SalesLoft: Sales Engagement for WFH Sales Teams

I had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of using Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) for work from home (WFH) staff with Sunshine Levin of SalesLoft.  Levin emphasized that many Sales Engagement tools assist remote sales reps and managers.  SEPs help with sales productivity, activity and account prioritization, sales messaging, activity capture, pipeline analytics, and rep coaching.

Levin was recently promoted to Director of Customer and Analyst Relations and had expected to be discussing SalesLoft’s new product positioning and product packaging at their March REV2020 conference.  Instead of greeting 2000 customers and prospects in San Francisco, the firm conducted its keynote session virtually and is now communicating their value proposition in a new work environment.

At the heart of Sales Engagement Platforms are multi-channel cadences that provide a multi-step approach to establishing an initial relationship with prospects.  Reps are not only working from home but so are most of their likely targets. Thus, cadences and messaging should be adjusted in the near-term. Reaching out to prospects via standard channels is likely to be low yield due to WFH, so diversifying communications across multiple channels such as phone, email, social, SMS, and tactile (swag and e-gifting) make sense.  

Also, with prospects at home feeling isolated, personalized one-to-one videos are likely to be even more effective.  Reps can insert personal videos into emails or social links. SalesLoft research indicates that videos from Vidyard, Videolicious, and VidGrid generate two to three times the email open rates versus general emails.

While Sales Engagement Platforms offer templated emails, they are more effective if  personalized. SalesLoft’s research found that 20% personalization is optimal.  Personalization helps refine the message for each client and conveys authenticity.  It also allows reps to modify their messaging around the current work, health, and economic environment.

SalesLoft, along with many of its peers, offers LinkedIn SNAP connectors, which are integrated into cadences.  Reps can send InMails, request connections, submit introduction requests, and conduct research from within SEPs and CRMs. 

“LinkedIn-specific steps help salespeople stay focused, do less application switching, and deliver a better sales experience.”

Sunshine Levin, SalesLoft Director of Customer and Analyst Relations

SalesLoft now supports LinkedIn’s Data Validation Flag, which warns users that a contact is no longer at a company listed in the CRM.  If the company differs between LinkedIn and the CRM, a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM. The flag is displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns.  SalesLoft automation rules can then trigger workflows based on whether a buying committee member has left or whether an admin or champion at a customer has changed jobs. These insights help reps evaluate whether an opportunity may be in jeopardy, the likelihood of closing this quarter pushed out, or they need to move quickly to identify new buying committee members or champions.

“Customers leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator Data Validation are now able to use real-time insights to influence critical workflows when their prospects and customers change jobs,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan.  “Ultimately, this saves time spent reviewing customer data manually, and it will increase the quality of all opportunities as salespeople progress through the buying cycle.”


Continue to Part II of this discussion.

Sales Navigator Q1 Release: Search, UI, and Other Enhancements

Funding Events Slide-in Panel

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has been rolling out its Q1 release to users over the past few weeks. I already covered Contact Creation and Smart Links. Part III of this blog covers Saved Lead and Account Searches, Accounts Preparing to Grow alerts, UI and mobile enhancements, and an InsightSquared SNAP Connector.

Users may now share a Saved Lead Search, allowing them to put together dynamic prospect lists and share them across the account team.  Reps simply select who receives the shared search and include a note.  The recipients can then view the saved search with values pre-populated.

Another new feature is Saved Account Searches, which allow reps to set up a search with scheduled update alerts.  Users control the update notification period.

“Search is a newer area for us in Sales Navigator.  We’re finding more than ever that sales teams are looking at things collaboratively, so we introduced the idea that we need Sales Navigator to work across teams in order to allow that collaboration to happen.”

LinkedIn Sales Solutions Product Chief Lyndsey Edwards

The new Account Preparing to Grow alert notifies sales reps when the number of postings at a saved account has grown.

The Sales Navigator mobile app (Android and iOS) now supports all seven European languages available in the desktop application.  Another new app feature lets the rep set custom alert filters for accounts, leads, and relationships.

“Mobile has always been an area of focus and growth for us,” said Edwards.  “We are seeing more use on mobile than ever before, and we want desktop and mobile users to have an equal experience.  People want the full breadth of functionality on mobile.”

The homepage UI now supports a slide-in panel for viewing Account Funding News without leaving Sales Navigator.  The slide-in panel also supports CTAs, such as send InMail.

Other enhancements include a usage reporting refresh and an opt-out for usage report tracking.

LinkedIn released a SNAP integration with BI vendor InsightSquared.  The integration analyzes Sales Navigator usage and supports seven out-of-the-box workbook templates.

Edwards emphasized that the goal of Sales Navigator product updates is to promote simplicity by “simplifying the seller’s life and workflow.  We focus on sellers as end-users, but we want buyers to have a great experience, as well.”

Accounts Preparing to Grow Alert

Resources:

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q4 Release Part II

The new Funding Events Spotlight Filter allows reps to focus on accounts with recent private equity or venture capital funding events.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out its Q4 release to end-users and admins over the past few weeks. Yesterday, I covered their new data validation flag and Admin tools. Today, I am discussing the rest of the release including new alerts, list sharing, and SNAP (Sales Navigator Application Partner) enhancements.

Sales Navigator added two more Saved Account Alerts: headcount growth and Senior Leadership Hires.

When sharing lists, owners may now designate them view-only or editable.

“List collaborators with edit permissions will be able to add, remove, and comment on Leads or Accounts within a Shared List, and alerts will be sent to collaborators when Leads or Accounts have been added to or removed from a Custom List or when there are new comments on a Custom List.”

LinkedIn Sales Solutions VP of Product Management Doug Camplejohn

LinkedIn added SNAP integrations for Tableau and Power BI.  They also extended SNAP integrations to Oracle Sales Cloud Lead and Account pages (Contacts were already supported).

Teams will benefit from improved TeamLink recommendations on “who to reach out to first for a warm introduction, using connection strength scores based on a members’ interactions.”

PointDrive Roadmap

Finally, LinkedIn teased an improved PointDrive service that will be “deeply integrated” into Sales Navigator beginning in early 2020.  PointDrive provides sales reps with a custom landing page for delivering multi-media content with descriptions and company branding.  The multi-quarter release will streamline access to PointDrive functionality.  However, PointDrive will no longer support shared content.

SalesLoft Leveraging Data Validation Flag

SalesLoft is one of the first vendors to take advantage of the Sales Navigator Data Validation process.  SalesLoft uses the Data Validation flag to notify the SDR or sales rep.  SalesLoft automation rules can then trigger workflows based on whether a prospect on the decision-making committee has left or whether an admin or champion at a customer has changed jobs.  These insights help reps evaluate whether an opportunity may be in jeopardy, the likelihood of closing this quarter pushed out, or they need to move quickly to identify new buying committee members or champions.

“Customers leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator Data Validation are now able to use real-time insights to influence critical workflows when their prospects and customers change jobs,” said SalesLoft CMO Sydney Sloan. “Ultimately, this saves time spent reviewing customer data manually, and it will increase the quality of all opportunities as salespeople progress through the buying cycle.”

Hybrid Engagement Platforms

Cognism Intelligence within Salesforce. Hybrid Engagement Platforms Continuously update CRMs and MAPs.

The market is beginning to evolve a set of hybrid engagement vendors that deliver a broad set of sales and marketing services.  The boundary between sales and marketing is quickly crumbling.  Hybrid engagement services manage both data and workflows.  Features include

Future functionality will include Next Best Actions, Embedded 1:1 Video, SNAP (Sales Navigator) Integrations, and Programmatic Advertising.

No vendor provides all of these services and some provide them as separate offerings, but firms such as Dun & Bradstreet, Zoominfo, Infogroup (Salesgenie), Lead411, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Cognism have all taken steps over the past two years to meet the emerging requirements of the CRO.

For the moment, I’m calling these emerging offerings Hybrid Engage Platforms, but that is a placeholder name as the market evolves.

Quora: What CRMs integrate with LinkedIn messages to help me manage recruiting and sales?

I’m not an expert on the recruitment side, but on the sales side there is an integrated Dynamics / LinkedIn Sales Navigator solution called Relationship Sales. The 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.

LinkedIn also offers a set of SNAP connectors which provide view only company and contact profiles integrated into CRM, Sales Engagement, and other platforms. Supported CRMs include HubSpot, Inform, Microsoft, Oracle Sales Cloud, Pega, Salesforce, SAP, SugarCRM, and Zoho.

SNAP requires licensing Sales Navigator Team along with the CRM.

SNAP offers a core set of features for CRM:

  • View LinkedIn profiles within Account, Contact, and Lead profiles
LinkedIn Contact Profile within Salesforce.
  • Icebreakers such as Recent Activity and Shared Connections
LinkedIn Recent Activity and Shared Connections within Salesforce
  • TeamLink connections which leverage co-worker LinkedIn networks.
  • InMails (LinkedIn’s email service which hides the email of the recipient).
  • Recommended Leads
  • Syncing of engagement activity (e.g. InMails, Notes, Messages, Phone Calls) between the CRM and LinkedIn.
  • Download Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity intelligence from the CRM to LinkedIn for Account and Lead List Building.
  • A single-pane pipeline view for maintaining Opportunity data and constructing Buyers Circles (Buying Committee members). An intriguing feature which is only available in Dynamics and Salesforce.
LinkedIn Deals View provides a single pane view for editing Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics Opportunities and Buying Circles.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent offering with one major limitation — member data cannot be synced with the CRM. This means that it is view only within SNAP and must be re-keyed. It also means that there is no ongoing enrichment of accounts, contacts, and leads. As such, a B2B hygiene service should also be evaluated (e.g. D&B Optimizer, RingLead, ReachForce, InsideView, DiscoverOrg / Zoominfo).

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q2 2019 (Part III) – Org Charts & Lists

The new org chart SNAP connector for MS Dynamics provides rich biographic information for executives.
The new org chart SNAP connector for MS Dynamics provides rich biographic information for executives.

I’ve been covering Q2 enhancements to LinkedIn Sales Navigator this week. On Monday, I discussed their Sales Coach enhancements and on Wednesday their Alerting enhancements. There were also a set of communications enhancements to Sales Navigator (an area of strength vs. other Sales Intelligence offerings). Communication enhancements include conversation histories, improved filtering, more visible icebreakers, and InMail credit status.

Improved Sales Navigator Keyword Searching

Keyword searching speed has been improved and a guided search experience helps the user expand or narrow the search term (see image on left).

Sales Navigator custom lists were introduced last year and nearly one million have been created.  More than half of saved leads have been added to custom lists.  

Two new list features were added in Q2:

  • Bulk save and bulk remove accounts and contacts from lists.
  • Match Lead to Account – As not all leads (people) are attached to accounts, the match feature allows users to assign leads to any company for alerting purposes.

A live org chart integration is being introduced For Microsoft Dynamics which supports saved accounts.  The functionality is being delivered through LinkedIn SNAP.

The chart displays LinkedIn member profile photos and additional profile details which provide additional insights into the account.

During Q2, Lucidchart also became a SNAP partner.  Lucidchart users can now view lead recommendations, save leads to Sales Navigator, view contact profiles and updates, request introductions, and send InMails from within Lucidchart.

“Sales teams work faster and smarter when they work visually.  Bringing the power of the world’s largest professional online network into Lucidchart in a more seamless way underscores our ongoing commitment to enhance the sales experience.”

Lucidchart CEO Karl Sun

Note: This is the final chapter on the Q2 2019 LinkedIn Sales Navigator release. Part 1 | Part II

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q2 2019 (Part I)

The new Sales Navigator Coach encourages reps to explore Sales Navigator. It is located on the redesigned home page.
The new LinkedIn Sales Navigator Coach encourages reps to explore Sales Navigator. It is located on the redesigned home page.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has been rolling out its Q2 release to customers over the past few weeks.  The new functionality includes a redesigned home page, improved keyword searching, custom list enhancements, and additional Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) connectors.

The homepage emphasizes alerts and the new Sales Navigator Coach.  The Coach is a training tool with a gamification feature – a progress meter which shows your level of product mastery, from Beginner to Expert.  Reps are shown three recommended actions.  They can either try a recommended action or watch a short training video.

All of the Coach features, with the exception of PointDrive, may be executed from a mobile device.

“This is just the beginning for Sales Navigator Coach, and we can’t wait to bring more personalized education to all our Sales Navigator customers. We’re also excited to bring Sales Navigator Coach to usage reporting later this year.”

Sales Solutions VP of Product Management Doug Camplejohn.

Several features on the homepage have been moved.  The SSI (Social Selling Index) tool is available via a drop down and the newsfeed has been replaced with an alert feed.


Note: This is part one of my profile of the Q2 2019 release. Tomorrow I will be covering enhanced alert functionality.

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

What is Sales Engagement?

Over the past year, Sales Engagement has become the third pillar of my coverage (alongside Sales Intelligence and B2B DaaS). So it is only fair that I write an overview of the space.

Sales Engagement began about four or five years ago as Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) with a focus on automating the SDR function. Its initial functionality consisted of a cadence tool which automated emails and outbound dialing for appointment setting. Cadences, also called sequences, are a set of scheduled steps that usually begin with an email but also include outbound calls, social steps (many vendors have integrated LinkedIn Sales Navigator via SNAP connectors), and direct mail.

Cadences can be paused if the prospect is out of office or halted if the prospect unsubscribes. Outreach just announced out of office functionality which pauses the call and checks whether an alternate contact is listed.
Functionality is similar to that of LeadGnome. Outreach noted that 18% of email responses are out of office emails. 25% of out of office emails include an alternate contact name with over half the names being manager titles or above.  The Out of Office reply detection extracts the return date and alternate names then pauses sequences until the prospect returns.  The sales rep is notified of automated actions.

Email is supported by targeted templates which can be personalized. Thus, reps can call cadences by function, level, industry, etc. and the associated templates are customized by target audience. Reps can view the emails prior to sending and personalize them. This helps bring authenticity to the email. SalesLoft estimates that the peak personalization level is 20%.

Most sales engagement solutions include a digital dialer for outbound calling. The system suggests the best time of day and adjusts for time zones. Other features include local dialing, call recording, and voice mail drops. Upon completion, the rep enters call disposition and sentiment information which is synched with the CRM.

Once calls are recorded, they are transcribed and indexed, allowing sales reps or managers to quickly review calls and quickly locate pain points, objections, pricing, and next steps. Vendors such as Outreach and SalesLoft are going a step further and analyzing the calls, providing a set of team reports. More broadly, machine learning tools are being applied against the calls to determine best sales practices.

Meeting Management is emerging as a key feature set. Some vendors offer simple Calendly-like scheduling while others provide full meeting transcription and analytics.

Video is becoming increasingly important. Vendors support both video meetings (e.g. Webex, Zoom, BlueJeans, JoinMe) and video attachments (e.g. Vidyard, Videolicious).

The Outreach Partner Directory offers ten categories of partners. Sales Intelligence and Data supports lead generation, intelligence, and management.

Other information and decisioning tools include leaderboards, dashboards, AI recommendations (e.g. who to call or email next), CRM synchronization, and A/B testing. Some of these tools are directly integrated into the service while others are available through app directories. Similar to the Salesforce AppExchange or Marketo LaunchPoint, functionality may be free, freemium, or premium. Likewise, you may need to separately license the partner solution prior to enabling the integration. Outreach and SalesLoft offer a broad set of app partners.

There are a broad set of Sales Intelligence partner services which feed leads or display lead intelligence within Sales Engagement platforms. Vendors include DiscoverOrg, Zoominfo, Datanyze, Owler, Crunchbase, and SalesIntel.io.

Sales Engagement platforms are evolving into a system of engagement that sits alongside CRMs (systems of record). There is already a shift taking place from CRMs to Sales Engagement platforms. While Sales Engagement platforms are not looking to displace CRMs, sales reps are increasingly shifting screen time from CRMs to Sales Engagement platforms with the Sales Engagement platforms syncing with the CRMs. This is one of the reasons that Salesforce.com recently launched its High Velocity Sales service which combines cadences, Salesforce Inbox, the Lightning Dialer, work queues, and Einstein. High Velocity Sales starts at $75 per user per month ($90 with outbound calling).

The Salesforce Lighting Dialer supports click-to-call, power dialing, inbound calling, voicemail drops, and call logging.

At the Salesforce World Tour in Boston this week, a sales rep told me that Salesforce is heavily investing in Sales Engagement and hopes to catch up to the market leaders in the next year (I think this is overly optimistic as the leaders are quickly building out functionality and partnerships). While Salesforce could catch up in a few years, I believe it is more likely that SFDC will acquire one of the leaders in the space followed quickly by Microsoft and Oracle acquisitions in the sector (of course, Microsoft or Oracle could be the first movers). Adobe, which recently acquired Marketo, may also be interested in expanding its presence in B2B sales and marketing applications.

The top vendors in the space are SalesLoft, Outreach, and InsideSales. Other vendors include ConnectLeader, Yesware, Toutapp (Marketo), Mixmax, and VanillaSoft.

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.