PersistIQ Sales Engagement Platform

The PersistIQ Activity Feed provides a real-time stream of prospect actions from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome.
The PersistIQ Activity Feed provides a real-time stream of prospect actions from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome.

Sales engagement service PersistIQ recently partnered with Lead411 to provide integrated contact prospecting. Unlike other sales engagement platforms, prospecting is built directly into PersistIQ. Content includes name, company, title, city/state, address, email, LinkedIn profile, URL, and phone. A maximum daily records feature pulls records into PersistIQ without overloading sales reps with too many prospects.

“Our powerful technology gives sales teams the perfect balance between sales automation and the human touch.  Providing our customers access to high-quality data inside their workflow is a natural next step as we further align tools with strategies that have been winning sales for decades.”

  • Pouyan Salehi, founder of PersistIQ

PersistIQ provides salespeople with communication campaigns that include emails, calls, and tasks (i.e. Cadences or Sequences). PersistIQ also executes a set of safety checks to eliminate mistakes commonly made by salespeople. Soft checks, such as whether a contact is already in another campaign, may be overridden while hard checks block email transmission. Hard checks include do not contact domains, bounced emails, and opted out emails. When sending emails, the system also provides smart variable checks to ensure emails aren’t sent with missing fields (e.g. {{first_name}} ) or misformatted HTML.

PersistIQ supports Gmail, Office 365, and Exchange email accounts. A throttle feature sends emails over a period of time instead of via large batches. Throttling helps maintain their customers’ email sender reputation scores.

Both outgoing and incoming emails are logged. The system also supports out of office management, recipient activity detection (e.g. read, click through, bounce), and time zone detection.

Sales reps can use the built-in dialer or their own phones while recording call notes.

An Activity Feed provides real-time access to prospect actions such as email opens and link clicks. The feed is available from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome. Activities that happen in quick succession are grouped together. A badge number in the system banner indicates new activity and number of events. Users can click from a feed item directly to the underlying campaign or prospect profile and activity.

PersistIQ provides bi-synchronous connectivity with leads, contacts, accounts, and campaigns. PersistIQ content passed to Salesforce includes emails, call activity with notes, dispositions, and tasks.

Marketers and sales ops can upload Excel or CSV files with up to 2,000 contacts. A copy/paste feature may be used in lieu of file imports. PersistIQ employs fuzzy matching logic to prevent duplicates from being created.

A Chrome connector provide email detection, user notes, add to Salesforce or PersistIQ, and searching across PersistIQ and Salesforce.

The Chrome Connector provides lead intelligence and quick transfer to PersistIQ and SFDC.
The Chrome Connector provides lead intelligence and quick transfer to PersistIQ and SFDC.

Analytics include daily actions, best time to send, response time, team reports, and campaign reports.

Pricing begins at $40 per month for the Lite service (billed annually). Features include multi-touch campaigns with email, phone, and task steps; reply to previous email threads; response detection; call scripts and outlines; master and step email templates; rolling campaigns; the live activity feed; email open alerts; and individual campaign reporting. A Starter Edition is priced at $60 per month (billed annually) and adds sending windows; A/B testing; email CRM logging; prospect activity history; campaign summery reporting; custom fields; shared email templates; and API access.

The Pro edition is priced at $450 per month for five seats. Features include Salesforce synchronization; send emails on behalf of others; VOIP or Bridge sales dialer; team reporting; best time to send analytics; time zone detection; custom statuses and call dispositions; shared campaigns; roles and dispositions; and custom onboarding.

Lead411 contacts are available in four plans ranging between 50 and 80 cents per record:

  • 250 monthly contacts for $200 per month
  • 750 monthly contacts for $500 per month
  • 1,250 monthly contacts for $800 per month
  • 3,000 monthly contacts for $1,500 per month

Annual subscriptions allow users to roll over unused credits.

“Combining prospecting data and sales communication into one system that is easy to use is a big win for sales reps and teams,” said Salehi. This is the first step in what we view as the next evolution in sales technology; where data and workflow become more closely connected.”

Outreach Releases Meeting Scheduler

Outreach Meetings allow reps to select open blocks for a meeting and quickly insert them into a templated meeting invitation.
Outreach Meetings allow reps to select open blocks for a meeting and quickly insert them into a templated meeting invitation.

Sales enablement service Outreach now offers a meeting scheduler for Outlook and Exchange. The service, currently in beta, is scheduled for general availability in early April. Features include integrated calendaring, reusable meeting templates, Salesforce synchronization, and available meeting insertion into emails. A Google scheduler was previously launched.

Templates provide sales reps with reusable meeting setups and confirmations. Thus, information such as conference call details can be automatically included in confirmation messages.

By including public calendar links in emails, “prospects can easily find a time that works for them or reschedule meetings without additional back and forth,” blogged Chelsey Feldman, Outreach Product Storyteller. “You can even manage multiple schedules with the ability to book meetings on behalf of someone else, and reassign meeting owners without creating a new invitation.”

Calendaring can be a huge waste of time for sales reps. By integrating calendar functionality into Outreach and Google, sales reps have time freed up for more valuable account planning and sales activities. “Outreach Meetings enables salespeople to focus on closing deals rather than wasting valuable time managing the logistics of scheduling – and rescheduling – countless calls and meetings,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina. “Now that Outreach Meetings is integrated with both Google and Microsoft platforms, salespeople can instantly schedule appointments – and get back to the business of selling.”

Outreach claims that the Customer Success Team at Jitterbit, where reps schedule around 45 meetings per quarter, saves an hour or more per user each week due to the scheduling functionality.

Additional time savings will be achieved as Outreach builds follow-on capabilities into their meeting scheduler. Feldman listed the following roadmap features:

  • Intelligent automation for perfectly-timed reminders and no-show follow up
  • Features enabling you to follow up on meetings in a timely and actionable way
  • An integrated note taking solution so you can run your meeting with fewer extra tools
  • Analytics and insights on: the meetings you’re booking, holding, and rescheduling; upcoming meetings; and which emails are most successful at helping you book meetings

One feature, not mentioned, is round-robin scheduling.

Outreach noted that 20% of meetings fail because the prospect cancels or does not show up. Thus, managing this scenario in a future release will improve sales rep efficiency and reduce the number of lost or delayed opportunities.

DemandBase Revenue Growth

One of Demandbase's core technologies is real-time visitor intelligence for ABM.
One of Demandbase’s core technologies is real-time account-level visitor intelligence for ABM.

Nathan Latka interviewed Demandbase CEO Chris Golec back in Q4. Demandbase is growing rapidly and now employs 300. In November, Golec said the firm was likely to achieve 50% or greater growth in 2017. 2016 revenue was around $75 million and the firm was above a $100 million run rate in November. Average revenue per customer is around $20,000 per month. Small customers may select a single module for $2K to $3K per month but then add multiple solutions as they grow. Net revenue retention is around 110%.

The firm has between 50 and 60 quota carrying reps, 20 to 25 marketers, and 10 to 15 administrative staff, with two thirds of the company focused on data, R&D, engineering, and other functions

The firm has 400 to 600 customers with top customers spending a couple million dollars per annum.

Golec expects the firm to be cash flow break-even during the first half of this year.

Demandbase, founded in 2007, was an early and forceful proponent of Account Based Marketing. For several years, they had a monopoly on the positioning, but ABM caught fire as a B2B sales and marketing process with several enterprise software firms including Marketo and Salesforce now offering ABM solutions.

“ABM as a category – the interest level has reached the investment community and so as investors do their research they discovered that Demandbase is the largest and pioneered the category itself.  So we had a lot of inbound interest.  At the same time, we started developing some new innovations using AI and massive data that we’re sitting on. So it really unfolded into a whole new level of innovation.”

  • DemandBase CEO Chris Golec

DemandBase has already received $156 million in funding, including a $65 million round last May. Both Salesforce and Adobe have taken investment stakes in Demandbase.

While some MarTech firms are struggling with revenue growth and churn, that has not been an issue at Demandbase. “ABM is more of a business process and our position is much more of a platform where we’re helping customers throughout the whole lifecycle of attracting, updating, engaging, converting, and upselling them.”

The firm has ten staff in London helping grow European sales. “ABM adoption in the UK and Western Europe is really starting to pick up.”

Source: Nathan Latka SoundCloud Interview of Chris Golec

CrunchBase Launches Marketplace Partner Ecosystem

SimilarWeb Web Traffic Analysis within Crunchbase Pro.
SimilarWeb Web Traffic Analysis within Crunchbase Pro.

Crunchbase unveiled their long-planned Crunchbase Marketplace partner ecosystem.  Crunchbase signaled plans for the ecosystem a year ago when it announced an $18 million funding round.  Partner datasets are available via an “app store” connected to their subscription Crunchbase Pro data service.

“We see this as the next step in building the master database for companies online. We don’t feel like a single company can go out and get all the information that there is to get, which is why we have decided to partner.”

  • Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell

Crunchbase has signed 13 data partners: SimilarWeb, Apptopia, BuiltWith, Siftery, IPqwery, Bombora, Owler, Financial Content, TradingView, Enigma, Wayback Machine, Aberdeen, and Wikipedia.  The span of partners is fairly broad and includes technographics, intent data, web traffic, app installs, government filings, and stock quotes.

The following datasets are live:

  • Crunchbase Pro – Funding data available for $29 / user / month
  • SimilarWeb – Web traffic and engagement (free)
  • Siftery – Tech Stack data for $49 / user / month
  • BuiltWith – Tech Stack data for $49 / user / month
  • Apptopia – Mobile app analytics for $49 / user / month

“We’re super excited about these partnerships because they are bringing up a ton of new data that we’ve never seen before,” McConnell added. “We think this is the first time that someone has taken all this data and put it all into one place. Looking further out we think that all enterprise software will be built on large data sets, and we think that we can be the trusted source for all that company information on the internet.”

Crunchbase is looking to increase the number of registered and Pro users on its site, so only registered users will have access to the marketplace.  Last year, Crunchbase had 40 million unique users, many of whom were anonymous.

Current licensors of third-party datasets do not have free access to the content via the Marketplace.  However, Crunchbase is evaluating a voucher system for dual licensors.

Crunchbase said it is unsure whether the current $49 per month fee will be modified.  For example, they are open to building solution bundles by function which support multiple datasets.  However, such a model has yet to be explored.  They are also considering a freemium model with in-app purchases of additional data beyond a limited number of free records.

Crunchbase will continue to focus on its strength: – the collection of funding data.  “Logo, name, address, funding, founding and investor data: we’ll always own that node,” McConnell told TechCrunch. “This is the reason why most come to us today and we don’t want to jeopardize this.”

Crunchbase would like to build out to one hundred partners over the next year.

Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan Steps Down; Q4 Earnings

DNB Hoov Company Profile of DNB
Dun & Bradstreet’s company profile displayed within their D&B Hoover’s product.

Last week, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan resigned as CEO, board member, and Chairman.  In his absence, Thomas Manning has been appointed Chairman and interim CEO.  Manning has been a board member since 2013 and Lead Director since 2016.  He previously served as the CEO of Cerberus Asia Operations & Advisory Limited, CEO of Capgemini Asia, and CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting Asia. He was also a senior partner with corporate strategy firm Bain & Company where he led the global IT practice in Silicon Valley and Asia.

No reason was given for Carrigan’s departure beyond that it was a mutual decision.

“Over the last four years we have made progress transforming this company. We’ve improved our data and analytics, developed solutions and capabilities to serve new customer use cases, and modernized our products and platforms.  The Board is confident in the strategic direction of the Company, and fully believes that this business can deliver sustainable mid-single digit revenue growth and expanding margins.  Our number one priority is accelerating value creation for shareholders.”

  • Dun & Bradstreet Chairman and interim CEO Thomas Manning

However, the company is not growing revenue and profits quickly enough.  To address the slow growth, the firm engaged McKinsey & Company two months ago in a strategic and operational review “to help us find ways to speed up the time to realize value,” said Manning.  “The first phase of their work validated our strategy and identified barriers to growth and cost opportunities. The next phase of their work will include a full portfolio and business assessment and we are open to considering all options for value creation that may be identified.”

McKinsey validated the basic DaaS strategy around premium company, contact, and risk data.  McKinsey’s primary concern was the “breadth of our offerings and distribution channels” which increased the level of operational complexity.  The updated strategy will look to “simplify and streamline the business.”

Dun & Bradstreet is also looking to “apply more specialization to our selling activities as we go deeper into the sales and marketing space,” said Manning.  “As we expand our sales and marketing value proposition from being primarily a static data supplier to becoming a dynamic player in the digital sales, marketing and advertising space, we are working to make sure that our organization, go-to-market strategy and processes are aligned with that goal.”

The firm hired David Godfrey, who previously ran Global Sales at Gartner, to oversee go-to-market strategy and execution.  He will be reporting into Manning.

James Fernandez, new Lead Director of the Board, said, “As Dun & Bradstreet continues its work to drive sustainable growth, the Board believes now is the right time to transition the Company’s leadership. We are pleased to have a leader of Tom’s caliber and experience to step in as interim CEO. The Board will continue to support the Company, and lend our expertise to the organization and Tom during this transition period as we conduct our search for a permanent successor.”

Q4 Earnings

Q4 earnings increased 3%, but only 1% organically, to $527 million.  Total revenue hit $1.75 billion in 2017 with 83% in the Americas.  The firm maintained expense discipline resulting in a ten-basis point improvement in margins while investing $40 million on initiatives which “transform our technology platforms in order to meet our customers’ modern-day needs,” said CFO Richard Veldran.  “Modernizing delivery of our solutions is a critical component of our strategy.”

Data-as-a-service delivery continues to increase.  Nearly 30% of Americas revenue came via as-a-service solutions “which makes our data stickier and more useful for our customers and drives higher-value revenue.”

Amongst the 2017 initiatives were upgrades to D&B Credit and new D&B Optimizer solutions for Salesforce and Microsoft.

Deferred revenue was up 3% year over year before M&A activity and currency adjustments.  Growth was attributed to D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers Q4, and the D&B Direct API.  President and COO Josh Peirez noted that the D&B Credit Suite revenues were no longer declining and that the company is well-positioned in D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers, and D&B Direct.

“We think we’re well-positioned to address the competitive challenges.  We’re also pleased that McKinsey has validated that opportunity and that strategy and helping us to make sure that we are packaging and bundling these things properly.”

  • Dun & Bradstreet President & COO Josh Peirez

Taxes, which were 31.4% in 2017, are expected to drop to the mid-20s due to the US corporate tax reforms.  The reforms will also allow the firm to repatriate $265 million to reduce debt levels.

No guidance was provided as the firm is beginning their operational review.  Veldran promised more details on the Q1 call.

Dun & Bradstreet raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to $0.5225 per share.

The market reacted very positively to the announcements, driving Dun & Bradstreet’s stock price up nearly 8% after the earnings call.

Segment Growth

Sales & Marketing Solutions (S&MS) rose 4% in the Americas to $240.1 million in Q4.  Growth was led by Sales Acceleration products which rose 9% to $84.3 million.  For the full year, Sales Acceleration grew 10% to $288.4 million in the Americas with the Avention acquisition contributing twelve points of growth.  Legacy Hoover’s drove down organic Sales Acceleration revenue with traditional Hoovers revenue declining by mid-single digits.

Revenue for the new D&B Hoovers service (Dun & Bradstreet content delivered through the Avention platform) increased in 2017.  However, the decline in revenue from the partnership will result in a decline in 2018 Sales Acceleration revenue. generated around $50 million in revenue in 2017 with the firm continuing to sell through August 2017, resulting in a flat year.  Veldran projects a $15 million decline in revenue.  Dun & Bradstreet is looking to recapture some of that decline as new D&B Hoovers and D&B Optimizer for Salesforce contracts.

Peirez is quite pleased with the trajectory of the D&B Hoovers business.  “We think our products are far better than anything else in market. We continue to see the overwhelming majority of customers that are buying our D&B Hoovers product buying the higher level of the product with the integrations to CRM, so that’s extremely encouraging for us.”

The firm is also moving to migrate its Hoover’s customer base over to D&B Hoovers.  In Q4, more than ten percent of the legacy base moved to the new platform as Dun & Bradstreet “started to move very aggressively in getting the customers upgraded,” said Peirez.  While the D&B Hoovers Suite grew low-single digits in its first year, Peirez expects growth to accelerate in year two.  The company has told users that the legacy platform will be phased out at the end of the year.

Advanced Marketing Solutions grew 2% in Q4 to $155.8 million in the Americas.  For the full year, growth was 2% to $383.9 million.  While revenue was up mid-single digits in H2, the product line was weighed down by H1 weakness.

Outside the Americas, S&MS grew 17% to $16.9 million in Q4.  For the year, S&MS non-Americas revenue rose 18% to $60.4 million.  Growth was driven by Sales Acceleration products, including the acquired Avention product line.  Sales Acceleration products jumped up 24% to $7.5 million in the quarter and 39% to $27.7 million for the year.

The D&B Hoovers Suite rose 26% to $42.6 million in the Americas in Q4 and 22% to $166.5 million.  Outside of the Americas, D&B Hoovers Suite rose from $0.6 million to $5.3 million in Q4 and $3.1 million to $16 million.  While the classic Hoover’s product line had little overseas sales, the new D&B Hoovers product line, built on the Avention platform, benefited from a longstanding presence in the UK, Singapore, Australia, and India.

TechTarget Priority Engine: Strong Q4 and Product Enhancements

Priority Engine combines Intent data with predictive analytics, technographics, and contacts.
Priority Engine combines Intent data with predictive analytics, technographics, and contacts.

Technology media company TechTarget announced strong Q4 growth for their Sales Intelligence Priority Engine service.  The firm added over 40 new Priority Engine and Deal Data customers in Q4 with revenues more than doubling year-over-year.  Priority Engine benefited from the addition of DiscoverOrg technographic and contact intelligence during the quarter.  The service combines intent, predictive, and contacts intelligence into a single solution.  Intent data is sourced from their 140 B2B media tech web sites containing 550,000 indexed content pages, many of which make the first page of Google technology searches.  Each day, the firm has one million buyer interactions tied to its 17 million members which it then tags to 10,000 technology topics.  The majority of members have technology titles, but TechTarget also supports five million non-IT members.

Content is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.

TechTarget claims that its hand-indexed, technology-focused editorial content results in a better indication of technology intent than machine-indexed intent files built across a broader set of B2B media sites.  Furthermore, because TechTarget has member ids associated with site activity, they know who at each company is researching specific topics, providing surge data tied to specific individuals.  Other intent vendors provide anonymous intent.

“Real purchase intent insight is actually made, not scraped from general-purpose websites.  It begins with relevant, useful content that provides critical value to professionals as they look to solve business challenges and make buying decisions. By observing and learning from their content consumption patterns as they happen, marketers can market and sellers can sell at the right time with greater relevance. Our ability to deliver real purchase intent starts with our extensive content footprint and the hyper-relevant audiences that we’ve built.”

  • TechTarget CMO John Steinert

Priority Engine identifies “vendors actively influencing this deal,” core and related topics, and products and vendors.  Installed product and vendor data is licensed from HG Data and viewable by category.  Users can also search installed technology at an account by product, vendor, and category.

Accounts are ranked on a weekly basis with the service providing “an early radar on who’s buying from your named account lists.”  TechTarget provides real-time analysis of the “most active accounts and named prospects conducting purchase research” and ranks those accounts by “likelihood to engage.”  Prospects are segmented by geography and hundreds of marketing segments.  The solution “creates a world-class ABM solution that combines breadth of reach, purchase power insights, and the ability to pinpoint and influence key prospects in one place.”

By combining DiscoverOrg contacts with member search data, Priority Engine provides “direct access” to the demand units of named active researchers and key influencers.  Joint customers will have full access to DiscoverOrg’s editorially verified decision makers alongside TechTarget contacts that are conducting active research.  The partnership displays the “Target Buying Team within a single dashboard.”  Priority Engine customers that have not licensed DiscoverOrg will be limited to ten names per account.

TechTarget announced a set of enhancements last month which includes weekly contact updates, Marketo integration, regional subscriptions (North America, EMEA, United Kingdom/Ireland, APAC, ASEAN and India), and integration with internal datasets such as sales territories and web site visitors.

“We’ve moved beyond company-level insights; Priority Engine gives you access to ranked accounts AND the actual buyers researching purchases at those accounts,” said TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney. “The unique purchase intent insight available within Priority Engine helps marketers generate demand more efficiently, accelerate ABM effectiveness, and deliver a more substantive contribution to sales.”

Gartner Predicts Increasing Sales & Marketing Tension Due to ABM

Todd Berkowitz, Research Vice President at Gartner, sees Account Based Marketing (ABM) as increasing tensions between sales and marketing in the short-term.  While ABM has long been advocated as a facilitator of departmental alignment, he sees ABM as disrupting sales processes and generating friction:

“Between ABM and adoption of various new technologies and data types, there is a lot of disruption that is happening with regards to sales teams. Even if these changes are going to be beneficial to tech companies in the medium-term, and some of the “A sellers” get on board quickly with the changes, there are many sales reps that will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world. (This is why I always advise trying an ABM pilot with a select set of reps). So even if there is pretty good alignment and agreement between CMOs and sales leaders, don’t expect all reps to magically do what they are being asked to do. There needs to be an adjustment period, along with good sales enablement, before everyone plays nicely.”

So, while ABM will facilitate agreements in process, messaging, and metrics in the medium-term, it will generate resistance amongst sales reps unwilling to adopt new processes and tools or unconvinced of its value.  This friction is probably exacerbated by predictions of sales force reductions due to the implementation of AI and other information and workflow technologies.

WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Resistance to technological change has long been an issue.  Early in the Industrial Revolution, The Luddites sabotaged British plants, particularly cotton and wool mills.  While sales reps are unlikely to sabotage initiatives (or their careers), they may hesitate to learn new platforms or adopt new processes.  As such, the problem may be more akin to soldiering, the assembly line equivalent of reducing individual productivity to the level of the laggards on the line.  Frederick Taylor, the father of time and motion studies, was very concerned about soldiering and recommended piece work rates to create productivity incentives.  But sales reps are very attuned to incentives.  While they may be hesitant to adopt new technologies, they will do so if they help make them more efficient and effective at selling.  So long as sales reps are paid on a commission basis and long-term employment is tied to making quota, the level of soldiering should be minimal.

This isn’t to say that sales reps won’t resist learning new tools.  If they believe the time invested in such training is less than the incremental revenue for the lost selling time spent in training, then they will avoid training and learning new tools.  However, if they see others on their team benefiting from the new tools, they will not hold out long term.  Thus, tool training needs to be visibly supported by management with an emphasis upon the benefits to sales reps (e.g. less time spent on non-sales tasks and more time interacting with customers and prospects, improved account intelligence, improved account targeting and message timing).  With the proper incentives and information, resistance should be minimal.

To help ensure adoption, vendors should be looking to integrate solutions into CRMs, email, and mobile devices so that new tools are integrated into current workflows.  They should also be providing inline tool tips, initial training focused on their capabilities which provide high levels of efficiency and efficacy improvements, tool-based win stories, and usage tools for tracking training, usage, and ROI.  A few gamification elements may also be in order, but they should be organic to the product and not hokey.