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.
LinkedIn Sales Solutions has begun rolling out its Q4 release to Sales Navigator subscribers. New features include a data validation flag for contacts, improved geographic filters, a funding events spotlight, two new alerts, additional SNAP partners, and extended administrative tools.
A new data validation flag warns users that a contact
is no longer at a company listed in the CRM. If the company differs
between LinkedIn and the CRM a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM.
The flag is both displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact
clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns.
LinkedIn added three new reports which leverage the
Opportunities at Risk: Proactively identifying when a buyer has left an open opportunity
Past Customers at New Companies: Identifying contacts at current customers (potential champions) who have joined new companies
Out-of-Date Contacts: All potential contacts that need to be updated
LinkedIn is hemmed in by commitments to its members’
data privacy. Thus, it cannot append or sync full contact information
like other vendors. The data validation flag simply alerts sales and
marketing that a contact is no longer at a firm. It does not upload
information on the member’s new company to the CRM.
The Data Validation flag is available to Enterprise
Edition licensors with CRM sync enabled in Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365.
LinkedIn redesigned its usage reporting with
time-series charts for messaging effectiveness. Expanded analytics
include InMail messages sent, InMail acceptance rates, messages sent, and total
unique connections. The report also includes the top five reps for each
Other new administrative tools include
Chart filtering by custom date ranges, groups, and users.
Data Updates – Saved Leads and Accounts
LinkedIn has integrated Bing location data, making
prospecting more precise. The service covers 2.4 million more cities and
over 2,000 new states/provinces.
Users may also filter by a new funding events spotlight. The new filter “brings these updates to the top of your search results within the Spotlight tab, giving you a helpful cue that it’s the right time to check-in,” blogged Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions.
In a blog titled, “Maintaining the Trust of our Members,” LinkedIn recommitted itself to a members-first approach. The Microsoft subsidiary frames its decision-making with the question, “Is this the right thing to do for our members?”
Along with a members-first policy, LinkedIn employs four principles to frame decisions:
Members maintain clarity, consistency, and control over their data. This goal is manifested in a broad set of privacy settings, observing the stated wishes of each member, and protecting their data. Microsoft employs a global GDPR standard and does not transfer member data to other companies. For example, LinkedIn Sales Navigator limits data access to member-data view-only access, which displays profiles within CRMs and other partner applications but does not transfer data to those platforms.
LinkedIn will remain a safe, trusted, and professional platform. The firm removes content which violates their Professional Community Policies and removes fake profiles, jobs, and companies.
LinkedIn is committed to removing unfair bias from its platform so that individuals with equal talent have equal access to opportunity. “To achieve this goal, we are committed to building a product with no unfair bias that provides opportunity to all of our members. There is a lot of work still to do, but we are focused on working across our company, with our members and customers, and across the industry to close the network gap.”
As a global platform, they are committed to respecting the laws that apply to them and “contributing to the dialogue” about legal frameworks.
LinkedIn Advertising is subject to an initial review. LinkedIn vets ads to ensure they are non-discriminatory:
“Even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads that advocate, promote, or contain discriminatory hiring practices or denial of education, housing, or economic opportunity based on age, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, or sexual preference. Ads that promote the denial or restriction of fair and equal access to education, housing, or credit or career opportunities are prohibited.”
Blake Lawit, LinkedIn General Counsel
The statement of principles comes at a time when other social media firms are struggling to develop rules and policies around political advertising. LinkedIn does not carry political advertising and also restricts adult content, illegal, health, gaming, weapons, multi-level marketing, alcohol, tobacco, and financial (payday loans, cryptocurrency) products.
LinkedIn continues to grow its customer base with 660 million members across 200 countries and 30 million companies. The top countries are the United States (165M members), India (62M), China (48M), Brazil (40M), and the UK (27M).
LinkedIn maintains offices in nine US cities and 24 international locations. The platform supports 24 languages.
TechTarget announced a set of enhancements to its Priority Engine sales intelligence service. New features include improved Salesforce sync, refined Buying Team display, contact hygiene, and LinkedIn profile hyperlinks. Improved Salesforce synchronization gives “sales reps easier access and dynamic visibility into active accounts in their territory, with even more accurate and actionable data on the buying teams within them,” said the firm.
Engine now supports sales territories based on Salesforce account assignments,
uploaded account lists, or firmographic rules (e.g. Industry, Geography, Size).
As accounts are added or reassigned within Salesforce, territories are
automatically maintained, allowing Priority Engine to dynamically showcase
activities within the territory.
Managers and directors can view individual rep account lists or multiple territories at once.
Engine helps sales and aligned marketing teams reach and engage more of the
right prospects at in-market accounts to improve response and conversation
rates,” stated TechTarget
also adjusted its contact selection algorithm to improve its buying committee
display, “vastly improving the fit of 3rd-party supplemental contacts in
Priority Engine.” A new contact card provides a detailed contact profile
within the Buying Team list view. Previous and Next buttons allow the
sales rep to quickly view individual profiles.
Engine also deployed improved persona logic to determine which DiscoverOrg
contacts to display for accounts.
account views, Buying Teams now list emails, direct dials, and LinkedIn
“Priority Engine has long provided essential intelligence to help sales teams fuel pipeline and close more deals. These new enhancements are the first in a series of releases specifically designed to make it even easier for sales pros to access better data and powerful insights to maximize opportunities with active accounts in their territory.”
TechTarget VP of Products Andrew Briney
collects second-party intent and opted-in contacts from readers of its 140
technology research sites. TechTarget sites are available in English,
French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, and Japanese.
Priority Engine supports English, French, and German UIs.
Of the 20
million contacts, 18 million are technology decision-makers or influencers and
2 million work in other functions but are researching technology. 9
million of the contacts are North American, 5 million are located in EMEA, 5
million in APAC, and 600,000 in Latin America.
Engine pricing is customized based on market access and customer
feature/function requirements. Typical individual subscriptions begin
around $100K. Designed specifically for the needs of small companies, the
Priority Engine Express (PEX) offering – currently in beta release – starts at
over 600 customers for TechTarget intent data products, with 51 added last
quarter. Priority Engine Express will be generally available in 2020.
Zoominfo which launched its combined Zoominfo powered by DiscoverOrg platform in September, released Workflows, their “first data automation tool that streamlines sales and marketing activity and effectiveness by enabling customers to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.”
identify new and existing prospects based on real-time B2B intelligence.
The prospects are then deployed to automated sales and marketing
campaigns. Audience segmentation can be applied according to intent,
event, and news-based triggers including new technology installations, funding
rounds, product launches, first- and third-party web activity, spending
priorities, and other buying signals with additional company attributes.
One of the
triggers is visitor intelligence gathered from their recently launched
WebSights service. “Now, you can engage prospects from organizations
researching your site with direct-dial phone numbers and accurate email
addresses. What’s more, you can view your data and segment it according
to firmographic filters, for instance, enabling better, more personalized
support a set of sales engagement, CRM, and MAP platforms including Outreach,
SalesLoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eloqua, and Marketo. Sequences can drop
audiences into campaigns or kick off sales cadences. For example, a
trigger can be set up for specific events and filtered by firmographics,
technographics, biographics, or event-specific parameters such as Funding
“Integrations with popular sales and marketing applications give customers the opportunity to marry ongoing custom triggers with essential prospecting information from ZoomInfo and connect with potential buyers in a personalized, more efficient way.”
buyers demand a personalized experience,” said Zoominfo CEO Henry Schuck.
“Solely relying on standard and static company criteria to identify key
prospects restricts sales and marketing’s ability to meet those expectations,
especially when timing is so often the difference between a deal that is won or
lost. ZoomInfo Workflows solves this problem with features that capture
dynamic buying behavior across first- and third-party channels, as its
collected, along with hundreds of rules to automate as little or as much of the
go-to-market motion as they’d like.”
migrated 1,000 customers to its new platform.
The day before Thanksgiving, Zoominfo began the process of filing an IPO in accordance with Rule 135 of the Securities Act. According to the firm, “The initial public offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”
Zoominfo is profitable and has a valuation in excess of $1 billion. The number of shares and offering price have yet to be determined. 2019 revenue is estimated to be around $350 million up approximately $100 million thisyear.
“The paperwork is a draft registration for a common stock offering. The confidential draft filing is a mechanism built into the 2012 Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, or JOBS, Act, and was designed to make the IPO process for companies with less than $1 billion in revenue easier. Companies must file information publicly 15 days prior to starting an investor roadshow or the effective date of the registration.”
Zoominfo released the Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg platform in September. The new platform combines the DiscoverOrg technographics, Inside Scoops (sales triggers), editorially verified bios, and top global company profiles with the Zoominfo deep contact data with emails and direct dials. New features include WebSights visitor intelligence and FormComplete web forms.
Last week, Zoominfo released Workflows, their “first data automation tool that streamlines sales and marketing activity and effectiveness by enabling customers to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.” I will be covering Workflows tomorrow.
At Dreamforce, Salesforce rolled out a set of Einstein Voice capabilities which will be launching in the coming months. New services include Einstein Call Coaching for sales, Service Cloud Voice, and Einstein Voice Skills for developers and Salesforce admins.
Service Cloud Voice provides an integrated console which unifies, phone, digital channels and CRM data in real-time. The service also performs real-time voice-to-text transcription allowing Einstein to offer recommended responses, support content, and next best actions. Service Cloud Voice will enter its pilot phase in February with a June GA date.
“Voice is a huge shift for the industry and will be as impactful in businesses as it’s been in our homes. With Einstein, Salesforce is bringing the power of voice to every business, giving everyone an intelligent, trusted guide at work.”
Salesforce Chief Product Officer Bret Taylor
During an insurance claims call, for example, Einstein
would recognize the nature of the claim and pull up the policyholder’s coverage
specific to the claim, delivering a faster and superior customer experience.
Next best actions such as additional riders or cross-selling
opportunities are presented to the rep. During its beta, State Farm
closed cases 31% faster.
80% of consumers stated that speed is the most
important element in delivering an “amazing customer experience.”
Finally, the call notes are automatically transcribed
for the rep, allowing him or her to quickly move on to the next support call.
“Einstein is specifically designed for simplicity.
It’s designed for Salesforce Admins or Developers to be able to set up
for a Salesforce user to be able to understand, and, as a result, folks that
use Einstein get real results,” said VP of Einstein Products Marco Casalaina.
“So, how can you become successful with Einstein? It all starts
with a question. You need to formulate a question that makes sense for
Questions could be which opportunities will convert,
which customers will drop, will a researcher engage with my email, or will the
customer buy this item?
Einstein Voice Skills will be in beta in February with
a 2021 general availability. Voice Skills will allow admins and
developers to deploy custom voice apps across the Salesforce Customer 360
Platform. For example, a technician can call up a customer’s service
history while en route.
“Each app is purpose-built for the specific needs and
processes of each role. Plus, admins can also control how the information will
be read back to the user, including the ability to offer next steps or
follow-up tasks within the response, and which channels and devices that the
skill is accessible on, such [as] smart speakers or phones,” said Salesforce.
Salesforce has been teasing voice services since the last Dreamforce when they launched Einstein Voice Assistant which supports routine Salesforce CRM functions such as creating or updating customer records, getting personalized daily briefings, and exploring dashboards. This year, they announced Einstein Call Coaching, Service Cloud Voice for transcription and AI-powered recommendation services, and Einstein Voice Skills.
Einstein Call Coaching is currently in pilot and should be generally available as a Sales Cloud High Velocity Sales (SEP) service in June. Call Coaching utilizes natural language processing against call transcripts. Managers view “insights and trends within conversational data.” NLP tags keywords, alerts managers about spikes in competitor mentions, and monitors pricing discussions and objection handling. Managers can then focus their coaching based upon individual rep needs.
“Companies with dynamic sales coaching programs see
28% higher win rates, unbelievable results. And Einstein call coaching is
your coach. This is an AI feature that can process audio clips to serve
up those key moments for this type of coaching,” said Sarah Patterson, SVP of
Being able to track keywords, discussion topics, and
competitors should prove highly valuable for one-on-one and team coaching
sessions and broader analytics. Sales reps often fail to record
competitor and objection details (or they are trapped in notes). Even
when custom fields are set up to capture these details, they are often weakly
populated. Being able to track objections and competitor discussions provides
improved coaching and product road mapping input. This is far better than
querying sales reps to be told that they lost on price or aren’t sure who won
Product tracking and objections also assist with
gathering early intelligence following a product launch. Are the sales
reps balking at discussing the new offering, unable to handle objections for
which they weren’t trained, or tripping on a missing feature that should have
been included in the MVP?
“You launch a new product, but you have no idea
whether your reps are actually comfortable selling it,” said Patterson.
“Well, now you are getting the insight you need to know if they are.
And if they’re not, you can lean in to guide them, to coach them, to help
them. More than this, you can even customize this to look for things that
matter to your business.”
Call Coaching provides “management-level visibility
into key moments during a sales call” allowing the coach to listen to those
moments and how the rep handled them. Those moments are then immediately
available for one-on-one review or group coaching.
Call Coaching Insights include tabs for objection
mentions, product mentions, talk / listen ratios, and custom topics. For
State Farm Insurance (the Dreamforce demo), this includes life events.
Call Coaching conversation trends help identify market
shifts, opportunities for bundled offerings, and emerging competitors.
“73% of managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching their reps, and we wanted to make the most of that time. Einstein Call Coaching helps managers more effectively coach individuals, provides the ability to scale those learnings across teams and gain deeper insights into customer needs and experiences.”
Efrat Rapoport, Director of Product Management, Salesforce Sales Cloud
“Just like athletes can sit down with their coaches
and look at video clips, now sales reps can sit down and listen to audio
clips,” said Patterson.
Call Coaching also supports a library of best-practice call excerpts for new hire training and sales refreshers.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the other voice tools launched at Dreamforce.
Web content management vendor Episerver acquired web content personalization and analytics firm Idio. Episerver will now be able to predict the interests and intent of buyers and deliver “hyper-relevant” content. The combined company is able to deliver personalized content, product recommendations, product search, triggered emails and messages, and visitor intelligence. B2B solutions span manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, technology, information services, and financial services.
“At the end of the day, people realize every digital interaction is fueled by a business selling something to them whether the sale is via a shopping cart, a service or a subscription,” said Justin Anovick, chief product officer at Episerver. “Persuading people to act is not problematic if the business is providing something of value to them but most digital interactions are created for the masses and end up catering to no one.”
“Idio powers 1:1 digital experiences at global scale. This acquisition is the next part of our mission to help our enterprise clients serve their end customers with timely, relevant and cross-channel experiences. The combined organization, with Episerver’s deep content and commerce expertise and Idio’s predictive and analytical capabilities, make for an exciting future for customer-centric marketers.”
Idio CEO Edward Barrow.
will continue as a standalone product but will be “merged functionally” with
combined company, with the financial backing from Insight Partners, intends to
aggressively grow our deployment and success teams, as well as a significant
acceleration in product innovation to help marketers achieve greater value from
customer-centric marketing,” blogged Idio.
financial terms were disclosed as both companies are private.
Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor Zoominfo acquired Redmond, WA startup Komiko. The deal extends Zoominfo’s sales AI capabilities with CRM automation, playbooks, lead scores, and predictive analytics.
analytical and recommendation tools support sales, account executives, and
customer success teams.
“Organizations are realizing that how they manage and leverage data is a strategic function that can accelerate or inhibit lead, pipeline, and revenue generation. While our offering is a SaaS platform for GTM, we feel ZoomInfo is in the business of helping marketing and salespeople hit their numbers. So, when we see an opportunity to build or buy additional capabilities essential to strengthen that edge — as we did with Komiko — it’s an easy decision.”
Zoominfo CEO Henry Schuck
Komiko employs machine learning and data science “to
better automate CRM processes.” InboxAI gathers contact and activity data
from email inboxes and calendars and populates the CRM. The mined
intelligence also triggers alerts and generates “analytics essential to
supporting renewals, managing new business pipelines, and more.”
Komiko offers a “data-driven platform” which helps
reps understand the likelihood of each opportunity closing. The platform
also captures all customer-facing interactions and contacts. Komiko
claims to “make it easy to see who is interacting with the customer and what
activities are taking place.”
Komiko data includes the strength of connection with
each account (k-score), the relationship of contacts at accounts, the last
communication with the account (outbound or inbound), and key contacts at
Komiko integrates sales playbooks into the CRM and
recommends when to deploy them.
customers will continue to receive the Komiko service with no changes in
support or service.
InboxAI is already deployed at Zoominfo. The firm discovered 60,000 records that had not been logged into Salesforce. “We found a number of accounts where we were only talking to one buyer – when we know that we need four buyers engaged to get across the finish line. InboxAI not only completes our CRM, [but] it gives us the visibility we need to push the right opportunities at the right time,” said Zoominfo CRO Chris Hays.
Komiko functionality will be integrated into the
recently launched Zoominfo powered by DiscoverOrg platform.
Komiko is GDPR compliant and qualifies as a data
processor. It supports the right to be forgotten through a blacklist of
blocked emails. The system also deletes any historical emails related to
Komiko does not monitor internal emails and includes
an external blacklist for blocked processing. Thus, HR, Payroll, Board,
and Legal department communications will not be ingested. Komiko does not
add Salesforce accounts but employs Salesforce accounts as a whitelist.
Komiko also positions itself as a “dynamic coaching”
service which goes beyond informal or “formal, random” processes:
Dynamic coaching is not just a buzz word. It has been proven that taking this approach makes a big impact on win rates. Since taking the dynamic path means defining a formal process combined with your CRM to monitor, evaluate and support your coaching processes…Komiko builds playbooks based on your definition of success, the accounts segments you identify and the input from email capture and CRM. Your playbooks will outline actions that drove success in the past. Each recommended action will include recommended target and its weight (significance) to the overall success. Komiko will enhance your team’s efficiency by triggering call-to-actions based on the customer profile and playbook in real-time.
Komiko claims that clients can “get up and running”
within 24 hours after only 30 minutes of work. They support “customers of
all sizes” across software, healthcare, distribution, professional services,
and insurance. Clients include Adecco, Tata Communications, Pemco
Insurance, and Chorus.ai.
Terms of the
deal were not released.
founded in 2015 by former Microsoft engineers Hal Howard and Ami Heitner. Owler
lists Komiko’s revenue at $3 million. However, marketing activity (blogs,
LinkedIn) seems to have slowed around three months ago, indicating a firm that
was reserving cash for a managed exit.
60 customers and expects to double the count by the end of the year.
Komiko CEO Howard, “We want our product to be seen by millions of people. Our
choices were we could take an additional round of venture funding and build our
market, or partner with ZoomInfo and use an already-existing go-to-market. This
was the fastest path to that market and to millions of customers.”
Komiko’s machine learning chops with ZoomInfo’s data pipeline creates a much
stronger value proposition than either company could have offered
independently, so the combination makes a ton of sense for both,” said Chris
DeVore, managing partner at Founders’ Co-op, Komiko’s Seed Round lead investor.
“Everybody dreams of the unicorn exit. And
those are all well and good, but the goal of every technology innovator is to
get your technology in the hands of as many people as possible,” Howard told GeekWire.
over 1,100 employees and more than $300 million in revenues.
TechTarget revenues rose 10% to $33.8 million in Q3 2019 driven by their sales and marketing intelligence Priority Engine service. Quarterly Priority Engine revenue rose 30% year-over-year and is up 37% year-to-date. The firm added 51 new Priority Engine customers in Q3.
Long-term contracts now represent 35% of revenue.
TechTarget believes that their initial success selling
to firms outside of the top 200 customers “bodes well for our launch of
Priority Engine Express in 2020, which is targeted at the next largest 5,000
software vendors and resellers, for whom we don’t currently have attractive
offerings in their price range.”
TechTarget collects second-party intent data and
opted-in contact data from its 140 B2B technology media sites. Priority
Engine identifies companies actively in-market along with who is conducting
purchasing research, the buyers’ journey stage, and other vendors under
TechTarget said that its new features have been “well-received” by clients as it “increases the value and ROI of Priority Engine for our customers.” They are also confident in their “robust” 2020 product roadmap. “Our customers are still in the early stages of their transition to becoming data-driven sales and marketing organizations. We have many customers that are using our data in sophisticated ways to drive market share gains and revenue growth,” stated their 8-K filing.
The firm plans another ten percent increase in
Priority Engine pricing, similar to annual price hikes of the past two years. CEO
Michael Cotoia is confident in their ability to raise prices:
Our customers take a look at our data that we offer, real and observed purchase intent data, and they have a very large initiative around…their sales and marketing organization. So, we haven’t really had a pushback price. They do understand how we get our data in terms of providing the right content and publishing the right content across…thousands of technology segments. Owning and operating those sites and communities across our network throughout TechTarget and really observing and capturing the real intent that we’re getting from buying team members… it’s very clear, it’s very taut, it’s very concise, so we haven’t really seen any pushback on that.
TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia
“By helping companies see and interpret real buyer
needs and preferences, Priority Engine first provides a relevant, permissioned
basis for a marketer to intercept a buyer’s journey and then it assists users
in taking very specific influencing and engagement actions,” CMO John Steinert
recently told ABM Report.
“Because Priority Engine provides the actual permissioned people doing
buying research, it saves tons of resource that’s commonly wasted chasing
prospects who don’t have a need and leads that are actually dead ends. And
because Priority Engine shares the real needs and preferences of the actual
buyers with both marketing and sales when they share the platform, it enables far
better conversion at every step, from funnel, to pipeline, through to renewal.”
Cotoia is also confident in TechTarget’s market
expansion strategy. “We are seeing [SMB] customers now. We’re taking
their input. We’re looking to possibly modify, enhance, position, package,
create some other additional spinoffs of this Priority Engine Express for
different segments within all those others. So, we’re off to a good start.”
Priority Engine Express will remain in beta until Q1
with several dedicated sales reps during the beta window.
One identified opportunity is value-added resellers at
both the national and regional levels. “They are looking to really
identify the opportunities and the projects and buying teams that are in their
regions” and focus on their go-to-market strategy and active prospects said
Cotoia. “We want to make sure that we have the right user interface [and]
ease of use for those regional resellers so that their sales teams, inside
sales and outside sales, have easy and quick access to the potential projects
and buying teams within their market.”