning their positioning around Account Based Marketing. On the sales side, their were fewer new products or major functional enhancements. Instead, they focused on expanded content and workflow improvements. This strategy was best exemplified by Avention and InsideView. Both firms doubled their company and contact universes, improved their user interfaces, and launched additional marketing products and connectors. However, they added little new functionality to their sales products.
Five years ago, the sales intelligence services were firmly planted in the sales department with some also providing services for analysts. Now, however, the marketing department is receiving equal or greater capital investment as firms look to support “sales and marketing alignment” with CRM and MAP connectors which leverage a common reference data set.
In 2017 I anticipate additional product announcements with ABM positioning across the revenue lifecycle. The Sales Intelligence companies realize that if they establish themselves in the marketing department with a broad set of services, then their position within the sales department will be less subject to churn.
I am proud to announce that I released the second edition of my book, 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors yesterday. It has been a long process of updating and expanding the original eleven profiles, adding three new profiles for the UK (Bureau van Dijk, Artesian Solutions, and DueDil), and adding four profiles for Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors with ecosystems (KiteDesk, Outreach, Quota Factory, SalesLoft).
I have written blog articles on almost all of the seventeen profiled vendors in the past year. So if you’ve found my blog useful, the book will be invaluable for procurement decisions or staying abreast of the key vendors in the SI space.
As sales teams and procurement departments may have gone through vendor demos or trials back in 2015 or early 2016, I have added sections which detail product changes over the past year. These include new product launches, vendor changes, enhancements, and pricing changes.
I have also added or expanded discussions on Account Based Marketing (ABM), Account Based Sales Development (ABSD), Marketing Automation connectors, and the UK market.
You will even find a new Glossary.
Feel free to contact me at 978-692-0170 or MLevy@GZConsulting.org. I am offering a 20% licensing discount during the month of January.
Continuing on my discussion of Sales Intelligence enhancements in 2016, my next area of coverage is connectors which extend functionality into CRMs, MAPs, Google Chrome, etc.
Almost all Sales Intelligence vendors offer Salesforce.com connectivity as a baseline offering. Some have limited functionality while others provide a fully integrated offering encompassing virtually all of their website features along with update features (e.g. Batch, continuous, “stare and compare”).
The following vendors launched or enhanced their CRM connectors:
Zoominfo released a new version of Zoominfo for Salesforce in February 2016. Features include on-demand updating, new contact matching, segmentation analysis, and new targeted contacts. Zoominfo stresses that all enrichment, analysis, and targeting are done via “one easy-to-use interface” without the need to export files to Excel. Zoominfo for Salesforce also added integrated prospecting. Data may be shared bi-directionally between the services so users can check for duplicates before uploading prospects to SFDC. Zoominfo also added custom mappings for all fields into its Salesforce connector and improved the company and contact lookup workflows.
Avention released OneSource for MS Dynamics and OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connectors which integrate Avention functionality into the Microsoft and Oracle CRMs. Features include I-frame display, “stare and compare” updates, custom variables, prospecting, and the Avention Journal. Avention also rolled a series of enhancements into its CRM connectors. These include:
The automatic population of matched records, bypassing the “stare and compare” step for new accounts
Avention Journal filtering
Avention Journal list views (the default view is calendared)
Modify the Avention Journal viewing period
Contact filtering by job function, level, title, keyword, etc.
DataVision tab (if licensed)
Salesforce Lightning support providing improved tablet usability and dynamic resizing.
Batch duplicate management on bulk uploads (ignore, create, update)
Data.com added a Prospect Insights view which can be accessed from Opportunity and Account Detail pages. A “See More Insights” button takes the user to additional business and financial details from Dun & Bradstreet. Company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews including call prep questions and industry summaries. Data.com also upgraded the Dun & Bradstreet company family view to the Lightning platform.
DiscoverOrg released CRM connectors for Talent Rover, Zoho, and Bullhorn. They also enhanced their Salesforce connector.
To improve the Salesforce experience, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator. Synchronization can be managed at the administrator level. While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator. No LinkedIn member account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records. However, the system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC. For example, sales reps may add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts with this information then synched with Salesforce.
One of the major trends in 2016 was the continued expansion of sales intelligence vendors into the marketing department. Most commonly, this involved Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) connectors with Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud), though some vendors support other MAPs as well.
InsideView released an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. The ABM solution is a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
RainKing released connectors for Pardot and NetSuite
Avention released connectors for Oracle Marketing (Eloqua) and Marketo which support data enrichment, account insights, and predictive analytics. The new MAP connectors support 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 or Marketo.
Several vendors built Chrome connectors in late 2015 or early 2016. Chrome connectors build additional feature functionality into the Chrome browser, usually centering around the contextual display of company and contact information related to corporate websites and LinkedIn profiles. Firms with Chrome Connectors include DataFox, Mattermark, Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, and HG Data.
To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail. The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar. If a contact is not in Sales Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox. Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging. TeamLink colleague connections are also displayed.
Finally, several Sales Intelligence vendors began supporting Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors (there are also non-SI vendors participating in ABSD ecosystems providing coaching, transcription, analytics, and other services):