HubSpot Sales & Marketing COVID Activity Metrics

HubSpot has measured aggregated sales and marketing platform activity across its 70,000 customers since the pandemic began and benchmarking this activity against the pre-COVID level (January through early March).  Looking back at Q2, CMO Kipp Bodnar noted that “the data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.”

Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer,” commented Bodnar.  “While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.”

Marketing email open rates are up ten to twenty percent above pre-COVID levels, with the last week of June running 18% above the baseline.

Sales teams have been less successful in their outbound communications.  While sales emails have risen 60% since mid-March, “response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.”

Sales email open rates are down 25 to 30%.  “As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes,” warned Bodnar.  “So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.”

“Volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.”

HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar

Website traffic increased during the pandemic as decisionmakers and influencers began working from home.  Global site traffic is up 16% in Q2 vs. Q1 with it peaking at 24% above the benchmark on April 20th.  Software industry site traffic is running at 40% above pre-pandemic levels.

Customer-initiated chat levels have also risen sharply during the pandemic.  Total volume is up 31% over the pre-pandemic baseline, with every measured industry seeing increased volume.  “Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support,” observed Bodnar.

Call prospecting has dropped significantly during the pandemic as it has become more difficult to reach individuals who are now working at home.  Call prospecting fell as much as 27% below baseline the week of April 6th and now is down around 9%.  Before COVID, there was a rough balance between phone and email prospecting, but in Q2, email activity doubled that of phone calls.  “Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates,” argued Bodnar.

Deal Creation has improved in eight of the eleven weeks since April 6th, with deal creation up the past four weeks.  APAC deal creation was down 5% in Q2, North America down 6%, EMEA down 12%, and LATAM down 12%.  Large companies have recovered deal creation activity faster than small firms.  Computer Software deal creation was down 3% in Q2.

Deal Won has improved ten of the last eleven weeks, after dropping to 36% below baseline the week of April 6th.  For the full quarter, deals won were down 11%.  Smaller firms did best at closing deals, with larger firms posting the weakest performance, likely due to large firms selling a greater percentage of high-dollar, strategic deals that would have stalled in their pipeline.  Computer software Q2 was 14% above baseline, but this probably overstates industry performance due to Q1 often being the slowest month of the year and the loss of many “hockey stick” end of quarter deals at the end of Q1 as the pandemic struck.  Some of these likely slipped into Q2.

Bodnar provided three suggestions for Q3: invest in chat, shift from quantity to quality in sales prospecting and communications, and invest in online discoverability.

Demandbase Acquires Engagio

Demandbase announced that they acquired Engagio yesterday.  The two ABM Orchestration companies have complementary assets that will help position them in the nascent, but growing, ABM platform segment.  According to Demandbase, “The acquisition reinforces Demandbase’s leadership in the ABM space and positions it to become the dominant B2B marketing platform company.  Furthermore, the acquisition will help accelerate Demandbase’s revenue growth from $100 million to reach its next immediate milestone of $250 million.”

Deal terms were not disclosed.  Engagio CEO and co-founder Jon Miller, who also was a founder of Marketo, said that Engagio was not a distressed asset, but a complementary acquisition based upon a shared vision of ABM.

“Engagio didn’t need to do this deal,” said Miller.  “We had plenty of runway and had taken prudent moves to break even.  This deal didn’t happen because the company was struggling or needed an exit.  We shared the same vision, and that is why the deal happened.”

The firms are long-term partners and have done co-marketing in the past.  A deal has been in discussion since late 2019 when Gabe Rogol became the CEO of Demandbase.

“We had half our road map done but needed this other piece, and Engagio had half their road map done and needed this other piece, and we found each had the piece that the other needed,” said Rogol.

But COVID made the investors nervous as it increased the level of market uncertainty.  “We had a lot of push back from our investors,” Rogol recalled.  “The reaction we got was, do you want to do an acquisition at a time when you don’t know what’s going to happen in a week from now?  We told them this would fulfill each other’s roadmap more than anything else we could do.  This says a lot about our investors and the support that we had.”

Demandbase was an early pioneer in the ABM space, positioning Account Based Marketing as a critical strategy for B2B sales and marketing teams.  While other companies were still focused on demand generation, Demandbase was calling for a strategic focus on key accounts.

Just last week, Demandbase was named a leader in the “The Forrester New Wave: ABM Platforms, Q2 2020” report.  Demandbase was given high scores for its account-based advertising, personalization, product roadmap, and market approach along with its marketing automation connectors.

“We are honored to be recognized by Forrester as a leader among ABM platforms.  ABM is now an established technology category and a proven business growth strategy.  That’s why we continue to see so many B2B companies investing in ABM, even in these uncertain economic times,” said Demandbase CMO Peter Isaacson.  “As Forrester noted in their report, customers recognize our commitment to deliver best-in-class functionalities like site optimization and hands-on customer support to help them become successful.  We believe that this evaluation simply confirms our leadership position, and the power of our platform to help support B2B companies through data, insights, and action.”

In the same report, Engagio was named a strong performer.  Forrester noted that Engagio “offers a channel-agnostic approach to coordinating account-centric engagement across the customer’s existing complementary marketing and sales solutions” but needed to “step up delivery on its product roadmap and vision.”

“This acquisition combines the leader in ABM with Engagio, one of the early pioneers of the category.  It will change how B2B revenue teams operate,” said Rogol.  “Sales and Marketing alignment isn’t enough.  These teams must start moving as one — with a single set of data and insights, orchestrated across the entire buying journey.  Demandbase can now deliver that with the definitive, no-compromise ABM Platform.”

The two firms have been partners for four years and shared “a consistent vision for the category,” along with dozens of common customers, wrote Rogol.  “By bringing together the clear leaders in ABM, we are better positioned than ever to help B2B marketers acquire, grow, and retain customers.”

“Most people who are not ABM experts look at us and think we are competitors.  But in actuality, we have been co-marketing partners.  We jointly founded the ABM Leadership Alliance and we actually have over 30 customers using the product.  So, even though it looks on the surface like there is overlap, in reality, there was very little.

The second thing that we realized is how similar the company’s core values are and how similarly we operate.  Mergers are really hard to get right.  History shows that it is probably more likely than not that mergers do not meet the expectations that people had, but the way you overcome that, the way you make the merger successful, is when the companies have that common values and common operating models.  This was an idea that had to happen because the combination was so compelling, from both a product and a company value perspective.”

Former Engagio CEO / Demandbase Chief Product Officer Jon Miller

Engagio brings a set of complementary content and functional capabilities to Demandbase.  On the data management side, Engagio offers 1st-Party Sales Data, 1st-Party Marketing Data, and Lead-to-Account Matching.  Engagio Orchestration tools include Engagement Analytics, Audience Management, Cross-Channel Automation, Journey Attribution, Customizable Dashboards, and ROI Reporting.  Engagio campaign automation supports LinkedIn Advertising, MAP and CRM integrations, Sales Insights, and 3rd-Party Audience Management.

Just last month, Engagio announced the availability of Scout for Sales, their new email and calendar mining tool that “empowers sellers to understand their target accounts more deeply, prioritize them for maximum results, and take action to close deals faster.”

Demandbase data management tools include 3rd-Party B2B Data, Website Activity Tracking with IP Firmographic Match and Enrich, Ad Campaigns, and Proprietary Intent.  Demandbase orchestration and measurement tools cover Account Selection, Dynamic Audiences, Audience Segmentation, and ABM and Engagement Analytics.  Demandbase offers a set of campaign management tools, which include a Proprietary DSP, Account-based Ads, Intent-based Targeting, Website Personalization, Webforms, and integrations with MAPs, CMS, and analytics platforms.

At its March Innovation Summit, Demandbase rolled out three new capabilities: Site Analytics with improved web engagement metrics; Data Stream, which pushes Demandbase data into BI platforms for expanded account-level reporting; and Self-Service Targeting.

In February, Demandbase released Dynamic Audiences, an ABM feature that helps B2B marketers automate their advertising and marketing campaigns.  Dynamic Audiences automatically adjust campaign audiences with dynamic targeting based upon CRM updates, recent offsite intent activity, website engagement, or other events that support a specific campaign.

“The combination of Demandbase and Engagio accelerates the development of our next generation, account-based B2B marketing platform.  One that spans people and accounts.  One that manages the complete buyer’s journey.  One that is truly omnichannel—from ads to personalization to sales activity.  And one that truly aligns sales and marketing so that you can drive the metrics that matter—pipeline, new business, retention, and upsell.”

Demandbase Acquisition FAQ

Demandbase admitted that the ABM category is still being defined.  In its discussion of the merger, Demandbase offered the following process elements as core to ABM:

  • B2B Customer Data Platform: The CDP supports both first and third-party data sets, multi-platform data ingestion for the creation of a 360-degree customer view, intent signals for both accounts and contacts, and audience segmentation.  “Unifying the data is critical for aligning sales and marketing, as it gives both teams a common understanding of each account, the buying committees within them, and the insights needed to move them through the buyer’s journey,” wrote Rogol.
  • Planning, Orchestration, & Measurement: Analytics and orchestration help sales and marketing teams determine whom to reach out to, a compelling message, and shared metrics for determining success and ROI.  Features include Next Best Action recommendations, dynamic messaging across the buyer’s journey, and “an understanding of accounts and buying teams.”
  • Omnichannel Campaigns: The ABM platform requires a broad set of messaging and marketing tools, including website personalization, advertising, and third-party integrations.
  • An AI/ML-based technology foundation: The ABM platform should deliver real-time insights for personalization, interpreting intent signals, and account-based insights.
  • An Intuitive User Experience: The User Experience needs to hew more closely to B2C product experiences, and “in order to maximize productivity, B2B technologies should be understood without extensive product training,” wrote Rogol.

In the near-term, Engagio and Demandbase will operate as standalone platforms.  An Enterprise Edition will offer both platforms “at an aggressive price point.”  The initial plan is to have a combined platform available in November.  “We anticipate there will be different baseline product versions offered with a continued ‘a la carte’ solution offering for additional functionality to our clients (e.g. Targeting, Orchestration, Engagement, Attribution),” stated the firm’s acquisition FAQ.

“Going into next year, there is just so much innovation that can continue to happen.  The process of B2B marketing and selling is undergoing so much change.  That move from the linear baton handoff to the coordinated soccer team, that just creates new opportunities.  New opportunities for a platform that combines accounts and people into a single solution.  That lets people work, not just to generate new business, but to also drive cross sell expansion and retention, which is so important to so many companies these days.  I think the last piece that I think CMOs can expect from this is just a simplification of their technology stack.  There are 8,000 MarTech companies out there.  It’s a really challenging thing for any company to figure out, “What do I need and what are all the pieces and how do I assemble this thing into something coherent?” Having a unified platform like this lets them have fewer pieces of their stack, simplify the model, simplify the equation and ultimately save money, which a lot of people are looking to do in today’s economy.”

Former Engagio CEO / Demandbase Chief Product Officer Jon Miller

“I think this is good news for the ABM category,” opined senior content marketer and marketing technology analyst Barb Mosher Zinck of Diginomica.  “ABM’s rise to popularity (even though the approach has been used for years in Sales) has been somewhat fast and without a clear definition of what the technology should look like.  Most companies that have an ABM strategy use several tools to make it work.  And that makes it more complex and harder to do.  Integrating these two platforms is going to give us a view of ABM that we haven’t seen with any single technology before.  And that might make it easier for companies to adopt the strategy faster.”

Miller will be joining Demandbase as the Chief Product Officer while Brian Babcock has been tapped as the Chief Technology Officer.  Engagio employs a team of 40, while Demandbase has 300 employees.

“The acquisition accelerates everything I wanted to create in an ABM platform.  We will combine Demandbase’s strong go-to-market function and technological expertise with Engagio’s deep marketing automation and CRM expertise,”  said Miller.  “But it’s our shared vision for reimagining both the ABM and B2B martech landscapes that gets me truly excited for the future.”

Ramble Marketing Bot

Chat vendor RambleChat released Ramble Marketing Bot, its new chatbot builder for sales and marketing.   According to RambleChat, users can build custom bots in a few minutes that “help businesses qualify leads, start more sales conversations, offer up content, and book meetings for sales 24/7.”

Enterprise and Developer customers can continue to deploy and develop bots through the IBM Watson Assistant integration within the Ramble portal.  Ramble designed their Marketing Bot for firms that lack technical expertise.

Ramble lists the following Ramble Bot features:

  • Easily Qualify Leads & Conversations
  • SDR / BDR After Hours Support
  • Collect Critical Buyer Information
  • Custom Routing
  • Playbook / Bot Cloning
  • Offer Content, Links or Suggestions

Ramble Bots may also be customized by different experiences, pages, and time zones.  For example, users can be supported by different bots based upon time of day, with a more comprehensive bot provided after hours.

Ramble Bots support Ramble’s Chat from Anywhere functionality where a chat may be initiated from emails, LinkedIn posts, display ads, Facebook, or other digital channels.  ABM Anywhere chats may be handled by the bot or immediately routed to the appropriate sales rep.

“Ramble’s unique architecture enables us to deploy chat within third-party applications, like SalesLoft, which changes how sales leaders utilize chat for pipeline contribution.  We not only make chat ‘outbound’ and ‘inbound,’ but we give companies the ability to extend chat anywhere online as a means of instant connection and sales acceleration.  Moving beyond ‘omnichannel’ and towards ‘omnipresence.’”

Ramble CEO Justin McDonald

RambleChat announced that Q1 has been their best quarter so far, with quarter-on-quarter growth of 74% and solid Q1 bookings.  The firm noted a slowdown in March, but “we believe this is only temporary.”

No Tradeshows, No Site Visits — Ideas to Maintain & Grow Pipeline

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:

Video Meetings

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, do not 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.

Marketing Work-Arounds

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.

Conversation Intelligence

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 Engagement Platforms

Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) have come a long way over the past five years. Originally, they focused on the SDR role, but now include tools for all sales roles. Vendors include SalesLoft, Outreach, Xant (FKA InsideSales), VanillaSoft, ConnectLeader, SFDC High Velocity Sales, Groove, and Yesware.

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.

LinkedIn

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

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.

Ongoing Investment

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.

Terra Incognita

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.

HubSpot App Marketplace

HubSpot's App Partner Program supports over 300 apps.
HubSpot’s App Partner Program supports over 300 apps.

At its INBOUND conference earlier this month, HubSpot released a new app Marketplace.  “One of the things we’ve really tried to do with the next iteration of the marketplace is just to help SMBs (small to medium businesses) get deeper information on these integrations,” said HubSpot VP of platform ecosystem Scott Brinker.  “So you’re not just like, ‘Oh, here’s another company, go off and figure it out.’ It’s like, ‘OK, here’s exactly how this interfaces into HubSpot.  Here’s a video of how it works.”

HubSpot partners are obligated to post pricing information, data flow structure, and demo videos.  The new market supports improved filtering and searching.  Over 300 apps are available with 93% of HubSpot’s 64,000 customers having installed at least one app.  The average customer has installed five apps.

Amongst the top apps are Gmail, Outlook Calendar, Zapier (connectors), Facebook Ads, Google Calendar, Twitter, MailChimp, WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, Vidyard, Google Ads, and SurveyMonkey. “We’re really excited about trying to make this whole platform ecosystem world accessible to the SMB markets,” said Brinker.

“It’s not enough to have the wondrous capabilities all these different apps offer, especially if each is locked in their own silo.  To run your business effectively and to give customers a coherent and compelling experience across all the different touchpoints they have with you, all these different apps need to work together. This is why HubSpot is committed to building an open platform that can serve as a “hub” for the myriad apps across your business that all contribute to improving the customer experience.  We want to make it easy for you to orchestrate these apps, to better serve your customers, and to help you grow better.”

HubSpot VP of platform ecosystem Scott Brinker

The new marketplace can be found at HubSpot.com/ecosystem.

Drift & Cognism Make LinkedIn’s Hot Companies List

How Drift Automation Works (Source: Drift)

Congratulations to conversational marketing vendor Drift and sales intelligence vendor Cognism for making LinkedIn’s Top Startups: Hottest Companies to Work for Now lists.  

Boston-based Drift was ranked 46 in the US.  The firm has grown from 65 employees to 280 over the past year and plans to “double down” on its product and sales teams.

Yesterday, at their Hypergrowth conference, Drift announced the acquisition of Giant Otter, an AI and machine learning company, and the launch of Drift Automation.

Drift Automation understands the specific context of what someone is asking and can engage in conversations that go in a variety of directions. For the first time, this puts the customer is in control of the conversation — not the chatbot.

Lacey Berrien, Drift Senior Manager, Public Relations

Drift co-founder Elias Torres was impressed by Giant Otter which is based on research led by Dr. Jeff Orkin at the MIT Media Lab.

“When I met Jeff Orkin and he showed me what Giant Otter could do, I knew that I had seen the future of marketing automation,” said Torres. “We’ve been working on Drift Automation behind the scenes with early customers who have been seeing incredible results — including improvements in inbound sales velocity, pipeline and revenue growth, time back for the marketing team, and the ability to put the customer in control of the buying experience.”  

Cognism Refresh
Cognism Refresh

London-based Cognism was ranked 21 on the UK list with plans to open offices in the US and Singapore and triple its headcount to around 200 over the next year. Cognism products include

  • Cognism Prospector for lead list building, prospect research, and prospect/account current awareness.
  • Cognism Refresh for CRM data maintenance and enrichment.
  • Cognism Wealth list building and TAM analysis for financial services firms and wealth managers.

Cognism closed on its Series B back in July. According to CEO James Isilay, the firm has already “won significant business remotely” in both regions. Isilay noted that Asia is a particularly compelling market due to SaaS being relatively immature in the region.

Cognism is hosting its first RevenueAI user conference at the Science Museum London on 19 September. I will be speaking on Trends in Sales and Marketing Intelligence at the conference.

Quora: Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?

The following is a Quora post answering the question, “Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?”


This is likely to fall into a semantics question. If data is employed in the aggregate and your personally identifiable information is not disclosed, then I would argue that your information is not sold. Likewise, if you are presented an ad because your LinkedIn profile conforms with a target audience definition, your data is also not being sold.

I can’t answer for LinkedIn Recruiter, but can answer in the Sales and Marketing context.

LinkedIn offers a sales product called Sales Navigator. Users can view company and contact information on Navigator just as they can on the free service. It even supports viewing this data within third-party SNAP products. However, Navigator and SNAP are view only. Sales reps cannot download your profile or sync it with any of their partner platforms. They also restrict display of your email and phone information to your direct connects as well as other content you flag as restricted.

LinkedIn Marketing sells advertising on LinkedIn and Bing based upon your profile attributes. Advertisers define their target audience across a broad set of firmographic, career, and location variables, but these segments are not provided directly to the marketer. Instead, they are used for advertising display. Thus, your data isn’t sold, just your eyeballs.

LinkedIn treats its member’s data with respect. Microsoft, its parent company, has called for a US version of GDPR, the European data privacy standard. CEO Satya Nadella stated that “privacy is a fundamental human right” on an April 2018 earnings call and said that the firm has implemented an “end-to-end privacy architecture” which is GDPR compliant.

The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.
The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.

News Alert: DiscoverOrg Acquires NeverBounce

DiscoverOrg announced another acquisition this morning, its third in the past eighteen months.  NeverBounce, an email verification and list cleansing service, is being folded into DiscoverOrg.  NeverBounce offers real-time email verification, a verification API, a JavaScript widget for webforms, and free email list analytics.  Connectors are available for a broad set of MAPs and Email Services including Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot, Pardot, MailChimp, and Constant Contact.

NeverBounce claims a 99.9% email delivery rate and a 97% SLA.  Emails are classified into five categories: Valid, Invalid, Accept All, Unknown and Disposable.  The service confirms that domains are live, flags duplicates, and repairs syntax prior to processing.

“A big part of our value proposition to customers is we provide the highest quality data in the marketplace. A big part of that is ensuring the email addresses are deliverable and high accuracy.”

DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

Integration will be a significant operational issue for DiscoverOrg.  While they previously acquired iProfile and RainKing, those were similar companies, so the integration was focused on quickly reprocessing their datasets through DiscoverOrg editorial validation and migrating customers to the DiscoverOrg platform.  The recent acquisitions – NeverBounce, Zoominfo, and Datanyze, which was acquired by Zoominfo in September – are complementary assets so merging applications present a greater level of technical risk than their previous acquisitions.  However, email validation is already part of ongoing data quality processes at Zoominfo and DiscoverOrg, so the execution risk associated with NeverBounce is lower than Zoominfo and Datanyze.

NeverBounce is a logical acquisition following Zoominfo as it allows them to build email hygiene services into Zoominfo and DiscoverOrg while reducing the cost of email validation across Zoominfo and DiscoverOrg’s set of contact profiles with emails.  Over the past few years, the sales intelligence vendors have been building out B2B marketing services including email verification, data enrichment, and ICP / TAM analysis.  As DiscoverOrg has long positioned itself as the highest quality source of executive contacts, NeverBounce helps burnish that positioning as they expand their contact coverage twenty-fold.

“While finding net new buyers is always going to be vital to sales and marketing efforts, it has become equally as important to manage, update and cleanse existing data that is going stale sitting in CRM and marketing automation systems.  Our partnership with NeverBounce makes solving both of these challenges easier for our customers.”

DiscoverOrg President Katie Bullard

“When we announced the combination of DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo, we promised to deliver on the B2B data trifecta: the best, bar-none, quality, quantity, and depth, and this announcement only reinforces our quality differentiator in the market,” said DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck.  “We are now embedding NeverBounce’s email verification tools directly into our data and research team’s processes to lower the email bounce rates in both platforms AND over the next few months, we will integrate it into several of our customer-facing tools, including our data enrichment platform, Enrich.”

NeverBounce Volume Pricing

NeverBounce will continue as a standalone data hygiene offering.  DiscoverOrg and Zoominfo may purchase NeverBounce services at a discounted rate.  NeverBounce list pricing begins at 0.8 cents on 10,000 processed emails and drops to 0.3 cents on one million records.  Marketers can pay for each list or purchase credits in bulk.  There is no charge for de-duplication services.  There is also no charge for manual list reviews kicked out by the platform to their deliverability team.

A 10,000-record file is processed in two to ten minutes with 100,000 records processed in 45.  NeverBounce claims bank-level security and European privacy support (GDPR and the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S Privacy Shield Frameworks).

“I’m thrilled to partner with DiscoverOrg to extend our mission to improve the success of go-to-market efforts,” says Brad Owen, NeverBounce CEO.  “Every bad email address can cost an organization up to $11 per record, which equates to millions of wasted dollars for many companies.  Together, DiscoverOrg and NeverBounce are committed to ending the curse of bad sales and marketing data.”

NeverBounce has 100,000 clients and was established in 2014.  The acquisition price was not disclosed.  NeverBounce has fifteen employees and will retain its office in Cleveland with Salt Lake City employees being relocated.


Update (3/5/19 5:30 PM EST) Amended the last sentence about employees.

InsideView Refresh Enhancements

InsideView Refresh Dashboard
InsideView Refresh Dashboard

InsideView rolled out a pair of enhancements to its CRM Refresh product.  Along with Accounts, Refresh now cleanses and enriches Contact records, matching both record types against its reference database of 13 million companies and 33 million contacts.  

Refresh also supports email validation, an important function for maintaining data quality. Both matched and unmatched records are processed on a semi-annual basis. Email validation is performed by StrikeIron, an Informatica company.

The Refresh dashboard (on right) provides match and field-level fill rates for both account and contact records.

“Valid email addresses lower bounce rates and increase deliverability of marketing campaigns, resulting in greater response rates and higher ABM program success,” wrote the Customer Success Team to its customers.  “Successful sales outreach also depends on accurate contact information, including whether anexisting contact has moved on to another job.”

“Employees just don’t stay in one job at one company any more, and keeping up with all that job shifting is a nightmare of CRM management.  Today we’re giving sales and marketing ops one more weapon in the battle against stale CRM data.  Other cleansing solutions only clean the contacts that exist in their systems, but email validation allows InsideView Refresh to add value to any contact with an email address.”

Adam Perry, InsideView director of product management

Pricing is available both on an à la carte volume basis and a seat-basedmodel similar to Data.com.  The idea is to provide an “easy switch” fromData.com Clean and Prospector to InsideView.  “We match allcapabilities and price to make it very easy for customers to switch,” said VPof Product and Solution Marketing Joe Andrews.  “We’ve seen a significant growth in demand for this since it’s become more generally known that Data.comis being sunset.”

Few firms have integrated email validation into their cloud or CRM hygiene offerings, leaving firms with bad contact records which cannot be matched against reference datasets.  Products such as D&B Optimizer, InsideView Refresh, and ReachForce SmartSuite are the exception, helping improve delivery rates and email sender scores by verifying emails, even for unmatched records.

Refresh is available for both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Outreach & Drift Make LinkedIn Top Startups

LI Top StartupsCongratulations to Outreach (#15) and Drift (#22) for making the LinkedIn Top 25 U.S. Startups list.  To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held, and headquartered in the U.S.  Selection is based upon employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018

Coincidentally, I just began covering Drift in my subscription newsletter.  They will be covered here in two weeks following my standard embargo.  I’ve been covering Outreach for several years.

Outreach is a sales engagement platform that helps sales reps manage their multi-channel communications with customers and prospects.  Along with templates and cadence tools, Outreach offers call recording and coaching, analytics, a partner ecosystem, and meeting management.  The firm has 285 employees and is looking to double its headcount over the next year following a $65 million funding round.  LinkedIn noted that they have 2,400 customers.

Outreach Employee Count
Seattle-based Outreach said in April that it plans to double its headcount over the next year. (Chart Source: LinkedIn)

Conversational marketing firm Drift landed a $60 million Series C round earlier this year.  The funds will be used to quadruple its office space with an expanded presence in Boston and new space in San Francisco.  As one-third of their clients are outside of the United States, they plan to open international offices later this year.

The Drift platform removes webforms and offers chatbots for conversational discovery and qualification.  “A sale doesn’t get made until a conversation happens. So, with Conversational Marketing, we created a new way of doing marketing and sales that removed the roadblocks and hurdles that can get in the way of someone talking to your business. This creates a better customer experience, makes it easier for people to buy, and ultimately creates a faster path to revenue,” said CEO David Cancel.

Drift supports email sequencing, revenue reporting, visitor id, chatbots, playbooks (templates), reporting, email reply management, and meeting scheduling.  A new Conversational Advertising capability provides conversational landing pages instead of webforms.

Drift’s goal is to be the Amazon for Business.  “Amazon revolutionized how people buy with the one-click buying experience, and that’s what we all expect online today,” said Cancel. “But when it comes to B2B, the buying process is painful. Companies force buyers to fill out forms and jump through so many hoops just to talk to them, despite the fact that most buying decisions have already been made by the time someone comes to your website. We’re on a mission to build the most customer-centric company in the world and make B2B buying as easy as buying from Amazon.”

Boston-based Drift has had rapid employee growth over the past two years (Source: LinkedIn)
Boston-based Drift has had rapid employee growth over the past two years. (Chart Source: LinkedIn)