Zoominfo Beats Back the Summertime Sales Blues

Zoominfo analyzed their Out of Office (OOO) emails and phone call connection rates over the past year to determine whether there was a dog days of summer impact on their business or whether it was a convenient excuse used by sales reps for taking their foot off the pedal in July and August.  It turns out that there is a sustained drop off in phone connectivity and an increase in OOO messaging in July and August.  For Zoominfo, the potential income loss was equal to $400,000 in monthly new Annual Contract Value (ACV).

Brian Setzer as Eddie Cochrane playing “Summertime Blues” in La Bamba

If we extend that loss over the last week of June and the first week of September, the summer lull would result in a million dollars in lost ACV (half a million dollars in 2020 revenue, but that is only because subscription revenue is recognized over the length of the contract, not when booked).

But a firm like Zoominfo has a very high retention rate, so stratifying the million dollars over the lifetime value (LTV) of the lost opportunities means that the cumulative LTV is likely in excess of $5 million (their 2019 dollar based net retention rate was 109%)

For a company that went IPO in June after touting strong new ACV growth in their May S-1, new revenue growth is key in maintaining confidence in your revenue teams.

“How did we respond to this data?  By stepping on the gas – we sent out an additional ~14k+ emails (~10% of normal volume) over the past two months and making an additional ~23k dials (~35% of normal volume) per month. 

Sales is — and always will be — a contact sport. 

This is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to have a vast array of contacts at prospects. Without being able to tap into our own data this wouldn’t have been possible.  That’s not cheap promotion, it’s a fact.”

Zoominfo CEO Henry Schuck

Around 90% of Zoominfo’s revenue is domestic, so they aren’t dealing with the long August vacations taken in Europe. The strategy of working harder over the summer allowed them to maintain new ACV growth during a soft period, but it might not be effective in Europe when business activity is reduced much more significantly.

OOO messages often provide alternate contacts that may be part of the buying committee. Acting on this intelligence and extending relationships to additional decision makers and influencers may improve both current and future close rates.

Zoominfo has a reputation for effective revenue operations management. They assumed the summer doldrum lore to be true and double downed on their outbound communications. But they also measured their sales and marketing efficiency to better understand the nature of the summer slowdown, allowing them to model and refine their summer sales strategy in the coming years.

Source: Zoominfo Blog, “Leveraging Sales Intelligence in the Dog Days of Summer

CJEU Invalidates EU-US Privacy Shield Data Transfers

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) struck down the EU-US Privacy Shield that allows firms to transfer EU citizen’s private data to the United States for data processing.  The EU maintains higher consumer data privacy laws that conflict with US security and legal policies.

“Today’s decision effectively blocks legal transfers of personal data from the EU to the US.  It will undoubtedly leave tens of thousands of US companies scrambling and without a legal means to conduct transatlantic business, worth trillions of dollars annually,” said Caitlin Fennessy, research director at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

The CJEU held that “the requirements of US national security, public interest and law enforcement have primacy, thus condoning interference with the fundamental rights of persons whose data are transferred to that third country.”

“In the absence of an adequacy decision, such transfer may take place only if the personal data exporter established in the EU has provided appropriate safeguards, which may arise, in particular, from standard data protection clauses adopted by the Commission, and if data subjects have enforceable rights and effective legal remedies…

The Court considers, first of all, that EU law, and in particular the GDPR, applies to the transfer of personal data for commercial purposes by an economic operator established in a Member State to another economic operator established in a third country, even if, at the time of that transfer or thereafter, that data may be processed by the authorities of the third country in question for the purposes of public security, defence and State security. The Court adds that this type of data processing by the authorities of a third country cannot preclude such a transfer from the scope of the GDPR.

Regarding the level of protection required in respect of such a transfer, the Court holds that the requirements laid down for such purposes by the GDPR concerning appropriate safeguards, enforceable rights and effective legal remedies must be interpreted as meaning that data subjects whose personal data are transferred to a third country pursuant to standard data protection clauses must be afforded a level of protection essentially equivalent to that guaranteed within the EU by the GDPR, read in the light of the Charter. In those circumstances, the Court specifies that the assessment of that level of protection must take into consideration both the contractual clauses agreed between the data exporter established in the EU and the recipient of the transfer established in the third country concerned and, as regards any access by the public authorities of that third country to the data transferred, the relevant aspects of the legal system of that third country.

Regarding the supervisory authorities’ obligations in connection with such a transfer, the Court holds that, unless there is a valid Commission adequacy decision, those competent supervisory authorities are required to suspend or prohibit a transfer of personal data to a third country where they take the view, in the light of all the circumstances of that transfer, that the standard data protection clauses are not or cannot be complied with in that country and that the protection of the data transferred that is required by EU law cannot be ensured by other means, where the data exporter established in the EU has not itself suspended or put an end to such a transfer.”

“Data Protection Commissioner Ireland v Facebook Ireland Limited, Maximillian Schrems,” 16 July 2020

The EU-US Privacy Shield was implemented several years ago after the CJEU held that the prior US Safe Harbor regime was insufficient.

Privacy advocate Max Schrems brought the cases that invalidated Safe Harbor and EU-US Privacy Shield.  Following the ruling, he stated:

“It is clear that the US will have to seriously change their surveillance laws, if US companies want to continue to play a role on the EU market…The Court clarified for a second time now that there is a clash of EU privacy law and US surveillance law.  As the EU will not change its fundamental rights to please the NSA, the only way to overcome this clash is for the US to introduce solid privacy rights for all people — including foreigners.  Surveillance reform thereby becomes crucial for the business interests of Silicon Valley…

This judgment is not the cause of a limit to data transfers, but the consequence of US surveillance laws.  You can’t blame the Court to say the unavoidable — when shit hits the fan, you can’t blame the fan.”

Privacy Advocate and Plaintiff Max Schrems

“This leaves a huge question mark over data transfers to the US, said Tanguy Van Overstraeten, partner and global head of privacy and data protection law at the law firm Linklaters.  “The Court has struck down the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield because it considers the US state surveillance powers are excessive.  For the thousands of businesses registered with the US Privacy Shield, this will be groundhog day; this is the second time the FTC operated scheme has been struck down after the Shields predecessor — the Safe Harbor — was struck down in 2015.  Businesses will now look to EU regulators to propose some form of transition to allow them to move away from Privacy Shield without the threat of significant sanctions and civil compensation claims.”

The ruling also puts in question data transfers to Russia, China, and potentially the UK post-Brexit.

“The CJEU’s judgment could have implications for the UK’s prospects of gaining adequacy at the end of the Brexit transition period,” said Peter Church, counsel at Linklaters.  “This will necessarily involve an assessment of the UK’s surveillance powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.  However, there are a number of differences between the UK and US regimes.  For example, the UK regime has already been reviewed by the European courts and a number of amendments have been made to bring it into line with European law.  In addition, the UK regime does not have the same distinction between UK and foreign nationals, unlike US law which does not grant the same rights to non-US citizens.”

“This is a bold move by Europe,” said Jonathan Kewley, co-head of technology at law firm Clifford Chance.  “What we are seeing here looks suspiciously like a privacy trade war, where Europe is saying their data standards can be trusted but those in the US cannot.”

Standard Contract Clauses (SCCs) may also be insufficient.  “If the law in the relevant country – let’s say the USA – could override what the contract says, they don’t work,” said Kewley.  “I don’t know how much appetite they have to do this, but it’s hard to imagine that any European regulator would say that SCCs work for the US, and the pressure will pile on for them to make the assessment.  I don’t think SCCs escaped the court’s judgement – for some key countries, it’s probably just a stay of execution.”

One likely impact will be the localized processing of EU consumer data within EU data centers.  Over 5,300 companies rely upon the EU-US Privacy Shield as part of their GDPR and broader EU compliance.  Companies that rely upon the Privacy Shield span a broad set of B2B data, DaaS, social networking, CDPs, and cloud companies [searchable list].  These include Zoominfo, Dun & Bradstreet (including Lattice Engines), Experian, Infogroup, TechTarget, Microsoft (including LinkedIn), Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon (including AWS), Oracle, Salesforce, HubSpot, Adobe (including Marketo), LiveRamp, Melissa, TowerData, 6Sense, Leadspace, SalesLoft, Outreach, Groove, VanillaSoft, Yesware, and ConnectLeader.

Firms are also likely to ramp up their GDPR and CCPA compliance messaging, but that does not address the weaker data privacy structures of US law.

Microsoft Global Skills Initiative

Microsoft launched a global skills initiative to provide digital training to 25 million global workers.  The online courses will be delivered through Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub.  

A new “System of Learning” app will be released later this year on Microsoft Teams.

“Increasingly, one of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs.  And one of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

The Microsoft Data Science team leveraged the LinkedIn Economic Graph to estimate global digital job growth over the next half-decade.  Microsoft estimates that by 2025, there will be 100 million new software development positions, 20 million cloud and data roles, 20 million data analysis, machine learning, and AI jobs, and 10 million cybersecurity, privacy, and trust roles.

LinkedIn has already setup digital training tracks for ten of these key positions: Software Developer, Sales Rep, Project Manager, IT Administrator, Customer Service Specialist, Digital Marketing Specialist, IT Support / Help Desk, Data Analyst, Financial Analyst, and Graphic Designer.  These roles were selected as they have “the greatest number of job openings, have had steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online.”

Microsoft noted that investment in employee training has declined over the past few decades, leaving fewer employees with on-the-job or employer paid training benefits. Since 2008, investment has remained flat.

“Exacerbating the challenge is the fact that existing training is not reaching the populations who need it most. On-the-job training far outpaces distance learning and other alternative modes, limiting options for prospective employees. Perhaps more significantly, on-the-job training is more than two times as prevalent among workers who are already in higher-skilled roles, leaving those in more automatable positions even more vulnerable to displacement.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

Emphasis on Virtual Training

The availability of low cost or free training tools is one of the silver linings from the pandemic. Boardroom Insiders, a profiler of C-level biographies and executive concerns, spent two weeks reviewing recent CIO interviews. They observed that technology leaders have emphasized upskilling and reskilling their teams to address skills gaps while working from home.  Tech vendors have rolled out “a whole host of free training and education programs.”  As these programs are virtual, CIOs are encouraging their staff to attend these sessions with zero travel costs and reduced or waived registration fees.

Likewise, CIOs are using the time at home to hone their leadership, communication, and team engagement skills.  CIOs have found their teams to be more productive, collaborative, and agile, with rising morale.

HubSpot Sales & Marketing COVID Activity Metrics

HubSpot has measured aggregated sales and marketing platform activity across its 70,000 customers since the pandemic began and benchmarking this activity against the pre-COVID level (January through early March).  Looking back at Q2, CMO Kipp Bodnar noted that “the data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.”

Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer,” commented Bodnar.  “While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.”

Marketing email open rates are up ten to twenty percent above pre-COVID levels, with the last week of June running 18% above the baseline.

Sales teams have been less successful in their outbound communications.  While sales emails have risen 60% since mid-March, “response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.”

Sales email open rates are down 25 to 30%.  “As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes,” warned Bodnar.  “So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.”

“Volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.”

HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar

Website traffic increased during the pandemic as decisionmakers and influencers began working from home.  Global site traffic is up 16% in Q2 vs. Q1 with it peaking at 24% above the benchmark on April 20th.  Software industry site traffic is running at 40% above pre-pandemic levels.

Customer-initiated chat levels have also risen sharply during the pandemic.  Total volume is up 31% over the pre-pandemic baseline, with every measured industry seeing increased volume.  “Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support,” observed Bodnar.

Call prospecting has dropped significantly during the pandemic as it has become more difficult to reach individuals who are now working at home.  Call prospecting fell as much as 27% below baseline the week of April 6th and now is down around 9%.  Before COVID, there was a rough balance between phone and email prospecting, but in Q2, email activity doubled that of phone calls.  “Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates,” argued Bodnar.

Deal Creation has improved in eight of the eleven weeks since April 6th, with deal creation up the past four weeks.  APAC deal creation was down 5% in Q2, North America down 6%, EMEA down 12%, and LATAM down 12%.  Large companies have recovered deal creation activity faster than small firms.  Computer Software deal creation was down 3% in Q2.

Deal Won has improved ten of the last eleven weeks, after dropping to 36% below baseline the week of April 6th.  For the full quarter, deals won were down 11%.  Smaller firms did best at closing deals, with larger firms posting the weakest performance, likely due to large firms selling a greater percentage of high-dollar, strategic deals that would have stalled in their pipeline.  Computer software Q2 was 14% above baseline, but this probably overstates industry performance due to Q1 often being the slowest month of the year and the loss of many “hockey stick” end of quarter deals at the end of Q1 as the pandemic struck.  Some of these likely slipped into Q2.

Bodnar provided three suggestions for Q3: invest in chat, shift from quantity to quality in sales prospecting and communications, and invest in online discoverability.

Clearbit for Clari

B2B Marketing Data vendor Clearbit partnered with Revenue Operations Platform Clari to deliver enriched contacts into CRMs.  Clari identifies external contacts from emails and meeting activity, helping fill out the buying committee.  According to Clari, only 30% of sales-engaged contacts are entered into the CRM.  By automating the contact identification process, sales reps have a clearer view of the full demand unit, allowing them to target messaging by function and recognize potential gaps in their knowledge of the buying committee.

By expanding knowledge of the demand unit, Clari can identify the broader set of decision-makers and reduce deal risk through multi-threaded relationship building.  Relying on one or two contacts has multiple risks:

  • The sales rep may not be messaging to the full demand unit
  • Their point of contact may be sidelined or leave the firm
  • Multiple points of contact may be set up dealing with different vendors, each providing a siloed perspective on the deal.
  • Post-sale, if users and administrators weren’t involved in the decision, adoption rates might be low, leading to higher churn rates.
  • The project champion may depart before renewal, forcing the rep to scramble to re-establish relationships at renewal time.

The expanded knowledge also helps marketing teams identify the key personas involved in deals and customize content and messaging.

“Now all the contacts that showed up for a sales meeting, even the ones that were added to the invite by the prospect, are automatically associated with the opportunity without your rep needing to lift a finger.”

Clari Marketing Programs Manager Maggie Kullman

Clearbit enriches the contacts with title, job function, and level. Firmographic and technographic details are also appended.

“As budgets get tighter and operating plans are reworked, having your prospects’ finance team involved early on is critical to accelerating the deal toward close,” wrote Clari Marketing Programs Manager Maggie Kullman.  “With the combination of Clari, Clearbit, and a little bit of automation, you can trigger an update to an opportunity field any time a CFO gets added to a meeting with the sales rep.  Now you can easily track which of your deals are missing a critical decision-maker and take actions to drive that relationship.”

Demand Units are a term coined by SiriusDecisions a few years ago when they updated their Demand Waterfall model for B2B sales and marketing. Each opportunity is associated with a set of decision-makers (e.g. technical, financial, functional directors) and influencers (e.g. users, admins). Demand Unit discovery is still in the early stages of development, but looking at email headers, out of office messages, and meeting attendees is a promising approach for organically identifying buying committee members.

Quora: What are the most typical ways in which a salesperson will push self-interest (and decrease trust) onto a prospect?

The Full Question

What are the most typical ways in which a salesperson will push self-interest (and decrease trust) onto a prospect? ‘Wanting to talk about their product’ is common, but what other less obvious ways crop up?

My Response:

Not all of these are self-interest, but they all are ways that sales reps undermine trust and fail to establish a relationship with their customers and prospects.

Bad mouthing a competitor — it shows a lack of belief in your own offering. If the statement you make is incorrect, you look dishonest and you have blown the deal. I generally suggest that when reps are asked about competitors that they say something positive (but not highly relevant to the prospect) about the competitor and then pivot back to their offering by highlighting an area where their product offering excels). This allows them to stay above the fray, avoid badmouthing the competitor, and quickly shift back to their value proposition.

Misrepresentation — if you don’t know the answer, don’t wing it. Be honest and follow up quickly. Reps aren’t expected to be technical experts, but they should know the basics of their offering.

Likewise, if your products are not well suited to meet their current requirements, then don’t push solutions that will leave them disappointed. Either they will figure it out after wasting a lot of your time (and theirs), or they will purchase your product, be disappointed, and never buy from your firm again. This kills future deals at the company when their needs shift (or your product capabilities are deeper). It also kills future deals at other companies when they change jobs. Honesty may not win you the deal today, but dishonesty will kill future deals when you are a better fit. You can’t win back trust once it is lost.

Not being prepared — There is little reason not to know the basics of your customer and prospect. You have access to LinkedIn and the company website. You can also gather firmographic information (size, industry) and industry information from subscription services (e.g. D&B Hoovers, InsideView, First Research, Vertical IQ, etc.).

Failing to listen — Good selling entails listening to their needs and concerns.

Pitching too early — It is ok to talk about the product, but only after understanding the customer’s needs. You should start by listening and understanding their requirements and then discussing your value proposition and how you can help meet their needs. Focus on value. When discussing features, tie them to relevant benefits, but avoid a feature deep dive unless that is what the client wants. Reps often are too quick to demo.

Slow Follow up — If you offer a client samples or a service trial, turn those around immediately after the call (or within a few hours if you have other calls). If you need to get back on technical items, send them a list of the open items and cc or bcc the technical team. If you offer a quote, SOW, or RFP response, then let them know when they will be available. If you can’t close the loop when selling, what confidence will they have that your firm will deliver on time, swiftly support technical issues, or provide proper training?

Slow Response — Likewise, slow response to website or chat requests can be a deal killer. If you are unable to respond immediately, then send a quick email acknowledging their request with anticipated follow up. Slow responses erode trust and provide time for them to consider your competition.

Being Creepy — Being overly familiar, contacting somebody five minutes after they’ve visited your website (unless they have requested to be contacted), being inauthentic.

In short, we are talking about honesty, authenticity, listening, good follow up, and knowledge about your products and prospects / customers.

Zoominfo Health Scan Analysis

Zoominfo, which is readying to IPO, launched a Health Scan Analysis to help firms identify “key segments for opportunities” within their Total Addressable Market (TAM).  The service identifies targetable market segments that are less impacted by COVID along with which segments to avoid.  Firms can then “quickly pivot their go-to-market strategy and focus their efforts on worthwhile prospects ready to buy.”

The Health Scan begins with a consultation where customers share details about their pipeline and business challenges.  Zoominfo’s data solutions team then analyzes the company’s pipeline and win-rate trends before and during the downturn.  The analysis includes “benchmarks to pinpoint where any pipeline degradation may have occurred.”

The Data Solutions team conducts a market assessment that identifies opportunities and sizes their TAM.  The report also includes a market segmentation analysis and a “hand-selected list” of targets from Zoominfo’s database of companies and contacts.

“Recognizing that current market conditions are extraordinarily challenging, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our customers are generating high-quality contacts for their pipeline.  We discovered valuable takeaways when examining our own position in this same manner.  As a result, we’re offering our clients these data-driven insights on how to optimize their go-to-market strategies so they can continue to hit their numbers and thrive in a changing market.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

From the initial interview through report delivery [Sample PDF], Zoominfo promises a five business-day turnaround.

Zoominfo is not the only firm that provides pipeline analyses. Dun & Bradstreet offers a similar analytics service which combines firmographics with industry risk data and InsideView offers Apex.

D&B: Pipeline Health Analysis for Risk Reduction and Targeting Ideal Customers

Dun & Bradstreet, which has been running pipeline health analyses for its clients over the past three weeks, assessed over 35 million accounts across 125 pipelines.  They found that 21% of accounts were subject to high financial risk based on several factors: slow payment, bankruptcy, unpaid debt, and business viability, a statistic which VP of Product Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet Sales & Marketing Solutions Dennis Olcay called “jarring:”

“We continue to keep a close eye on this number, but that is a jarring statistic that demands attention as it relates to go-to-market strategies,” wrote Olcay.

“The dominant theme of our customer conversations today is how to be both sensitive and impactful in the new environment.  We have found the new environment has unleashed entirely new forms of sales and marketing campaigns – far less driven by self-positioning and more characterized by seeking to meet customers where they are.”

Digital Marketing Solutions CRO Michael McCarroll

Dun & Bradstreet offered a high-level risk segmentation based upon SIC codes and each industry’s risk profile (see chart on the right).  Industries were stratified across five categories: Essential businesses (e.g. food supply, hospitals), Supports Remote (i.e. businesses which were able to transition to WFH), requires contact (e.g. hospitality, entertainment), delivery-based retail (e-commerce, e-delivery, logistics), and central production (e.g. manufacturing, natural resource extraction). 

Dun & Bradstreet cautions that simple SIC analysis is only the first pass in performing a risk assessment.  Firms may be in the same industry but have different go-to-market and operational strategies that impact their risk profile.  Another factor is their exposure to supply chain and customer risk.

“Despite the promise of MarTech to enable speed and scale for your go-to-market strategy, this is a time to hit the pause button and rethink your go-to-market approach,” cautioned Olcay.  “Don’t sacrifice tailored messaging for the sake of scale and speed to market – the additional thought you put in now to think about fit, intent, and risk will pay dividends when your audiences notice you’re empathizing with them and offering real value that aligns to the specific challenges they are experiencing.”

And Dun & Bradstreet isn’t the only firm that is promoting pipeline analyses for its clients. Zoominfo is offering a similar service which I will cover in my next blog. If you don’t know where to find revenue in June and Q3, a pipeline analysis is an excellent place to start.

Dun & Bradstreet and DueDil (UK) are offering industry barometers to help refine your targeting. Vertical IQ is offering industry-specific pandemic analysis as part of its industry overviews. Experian is providing a regional and industry analysis by risk level.

And on the marketing side, HubSpot has been publishing weekly marketing metrics for their 70,000 customers. Data includes deal open rates, deal close rates, email prospecting, site visit rates etc. Users can even drill down by segment and country to benchmark their sales and marketing performance against peers. The most recent analysis is for the week of May 18.

Dun & Bradstreet Pipeline Risk Analysis

Dun & Bradstreet is offering a free Pipeline Risk Analysis to help firms better understand which opportunities are at risk due to the pandemic.  The analysis may also be used for supply chain or portfolio analysis.  The Health Scan takes a corporate family tree approach to opportunity analysis that leverages Dun & Bradstreet’s global corporate linkages.  Thus, it flags accounts where greater than 20% of their locations are in geographies with commerce and population movement restrictions.  

The analysis also identifies accounts located in geographies with restrictions, accounts in industries directly impacted by government restrictions, and firms deemed at risk according to Dun & Bradstreet’s predictive metrics (Delinquency Score, Failure Score, or Viability Rating).

“Our predictive models indicate that companies operating with limited margin are likely to face hardships when their normal operating environment is disrupted significantly,” stated the firm.  “Our predictive scores show these populations of companies are more likely to struggle to balance all financial obligations, especially if direct sales are compromised through a change in customer behavior.”

As Dun & Bradstreet delivers both risk (credit, supplier) services and sales and marketing solutions, they are better positioned to offer a hybrid solution that evaluates accounts based upon a series of risk factors.

“By adding ‘risk’ as an additional dimension for account selection in addition to fit and intent, organizations can identify accounts that have the highest likelihood of facing financial strain and potentially going out of business. This helps sales teams prioritize their time and helps marketing teams allocate their limited resources more wisely.”

Dun & Bradstreet VP of Product Marketing Deniz Olcay

Olcay also noted that there is an information asymmetry that benefits purchasers.  Buyers have a much better understanding of their cash position and risk profile than sellers, resulting in “adverse selection,” to the benefit of buyers.

When modeling for Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), collections risk is usually not a significant factor in the calculation; however, during a recession, collection costs and delays need to be factored into the CAC calculation.  Firms become much more guarded with their cash during recessions, extending payment periods to maintain liquidity.

“Marketers and sellers may not be measured on being able to collect payments, but it has a significant impact on the performance of the business,” said Olcay.

Dun & Bradstreet notes that the pandemic demonstrated how interconnected the global economy has become with problems in one region cascading into others.  As always, firms should be selecting target accounts based on fit, intent, and risk.  While diversifying your portfolio makes sense as a long-term strategy for hedging risk, it is a poor strategy when near-term risk information is ignored.

“As it relates to go-to-market planning, diversifying your target accounts to reduce risk can hardly be sound advice.  But, knowing the risk profile for your ‘basket of accounts’ may protect your organization from missing revenue targets.  Now more than ever, teams must keep their emotions in check and make sound targeting decisions based on risk.”

Dun & Bradstreet VP of Product Marketing Deniz Olcay

Dun & Bradstreet provided a set of recommendations for “protecting your go-to-market engine.”  These include maintaining a centralized repository of customer and prospect intelligence that is continuously updated, reassessing the Ideal Customer Profile in light of new risk factors, and reallocating marketing spend to focus on lower-risk opportunities.  Dun & Bradstreet also recommends identifying net-new accounts based on pipeline risk and concentrating on upsell and cross-sell opportunities at stable accounts.


Dun & Bradstreet is also offering Business Insights for Business & Government in the Age of COVID-19. I covered this service last week.

SalesLoft: Sales Engagement for WFH Sales Teams (Part II)

Continuing my conversation with Sunshine Levin (Part I), Director of Customer and Analyst Relations at SalesLoft. One of the key features of Sales Engagement Platforms is cadences (aka sequences) which automate a set of outbound, multi-channel communications and monitor the response.

SalesLoft Cadence & Activity Feed

Because cadences are automated, reps do not need to schedule most tasks.  Instead, next steps are automatically tracked, and current activity is recorded and synced with Salesforce.  Furthermore, SEPs monitor response rates and support A/B testing. Levin recommends that admins review reports and dashboards to determine changes in the efficacy of tactics and messaging.

Another benefit of activity tracking concerns management visibility into sales rep activity and prospect engagement.  In the current environment, where family members may be ill, and children are at home, managers need to be sensitive to each rep’s situation and not focus on traditional productivity metrics.  To assist with planning, SalesLoft offers prioritization tools such as Hot Leads and a Pipeline View, their newly introduced, native offering resulting from the recently acquired Costello solution: 

“For Salesforce users,  SalesLoft Deals can give you a holistic view of everything that matters when managing a deal.  Within SalesLoft Deals, Pipeline View will help your team prevent opportunities from slipping through the cracks, while Deal View can facilitate coaching and strategy conversations about opportunities during one-on-ones.  Finally, keep an eye on deal health by reviewing Deal Gaps to identify opportunities that may be slipping and what you should do to get deals back on track.”

SalesLoft Blog

Live Call Studio and Conversation Intelligence allows managers and trainers to listen in on sales calls, whisper suggestions to the rep, and join calls.  These tools are particularly valuable for new reps that may have had little face-to-face training before offices were closed and for target accounts where reps are looking for additional assistance on major deals.  Calls may be recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, providing a basis for call post-mortems and training. Automated indexing allows reps and managers to review critical points (e.g. Next Steps, Pricing, Competitors) afterward.  Analytics also assess engagement (was it a true back and forth or a few comments with long monologues) and calculate the frequency of filler words. Playlists provide a library of sales best practices, allowing new hires to listen to snippets around product, pricing, competition, objection handling, etc.  Should a rep have difficulties on a topic, she can forward a conversational snippet to the appropriate expert or subject owner (e.g. manager, product marketing, customer support) for feedback. Conversational snippets present the voice of the customer to the subject matter expert, providing an unfiltered view of the question or concern.

Leaderboards help encourage healthy rivalry between reps.

SalesLoft noted that home Wi-Fi connections could be spotty, so reps may need to connect through their router directly.  A second option is to set up call passthrough where the call is initiated from a mobile app or the browser and is handled as a mobile or landline call.  Call passthrough provides an alternate, higher quality channel while recording both sales activity and conversational intelligence.

SalesLoft’s platform has matured from a Cadence service to SDRs to a broader sales engagement platform that supports account execs, customer success managers, and WFH use cases.  The core cadence feature set is now accompanied by conversational intelligence, enhanced analytics, and deal management tools buttressed by a growing ecosystem of application partners.