E-Mail Guessing Strategies Work Poorly

I’ve long suspected that email guessing strategies based upon corporate email templates are risky.  If the hit rate is low, you can quickly undermine your sender score and hurt your firm’s ability to communicate with customers and prospects.

Almost every sales rep does it as a quick workaround.  Hell, I’ve done it.  But, as a strategy for building marketing datasets, it is a dead end.  When sales reps do it, there is a high probability that their well drafted email will bounce.  When marketing does it, they will kill their email deliverability.

Two companies provide evidence to the failure of this strategy — DiscoverOrg and SalesLoft.

SalesLoft offered the Prospector service in 2014. It was a gerry-rigged Google search of LinkedIn that employed an email guessing strategy. The service was discontinued when CEO Kyle Porter decided to focus on Sales Engagement.
SalesLoft offered the Prospector service in 2014. It was a jerry-rigged Google search of LinkedIn that employed an email guessing strategy. The service was discontinued when CEO Kyle Porter decided to focus on Sales Engagement.

SalesLoft began as a LinkedIn scraping service that employed Google to build lists and then utilized email guessing to enrich the lists with dubious quality emails.  SalesLoft Prospector grew into a multi-million dollar business, but CEO Kyle Porter saw the business as unsustainable.   Instead, Porter used revenues from Prospector as a financial bridge for building out a sales engagement Cadence service which has grown rapidly.  Porter describes their service as “sincerity at scale.”

Yesterday, they announced the acquisition of partner SalesNinja which provides integrated meeting analytics for their sales engagement platform.   The tool transcribes and tags meetings for sales coaching, new hire training, and meeting note searching.  The goal is to improve sales efficiency and efficacy while identifying best practices.  Instead of dubious lists, the firm is looking to build quality conversations between sales and prospects.

SalesLoft’s mission is to “enable salespeople to sell with true intent and sincerity,” said Porter several years ago.  “The concept of getting a good prospect list and pounding it to death is old, trite and has become a terrible strategy and drag on our customer’s brands. We have never intended to participate in that process. SalesLoft Cadence is a different process, creates a different relationship, much different results and is executed by professionals with professional solutions.”

DiscoverOrg was never tempted by such strategies and employs a large editorial team to research and maintain executive profiles.  In a recent test of 2,700 editorially gathered emails that were also SMTP verified, DiscoverOrg found that basic template guessing was only 62.4% accurate.  When nickname substitution was employed, the rate only rose to 66%.  When they analyzed the incorrect guesses, they came up with multiple reasons for failure:

  • Large companies have multiple email formulas
  • Brands and subsidiaries create complications
  • Subdomains are becoming more popular in email addresses
  • Some companies use multiple email domains for different roles
  • Nicknames are very common
  • Middle initials and middle names
  • Duplicate names
  • Foreign names
  • Secretive email formulas

“A lot of data providers offer ‘confidence levels’ or likelihoods that a specific email is good,” blogged DiscoverOrg SVP of Data and Research Derek Smith.  “They’re just peddling their own guesses. Anybody can pass along their best guess at an email. Real sales intelligence gives you accurate, actionable data that won’t result in a bounce of your carefully crafted prospecting message.”

In the end, prospecting shortcuts are problematic.  The best sales and marketing professionals employ accurate data and insights for their messaging.  Furthermore, in the era of GDPR (three days from now), you can’t have explicit consent to communicate with an EU citizen when you are guessing at how to contact her.


DiscoverOrg Study

 

 

Outreach Amplify Brings AI to Sales Engagement

Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.
Outreach Amplify provides response analysis, helping firms select the most effective message.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach is teasing a new predictive analytics capability called Amplify which leverages the history of a firm’s sequences and workflows. The firm will not be employing a black-box AI strategy but providing recommendations with explanations.

CEO Manny Medina faults deep learning strategies which lack “the ability to make inferences, such as the ability to figure out why things work” and require users to trust the recommendations without providing a basis for the suggestions.

“We believe we need to tackle this problem following general scientific principles. Hypotheses need to be testable, data should be very carefully examined to verify the quality of the data.”

  • Yifei Huang, Machine Learning Lead, Outreach

“When we built Amplify, we built it with the core belief in mind that, the human needs to understand why things work so that machine can understand why things work so that the machine can get better at helping the human,” said Medina.

For example, Amplify deploys natural language processing (NLP) around email responses to help identify whether responses are unsubscribes, objections, or positive.  Outreach claims that their NLP classification is 92% accurate, only three points behind manual classification.

NLP will also be used to assess objection handling to identify reps who handle objections well and which ones need improvement.  This feedback is then available to managers to assist with coaching.

Amplify addresses two key managerial questions: “Is my team adopting the new technology? Is the new technology delivering a measurable lift?”

Amplify will be unveiled at their May Unleash conference.

DiscoverOrg Outreach Connector

Sales reps can upload individual records, selected records in batch, or all records to Outreach. A similar process supports uploads to CRM or Marketing Automation Platforms. Leads may be uploaded as new accounts or matched to current accounts within Outreach.
Sales reps can upload individual records, selected records in batch, or all records to Outreach. A similar process supports uploads to CRM or Marketing Automation Platforms. Leads may be uploaded as new accounts or matched to current accounts within Outreach.

Sales and marketing intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced a “refreshed” connector with sales engagement platform Outreach.  The update provides improved “synchronicity” between the two services, making it “faster and easier for reps to sequence DiscoverOrg contacts,” said Russell Van Leuven, DiscoverOrg Senior Director of Sales.

According to Van Leuven, the updated “solution will remove barriers and help people sell more by addressing three mission critical sales problems: (1) a disjointed sales tech stack, (2) inconsistent or untrustworthy data, and (3) maintaining governance practices to preserve data quality.”

“The value of great data lies in what our customers DO with it.  The integration of Outreach with DiscoverOrg means sales teams can get the best data and insights on their target accounts, engage them with the right message at the right time, and never worry about that data going stale again.”

  • DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

The solution addresses both the dearth of quality data for small teams that perform open-web Google research and “tech overload” at enterprises that are balancing email, CRM, and “a huge stack of tech tools to find, cross-reference, and confirm the information they need,” said Van Leuven.

Van Leuven highlighted the difficulties of maintaining data quality in CRMs:

It’s hard to trust the murky origins of the data in your CRM. It’s usually old (Did you know: data decays at a rate of 30% per year). A lot of distrust comes from the fact that most people have had a traumatizing experience with bad data or bad data providers that’s landed them in spam filters, blacklists, or worse. And when your sales team doesn’t feel like they can trust the data, they stop trying to keep records updated. Bad data perpetuates a burdensome cycle of bad data.

The connector feeds editorially researched prospect data into Outreach and Salesforce.  Both individual records and bulk prospects are pushed to Outreach and assigned to Outreach sequences.  There is “no downloading, uploading, copying or pasting required,” said Van Leuven.

Prospect lists can be assembled in DiscoverOrg and assigned to specific Outreach sequences and tagged by the owner.  Company and contact information can also be passed to Outreach via DiscoverOrg’s Chrome extension.  Thus, a sales rep can identify a prospect on LinkedIn or a company website, match and enrich the record against the DiscoverOrg reference file spanning 130,000 companies and three million companies, and then upload the enriched record to Outreach.

“Great sales results require an in-depth understanding of who you are targeting, and then reaching those individuals with a message that moves them to take action,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “The partnership between Outreach and DiscoverOrg makes that simple.”

The joint service also offers automated DiscoverOrg enrichment of new leads within Outreach.  The nightly scan appends DiscoverOrg contact information, firmographics, and technographics to Outreach for both new records and records updated within the DiscoverOrg reference library.  The nightly scan also identifies bounced emails and departed employees.

The connector supports field-level configuration allowing admins to set custom field mappings.  Admins are also provided with a weekly summary report which lists all account and contact updates.

DiscoverOrg has a 95% data quality SLA based upon their 90-day editorial review cycle and monthly bounce testing.

Along with Outreach, DiscoverOrg supports sales engagement vendors SalesLoft and Tellwise.  DiscoverOrg plans on enhancing those connectors along with adding additional sales engagement vendors.

SalesLoft $50M Series C

SalesLoft supports email templates and cadences for managing multi-channel communications.
SalesLoft supports email templates and cadences for managing multi-channel communications.

Atlanta sales engagement vendor SalesLoft received $50 million in Series C funding this week, bringing their total funding to $75 million. Insight Venture Partners led the round and was joined by Emergence Capital, which had participated in previous rounds, and LinkedIn. Funds will be deployed to add another 200 employees in Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, and Europe.

While the market value was not disclosed, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported the valuation at more that $200 million.

“Things have gotten very noisy for buyers these days. They are bombarded with sales activity via phone, email, social, and many other channels,” said CEO Kyle Porter. “When buyers are able to peel away from those distractions, they still have problems to solve — and an overwhelming range of solutions to sift through. Now more than ever, buyers really need sellers who can rise above all this noise and provide them with a better sales experience — through our product innovation and our people, it’s our mission to help sellers do just that.”

SalesLoft will soon be releasing its SalesLoft Assist artificial intelligence module “which is informed by more than 500 million sales interactions, providing users with dynamic and real-time suggestions.” The firm is also looking to expand its development and partner network.  The recently launched app partner directory already supports thirty partner solutions.

“SalesLoft is one of the most innovative companies in the sales engagement category and a leading provider on the Sales Navigator Application Platform.  SalesLoft has integrated Sales Navigator into their application in a way that provides great user value while protecting LinkedIn member data. We look forward to working with SalesLoft to create even more value for our joint customers in the future.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

“We didn’t create the sales engagement category; our customers did,” noted Porter. “They weren’t satisfied with the tools their teams had to connect and engage buyers. They made their needs clear, and we listened. As a result, sales engagement has evolved from a point solution to the system of record for sales organizations. Users are spending more time within SalesLoft than any other technology, including their CRM. Our customers are leading the way in this exciting new category, which is really just a reflection of their efforts to serve their customers in new, authentic ways.

New SalesLoft Capabilities (Rainmaker Part II)

The Sales Navigator Side Panel supports key functionality with SalesLoft including icebreakers, introductions, connections, and profiles.
The Sales Navigator Side Panel supports key functionality with SalesLoft including icebreakers, introductions, connections, and profiles.

SalesLoft is quite pleased with its previously announced LinkedIn Sales Navigator partnership.  SalesLoft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester noted that SalesLoft “worked extremely closely with their team” and that SalesLoft has the highest widget use amongst all of LinkedIn’s SNAP partners.  The Sales Navigator app supports real-time news, account information, introductions, ice breakers, connections, and recommended leads.  LinkedIn intelligence is delivered within SalesLoft’s Persona and Company Smart Panels.

“Our organization and thousands of others like us depend on LinkedIn daily for prospecting, insights, social selling, and the tools to build real, authentic relationships with your prospects and customers,” said SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter.  “In many ways, SalesLoft’s technology has been built to be extremely complementary with that of LinkedIn.”

SalesLoft recently launched a meeting tool which integrates with Outlook and Gmail.  The new service provides calendar links to customers and prospects so they can quickly book time on the rep’s calendar.  Booked meetings are visible within both SalesLoft and Salesforce.  A booked meeting can trigger automation rules such as changing a cadence stage, marking as success, or moving to a cadence such as setting follow up meetings or kicking off a meeting prep cadence.

Calendar settings include default meeting length, daily meeting windows, time zone, and standard message.  Users may continue to use Calendly and Chili Piper for setting meetings.

Another new feature is live website tracking which captures who visited a corporate website and which pages were visited.  Initially, the functionality is cookie based, but SalesLoft will support IP tracking in the future.  Sales reps can use the tracking to leverage past activity (e.g. suggesting additional resources related to past research history) or calling prospects while they are live on a corporate site.

“Live Website Tracking brings a brand new prospect readiness cue to the surface by exposing live and historical website activity to SalesLoft.  When you combine the unspoken signal of website activity with the more explicit signal of email interaction and direct response, you move closer than ever to understanding what the prospect needs and where they are in their buying journey.”

  • SalesLoft Product Marketing Manager Sunshine Levin

SalesLoft has a single-price user model of $139 per month.  The subscription provides full platform capabilities with some dialer minute limits.  Volume discounts are available.

Part I of this article covered SalesLoft’s new App Directory.

SalesLoft Rainmaker Announcements

SalesLoft's announced a new partner app directory at its Rainmaker 2018 user conference. The partnership apps span eight categories and include LinkedIn, Salesforce, Zoominfo, Twitter, Owler, Outlook, and Gmail.
SalesLoft’s announced a new partner app directory at its Rainmaker 2018 user conference. The partnership apps span eight categories and include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Salesforce, Slack, Zoominfo, Twitter, Owler, Outlook, and Gmail.

Amongst the announcements at their Rainmaker 2018 conference, SalesLoft added an app directory to its service to assist with partner discovery across 28 solutions. Partner applications are split into eight categories with a few listed in multiple categories:

  • CRM: Salesforce
  • Email: Gmail, Outlook, Vidyard (video), Sigstr (signature blocks), and Crystal (AI message coaching)
  • Sales Intelligence: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Twitter, Owler, and 7 other vendors
  • Sales Data: Zoominfo, Datanyze, and LeadIQ (browser lead capture)
  • Sales Content: DocSend (content management & tracking), Sendoso (swag, startup kits), and Highspot (sales enablement)
  • Sales Coaching: ExecVision, Gong.io, NoteNinja, and TalkIQ (all four transcribe calls and analyze them)
  • Sales Productivity: Slack, Engagio, Demo Manager, ChiliPiper (Meeting Scheduling)
  • Security: Four vendors

Sales enablement vendor Highspot was demoed at Rainmaker. The native service assists with content searching for inclusion in cadence campaigns. The service also supports email tracking and analytics.

“Highspot Everywhere is designed to seamlessly tie sales enablement processes into tools your team uses every day–including SalesLoft,” blogged Highspot Senior Content Marketing Manager Kate Kirby. “Sales representatives can leverage the power of Highspot directly within SalesLoft by inserting content into email cadence campaigns, taking full advantage of the Highspot content engagement analytics and user tracking capabilities.”

Sendoso, a direct mail gifting program, was also announced at Rainmaker. The gifting platform supports new SalesLoft steps including rewards for attendance, thanking new customers, and garnering prospect attention.

TalkIQ joins several call coaching services on the platform which create and analyze call transcripts. “More than 70% of customer interactions occur over the phone,” notes SalesLoft in its app directory. “TalkIQ analyzes each of these conversations and surfaces insights about how customer-facing teams operate. TalkIQ’s best-in-class, proprietary AI, reveals hidden trends, recommends actions, and predicts call outcomes in real-time. Successful companies use TalkIQ daily to make smarter decisions, increase revenue, improve customer engagement, and build better products.”

Other Rainmaker announced partnerships include Dark Sky (weather data) and Bombora (intent).


Part II of this blog discusses new SalesLoft functionality and partnerships concerning LinkedIn, Calendaring, website tracking, and email connectors.

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 Salesforce.com 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.”