Advice for Vendors & Purchasers of Sales Intelligence, Sales Engagement, and B2B DaaS Products
Author: Michael R. Levy
Michael R. Levy is the Principal of GZ Consulting, a market research and competitive intelligence consultancy which focuses on the information services industry. Services include market sizing, market research, competitive profiling, product strategy, licensing advice, competitor benchmarking, and sales enablement.
Michael has fifteen years of experience in the sales intelligence industry having worked for OneSource (Product Marketing Manager) and InfoGroup (Manager of Strategy and Competition) before launching GZ Consulting in 2011.
Michael is also the author of the just published "Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors." He also publishes a weekly Market Insights Subscription newsletter covering the B2B sales intelligence, predictive analytics, data hygiene, and DaaS spaces.
Human-verified contacts vendor DealSignal released an Enrichment module for maintaining data quality. Along with company and contact enrichment, DealSignal appends Bombora third-party intent data, helping identify which prospects are actively researching key topics. The service supports inbound lead enrichment and scheduled data maintenance.
Because inbound leads are enriched, they can be quickly segmented, scored, routed, and prioritized. ABM companies can immediately determine whether a lead matches a target persona and ideal customer profile, ensuring such leads are immediately sent to sales for action.
Contacts are matched against DealSignal’s universe of
human-verified contacts and enriched with direct dials, firmographics, and
A wizard helps map DealSignal fields to Salesforce or
HubSpot. Admins set sync and refresh schedules.
“We’re always excited when our partners develop innovative new ways of using intent data to help marketing and sales teams drive revenue. By extending lead enrichment automation to include Bombora’s Company Surge data, DealSignal will provide revenue teams valuable insight into whether a buying committee is forming or one curious person just happened to download some content. That added insight will help marketing and sales teams work together more effectively to drive the most value from their inbound leads.”
Charles Crnoevich, Head of Partnerships at Bombora
Inbound Lead Enrichment service is the first B2B DaaS platform to combine human-verified contacts and firmographics with third-party Bombora intent. The platform takes skinny inbound leads and enriches them with accurate, actionable insights and contact details, helping determine which leads should be immediately routed to sales and which should be retained. Reps can then prioritize prospects that are currently in-market for products or services like theirs and craft highly personalized messaging, thereby improving their odds of exceeding quota.
The Greek orator Demosthenes was said to have treated his speech impediment by talking with pebbles in his mouth and shouting above the roar of the ocean waves.
In high school, Larry Bird would shoot 500 free throws every morning before his first class.
When I started my professional sales career in 2004, I wrote out every opening, iteration, objection handle, and closing approach. I then recorded myself speaking them until I was comfortable. I iterated on each talk track 20+ times until it was authentic and the language flowed naturally. Then I ditched the scripts and went to work.
What can you do outside of your day to day operations to be exceptional at your craft?
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter (LinkedIn Post)
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter is a strong advocate for authenticity. Simply knowing your pitch is insufficient. Sales reps have to master their craft and infuse it with authenticity. This means developing a deep understanding of how to sell your product and service but then combining what is unique about your story (both personal and corporate) with passion for the product or service you sell.
It also means that you cannot be giving a robotic pitch or a one-size-fits-all spiel. Great salespeople adjust their message and approach to the prospect. This adjustment is across many dimensions:
Job Function – What is their department and role within the department?
Job Level – How high in the organization are they?
Industry – What is your value proposition with respect to the purchaser’s industry? How do they benefit?
Buyer Role – As part of a purchasing committee, are they the economic buyer, technical buyer, influencer, etc.?
Prospect Knowledge about Your Offering – You need to understand how knowledgeable they are about your offering and those of your competitors and then speak to that level.
Concerns – The larger the value or strategic importance of a B2B purchase, the greater the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). FUD is also higher if the total cost of ownership or switching costs are high. If you are inauthentic, you can raise the level of FUD. If you can connect authentically with the buyer, you build trust and drive down the level of FUD.
Individual – What are the individual concerns of the buyer? What is the buyer’s communication style?
Scripts work well for novice reps and those learning a new product category or vertical, but they should be viewed as building blocks towards a polished, authentic sales voice.
One should also avoid focusing on features. A feature-focused monologue says to buyers, “you figure out whether my product / service will help you because I don’t understand that myself.” The focus should always be on benefits and value with features only used to justify your value proposition or to address concerns of technical buyers.
And the conversation needs to be interactive. Meeting intelligence analytics display who is talking during a call. A sales rep can visually review whether he / she controlled the conversation or it was a true conversation.
Sales trainers have begun emphasizing the value of storytelling as a way to connect with the emotional buyer. Marketers long approached consumer sales as an emotional pitch and B2B as a rationale pitch, but are now arguing that rational B2B pitches ignore the inherent FUD involved when making strategic purchases.
As sales reps begin to be coached by sales engagement analytics (directly and via feedback from managers and trainers), they should shift away from controlling conversations and become more interactive, present, and empathetic.
While most of my blogging is published here, I also write commissioned blogs where I own the editorial. This provides me with additional channels for discussing sales intelligence, sales engagement, and B2B DaaS.
Here are my ConnectLeader blogs with their opening paragraphs:
Marketing Approved Templates and Scripts, “For at least a decade, there have been discussions about sales and marketing alignment and the inability of sales and marketing teams to provide a unified go-to-market strategy. Marketing is concerned that sales reps fail to use their leads, share their copy, or conform to the company’s positioning.”
Drive Sales Productivity with Integrated Sales Engagement, “At their recent Dreamforce show, Salesforce rolled out a Sales Cloud upgrade called High Velocity Sales which helps “identify the best leads, eliminate busy work and boost pipeline.” High Velocity Sales adds customized sequences for sales teams which incorporate best practice sales cadences within Salesforce. Features include email and phone sequences, templates, and call scripts.”
Closing the Loop on Inbound Leads, “My career began as a tele-support rep for an insurance agency automation system. Our role was to quickly return calls from customers and help resolve their system problems. Speed was paramount with emergency calls placed at the top of the queue. Because inbound calls were categorized with brief descriptions and codes, we also gave priority to problems that could be quickly resolved (while it was good for our quotas, there was also no reason to make customers wait an hour for a two-minute fix).”
How to Improve Your Sales Productivity Using a Sales Engagement Platform, “As soon as I submitted my last blog on Sales Productivity, CSO Insights published an update to their quota attainment research. The good news is global sales rep quota attainment rose from 53.0% to 54.3%. The bad news is that it falls within the range of error, so we probably won’t know if sales productivity is truly improving for another year. Even at 54.3%, sales reps remain well below the 63.0% quota attainment level of 2012. When CSO Insights Research Fellow Jim Dickie looked at the underlying metrics, 22 of the 23 operational metrics declined over the past five years.”
How to Think about Sales Productivity, “Research performed by CSO Insights found that sales reps are failing to meet quota at alarmingly high rates. Global B2B quota attainment was a mere 53% in 2016, dropping ten percent over five years. That means that only one in two sales reps is likely to meet quota this year with only a small percentage entering Q4 confident that they will reach quota.”
What GDPR Means to American Firms?, “Back in May, there was a good deal of news coverage around the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Unfortunately, most of the coverage was hyperbolic with a focus on penalties and how few companies had complied. While the GDPR fear mongering has died down, there is still a need to understand GDPR and comply with the law, even if you have no operations in Europe.”
Local Presence: Handle with Care, “Sometimes, the most effective sales approach may be the wrong strategy. One of these techniques is local presence. For generalized telemarketing, it can lift call connection rates and revenue, but for strategic selling it may result in a negative return on investment”
Artesian Solutions, the UK Sales Intelligence vendor, has been teasing its Artesian Risk and Compliance Hub (ARCH) compliance service for over a year. The new offering, now Generally Available, “enables relationship managers, underwriters and frontline teams within banks, insurance companies, and other financially regulated industries to quickly assess and better understand their corporate clients at the start of the customer journey and throughout the life of the customer.”
Financial services generally perform KYC / AML (Know Your Customer / Anti-Money Laundering) processing during onboarding, but ARCH moves initial processing to frontline staff at the top of the sales funnel before a client is signed. This “distributed compliance,” helps expedite the process, sets client expectations when processing may take longer than normal, and allows relationship managers to avoid prospects that will have arduous compliance processing or which may not meet the institution’s “appetite.”
flags risks which may require additional information from the client. By
flagging them at the outset, the RM can request the missing data before it delays
ARCH performs event-driven reviews which begin before onboarding and continue through the life of the loan or policy. Thus, KYC is no longer subject to periodic reviews but is performed dynamically as new information about the client is ingested by ARCH. Instead of client reviews determined by the calendar, events can trigger full client reviews as needed.
ARCH supports commercial insurance policy writing “with a combination of data and sophisticated rules, bringing efficiency, consistency, and accuracy so that underwriters can focus on underwriting. Decisions can be recorded whilst both justified in the future and used for decision analysis and pricing optimisation.” Artesian’s fine-grained taxonomy and assisted machine learning help to identify potential underwriting risks “according to the predetermined definitions of an insurer.”
moving compliance reviews to front-line workers, commercial insurers can
perform a KYC check and risk evaluation prior to quoting a policy. “One
reason for using it is that they might want to look at what gets declared to
them by the new customer compared to what they can see from ARCH,” said
Artesian VP of Risk Solutions Matt Elsom. “To do that they can have a
look at some of the fraud-focused data sources and financial data.”
survey by Fenergo of global financial services executives found that poor
onboarding negatively impacts client experience and reduces the lifetime value
(LTV) of clients. 36% acknowledged losing customers due to onboarding
issues and 84% tied the onboarding experience to reduced LTV.
Figure 2: “The Cost of Poor CX,” Fenergo, January 2019. N=250 global Financial Services executives (Source: Artesian Solutions)
noted that KYC compliance team workloads have “grown beyond all expectations”
due to the availability of international ownership linkages and ultimate
beneficial ownership data. “The overall effect of this is an MLRO [Money
Laundering Reporting Officer] and board being put under pressure to reduce
onboarding delays whilst maintaining adherence to regulation – and the only
effective solution has been to recruit more compliance analysts. The cost
associated with this approach has become unsustainable as the work queue
continues to grow simply to maintain current levels of new business.”
to Artesian, “ARCH is not only an innovative new technology, but a huge leap
forward in the drive for ‘distributed compliance’ – the ability for central
teams to distribute KYC and AML tasks to their frontline colleagues who are
best placed to engage with the client and solve issues in the fastest, most
productive way. It places compliance and powerful risk data at the heart
of the business – front of mind for every member of staff, informing every
decision, instructing every interaction and shaping every relationship from
pre-screening prospective new customers through to ongoing tracking and
long-standing client development.”
“configurable decision engine” monitors real-time credit risk and KYC data sets
and applies bank or insurer policies to the compliance decisions. Each
client determines which data sources to ingest and “applies custom policies to
that combined data in the form of multi-dimensional rules” which are screened
and interpreted based upon institutional policies. Flagged issues are
delivered through a browser interface or loaded into other compliance systems
via an API.
“We have the great privilege of serving 80% of the UK’s major banking institutions, providing powerful sales engagement insights to relationship managers. We asked what we could do to make our software even more useful and the answer was ARCH. Almost two years of engineering and millions of pounds later we’re announcing ARCH’s general availability for customers. We believe this puts Artesian in a unique position to be able to combine customer engagement capabilities together with credit and risk in one single application delivered through a browser or mobile device.”
We’ve built a strong team of specialists to extend our core competencies and have worked closely with our key partners at Experian, LexisNexis, and Refinitiv (Thompson Reuters) with more partnerships to come. This allows our customers to select the data sources they already rely upon and trust and easily integrate them into ARCH”
Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates
a beta test with a top UK bank, ARCH decisioning was fully consistent with
existing bank processing while flagging 14% more “critical risk” issues than
current bank processes. ARCH also reduced average case time from two
hundred minutes to eight, “allowing relationship managers to know more, know
sooner and save time – enabling them to focus on delivering a better customer
recently added ARCH to its eleven-week incubator program Scale InsureTech which
is “aimed at identifying and developing fast-growth technology companies in the
financial services clients include RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, EY, and
North American sales intelligence firms do not normally support client onboarding and risk assessment, but UK and European firms support these functions due to a richer set of registry data. European vendors such as DueDil, Bureau van Dijk, and Artesian support sales, marketing, and regulatory compliance.
I’ve been covering Q2 enhancements to LinkedIn Sales Navigator this week. On Monday, I discussed their Sales Coach enhancements and on Wednesday their Alerting enhancements. There were also a set of communications enhancements to Sales Navigator (an area of strength vs. other Sales Intelligence offerings). Communication enhancements include conversation histories, improved filtering, more visible icebreakers, and InMail credit status.
searching speed has been improved and a guided search experience helps the user
expand or narrow the search term (see image on left).
save and bulk remove accounts and contacts from lists.
Lead to Account – As not all leads (people) are attached to accounts, the match
feature allows users to assign leads to any company for alerting purposes.
A live org chart integration is being introduced For Microsoft Dynamics which supports saved accounts. The functionality is being delivered through LinkedIn SNAP.
chart displays LinkedIn member profile photos and additional profile details which
provide additional insights into the account.
Q2, Lucidchart also became a SNAP partner. Lucidchart users can now view
lead recommendations, save leads to Sales Navigator, view contact profiles and
updates, request introductions, and send InMails from within Lucidchart.
“Sales teams work faster and smarter when they work visually. Bringing the power of the world’s largest professional online network into Lucidchart in a more seamless way underscores our ongoing commitment to enhance the sales experience.”
Lucidchart CEO Karl Sun
Note: This is the final chapter on the Q2 2019 LinkedIn Sales Navigator release. Part 1 | Part II
Last month, LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out a set of alert enhancements as part of its Q2 release. Alerts are intended to deliver “timely, relevant, and actionable insights” which allow reps to shift from researching to selling and building relationships. As with other recommendation engines, Navigator alerts call out the “Next Best Action” with an “instant snapshot of the things that matter most about your prospects along with recommended action step for each.”
LinkedIn, our goal is to arm you with timely, relevant, and actionable insights
so you spend less time sifting through information and more time focused on
what matters: building relationships and closing deals,” stated the firm in its
release notes. “Alerts on the homepage gives you all the functionality of
Newsfeed in a compressed, easy-to-use dashboard. Don’t worry about missing
anything — all of your favorite items from the old Newsfeed live on as alerts.
We’ve also added some new types of alerts as well!”
alerts are highlighted in blue at the top of the feed. Each alert
contains an action step (e.g. Message, See Article, See List). Alerts may
be filtered by type and individual alerts may be deleted or turned off.
new alert categories were released
An account has had a funding event
A colleague shared a custom list
Pending actions in Sales Navigator Coach
recommends that Navigator Alerts be reviewed once or twice a day.
“Every sales professional faces the challenge of how to best spend their time, maximize their productivity and close more deals,” said Camplejohn. “That’s why Sales Navigator is now centered around alerts — making it easier for salespeople to identify important changes and prioritize the best next steps to take.”
LinkedIn Sales Navigator has been rolling out its Q2 release to customers over the past few weeks. The new functionality includes a redesigned home page, improved keyword searching, custom list enhancements, and additional Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) connectors.
The homepage emphasizes alerts and the new Sales Navigator Coach. The Coach is a training tool with a gamification feature – a progress meter which shows your level of product mastery, from Beginner to Expert. Reps are shown three recommended actions. They can either try a recommended action or watch a short training video.
All of the Coach features, with the exception of PointDrive, may be executed from a mobile device.
“This is just the beginning for Sales Navigator Coach, and we can’t wait to bring more personalized education to all our Sales Navigator customers. We’re also excited to bring Sales Navigator Coach to usage reporting later this year.”
Sales Solutions VP of Product Management Doug Camplejohn.
Several features on the homepage have been moved. The SSI (Social Selling Index) tool is available via a drop down and the newsfeed has been replaced with an alert feed.
Note: This is part one of my profile of the Q2 2019 release. Tomorrow I will be covering enhanced alert functionality.
Customer Data Platform vendor Leadspace acquired B2B Hygiene vendor ReachForce. The two firms offer complementary functionality with ReachForce adding webforms (SmartForms) and a continuous data quality platform (SmartSuite) to Leadspace’s CDP.
Leadspace plans to merge SmartSuite into their CDP over the next six months. SmartForms will become an “activation product” for Leadspace.
is a well-respected brand with an experienced team in the B2B marketing tech
space,” stated Leadspace CEO Doug Bewsher. “We’ve known them, and
competed against them, over the years, so we’re excited to be joining forces
now to move the B2B CDP space even further.”
will maintain its Austin office and staff while LeadSpace will continue to
operate in Hod Hasharon, Israel, and San Francisco.
The Reachforce SmartSuite provides real-time and continuous data quality management. Features include B2B data match and enrich; data standardization; de-duplication; email, phone, and address verification; data health reports; CRM and MAP connectors; and contact prospecting at target accounts.
ReachForce has its best-in-class SmartForms product, which is a key way that customers build an understanding of their customers, as well as SmartSuite, which provides a real-time data cleansing and management service. Combined with Leadspace’s best-in-class B2B customer data platform, there is a definite complementary and additive effect. SmartForms will become one of the activation products for Leadspace, and we will work over the next [several] months to combine the best of both data management platforms to provide a single end-to-end solution for B2B CDP.
Leadspace CEO Doug Bewsher
The Reachforce acquisition follows shortly after Dun & Bradstreet acquired Lattice Engines. Both Dun & Bradstreet and Leadspace now offer a CDP alongside a data quality hub, digital advertising, visitor intelligence, and CRM/MAP connectors:
Forrester’s Q2 2019 Wave report on B2B Customer Data Platforms placed Lattice Engines and Leadspace in the leader category with both holding the highest scores in strategy and Lattice Engines being ranked slightly higher for their current offering.
Prior to the acquisition, the Dun & Bradstreet CDP (D&B DataVision) was ranked a strong performer. The dual acquisitions help the vendors extend their leadership in the CDP space and increase the likelihood of additional consolidation within the B2B Customer Data Platform segment.
Leadspace did not disclose the acquisition price. Acquisition discussions began earlier this year.
LinkedIn recently adjusted its feed algorithm to identify more salient topics instead of viral content. The goal is to encourage conversations and promote niche conversations over broad topics. The modifications place a higher premium on member interest signals.
“Our mission is to help people be more productive and
successful, and it is what drives us daily,” said Senior Director of Product
Management Pete Davies. “We strongly
believe that people need their professional communities to help them along the
way, whether that’s current or former colleagues, peers in the same industry,
or those that share similar interests or career ambitions.”
LinkedIn prioritizes posts from connections and follows along with their likes, comments, and posts. Other factors include group posts, followed hashtags, and events “all with the goal of showing you the content and conversations that you care about.” Prioritization is given to direct interactions; stated interests and experiences; and “explicit signals” such as with whom you’ve worked.
Davies provided the following tips to encourage conversation:
Post things that encourage a response. For example, if you’re posting a link, express an opinion with it.
Think about using the best type of post for the topic. Despite the rumors, the algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format. We have video, images, multi-images, text and long-form articles. More are on the way.
Use @mentions to pull other people you know into a conversation when you think they’ll have something valuable to add. Be thoughtful: only mention people that you think are likely to respond, max five is a good rule of thumb.
Engage in the conversation, respond to commenters and encourage back and forth.
Davies also recommended the use of hashtags, but no more than
three. Hashtags should be specific vs. general
(#performancemanagement vs. #management).
Finally, Davies emphasized authenticity. This is a theme that Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, keeps going back to.
“Authenticity is key: all the tips above work out better when members talk about things they truly care about, in a way that’s natural for them. Genuine conversation around real experiences spark better and deeper conversation. Better conversation, in turn, leads to stronger community and connection,” blogged Davies.
TechTarget Priority Engine has begun integrating first-party intent data with its proprietary third-party intent intelligence. First-party intent data enhances account rankings and insights. According to TechTarget, “Marketing and sales teams will now be able to leverage this new intelligence to get to the right accounts and prospects faster, increasing conversions and accelerating pipeline.”
Priority Engine launched three years ago with TechTarget’s firmographics and third-party intent derived from its 140 enterprise technology media sites. The new data includes Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) matching, vendor website engagement, and customer content and advertising across the TechTarget network.
First-party website intent is available through a partnership with KickFire.
account intelligence and tools include
Personalized account rankings based on first and third-party intent data
ICP definition and filtering
Enhanced qualification intelligence including buying stage, ICP match, and confirmed projects
Improved engagement signals such as account website visits, content downloads, and banner clicks
Recent activity indicators.
has always focused on delivering ROI,” said Michael Cotoia, CEO, TechTarget.
“These new updates now make it even easier for our customers to close
deals faster by helping them find the prospects that are directly in their
recent product enhancements include opted-in “Project Insiders” and “Confirmed
Project Details” that have been validated by project insiders.
Priority Engine has been deployed at over 400 customers including Oracle, Citrix, IBM, HPE, and AWS.