2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence Connectors

Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)
Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)

Continuing on my discussion of Sales Intelligence enhancements in 2016, my next area of coverage is connectors which extend functionality into CRMs, MAPs, Google Chrome, etc.

Almost all Sales Intelligence vendors offer Salesforce.com connectivity as a baseline offering.  Some have limited functionality while others provide a fully integrated offering encompassing virtually all of their website features along with update features (e.g. Batch, continuous, “stare and compare”).

The following vendors launched or enhanced their CRM connectors:

  • Zoominfo released a new version of Zoominfo for Salesforce in February 2016. Features include on-demand updating, new contact matching, segmentation analysis, and new targeted contacts. Zoominfo stresses that all enrichment, analysis, and targeting are done via “one easy-to-use interface” without the need to export files to Excel.  Zoominfo for Salesforce also added integrated prospecting. Data may be shared bi-directionally between the services so users can check for duplicates before uploading prospects to SFDC.  Zoominfo also added custom mappings for all fields into its Salesforce connector and improved the company and contact lookup workflows.
  • Avention released OneSource for MS Dynamics and OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connectors which integrate Avention functionality into the Microsoft and Oracle CRMs. Features include I-frame display, “stare and compare” updates, custom variables, prospecting, and the Avention Journal.  Avention also rolled a series of enhancements into its CRM connectors. These include:
    • The automatic population of matched records, bypassing the “stare and compare” step for new accounts
    • Avention Journal filtering
    • Avention Journal list views (the default view is calendared)
    • Modify the Avention Journal viewing period
    • Contact filtering by job function, level, title, keyword, etc.
    • News filtering
    • DataVision tab (if licensed)
    • Salesforce Lightning support providing improved tablet usability and dynamic resizing.
    • Batch duplicate management on bulk uploads (ignore, create, update)
  • Data.com added a Prospect Insights view which can be accessed from Opportunity and Account Detail pages. A “See More Insights” button takes the user to additional business and financial details from Dun & Bradstreet. Company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews including call prep questions and industry summaries.  Data.com also upgraded the Dun & Bradstreet company family view to the Lightning platform.
  • DiscoverOrg released CRM connectors for Talent Rover, Zoho, and Bullhorn. They also enhanced their Salesforce connector.
  • InsideView redesigned its Salesforce.com AppExchange user interface and launched Refresh which provides automated account cleansing within Salesforce.com.
  • RainKing improved Salesforce.com synchronization.
  • To improve the Salesforce experience, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator. Synchronization can be managed at the administrator level. While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator. No LinkedIn member account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records. However, the system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.  For example, sales reps may add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts with this information then synched with Salesforce.
  • Artesian redesigned its Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors.  Among the new features are sales trigger filtering by topic and trigger sharing by email, social media, and Chatter.

One of the major trends in 2016 was the continued expansion of sales intelligence vendors into the marketing department.  Most commonly, this involved Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) connectors with Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud), though some vendors support other MAPs as well.

  • InsideView released an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. The ABM solution is a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
  • RainKing released connectors for Pardot and NetSuite
  • Avention released connectors for Oracle Marketing (Eloqua) and Marketo which support data enrichment, account insights, and predictive analytics. The new MAP connectors support three marketing use cases: web form enrichment, uploaded list matching via the OneSource platform, and prospect list building within OneSource. Lists built and enriched within OneSource are then fed to Eloqua or Marketo.

Several vendors built Chrome connectors in late 2015 or early 2016.  Chrome connectors build additional feature functionality into the Chrome browser, usually centering around the contextual display of company and contact information related to corporate websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Firms with Chrome Connectors include DataFox, MattermarkZoominfo, DiscoverOrg, and HG Data.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail. The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar. If a contact is not in Sales Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox. Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging. TeamLink colleague connections are also displayed.

Finally, several Sales Intelligence vendors began supporting Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors (there are also non-SI vendors participating in ABSD ecosystems providing coaching, transcription, analytics, and other services):

  • DiscoverOrg: SalesLoft, Outreach, Tellwise
  • Owler: Outreach, SalesLoft
  • InsideView: KiteDesk, Quota Factory, SalesLoft
  • Zoominfo: KiteDesk
  • D&B NetProspex: KiteDesk
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.

 

InsideView: CRM Connector Enhancements

The new Discovery Center provides company insights, firmographics, and contacts for 12 million global companies.
The new Discovery Center provides company insights, firmographics, and contacts for 12 million global companies.

Sales Intelligence vendor InsideView released a pair of enhanced connectors for Salesforce.com and MS Dynamics 365.  The Microsoft connector is the next generation of their Dynamics partnership.  The Salesforce Target connector provides company and contact prospecting within the AppExchange.

Insights version 4.0 is being released as part of MS Dynamics 365.  Said InsideView, “Insights 4.0 is more deeply embedded in the sales workflow than ever, so sellers can quickly find data, insights, and connections wherever they are within their Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment and use that intelligence to close deals faster.”

InsideView lists the following new capabilities:

  • Global contact filtering to assist with contact discovery
  • A new Discovery Center for searching InsideView’s universe of global companies.  Discovery Center supports company searching against companies not yet added as accounts. Users can view firmographic data, key contacts, and company news. Users can add companies as accounts or to a Watchlist.
  • Custom field mapping
  • Social feed suppression to enable/disable social media integration and social media stream customization

“Microsoft is the only major CRM provider to embed external customer data, millions of key contacts, and timely, actionable insights within CRM at no additional cost. That’s leadership,” said Heidi Tucker, VP of Global Alliances at InsideView. “Buyers expect salespeople to be relevant, understand their business issues, and come prepared with meaningful solutions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 subscribers get that advantage included with their CRM Online license. All they have to do is turn it on. And now, it’s even easier with Insights 4.0.”

Contact Insights include news. co-workers, connections, buzz (twitter, Facebook, blogs), and conversation starters.
Contact Insights include news. co-workers, connections, buzz (twitter, Facebook, blogs), and conversation starters.

Insights is bundled into the following MS Dynamics products: Dynamics CRM Online Professional and Enterprise, Dynamics 365 Plan 1 and Plan 2, Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation.

InsideView also announced immediate availability of InsideView Target for Salesforce which provides company and contact prospecting from within SFDC.  Target provides dynamic list building using firmographic, biographic, and technographic variables.  Screening variables include eighteen high-precision trigger events, news keywords, the presence of emails or phones, and technologies employed (2,200 categories across 525,000 companies).  Trigger events (“InsideView Agents”) and news go out as far as thirty days and may be combined with keywords (e.g. Partnership triggers mentioning Apple).

Although the InsideView database contains global companies, screening variables are not internationalized beyond country and international region.  Revenue sizing is in US dollars and there are no international industry codes, indexes, or sub-regions.

InsideView Target Technology Screening
InsideView Target Technology Screening

Other features include deduplication, custom field mapping, saved searches, and one-click pushing of records to Eloqua and Marketo.

InsideView provides a screenable dataset of 12 million global companies and 30 million “director-and-above decision-makers.”  InsideView positions their smaller dataset as a valuable feature.  “No noise, no mom-and-pop companies, and none of the clutter from lower-level contacts and tiny businesses.”

Earlier this year, InsideView released a refreshed user interface for their sales product on the AppExchange along with the automated Refresh hygiene service.

InsideView Target is sold on a pre-purchased credit basis.  Both company and contact records are counted towards the contract allotment.  If a record has been previously purchased during the contract period, the marketer is not charged a second time.

InsideView has invested heavily in CRM and MAP connectors over the past five years.  They support a broad set of partner platforms with rich content and functionality.

Data Enrichment Assists Digital Transformation

Blog on the Sparklane UK website discussing how sales and marketing can prepare for Digital Transformation.
Sparklane Blog

In a blog on Sparklane’s website, I had the opportunity to discuss how sales and marketing can digitally transform their departments by focusing on data enrichment and sales intelligence.

Firms have traditionally taken a haphazard approach to data quality, failing to recognize that data quality is a function of both initial data (keyed data, web forms, trade show scans, purchased lists, etc.) and time.  Data is dynamic.  It can be accurate today and inaccurate tomorrow.  That’s why data quality is often broken down into three dimensions: Accuracy, Completeness, and Timeliness.

So not only are firms failing to enrich data in real-time as data is acquired (or batch if purchased), they are ignoring the simple fact that

  • Companies relocate
  • Offices are shuttered
  • Execs change companies or positions within companies
  • Corporate URLs and email domains are changed when companies are acquired or renamed
  • Companies grow and shrink

The result has been saw-tooth data quality charts with quality spiking at data refresh and then quickly declining.  Both company and contact data are subject to data decay with contact data declining at a rate of 25% per annum (A recent Radius study has it at 27%).

To address this problem, firms should evaluate third-party solutions which provide a reference database matched against their sales and marketing datasets.  By standardizing on a reference dataset, sales and marketing operations can deploy a single source of truth across data acquisition (e.g. list loads, prospecting, web forms) and maintenance (ongoing updates to their CRM and Marketing Automation platforms).

There are many benefits to this approach:

  • Web Form and other keyed data is immediately verified and graded.
  • Lead Scoring is based upon richer and more accurate data.
  • Duplicates are detected before being created, allowing leads to be matched to current customers and prospects.
  • Leads from subsidiaries and branches are tied to ABM accounts, ensuring they are properly scored and routed.
  • Addresses, Phones, and other key firmographic and biographic fields are standardized ensuring they are properly segmented, targeted, and routed.
  • Sales and Marketing no longer waste resources targeting individuals who have left an organization.
  • Sales has more complete data for lead qualification, prioritization, and messaging.
  • Higher quality data is propagated to downstream systems, reducing the long-term cost of maintaining those platforms and helping prevent downstream errors and duplicates created by low quality upstream data.

And those benefits are simply those from cleaner data.  That is before we begin to consider the value of sales intelligence platforms in account planning, messaging, current awareness, identifying additional contacts at current accounts and prospects, and opportunity prioritization.

So if you want to begin to improve enterprise decision making and efficiency, an excellent place to start is in improving the data which is the lifeblood of your digital platforms.

The Corporate Data Show Podcast

"Effective sales is not just about how many people to contact at the company, but who are the right people and what should I say to them."
The Corporate Data Show Podcast

I was privileged to be recently interviewed by Rick Holmes for the Corporate Data Show podcast.  The two of us discussed the benefits of sales intelligence, how sales intelligence differs from business intelligence, data collection methods, CRM and MAP integrations, ABSD, and sales triggers.

Rick is the CEO of Every Market Media so also very knowledgeable about the content industry.  EMM is a compiler of US and global B2B Emails.

Bill Gates on LinkedIn

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates supports the LinkedIn acquisition and views it as an opportunity to build a Facebook for business professionals.  This perspective is in line with LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner’s vision of an economic graph that captures the broad scope of business activity.

“This professional feed in LinkedIn, that is how I want to learn about my career, my company, my industry, and I’m going back there,” Gates told Bloomberg last month. “If we can make that as valuable as the Facebook feed in the social world, that’s huge value creation and that’ll happen over a period of years.”

Gates contends that Microsoft and LinkedIn are more valuable together than as separate entities even though Microsoft stock slipped two percent on the announcement.  “I certainly think that the value of the two companies combined is greater than the two by themselves, but I love the idea that the market wants us to show that,” he said.

Gates remains a member of Microsoft’s Board and is formally listed as a Technical Advisor to CEO Satya Nadella.

Dynamics 365 and AppSource

In other news, the firm continues to enhance the Dynamics platform (CRM and ERP) with the introduction of Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource.  “Dynamics 365 provides business users with purpose-built SaaS applications. These applications have intelligence built in. They integrate deeply with communications and collaboration capabilities of Office 365,” said Nadella.  “Dynamics 365 along with AppSource and our rich application platform introduces a disruptive and customer-centric business model so customers can build what they want and use just the capabilities they need.”

The new Dynamics 365 platform will be available this fall.

Merging the Microsoft and LinkedIn graphs to advance the Economic Graph (Slide from Fair Disclosure call on June 13, 2016).
Merging the Microsoft and LinkedIn graphs to advance the Economic Graph (Slide from Fair Disclosure call on June 13, 2016).

Nadella views Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource (a newly launched SaaS app ecosystem for businesses), and LinkedIn as all working together to provide “services in the cloud where you can reason about the activity and the data underneath these services to benefit the customers who are using these services. So that’s what this notion of a graph represents.”

Nadella continued, “The professional cloud or the professional network helps usage across all of that professional usage. Whether it’s in Office 365 or whether you’re a salesperson using any application related to sales, you want your professional network there. Of course, it’s relevant in recruiting, it’s relevant in training, it’s relevant in marketing. So that’s really our strategy with LinkedIn as the professional network meeting the professional cloud. And so you were right to point out that these are all part of one overarching strategy, and ultimately it’s about adding value to customers.”

On Microsoft’s Q4 2016 earnings call this week, the firm reiterated their belief that the LinkedIn acquisition will close before the end of the calendar year.

SalesforceIQ: Baby Steps towards a “System of Intelligence”

 

Follow ups generated by SalesforceIQ

At Dreamforce, Michelle Huff, VP of Product Marketing at SFDC, noted the historical evolution of CRM from a system of record to a system of engagement.  This shift reduced data entry and supported mobile, social, and account maintenance.  SFDC is now evolving into a system of intelligence which enables account planning, account awareness, and recommendations from within the Sales Cloud.  This evolution can be seen in enhancements to Data.com (my next post) and the newly launched SalesforceIQ for Small Business and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud services

The goal of SalesforceIQ is to shift CRM from relationship management to relationship intelligence while automating key activities and proactively suggesting tasks and making recommendations.  Thus, if a prospect states in an email, “can we connect to discuss a contract?” SalesforceIQ flags the request and schedules it as a high priority task

The service is built on the 2014 acquisition of RelateIQ and mines emails, calendars, marketing apps, and other data sources to gather customer data.  The service offers “smarter selling” through lead prioritization and relationship capital management (RCM) recommendations concerning contact introductions.  The RCM feature is integrated into inboxes, mobile (Android, iOS), and Chrome apps.

Other mobile features include an integrated inbox with the CRM, email shortcuts to quickly enter common phrases, cloud storage integration, and a notifications feed.  For users in Gmail on Chrome, a plug in ties Gmail back to SalesforceIQ and supports its tools from within the Chrome browser.

The new service “seeks out the patterns needed to provide insights into future outcomes and proactively recommends actions to build stronger relationships with customers and accelerate sales,” said Salesforce.  “SalesforceIQ for Small Business manages deals, accelerates pipelines and proactively guides SMBs through every step of the sales process, allowing them to focus on closing deals and building 1:1 relationships with their customers.”

The Small Business service is generally available in the US, Canada, and Australia and is priced as low as $25 per user per month for up to five users.  For $65 per user per month, the system provides potential introductions, CRM data in your Inbox, Sales and Activity reports, and direct integrations. SalesforceIQ is offering 14 day free trials.  Pricing is based on annual contracts.

The Sales Cloud edition is currently free in beta with general availability in early 2016.  Sales Cloud pricing will be announced at general availability.  The beta version is English only with additional languages planned.  The Sales Cloud version includes a new email app where “Salesforce is your Inbox” connected to the Sales Cloud.  The system automatically associates emails with contacts.  Users can create opportunities from the app, respond back to the prospect with macro-based comments, and schedule a meeting using the scheduling assistant.

“Today’s massive influx in communication data creates powerful signals about the health and potential of business relationships. It also creates a lot of noise,” said Steve Loughlin, CEO of SalesforceIQ, Salesforce. “With SalesforceIQ, companies can now make sense of this data and pull out insights to drive their businesses forward with intelligence.”

The service promises standard sales intelligence benefits including reduced time gathering data, smarter selling, and immediate benefits with no setup costs and easy onboarding.  Along with RCM and opportunity prioritization, the service provides read receipts, suggested tasks, dynamic scheduling to improve calendaring, and shortcuts which “allow customers to quickly insert commonly used phrases to reduce time spent composing emails.”

It should be noted that SalesforceIQ is not prioritizing leads, but providing a set of recommended actions based upon the semantic mining of emails.  Thus, the system evaluates whether a customer has asked a question or has been untouched for a while.  Through machine learning, the system tailors recommendations based upon each reps’ style.

SiQ2

An Opportunities Intelligence report provides “instant visibility” into account status by providing metrics such as days in current status, inactive days, last communication date, and next follow up due date.  A stream view provides “a centralized view of all communications between your team and the customer.”  Users can leave comments in the stream and @reference coworkers for a quick response or follow up.

Calendaring is improved by a Chrome extension app that inserts free times into messages, manages the auto invite process with the customer or prospect, and creates the meeting in the user’s calendar.

Integration partners include MailChimp, Hubspot, and Pardot.

Beta customers include ClassPass and News Corp.

Jamie Grenney, VP of Marketing at predictive marketer Infer, commended Salesforce for implementing basic predictive tools into its product line noting that “these improvements will help Salesforce with product adoption for a large swath of its customers.”  Grenney continued that the SalesforceIQ offering “only scratches the surface of what predictive can do” as it is limited to internal email and calendar data and lacks external data.  “There are many other data sources that can provide important clues. These signals that go into a model are different from one company to the next. Without a solid understanding of a company’s process, their data, and what outcome they’re trying to predict, it is difficult or even dangerous to build custom-fit models. You run the risk of setting bad targets, overfitting models, and ultimately making the wrong recommendations.”

“SalesforceIQ is designed to capture inferential data from emails, meetings, and logged calls and then present intelligent suggestions and timely reminders for things like new meeting appointments and follow-up actions,” said Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools.  “I love the concept of using inferential data to eliminate time spent on searching for past activity for the purpose of formulating action plans and next steps. However, the solution has a long way to go before it can be wholly relied on.”

In short, SalesforceIQ sounds like a sales rep toolkit which offers small ways to improve rep efficiency and task awareness.  It is not so much focused on surfacing new insights but in reducing task work, leveraging colleague relationships, and ensuring prospects do not fall between the cracks.  As such, Salesforce is a baby step in the “System of Intelligence” evolution.