Oceanos for Salesforce (Beta)

Oceanos ListOptimizer supports quarterly batch updates to account, contact, and lead records.
Oceanos ListOptimizer supports quarterly batch updates to account, contact, and lead records.

Contact data management vendor Oceanos is working with Datarista to bring an SFDC-based contact service to the market.  The Oceanos ListOptimizer service, currently in in beta, will be generally available in Q1.  Sales Operations can run counts, perform company and contact searches, and ensure ongoing data integrity.

The service supports standard company and contact list building with running counts as variables are selected.  New execs may be added as lead records or accounts and contacts.  Duplicate checking is performed.

Batch Salesforce updates are performed quarterly.  In 2018, the updates will run every other month with contact changes updated weekly.

Oceanos offers best-in-class contact records from over a dozen vendors.  When records are deployed to customers, they are subject to real-time reverification against FreshAddress, FullContact, and Pipl.

Contact management services are purchased on a credit basis with custom pricing plans based upon volume and intended usage.

In other news, Oceanos recently inked a deal to deliver its ContactAPI to The Big Willow intent data platform. “Targeting prospects before the market even knows they exist provides our customers a first mover advantage,” said Big Willow CEO Charlie Tarzian.  “With the Oceanos ContactAPI, we provide our users targeted contacts for intent-qualified opportunities that accelerates engagement.  With 15 years in the space, they’ve earned a stellar reputation and we’re thrilled to take this next step in our partnership.”

Along with connectors and APIs, Oceanos offers free data health checks and a team of data consultants to assist with data hygiene and analytics initiatives.

GDPR Sales Tips

I came across some excellent tips from Johnty Mongan, Managing Director of The Mongan Group concerning the new European sales environment post-GDPR.  Selling in Europe will be trickier in May as reps need to obtain opt-in approval

Mongan provided the following advice:

GDPR is about protecting our interests from unlawful behaviour. GDPR removes the unwanted cold calls, email campaigns and any other processing that we haven’t agreed to. A transparent and fair existence for all. I really like it, it fits with my karmic views of the world.

It won’t how ever stop marketing activities through publicly available information, like a company email or a company number…

It’s time to go old school… here’s what you can do to reach new customers in a lawful and GDPR way:

  • Get consent from current customers to continue marketing to them. Do it in an engaging way. That’s a must.
  • Provide explicit consent of your intentions to all new prospects when luring them in with shiny content. For example, download this form so I can phone you. That’s a must.
  • Go to the events your customers go to, get over yourself and introduce yourself.  That’s a must.
  • Hold your own events.
  • Get more business cards…. they are not as useless as you may think.
  • Offer referral schemes to current customers. You should do that anyway.
  • Market your services within ethical channels. Where you customers go, you go

My list goes on, but it all centres around building clear authentic relationships. This is a good thing because most “sales” are won on the back of authenticity and trust. I see leading the charge with GDPR compliant sales processes a fantastic way to demonstrate your intentions.

So basically, what’s old is new again.  While marketing needs to be particularly attuned to GDPR, sales reps also need obtain permission.

Full Post

Salesforce COO Keith Block on 4½ Years of Transformation

In a recent interview with CNBC, Salesforce COO Keith Block discussed the transformation of Salesforce since he joined 4 ½ years ago.  Based on FY 2019 Guidance, revenue will have roughly trebled during his tenure as the firm transformed itself into a multi-cloud platform supporting companies of all sizes.

“We’ve moved very, very aggressively, both globally, in terms of our international expansion, as well as moving into the enterprise,” said Block.  “And if you look at our business mix, you can see that the enterprise business has been on fire.”

SFDC also adopted a verticalization strategy last year beginning in financial services and healthcare. The initial offerings focused on wealth management and a Health Cloud, but the firm recently announced a retail bank solution. “So, we have deep industry expertise, deep industry knowledge. Our customer-facing teams are focused by industry. We’ve released products specific to those two industries.”

Over the past 24 months, Salesforce has emphasized CEO-level discussions concerning digital transformation.  “We have a steady drumbeat of CEOs who are coming to us to talk about: What does digital transformation mean in my industry? What is your point of view? What is disruption? How can I leverage all these amazing technologies of cloud, mobile, social, data science, artificial intelligence in changing our business model? And it is a regular dialogue with the CEO.”

Block described his biggest challenge over the past few years as one of market awareness.  “Some companies thought we were just in sales force automation and clearly we’re not; we are a customer success platform.”

A Salesforce Investor Day slide (Nov 2017) demonstrates the growth in TAM and revenue due to new clouds including commerce, industries, communities, and collaboration. Over the past four years, the firm has also added new platform capabilities including Lightning, Einstein, IoT, Heroku, Analytics, and Trailhead.
A Salesforce Investor Day slide (Nov 2017) demonstrates the growth in TAM and revenue due to new clouds including commerce, industries, communities, and collaboration. Over the past four years, the firm has also added new platform capabilities including Lightning, Einstein, IoT, Heroku, Analytics, and Trailhead.

The firm also has undergone a cultural change “to think differently about the life cycle, the relationship, the strategic nature of going after those customers.”

Internationalization was also key to supporting global enterprises as enterprise companies need to provide global service.

Salesforce has also benefited from three annual releases instead of big bang offerings every few years.  Block noted that both technology and markets change too rapidly for such approaches.  “Increasingly, customers are embracing the notion of agile, very quick.”

The Fog of Corporate Battle

Churchill's WWII Map Room (Source: Creative Commons)
Churchill’s WWII Map Room (Source: Kaihsu Tai / Creative Commons)

Information is a key asset on the battlefield which provides a competitive advantage to the side with better information and communication systems.  While the “Fog of War” continues to be an issue, real-time information sharing helps improve military decision making and reduces the risk of both collateral damage and friendly fire accidents.  Nevertheless, information remains imperfect and mistakes continue to happen.

In the corporate world, there is also a fog of corporate battle, but much of it is self-induced.  We build systems that don’t talk to each other or which use different conventions for standardizing information and identifying customers and contacts.  Furthermore, information is not validated and enriched as it is obtained, resulting in weak information sets.

While this lack of data synchronization creates headaches across the company, I will be focusing on sales and marketing platforms for purposes of brevity.  Inaccurate and incomplete marketing information causes problems within marketing platforms such as weak segmentation, poor scoring, bad targeting, and misallocated marketing resources.  Bad and missing fields are then propagated to downstream systems.  If information is bad when received and there are no mechanisms for validating, standardizing, and enriching the information in its system of origin, misinformation flows to other platforms resulting in an increasingly expensive set of problems and remediation costs.  It is much easier and less expensive to resolve a problem at its source.

Furthermore, once leads are enriched with firmographic and biographical details, the intelligence is available to downstream platforms; and if the enrichment includes a company identifier (e.g. European Registration Number, Ticker, D-U-N-S Number), then maintaining data accuracy in downstream systems and linking the platforms is much easier.

The cost of islands of information is high for B2B firms.  A few examples:

  • Marketing departments generate a broad set of leads through multiple channels and systems.  Some of this information is anonymous and some is tied directly to contacts.  How confident are you that you aren’t generating duplicate (or triplicate or quadruplicate…) information?  Are you matching and enriching information as it is gathered from web forms, uploaded tradeshow spreadsheets, and purchased lists, or are you loading data “as is” with little verification or enhancement?  By focusing on data quality at the outset, you are ensuring that richer and more accurate information is shared across your platforms.
  • Marketing invests large sums in generating marketing qualified leads (MQL) which are then frequently ignored or cherry picked by sales.  Some of this disconnect is a lack of agreement on what constitutes a good lead but some is also a lack of front-end intelligence being applied by marketing.  A lead may be considered as marketing qualified but lack key information to pass muster with sales (e.g. how big is the company? What industry are they in? What is the job function and level of the contact? What technologies do they use? Will they be approved by credit after I’ve invested months in landing the deal?)  Knowing that a lead downloaded a whitepaper earlier in the day signifies interest in a topic, but not the ability or authority to make purchasing decisions.  Furthermore, it provides a thin reed upon which to base a sales conversation.
  • Channel conflicts are introduced when bad or missing information results in a lead being directed to the wrong sales rep.  Leads which lack accurate firmographics and linkage information are likely to be routed to the wrong team or rep.  Thus, a lead generated at a subsidiary or branch location of a major firm may be routed to a territory rep instead of a named account rep, resulting in both channel conflict and a greater likelihood that the lead will be ignored.  Of course, if the lead was poorly routed, it also is likely that the lead was improperly scored and assigned to the wrong segments for targeting and analytics.

Finally, the lack of standards and cross-platform communication make it difficult to obtain a unified view of the customer.  An October 2015 survey of global executives by Forbes Insights found that 63% believed that a more complete/unified view of the customer would result in more accurate predictions of customer needs and desires.  Other benefits included improved customer experience/service (60%), greater feedback for product/service innovation (55%), and a greater ability to target and optimize for specific customers (50%).

For decades, technology strategists have warned about the problems of creating data islands across one’s IT platforms.  If systems are unable to speak with each other or data lacks consistency across systems, then it is impossible to develop a holistic view of one’s business and customers.  And while the problem seems large today, it will only grow in scope with the advent of the Internet of Things.  So if you think the fog of corporate battle is difficult in 2017, failing to address it will only make the problem many-fold more difficult to tackle in the years to come.

Owler Pro Coming Soon

Owler is now promoting its first paid service, Owler Pro, which will be launching in a few months.  Owler Pro is priced at $9.99 / month but will be discounted to $4.99 / month for the first 1,000 users (lifetime guaranteed pricing).  The service is offering the following additional features:

  1. Go straight to article, bypassing the Event Page.
  2. Skip Owler recommended content such as competitors of your followed companies
  3. Follow groups of companies
  4. Customize the displayed instant insights (event triggers)
  5. Ad free

As I haven’t seen advertising on Owler, I’m assuming that the free version will become a sponsored platform.  Most of these features are fairly insignificant, but at $4.99 per month the pricing is reasonable to prevent advertising and avoid the Event Page click-through.

Subscriptions are available from the following landing page.

If you haven’t checked out Owler, the free service provides company profiles, M&A and Funding histories, competitor lists, event alerts, and user-based surveys.

Owler Pro Features

RampedUp Account Scoring

RampedUp Profiles now include account based scores (zero to five stars).
RampedUp Profiles now include account based scores (zero to five stars).

Sales Intelligence vendor RampedUp added account scoring to their platform. Other new features include saved searches for leads and trigger events, lead and trigger event downloading to CSV files, importing corporate URLs into searches, and the auto-population of decision makers and preferred technologies.

The new scoring doesn’t employ predictive analytics, but rates accounts on a zero to five basis, with a star awarded for each of five conditions:

  • One of top 5 industries based on the client roster
  • One of top 5 market segments based on client employee count
  • Installed Technology based on products important to the client’s sales process
  • Contacts present with preferred title based on selected buying committee
  • Recent trigger event article showing activity over the last 90 days

“Two things that have always set RampedUp apart from other sales intelligence platforms have been the tailored nature of the data we provide,” said CEO Scott Miller. “Our customers are exposed to contacts that are unique to their buying committee. We also share look-alike customer data based on a Salesforce.com sync that pulls customer data into our platform in near real-time. RampedUp also tracks triggering events and installed technology used by companies to help sellers understand their prospects better. All this information is used to create our unique scoring methodology.”

FullContact Enrich API

Sample of FullContact People Intelligence for Their CEO Bart Lorang.
Sample of FullContact People Intelligence for their CEO Bart Lorang.  API intelligence uses emails and domains for company and contact enrichment.  Multi-field queries are also supported.

Contact vendor FullContact is releasing their next generation platform and Enrich API.  Full Contact’s identity graph offers a 95% confidence rating.  The upgraded API supports advanced querying capabilities and improves security.

“Many organizations have incomplete, inaccurate records for their contacts that prevent them from making smart business decisions with actionable customer insights. Enabling businesses to create meaningful relationships with their customers means providing them with the most accurate data in a way that’s easy to integrate,” said CEO Bart Lorang. “Our Next Generation platform was created for users that rely on up-to-date customer intelligence to impact their business.”

Customer data enrichment begins at $1,000 per month.  API data packs begin at $99/month for 2,500 company and contact matches with additional contacts priced at $0.04 per matched record.  For $499/month, developers receive 50,000 company and contact matches per month with a $0.01 charge for additional matches.

Other API calls include email verification, business card image transcription, and consumer enrichment (e.g. demographics, social, employment history).

The Full Contact API supports Eloqua, Hubspot, Slack, Google, Sheets, and other platforms.