LinkedIn Acquires Heighten for SalesTech Tools

Heighten Homepage Announcement (Post-Acquisition)
Heighten Homepage Announcement (Post-Acquisition)

LinkedIn acquired Redwood City SalesTech vendor Heighten and plans to integrate its technology into Sales Navigator. LinkedIn is looking to leverage feature sets around sales process tracking, pipeline reporting, and note taking. Last summer, LinkedIn acquired sales content sharing vendor PointDrive and recently completed the PointDrive integration into Sales Navigator.

With the announcement, Heighten immediately took down its website, but Doug Camplejohn, Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, provided the following feature descriptions:

The sales process tracking feature allows reps and managers to take their sales playbook binder off the shelf and put it into software, making it easier to see actions and content relevant to each pipeline stage.

The sales pipeline reporting feature lets managers and reps see their current opportunities in a more efficient way, and update key opportunity fields like amount, close date, stage and next steps on a single screen, with all changes automatically written back to CRM.

Finally, the intelligent notepad makes it easy for reps to take free-form notes and rapidly move information back into their CRM system with a single click. It also gives them instant access to key deal content such as person and account profiles, collateral, and competitive battle cards. This feature brings note taking into the context of a specific sales opportunity, reduces the heavy lifting involved in CRM data entry, and gives sales reps insights on-command

It is unclear, however, which of these capabilities will be integrated into Sales Navigator. “Over the next few months, we will be evaluating which of Heighten’s features we’ll be bringing to Sales Navigator,” said Camplejohn. “I’m also excited by the caliber of talent that Heighten brings to LinkedIn.”

Heighten has a staff of ten.

“The Heighten intelligent workspace is truly unique in its ability to bring together all of the key systems salespeople rely on — CRM, calendar, email, social and delivered — in an innovative, intuitive, and user friendly way,” blogged Heighten CEO, Luke Braud. “This approach to sales productivity is a natural extension of LinkedIn’s goal to make Sales Navigator the best version of LinkedIn for Salespeople, the System of Engagement, and ultimately influence every relationship‐based sale for our customers.”

Heighten received $7.36 million in venture funding last September. The acquisition price was not disclosed.

Boardroom Insiders CxO Bios

Boardroom Insiders AppExchange Profiles
Boardroom Insiders AppExchange Profiles

While most sales intelligence vendors focus on broad coverage, there are several that continue to generate value the old-fashioned way through editorial research focused on high value content sets.  Firms in this category include technology vendors DiscoverOrg and RainKing and industry overview provider First Research.  Another editorially-focused vendor is Boardroom Insiders, founded by Sharon Gillenwater and Lee Demby.  Gillenwater, who was a marketing consultant, realized that several of her key accounts were struggling with CIO-level discussions.  In 2010, she partnered with Demby, the co-founder of First Research (acquired by Dun & Bradstreet / Hoover’s in 2007), to create a C-level executive information service.

“Most companies spend too much time worrying about getting customer contact info and not enough time thinking about what they are going to say to these customers once they get in touch with them,” said Gillenwater.  “While having the right contact info is important, it is useless if you don’t have a strategy for making yourself relevant to the person on the other end of the phone.”

Boardroom Insiders provides deep biographical profiles of C-level executives.  They cover the CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO, and COO of the Fortune 500 along with additional top executives requested by their customer base.  In total, Boardroom Insiders publishes 13,000 rich biographies for 3,000 US and international companies.  A team of fifteen editors (ten full-time) research and update their bios.  All of the editors have at least ten years of business journalism or management consulting experience.  While all of the material is editorially researched, executive changes and key events are monitored with just-in-time editorial updates performed.  Furthermore, if a profile has not been touched in six months, a user can request that it be immediately refreshed.  They also retain a pool of in-flux biographies for executives that may be in transition, allowing Boardroom Insiders to quickly revive and update profiles when a high-level executive resurfaces.

Included with subscriptions are credits towards the creation of additional biographies, providing users with on demand professional research.  For requests of up to ten executives, the firm turns around new bios in two business days.

Content is derived from the open web with a focus on earnings calls, executive interviews, and industry articles.  LinkedIn is also employed as a resource, but depth of content varies greatly and executives are often slow to update profiles after departing firms.  What’s more, LinkedIn lacks insights into executive biases, interests, and passions.  Finally, LinkedIn does not contain a broader view of the executive’s division and corporate environment.

“LinkedIn is an essential tool, but the profiles are unpredictable, limited in strategic insight, and biased,” said Gillenwater.  “Boardroom Insiders is rich with strategic insight, unbiased, and provides the full professional story of the key decision maker you are calling on.”

Executive biographies run two to seven pages and contain

  • Headshot
  • Last Updated Date
  • Current Company, Title, Location, Phone, and Email.  The phone may be either a switchboard or direct dial.
  • Social Media Links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
  • An Executive Summary
  • Personal Attributes and Interests – Family status, interests and hobbies, business philosophy, awards, etc.
  • Current Focus – Job responsibilities, corporate strategy
  • Key Challenges
  • Biographical Highlights
  • Other Boards and Organizations

Executives can be looked up directly, by company name, or via prospecting.  Prospecting is not as robust as large database competitors, but includes F500, Keyword, Title, CxO Function, Industry (NAICS major and minor categories), Alma Mater, etc.  Keyword searching should be particularly effective due to the depth of their profiles.

Search results are downloadable as PDFs.

The Boardroom Insiders service offers email alerts for individuals and companies.  Users are notified when an executive profile for a tracked company or executive is updated.  Company alerts are also sent when new executive profiles are available at tracked companies.

Users may access the service via browsers or a single-sign-on integration with Salesforce.com.  Within SFDC, there is a find button on Accounts, Contacts, Leads, and Opportunities.  Boardroom Insiders displays biographies or biography lists within the Salesforce frame.

Boardroom Insiders offers an API based upon the JSON protocol.  Clients can use the API to feed information into their corporate data lakes or create custom solutions.

Users span four job functions targeting the C-Suite:

  • Marketers (e.g. field marketers, ABM programs, engagement teams, executive sponsorship programs)
  • Executive recruiters
  • Management consultants
  • Strategic sales (enterprise sales reps and account teams).

The firm has many clients in the technology sector.

Pricing is subscription based with annual contracts beginning around $10,000 and enterprise contracts reaching $250,000.  An SMB account would include three seats and 25 to 50 profile requests.

SalesTech Landscape

Snippet of SalesTech Super Graphic developed by Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools.
Snippet of SalesTech graphic developed by Nancy Nardin (Smart Selling Tools).

Yesterday, I wrote about the recently released MarTech Landscape.  While SalesTech isn’t as large, it is also receiving significant funding.  Nancy Nardin, of Smart Selling Tools, published her SalesTech Landscape spanning more than 400 firms.  As it is a first generation edition, there are a number of errors and omissions.  The most glaring gap I spotted was the Installed Tech Stack category which was missing  RainKing, Datanyze, Aberdeen, D&B Hoovers, and Corporate360, but I’m sure she will receive plenty of feedback to fill gaps.

In fact, she is maintaining the graphic and is already up to 1.2a.

If you want more details on the companies in these sections:

  • Database Cleanse & Append
  • Lead/Lists Building
  • Outreach Email Workflow
  • Installed Tech Stack
  • Sales Personalization/Trigger Events/Social Selling

Feel free to reach out to me for my Market Insights Newsletter and market research.  If you are looking for quick profiles of companies, check out CabinetM which focuses on Martech but also covers a fair number of SalesTech firms.

CabinetM helps modern marketing teams build, manage and optimize their marketing technology suite in a rapidly transforming digital marketing environment. The platform enables full lifecycle support around digital tool discovery, qualification, implementation and management by individual marketers, teams, and throughout enterprise organizations.

  • CabinetM About Us

LinkedIn Hits 500M Members

LinkedIn hit the half billion member mark, continuing its pace of adding 50 million members every nine months.  LinkedIn also supports ten million job listings and over nine million company profiles.  Members continue to post 100,000 articles per week.  However, the active monthly user rate remains around 25%.

In comparison, Facebook has 1.8 billion members and Twitter has 328 million.  The top five countries are the United States (138 million), India (42 million), China (31 million), Brazil (29 million), and United Kingdom (23 million).

LinkedIn published connection data by country and region for the first time with the top five most connected countries (i.e. average member connections) listed as the UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, UK, and Denmark.  UAE profiles average 211 connections.  By metro area, London leads in average connections with 307 per member followed by Amsterdam, San Francisco, Jakarta, and Milan.  Staffing and recruiting is LinkedIn’s most connected industry (unsurprisingly as the firm’s largest revenue source is their Talent Solutions products), and human relations its most connected job function.

LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.
LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.

LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.

The top five industries are all highly networked occupations including staffing and recruiting, VC/PE, human resources, management consulting, and online media.  With respect to job functions, product management was the number two most connected occupation after human resources.  It was surprising to see that sales reps did not even make the top five (outside of Business Development which is a senior level mix of partnership, licensing, and relationship management), but product managers had very high connectivity.  Of course, the sales function would span both junior and senior sales reps along with business and consumer sales, while product management consists of more mid and upper-level management.

“The impact of half a billion professionals connecting and communicating is very real, and very accessible to anyone who wants to take part today,” said Aatif Awan, LinkedIn’s VP of growth and international products.  “We’re excited to think about the potential of what a highly connected global community of professionals can do, and the value that is created for every member of the global workforce.”

LinkedIn, which is operated as an autonomous division within Microsoft, has over 10,000 employees.

Microsoft Relationship Sales Solution

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.

Microsoft announced Relationship Sales, a bundled version of MS Dynamics for Sales Enterprise Edition and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team.  The new bundle will be available for sale on July 1st.  The service is priced at $135, which is “about one-half the cost of competitive solutions in the market,” according to Microsoft EVP, cloud and enterprise group Scott Guthrie.

LinkedIn also announced a set of insight enhancements for its MS Dynamics connector. Insights help sales reps by

  • Leveraging signals across email, CRM and LinkedIn to get contextual recommendations for the next best action within Dynamics 365 for Sales, facilitating introductions directly through the company’s network and sending InMail, messages and customized connection requests.

  • Engaging buyers with tailored content throughout the account lifecycle and getting account and lead updates, including news mentions and job changes.

  • Building strong relationships with existing contacts through access to LinkedIn profile details including photos, current roles and work history.

The new service displays company and contact intelligence across Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records.  Insight features include icebreakers, TeamLink introductions, Lead Recommendations, and LinkedIn intelligence.  Daily synchronization ensures that active accounts and contacts are shared between the services and that Sales Navigator activities (e.g. InMails, messages, notes, tags, and call logs) are uploaded to Dynamics 365.

“Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline,” said Guthrie.

“Microsoft has been focused on integrating its acquisitions and the LinkedIn to Dynamics 365 [to] Office 365 is the latest [iteration],” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Ray Wang.  “Customers already use these three products in disparate fashion spending time doing arm chair integration. What they’ve been looking for is the ability to take the data and insights in these three products and put them to work.”

Wang believes that cross-platform functionality can be quite useful.  For example, “How do you find out who knows whom inside a company? Traverse your Office 365 data, your [Dynamics 365] CRM database and your LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you realize Joe and Abdul have known each other since university days. Let’s put Abdul on the sales call.”

As LinkedIn member content is view only, Relationship Sales does not provide any member content enrichment or data maintenance.  Thus, Relationship Sales would need to be used in conjunction with other services such as Insights Enterprise (InsideView OEM with MS Dynamics) or D&B Hoovers for CRM to obtain a full sales intelligence and data maintenance solution.

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.

LinkedIn StoryLines Launched

StoryLines are trending topics shown on the right side of the LinkedIn Desktop
StoryLines are trending topics shown on the right side of the LinkedIn Desktop

LinkedIn recently introduced their new Storylines feature parallel to the LinkedIn feed.  StoryLines are “curated interest-based feeds that surface developing stories to help you discover and discuss news, ideas, and diverse perspectives from the largest group of professionals, publishers and editorial voices ever assembled.”

Articles are based upon information LinkedIn has about each reader such as their industry.  StoryLines are intended to combine industry expertise with individual network commentary.  A unique hashtag makes “it easy for you to join the conversation and add your own take on the issue.”

LinkedIn emphasized that StoryLines promotes a diversity of opinions and sources.  “Each story includes multiple perspectives, ranging from news publishers and influencers, to people in your network, so that you can easily weigh up diverse opinions”

StoryLines are curated via a combination of editorial curation and algorithmic filters.  When stories break, an editor writes a summary and identifies diverse sources.  An algorithm then adds additional member commentary.  This approach ensures a multiplicity of views that pull members out of “filter bubbles” which would otherwise reinforce current views and biases.  Topics will be business related

“I don’t want just one point of view”

  • LinkedIn VP of Product Tomer Cohen

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn believes it can avoid the problems of “fake news.”  Inaccurate content that is intentionally deceptive, including fake news, is not acceptable on our site,” said VP of Product Tomer Cohen.  “Our combination of algorithms and editors creates an experience where trending news is validated by editorial to ensure that it is professional and comes from trusted sources.”

Cohen added, “The content members write and share on LinkedIn becomes part of their professional identity — it can be seen by their boss, colleagues, and potential business partners. Promoting fake news can damage your reputation, and there is no hiding behind anonymity on LinkedIn.”

Other features include related stories and follow options for topical experts.

The new feature is being rolled out to US members and then will expand internationally.

LinkedIn mobile also added feed personalization tools which will soon be available via desktop.  Amongst the filters are options to follow companies, industry leaders, and publications.  Users can also hide posts, and unfollow people and companies.  Unfollowing people allows users to retain connections without seeing the connections posts.

LinkedIn has struggled to customize their feed for users, but StoryLines sounds like a smart innovation.  By creating a curated trending topic category and placing it to the right of the feed, they can provide relevant content and discussions without it overwhelming the user feed.  Furthermore, by curating a set of diverse viewpoints, members are provided with a broader set of perspectives.

Since the beginning of the year, I have noticed an improvement in LinkedIn’s feed.  Gone are the eye candy stories from Business Insider covering bots and bikes.  Also, there are fewer viral stories about enterprising individuals overcoming hardship.  Instead, they have done a better job of surfacing posts from my connections and articles in my field.

The launch of Sales Navigator Enterprise (covered last week) was another indicator that they are focusing more on the Professional side of Professional Social Networking.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise Launched

An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps.
An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page. Commentary is provided by sales reps, allowing them to personalize embedded documents or multi-media elements.

LinkedIn unveiled a series of enhancements to Sales Navigator including a new Enterprise Edition, CRM widgets, and integration of PointDrive into the Team and Enterprise editions.  The Enterprise edition includes Single Sign-On, PointDrive sales messaging, 50 InMails per month per user, and TeamLink Extend.

These features are on top of recent Sales Navigator screening enhancements.

While the original TeamLink feature was limited to Sales Navigator subscribers that opted into the service, TeamLink Extend allows opted-in co-workers to share their personal LinkedIn networks with sales reps, even if they are not Sales Navigator licensors.  “That means, if you’re trying to reach a prospect, you can quickly see if anyone in your company has a connection with that person, and reach out to your colleague to ask for warm introduction,” said LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The first 1,000 TeamLink Extend seats are included as part of the Enterprise Edition contract.

PointDrive, which LinkedIn acquired last summer, is designed to solve two problems with emails: attachment laden emails lack “control over narrative” as emails provide little flow, story, and “experience for the buyer.”  Also, they provide no visibility into who is viewing the email.  Thus, post-demo messaging is haphazard as emails don’t communicate a story very well.

According to LinkedIn, there are 5.4 decision makers involved in the buying decision which means that there is a high probability that sales emails with rich media attachments are being forwarded to others.

Bill Burnett, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions stated that the goal of PointDrive is to “turn this [email] exchange into a truly more engaging experience” which provides real-time sales signals about what content decision makers are viewing.  Instead of sending long emails, buyers are directed to a PointDrive landing page which allows the sales rep to control brand, content, and commentary.  PointDrive was designed as a “mobile first” interface with landing pages supporting both traditional and mobile browsers.

PointDrive Profile
PointDrive Profile

Brand and product information are “now presented in a way that truly differentiates and engages the buyer” through personalization and organization.  PointDrive also provides easy access to sales rep bios and contact information (see image on left).  Each attachment is displayed in a framed box with sales rep narratives and document descriptions alongside the marketing piece.  PointDrive supports embedded collateral, pricing sheets, presentation decks, multimedia, and images which are all displayed within the PointDrive landing page.  Users do not need to download content or window out to other documents.

PointDrive is customized to the seller allowing firms to convey their brand identity.  Burnett claims that creating a PointDrive is “as simple as creating an email.”  Users upload content and grab links, videos, and Google Maps.  “We’ll lay your brand and identity on top of it for you so that when you are ready to share with your leads [and] share with your connections,” said Burnett.

Real-time alerting metrics are provided for each document view.  Thus, PDF analytics indicate who viewed the document, when viewed, how much total time buyers or influencers spent viewing the document, total pages viewed, and how much time was spent on each page.  It even captures the viewing browser and location of the viewer.  This intelligence is available for both the original recipients and any forwarded viewers.

Sales reps have control over actions taken on PointDrive embedded content.  They can block downloads, password protect the element, set expiration dates, and track forwards.

Burnett calls this a “new way for sellers within Sales Navigator to engage with customers and prospects much deeper into the sales funnel.”  The service also provides “tremendous value for account managers or anybody inside of your organization that’s communicating on a regular basis” with customers and prospects.

“The new Sales Navigator features are to enhance the overall customer experience of Sales Navigator, and to integrate it into daily workflows to get people the information they need as easily as possible,” said LinkedIn Senior Marketing Manager Derek Pando.

PointDrive is available as part of the baseline Team and Enterprise editions.  While Enterprise Edition users will have unlimited access, Team Edition users will be limited to ten PointDrives per seat per month.

The Enterprise Edition includes additional management reports.

A new CRM Sync feature allows sales reps to take notes, send InMails, and track calls from their iOS and Android devices.  Information will initially only synch from Sales Navigator to SFDC, but additional platforms will be supported later this year.

Finally, Sales Navigator added new SFDC and MS Dynamics widgets which display Sales Navigator profile details such as photos, work history, job titles, and TeamLink shared connections.  Widgets will soon be available for Oracle, SAP Hybris, NetSuite, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Zoho.

“LinkedIn is a valuable pool of data that’s a great fit for CRM,” said Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research.  “As long as it doesn’t limit or preclude users from using other CRM options,” he told CRM Buyer, “this is a good move that will add value.”

Camplejohn told TechCrunch that LinkedIn is not looking to muscle in on Salesforce or other CRMs.

“We’re not competing at all with Salesforce.  We like the position that we are in. Ours is about the connections and activities that are happening. For us, the best play is to be a complement to all CRM systems so that we can exist in that world.”

  • LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn.

The Enterprise Edition begins at $1,600 per seat per year with multi-volume discounting available.  LinkedIn Sales Solutions published the following feature table for the three editions:

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is offered as a three-tiered service.

EY (Ernst & Young) has already signed up for 30,000 enterprise seats but will be able to leverage TeamLink opt-ins amongst its 250,000 global employees.

Camplejohn hinted to Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch that gamification and other incentives will be deployed in a future release to encourage TeamLink participation.

Sales Navigator “has good traction with companies focused on B2B sales,” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Cindy Zhou “Navigator’s ability to facilitate social sales through third-level connections is one of the primary revenue generators for LinkedIn, and a key driver for the Microsoft acquisition.”

Furthermore, PointDrive “provides one centralized location for prospects to access content, and it’s all trackable by sales and marketing.  This is a bonus for organizations considering the Enterprise Edition and a good bundling strategy.”

On the negative side, Zhou raised concerns about whether sales reps would manage the TeamLink opt-in responsibly.  “Organizations using TeamLink will need to be aware of their responsibility to properly train users to not abuse the access to connections.”