Sales Enablement and Account Orchestration vendor Seismic announced General Availability of its Q3 release with enhanced analytics, alerting, customization, and dashboards. The release emphasizes improved recommendations and metrics for the bottom half of the funnel. The fall release aims to improve reporting, alerting, content recommendations, attribution, and context-specific messaging.
“Sales content performance data has become a critical source of buyer feedback,” said Seismic CEO Doug Winter. “Businesses are looking for ways to engage buyers through personalized, resonant messaging, but haven’t had the visibility into what content performs well and what doesn’t. Our improved analytics capabilities unite revenue teams, changing how deals are closed, how content is produced, and ultimately, how business is done.”
In an interview with GZ Consulting, VP of Product Marketing Jam Khan emphasized that sales and marketing professionals are becoming “increasingly data-driven,” but doing so across the full funnel. The historical pattern of marketing identifying and nurturing leads before handing them off to sales no longer holds. Instead, sales and marketing work in tandem, with sales taking broader ownership over email messaging and marketing looking to maintain conversations post-sale.
Top of the funnel marketing has a series of well-defined metrics, but lower down the funnel, analytics are murkier. Sales and marketing struggle to determine which content is working, what the best-sellers are doing that differentiates them from their peers, which messages are most effective, and the coachable moments. Reps also want assurances that they are using the most current and compelling content.
Sales Enablement platforms typically report on views and time spent with content but lack attribution that ties content to close. Thus, content efficacy remains cloudy. A 2019 Forrester study commissioned by Seismic found that 85% of “buyers will dismiss a seller in the first interaction if they don’t receive tailored information” but that 54% of organizations aren’t able to “effectively generate actionable insights from sales asset data.” Thus, revenue teams need to understand better what buyers want and replicate best practices across the revenue organization.
Part II discusses Seismic Fall Release reporting enhancements.
Sales Enablement vendor RingDNA released Guided Selling, a set of Next Best Actions (NBA) for sales reps. Guided Selling advises sales reps on what to do, when to do it, whom to contact, and what messaging to employ. Sales managers can create and deploy preferred playbooks to their salesforce, even without face-to-face training. Both inbound and outbound selling plays are supported, helping “implement proven playbooks at scale.”
“When you know what winning deals look and sound like, you know exactly where to focus to improve outcomes,” said RingDNA CEO Howard Brown. “Guided selling uses artificial intelligence to provide revenue teams with tools, insights, and next best actions necessary to win deals, grow accounts, maximize revenue.”
“It’s a fool’s errand to expect a 22-year-old sales development rep (SDR) fresh out of university to develop a consistent, scalable, repeatable prioritization, execution, and qualification process. Be prescriptive in your expectations and methodical in the tools you arm your teams with…for the overwhelming majority of your team—who have never held full-time, quota-carrying roles and aren’t able to think strategically yet—you must be prescriptive. You need to show them how to think strategically and tactically as they approach their daily work.”
TOPO analyst Phoebe Conybeare
Guided Selling is embedded into the Salesforce Sales Cloud and delivers prioritized actions for opportunities, contacts, and leads, helping reduce sales rep planning time. The AI-powered task list recommends the tasks that will put sales reps on “the shortest path to revenue.” The task list is dynamic, updating based upon prospect behavior. Thus, priorities are reassessed based on prospect interaction with e-mails, web forms, multi-media, and social media.
Guided Selling includes a set of best-practices templates based upon billions of sales interactions monitored by RingDNA since its 2012 launch. Salesforce Dashboards help managers optimize cadences and messaging, allowing them to test and refine rep workflows. Cadence activities across e-mail, phone, text, and social are synchronized with Salesforce.
Gartner stated that 51% of sales organizations have deployed or plan to deploy algorithmic-guided selling over the next five years.
“Intended to augment more traditional sales tools, such as sales playbooks, algorithmic-guided selling uses sales data to boost the seller’s ability to engage with prospects…Algorithmic-guided selling leverages artificial intelligence technology and existing sales data to guide sellers through deals, automating manual sales actions while reducing the need for individual seller judgment in the sales process.”
Tad Travis, Gartner VP of Research, “Algorithmic-Guided Selling to Have Significant Impact on Sales Productivity”
“In this new remote paradigm, companies are having to do more with less,” said Brown. “Guided Selling is a total game-changer for sales teams, as it uses AI to focus reps on next best actions while empowering them to build stronger relationships and better solve customer problems.”
Sales Enablement vendor Seismic released Interactive Content, a set of microapps and LiveContent presentations that lets remote sales reps “come close to mimicking an in-person environment, in which they are adapting to buyer reactions and feedback in near real-time.” Interactive Content helps revenue organization deliver “immersive, engaging” digital experiences “with just a few clicks.”
A Tiled integration supports Seismic microapps that delivers “memorable evergreen content like digital brochures, pitch decks, 3D interactive visuals, and more.”
“Microapps unleash creative storytelling. Organizations that deliver their messages in conversational, self-directed ways will win. Those that don’t will be left behind,” said Tiled CEO Darrell Swain. “Linear content will ultimately go the way of print. We are moving into an experiential era that requires a new interactive content format that allows for the creation of rich, immersive experiences, without the need for code.”
Tiled microapps deliver “immersive experiences” with “evergreen content that captures buyers’ attention.” The apps are interactive and drive engagement through stories “that resonate in a way buyers will remember.”
Seismic describes microapps as “a new content type that combines the interactivity of a mini-website or an app with the ease of document delivery. Use cases include event invites, digital product brochures, buyer’s guides, and eBooks.
The microapp builder resides within Seismic’s Content Manager and supports drag n’ drop, interactive ‘tiles’ that deliver content as “scrollable image galleries and panes, in-line videos, quizzes, and more.” The builder is a no-code service that supports adaptive display across mobile, desktop, and tablets. Microapps may be reviewed and approved before publishing to targeted audiences.
While microapps support one-to-many interactive communications at the top of the funnel, LiveContent supports one-to-one, personalized communications at the bottom of the funnel. LiveContent is built with familiar authoring tools that “easily transform traditional presentations into personalized, memorable, dynamic stories.” Content is delivered in an “always-on” mode, as it is “intended to be.”
Seismic LiveContent converts standard presentations with embedded animations, transitions, videos, GIFs, and voiceovers “delivered remotely, exactly how a seller would deliver in person: in presentation mode.” Seismic stores the original presentation file, allowing content creators to update LiveContent presentations based on page-by-page engagement analytics quickly. The initial release supports Microsoft PowerPoint, but additional presentation formats will “follow soon.”
“Presentations are not intended to just be scrolled through,” said Seismic CEO Doug Winter. “LiveContent allows a buyer to engage with a presentation remotely in a similar way that a seller would engage a buyer in person. With our Summer 2020 release, we are bringing sales content to life.”
According to Seismic, interactive content is preferred to static material, with double the conversion rate of “passive” content. 91% of buyers prefer interactive/visual content and are twice as likely to share interactive content. 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention, and 45% believe that its effective for educating prospects (vs. 6% for static content). 88% contend that it is effective at differentiating the brand.
The CSO Insights 2019 Sales Enablement report found that 57.7% of buyers saw little difference between sellers with vendors blending together. Only 31.9% of buyers felt that at least one vendor succeeded in differentiating itself.
Interactive content supports flexible navigation allowing reps to quickly transition to relevant use cases, products, or services during sales conversations. “You can get a broad set of content—as large as any slide deck—and deep content that drills down into the details of your business solutions,” blogged Seismic Senior Content Manager Neicole Crepeau. “But it doesn’t have to feel burdensome, and it can be easy to navigate in the middle of a meeting.”
Users can embed questionnaires, videos, assessments, and calculators. They can let clients drive the discussion, “asking them to enter information or answer questions and choose what they want to know more about,” continued Crepeau. “By flipping the conversation and putting the customer in the driver’s seat during a meeting, you ensure engagement and that you’re truly talking about topics that resonate with the prospect.”
“Buyer expectations are high, and if the content brands are serving them is not relevant or engaging, they will disregard it. Today it’s not just about what you say; it’s also how you say it. Content fatigue and information overload have become particularly pronounced in our new all-digital work environment. Sellers and marketers are in need of content types that captivate their audiences and move them through the buyer journey faster.”
Seismic CEO Doug Winter
Interactive Content will be available as an add-on service. Seismic does not disclose its pricing.
Sales Enablement vendor Seismic supports over one hundred technology vendor integrations. Seismic claims to have the “sales enablement industry’s largest partner ecosystem,” with multiple CRM, MAP, and sales engagement partnerships.
“Seismic is purpose-built to work with any application to enhance customer experiences, increase platform engagement, and add value throughout a company’s sales and marketing technology stack,” stated the firm.
Seismic published the following list of significant integrations by category:
Customer Intelligence: Gong, Introhive
CRM: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, Oracle, Pegasystems
Seismic has also partnered with over twenty global consulting partners that “are helping customers drive more value from their sales enablement investment, as well as offering local language and in-country support.”
Seismic offers an enterprise-grade content management system which recommends the next-best action for content. The platform employs analytics to recommend which content is most likely to resonate with a prospect based on buying stage, vertical, etc.
Seismic recently partnered with Industry intelligence vendor Vertical IQ.
Seismic announced a partnership with Vertical IQ to deliver industry-specific insights within its Sales Enablement Platform. Vertical IQ industry overviews will be delivered through Seismic’s dynamic content automation tool, LiveDocs, allowing bankers to quickly assemble client-facing content tailored to the client. Vertical IQ covers over 325 industries with coverage of industry risks, quarterly insights, key financial benchmarks, and industry growth data. Coverage of niche industries and regional economic data are also available from within Seismic but are not part of the LiveDocs integration.
Insights can be presented in-person, in print, or via digital devices and are packaged into Seismic templates.
The integration “helps bankers develop hyper-personalized communications with clients and prospects,” stated Vertical IQ CMO David Buffaloe. “Our industry content is available directly through their platform, allowing bankers to develop customized presentation slides based on the prospects specific industry.”
Vertical IQ content is available to customers outside of the banking space, but the initial implementation was developed with Fulton Bank. “We started with the joint focus on banking/financial services organizations; however, anyone that uses Seismic and sells to multiple industries would see value,” said Buffaloe.
Buffaloe called the integration a “big win for users” as bank leaders are looking to reduce the number of logins for conducting account research and support.
A Gartner survey found that bankers that deliver insights to their customers generate 94% higher fees.
Relationship Managers (RMs) at banks and credit unions support a broad set of customers and industries, making it difficult to develop deep expertise in individual industries. Deploying on-demand, industry-specific intelligence helps RMs quickly come up to speed on an industry, ask intelligent questions of owners and financial professionals, and assemble custom presentations for winning business. Industry-specific content also assists customers in their decision making and supports more valuable meetings between RMs and customers.
“Conversations between a banker and client should go both ways. Vertical IQ and Seismic’s solution ensures conversations are backed by real-time, tailored insights so bankers can engage in better discussions and act as a trusted advisor. This helps them bring unique value and expertise to the table to win, grow and retain more business.”
Vertical IQ CEO Bobby Martin
A recent JD Power survey of small businesses found that most were dissatisfied with their bankers’ ability to meet their needs and expectations. Only 37% of small business customers felt that banks appreciated their business, and only 32% felt that banks understood their business.
According to Bob Neuhaus, VP of Financial Services at JD Power, “Banks need to focus on better integrating high-touch resources with innovative digital tools to meet the demands of small business.”
“Business customers have come to expect hyper-personalized interactions that meet the standards that are now common-place in their personal lives,” said Bill Finnegan, Managing Director, Financial Services Marketing at Seismic. “We’re thrilled about our partnership with Vertical IQ because of the competitive advantage it will offer our banking customers. The ability to generate rich industry insights on-the-fly in a marketing-approved format will help bankers elevate client conversations from just product, to industry-specific trends, advice, and guidance. It allows bankers to be a consultative partner that demonstrates their bank truly understands their business.”
Vertical IQ has launched several integrations over the past year to deliver its industry research within sales and banking workflows. Recent partnerships include Salesforce, RelPro, and Seismic. Vertical IQ profiles are written in plain English for non-experts in financial services industries. Strategic sales reps also leverage Vertical IQ.
The Vertical IQ integration is being sold by Seismic as an add-on to their current sales enablement solution.
Content intelligence vendor PathFactory announced a partnership with ABM Orchestration vendor 6Sense to “give marketers complete visibility into the quality of account engagement, as well as what content and topics are accelerating them through their customer journey.”
partnership taps 6Sense’s account identification capabilities and combines it with
PathFactory’s content consumption data, providing richer account engagement
intelligence. “They can even watch a buying committee’s activities
populate and track their journey in near real-time,” said PathFactory.
Account intelligence is synced with the CRM and displayed to sales reps,
helping them understand which content and topics resonated at target accounts.
offers a set of content tracks, either defined by marketing or PathFactory’s
AI. Content tracks are a sequence of relevant content associated with
specific calls to action. Content tracks “keep people engaged longer and
helps them self-educate” while encouraging them to “binge on your content.”
By assessing which individuals and accounts are binging on account tracks,
PathFactory can determine when accounts are “getting serious.” Highly
engaged accounts are more likely to turn into deals.
insights suggest the next best content and next best action, with PathFactory
personalizing content tracks in real-time. PathFactory tracks engagement
at both the individual and account level while assessing content attributes
such as type, topic, and reading length.
“While B2B marketing organizations have invested heavily in ABM over the past several years, many marketers still struggle to successfully execute campaigns, scale programs, and report on results. We are confident this integration will give marketers the unprecedented ability to optimize the customer journey and generate revenue from their ABM efforts.”
Dev Ganesan, CEO of PathFactory
PathFactory clients do not require a
separate 6Sense license.
“PathFactory and 6sense are marrying
two of the most critical data sets necessary for successful ABM execution,”
said Jason Zintak, CEO of 6sense. “With 6sense’s industry-leading account
identification capabilities and PathFactory’s content consumption data, sales
and marketing teams can get deep insight into anonymous buying behavior of
individuals and accounts, and deliver hyper-personalized content journeys.”
PathFactory placed 186th on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list, and Gartner named them a Cool Vendor in their 2019 Technology Marketing category.
Sales enablement vendor Brainshark and AI-based sales pipeline management vendor TopOPPS announced a strategic partnership that “will empower sales organizations to deliver ‘in-the-moment’ guidance that improves reps’ skills at key points throughout the sales cycle.” The combined solution is tailored to the individual learning needs and styles of each rep across the buyer journey. TopOPPS delivers sales pipeline insights and forecast metrics that help management “understand pipeline activity and identify deficiencies before they impact yield.” The combined solution identifies skills gaps and then suggests Brainshark learning content.
organizations try to do pipeline analysis through their customer relationship
management (CRM) systems – but these systems are simply data repositories that
provide no actionable insights for sales leaders,” said TopOPPS CEO Jim
Eberlin. “TopOPPS brings that data to life – providing activity analysis
at the individual rep level, which enables a much more accurate assessment of
pipeline health and productivity. This enables sales leaders to then use
Brainshark to act on this data by delivering targeted coaching that directly
Brainshark training metrics are displayed in a combined Coaching view (see the
figure on the right). The view helps managers “track training processes
and knowledge retention to understand the readiness of each sales rep and sales
team’s ability to sell at the highest level.” The view also includes over
twenty trended sales measures, training insights, and pipeline metrics.
lot of times, will just coach reps generally or are guessing on what they need
coaching on. Our AI (artificial intelligence) will actually pinpoint and
make it more precise on exactly what a rep needs coaching on,” said TopOPPS CEO
firms have a joint go-to-market strategy and revenue sharing agreement.
partnership, along with Brainshark’s recent acquisition of sales scorecard
vendor Rekener, is part of Brainshark’s mission to deliver “a true data-driven
sales readiness platform.”
“Through our acquisition of Rekener last month, and now our partnership with TopOPPS, Brainshark is transforming sales-readiness from art to science,” said Brainshark CEO Greg Flynn. “With our data-driven platform and associated technologies, sales leaders will always have easy access to the information they need to orchestrate and execute effective sales-readiness strategies that deliver quantifiable growth in corporate revenue.”
Phil Garlick joined sales enablement vendor Brainshark as their VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships. Garlick held a similar role at Zoominfo prior to its February acquisition by DiscoverOrg. Before Zoominfo, Garlick was a founder of OneSource Information Services, a pioneer in the sales intelligence space. He guided the sales and marketing functions before ascending to President. He is joining Brainshark at a point when partnerships and integrated workflows are critical for sales and marketing teams.
“Phil’s deep experience in the sales intelligence and sales enablement markets, and his track record of success driving business growth, make him a valuable asset to our leadership team,” said Brainshark CEO Greg Flynn. “As Brainshark continues to expand its network of strategic partnerships, we’re confident that Phil’s expertise and customer-centric approach will help us continue to forge strong alliances that deliver great value to clients and improve their sales outcomes.”
Brainshark supports content authoring & management, sales training,
video coaching & practice, dashboards & analytics, and creative
Over the past half-decade, there has been a steady flow of former OneSource sales reps and management to Brainshark. Brainshark’s Chief Sales Officer, Colleen Honan, held a similar role at OneSource alongside Garlick.
“I’ve long admired Brainshark’s commitment to helping companies improve the readiness and results of their sales teams. This is a persistent challenge for organizations across industries and an area I’m passionate about. As Brainshark continues to innovate and enable sales teams to maximize their productivity, it’s an exciting time to join the company.”
Phil Garlick, Brainshark VP of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships
Note: Garlick was the President of OneSource Information Services while I was a Product Marketing Manager.
Sales Research company CSO Insights and Seismic, a sales enablement vendor, asked 400 global B2B professionals about the benefits of social selling tools. These tools include sales enablement, social listening, and social marketing solutions. A full 38% weren’t sure of the benefits of these tools speaking to a need for vendors to better explain their value and provide user metrics.
The problem of value attribution has long been an issue with sales intelligence services as well, but as sales intelligence has become more tightly tied into the overall sales and marketing process, clear benefits such as reduced time spent keying and maintaining account information and the direct display of account intelligence within CRM I-frames have helped validate sales intelligence tools.
Likewise, B2B professionals found the biggest benefits of social selling tools to be reduced account / contact research time (39%), an increase in the number of leads (33%) and deeper client relationships (31%). Broader process improvements were noted at lower rates with improved lead conversion (24%), shorter sales cycles (14%), and increased win rates on forecasted deals (13%) rounding out the benefits.
However, when the sub-group of professionals at firms which have aligned their social marketing and selling strategies was assessed, CSO Insights found a sixteen percent improvement in win rates. Furthermore, the benefits were better understood with 57% enjoying more leads and 56% found deeper client relationships. Amongst this group, only 18% were unsure about the benefits of social selling tools. Thus, CSO Insights concluded that the high percentage of B2B professionals doubting the value of social selling tools was due to “a lack of maturity.”
CSO Insights defined social engagement as “equipping salespeople with skills, tools, and content to successfully navigate the change, decision, and value dynamics along the entire customer’s journey by leveraging social media.” I find this definition a bit limiting operationally for vendors as it focuses exclusively on social media. Both social selling and sales intelligence vendors have made the mistake of ignoring each other. There are a few exceptions such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator adding a news feed and InsideView’s integrated social media Buzz tab, but most vendors either focus on profiles and news alerts/triggers or social monitoring and messaging. The lack of fully integrated social monitoring and messaging tools within sales intelligence platforms remains a missed opportunity to improve sales intelligence products.
A 2015 CSO Insights study of sales reps found that 33% felt social selling training was in need of a major redesign and 31% felt the training needs improvement. CSO Insights warns against reducing social selling training to LinkedIn or Twitter training. Research Director Tamara Schenk cautions that lessons from CRM training were not transferred to social selling training. “Salespeople are again asked to take tool training when at the same time the tool and the required skills have not yet been integrated into the current sales system, methodologies and processes. The result is the same. The new tool, social selling, is then considered as a time-consuming add-on rather than an effective enabler to create more and better business.”
Schenk noted that social strategy needs to be defined with marketing. “An organization’s social strategy has to be aligned along the customer’s journey. [Sales] Enablement leaders are in an ideal position to orchestrate this process. After that, social selling skills have to be integrated in the current methodologies, engagement principles, and processes. Only then, not earlier, can social selling training services be designed and provided. And using the technology effectively is just one element. Another key element is the content challenge. Relevant and valuable content to attract prospects has to be made available for salespeople, ideally on the sales enablement platform with no further internal obstacles to access this content.”
The CSO Insights research was conducted in July by Schenk and Strategic Advisor Jim Dickie. The study was based upon responses from B2B sales managers (61%), sales ops (21%), marketing (8%) and other roles located in North America (59%) and rest of world (41%).