As we are one month away from the new year, it is a good time to think about budgeting for data quality in 2018.
I know it isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it is unnecessary.
Data Quality software is markedly improved over the past few years. No longer is it necessary to download and forward a file to a vendor and wait for them to process your marketing file. Sales and Marketing Operations can now setup automated cloud cleansing that works within Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and other enterprise applications. B2B vendors to consider include Dun & Bradstreet, InsideView, Zoominfo, and ReachForce.
These platforms perform both initial batch match & append and ongoing enrichment, ensuring that your sales and marketing files have both accurate and complete data. These services also support company and contact prospecting, data health reports, suppression lists, and segmentation reporting. A few even offer free data quality reports, deduplication, technographic enrichment, nixie files (defunct companies and departed exec files), web form support, sales intelligence services, and contact verification and standardization (e.g. address, phone, and email) for non-matched records.
As these services reside in the cloud and offer cloud connectors for the major MAPs and CRMs, the operational overhead is minimal allowing operations to focus on ABM look-a-likes, segmentation, and improved targeting instead of file management.
What’s more, data quality improvements benefit sales, marketing, and downstream systems. A record cleansed and verified as it is created costs much less than a bad record passed down to other enterprise platforms. Beyond direct cost reduction (storing bad data, marketing to departed execs, sales calls to abandoned voicemails, reduced time keying and updating records manually), there are improvements to segmentation, targeting, lead scoring, lead routing, and messaging.
So budget for data quality in 2018. It isn’t glamorous, but it is effective.
Data automation vendor Openprise announced support for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which goes into effect on May 25th. The new Openprise Data Orchestration Platform capabilities provide “visibility, control, and access management inside and outside of a company, without the added complexity of traditional compliance solutions.”
The GDPR specific functionality “controls the flow of EU data out of your company” via “fine-grained data filters and permission roles,” and flags leads and contacts which are subject to the GDPR even if the records lack country flags. The firm performs checks based upon emails, IP addresses, phone numbers, and non-standardized country fields. Both standard and custom fields in sales and marketing automation platforms are GDPR validated. Openprise maintains an audit trail and logs records which have been processed by partners.
The firm noted a Catch-22 in GDPR regulations. Enriching records that lack country designators may require enrichment from non-compliant datasets, violating the law. By utilizing data from within the record (e.g. domain, phone numbers), Openprise avoids violating the law in order to support the law.
“The vast majority of US-based companies are woefully unprepared for GDPR, and this new set of regulations has teeth. We’ve heard from our customers that they want a central control point to help maintain compliance with GDPR. Openprise’s position in the MarTech stack as the conductor that manages the movement and processing of data across systems puts it in a unique position to serve as this control point.”
Openprise CEO Ed King
The GDPR is broadly written to cover data held by non-EU companies, even those without operations or sales staff within the EU. Penalties can be quite high, reaching up to 4% of revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater.
“What’s so critical about GDPR is that it affects companies everywhere in the world, whether they have a presence in the EU or not, and unlike many other regulations, this one has teeth,” says Allen Pogorzelski, vice president of marketing at Openprise. “If you’ve got EU citizen data in your databases, you’re subject to GDPR regulations. U.S. companies that ignore these regulations do so at their own peril.”
This summer, Openprise launched a Data Marketplace to assist with ingesting and normalizing third-party B2B and B2C data. Amongst the platforms supported are Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot. The Data Marketplace, part of the Openprise Data Orchestration platform, includes built-in rules to ensure data are properly onboarded. B2B Partners include Zoominfo, InsideView, Orb Intelligence, Synthio, Salesgenie, and Dun & Bradstreet.
The theme of this year’s Dreamforce was The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Following after revolutions driven by steam, electricity, and information technology, the fourth industrial revolution blurs the “physical and digital worlds” creating a wave of “innovation in technology” which is transforming the economy, society, and lives while creating new jobs, industries, and opportunities. This next wave is based upon intelligence. Elements include IoT, 3D printing, biotech, robotics, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and quantum computing.
“This is what we call the fourth industrial revolution,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. “There’s all these amazing new technologies, things like autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence and nanotechnology and mobile computing and all these things are really hitting at once. And companies are really transforming themselves and bringing all these new technologies in really to connect with their customers in new ways.”
Thus, elevators loaded with sensors now communicate back to the manufacturer and predict failures, calling for service prior to trapping people. Likewise, with tires, “if the tire blows, nobody knows; but in the future, if the [smart] tire blows, everybody knows.” So, firms like Kone (elevators) and Michelin (tires) are now B2B2C companies. In the future, if a tire is about to blow, it will communicate to the autonomous vehicle to pull over.
“Every company is getting closer to their customers. We’ve been talking about this for years. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, everybody’s becoming a B2B2C company.”
Salesforce and its customers are “delivering personalized one-to-one engagement at scale,” said Stephanie Buscemi, EVP of Product Marketing. This is done “declaratively, with clicks and not code.” Through the Salesforce Data Management Platform, ads are customized and delivered cross-device, allowing companies to redisplay ads or present new advertisements to their customers and prospects.
Benioff cited a series of companies providing customer service and support through Salesforce platforms including Louis Vuitton, Marriot, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Adidas, and Ducati Motorcycles.
“Behind all these things…behind everything is a customer. And that’s what all of us do. We are working to connect with our customers in an incredible new way.”
Simplified customization, development, and branding were emphasized during the keynote. A set of customizable products provide a “smarter, more personalized Salesforce”:
MyTrailhead service supports custom branding, content, and learning paths that allows firms to onboard and train employees on desktops and phones. Tools include quizzes, reference links, trails, and badges. Salesforce Trailhead content is also available.
MyEinstein provides an artificial intelligence layer driven declaratively by “clicks, not code” supporting “smarter capabilities including bots.”
MyLightning customization provides an app builder with custom pages, a Lightning theming and design system, Lightning Flow, Components, and Bolts which operate automatically on both desktops and phones. Designers will have access to dynamic components which are conditionally displayed.
MySalesforce branded “mobile apps without code” can be uploaded to the Google Play and App Store.
MyIoT supports native integration capturing real-time events, business rule automation, and low-code orchestration.
Based upon customer feedback, SFDC has shifted from IoT as a separate platform to an integrated feature of the CRM platform which also operates “declaratively without code.”
Benioff admitted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating concerns and wondered whether it is “uniting us or dividing us. Are we more connected or somehow less connected?”
He also asked whether there is more or less equality in the World.
“There is this stress being created by this fourth industrial revolution. Yes, we have this promise of this new connected World. But what is it doing to us? And what are other actors doing around the World using these technologies? Are they changing our society? Are they changing our elections? What are they doing with this technology?”
Benioff is looking at the Trailblazers attending Dreamforce as the Customer Innovators, Technology Disruptors, and Global Shapers to ensure that the next wave is directed in a positive direction. “You have all these new tools at your fingertips, these incredible new technologies, but you are doing some amazing things in the World. You are changing your companies. You are steering this technology in the right direction. I’m so confident in who you are. I’m so confident in what’s in your hearts and where we are all going.”
Benioff noted that most technology is generally neutral in it effect upon society. It is therefore incumbent upon technologists, developers, and companies to deploy technology in a socially responsible manner which promotes greater equality. Benioff called for companies to fight for equality through equal pay, investing in schools, and opposing discriminatory laws. He also noted that it is the poor who are most hurt by environmental degradation and proudly stated, “we are a net zero cloud.”
Benioff was also proud to have founded and led the leading CRM with an 18.1% market share (2016 IDC) nearly double that of Oracle (9.4%). Salesforce has the top solutions for sales (34.2%), service (33.7%), marketing (9.9%), and Platform-as-a-Service. Within the marketing cloud, Salesforce claims to offer the leading Data Management Platform and commerce Platform.
What’s more, the firm is on track to be the fastest enterprise software company to hit $12.5 billion in revenue. They hit $10 billion this year and have FY19 guidance of $12.5 billion in year 20.
One of the issues facing businesses and policymakers is an increasing skills gap. Benioff proposed MyTrailhead as one of the tools to help address the problem of workers across many industries and skill levels. MyTrailhead provides a customized, branded training platform.
TechCrunch complained that this year’s Dreamforce lacked drama as it lacked new initiatives such as the social enterprise, artificial intelligence, and IoT. “They are a company that embraces the cutting edge, but this year lacked that kind of big announcement,” complained enterprise reporter Ron Miller. To be fair, though, the company has rolled out a series of new platforms, clouds, and acquisitions over the past few years. A year with few fireworks is not necessarily a year without forward progress for Lightning, Quip, Einstein, Trailhead, and platform customization.
The conference remains a monster with 170,000 registered participants joining in San Francisco and millions of online views.
George Westerman, principal research scientist with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, wrote an excellent article on Digital Transformation titled Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy. His key point was that the true value in digital transformation comes from using digital technologies as the fulcrum for transformation not as the objective. When focusing simply on a technology for technology’s sake, the return on investment is much lower.
In the digital world, a strategic focus on digital sends the wrong message. Creating a “digital strategy” can focus the organization in ways that don’t capture the true value of digital transformation. You don’t need a digital strategy. You need a better strategy, enabled by digital.
Westerman cautions that technology doesn’t provide business value in a vacuum, but only when fused with a business strategy that transforms a key aspect of your business such as product delivery (e.g. e-commerce), customer understanding (e.g. analytics), “radically synchronizing operations” (e.g. IoT), changing business models (again IoT), etc. Thus, “technology’s value comes from doing business differently because technology makes it possible.”
For example, sales intelligence isn’t about providing reps with additional contacts or feeding them with business factoids so they sound smooth on calls. It is about transforming sales and marketing processes by infusing relevant, accurate, and timely intelligence into sales and marketing workflows; aligning sales and marketing objectives; prioritizing activities; and making sales reps more efficient and effective at selling.
Westerman offers four strategies for digital transformation:
Get Away from Silo Thinking — Focusing on a technology strategy (e.g. Mobile, Big Data) can be limiting and ends once the technology has been implemented. A technology focus results in incremental improvements, whereas a business transformation strategy employs multiple technologies and management interventions. You begin with the objective and then determine the digital processes and workflows for implementation. “A customer intimacy strategy, for instance, uses mobile along with other digital technologies to constantly increase personalization, engagement, and satisfaction.”
Don’t push the envelope too far, too fast — Overly ambitious strategies may be very risky while more mundane projects may be ignored. Cutting edge technology may not be ready or implementation strategies may not be understood. “Business leaders leave easy money on the table if they ignore incremental steps and pursue risky opportunities that may not be ready to pay off yet.”
Don’t ask your tech leaders to drive transformation alone — This is an old piece of advice, but still relevant. Early CRM projects often failed due to a top down approach that lacked support from sales and support teams. The CTO or CIO needs to work with other C-level and mid-level executives that provide expertise in the industry and function. For example, The CTO cannot transform sales and marketing by fiat, but must work with sales and marketing management for expertise, cooperation, risk mitigation, implementation, and communication.
Build essential leadership capabilities, not just technical ones — Digital transformation isn’t a project but the ongoing development of enterprise capabilities and business value. Digital leaders should “create a transformative vision, engage their people in that vision, and then govern strongly to chart a course across a whole portfolio of digital transformation efforts — some planned and some yet to be discovered.”
Not all problems require expensive cutting edge technology. Many problems are still soluble through low tech solutions, small dollar investments into current platforms, and modified processes. A focus on technology not only brings about silo thinking, but could increase complexity and cost.
I’m reminded of my high school Geometry teacher who said, “there are two ways you can kill a fly. You can use a fly swatter or you can use a bazooka.”
I suspect the bazooka would be a lot more fun, but costlier and riskier.
That being said, there are also great risks in moving slowly or lacking a digital strategy. Forrester highlighted the risks of being a Digital Dinosaur. The author Nigel Fenwick noted that the digital predators are customer obsessed:
While all companies profess to put customers first, it’s clear from the data that executives at digital Predators care more passionately about the customer across multiple dimensions: In every customer metric we measured, these executives rated the importance of the customer higher than peers in transformers and dinosaurs – in short, they are not just customer obsessed, they are really, really customer obsessed.
And consistent with Westerman’s advice, customer obsession is a business objective, not a technology focus. It is this deep understanding of customer needs that both informs the business and technology strategy and creates a defensible technology advantage.
British social selling service Artesian Solutions launched their new Arti chatbot (artesian.ai) this month. According to their press release, “Arti enables intuitive customer interaction in a relatively human-like way, answering questions about Artesian’s capabilities and providing expertise in real time. No longer do customers need to search through content on the company’s website, instead they can now interact directly with Arti and uncover the information they need in an instant.”
The Arti screen is split into two with the user keying questions on the left. A text response is displayed alongside the question as a British voice reads the answer. If there is ancillary content or videos, it is displayed in the right window.
“Our business is all about pushing the boundaries of web-based technology to deliver commercially valuable and immediately actionable insights for our customers,” said CEO Andrew Yates. “Telling the user what they need to know and the action they need to take, at the right time, means client facing teams can capitalise from every business moment. Arti is a great example of how the application of AI can be a significant enabler of productivity, lead generation and importantly enhanced customer experiences.”
A quick test proved disappointing with Arti misunderstanding basic questions such as “Which countries do you cover?” or “do you publish financials?” Many of the responses are tangential answers usually suggesting a “meeting with the team.” Of course, AI tools are able to learn and the content and response sets should improve over time. Thus, Arti users are likely to have better results in the future.
And as evidence of learning, the system has been updated to provide the following answer to “do you publish financials?”
We provide access to Experian credit ratings directly within Artesian, along with lots of other valuable information such as corporate family tree, shareholdings and detailed financial information.
“Arti is more than just a bit of fun, although we’ve certainly had fun building it,” said Director of Marketing Stuart Newton. “It has the potential to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for us. Arti will continue to get smarter the more our customers engage with it, learning from previous conversations to become more effective and valuable to our web visitors. I am delighted to place Artesian amongst some of the leading brands in the world, leveraging chat bots to connect with customers. It will change the customer experience by replacing clicks with sustained conversations and personalised interactions.”
When training sales reps, I emphasize staying “above the fray.” Besmirching a competitor’s product also sullies your reputation. It shows a lack of class and a sense of desperation. Oftentimes it can backfire.
“It is a mistake to believe that you can win hearts and minds by attacking your competitor. When you have no idea how strong the relationship is, you can make a complete fool of yourself, doing more harm than good, and doing nothing to create a real opportunity.
Speaking ill of your competitor is an indication of who you are, not who they are. There are better strategies available to you.”
It is much better to position the value of your offering and focus on areas of differentiation than it is to throw mud. You should lay landmines for competitors, not besmirch their reputation.
A landmine is simply an emphasis upon those features and benefits where your product or service offering excels. The goal is to frame the discussion around the dimensions in which your product provides superior value to the end user. Keep in mind that value is dependent upon the customer in question, so you need to factor in job function, industry, company size, etc. Also, be careful to select areas in which your firm excels overall, not dimensions in which you are superior to competitor X that is vying for the deal but inferior to competitor Y. Otherwise, you may later find out you lost the deal to Y.
Likewise, you should expect your competitors to be laying landmines for your sales reps. They need to understand where these mines are laid and how to diffuse them.
One tool I recommend is the quick parry. This is a quick response to the question, “how are you better / different than company X?” A quick parry is only three or four sentences and usually begins by saying something positive about the competitor before transitioning with a BUT or HOWEVER. The positive item can be a recognition of some dimension in which they are the acknowledged leader or a dimension which is of limited importance to the customer in question. Thus, if you are selling to an SMB, you might emphasize the breadth of their solution for enterprise customers vs. the ease of use, quick implementation, and pricing models you offer for smaller firms. Such a tool differentiates your service from the competitor without throwing mud.
Of course, sales reps will only be able to deploy landmines and respond with quick parries if they understand both the value proposition of their offerings, the needs of their clients, and the strengths and weaknesses of their offerings vis-à-vis competitors. This is where tools and training come into play.
One of the key aphorisms in architecture is that form follows function. The quote, attributed to Louis Sullivan, holds that a building’s design should be based upon the underlying purpose of the building, not driven by ornamentation. Twentieth century design took this maxim to heart with similar thinking spreading through industrial and software design.
In the case of information services, a focus on flashy design or “bells and whistles” can be a distraction if the underlying service fails to meet the basic informational and workflow needs of its users. One of the great things about Google is that it returns high precision results from a few words entered into a search box. It was this simplicity that allowed them to grab and hold two-thirds of the search engine market share, leaving Bing and Yahoo! to pick up the scraps.
A well-designed sales intelligence solution supports multiple sales and support workflows. These users span multiple functions and departments (e.g. sales, sales directors, sales operations, sales support, service departments, business development, and marketing). Furthermore, there are multiple types of sales reps within larger organizations so your sales intelligence platform needs to be flexible enough to meet differing information requirements and workflows.
Thus, tactical sales reps need to quickly locate contact information and a few prospect qualification variables. They want to make sure that the contact they are about to call is in their territory and doesn’t work at a subsidiary of a named account.
Conversely, a strategic rep has broad information requirements around companies, company structures, executives, and key events. Strategic reps are focused on who to call, when to call, and what to say. Sales triggers are not only a flashing green light that a prospect is more likely to buy, but conversational material for catching the prospect’s attention and signaling that the rep has prepared for the call. Likewise, SWOT reports, biographies, industry market research reports provide insights into client interests and needs.
Named account reps sell only to a few firms so need a deep understanding of their target accounts. They need to be apprised of key events at an organization that could positively or negatively impact their pipeline. Furthermore, named account reps are looking for additional contacts and locations for extending their corporate footprint. Thus, searching across a company for specific job functions and then reviewing subsidiary profiles and bios is an important task in growing the account. Named account reps also benefit from PDF exportability so they can review the latest information about their client or prospect while traveling. These reports can also be shared with other members of the sales and support team.
Territory reps and financial services relationship managers need to be apprised of sales triggers within their territory, quickly research and qualify companies, and dig deeper on larger opportunities. Furthermore, as they generally sell cross-industry, they also benefit from industry overviews from vendors such as First Research. These primers are written in plain English and provide a set of Q&A sections by topic and job function.
Most reps work within a CRM, so review the capabilities of sales intelligence CRM connectors. The tighter the integration the better. If your CRM is your system of record, you want the sales reps working within the CRM on desktops and mobile devices. Services that bounce the user between a web browser and the CRM are less effective than those that provide most or all of their content and functionality within Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics, or other CRMs. Also, look for “stare and compare” updating of records, batch and real-time synchronization of data, custom fields, and duplicate checking.
Many sales intelligence services also support the marketing department. Standardizing the two functions on a common vendor helps reduce cost and channel conflict. It also provides a basis for successful ABM programs which cross the two departments. Several years ago, sales intelligence vendors only offered prospecting to marketing, but now they also support web forms, real-time and batch enrichment of leads, lead-to-account mapping, marketing automation connectors, lead scoring, segmentation analysis, Ideal Customer Profiling, TAM analysis, and net-new leads and contacts. A few also offer standalone services for the marketing department such as programmatic advertising, visitor id, multi-channel marketing, and SEO.
When evaluating sales intelligence solutions, you should understand the workflows and information requirements of each of your sales groups along with other potential beneficiaries of the service. Don’t evaluate simply on counts and features, but on the information needs and workflows of your various sales and marketing teams.