Sales managers are looking to diversify their hiring across two dimensions: geographic and cultural. With work from home proving itself over the past year, managers are now confident that they can hire the best talent, regardless of location.
Likewise, sales professionals believe that their firms have succeeded in their efforts in opening up sales teams by gender, race, etc. 35% of sales professionals believe their sales organizations have “exceeded goals around diversity hiring initiatives,” while another 45% say their sales organization has “met” their diversity hiring goal.
On the buying side, 83% of purchasers said that all things being equal, they would give a preference to more diverse teams.
LinkedIn argues that Sales Intelligence is a crucial tool for building trust in the absence of face-to-face meetings. LinkedIn broadly uses the term to include Conversational Intelligence tools such as Gong and Chorus, which help understand the prospect’s state of mind, and sales intelligence solutions such as Sales Navigator.
“With in-person meetings limited, sales technology provides a key pathway to gaining insight and understanding into potential customers. It’s no surprise, then, that our survey indicates that both usage of and investment in sales technology are increasing,” stated LinkedIn.
73% of respondents employ a sales intelligence solution weekly, and 23% use one daily. 54% said SalesTech helps reps build stronger relationships, and an equal percent said it helps them close more deals. The top three categories for closing deals were CRM (70%), sales intelligence (69%), and sales enablement (69%).
Both usage and investment in SalesTech will increase in 2021, with CRM (49%), Sales Intelligence (43%), and Sales Planning (42%) seeing increased usage. On the investment side, the top categories are CRM (41%), sales intelligence (40%), and sales engagement (40%). Nearly seven in ten sales professionals anticipate greater SalesTech investment this year.
Data continues to be seen as critical, with 47% of sales organizations using it for account targeting, 44% for industry targeting, 43% for performance assessment, 41% for geographic targeting, and 39% for defining the buying committee.
While LinkedIn did not delve further into buying committee discovery, this is a nascent development area with multiple approaches, including conversational intelligence (meetings, emails) and machine learning.
Understanding the demand unit is critical for sales teams. 85% of reps reported that at least one opportunity was lost or delayed due to the departure of a client stakeholder.
Sales Navigator usage continues to be robust, with a 400% increase in self-bought Sales Navigator licenses over the past two years, “a surge that indicates sales professionals are investing in their own growth and have a willingness to use sales tech even if not prescribed by their company.”
59% of the Forbes Global 500 companies and 64% of the Forbes fastest-growing companies have Sales Navigator users.
Finally, message quality trumps quantity. Simply sending high volumes of email or sharing many content pieces does not move the revenue needle. The key is quality outreach that generates engagement and message acceptance. “This is a strong indication that salespersons ought to be mindful of the value to the customer before sharing content or sending an InMail.”
InMails should be “short, personalized, and conversational.” Messages with fewer than 400 characters are the most effective, with a sharp drop-off in response rates for long-in-the-tooth messages.
LinkedIn surveyed 400 sales and 400 US and Canadian purchasing professionals in January 2021. Separate surveys were conducted for other geographies but have yet to be published. [Original Report]
In its recently published State of Sales 2021 survey, LinkedIn stated that “Virtual selling is good for sellers and even better for buyers.” 50% of buyers say that “working remotely has made the purchasing process easier.” Buyers have benefited from the greater acceptance of sales intelligence and sales enablement services.
Furthermore, 70% of buyers want to retain remote work at least half of the time. 48% of buyers do not expect to be meeting face-to-face until H2 201, and 17% anticipate waiting until 2022.
“The bottom line is this situation requiring virtual selling skills won’t be changing anytime soon,” commented LinkedIn.
59% of buyers do not anticipate attending live events until H2 2021. While 90% of the surveyed buyers have previously attended events, 48% of sales reps have now closed deals above a half-million dollars without meeting the buyer in person.
“Sellers will go back to face-to-face meetings but not remotely close to pre-pandemic levels. Digital transformation was coming no matter what. COVID-19 just accelerated everything. In other words, digital transformation is here to stay.”
Gartner VP-Analyst Craig Rosenberg
Sales Managers recognize the acceleration of change and digitization, with 86% agreeing that “the ability to cope with change is more important than it was five years ago,” up 16% over the past year.
“Generally speaking, sales is slow to adapt,” opined Gartner VP-Analyst Craig Rosenberg. “If the way sellers are doing things works, then they will keep doing it. This drastic event is driving change. Also, when the buyer changes, sales is forced to change. We often think of ‘sales’ as having to move virtual as the driver, but actually our buyers moved virtual. Ultimately, sales is going to gravitate to the buyer’s preference. In other words, it is much easier to adapt to change when you have to.”
The top three sources of change cited by sales managers are measuring sales processes and outcomes in different ways (51%), adding new technologies (50%), and instituting new hiring policies (50%).
Remote sales job postings increased five-fold in Q3 2020 year-over-year, with remote positions growing 8.8X in Canada and 4.5X in the United States. The transition hasn’t been easy. 67% of sales managers said that managing remote teams is more challenging than expected, and 65% of sales reps found it more difficult than anticipated.
Sales Operations and Customer Success roles proliferated between 2018 and 2020. LinkedIn captured a 38% increase in Sales Operations roles over this period, 4.8X the growth of sales titles.
Customer Success positions trebled between 2018 and 2020.
Continue to Part II, which discusses diversity effort in sales, SalesTech, and Sales Navigator.
Artesian Solutions released Engagement Signals, a set of bespoke rules for its Connect platform. Engagement Signals deliver “a constant supply of highly relevant intelligence and insight on their clients to facilitate advanced prospecting, customer monitoring, efficient onboarding, ongoing assessment of portfolio risks, and automated underwriting.”
Artesian Connect applies customer “Know-How” to structured and unstructured data, identifying “highly targeted calls to action.” Engagement Signals combine triggers with Next-Best-Actions related to accounts.
We make it a priority to listen to our users and evolve our platform to solve their highest value challenges and ability to deliver transformational results. Financial Service organisations are now in a position where they must urgently transform their digital business strategies. With Artesian Connect, modern frontline banking and insurance teams can rapidly merge disparate data sources, create bespoke rules for risk selection utilising rich firmographic data and, most importantly, deliver insight from unstructured data that paints a much deeper picture for next-generation client experiences. Engagement Signals represent a simple way for our users to leverage the power of the Connect Platform through a pre-built set of features and rules.
Rich Clark, Artesian VP of Product Development
Artesian also launched a new Briefing Page that provides a snapshot of a company’s health, financials, and signals. At the top of the Briefing Page are financials and ownership flags, followed by Engagement Signals. A set of tabs below Engagement Signals lets finance and sales professionals review the latest news, data, blogs, tweets, and pinned stories.
European Sales Intelligence vendor Vainu implemented a proprietary AI-based industry taxonomy. The 700+ segments are derived from company website content and “extensive training data sets to determine unique industries for each company.” Custom industry labels may be combined when list building. Thus, sales and marketing can target companies, such as “Nordic SaaS providers building marketing automation platforms” or “Medical device manufactures developing machine learning applications.”
The industry codes are clustered into 46 custom industry groups. For example, there are over 80 software codes and 19 sustainability codes (e.g., Biofuel, Biomass Energy, Clean Energy). Vainu has focused the initial set of codes around emerging technologies and fast-changing markets. Traditional industries such as agriculture, food and beverage, and manufacturing are supported by broad codes as these industries are well defined by traditional industry taxonomies.
“Traditional industry classifications for B2B segmentation don’t do the trick anymore—they are too generic, broad, or even incorrect,” blogged Vainu Customer Marketer Ella Tyrväinen.
Custom Industries are available on the Vainu platform and via its API. Industry-based target lists may be exported as a CSV file or JSON.
Vainu also recently added three fields to its list exports: Countries of Operation, Website Languages, and Technographics. In February, Vainu released a webCRM integration.
“It’s a feeling of expansion, born of learning so much from our customers, and born of the digital transformation that has happened in the last year,” said Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol. “This is an intentional step for us beyond being solely an ABM leader and into broader B2B go-to-market. That’s important because ABM is just a part of the go-to-market challenges that B2B companies face.”
The new services are packaged as an ABM Suite consisting of four clouds: ABX, Advertising, Sales Intelligence, and Data. Customers will have the flexibility to order various elements of the suite, selecting the clouds and services that fit their needs.
“Our focus has been on building the most complete ABM solution (we call it ABX, because it’s not just marketing),” said Rogol, “and that was the impetus behind acquiring Engagio, putting a lot of the top of funnel and lower funnel stuff together. That will still be important.”
While some may view this as Demandbase growing beyond ABX, it is an opportunity for them to complete the ABX vision. I have long been critical of Demandbase’s limited framing of ABM within the marketing department. While they acquired Spiderbook, a small sales intelligence vendor, a few years ago, it withered on the vine and is no longer mentioned by the firm. InsideView provides them with an opportunity to realize ABX as a complete customer lifecycle solution. There are still missing elements such as sales engagement tools and chatbots, but they are now working on a much wider canvas.
Demandbase is in a sprint to establish the ABX platform space against vendors such as Terminus, 6Sense, and Dun & Bradstreet. It has been using the ABM three-letter acronym for a dozen years and was a lonely voice extolling ABM for half of that time, arguing for a shift from demand generation marketing to account-based strategies. Earlier this year, it shifted from ABM to ABX (Account Based Experience), which places a greater emphasis on long-term relationships with customers and the broader revenue team (sales, marketing, customer success).
“We’re proud to join forces with these two great companies. Our vision is bold. We are transforming how B2B companies go to market, helping them deliver great experiences at every stage of the account journey. This requires great data — and we now have the premium B2B data and intelligence solutions to help companies identify, understand, and engage their customers and prospects. With this move, Demandbase moves from being ‘just’ a leader in account-based programs to being the definitive leader in B2B go-to-market…
These new offerings let us work even more flexibly with our customers. Customers can mix and match to focus on the areas most important for them, whether that’s data embedded to their existing systems, or advertising, or sales intelligence, or a full account-based transformation. We are moving aggressively to deliver on this mission, and no company will move faster than us to achieve it.”
Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol
Acquiring InsideView and DemandMatrix strengthens its position in both marketing and sales. Furthermore, InsideView’s sales triggers provide Demandbase customers with a rich set of talking points for account managers and customer success teams, letting them know if there are executive changes, M&A events, new partnerships, etc.
Demandbase, which offers an ABX Cloud and an Advertising Cloud, now supports a Data Cloud and Sales Intelligence Cloud. The Sales Intelligence Cloud is based upon InsideView and supports:
Prospect Finder – A traditional list-building feature for company and contact data. Along with firmographic and biographic data, the InsideView prospect finder includes connection variables (Who Know Who “six degrees”), sales triggers (17 + custom variables), data availability (e.g., LinkedIn Connections, Email), and suppression lists.
Browser Extension – A Chrome extension for quick lookup and prospecting. The extension displays InsideView company and contact profiles from LinkedIn, company websites, and CRMs. Records may be sent to the CRM or Sales Engagement Platforms.
News and Social Insights – InsideView publishes daily email alerts based upon their sales triggers. As these are event-based, most company noise (e.g., stock price fluctuations, scores for teams playing at branded stadia) is removed and duplicates suppressed. They also support inline social media viewing for Facebook, Twitter, and Company Blogs. Inline viewing helps account managers and customer success teams stay abreast of key accounts. It also assists marketing and CI professionals in monitoring key partners and competitors.
Corporate Hierarchies – Family trees assist with lead-to-account mapping, selling deeper into an organization, and ensuring that leads are accurately scored and routed.
The Data Cloud consists of Demandbase, InsideView, and DemandMatrix assets. InsideView contributes close to 100 million global contacts and 17 million companies. DemandMatrix supports technographics (current tech stack, future technology needs, technology-based skill set trends, cloud consumption revenue, and IT Spend).
Other Data Cloud services include Demandbase Account Identification, InsideView Apex (ICP Discovery and Expansion), InsideView Data Integrity hygiene tools, and the InsideView API.
“For the last 15 years, we’ve been focused on empowering our customers to experience rapid revenue growth through the power of data. InsideView’s leadership in sales intelligence made it clear to us years ago that stronger ties between sales and marketing lead to more revenue—and data is the key. By joining forces with Demandbase, we’re combining our legacy and leadership in sales, and the industry’s freshest, most reliable data, with leading marketing technology. Our customers will be able to do more with data across more B2B revenue channels from sales, to advertising, to account-based campaigns. We’re taking the convergence of data and workflow to the next level.”
InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti
InsideView was highly rated in The Forrester Wave B2B Marketing Data Providers Q2 2021 report, scoring a five (highest score) across 14 of Forrester’s 24 evaluation criteria. Among the categories in which they excelled were data management, data coverage, and customer support.
Rogol emphasized the value of technographics for enterprise technology companies, saying that “for technology companies, the number one feature in a data science model is what technologies your prospect owns.”
“B2B data is complex, and customers consistently ask us for help with their data stack,” said DemandMatrix CEO Meetul Shah. “We started with further innovating technographic data to give customers valuable insights into their prospects and what other technologies they might buy. By now being part of the Demandbase Data Cloud, we’ll be able to provide customers access throughout the B2B data stack to help them realize their revenue goals.”
Both Milletti and Shah will continue running their respective businesses and join the Demandbase executive team as general managers. The two subsidiaries will operate separately, but the firm will consolidate the data across the offerings.
Acquisition prices for the two firms were not disclosed. The InsideView service lists its revenue at $30.5 million and 275 employees, which has remained stable over the past few years. DemandMatrix is listed at $3.0 million in revenue with 90 employees.
“At Demandbase, our vision is bold. We are transforming how B2B companies go to market, helping them deliver great experiences at every stage of the account journey. This requires great data,” said Demandbase. “We now have the premium B2B data and intelligence solutions to help companies identify, understand, and engage their customers and prospects. With this move, Demandbase goes from being ‘just’ a leader in account-based programs to being the definitive leader in B2B go-to-market.”
InsideView and DemandMatrix customers benefit from the more extensive go-to-market capabilities of their parent. The DemandMatrix suite helps customers:
Design and orchestrate their entire buyer’s journey across marketing and sales
Personalize their website experience, track account-level engagement, and attribute revenue
Deliver account-based display, native, and social media advertising that is brand safe for B2B
Target and segment their market
Rogol admitted that the integration work would not be easy. “Obviously, we still have a lot of the execution work ahead. One thing to point out is that these are different types of acquisitions than Engagio. With Engagio, the goal was to get to the most comprehensive ABM platform. These are adjacent expansions, so they’re going to operate as standalone businesses pretty much.”
Barb Mosher Zinck of Diginomica was bullish on the transactions, calling it a “smart move” to consolidate the data from three companies under a single platform. “It’s essentially a Customer Data Platform (CDP) without the CDP name (and some CDP capabilities), providing all the critical information sales and marketing need to find the right accounts and contacts within those accounts. The intelligence DemandMatrix brings on technology is key, as is the ability from InsideView to see when things are changing in a company.”
“I also like that Demandbase has broadened its offering from only account-based marketing to sales intelligence because the two groups are tightly aligned,” continued Mosher Zinck. “These two solutions can operate separately but bringing them together under the same umbrella with access to the same data is key to ensuring a company-wide focus on customer experience.”
The following Market Flash published on May 4th to my newsletter subscribers. I also offer a detailed InsideView product review for purchase ($349).
UK Sales Intelligence vendor Cognism closed on a $12.5 million funding round led by AXA Venture Partners and joined by Swisscom Ventures. Existing investors Investiere and VentureFounders also participated. Cognism will be deploying the funds to expand its presence in the UK and Europe, including additional functionality and solutions for the global market.
The firm is coming off a strong 2020, during which ARR rose 60% to $11 million. In January, MRR passed $1 million for the first time. Cognism supports over 1,000 customers spread across 30 countries.
“We continue to invest in making our data compliant in every one of the 30 countries in which we operate,” said CEO James Isilay. “Our patented AI technology solution makes the process of finding the right prospect faster, more accurate, and compliant, which is now a top priority for all businesses.”
Cognism attributed its success to the strong demand for compliant B2B prospecting data and “the company’s ongoing commitment to adhering to global regulations.”
“Sales intelligence is crucial for making sellers more productive, even more so when people are working from home. Cognism is well-positioned to become the leading company in Europe, and we are excited to be part of that journey.”
Stefan Kuentz, Partner at Swisscom Ventures
Isilay said that Cognism is “moving more upmarket towards enterprise” and hiring account executives and managers. “We’ve got a very strong revenue engine, and now we’re really planning out and getting our retention engine to the next level.”
Cognism, which completed acquired Mailtastic and Ricochet least year, has another in the works. “We really want to be that go-to-market intelligence leader in not just Europe, but the world, and I think we’re going in the right direction right now. Things are looking very positive at the moment.” London-based Cognism was founded in 2015 and grew its employment by 60% over the past year to 223 employees.
I am pleased to announce that my latest Sales Intelligence company profile is available for those looking to purchase a solution for the UK or D-A-CH region. I used the same methodology for Echobot that I employed when I wrote my book “2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors.” The idea was to write an objective analysis (hence sections on weaknesses and competitors), not simply a puff piece. I work closely with the vendor to describe content, functionality, connectors, roadmap, strengths, and weaknesses.
As Echobot is based in Germany, I also wrote about their GDPR compliance steps.
While vendors have input, I retain editorial control. I believe that retaining objectivity makes these reports more valuable for vendors as it both provides a roadmap for their future product evolution and provides prospects with a realistic view of a product’s strengths and weaknesses.
Echobot is making the profile available from their website.
Here is my summary from the report:
UK vendors have been launching sales intelligence and B2B DaaS solutions for the European market over the past several years. It is a welcome sign that European vendors now have the confidence to compete in the UK market. One of these vendors is Germany-based Echobot. Echobot is a promising new sales intelligence and B2B DaaS entrant to the UK market. It is the leading sales and marketing intelligence service in the D-A-CH region and enters the UK with a broad set of sales and marketing services. Echobot offers deep coverage of UK and D-A-CH companies, GDPR-compliant contacts, and signals (event triggers), delivered via web browser applications and extensions, mobile apps, Salesforce, and Zapier webhooks.
Along with company profiles, Echobot offers contacts, emails, news, social media mentions, and signals.
CONNECT (sales intelligence) and TARGET (list building) were recently launched in the UK market, but have been available as German-language solutions for the D-A-CH market for several years. As such, the company should move quickly to address any V1.0 bugs and fill content gaps. Since launching in September 2020, Echobot has integrated Google Translate into its platform for free-form text translation and refined its sales trigger precision.
DATACARE provides B2B DaaS hygiene services that verify, enrich, and append company and contact data. DATACARE flags duplicates, verifies emails, updates company names and addresses, and appends missing fields. DATACARE was launched in December.
Michael Levy, GZ Consulting Principal, “Echobot Company Profile,” 2021.
Rhetorik announced a UK expansion pack to its NetFinder+ technology sales intelligence service. The expansion pack adds 90,000 companies and 200,000 contacts and emails to Rhetorik’s UK coverage. NetFinder+ data includes firmographics, contacts, and technographics.
The Rhetorik Technology Classification (RTC), a proprietary taxonomy, spans 7,000 vendors across ten million installs. Rhetorik’s technographics cover
Installed IT assets such as telecoms equipment, networking devices, and server and desktop hardware
Software products from traditional enterprise applications and operating systems to new cloud platforms and vertical industry applications
Services and consumables suppliers
“We have invested heavily in our international coverage, now offering sales and marketing intelligence across 30+ countries, but the UK remains the largest and fastest-growing IT market in Europe for a range of enterprise software and cloud services. This fully GDPR-compliant SMB expansion enables marketers to reach deeper into that market than ever before.”
Rhetorik CEO Meredith Amdur
The expanded coverage profiles UK companies with five to 100 employees. Rhetorik expects to “significantly” grow their coverage this year. They have a “stand-by database” of companies and contacts “awaiting final cleaning and compliance. “Existing clients will gain free access for three months to all the new accounts and contacts that meet their existing data criteria,” wrote CRO Kevin Savage.
Rhetorik covers Western European along with
Former Soviet Union: The Ukraine, Estonia, and Latvia
Balkans: Slovenia, Croatia, and Greece
Eastern Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania
Additional EMEA countries include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and South Africa, with ten more countries in development.
In January, Rhetorik released its DataCliniq DaaS enrichment service for maintaining data hygiene. DataCliniq diagnoses, cleanses, and enriches account, contact, and lead records. It supports both batch file uploads and channel partner integrations with data marketplaces. The service also directly integrates with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, HubSpot, and Marketo.
UK Sales Intelligence vendor Cognism continues its rapid growth with $11.5 million in 2020 revenue. CEO James Isilay anticipates 2021 revenue of $20 million. ACV is around $14,000 with over 1,000 customers.
Cognism had an initial one-month hiccup due to COVID as customers in the recruitment and events space were hit hard, and the firm needed to transition to a WFH sales environment. However, the firm is back to growing “and hitting its targets every month.”
“COVID helped us get way more efficient. We didn’t need an office anymore, it slowed our headcount growth,” said Isilay.” We really have an engine now where we can just put more money into headcount in terms of SDRs or into marketing and then get more growth. So it’s really just a question of how much we want to put the foot down on the pedal.”
Cognism CEO James Isilay
By the end of October, employment hit 179 with sixty headcount in Croatia and Macedonia.
Mailtastic’s net retention is around 110%, and the prospecting service is approaching 90%. However, there is a high percentage of returning customers post-churn. The company started in the SMB space and has moved up-market, so net retention should improve.
While the firm has a negative cash flow, it burns only $200K per month with six to seven million from the last raise sitting in the bank. The August funding round valued the firm at a bit under $100 million.
Cognism offers sales intelligence, B2B DaaS, and sales engagement services. It maintains over 55 million European company profiles.
Interlocks research platform BoardEx added Board Diversity variables that track membership in ethnicity association networks. The system tracks “champions, allies, and advocates of specific ethnicities in leadership roles. It comprises multiple networks of associations representing a specific ethnicity – referred to as ethnicity association networks.” Seventeen thousand execs are tracked, along with execs that have received awards from association members.
BoardEx covers two million companies and 1.5 million executives, with data maintained by 350 editors.
“Our clients are seeking ways to help their own clients improve ethnic and other forms of diversity within their own organizations and report on their progress with this change,” says BoardEx CEO Cameron Ireland. “The new network helps you connect with members of over 2,600 ethnicity associations that actively champion ethnic diversity. It also surfaces people who have received awards recognizing their contribution to ethnic diversity in business from publicly available information.”
Along with collecting the Board Diversity data, BoardEx will be working with clients and partners to
Champion the efforts of diversity associations to help raise awareness for groups who are historically underrepresented.
Enhance the ability of companies to discover and connect with talented leaders of different ethnic, racial and functional backgrounds to build leadership teams, C-suites, and boards that reflect their customers and wider society.
Empower professionals to analyze diversity trends within workplaces in order to create transparency and accountability around different diversity attributes.
The new selects are available to all clients.
BoardEx is owned by Euromoney which has assembled a set of complementary services in its People Intelligence business: WealthEngine, BoardEx, and Wealth-X. WealthEngine provides wealth and lifestyle insights on 300 million Americans and 122 million households. Wealth-X profiles the global wealthy.
Following the December acquisition of WealthEngine, Euromoney stated that “the Group now has full coverage across the wealth intelligence value chain, which is a growing information-services market.”