Ringlead B2B DaaS

Ringlead was a pioneer in the B2B DaaS space and continues to support batch and on-demand company and contact intelligence.  They began building matching algorithms for duplicate cleansing and prevention in 2004 and joined Salesforce’s AppExchange as an early partner.  RingLead’s algorithms are used to connect third-party databases for data appends.  The firm now provides a broad set of B2B DaaS hygiene and enrichment services including data cleansing, standardization, normalization, de-duping, segmentation, routing, and appending services.  Users can upload lists to their cloud service or perform ongoing updates to enterprise software platforms.

Prior to enriching records, RingLead performs a set of validation and standardization steps which both enhance the data and improve match rates.  Names and addresses are standardized, emails are validated, and customer-specific mapping logic such as revenue bands and industry sectors are applied.

Sales Ops and Marketing also have control over duplicate matching logic and data consolidation rules.  Field-level rules help determine which fields are retained when records are merged or whether fields should be concatenated.  When records are enriched, admins can set fields to always be overlaid or enriched only when null.  Over 100 company and contact fields are supported.

RingLead provides enterprise software connectors for Salesforce, Eloqua, and Marketo.  Several others are in development.  For marketing automation platforms, they provide JavaScript which is dropped into lead forms and which provides company suggest logic for immediate matching.  Records are validated upon submission and immediately enriched.  Duplicate checking is also performed.

In Salesforce, duplicate logic is employed during record creation and as a batch process.  RingLead supports Account, Contact, Lead, and Custom record data enrichment and I-frame display.

When routing leads, sales operations can distribute by name, industry, geographic territory, size, or other field-based logic.  Leads are assigned to current account owners.  If a lead is new and does not match any pre-defined assignment rules, round-robin assignment is employed.

Ringlead Capture
Ringlead Capture

RingLead offers both its own master database of companies and contacts and API access to data from other B2B and B2C vendors with admin-defined waterfall rules.  Cascade selection provides a broader set of fields as well as secondary and tertiary vendors which can be called if the primary is unable to enrich a record.  Third-party records are standardized so that data is normalized and displayed consistently across all record sources.  Custom segmentation rules are also employed and duplicate prevention logic is applied across all of the vendors.  Marketing can even prospect against multiple vendors in RingLead with records de-duped and standardized.

RingLead is shifting its focus from being a data vendor to facilitating a data ecosystem.  “There is no company that should use a single data provider,” said RingLead Chief Product Officer John Kosturos.  “We are giving customers the ability to get the best data all the time.”

Data partners include

  • Company – Owler, DatabaseUSA, LexisNexis, NetWise, KickFire, and Dun & Bradstreet resellers
  • Contact – Google, Bing, FullContact, NetWise, PIPL, StatSocial, Informatica, Oceanos (TechTarget), and Clearbit
  • Technographics – HG Insights and Clearbit

A customer may have a license with a data vendor, but choose to pull the data through RingLead enrichment or prospecting.  Customers pay the data vendor for the data license and are charged only for API calls by RingLead.  Cleanse and Enrich have volume-based pricing based on the number of supported records.

Pricing begins at $2,000 per month, “far less than it would cost to hire a person to try to manage these processes manually,” said Kosturos.

While the core functionality is designed for marketing and sales operations, the DMS Capture Chrome extension (see image on right) allows sales reps to conduct real-time company and contact research from LinkedIn, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Google, or company pages.  Capture sends records to over twenty platforms including CRM and Sales Engagement vendors.  Standardized records can be sent to Salesforce as Accounts, Contacts, or Leads.  Duplicate records are flagged.  Over 75 standardized fields are available including emails, direct dials, LinkedIn hyperlinks, Twitter handles, firmographics, and technographics.  When performed against Google search results, LinkedIn lists, or Executive Pages, a list of matched contact profiles is displayed and may be uploaded selectively or in bulk.

Customers include CA Technologies, HP, Uber, Capital One, BNY Mellon, and the New York Stock Exchange.

ABM Research Vendors

When conducting account based (ABM) research, it is necessary to develop a broad view of your customers and prospects which includes company, contact, and industry research.   Unfortunately, open web research is quite time-consuming and your sales reps are unlikely to consistently engage in general research, so consider Sales Intelligence vendors with editorial research teams. 

Executive research should go beyond the Leadership page and LinkedIn profiles.  One option is Boardroom Insiders which gathers rich executive profiles on CxOs written by business journalists.

For industry research, look at Vertical IQ, IBISWorld, or First Research.  Vertical IQ and First Research are strong offerings for sales teams that sell broadly across many segments but are not verticalized.  They are written in plain English and include Q&A sections. The content in IBISWorld is more formal but better suited for verticalized teams.

At the company level, consider Dun & Bradstreet Hoovers, InsideView, or DiscoverOrg.  All three provide company and contact profiles, list building, and sales triggers.  D&B Hoovers goes deeper on global coverage, family trees, and industry profiles, DiscoverOrg offers the deepest set of technographics and rich bios, and InsideView provides excellent sales triggers and social media intelligence.

Phil Garlick Joins Brainshark

Phil Garlick joined sales enablement vendor Brainshark as their VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships.  Garlick held a similar role at Zoominfo prior to its February acquisition by DiscoverOrg.  Before Zoominfo, Garlick was a founder of OneSource Information Services, a pioneer in the sales intelligence space.  He guided the sales and marketing functions before ascending to President.  He is joining Brainshark at a point when partnerships and integrated workflows are critical for sales and marketing teams.

“Phil’s deep experience in the sales intelligence and sales enablement markets, and his track record of success driving business growth, make him a valuable asset to our leadership team,” said Brainshark CEO Greg Flynn. “As Brainshark continues to expand its network of strategic partnerships, we’re confident that Phil’s expertise and customer-centric approach will help us continue to forge strong alliances that deliver great value to clients and improve their sales outcomes.”

Brainshark supports content authoring & management, sales training, video coaching & practice, dashboards & analytics, and creative services.

Over the past half-decade, there has been a steady flow of former OneSource sales reps and management to Brainshark.  Brainshark’s Chief Sales Officer, Colleen Honan, held a similar role at OneSource alongside Garlick.

“I’ve long admired Brainshark’s commitment to helping companies improve the readiness and results of their sales teams. This is a persistent challenge for organizations across industries and an area I’m passionate about. As Brainshark continues to innovate and enable sales teams to maximize their productivity, it’s an exciting time to join the company.”

Phil Garlick, Brainshark VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships

Note: Garlick was the President of OneSource Information Services while I was a Product Marketing Manager.

VanillaSoft Closes $4M Funding Round

US sales engagement vendor VanillaSoft received a pair of investments from Quebecois agencies totaling $4 million.  A $1 million loan from Canada Economic Development (CED) for Quebec Regions was announced last month followed by a $3 million equity investment from the Fonds Régional de Solidarité Outaouais (FRSO).  The round supports their operations in Gatineau and will fund thirty new positions focused on artificial intelligence functionality.  Hiring will be expanded in the R&D and sales functions.  The loan will also be directed towards marketing campaigns in Europe and Oceania.

“Digital technology is changing the way things are done around the world and providing companies with outstanding development opportunities,” said Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylme.  “Not only is VanillaSoft helping the Outaouais region build a reputation as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence, but its expertise and the innovative technology it continues to export will allow it to create 30 jobs.”

“The financial support and incentives provided by the Government of Canada allow companies like VanillaSoft to thrive,” said Hood.  “We have the opportunity to develop new markets and services and appreciate the continued support from CED for our local employees as we promote sales and business here in Quebec and beyond.”

VanillaSoft was founded in New Orleans in 2003 but shifted its operations to its Canadian subsidiary following Hurricane Katrina. CEO David Hood recognized the early help from CED and FRSO to help stabilize the firm:

“Katrina hit and wiped out the office in the U.S., and it’s the office here that grew. This would have been a company that was completely in the U.S. Instead, the majority of the employees are up here, the revenues are up here, and it’s Canada that quite honestly is really benefiting from it.”

CEO David Hood

VanillaSoft is the third major sales engagement firm to receive a funding round in the past month. Outreach and SalesLoft both received significant rounds in April.

Key features include sales cadences, email templates, VOIP dialing, call scripting, call recording, SMS marketing, SMS chat, analytics, lead scoring, and appointment setting.

Recent enhancements include geographic functionality and Vidyard GoVideo integration. New Geographical Information System (GIS) capabilities include proximity routing, directional routing, geolocation filters, and automated time zone features.  The new GIS functionality helps field sales reps maximize their client and prospect routing.

VanillaSoft noted that, “with many sales reps clocking far in excess of 25,000 miles per year, the ability to group accounts by area and conduct efficient outreach is critical.”

Directional routing provides reps with optimized maps for visiting leads.  The feature is assisted by proximity routing which identifies leads by radius around a ZIP code or a point.  For example, a sales rep can identify leads within a fixed distance of a prospect.

Geolocation filters employ geocodes for customer mapping, helping sales operations group leads by city, neighborhood, and street for lead assignment.  VanillaSoft also looks at the rep’s calendar to call out nearby appointments which may warrant rescheduling to optimize field sales rep planning.

“You can work either with latitude and longitude, or with ZIP code. This gives companies a functionality that I’m not aware is available on any other sales engagement platform. For appointment setting, for companies that have salespeople out on the road, and also for understanding where your customers and prospects are and to be able to target them geographically, this is an incredibly powerful functionality,” said Hood.

The firm also announced that Vidyard’s GoVideo personal video messaging service will be integrated into VanillaSoft.

“Making a human connection between salespeople and their prospects is critical for sales success,” said Vidyard CEO Michael Litt. “We know video is a powerful tool for sales engagement and leaders in the space like VanillaSoft see the potential of this technology for their users.”

Preferred B2B Communication Channels

While Sales Engagement vendors continue to expand their supported channels, email and phone remain the preferred B2B channels.  Preliminary results from a VanillaSoft survey of 2,000 executives indicated that email is the preferred communication channel.  SMS and Social Media were not listed as preferred channels with social media peaking at 24% during the need stage and falling to 15% during the evaluation stage

“We often read and hear about the rise and role of social selling at various points in the sales engagement process,” said VanillaSoft CEO David Hood, “However, as these initial findings show, more traditional channels – from email to phone to simple word-of-mouth – are actually preferred by B2B buyers.”


VanillaSoft Survey of 2,000 Executives.

Phone contact grows in importance from 39% in the Need stage to 54% in the Evaluation phase.

Social Media remains low, but it is a broad category and likely perceived as more of a consumer channel.  Even young professionals (25 to 34) had little interest in social as a sales contact channel with only 18% looking favorably upon social as a desirable sales communications channel.  41% of young professionals favored the telephone.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has had significant success as a third channel with messaging, InMail, and PointDrive.  Had LinkedIn been broken out as a distinct category, it likely would have scored higher.  SNAP connectors are now available from Outreach, SalesLoft, InsideSales, and Yesware.  VanillaSoft is in the middle of its certification process.  SalesLoft has indicated that Sales Navigator is their top ecosystem partner.

Also omitted were video meetings (e.g. WebEx, JoinMe, BlueJeans, Zoom) which are commonly used within organizations and work quite well for establishing trust with prospects, demoing a product, and walking through documents.

“Understanding these types of reality-based findings will allow smart sales professionals to align their activities to their customers’ wants and desires,” said Hood.

Quora: How can you export Linkedin leads/contacts into a database?

LinkedIn does not permit lead/contact downloading. This is part of the privacy agreement they have with their members.

That being said, there are some workarounds. The first is to license Salesforce Navigator which maintains a set of Accounts (companies) and Leads (contacts) within the product. While not downloadable, you receive alerts on those contacts along with messaging tools (InMail, messaging, and PointDrive).

You can also download accounts and contacts (called Leads within Sales Navigator) from Salesforce or MS Dynamics to LinkedIn Sales Navigator. While company and contact data is view only within CRMs, any data entered into LinkedIn (e.g. Notes, InMails) is uploaded to your CRM.

Sales Navigator includes a set of SNAP connectors for CRM, Sales Engagement, and other platforms. This tool provides a subset of Sales Navigator and Functionality within enterprise software. Features include profile viewing, InMail, connections, and icebreakers (talking points).

LinkedIn SNAP Connector within a Salesforce Opportunity Record (View Only).
LinkedIn SNAP Connector within a Salesforce Opportunity Record (View Only).

Option 2 is to license a chrome extension which recognizes domain names and LinkedIn profiles and matches them against their reference database. They then provide contact details and company firmographics within a right-handed side window. These databases usually include email and phone information not available in LinkedIn. Some include other details such as company technographics, news, and Alexa scores. Vendors with Chrome extensions include Zoominfo ReachOut, DiscoverOrg, HG Insights, DataFox, RingLead, Sigstr, PersistIQ, and Pitchbook.

The Zoominfo ReachOut Chrome extension supports contact prospecting at companies along with on-demand company and contact profiles based upon the current LinkedIn page or company domain.

Chrome extensions support send to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Outreach, and SalesLoft features. Thus, you can be researching a company or contact, click on the extension icon, and kick off a sales engagement cadence within a few seconds (longer if you pause to review the enhanced profiles). A few even include contact prospecting for companies so you can search for specific company roles and

  • Add them to your CRM as contacts or leads individually or in bulk
  • Be notified of contacts already in your CRM (to avoid duplicates)
  • Kick off a Sales Engagement cadence / sequence
  • Research employees

SalesLoft Round D

SalesLoft Round D
SalesLoft Round D

On the heels of Outreach’s $114 million Series E, SalesLoft landed a $70 million round D led by Insight Partners with participation from HarbourVest Partners, Emergence Capital, and LinkedIn.  Total funding reached $145 million.

While the market valuation was not disclosed, TechCrunch indicated that the valuation was around $600 million.  Last year’s Round C valued the firm at $250 million.

“As the creators of the Sales Engagement category, we’ll use this investment to continue leading the innovation that has come to define the category,” blogged CEO Kyle Porter.  “This means investments in our ecosystem API, the mobile application, and our AI-powered sales coaching network.”

Porter laid out a vision for The Sales Coaching Network of full-time digital assistants which “gathers data from our network of distributed sellers and identifies what works and what doesn’t.”  

The Sales Coaching Network “learns best practices, proven effective across a variety of situations.  It identifies those outlier cases where a creative seller finds a new, better solution, and adds those techniques to its coaching.  This allows others to learn from the experience of those more creative sellers.”

Coaching advice will be tailored to individual sellers and their current activities.  According to Porter’s vision:

The Sales Coaching Network brings out the best in every authentic human-to-human interaction.  Sales can never be fully automated, but machines can coach humans in ways that improve our ability to deliver the customer with the best sales experiences while making decisions that allow them to generate the most revenue.

The additional funds will also be directed towards expanding their services team, certified partner network, professional services, and global support.

Over the past few years, SalesLoft has evolved from a cadence service to a multi-channel communications platform which supports inbound and outbound leads, meeting management, analytics, and a partner ecosystem.  Its top partner, LinkedIn, is also an investor.

“We are seeing the highest usage in our LinkedIn integration among all the other integrations we provide,” said Porter.  “Our customers find that it’s the third most important behind email and phone calls.”

Porter called many of the sales tools on the market “dumb databases or repositories” which “are not focused on improving how to connect buyers to sales teams in sincere ways,” said Porter.  “And anytime a company like Salesforce has moved into tangential areas like these, they haven’t built from the ground up, but through acquisitions.  It’s just hard to move giant aircraft carriers.”

SalesLoft doubled revenues the past two years and recently opened an EMEA sales and support office in London.  Recurring revenue has grown ten-fold over the past three years.

Porter listed a set of reasons for Salesforce’s customer success including company purpose, reliability, adoption, and impact.  SalesLoft’s purpose is to elevate the sales profession and promote authentic selling:

SalesLoft exists to activate the authentic seller in all of us.  While some focus on simply sending more email, we focus on elevating the sales professional as a whole.  Today’s buyers deserve an incredible sales experience… one that is sincere, human, and relevant to their needs.  They want sellers to provide insights and solve their problems.  It’s essential for sellers to take a buyer-centric approach.  This is the heart of what we do.

Great sellers also need to be methodical and efficient.  At SalesLoft we’re dedicated to helping you codify a scalable and effective sales process so you can consistently hit and exceed your targets.

Reliability is based upon email deliverability, phone quality, and application speed.

Adoption is evidenced by their leadership position on the G2.com grid for Sales Engagement while impact was borne out by a recent Forrester “Total Economic Impact of SalesLoft” study which measured a 329% ROI, a 20% lift in Sales Qualified Leads to Opportunity Conversion Rates, and a 13% improvement in customer renewal rates.

“So many software companies build a product to meet a market need and then focus purely on selling.  SalesLoft is different.  This team is continually innovating, pushing the boundaries, and changing the face of sales,” said Jeff Horing, co-founder and MD of Insight Venture Partners.  “This is one reason the company’s customers are so devoted to them.”