CEO Manny Medina used his Outreach Unleash virtual conference, which was rescheduled from an early April live event, to inspire and motivate leaders to pivot their businesses. Noting that his company nearly failed before finding value in some internal sales engagement tools that saved his company, he discussed two strategies for companies: hunkering down or pivoting. His recommendation was to pivot into new markets, products, and messaging. For most companies, their “customer’s realities have changed, and the old value proposition won’t work.”
Some will hunker down, pare employees, marketing, and spend, hoping to wait out the storm. This is a survival strategy, but it leaves the company weakened when things improve and demand returns. Hunkering down assumes that the current situation is temporary and won’t have a long-term impact on their markets. Firms that hunker down may survive, but they cede market share, ongoing product development, and an understanding of evolving market requirements. Bolder competitors continue to build their product, establish relationships, and prepare for the thaw.
There are a few companies in segments where demand is exploding. These lucky firms need to manage explosive growth around e-commerce, e-delivery, or digital services. To these firms, Outreach is asking how can we best meet your needs? But most companies do not fall into those categories.
“A lot of customers are coming to us looking for guidance on how to get through this. They want insight into how to manage their teams remotely and how to pivot their business.”
Outreach CEO Manny Medina
Medina recommends pivoting in search of new markets, products, and opportunities. Doing so requires that firms carefully analyze their skills, assets, and messaging. Firms need to “measure and iterate,” “be one with the customer,” and “act with urgency.” Sales reps and management need to be doing more check-ins with clients. The goal isn’t to be selling today, but sharing ideas, building trust, and empathetically discussing needs. Sales reps need to be disciplined and ”listen to understand, not to respond,” while management must identify new markets, personas, and messaging.
Medina views the pandemic and subsequent crisis in demand as an opportunity to grow, become more efficient, and get closer to one’s customers. In a shrinking market, the bold may not grow revenue; still, they will increase market share, investigate new opportunities, and build relationships, which will allow them to outperform when the market improves.
Outreach is “working hard to master the ability to create trusting relationships — at a distance,” said Medina. “Only two months ago, it was religion that you needed to meet someone in person to build trust – now we are doing it all over video.”
Now, COVID has given everyone an excuse to come in below their number this year. However, you have no excuse for not answering yes to the following questions.
– Did your teams become more efficient? – Did you iterate and pivot until you found a sweet spot that worked? – Did you level up your sales process to make WFH successful?
Now is the time to act on the things you CAN control. To build for the future.
Outreach CMO Max Altschuler
Internally, Medina has emphasized communications, switching from weekly emails to weekly videos and weekly office hours via Zoom. “It helps me be visible and showcase both a serious tone and an optimistic one.”
Outreach is also building loyalty amongst its staff. It has retained all of its 550 employees. To assist WFH parents, Outreach is providing $100 per week for educational materials, tutoring, tools, and supplies. Outreach has also provided additional support beyond its healthcare plan to employee families impacted by COVID-19.
Outreach chose not to apply for PPP loans even though its investors suggested they do so. The firm, however, continues to invest 40% of its revenue in product development, preparing for the next market inflection point.
Outreach also chose to continue its expansion. It opened a London EMEA office in February with plans to its first East Coast office in New York City later this year. The firm has over 400 clients headquartered in NYC, nearly ten percent of its customer base. The new office will be led by Regional VP David Rubenstein who has over fifteen years of industry experience, the past six years at Salesforce.
I have put together a detailed analysis of Zoominfo as it prepares for its IPO. The analysis is based upon twenty years of experience in the Sales & Marketing Intelligence Space, the past eight as an independent analyst.
Topics include an Overview, COVID Impact, Risks, Market Overview, Key Industry Trends, Content & Functionality, Growth Strategy Analysis, SWOT Analysis, and Key Events. The 100+ slide presentation is bundled with a phone consult. If you are interested in licensing the analysis, please contact me.
I also publish a weekly subscription newsletter which covers Sales & Marketing, B2B DaaS, and B2B Data. Here is my article on the planned IPO:
Zoominfo reaffirmed its plans to IPO, possibly launching a virtual roadshow next month. In Q1 2020, revenue nearly doubled to $102 million year-over-year. The firm also significantly reduced its losses to $5.9 million in Q1 compared to $40.2 million in Q1 2019.
Losses were driven by debt, much of it associated with the Zoom Information acquisition in February 2019. EBITDA rose 55%, year-over-year, to $51 million in Q1. At the end of Q1, long-term debt stood at $1,238.8 million.
Zoominfo included Annualized Contract Value (ACV) data in its amended prospectus. They likely wanted to emphasize that they are doing well during the recession, and revenue figures, which are a trailing indicator of sales success at subscription services, were not going to make that case as strongly as the ACV data.
ACV grew 87% year-over-year in April, with the customer base now above 15,000. As revenue is recognized over the life of a subscription contract, ACV increases precede revenue growth. Prepaid subscription revenue is displayed as a Balance Sheet liability that is reversed over the lifetime of each deal.
Paid users rose to 202,000.
Net ACV growth remains strong, with ACV increasing $9.9 million in March and $10.4 million in April. The April growth was their best first month of any quarter, surpassing October 2019 by ten percent.
The number of customers with ACV greater than or equal to $100,000 grew from 580 on December 31, 2019, to 630 on March 31, 2020. Over 25% of ACV is tied to multi-year contracts.
The size and date of the IPO were not disclosed. In February, a placeholder value of $500 million was provided. The Zoominfo NASDAQ ticker will be ZI.
“Because of our largely subscription-based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations and overall financial condition until future periods, if at all.”
Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020
As the original S-1 was released before COVID-19 hit the US, this week’s amended prospectus contained the first mention of COVID as a business risk. The pandemic has disrupted global business and could negatively impact Zoominfo’s stock price. Zoominfo listed retail, restaurants, hospitality, airlines, oil, and gas as affected industries. While none of these segments are part of their ICP (except for possibly their NeverBounce email verification subsidiary), they will be negatively impacted in recruitment (roughly ten percent of revenue) and event management. Zoominfo lists recruitment as a targeted job function for ongoing development.
Furthermore, Zoominfo’s strategy is to expand beyond its moat of technology firms into broader sales intelligence and marketing services. The recession reduces the number of favorable segments for executing this expansion strategy.
Zoominfo lists its Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $24 billion with a 2% penetration rate.
“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect we will experience slowed growth or decline in new customer demand for our platform and lower demand from our existing customers for upgrades within our platform, as well as existing and potential customers reducing or delaying purchasing decisions.”
Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020
A secondary impact of the pandemic and subsequent recession is increased buyer negotiating power. Customers are expecting more significant discounts and more favorable contract terms. They are also asking for early contract terminations and waivers of payment obligations.
However, Zoominfo’s core business is reasonably well protected from the recession. In 2019, 39% of their ACV was generated in the software industry and 29% in business services. These segments are less exposed than retail, travel, hospitality, and energy. Software has heavily shifted to subscription models over the past few years, making revenue less volatile. While their core industries are subject to layoffs in revenue operations, Zoominfo offers multiple features that make sales and marketing more efficient and effective in reaching WFH buying committee members. Features and content sets that support WFH outreach include direct-dial and mobile numbers, org charts, deep contacts across the organization, data as a service for enriching and updating enterprise software platforms, the ReachOut Chrome plug-in, ICP/TAM tools, technographics, Scoops (sales triggers), Bombora intent data, and executive change alerts.
New services such as Form Complete (web forms), WebSights (visitor intelligence), Komiko InboxAI (email insights), and Workflows (triggered sequences) help with collecting and enriching activity data.
Zoominfo, which has significant operations in Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Israel, has fully transitioned to remote employment. They have also implemented travel restrictions and shifted to virtual event marketing.
Hybrid Engagement vendor Cognism acquired email signature marketing firm Mailtastic in a seven-figure cash and stock deal. The acquisition provides Cognism with an additional marketing channel – professional email signatures that reflect the latest corporate messaging and branding. Mailtastic centralizes corporate signature blocks, with adjustments by market, outbound language, and job function. Employees can select between multiple signature options based upon the recipient.
Mailtastic supports G Suite, Office 365, Outlook, Exchange, Apple Mail, and Gmail, with signatures optimized by the device. Mailtastic is GDPR compliant with European server locations. Mailtastic features include centralized campaign management, campaign analytics, event planning, and click notifications.
“The acquisition will enable Cognism to empower go-to-market teams with a whole new channel for their outreach and lead generation efforts,” posted Mailtastic Marketing Manager Verena Vogt. “For Mailtastic, the acquisition represents an exciting opportunity to offer accelerated internationalisation, extensive product expansion, and the creation of joint products and services that will define the next era of B2B revenue growth solutions.”
The full Mailtastic team of ten is joining Cognism, including its founders Tao Bauer, Peer Wierzbitzki, and Andreas Schröder.
Mailtastic was founded in 2015 and grew its customer base to 350 enterprises, mostly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (DACH). The acquisition provides an additional go-to-market channel, an EU office in Mainz, and a set of Central European enterprise clients into which Cognism services may be cross-sold. Cognism will open a second UK office in Manchester that will focus on Mailtastic sales, with plans to open a second North American office towards the end of the year, possibly in Canada.
Mailtastic is profitable and has a 67% annual growth rate. The firm has no sales team, with selling conducted by one of its founders; thus, applying Cognism’s successful go-to-market approach should support rapid revenue expansion. Cognism’s sales approach is to hire recent University grads as SDRs and then train them in Cognism’s sales tools for prospecting, ICP/TAM analysis, and outbound sales engagement. Reps also leverage global company and contact profiles that include over 20 million direct dial and mobile numbers.
Mailtastic has a negative churn rate. CEO James Isilay indicated that the DACH market is slower to purchase technology, but also less likely to switch vendors than the UK or US markets. Once licensed to the enterprise, seat growth takes place organically as firms look to control email block branding and messaging. Furthermore, the DACH market provides a stable base for cross-selling Cognism services. Beyond GDPR, Mailtastic signature management is a compliance requirement in regulated UK and German industries.
Cognism has been a Mailtastic client for the past year, enjoying a 10% rise in click-through rates and a 25% increase in webinar conversions.
The initial post-acquisition focus will be on cross-training the companies and deploying a Mailtastic sales team trained in Cognism sales tools and processes. In Q3, Mailtastic will be integrated with several MAPs and SEPs.
“These are uncertain times and we want to ensure our clients have every tool at their disposal to develop new ways to prospect when budgets are being cut and certain channels, like outdoor advertising and live events, just aren’t an option. Email signature marketing is massively underused and it will play a key role as more people work from home and engage others through their screens.
Cognism is focused on expanding in Europe and bolstering our position as a global go-to-market champion. To achieve this, our fantastic team has worked tirelessly to help clients build strong, repeatable lead generation strategies that can benefit from both inbound and outbound methodologies and, by integrating Mailtastic, we’re strengthening this offering further. Cognism provides clients with the data they need to send emails, the tools required to automate and action them, and now it will be providing a way for customers to expand their reach with every email their employees send. By continuing to expand the Cognism offering, customers are able to build powerful go-to-market strategies that will enable their go-to-market teams to find and deliver new revenue, faster.”
Cognism CEO James Isilay
Cognism combines B2B DaaS services, sales intelligence, ICP / TAM tools, prospecting, email templates, and outbound cadences. Mailtastic provides them with additional email customization tools.
The Mailtastic acquisition is similar to the Terminus purchase of Sigstr late last year. Both firms offer a strong feature – management of email signatures – that would likely be difficult to justify as a standalone MarTech license in the current economic environment. However, both add significant value alongside the ABM capabilities of their new parents.
Isilay indicated that the firm successfully transitioned to WFH. Sales and renewals in the exhibition and recruitment markets declined, but the firm used its ICP tools to adjust its targeting and its new business generation is back to pre-pandemic levels. COVID-related churn has died down, and revenue is growing strongly again, with $8.5 million in projected ARR by the end of May.
Microsoft posted another strong quarter, with revenue up 15% (16% in constant currency) to $35 billion. Operating income rose 25% to $13.0 billion and EPS rose 23% to $1.40. The pandemic has slowed some revenue streams such as LinkedIn advertising, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Bing Search advertising, and SMB transactional licensing; however, accelerated digital adoption resulted in little overall impact on quarterly revenues.
“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything,” said CEO Satya Nadella. “There is both immediate surge demand and systemic structural changes across all of our solution areas that will define the way we live and work going forward. Our diverse portfolio, durable business models, and differentiated technology stack across the cloud and the edge position us well for what’s ahead.”
Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased by 17% (up 20% in constant currency), driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 47% (49% in constant currency).
“Dynamics 365 is helping thousands of organizations accelerate digital transformation as they remote every part of their operations from manufacturing to supply chain management to sales and customer service, inclusive of new scenarios like curbside pickup, contactless shopping, remote customer assistance, and operations,” said Nadella. “Patagonia is using Dynamics 365 Commerce to rapidly move to new, more intelligent distribution and fulfillment models, including contactless shopping. And we are working with card issuers like American Express so merchants who use Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection can reduce fraudulent activity as they process more transactions online.”
In the Productivity and Business Processes and Intelligent Cloud segments, there was an uptick in cloud usage, “particularly in Microsoft 365 including Teams, Azure, Windows Virtual Desktop, advanced security solutions, and Power Platform, as customers shifted to work and learn from home.”
“We are empowering people and organizations for a world of secure remote work and learning with Microsoft 365 and Teams. As work norms evolve, organizations are realizing they need a comprehensive solution that brings together communications, collaboration, and business process, built on a foundation of security and privacy. Microsoft Teams supports multiple communications modalities in a shared workspace. It’s the only solution with meetings, calls, chat, collaboration, and with the power of Office and business process workflows in a single integrated user experience with the highest security as well as compliance.
Teams keeps all your work and communication, conversations, documents, whiteboards, and meeting notes in context. It helps people collaborate inside and outside meetings, making them more efficient and effective while reducing fatigue. We’re accelerating Teams innovation, adding new capabilities each week, and now support meetings of all sizes, meetings that scale from 250 active participants to live events for up to 100,000 attendees to streaming broadcasts.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Teams usage has exploded during the pandemic, with more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day. The platform has over 75 million active users, with two-thirds of them sharing, collaborating, or interacting with files on Teams. The number of organizations integrating their third-party and Line Of Business apps with Teams has tripled in the past two months.
Teams now has over 20 organizations with at least 100,000 deployed employees, including Accenture, Continental AG, Ernst & Young, Pfizer, and SAP. It is also being widely deployed in medicine and education.
Nadella argued that Microsoft is “not immune” to the broad economic downturn, but that the accelerated shift to digital solutions is to its benefit. “I would claim that digital as a component of that economic activity is going to increase. And specifically, the full stack we have from infrastructure to our SaaS applications are going to be very competitive in that context.”
“In our commercial business, our strong position in durable growth markets means we expect consistent execution on a large annuity base, with continued usage and consumption growth across our cloud offerings,” said CFO Amy Hood. “However, we expect the sales dynamics from March to continue, including a significant impact in LinkedIn from the weak job market and increased volatility in new longer lead time deal closures.”
D&B Hoover’s customers are enjoying additional risk scores and industry content through the end of May. This benefit is perfect timing for adding value to their offering on a short-term basis as it allows customers to test out additional content and functionality for two months at no charge. Sales reps are under great pressure to build and maintain their pipeline through improved targeting and messaging.
Likewise, Relationship Managers at banks are under immense pressure to process CARES PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) across a broad set of pandemic-impacted industries.
DecisionHQ flags (does the location have purchasing authority?)
Spend Capacity (A spend ranking score versus other companies)
Growth Trajectory (Will the company grow, shrink, or remain stable over the next 12 to 18 months?)
In Family Trees, a star icon flags locations with purchasing authority. All three predictive scores are available as search filters in Build a List.
First Research reports [sample] are a set of plain-English industry overviews which help sales reps, Customer Success Managers, and relationship managers who sell and service across a broad set of industries quickly understand industry basics and trends. Core content includes
Industry Description: Competitive Landscape; Products, Operations, & Technology; Sales & Marketing; Finance & Regulation; Regional & International Issues; and Human Resources.
Financials: Industry statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US International Trade Commission. Also includes valuation multiples.
Industry Forecast: Inforum Forecast
Industry Growth Rating
Trends & Opportunities
Executive Insight: Key Topics by C-level job Function
The Call Prep Questions and Executive Insights offer great value to non-experts. If you are a relationship manager or territory rep, you are likely speaking to individuals across many industries on a daily basis. It would be impossible to develop true expertise in all of those industries. These sections help professionals ask intelligent questions and tailor their conversations at the account and persona level.
First Research reports are available as an integrated service in D&B Hoovers, via the D&B Direct API, as a standalone service, and as individual reports.
First Research reports are written at the eight-digit Dun & Bradstreet SIC-code level and associated with company profiles by these codes. They are also available through the Research and Reports module.
Dun & Bradstreet is also offering risk solutions for business and government during the Covid pandemic:
Prioritizing emergency management and economic support programs
Determining workforce disruptions and supply chain risks.
British and Canadian versions of the service are in development.
Dun & Bradstreet is also providing services to FEMA, the US Small Business Administration, and the National Economic Council at the White House to assist with CARES Act funding and administration.
Small businesses may review and update business information at no charge before applying for CARES Act funding. They can then monitor their Dun & Bradstreet scores and ratings.
“We recognize that communities are managing through unprecedented circumstances. Our team of data scientists are lending their skills and analytics capabilities to help organizations across public and private sectors as they face the economic downturn resulting from this global pandemic. We are all in this together and consider it our duty as a trusted advisor to find ways to use our insights and mission-critical data and analytics to help businesses manage risk and turn uncertainty of the moment into confidence in the future.”
I collected some ideas from those in the tech industry that I follow.
In this morning’s team meeting the EMEA SalesLoft team discussed how we can keep the culture and mental wellbeing at the forefront while we work remotely…
We are having a daily stand up for 15 minutes, virtual team lunch on a Wednesday and virtual Friday drinks. We are making sure we put time aside for exercise and doing the things we love. We are being mindful of continuing to share ‘glass half full’ stories. We are also looking into what we can do to help with the bigger issue that people are facing in regards to the Corona Virus – local charities, food banks, the elderly.
Ollie Sharpe, SalesLoft VP of Revenue, EMEA
A TOPO study of 350+ marketers indicated that only 16% of firms see a significant impact to their pipeline, 64% see a moderate impact due to coronavirus. The biggest impacts are due to canceled events (87%), corporate travel bans (64%), buyers working from home (53%), and prohibitions against face-to-face meetings. Only 27% cited buyers not booking meetings and frozen buyer budgets (22%).
Research conducted in 2018 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research indicated that B2B marketers who participate in industry events allocated nearly 40 percent of their budgets to exhibitions and industry shows, almost five times more than the 8% spent on online marketing.
Even if only a small fraction of the events’ budgets is shifted to online marketing, it would translate into a massive growth in web marketing.
The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI), and of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.
Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.
Dan Gerstenfield, Interteam Content Services
It’s time to pick up the phone. No texts, no emails, no social platforms. Pick up the phone and talk to someone. You are probably dealing with some of the same issues that come with physical separation.
It’s not the time to pitch people, it’s the time to show that you care–about them. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but ask them how they are doing, ask how they are keeping engaged and productive, share some ideas.
All of us share in this experience. Each of us is figuring things out. We can learn from each other, at the same time feel more connected.
David Brock, Author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide”
Sirius Decisions (Forrester)
Create a task force. Except in very large companies or those with specific types of risks, most companies do not have a dedicated crisis response team, and many have never created even a bare-bones crisis communications plan. Now is the time to do so. Bring together functional leaders from across your organization to begin identifying and prioritizing issues, with all major functions and regions represented. The senior communications leader is usually at the helm, and in some smaller organizations, the effort may be led by the CEO. Other participants will likely include human resources, legal counsel, operations/facilities, sales and customer service leaders, and various marketing/communications disciplines that are either directly affected or will be involved in delivering information to audiences. Each individual should have a clear understanding of his or her specific responsibilities.
Prioritize issues of greatest urgency. Ensuring the safety of employees, customers and other stakeholders is obviously the priority, and external guidance from public health experts will be important to understand what these issues are…
Develop a protocol for emergent situations. Obviously the plan should lay out a set of actions the organization will take immediately, based on what is known today. However, the situation is fluid and it’s not possible to know with certainty what the situation will look like in a month or six months. That’s why it’s important to have a protocol for addressing new situations as they emerge…
Prepare the communications engine. Providing transparent and ongoing communication is the hallmark of good crisis communications. The communications team needs to analyze the types of communication that will be needed to support a variety of scenarios. One of the most challenging aspects of crisis management is the need to create a wide range of critical content, have it vetted by legal and pushed out through channels as quickly as possible. Create templates for common types of content and stub content that can be built-out as needed. Set up an expedited legal vetting process and work with digital teams to identify how content will be conveyed through the company’s owned channels (web site, social, communities). Also prepare spokespeople – from the CEO to the receptionist, with concise answers that can be given without additional approvals or escalation paths.
Map communications strategies to audiences. SiriusDecisions always recommends starting with an understanding of the audience, and crisis response is no different…
Maintain open communications with employees. A large percentage of the workforce will face some kind of disruption to their normal routines or even their income…One of the first priorities should be to plan for how communications will flow internally: the channels and cadence that employees can expect, as well as where to go if the normal channels (which may occur in a face-to-face environment) are not available. Also remember that employees are a channel, and if you enable them with content, they can extend the reach of your information and credibility with audiences. [Full Text]
First off, social distancing is a bit of an oxymoron, but critical. We need to close our schools, theaters, and sporting events as they would be the locus of rapid transmission. Limit travel. Ignoring and complaining about the advice of health professionals and emergency planners isn’t a case of bravado, but stupidity. It places friends and family with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues at risk. If our healthcare system is overwhelmed, then we are all at risk for any medical emergency.
If you are sick, don’t go to the ER. Call ahead and see if your symptoms match. Then follow advice on where to proceed for a test.
Don’t Panic. Stay in the market, it will turnaround once we’ve passed the peak of infection. Selling now will just lock in your losses from the recent peak. Also, don’t horde. Plan for two weeks of staples and make sure you have sufficient medication. Things will get worse before they get better. Expect that and accept that.
Don’t Obsess. Stay aware of what is going on, but turn off the news if it is making you anxious. Find credible news sources only and ignore social media and email chain nonsense.
Check-in on friends and family. Offer to pick up meds or food for family and elderly neighbors. While delivery and curbside pick up are options, don’t expect that the operational bandwidth is in place immediately.
Be healthy. Eat healthy foods and get your exercise. Get on the bike or rowing machine in the basement. Go for a walk in the woods or a bike ride in your neighborhood. Play catch or soccer in your backyard with your kids.
Be forward-thinking. If you are at home, identify projects that you have been ignoring. This could include updating your LinkedIn profile and resume, home repair, spending time with your kids, reading a book, taking a Coursera course, etc. Not only are these good habits, but they are welcome distractions from the present news.
If you have the financial wherewithal, find ways to help out service workers and contingent employees. If you ate out once a week, use food delivery services once a week to keep revenue flowing to restaurants. Tip delivery people well. Donate to your local food bank and other social service organizations.
And as much as I hate to say this, ignore President Trump. If you don’t believe me, then watch how the market reacts to his speeches. Dr. Fauci and VP Pence are more reliable, but it is the governors and big city majors who seem to have the best handle on what is going on (Newsome, Inslee, Cuomo, Baker, DeBlasio). They are on the front-lines and planning ahead of the Federal Government.
I had four tradeshows canceled this month and next. They were opportunities for me to meet with customers and prospects (and conduct research for my industry newsletters). At this point, I’m assuming that at least two more will fall by the wayside in H1. I’m sure many of you are in a similar boat. Your marketing calendar is in a shambles, your field and inside sales reps are cloistered at home, and you are uncertain about how to manage remote workers.
Here are some ideas about how to retain momentum and deploy technology to mitigate pipeline and operational risks:
If you haven’t deployed video widely across your workforce, due so ASAP. Vendors such as Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Join.Me, and GoToMeeting provide reliable video conferencing solutions for multi-party meetings, demos, and document sharing. Video Meetings are a do not pass Go, donot collect $200 requirement. Every customer-facing, development, management, and planning employee should be able to join meetings from home or the office.
Setup scheduled video meetings for the next three months so they are blocked out on team calendars. This could be a 15-minute corporate call every few weeks, weekly team calls, and one-on-ones. Standing meetings should all be web-based. Office-based employees are going to feel disconnected socially, so build in some social fun at the team level (e.g. recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries, celebrating wins and releases, etc.)
I would also build training time into video meetings. It shouldn’t be all top-down. Give your staff the opportunity to cross-train peers. A sales rep could discuss her latest victory with lessons learned or provide insights into a target vertical. Marketing can review the latest product positioning and new collateral. Product Management can train on new products, review the product roadmap, and discuss the competitive landscape. The goal is to provide training, communications, coordination, and social interaction.
Record meetings and make them available to those who miss meetings with Slack or Team links. Expect that meetings will be missed due to illness, parenting requirements, and meeting conflicts.
As event marketing is off the table, marketers will need to be flexible in how they deploy their budgets. For those that planned on hosting events, they should at least proceed with their Keynote as a webinar. For H2, a roadshow in September or October can be planned, but mitigate risk in your contracting and through joint shows (shared cost and risk).
Marketers will need to deploy or expand their use of other channels including webinars, press releases, analyst outreach, blogging, social, and video. Direct mail is problematic as prospects are likely to be working from home, but e-gifting is a viable option. Look at e-gifting vendors that are supported by your Sales Engagement platform (e.g. Sendoso, PFL, Alyce)
Here is an opportunity to test additional channels and provide your event marketing team with some cross-channel development.
Canceled shows are also a reason for re-engagement campaigns. You can restart the marketing nurture process with a message around “not being able to talk to you this season.” Keep the message short and serious. You don’t know if your prospect is worried about his or her job, family members, or personal health. Also, don’t appear to be taking advantage of the situation. Be empathetic, not opportunistic.
Also, make sure to reschedule meetings from those cancelled conferences. These are likely to be phone or video calls, but reps and executives should reconfirm calls now.
Once you have standardized meetings, make sure they are recorded and transcribed. This is particularly true for sales meetings. Conversation Intelligence vendors such as Gong, ExecVision, and Chorus record calls, transcribe them, and perform NLP/AI processing on the conversations. Conversation Intelligence allows sales reps to be more present during calls as they no longer need to focus on note-taking.
Transcriptions and analytics have multiple benefits:
Sales Reps can quickly review calls and return to key topics and issues (e.g. pricing, next steps).
Sales Managers can review calls related to accounts and opportunities at risk to provide coaching tips to reps.
Analytics identify both the strengths and weaknesses of reps versus their peers. They also flag missed actions (e.g. discussing next steps), customer concerns, and competitors. To assist with training and opportunity scoring, Conversation Intelligence vendors identify filler word frequency, monologue length, and conversational engagement.
Reps can forward snippets to peers for questions and help. If there is a question about a bug or support issue, the snippet can be forwarded to support personnel for an update. If a sales rep feels that they handled a question or issue poorly, a snippet can be forwarded to sales management or training for advice on how to better handle the issue next time. Snippets allow peers to hear the voice of the customer.
Snippets can be stored in a library for training purposes. These would include exemplars for objection handling, competitor parrying, value discussions, etc.
Product Managers can perform bulk analysis of sales calls to identify requested features, competitor discussions, and product issues. Vendors allow for keyword customization and analytics.
Sales Cadences, also called sequences, are at the core of Sales Engagement. Cadences set up a structured set of multi-channel outbound communications supported by email templates, dialers, social, and SMS text. Cadences improve sales efficiency by eliminating follow up tasks, recording activities to CRMs, and deploying A/B tested content (emails, attachments, cadences, call scripts). While most commonly used for SDR outreach, cadences can also be used for meeting reminders, setting up quarterly account reviews, and training follow up.
SEP vendors understand that authenticity is the key to sales success. Simply blasting mindless emails at prospects is futile. Cadences can be customized by target role, industry, company size, technographics, and stage in the buyer journey. Furthermore, reps are expected to personalize emails before sending them out (SalesLoft says 20% is the optimal level). Most of the vendors now support 1-1 embedded videos from Vidyard, Hippo Video, or Videolicious.
SEP Vendors also provide a deep set of analytics. Initially, these focused on communication efficacy (e.g. open and click-through rates, best time of day to call), but now analytics assess conversations, call out deal risks, prioritize accounts, and suggest next best actions.
SEPs are now commonly deployed amongst SDRs and Inside Sales, but may still be foreign to field sales reps; however, field sales reps will be operating more like inside sales reps for the next quarter, so deploying SEPs to field sales makes sense.
Beyond outbound communications, SEP vendors are beginning to support meeting management (setting up calls), conversational intelligence, and opportunity management. SalesLoft and Outreach are the farthest along in supporting these emerging feature sets. SalesLoft acquired and integrated NoteNinja (meeting management) and Costello (opportunity management) into its platform.
SEP Vendors have taken two approaches to partnering. SalesLoft, Outreach, and Xant have partner App Directories while the other vendors integrate key vendors (e.g. Vidyard, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zoominfo) into their offerings without a formal partner ecosystem directory.
For B2B sales, there is no social platform more trusted than LinkedIn. Sales reps can leverage their networks by sharing marketing content (they should include some comments of their own) as well as writing their own content.
LinkedIn also offers an excellent Sales Intelligence product called Sales Navigator. It is available as both a desktop and mobile solution and provides additional communications channels:
InMail: An outbound email alternative, InMail allows you to message prospects for whom you lack emails and direct dial numbers.
Chat: A quick short-message way to keep in contact with members of the buying committee. It is also useful for quick reach out after establishing a LinkedIn connection with a prospect or to send a quick, congratulatory note. Chat messages are retained archivally, providing a conversational log. I have had success providing my Calendly link with initial chats, providing a mechanism for new connections to easily schedule a call (my Calendly includes my video meeting details so there is little friction).
Smart Links: Forward one or multiple attachments to a prospect via social, InMail, or email. Viewing and forwarding are tracked by LinkedIn, helping reps know which content was viewed and when. Forward tracking helps expand their understanding of the buying committee. Smart Links maintain corporate branding.
Sales Navigator provides several other high-value features:
SNAP connectors display LinkedIn content and Navigator functionality (e.g. icebreakers, mini-profiles, InMail) within Sales Engagement Platforms, CRMs, and other enterprise software.
TeamLinks allow you to leverage co-worker relationships for reaching out to prospects.
Build a List lets reps assemble Lead (contact) and Account lists within Sales Navigator. Lead and Account lists may also be synced from the CRM, allowing reps to track news and updates about key companies and contacts. While LinkedIn does not permit upload of account and contact data, they make exceptions for notes, tags, and messages entered by the rep in Sales Navigator. They also just added a thin record upload of contacts to CRM and the ability to flag execs that have left a company.
List Sharing — After building a list, users may share them with co-workers who have Sales Navigator licenses.
Sales Navigator can be a bit pricey, so running a test amongst your inside sales and field sales reps makes sense, particularly if you are concerned about H1 pipeline delays. Given the difficulty of reaching anybody by phone (made worse by prospects working at home) or email, adding additional sales communications channels is well worth testing out.
There are other LinkedIn services worth investigating or trialing. LinkedIn Marketing supports highly targeted B2B campaigns. Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn can target by company, job function, level, industry, geography, and education. LinkedIn provides campaign metrics and allows marketers to set daily budgets. Both CPM and CPC pricing are available. Pricing is based upon second-best auctions (you pay 1 cent above the second best bid price).
For larger companies, LinkedIn Elevate should also be considered, particularly with remote workers. Elevate provides a curated feed of content to company employees for social media distribution (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). Elevate amplifies corporate messaging and reduces the level of effort for sales reps and other employees to share content through social networks.
LinkedIn Learning is offering sixteen courses at no charge covering topics related to working from home, remote management, tools, and mindset.
“In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco Webex and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.”
Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn SVP of Product
Sales Intelligence services help sales reps build prospecting lists, quality leads, refine account messaging, expand into new departments and locations, track accounts, and target additional buying committee members.
Many sales intelligence services also offer B2B DaaS services for updating CRMs and MAPs. Salesforce data hygiene is maintained through Lightning Data connectors, a sub-category on the AppExchange. Because data is synced with CRMs and MAPs, it is continuously updated, ensuring that firmographic data is accurate and that departed contacts are removed from sales and marketing activity (BTW — contacts decay at 30% per annum, so maintaining your enterprise software contact data is a valuable investment)
Sales Intelligence vendors also provide full workflow integrations into CRMs which allow reps to build lists; view and update accounts, contacts, and leads; and perform account qualification and account planning within CRM I-frames.
Sales Intelligence vendors include
Zoominfo: Deep contacts, emails, org charts, and technographic content. They are the leader in technology sales intelligence and recently added visitor intelligence, trigger-based workflows, and webforms. Zoominfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) also supports Ideal Customer Profiling (ICP), email verification, and B2B DaaS.
D&B Hoovers: The deepest set of global company intelligence for strategic sales reps. Includes full family trees, public company financials and filings, analyst reports, industry market research, SWOTs, European private company financials, and sales triggers. Dun & Bradstreet also supports ICP, B2B DaaS, Visitor Intelligence, Programmatic Marketing, and Customer Data Platforms.
InsideView: A global database with greater depth in North America and Europe, InsideView offers strong sales triggers and integrated social media viewing. InsideView also supports B2B DaaS and ICP.
Sales Genie: The best solution for reps that sell to both companies and individuals (e.g. insurance agencies, mobile, office supplies, landscaping). Features include light sales force automation for firms that have yet to implement a CRM, new businesses, new homeowners, email templates, integrated dialer, and marketing services (SEO, site design, direct mail).
RelPro: A specialist vendor targeting financial services companies.
Artesian Solutions: A UK-based social selling vendor with deep sales triggers and mobile-based meeting prep. They also offer a US solution.
Cognism: A UK-based sales intelligence vendor with sales engagement functionality, B2B DaaS services, and ICP tools.
Vainu: A Nordic-based sales intelligence vendor that also covers the Netherlands (France, US, and the UK are in beta). They also support B2B DaaS and trigger-based workflows.
Research has shown that firms that continue to invest during recessions come out of the downturns much better prepared to grow market share and revenue than those that stop investing. Marketing is an investment in your pipeline and brand. B2B Data-as-a-Service is an investment in your data quality and ability to target prospects effectively. It also reduces sales and marketing waste in efforts directed at weak prospects and departed contacts. SalesTech and MarTech purchases are investments in your revenue generation capabilities.
This is also an opportunity for your sales and marketing teams to cross-train, develop new skills, and test out new tools and processes.
When we come out of the backside of what, hopefully, is a short-term recession, you want to be better prepared to meet latent demand for your products and services. While cutting back on investment and cash burn may be necessary for survival at some companies, don’t cut back on your ability to serve the market in 2021 unless you have to do so. Let others sacrifice the future of their revenue generation operations out of short-term concerns. Bank your savings in travel expenses and event marketing, but don’t cut back in other areas unless necessary.
We are entering a terra incognita for the next three to six months, so steady, empathetic leadership should be your objective. On 9/11, our CEO pulled us into the room and talked to us. I don’t remember his words, but I remember that he was calm and understood that we were all upset and anxious. Business was the least of his concerns that day. He wanted to show a steady hand at the tiller and sent us home to be with family.
Our raison d’être is not to work, and sometimes we are jolted back into that reality. Family, friends, and health are a higher priority. COVID 19 is not the new normal, but simply a bad storm that will pass.
Sales Engagement Platform Outreach, which is enjoying significant growth and good press, has twice had to redefine itself. The first time was a pivot from supporting recruiters to sales reps. The second redefinition was cultural – reshaping its male-centric, burn-the-midnight-oil culture into a more inclusive, hospitable environment.
estimated Outreach revenue at $70 million in its last fiscal year (January
2020) up from $38 million in fiscal year 2019. The firm is considering a
direct IPO, but views that event as several years out. In the meantime, “Our
goal is to take Outreach and become a large, independent company,” says DFJ
Growth partner Sam Fort.
initial sales were mostly into tech firms such as DocuSign, where the software
saves reps at least ten hours per month by streamlining and improving sales
communications. “You have to land tens of thousands of customers and you
can’t do that with a team of 100 people cold calling,” says DocuSign CRO Loren
Alhadeff. “Your best bet is to find a way to make your touches more
important and more pertinent.”
the opportunity as much broader and believes only 1% of the market has been
tapped. Sales engagement may even expand beyond B2B sales functions and
support higher-end consumer sales roles such as financial advisors and mortgage
The path to success has been rocky. The firm began in the recruitment space and was nearly bankrupt when it began marketing some internal sales tools it developed. Outreach has also had problems with employee churn due to rapid hiring, a difficult winner-take-all pace that burned-out staff, and a male culture that permitted “sexually charged jokes.”
an Ecuadorian immigrant, realized that cultural change was necessary. “I
don’t come from central casting. I’m not an old white guy from Silicon
Valley,” he said. “I know what it’s like to be marginalized, so I take
this to heart.”
these problems, the firm released managers that promoted the negative culture,
centralized sales teams so that reps could learn from each other, and hired
Anna Baird as COO. Baird has focused on hiring and building an inclusive
culture where “everyone has a fair shot.”
The executive team is now 40% female with a goal of parity. “This is not a checkbox for me,” said Medina. “This is the life I want to live. I want to be surrounded by people who want to feel included, who are doing their best work with peers that they love and respect.”
Cancels Unleash 2020 (Covid 19)
SalesLoft and Outreach both made difficult decisions this week, canceling planned user conferences. SalesLoft aborted its Rev2020 conference, which was to open today, and Outreach scrubbed its April Unleash show. Adobe, Zendesk, and Shopify also canceled events, while Twitter and Facebook pulled out of SXSW.
We have been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our community, employees, customers, and partners. After careful consideration of the developing situation, we have come to the incredibly difficult decision to cancel Unleash 2020 scheduled for April 7-9.
Unleash is my favorite event of the year. I love having the chance to meet with all of you and share in the excitement of what’s to come. It’s with a heavy heart that we made the decision, but we believe your health and safety should come first, no matter what.
Outreach CEO Manny Medina (March 3, 2020)
SalesLoft will still be presenting its opening keynote, but as a virtual presentation on Tuesday. Outreach is planning a virtual event and twelve-city Unleash Summit tour later this year.
Vendors invest millions in marketing dollars hosting their own events. It is an excellent opportunity for them to build their brand, promote ecosystem partners, roll out their roadmap, provide specialized training by job function and role, expand their organizational presence at current accounts, and convert prospects to customers.