VanillaSoft Closes $4M Funding Round

US sales engagement vendor VanillaSoft received a pair of investments from Quebecois agencies totaling $4 million.  A $1 million loan from Canada Economic Development (CED) for Quebec Regions was announced last month followed by a $3 million equity investment from the Fonds Régional de Solidarité Outaouais (FRSO).  The round supports their operations in Gatineau and will fund thirty new positions focused on artificial intelligence functionality.  Hiring will be expanded in the R&D and sales functions.  The loan will also be directed towards marketing campaigns in Europe and Oceania.

“Digital technology is changing the way things are done around the world and providing companies with outstanding development opportunities,” said Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylme.  “Not only is VanillaSoft helping the Outaouais region build a reputation as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence, but its expertise and the innovative technology it continues to export will allow it to create 30 jobs.”

“The financial support and incentives provided by the Government of Canada allow companies like VanillaSoft to thrive,” said Hood.  “We have the opportunity to develop new markets and services and appreciate the continued support from CED for our local employees as we promote sales and business here in Quebec and beyond.”

VanillaSoft was founded in New Orleans in 2003 but shifted its operations to its Canadian subsidiary following Hurricane Katrina. CEO David Hood recognized the early help from CED and FRSO to help stabilize the firm:

“Katrina hit and wiped out the office in the U.S., and it’s the office here that grew. This would have been a company that was completely in the U.S. Instead, the majority of the employees are up here, the revenues are up here, and it’s Canada that quite honestly is really benefiting from it.”

CEO David Hood

VanillaSoft is the third major sales engagement firm to receive a funding round in the past month. Outreach and SalesLoft both received significant rounds in April.

Key features include sales cadences, email templates, VOIP dialing, call scripting, call recording, SMS marketing, SMS chat, analytics, lead scoring, and appointment setting.

Recent enhancements include geographic functionality and Vidyard GoVideo integration. New Geographical Information System (GIS) capabilities include proximity routing, directional routing, geolocation filters, and automated time zone features.  The new GIS functionality helps field sales reps maximize their client and prospect routing.

VanillaSoft noted that, “with many sales reps clocking far in excess of 25,000 miles per year, the ability to group accounts by area and conduct efficient outreach is critical.”

Directional routing provides reps with optimized maps for visiting leads.  The feature is assisted by proximity routing which identifies leads by radius around a ZIP code or a point.  For example, a sales rep can identify leads within a fixed distance of a prospect.

Geolocation filters employ geocodes for customer mapping, helping sales operations group leads by city, neighborhood, and street for lead assignment.  VanillaSoft also looks at the rep’s calendar to call out nearby appointments which may warrant rescheduling to optimize field sales rep planning.

“You can work either with latitude and longitude, or with ZIP code. This gives companies a functionality that I’m not aware is available on any other sales engagement platform. For appointment setting, for companies that have salespeople out on the road, and also for understanding where your customers and prospects are and to be able to target them geographically, this is an incredibly powerful functionality,” said Hood.

The firm also announced that Vidyard’s GoVideo personal video messaging service will be integrated into VanillaSoft.

“Making a human connection between salespeople and their prospects is critical for sales success,” said Vidyard CEO Michael Litt. “We know video is a powerful tool for sales engagement and leaders in the space like VanillaSoft see the potential of this technology for their users.”

Preferred B2B Communication Channels

While Sales Engagement vendors continue to expand their supported channels, email and phone remain the preferred B2B channels.  Preliminary results from a VanillaSoft survey of 2,000 executives indicated that email is the preferred communication channel.  SMS and Social Media were not listed as preferred channels with social media peaking at 24% during the need stage and falling to 15% during the evaluation stage

“We often read and hear about the rise and role of social selling at various points in the sales engagement process,” said VanillaSoft CEO David Hood, “However, as these initial findings show, more traditional channels – from email to phone to simple word-of-mouth – are actually preferred by B2B buyers.”


VanillaSoft Survey of 2,000 Executives.

Phone contact grows in importance from 39% in the Need stage to 54% in the Evaluation phase.

Social Media remains low, but it is a broad category and likely perceived as more of a consumer channel.  Even young professionals (25 to 34) had little interest in social as a sales contact channel with only 18% looking favorably upon social as a desirable sales communications channel.  41% of young professionals favored the telephone.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has had significant success as a third channel with messaging, InMail, and PointDrive.  Had LinkedIn been broken out as a distinct category, it likely would have scored higher.  SNAP connectors are now available from Outreach, SalesLoft, InsideSales, and Yesware.  VanillaSoft is in the middle of its certification process.  SalesLoft has indicated that Sales Navigator is their top ecosystem partner.

Also omitted were video meetings (e.g. WebEx, JoinMe, BlueJeans, Zoom) which are commonly used within organizations and work quite well for establishing trust with prospects, demoing a product, and walking through documents.

“Understanding these types of reality-based findings will allow smart sales professionals to align their activities to their customers’ wants and desires,” said Hood.

Quora: How can you export Linkedin leads/contacts into a database?

LinkedIn does not permit lead/contact downloading. This is part of the privacy agreement they have with their members.

That being said, there are some workarounds. The first is to license Salesforce Navigator which maintains a set of Accounts (companies) and Leads (contacts) within the product. While not downloadable, you receive alerts on those contacts along with messaging tools (InMail, messaging, and PointDrive).

You can also download accounts and contacts (called Leads within Sales Navigator) from Salesforce or MS Dynamics to LinkedIn Sales Navigator. While company and contact data is view only within CRMs, any data entered into LinkedIn (e.g. Notes, InMails) is uploaded to your CRM.

Sales Navigator includes a set of SNAP connectors for CRM, Sales Engagement, and other platforms. This tool provides a subset of Sales Navigator and Functionality within enterprise software. Features include profile viewing, InMail, connections, and icebreakers (talking points).

LinkedIn SNAP Connector within a Salesforce Opportunity Record (View Only).
LinkedIn SNAP Connector within a Salesforce Opportunity Record (View Only).

Option 2 is to license a chrome extension which recognizes domain names and LinkedIn profiles and matches them against their reference database. They then provide contact details and company firmographics within a right-handed side window. These databases usually include email and phone information not available in LinkedIn. Some include other details such as company technographics, news, and Alexa scores. Vendors with Chrome extensions include Zoominfo ReachOut, DiscoverOrg, HG Insights, DataFox, RingLead, Sigstr, PersistIQ, and Pitchbook.

The Zoominfo ReachOut Chrome extension supports contact prospecting at companies along with on-demand company and contact profiles based upon the current LinkedIn page or company domain.

Chrome extensions support send to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Outreach, and SalesLoft features. Thus, you can be researching a company or contact, click on the extension icon, and kick off a sales engagement cadence within a few seconds (longer if you pause to review the enhanced profiles). A few even include contact prospecting for companies so you can search for specific company roles and

  • Add them to your CRM as contacts or leads individually or in bulk
  • Be notified of contacts already in your CRM (to avoid duplicates)
  • Kick off a Sales Engagement cadence / sequence
  • Research employees

Vidyard GoVideo Expands SalesTech Partnerships

Vidyard GoVideo
Vidyard GoVideo supports on demand video creation, screen recording, and previously uploaded videos from within ConnectLeader templates.

Vidyard announced six additional sales platforms for its GoVideo platform: Outreach, EveryoneSocial, Reply.io, 366 Degrees, ConnectLeader, and FunnelAmplified.  Previously announced partners include SalesLoft, InsideSales, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, and Salesforce.  Vidyard supports over 40 sales and marketing solutions.

Integrated video helps personalize a message and increases open and clickthrough rates.

Outreach and ConnectLeader offer Sales Engagement platforms with personalized videos being integrated into email steps.  Outreach sales reps can include personal video within their sequences and monitor video engagement.

Link Encoding provides website or content viewing intelligence related to Outreach sequences.  For example, the new plug-ins help Vidyard “record and send videos within your Outreach email.  And when your prospect views the video, that activity triggers your next task so you can immediately take action to convert at the highest level.”

“Sales is becoming more personal every day.  You must use the right channel for the right engagement for the right prospect and customer, and we’re finding video to be a key channel in engaging buyers,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.

“Vidyard has been tightly integrated with ConnectLeader, which transforms your videos into lead generation machines,” wrote ConnectLeader. Features include camera recording, screen recording, and video uploading of previously saved content in Vidyard.

Reply.io is an email-centric platform with contact management, drip campaigns, reply recommendations, email validation, and reply prioritization.  The joint solution “lets users personalize sales drip campaigns, create personal intro videos or product demos, add them to email sequences in Reply.io, and automate one-to-one email engagement at scale.”

EveryoneSocial provides social selling tools for sales, marketing, communications, and recruitment teams.  Users can select pre-recorded videos from a library or record custom videos and share with prospects and connections.

366 Degrees and Vidyard support SMB marketing with dynamic content, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and campaign metrics.  Video can be integrated into newsletters, promotions, social media, and landing pages.

“With the changing behaviours of today’s buyers and the availability of new technologies, sales development is becoming a sophisticated business function that takes a strategic approach to identifying and developing new sales opportunities based a wide range of buying signals and sales engagement techniques,” blogged Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard.  “On average, SDRs use six different tools.  And the days of SDR teams inheriting tech from the broader sales and marketing teams—such as customer relationship management (CRM), email automation, and social listening—and adapting them to meet their unique requirements for scalable sales prospecting are quickly coming to an end.”

Artesian Solutions Tech Sector Sales

UK social selling vendor Artesian Solutions
recognized significant growth in the technology sector in 2018, with tech sector revenue up 255% in 2018.  Artesian attributed the growth to the “vast return on investment that can be achieved by leveraging millions of data points to create new relationships, establish credibility, address individual pain points and wider market challenges, and create new opportunities.”

The Artesian social selling platform provides users with a rich set of sales triggers combined with company intelligence.

“Technology companies are increasingly investing much of their valuable brain power into crafting long-term, powerful relationships from the start of the customer journey,” said CEO Andrew Yates.  “By harnessing technologies such as Artesian they’re uncovering opportunities to act in more contextually aware, empathetic and personalised ways and in turn are seizing opportunities to differentiate in an entirely different way, rather than focusing on features, benefits and brand reputation alone.”

Yates continued describing Artesian’s value proposition to technology sales reps:

“Harnessing the most valuable company information, market data and customer insights means Artesian’s technology customers can build innovative propositions for their products and services, prioritising ideas based on solving actual business challenges in each customer segment they serve.  The sheer pace of change in the technology sector, including new entrant disruption, means enterprise providers can quickly fall behind if they’re not able establish deep, value-based relationships, especially when they may not be able to react as quickly within product development as their smaller competitors.  Artesian’s growth in the sector highlights a shift in focus towards customer experience and value-based selling.  Our technology customers are great examples of how to stay relevant and grow, even in a challenging political and economic environment.”

Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates

Artesian’s technology customers include Oracle, Amazon Web Services, SAP, BT, Infinity Tracking, and Canon.

Artesian Solutions has also shown strength selling to British banks and insurance companies.  Another 2019 object is the infusion of artificial intelligence into financial services onboarding and compliance tools. The firm has 30,000 users located in the United Kingdom and United States.

Quora: Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?

The following is a Quora post answering the question, “Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?”


This is likely to fall into a semantics question. If data is employed in the aggregate and your personally identifiable information is not disclosed, then I would argue that your information is not sold. Likewise, if you are presented an ad because your LinkedIn profile conforms with a target audience definition, your data is also not being sold.

I can’t answer for LinkedIn Recruiter, but can answer in the Sales and Marketing context.

LinkedIn offers a sales product called Sales Navigator. Users can view company and contact information on Navigator just as they can on the free service. It even supports viewing this data within third-party SNAP products. However, Navigator and SNAP are view only. Sales reps cannot download your profile or sync it with any of their partner platforms. They also restrict display of your email and phone information to your direct connects as well as other content you flag as restricted.

LinkedIn Marketing sells advertising on LinkedIn and Bing based upon your profile attributes. Advertisers define their target audience across a broad set of firmographic, career, and location variables, but these segments are not provided directly to the marketer. Instead, they are used for advertising display. Thus, your data isn’t sold, just your eyeballs.

LinkedIn treats its member’s data with respect. Microsoft, its parent company, has called for a US version of GDPR, the European data privacy standard. CEO Satya Nadella stated that “privacy is a fundamental human right” on an April 2018 earnings call and said that the firm has implemented an “end-to-end privacy architecture” which is GDPR compliant.

The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.
The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.

InsideView Adds Direct Dials

InsideView users will be able to validate Direct Dial Phones for contacts.
InsideView users will be able to validate Direct Dial Phones for contacts.

InsideView is adding Direct Dials to its Sales product.  The lack of direct dials is a long-standing gap in its service as competitors have provided these numbers for several years.  InsideView for CRM supports uploading and syncing of direct dials.

The new field is currently in beta.  InsideView expects to have around two million direct dials in its service by the end of this quarter and is targeting ten million by the end of the year. The majority of the direct dials will be for US execs and mid-level managers.

InsideView currently provides 32 million global contacts with 15 million emails. The contacts span 14 million companies.

InsideView also announced Salesforce encryption support for adding and updating Account, Contact, and Lead records.  The firm provided the following caveat, “If you are using deterministic encryption, InsideView will attempt to find existing duplicates as part of the ‘Update CRM” data sync/export. If you are using probabilistic encryption, InsideView won’t be able to query Salesforce for potential duplicates in Salesforce, but your users can still use the “Update CRM” feature.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q1 Release (Part II: SNAP)

The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.
The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.

As part of their Q1 2019 release, LinkedIn rolled out a set of new SNAP (Sales Navigator Application Platform) partners including Altify, Drift, G2 Crowd, and Mixmax.  

The Drift partnership allows sales reps to “continue website conversations” after a prospect drops off of a Drift chat: “sometimes people leave your conversation abruptly – it happens. But as an SDR, that’s a potential meeting walking out the door. So what do you do? Well now you can send a connection request or follow up message with InMail right from within Drift.”

The Drift integration also displays contact and company intelligence including shared connections while a sales rep is chatting with a prospect visiting her website (see image on right).

“Gone are the days of toggling back and forth between LinkedIn and your ongoing sales conversation,” said Drift Product Marketer Daniel Murphy.  “Say goodbye to awkward lags in conversations. Prospects will never again have to wait for a response while SDRs search LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Salesforce to determine if they’re a good fit.  Now they can research a prospect’s company, see mutual connections, and grab other insights and conversation starters – all in real-time.”

G2 Crowd gathers intent data from 24 million technology searchers.  Intent data is collected from G2 profile and category views along with competitor comparisons.  Sales reps are notified when followed accounts are researching on G2 based on contact connections, sales preferences, search histories, and profile interactions.

“People don’t buy today as a result of cold calls and emails. The power is in the hands of the buyers doing more research than ever before. As sales teams, we need to focus on accepting the modern buyer journey and connecting to the right buyers at the right time. We’ve always been aligned with LinkedIn on this vision, and this integration helps us make it a reality.”


G2 Chief Revenue Officer Matt Gorniak

The Mixmax SNAP integration supports InMail and Connection requests and profile views from Gmail.

Altify’s org-chart software now displays insights and helps users identify key buyers across an organization.

Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.
Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.

LinkedIn also noted that it will be available within the Salesforce Winter 2019 release.  Salesforce admins can install the application from the Lightning Setup Console instead of the AppExchange.

One problem that has long dogged sales intelligence vendors is ongoing training and product exploration.  To encourage exploration, Sales Navigator added a coaching feature to extend product knowledge.  Sales Navigator Coach is a new dashboard that “suggests actions for customers to take and links to short learning videos.”  Actions are associated with core workflows.  The videos run thirty to forty seconds.

The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.
The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.

Finally, GDPR opt-outs are being added to PointDrive presentations.  PointDrive recipients will be able to revoke viewer tracking permission, effectively anonymizing their viewing data from sales reps.


Part 1 (Shared Custom Lists) posted yesterday.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q1 Release

LinkedIn Sales Navigator added Custom Account and Lead lists.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out Custom Account and Lead Lists in Q4 and added List Sharing in Q1 2019.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator began rolling out its Q1 release two weeks ago.  New features include custom list sharing, Sales Navigator Coach, list building exclusion filters, new Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) integrations, and an expanded set of technologies selects.

LinkedIn Sales Solutions VP of Product Management Doug Camplejohn was most excited about custom list sharing, noting that that “selling is a team sport.”

Team members can share lists with other users on their contracts, share comments, and sort by “Last Updated” date so sales reps can stay apprised of updated leads and accounts.  Sales Navigator notifies users when lists are being shared with them.  However, lists reside only in LinkedIn and are not downloadable.

“Now we’re taking lists up a notch by adding the ability for you to share these custom lists between your team members and have comments shared as well. Sales Development Reps can collaborate with Account Executives on their team and share progress on breaking into new accounts. Relationship Managers and Customer Success Representatives can collaborate around the health of their named accounts throughout the customer lifecycle. And Marketing can easily share lists from events with the teams following up on new leads. The possibilities are endless.”


Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions

LinkedIn has long described Sales Navigator as a system of engagement that worked with systems of record (CRM) and communication (email, social).  Much of the initial focus was on lead messaging and SNAP connectors, but the firm is now placing a greater focus on teamwork.  Shared lead lists are “the first step in a broader strategy to enable collaboration across your selling teams,” wrote the firm.

Lead lists were released in Q4 and quickly employed by users.  250,000 custom lists were created within the first six weeks of availability.  A quarter of active users created custom lists post-launch.

Users can also save Leads and Accounts to custom Lists from partner applications via their broad set of SNAP partners.

LinkedIn stated that “sharing increases visibility of and fosters collaboration for your pipeline.”  Custom lists help teams organize and plan for key leads and accounts within lists: “Sharing allows them to collaborate with others as they research, contact, and advance relationships with those Leads and Accounts.”

Users can track team outreach to prospects, share leads with managers to discuss strategy, segment by source, and customize follow-on activities.

Other screening enhancements include the expansion of technology selects to 30,000 technologies and the addition of seven categories of exclusion criteria for leads: company, geography, seniority level, title, function, industry and school.  Account exclusions are provided for geography and industry.  Camplejohn noted that exclusion filters were one of the top user requests.


Part II covers SNAP partners, SFDC Lightning Setup Console integration, and the new Sales Navigator Coach

LinkedIn Q4 Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.
Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.

LinkedIn rolled out its Q4 Sales Navigator release in November, but I failed to blog about it.  (Q1 will be covered next week in this blog.) The release contains several nascent initiatives including custom lists and the collection of “Reports To” data to assist with organizational mapping.  Other feature sets include three new alerts, an improved accounts center, PointDrive activity logging, and additional SNAP connectors.

LinkedIn is beginning to collect data around who reports to whom.  As sales reps or others learn about reporting relationships, they can add them to executive profiles.  The data is then shared across the LinkedIn contract with co-workers but not more broadly.  Following after last quarter’s support of buying committees, it is evident that LinkedIn is looking to infuse additional project and reporting relationships within Sales Navigator.

“We’re laying the foundation for full-blown org charts by adding a new “Reports To” field on the Lead Page,” blogged Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions Doug Camplejohn.  “Once you learn who someone’s manager is, you can add that info to their page by searching for a name or browsing our recommendations.  Any additions you or your colleagues make will only appear to those in your company’s Sales Navigator contract. So, the next time you or a team member looks that lead up, you’ll see who they report to, who added that connection, and a reporting history.”

An unlimited number of custom lists of accounts or leads may be built within the LinkedIn desktop or mobile app. Users may post notes on saved leads or accounts and filter the lists by people who have changed jobs in the last 90 days, people who have posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days, companies who have had senior leadership changes in the past 3 months, etc.

LinkedIn does not yet support custom list uploading. Custom Sharing is part of the Q1 release.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts
LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts

LinkedIn added three new alerts:

  1. Someone at a saved account viewed your profile
  2. A saved account has just raised funding
  3. A saved lead has engaged with LinkedIn posts from your company

which accompany six current alerts:

  1. A saved lead started a position at a new company
  2. A saved lead has a new position within the same company
  3. A saved lead viewed your profile
  4. A potential lead recently joined a saved account
  5. A saved lead has accepted your connection request
  6. A saved lead was mentioned in the news

Alerts are now included in the main menu bar of both the desktop and mobile editions.  Camplejohn noted that LinkedIn has improved the “signal-to-noise ratio” of its alerts.

“Think of our Alerts as a trusted sales advisor tapping you on the shoulder with information about your saved leads and accounts when it’s most important and relevant to you,” said Camplejohn.

LinkedIn has simplified its admin experience and “made it much easier to do tasks from assigning users to managing groups.”  LinkedIn also unified its administration module across Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Learning, and LinkedIn Recruiter.

Advanced Searching was added to the Sales Navigator mobile app, bringing it to list building parity with the desktop application.  Earlier this year, LinkedIn enhanced its company and lead profiles, also bringing them to parity with the desktop application.

“LinkedIn’s recent updates to its Sales Navigator management tool makes it a more robust platform for sales teams.  More importantly, the moves to bring more of its desktop features to the mobile app are evidence that LinkedIn finally understands how crucial a mobile experience is when designing a sales tool focused on lead management.”


Amy Gesenhues, MarTech Today

PointDrive, Sales Navigator’s multi-media sharing application, will begin writing activity history back to Microsoft Dynamics.  Salesforce PointDrive sync will come in 2019.  PointDrive presents documents and video to end users as a landing page and tracks views and shares.

“Now when you send that pricing proposal to a prospect in PointDrive and members of the buying committee engage with it, you’ll be able to see that activity in both Sales Navigator and your CRM,” blogged Camplejohn.

LinkedIn continues to expand its SNAP partnerships, adding Zoom as their first web conferencing partner.  Users can now hover over an attendee name and view Sales Navigator intelligence including their profile photo, title, and common connections.  

The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.
The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.

Four vendors launched v2 SNAP integrations which provide broader access to Sales Navigator actions:

  1. Yesware (Email Engagement)
  2. Leadfeeder (Visitor ID Analytics)
  3. Groove (Sales Engagement)
  4. Outreach (Sales Engagement)

SalesLoft, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics previously released V2 SNAP integrations.

In the Salesforce Winter Lightning release, admins will be able to configure Sales Navigator and add support for Person accounts without having to go to the AppExchange.

This year, Sales Navigator focused on improved functionality and display for accounts, leads, and list building in their mobile and desktop applications; SNAP integrations; GDPR compliance and security; CRM opportunity management and buyers circles; alerting; employment analytics; and PointDrive CRM integration.  Details on earlier releases are available in my blog: Q1, Q2, Q3.