Gartner Predicts Increasing Sales & Marketing Tension Due to ABM

Todd Berkowitz, Research Vice President at Gartner, sees Account Based Marketing (ABM) as increasing tensions between sales and marketing in the short-term.  While ABM has long been advocated as a facilitator of departmental alignment, he sees ABM as disrupting sales processes and generating friction:

“Between ABM and adoption of various new technologies and data types, there is a lot of disruption that is happening with regards to sales teams. Even if these changes are going to be beneficial to tech companies in the medium-term, and some of the “A sellers” get on board quickly with the changes, there are many sales reps that will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world. (This is why I always advise trying an ABM pilot with a select set of reps). So even if there is pretty good alignment and agreement between CMOs and sales leaders, don’t expect all reps to magically do what they are being asked to do. There needs to be an adjustment period, along with good sales enablement, before everyone plays nicely.”

So, while ABM will facilitate agreements in process, messaging, and metrics in the medium-term, it will generate resistance amongst sales reps unwilling to adopt new processes and tools or unconvinced of its value.  This friction is probably exacerbated by predictions of sales force reductions due to the implementation of AI and other information and workflow technologies.

WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
WWII Era Poster (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Resistance to technological change has long been an issue.  Early in the Industrial Revolution, The Luddites sabotaged British plants, particularly cotton and wool mills.  While sales reps are unlikely to sabotage initiatives (or their careers), they may hesitate to learn new platforms or adopt new processes.  As such, the problem may be more akin to soldiering, the assembly line equivalent of reducing individual productivity to the level of the laggards on the line.  Frederick Taylor, the father of time and motion studies, was very concerned about soldiering and recommended piece work rates to create productivity incentives.  But sales reps are very attuned to incentives.  While they may be hesitant to adopt new technologies, they will do so if they help make them more efficient and effective at selling.  So long as sales reps are paid on a commission basis and long-term employment is tied to making quota, the level of soldiering should be minimal.

This isn’t to say that sales reps won’t resist learning new tools.  If they believe the time invested in such training is less than the incremental revenue for the lost selling time spent in training, then they will avoid training and learning new tools.  However, if they see others on their team benefiting from the new tools, they will not hold out long term.  Thus, tool training needs to be visibly supported by management with an emphasis upon the benefits to sales reps (e.g. less time spent on non-sales tasks and more time interacting with customers and prospects, improved account intelligence, improved account targeting and message timing).  With the proper incentives and information, resistance should be minimal.

To help ensure adoption, vendors should be looking to integrate solutions into CRMs, email, and mobile devices so that new tools are integrated into current workflows.  They should also be providing inline tool tips, initial training focused on their capabilities which provide high levels of efficiency and efficacy improvements, tool-based win stories, and usage tools for tracking training, usage, and ROI.  A few gamification elements may also be in order, but they should be organic to the product and not hokey.

Oceanos for Salesforce (Beta)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lattice Engines: Predictive Model Building

The Lattice Data Cloud Explorer highlights the top fields by category and helps admins determine which fields should be exported to other platforms.
The Lattice Data Cloud Explorer highlights the top fields by category and helps admins determine which fields should be exported to other platforms.

Lattice Engines has taken the pole position in the emerging Predictive Analytics space.  In yesterday’s blog, I covered its pricing, value proposition, content, and integrations.  Part two covers model building.

When first launched, Lattice Engines and its peers had long deployments and black-boxed models that required data science expertise.  The firm now offers 24-hour deployments, simplified model building, and greater transparency around models and recommendations.  Furthermore, the system allows marketers to either build their own models or import industry standard PMML files constructed by their data science teams.

Predictive models are built by importing training files which are matched against the Lattice Data Cloud using D&B DUNSMatch logic and Lattice proprietary techniques.  Training models contain examples of both positive and negative outcomes (e.g. win / lose, renew / drop).  A model is typically available within thirty minutes of the training file upload.

Ideal Buyer Profile scores (Lattice’s term which is similar to Ideal Customer Profile scores) are available to sales and marketing and include both scores and recommendations.  Marketing can view the model via a graphical Data Cloud Explorer which highlights the key signals and variables in the model and makes the data available for export to other platforms.

To make the data more actionable for sales reps, Lattice provides Salesforce Talking Points which display recommendations and explanations that include Lattice data, transactional history, and buyer behavior.  A Lattice Buyer Insights CRM I-frame contains Lattice recommendations, talking points, company profiles, company fit, engaged contacts, engagement activity, intent analysis (surging topics), web activity, and purchase history tabs.

Lattice Recommendations with related scores. Sales reps can explore any of the recommendations by clicking on them.
Lattice Recommendations with related scores. Sales reps can explore any of the recommendations by clicking on them.

Future plans include a user interface for segmentation analysis and simplifying intent scoring to high/medium/low.


Part 1: Lattice Engines Overview.

Sparklane €4m Funding Round

Sparklane Lead Scoring
Sparklane Lead Scoring

Sparklane, which describes itself as “a publisher of sales intelligence SAAS solutions,” announced that it received a €4m funding round from XAnge and Entrepreneur Venture Investment Fund.  The round raised its total funding to €7m.  XAnge also participated in Sparklane’s previous funding round.

“We were won over by Sparklane’s disruptive positioning and the impressive performance of its management team, prompting us to offer them our renewed support as we participate in this fundraising initiative alongside Entrepreneur Venture,” stated Guilhem de Vregille, Deputy Director of XAnge.

The round allows Sparklane to continue its European expansion.  The French company established itself in the UK in 2016 and is currently eyeing the German market.  The funding will also be directed towards expanding its artificial intelligence capabilities, and growth in their sales and R&D teams.

According to Chairman Frédéric Pichard, the funding round is a “real vote of confidence,” in the company.  “Our goal remains the same: to help marketing and sales people identify their future customers more quickly using Artificial Intelligence.”

Sparklane offers predictive lead scoring and prospecting tools for sales and marketing teams in the UK and France.  Their Predict platform processes client CRM data to define an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), apply predictive lead scores, and identify look-a-like prospects.

Sparklane supports nearly 350 clients across banking, insurance, technology and business services.  The firm was listed in Deloitte’s 2016 EMEA Fast 500 list of technology companies with 265% revenue growth between 2012 and 2015 (three-year CAGR of 54%).

Marketing Malpractice

1328101865_Thumbs_downThe other day, I wanted to grab a screenshot of a B2B product I license so I googled the demo.  I was brought to a landing page where I had to fill out a web form to see a short video (Mistake 1 – Creating barriers to early information seekers).  Once I registered, I was taken to a page where the video was displayed in a small, non-expandable window (Mistake2).

A half hour later, I received an email which said my company was too small to speak with a rep, but that I could purchase it online (Mistake 3 – suggesting that I wasn’t worth the time of a sales rep implies that I also wasn’t going to be worth the time of trainers or support teams; Mistake 4 – they treated me as a prospect when I was a customer, a fact they easily could have checked based upon my email; Mistake 5 assuming that I would be ready to purchase based upon a three-minute demo).  When I replied to the email to let them know about these marketing mistakes, it bounced (Mistake 6 —  I missed that it was a no reply email, but since the note was addressed and signed by somebody, I didn’t look at the actual email address).

It was an incredible display of big company arrogance and incompetent marketing.  I’m not going to shame the company by naming it.  Instead I turned them into an object lesson.  There were so many errors in this process that it was clear that their own marketing teams don’t test out their automated processes.  The real shame is that this is a company that offers marketing services, but seemed not to care about checking its own marketing processes.

Sales 3.0 and the Growth Mindset

Sales 3.0 LogoThe Sales 2.0 shows, which have been held for almost a decade, were rebranded Sales 3.0.  As with Sales 2.0, the focus remains on people, process, and technology.  I am not convinced that there is actually a discrete break from 2.0 to 3.0.  For example, the conference site states, “B2B buyers are online, digitally empowered, and looking for salespeople who can articulate value,” but this has been true for the past decade.  One can argue that two other differences are more current, the rise of artificial intelligence and Account Based Marketing.  Both have risen to the forefront of sales and marketing intelligence over the past two years due to the maturation of technology.

The final Sales 3.0 difference focuses on coaching sales reps to “embrace the power of mindset [to] achieve peak sales performance.”  Mindset is a set of attitudes and beliefs that we begin assembling at birth and which shape behavior.  The pre-frontal cortex of the brain stores these mindsets as networks of “cognitive elements, memories, and associated feelings from past experiences.”

“When your mindset is functioning at optimum levels, you’re better able to excel in tough sales situations. That’s because – according to scientific research conducted by Professor Michael Bernard at the University of Melbourne, Australia – high achievers consciously create a belief system that helps them cope effectively with difficult situations at work,” says a Sales 3.0 Conference report.  “We all have the capacity to direct our minds to become powerful, positive, productive forces for ourselves.”

The report noted that successful and positive individuals have a growth mindset which focuses on self-improvement.  “They believe that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, instruction, and persistence. They don’t necessarily believe they can become geniuses, but they believe they can become more skilled and intelligent by working hard. People with a growth mindset tend to achieve higher levels of success.”

This year’s Sales 3.0 shows will be held in San Francisco (May 1-2), Las Vegas (September 18-19), and Philadelphia (December 4th).

Sales Intelligence Vendors Move Upstream

ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.
ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.

Five years ago, Sales Intelligence vendors avoided selling into the marketing  department.  While there were a few enrichment projects for CRMs, these were driven by Sales Ops, not marketing departments.  Furthermore, SalesTech products are sold on a per seat basis for sales reps while marketing revenue is generally volume based (e.g. number of prospecting records sold or records enriched).  This made pricing of services difficult.

But MarTech was receiving heavy investments and several firms shifted their focus from sales to marketing.  Zoominfo began discussing Sales and Marketing Alignment and developed a set of marketing tools.  The firm, which had been struggling to grow revenue for several years, is again on a growth trajectory and made the two most recent Inc. 5000 lists.

InsideView also began developing marketing functionality and now treats the two departments equally.  Most of InsideView’s recent investment has been in building out marketing solutions or expanding their company and contact coverage (which benefits sales and marketing equally).

At the beginning of 2015, Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex for its contact database and Workbench hygiene platform.  The firm also used NetProspex as the basis for their Audience Solutions programmatic marketing service which was launched in 2015.

In 2016, the Sales Intelligence vendors continued to move upstream into marketing intelligence and hygiene.  InsideView continues to enhance its Target, Enrich, and Refresh marketing tools while Avention launched OneSource DataVision for web form enrichment, continuous enrichment, segmentation, look-a-like prospecting, and TAM analysis.  Avention also launched Marketo and Eloqua connectors for their OneSource service.

“OneSource DataVision naturally extends the sales and marketing benefits our customers can gain from OneSource Solutions by being even more targeted with campaigns and programmes – including account-based,” said Avention SVP of Product Lauren Bakewell. “Better qualified leads and more targeted account-based approaches should bring better sales results, which should in turn strengthen sales and marketing alignment; we feel alignment happens best when sales forecasts are being met and exceeded!”

Zoominfo has repositioned itself as a MarTech company with a rebranding of their platform as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform.  While sales reps are still supported, the emphasis is on data enrichment, segmentation analysis, cluster analysis, and look-a-like prospecting against clusters.

DiscoverOrg and RainKing also placed greater emphasis upon marketing and ABM capabilities.  Both services support predictive rankings of accounts and contacts, MAP and CRM enrichment, and new opportunities (Inside Scoops from RainKing and OppAlerts and sales triggers from DiscoverOrg).

In 2017 and 2018, expect the walls between SalesTech and MarTech to crumble.  The opportunity to offer a solution for both departments via a shared reference database will continue to drive strategy at these firms.  As MarTech begins to consolidate, expect M&A activity within the sector and vertically with SalesTech vendors.

Sales Intelligence vendors have key assets that benefit marketing departments including large company and contact datasets for prospecting and enrichment; firmographic data for lead scoring, targeting, segmentation, and routing; and the growing ability to tie leads to accounts in real-time.  They are also well positioned to support ABM functionality with profiling, analytics (segmentation, Total Addressable Market analysis), and look-a-like prospecting.

Of course, MarTech is also beginning to eye SalesTech.  Last spring, Demandbase acquired Spiderbook and leveraged its capabilities to launch their DemandGraph relationship dataset.  The expanded content set employs semantic mining and machine learning to assemble the “entire business network of a company” which helps  “identify which companies and buying committees are in-market for particular solutions.”  The DemandGraph helps users target in-market accounts, identify key buyers, uncover meaningful insights, and deliver personalized content.  While they have not announced specific predictive tools or capabilities, they are hinting at such tools.

Demandbase DemandGraph
Demandbase DemandGraph

Meanwhile, the predictive analytics companies, which originally focused on lead scoring, are now building sales functionality including net-new contacts at accounts, account prioritization, flagging churn candidates,  and providing recommendations for sales reps.

Things are just beginning to get interesting.