Salesforce announced another “beat and raise” quarter last week with strong revenue growth across all of its clouds and regions. Their Q4 earnings hit $2.85 billion, up 24% year-over-year (21% in constant currency). For the full year, revenues rose 25% (24% in constant currency) to $10.48 billion. SFDC has a three-year compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 25% with revenue nearly doubling over the period. Growth has been so rapid that their Q4 2018 revenue was more than their full FY 2014.
Salesforce claims it was the fastest enterprise software company to reach $10 billion in revenue and will be the fastest to hit $20 billion.
CEO Marc Benioff attributed ongoing growth to a number of factors including its sales team which drove a “blowout quarter,” lauding the “performance of that organization and their acuity.” Other factors included a growing set of CEO-level relationships, an “incredible increase in investment activity” fueled by the recent US corporate tax cuts, and digital transformation:
It doesn’t matter if they’re a consumer product goods company CEO or financial services or retail or any industry or any geography. Every CEO is thinking about their digital transformation. And I think you and I know that every digital transformation begins and ends with the customer.
This is very powerful. And it’s why we have so much activity in our company. Of course, we’re the number one customer company in the world. No other company in the history of the software industry has been as focused on customer-relationship management, but how companies can have a customer transformation at Salesforce.
And this, and this alone, focus, has accelerated our growth. You can see that in the numbers. So certainly, how we finished our year in fiscal year 2018 is not where we thought we would start. We raised guidance I think almost in each and every quarter, and yet we still ended up above that. And that’s why we’ve raised again here $150 million. This is the most we’ve ever raised in the history of the company, because we’re just ahead of where we thought we would be
So, we are, obviously $10 billion is now behind us, and $20 billion is ahead of us. And it’s our dream, we’re going to be the fastest to $20 billion.
But when you have $20 billion already on and off the balance sheet, you know that that is – we’re a huge step on the way there. So that’s what I couldn’t be more excited about the position the company is in, its competitiveness, its ability to perform, the quality of its customer relationships, the quality of the products, the integration of the acquisitions, the culture, Fortune number 1 best place to work. All of these things have come together in just a really beautiful way, and I’m extremely grateful.
Salesforce has several other factors fueling its growth: The annual Dreamforce event drew 170,000 attendees last year, the firm has a clear social mission that resonates well with millennial employees (and now decision makers), and it was an early mover into cloud computing, mobile-first design, IoT, partner ecosystems (AppExchange), and artificial intelligence.
Finally, being cloud only, the firm does not have to fight a rear-guard action to retain enterprise clients as they migrate to the cloud. So while SAP and Oracle must fight to retain their customer base as companies make the leap to the cloud, Salesforce is there to poach their new clients.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator had another strong year of growth in-line with its historical Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR). Extrapolating from data published prior to its Microsoft acquisition, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has global revenues between $300 and $350 million. This would make LinkedIn the largest vendor of sales intelligence solutions with revenue roughly double that of Dun & Bradstreet (Hoovers, D&B Hoovers, Data.com, D&B360) and triple that of DiscoverOrg.
Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, described the service as “one of the fastest growing SaaS B2B products in history.”
LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out its first quarterly release on February 7th. Quarterly releases help LinkedIn manage its communications and ensure that admins and trainers are prepared for the changes. Enhancements will roll out first to this group before becoming available to general users in subsequent weeks.
“In the early days of Sales Navigator, we chose to act like a startup and launch products as soon as they were ready, without much warning or pre-release training for our customers. We also acted independently, only integrating with a couple of systems, instead of opening up the platform to the dozens of types of sales applications a rep uses throughout their work week. Starting today, we will release Sales Navigator product updates on a quarterly cycle to provide advanced communications and training for administrators and users so they have adequate time to familiarize themselves with new features and take advantage of them properly.”
Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions
The product is maturing as it develops connectors with other services and formalizes its releases and communications. “Sales Navigator is growing up and learning how to play with others,” said Camplejohn.
As part of this development, LinkedIn announced four new members of its Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) partners. SNAP is a broad partner program that spans business intelligence, CRM, eSignature, MAP, Sales Acceleration, and Web Conferencing. A year ago, LinkedIn only supported Salesforce and MS Dynamics.
The new Oracle Sales Cloud integration displays LinkedIn prospect and contact data within the Oracle CRM.
A SugarCRM integration displays a LinkedIn dashboard within Sugar Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts, and Leads.
Implemented partnerships were also announced with Demandbase and InsideSales’ Predictive Playbooks. LinkedIn lists 11 future partners including Tableau, Adobe Sign, BlueJeans, Microsoft BI, Eloqua (Oracle Marketing), and SAP Hybris.
Artesian CEO Andrew Yates recently discussed Artesian Solutions with Sudipto Ghosh as part of the MarTech Interview Series. Artesian was founded to help resolve the disparity between B2B buyer and seller tools. “We saw that businesses had transformed the way they buy, but that sellers had not adapted. This mismatch led us to create a vision of better B2B sales engagement that is customer-centric at its heart, and to develop the world’s most powerful customer intelligence application to support it.”
Yates described technology as “the biggest disruptive force in the world” and his entrepreneurship as “a desire to disrupt the status quo, solve problems, remove complexity and make a difference.” He sees Artesian Solutions as a “disruptive force for good in our sector, providing engagement smarts for companies and markets in the same way that LinkedIn has done for people insights.”
Artesian is incorporating new AI technologies into its platform including the Arti chatbot based upon IBM Watson. As they are doing so, they are repositioning from Social Selling to “A.I.-powered sales intelligence.”
Yates warns that businesses look for CRM platforms to help customer facing departments build customer-centric businesses and a full customer view. Often, though, they become frustrated when CRMs do not provide the desired customer experience and engagement. But CRMs are only as good as the data entered into them and are subject to ongoing data decay. Further compounding this issue is
“the sheer volume of data businesses need to grapple with. Often unstructured, this data is increasingly hard to find, rationalize and interpret. Inaccurate or out-of-date data has several inevitable consequences. Take-up and enthusiasm for CRM input wanes as the volume of data increases, and time spent just keeping up-to-date with existing customer data impacts negatively on time spent researching and acquiring new ones. Opportunities to respond to real-time customer news and market insight are missed, and customers looking for instant action and results are left disappointed. Likewise, deals are lost through mistakes, and errors in messaging and targeting become more frequent. Forecasting accuracy diminishes as emerging trends go unnoticed.”
Yates recommends working with a data partner that provides a full view of customers and contacts, including contextualized customer insight; news, market trends and social media monitoring; real-time intelligence; and single sourced company and contact profiles with “social profiles, opinions, and expectations.”
The theme of this year’s Dreamforce was The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Following after revolutions driven by steam, electricity, and information technology, the fourth industrial revolution blurs the “physical and digital worlds” creating a wave of “innovation in technology” which is transforming the economy, society, and lives while creating new jobs, industries, and opportunities. This next wave is based upon intelligence. Elements include IoT, 3D printing, biotech, robotics, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and quantum computing.
“This is what we call the fourth industrial revolution,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. “There’s all these amazing new technologies, things like autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence and nanotechnology and mobile computing and all these things are really hitting at once. And companies are really transforming themselves and bringing all these new technologies in really to connect with their customers in new ways.”
Thus, elevators loaded with sensors now communicate back to the manufacturer and predict failures, calling for service prior to trapping people. Likewise, with tires, “if the tire blows, nobody knows; but in the future, if the [smart] tire blows, everybody knows.” So, firms like Kone (elevators) and Michelin (tires) are now B2B2C companies. In the future, if a tire is about to blow, it will communicate to the autonomous vehicle to pull over.
“Every company is getting closer to their customers. We’ve been talking about this for years. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, everybody’s becoming a B2B2C company.”
Salesforce and its customers are “delivering personalized one-to-one engagement at scale,” said Stephanie Buscemi, EVP of Product Marketing. This is done “declaratively, with clicks and not code.” Through the Salesforce Data Management Platform, ads are customized and delivered cross-device, allowing companies to redisplay ads or present new advertisements to their customers and prospects.
Benioff cited a series of companies providing customer service and support through Salesforce platforms including Louis Vuitton, Marriot, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Adidas, and Ducati Motorcycles.
“Behind all these things…behind everything is a customer. And that’s what all of us do. We are working to connect with our customers in an incredible new way.”
Simplified customization, development, and branding were emphasized during the keynote. A set of customizable products provide a “smarter, more personalized Salesforce”:
MyTrailhead service supports custom branding, content, and learning paths that allows firms to onboard and train employees on desktops and phones. Tools include quizzes, reference links, trails, and badges. Salesforce Trailhead content is also available.
MyEinstein provides an artificial intelligence layer driven declaratively by “clicks, not code” supporting “smarter capabilities including bots.”
MyLightning customization provides an app builder with custom pages, a Lightning theming and design system, Lightning Flow, Components, and Bolts which operate automatically on both desktops and phones. Designers will have access to dynamic components which are conditionally displayed.
MySalesforce branded “mobile apps without code” can be uploaded to the Google Play and App Store.
MyIoT supports native integration capturing real-time events, business rule automation, and low-code orchestration.
Based upon customer feedback, SFDC has shifted from IoT as a separate platform to an integrated feature of the CRM platform which also operates “declaratively without code.”
Benioff admitted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating concerns and wondered whether it is “uniting us or dividing us. Are we more connected or somehow less connected?”
He also asked whether there is more or less equality in the World.
“There is this stress being created by this fourth industrial revolution. Yes, we have this promise of this new connected World. But what is it doing to us? And what are other actors doing around the World using these technologies? Are they changing our society? Are they changing our elections? What are they doing with this technology?”
Benioff is looking at the Trailblazers attending Dreamforce as the Customer Innovators, Technology Disruptors, and Global Shapers to ensure that the next wave is directed in a positive direction. “You have all these new tools at your fingertips, these incredible new technologies, but you are doing some amazing things in the World. You are changing your companies. You are steering this technology in the right direction. I’m so confident in who you are. I’m so confident in what’s in your hearts and where we are all going.”
Benioff noted that most technology is generally neutral in it effect upon society. It is therefore incumbent upon technologists, developers, and companies to deploy technology in a socially responsible manner which promotes greater equality. Benioff called for companies to fight for equality through equal pay, investing in schools, and opposing discriminatory laws. He also noted that it is the poor who are most hurt by environmental degradation and proudly stated, “we are a net zero cloud.”
Benioff was also proud to have founded and led the leading CRM with an 18.1% market share (2016 IDC) nearly double that of Oracle (9.4%). Salesforce has the top solutions for sales (34.2%), service (33.7%), marketing (9.9%), and Platform-as-a-Service. Within the marketing cloud, Salesforce claims to offer the leading Data Management Platform and commerce Platform.
What’s more, the firm is on track to be the fastest enterprise software company to hit $12.5 billion in revenue. They hit $10 billion this year and have FY19 guidance of $12.5 billion in year 20.
One of the issues facing businesses and policymakers is an increasing skills gap. Benioff proposed MyTrailhead as one of the tools to help address the problem of workers across many industries and skill levels. MyTrailhead provides a customized, branded training platform.
TechCrunch complained that this year’s Dreamforce lacked drama as it lacked new initiatives such as the social enterprise, artificial intelligence, and IoT. “They are a company that embraces the cutting edge, but this year lacked that kind of big announcement,” complained enterprise reporter Ron Miller. To be fair, though, the company has rolled out a series of new platforms, clouds, and acquisitions over the past few years. A year with few fireworks is not necessarily a year without forward progress for Lightning, Quip, Einstein, Trailhead, and platform customization.
The conference remains a monster with 170,000 registered participants joining in San Francisco and millions of online views.
One of the key aphorisms in architecture is that form follows function. The quote, attributed to Louis Sullivan, holds that a building’s design should be based upon the underlying purpose of the building, not driven by ornamentation. Twentieth century design took this maxim to heart with similar thinking spreading through industrial and software design.
In the case of information services, a focus on flashy design or “bells and whistles” can be a distraction if the underlying service fails to meet the basic informational and workflow needs of its users. One of the great things about Google is that it returns high precision results from a few words entered into a search box. It was this simplicity that allowed them to grab and hold two-thirds of the search engine market share, leaving Bing and Yahoo! to pick up the scraps.
A well-designed sales intelligence solution supports multiple sales and support workflows. These users span multiple functions and departments (e.g. sales, sales directors, sales operations, sales support, service departments, business development, and marketing). Furthermore, there are multiple types of sales reps within larger organizations so your sales intelligence platform needs to be flexible enough to meet differing information requirements and workflows.
Thus, tactical sales reps need to quickly locate contact information and a few prospect qualification variables. They want to make sure that the contact they are about to call is in their territory and doesn’t work at a subsidiary of a named account.
Conversely, a strategic rep has broad information requirements around companies, company structures, executives, and key events. Strategic reps are focused on who to call, when to call, and what to say. Sales triggers are not only a flashing green light that a prospect is more likely to buy, but conversational material for catching the prospect’s attention and signaling that the rep has prepared for the call. Likewise, SWOT reports, biographies, industry market research reports provide insights into client interests and needs.
Named account reps sell only to a few firms so need a deep understanding of their target accounts. They need to be apprised of key events at an organization that could positively or negatively impact their pipeline. Furthermore, named account reps are looking for additional contacts and locations for extending their corporate footprint. Thus, searching across a company for specific job functions and then reviewing subsidiary profiles and bios is an important task in growing the account. Named account reps also benefit from PDF exportability so they can review the latest information about their client or prospect while traveling. These reports can also be shared with other members of the sales and support team.
Territory reps and financial services relationship managers need to be apprised of sales triggers within their territory, quickly research and qualify companies, and dig deeper on larger opportunities. Furthermore, as they generally sell cross-industry, they also benefit from industry overviews from vendors such as First Research. These primers are written in plain English and provide a set of Q&A sections by topic and job function.
Most reps work within a CRM, so review the capabilities of sales intelligence CRM connectors. The tighter the integration the better. If your CRM is your system of record, you want the sales reps working within the CRM on desktops and mobile devices. Services that bounce the user between a web browser and the CRM are less effective than those that provide most or all of their content and functionality within Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics, or other CRMs. Also, look for “stare and compare” updating of records, batch and real-time synchronization of data, custom fields, and duplicate checking.
Many sales intelligence services also support the marketing department. Standardizing the two functions on a common vendor helps reduce cost and channel conflict. It also provides a basis for successful ABM programs which cross the two departments. Several years ago, sales intelligence vendors only offered prospecting to marketing, but now they also support web forms, real-time and batch enrichment of leads, lead-to-account mapping, marketing automation connectors, lead scoring, segmentation analysis, Ideal Customer Profiling, TAM analysis, and net-new leads and contacts. A few also offer standalone services for the marketing department such as programmatic advertising, visitor id, multi-channel marketing, and SEO.
When evaluating sales intelligence solutions, you should understand the workflows and information requirements of each of your sales groups along with other potential beneficiaries of the service. Don’t evaluate simply on counts and features, but on the information needs and workflows of your various sales and marketing teams.
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.
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.
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.
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, Mattermark, Zoominfo, 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):
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.”
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.
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.”
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.