ReachForce SmartSuite

ReachForce SmartSuite Process Flow
ReachForce SmartSuite Process Flow

Data hygiene vendor ReachForce released its new end-to-end data quality solution called SmartSuite which unites their SmartForms and SmartManage services into a single offering.  The SmartSuite service begins with an initial database cleanse bundled with ongoing data verification.  Sales operations can also upload their customer database for match and cleanse processing before importing the data into a CRM.  The firm notes that “providing data authenticity from the initial point of data acquisition has proven to be a priority for sales and marketing teams.”

Reachforce is positioning SmartSuite as a solution for lean marketing organizations that require “complete data to fuel their marketing programs.”  Furthermore, they stated that the pricing model is a “cost-conscious platform” with a “pricing model that scales with the size of your database and low-effort implementations.”  Beyond data hygiene, the platform offers “more robust data insights and an on-demand database builder.”

SmartSuite supports both web forms and list uploads which are immediately verified and enriched.

Other enhancements include SEC filing data for US publics and contact enrichment.

SmartSuite integrates with MS Dynamics, Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, and Eloqua.  The solution standardizes, verifies, and dedupes company and contact records prior to matching and enriching them with over 150 attributes.  Sales and Marketing reps can also prospect for additional contacts at key accounts.

“Regardless if you’re one of the largest enterprises or a B2B startup, the burden that poor quality data places on growth remains the same,” said ReachForce CEO Dion Cornett. “We’re excited that our new innovative platform is able to address so many of the data challenges shared by our customers. Intuitive ease-of-use, extended functionality, and better data mean more successful campaigns and greater revenue.”

InsideView Apex: Determine TAM, ICP, and Look-a-Likes

InsideView Apex TAM Visualization
InsideView Apex TAM Visualization

Sales and marketing intelligence vendor InsideView launched their Apex “go-to-market decision engine.”  The new product combines InsideView and CRM data to assist with analyzing new market entry, identifying a firm’s Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and assessing its Total Addressable Market (TAM).

“Smart B2B companies today are asking these questions: ‘Who are my best customers?’, ‘What are the new geographies and industries where I can expand?’, and ‘Are we going after the right customers and the right revenue?’,” said InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti. “We realized we had the technology, expertise, and data to help companies answer these questions quickly and with confidence so they never miss an opportunity. Business strategy shouldn’t be based on gut and guessing. And it shouldn’t require cumbersome data analysis. InsideView Apex uses cutting-edge technology and the best possible data so you can make the right decisions for your business.”

Go to market planning features include an ICP wizard, new/adjacent visualization tools with “what if” targeting analysis, TAM and market penetration analysis, new account and lead identification, and exporting of new ABM prospects to CRMs and MAPs.

“Revenue teams can use InsideView Apex to visualize performance against target segments in real time to optimize for success and focus resources on the targets with highest potential,” said Joe Andrews, VP of Product and Solution Marketing.  “Marketing can see performance indicators at each stage of the funnel as leads convert to opportunities and won deals. Sales ops can identify where leads or opportunities may be getting stuck to course correct in real time.”

The Apex account score is based on an AI algorithm which correlates attributes from deep company profiles that are proprietary to the InsideView Platform.  The account score is maintained and updated dynamically within Apex as customer ICP lists change. However, the account score is not currently pushed to CRM or InsideView for Sales.

If customers have also licensed InsideView Sales and Enrich products, ABM accounts are tagged.

Other visualization tools include a five-quarter historical view; market segmentation of leads, opportunities, and wins; and account whitespace (market penetration) analytics.

InsideView Apex Funnel Analysis Dashboard
InsideView Apex Funnel Analysis Dashboard

Apex integrates with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Eloqua (Oracle Marketing), and Marketo.

Apex is licensed as an annual subscription and is priced in tiers based on company size which serves as a proxy for the number of market segments being targeted.

Apex is not the first tool in this category (e.g. D&B DataVision and DiscoverOrg AccountView), but it is emblematic of the expansion of sales intelligence vendors into market intelligence and strategic planning. When I started GZ Consulting six years ago, the sales intelligence firms were wary of entering the marketing realm, but the top sales intelligence firms are now offering ICP/TAM tools, marketing automation connectors, segmentation analysis, look-a-like prospecting, and data enrichment tools.  This shift goes hand-in-hand with the blurring of the lines between sales and marketing.  For example, sales engagement platforms provide cadence, analytics, and email marketing tools for sales reps alongside dialers and sales coaching.  We are also seeing visitor intelligence and intent data being displayed within CRMs.

“Most B2B companies perform go-to-market planning and analysis in product silos and often fail to involve sales and marketing teams early in the process – those who must execute the strategy.  Planning is a slow, manual process, based on limited information.  Most firms have few ways to measure market performance reliably against strategy, making it nearly impossible to course correct in real time. It’s time to change this.”

  • Forrester Principal Analyst Laura Ramos

A 2018 InsideView survey of 500 American sales and marketing professionals found that TAM measurement was non-existent (25%) or ad hoc (28%) at surveyed organizations.  Only 23% of respondents work at firms that regularly evaluate Target Demand.  The remaining 24% of firms perform Target Demand analysis annually.

“All of the efficient and creative demand generation in the world will be wasted if the targeting is off,” wrote the firm in their 2018 Sales and Marketing Alignment report.  “The shotgun approach to sales and marketing no longer works. There’s too much noise in the market and in prospects’ inboxes. The only way to stand out is to know who you’re targeting, and why and when they buy, and it can’t be done effectively unless both sales and marketing buy in it. Developing an ideal customer profile (ICP) and using it to determine your total addressable market (TAM) will help sales and marketing know exactly who to target, why they need your products, and when they need them.”

SFDC Unplugging Data.com Connect

Salesforce Lightning Data partners include Clearbit, HG Data, Bombora, MCH, and DataFox. InsideView and Dun & Bradstreet were not included in this week's announcement.
SFDC is promoting Lighting Data solutions as an alternative to its Data.com Prospector and Clean offerings.  Salesforce Lightning Data partners include Clearbit, HG Data, Bombora, MCH, DataFox, InsideView and Dun & Bradstreet.  Additional partners are planned.

Salesforce told its Data.com Connect customers that the product will no longer be available as of May 4, 2019.  As such, the firm will not renew any customers after May 3rd of this year, and users will not be able to license any points, contacts, or plans after May 3rd.  However, users will be able to earn points through community updates through the expiration of the product.  While Salesforce has not announced shutdown dates for the native Salesforce Data.com Clean and Prospector offerings, their shutdown is “currently targeted for some time in 2020.”

Data.com Connect contacts data will continue to “used in the maintenance of the Data.com Clean and Prospector products,” said the firm.  “After the Data.com end-of-life is complete, the contact database may be archived by Salesforce.”

Data.com Connect is the successor to Jigsaw, which the firm acquired in 2010 for $142 million.  Connect Members either purchased plans or earned points through adding and maintaining records within Connect.  After acquiring the database, Salesforce realized that Jigsaw company data was too weak to be sold and partnered with D&B (now Dun & Bradstreet) to deliver the WorldBase company file alongside Jigsaw contacts.  This partnership was in place until early 2017 when SFDC announced the end of the licensing relationship.  Legacy customers continue to receive Data.com WorldBase account data, but the firm is encouraging clients to evaluate Lightning Data partnership offerings from Dun & Bradstreet, Bombora (intent), HG Data (technographics), DataFox, Clearbit, MCH (healthcare), and InsideView.

Future Lightning Data partners include Thomson Reuters, Aberdeen (technographics), Datanyze (technographics), Compass, and Equifax.

“We’ve built a powerful, flexible set of capabilities into the Salesforce platform we call the Lightning Data Engine.  It uses sophisticated matching algorithms and machine learning to make it easy to implement and deliver strategic data and insights from trusted, third-party sources. Lightning Data apps give customers next-level data quality, enabling them to create more intelligent processes built on better, more targeted data, which improves CRM user adoption and ROI. Best of all, seamless integration requires minimal ongoing maintenance, and makes data readily available on any device without IT involvement.”

  • Salesforce.com

Dun & Bradstreet said that it expects Data.com revenues to decline 30% in 2018.  The announcement that the Data.com Prospector and Clean products will be shuttered in 2020 is likely to expedite the revenue wind down.

Holistic Data Quality

A contact database that is 90% accurate is subject to a 25% decay rate.; thus, after 9 quarters it is less than 50% accurate.
Contact databases are subject to a 25% decay rate; thus, a contacts database that is 90% accurate today will be 70% accurate a year from now and less than 50% accurate after nine quarters.

Poor data quality is a disease which slowly destroys the value of your marketing database.  Quality is damaged through incomplete information, poor data entry, and data decay.  A traditional response is to purchase new records, but this only provides a temporary (and expensive) respite from your data quality issues.

The data I’ve seen indicates that contacts decay at a 25 to 30 percent annual rate.  This means that a prospect list that is 90 percent accurate today will be little more than 50% accurate two years later.  Thus, a prospect list purchase strategy is like steroids, it makes your marketing database look healthier on the day the list is purchased, but it simply masks the growing disease within your database.  Treating one or two symptoms does not address the underlying problem — a lack of a broad, continuous data strategy.

However, if you take a holistic view around data quality which includes continuous DaaS validation, ABM look-a-likes, web form enrichment, lead-to-account mapping, duplicate management, data standardization, and reference database appends, you will have a healthy database that ensures your MAP and CRM platforms contain the richest, most accurate data.

Vendors that support holistic data quality include ReachForce, D&B Optimizer (FKA Workbench), Zoominfo, InsideView, Oceanos, and Openprise.  So if you are concerned about your ability to target, segment, pass quality leads to sales, score leads, or build predictive models, then begin with a holistic data strategy.  Symptoms of poor data quality include high email bounce rates, declining email sender scores, returned direct mail, duplicate records, incomplete records, accelerating unsubscribe rates, and sales reps that ignore your marketing qualified leads.

Any firm that is adopting ABM, advanced lead scoring, a single view of the customer, or predictive analytics, should begin with a holistic data quality strategy.  Otherwise, these advanced marketing strategies are bound to fail.

Hawaii Ducks and Covers

The US 1950's Civil Defense training film taught school children to
The US 1950’s Civil Defense training film “Duck and Cover” taught school children to “duck and cover” if there were a nuclear flash. (Public Domain)

Thinking back on the Hawaii emergency management snafu (a WWII acronym meaning “Situation Normal: All F****d up), it was clear that they lacked proper controls and situational planning.  Apparently, there were no controls to prevent routine tests from sending out real messages.  Furthermore, there was no redundancy in the system (e.g. confirmation messages, secondary approvals) and no plan for immediately recalling the message. Supposedly, the governor couldn’t Tweet because he forgot his password.

So, Hawaii was sent into a panic.

This just points out that emergency plans need to be periodically reviewed (what better time than Q1?).  Do we have proper backups and system redundancy, state of the art firewalls and virus detection, and plans for managing and communicating hacks?  Can we manage operations if a key partner API crashes or content partner shutters? Have we run through PR nightmare scenarios such as the one that H&M recently suffered (and which resulted in their South African stores being vandalized)?

There is no lack of risks (data security, physical security, financial, brand, supply chain, key executive health).  Most are highly unlikely.  But we’ve seen information services firms suffer problems over the past few years including the theft of the D&B NetProspex contact file from a data licensor and the Equifax hack.  So, while many seem remote, the lack of scenario planning makes them more likely and costlier.

Of course, risk planning and mitigation need to be realistic.  If it is simply a “Duck and Cover” campaign for PR purposes, then it will do little to prevent the risk or manage the situation should the emergency happen.  Emergency planning needs to be robust.

Emergency planning suffers from some of the same issues as data quality.  Both are boring investments based upon reduction of hypothetical risks and costs.  But part of a C-level executive’s mandate is to plan for business continuity and mitigate risk.

Oceanos for Salesforce (Beta)

Oceanos ListOptimizer supports quarterly batch updates to account, contact, and lead records.
Oceanos ListOptimizer supports quarterly batch updates to account, contact, and lead records.

Contact data management vendor Oceanos is working with Datarista to bring an SFDC-based contact service to the market.  The Oceanos ListOptimizer service, currently in in beta, will be generally available in Q1.  Sales Operations can run counts, perform company and contact searches, and ensure ongoing data integrity.

The service supports standard company and contact list building with running counts as variables are selected.  New execs may be added as lead records or accounts and contacts.  Duplicate checking is performed.

Batch Salesforce updates are performed quarterly.  In 2018, the updates will run every other month with contact changes updated weekly.

Oceanos offers best-in-class contact records from over a dozen vendors.  When records are deployed to customers, they are subject to real-time reverification against FreshAddress, FullContact, and Pipl.

Contact management services are purchased on a credit basis with custom pricing plans based upon volume and intended usage.

In other news, Oceanos recently inked a deal to deliver its ContactAPI to The Big Willow intent data platform. “Targeting prospects before the market even knows they exist provides our customers a first mover advantage,” said Big Willow CEO Charlie Tarzian.  “With the Oceanos ContactAPI, we provide our users targeted contacts for intent-qualified opportunities that accelerates engagement.  With 15 years in the space, they’ve earned a stellar reputation and we’re thrilled to take this next step in our partnership.”

Along with connectors and APIs, Oceanos offers free data health checks and a team of data consultants to assist with data hygiene and analytics initiatives.

The Fog of Corporate Battle

Churchill's WWII Map Room (Source: Creative Commons)
Churchill’s WWII Map Room (Source: Kaihsu Tai / Creative Commons)

Information is a key asset on the battlefield which provides a competitive advantage to the side with better information and communication systems.  While the “Fog of War” continues to be an issue, real-time information sharing helps improve military decision making and reduces the risk of both collateral damage and friendly fire accidents.  Nevertheless, information remains imperfect and mistakes continue to happen.

In the corporate world, there is also a fog of corporate battle, but much of it is self-induced.  We build systems that don’t talk to each other or which use different conventions for standardizing information and identifying customers and contacts.  Furthermore, information is not validated and enriched as it is obtained, resulting in weak information sets.

While this lack of data synchronization creates headaches across the company, I will be focusing on sales and marketing platforms for purposes of brevity.  Inaccurate and incomplete marketing information causes problems within marketing platforms such as weak segmentation, poor scoring, bad targeting, and misallocated marketing resources.  Bad and missing fields are then propagated to downstream systems.  If information is bad when received and there are no mechanisms for validating, standardizing, and enriching the information in its system of origin, misinformation flows to other platforms resulting in an increasingly expensive set of problems and remediation costs.  It is much easier and less expensive to resolve a problem at its source.

Furthermore, once leads are enriched with firmographic and biographical details, the intelligence is available to downstream platforms; and if the enrichment includes a company identifier (e.g. European Registration Number, Ticker, D-U-N-S Number), then maintaining data accuracy in downstream systems and linking the platforms is much easier.

The cost of islands of information is high for B2B firms.  A few examples:

  • Marketing departments generate a broad set of leads through multiple channels and systems.  Some of this information is anonymous and some is tied directly to contacts.  How confident are you that you aren’t generating duplicate (or triplicate or quadruplicate…) information?  Are you matching and enriching information as it is gathered from web forms, uploaded tradeshow spreadsheets, and purchased lists, or are you loading data “as is” with little verification or enhancement?  By focusing on data quality at the outset, you are ensuring that richer and more accurate information is shared across your platforms.
  • Marketing invests large sums in generating marketing qualified leads (MQL) which are then frequently ignored or cherry picked by sales.  Some of this disconnect is a lack of agreement on what constitutes a good lead but some is also a lack of front-end intelligence being applied by marketing.  A lead may be considered as marketing qualified but lack key information to pass muster with sales (e.g. how big is the company? What industry are they in? What is the job function and level of the contact? What technologies do they use? Will they be approved by credit after I’ve invested months in landing the deal?)  Knowing that a lead downloaded a whitepaper earlier in the day signifies interest in a topic, but not the ability or authority to make purchasing decisions.  Furthermore, it provides a thin reed upon which to base a sales conversation.
  • Channel conflicts are introduced when bad or missing information results in a lead being directed to the wrong sales rep.  Leads which lack accurate firmographics and linkage information are likely to be routed to the wrong team or rep.  Thus, a lead generated at a subsidiary or branch location of a major firm may be routed to a territory rep instead of a named account rep, resulting in both channel conflict and a greater likelihood that the lead will be ignored.  Of course, if the lead was poorly routed, it also is likely that the lead was improperly scored and assigned to the wrong segments for targeting and analytics.

Finally, the lack of standards and cross-platform communication make it difficult to obtain a unified view of the customer.  An October 2015 survey of global executives by Forbes Insights found that 63% believed that a more complete/unified view of the customer would result in more accurate predictions of customer needs and desires.  Other benefits included improved customer experience/service (60%), greater feedback for product/service innovation (55%), and a greater ability to target and optimize for specific customers (50%).

For decades, technology strategists have warned about the problems of creating data islands across one’s IT platforms.  If systems are unable to speak with each other or data lacks consistency across systems, then it is impossible to develop a holistic view of one’s business and customers.  And while the problem seems large today, it will only grow in scope with the advent of the Internet of Things.  So if you think the fog of corporate battle is difficult in 2017, failing to address it will only make the problem many-fold more difficult to tackle in the years to come.