Sales Engagement vendor Outreach is teasing a new predictive analytics capability called Amplify which leverages the history of a firm’s sequences and workflows. The firm will not be employing a black-box AI strategy but providing recommendations with explanations.
CEO Manny Medina faults deep learning strategies which lack “the ability to make inferences, such as the ability to figure out why things work” and require users to trust the recommendations without providing a basis for the suggestions.
“We believe we need to tackle this problem following general scientific principles. Hypotheses need to be testable, data should be very carefully examined to verify the quality of the data.”
Yifei Huang, Machine Learning Lead, Outreach
“When we built Amplify, we built it with the core belief in mind that, the human needs to understand why things work so that machine can understand why things work so that the machine can get better at helping the human,” said Medina.
For example, Amplify deploys natural language processing (NLP) around email responses to help identify whether responses are unsubscribes, objections, or positive. Outreach claims that their NLP classification is 92% accurate, only three points behind manual classification.
NLP will also be used to assess objection handling to identify reps who handle objections well and which ones need improvement. This feedback is then available to managers to assist with coaching.
Amplify addresses two key managerial questions: “Is my team adopting the new technology? Is the new technology delivering a measurable lift?”
Amplify will be unveiled at their May Unleash conference.
Sales intelligence service Salesgenie released enhanced UI and platform upgrades which increase “system speeds and overall productivity.” Other enhancements include a streamlined details / profile page for reviewing prospecting lists and a file library for organizing sales and marketing content within Salesgenie and InfoUSA products.
The new File Library provides a centralized content store for sales and marketing professionals which can be quickly accessed within email campaigns. Content is available within both personal and shared team folders. Shareable content includes logos, images, HTML, PDF, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets. Content is shared as hyperlinks.
“This is great for keeping sales quotes, pricing templates, and marketing efforts organized in Salesgenie,” said VP of Product Neil MacLeod.
The customizable details / profile page, which will be available in early Q2, allows reps to review lists more efficiently. The new view “will give you access to the same in-depth data you have today, but it will allow you to stay on the same page as your results list,” Macleod told Salesgenie users. “That means no more going back and forth between pages while working on your leads. You can easily pop out new tabs for records that you want to return to later or keep open while you move through your list.”
Salesgenie, an Infogroup offering, is designed for both SMBs and enterprise sales teams. The service offers both business and consumer files along with New Businesses, New Homeowners, and New Movers. While the service was designed as a sales prospecting database, the service has broadened its functionality over the past few years:
Marketing Tools: suppression files, lead enrichment, SEO, marketing design services, best prospect identification, direct mail marketing, display advertising
Mobile App: search near me, research and manage leads, map leads
Team Tools: lead assignments, activity tracking
Connectivity: Salesforce and MS Dynamics integrations, API
Separately, Infogroup announced that its business and consumer files now integrate with the Adobe Audience Marketplace. Marketers will be able to access Infogroup data within Adobe and perform data hygiene and enrichment on customer profiles.
Nathan Latka interviewed Demandbase CEO Chris Golec back in Q4. Demandbase is growing rapidly and now employs 300. In November, Golec said the firm was likely to achieve 50% or greater growth in 2017. 2016 revenue was around $75 million and the firm was above a $100 million run rate in November. Average revenue per customer is around $20,000 per month. Small customers may select a single module for $2K to $3K per month but then add multiple solutions as they grow. Net revenue retention is around 110%.
The firm has between 50 and 60 quota carrying reps, 20 to 25 marketers, and 10 to 15 administrative staff, with two thirds of the company focused on data, R&D, engineering, and other functions
The firm has 400 to 600 customers with top customers spending a couple million dollars per annum.
Golec expects the firm to be cash flow break-even during the first half of this year.
Demandbase, founded in 2007, was an early and forceful proponent of Account Based Marketing. For several years, they had a monopoly on the positioning, but ABM caught fire as a B2B sales and marketing process with several enterprise software firms including Marketo and Salesforce now offering ABM solutions.
“ABM as a category – the interest level has reached the investment community and so as investors do their research they discovered that Demandbase is the largest and pioneered the category itself. So we had a lot of inbound interest. At the same time, we started developing some new innovations using AI and massive data that we’re sitting on. So it really unfolded into a whole new level of innovation.”
DemandBase CEO Chris Golec
DemandBase has already received $156 million in funding, including a $65 million round last May. Both Salesforce and Adobe have taken investment stakes in Demandbase.
While some MarTech firms are struggling with revenue growth and churn, that has not been an issue at Demandbase. “ABM is more of a business process and our position is much more of a platform where we’re helping customers throughout the whole lifecycle of attracting, updating, engaging, converting, and upselling them.”
The firm has ten staff in London helping grow European sales. “ABM adoption in the UK and Western Europe is really starting to pick up.”
Crunchbase unveiled their long-planned Crunchbase Marketplace partner ecosystem. Crunchbase signaled plans for the ecosystem a year ago when it announced an $18 million funding round. Partner datasets are available via an “app store” connected to their subscription Crunchbase Pro data service.
“We see this as the next step in building the master database for companies online. We don’t feel like a single company can go out and get all the information that there is to get, which is why we have decided to partner.”
Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell
Crunchbase has signed 13 data partners: SimilarWeb, Apptopia, BuiltWith, Siftery, IPqwery, Bombora, Owler, Financial Content, TradingView, Enigma, Wayback Machine, Aberdeen, and Wikipedia. The span of partners is fairly broad and includes technographics, intent data, web traffic, app installs, government filings, and stock quotes.
The following datasets are live:
Crunchbase Pro – Funding data available for $29 / user / month
SimilarWeb – Web traffic and engagement (free)
Siftery – Tech Stack data for $49 / user / month
BuiltWith – Tech Stack data for $49 / user / month
Apptopia – Mobile app analytics for $49 / user / month
“We’re super excited about these partnerships because they are bringing up a ton of new data that we’ve never seen before,” McConnell added. “We think this is the first time that someone has taken all this data and put it all into one place. Looking further out we think that all enterprise software will be built on large data sets, and we think that we can be the trusted source for all that company information on the internet.”
Crunchbase is looking to increase the number of registered and Pro users on its site, so only registered users will have access to the marketplace. Last year, Crunchbase had 40 million unique users, many of whom were anonymous.
Current licensors of third-party datasets do not have free access to the content via the Marketplace. However, Crunchbase is evaluating a voucher system for dual licensors.
Crunchbase said it is unsure whether the current $49 per month fee will be modified. For example, they are open to building solution bundles by function which support multiple datasets. However, such a model has yet to be explored. They are also considering a freemium model with in-app purchases of additional data beyond a limited number of free records.
Crunchbase will continue to focus on its strength: – the collection of funding data. “Logo, name, address, funding, founding and investor data: we’ll always own that node,” McConnell told TechCrunch. “This is the reason why most come to us today and we don’t want to jeopardize this.”
Crunchbase would like to build out to one hundred partners over the next year.
Technology media company TechTarget announced strong Q4 growth for their Sales Intelligence Priority Engine service. The firm added over 40 new Priority Engine and Deal Data customers in Q4 with revenues more than doubling year-over-year. Priority Engine benefited from the addition of DiscoverOrg technographic and contact intelligence during the quarter. The service combines intent, predictive, and contacts intelligence into a single solution. Intent data is sourced from their 140 B2B media tech web sites containing 550,000 indexed content pages, many of which make the first page of Google technology searches. Each day, the firm has one million buyer interactions tied to its 17 million members which it then tags to 10,000 technology topics. The majority of members have technology titles, but TechTarget also supports five million non-IT members.
Content is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.
TechTarget claims that its hand-indexed, technology-focused editorial content results in a better indication of technology intent than machine-indexed intent files built across a broader set of B2B media sites. Furthermore, because TechTarget has member ids associated with site activity, they know who at each company is researching specific topics, providing surge data tied to specific individuals. Other intent vendors provide anonymous intent.
“Real purchase intent insight is actually made, not scraped from general-purpose websites. It begins with relevant, useful content that provides critical value to professionals as they look to solve business challenges and make buying decisions. By observing and learning from their content consumption patterns as they happen, marketers can market and sellers can sell at the right time with greater relevance. Our ability to deliver real purchase intent starts with our extensive content footprint and the hyper-relevant audiences that we’ve built.”
TechTarget CMO John Steinert
Priority Engine identifies “vendors actively influencing this deal,” core and related topics, and products and vendors. Installed product and vendor data is licensed from HG Data and viewable by category. Users can also search installed technology at an account by product, vendor, and category.
Accounts are ranked on a weekly basis with the service providing “an early radar on who’s buying from your named account lists.” TechTarget provides real-time analysis of the “most active accounts and named prospects conducting purchase research” and ranks those accounts by “likelihood to engage.” Prospects are segmented by geography and hundreds of marketing segments. The solution “creates a world-class ABM solution that combines breadth of reach, purchase power insights, and the ability to pinpoint and influence key prospects in one place.”
By combining DiscoverOrg contacts with member search data, Priority Engine provides “direct access” to the demand units of named active researchers and key influencers. Joint customers will have full access to DiscoverOrg’s editorially verified decision makers alongside TechTarget contacts that are conducting active research. The partnership displays the “Target Buying Team within a single dashboard.” Priority Engine customers that have not licensed DiscoverOrg will be limited to ten names per account.
TechTarget announced a set of enhancements last month which includes weekly contact updates, Marketo integration, regional subscriptions (North America, EMEA, United Kingdom/Ireland, APAC, ASEAN and India), and integration with internal datasets such as sales territories and web site visitors.
“We’ve moved beyond company-level insights; Priority Engine gives you access to ranked accounts AND the actual buyers researching purchases at those accounts,” said TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney. “The unique purchase intent insight available within Priority Engine helps marketers generate demand more efficiently, accelerate ABM effectiveness, and deliver a more substantive contribution to sales.”
Predictive Analytics and Audience Management vendor Leadspace completed its Series C. The funding round was led by Arrowroot Capital and joined by JVP. The $21 million round will be used “to grow our customer team in San Francisco and Denver, and our AI and data management product teams in Israel.”
The firm is assessing additional locations, including possible offices on the East Coast and Europe, “perhaps” London.
Arrowroot has taken a seat on Leadspace’s Board. The firm wanted growth equity advisors instead of traditional VCs for Round C. “At this point the investment is not just in the idea and the team, but also the underlying metrics and performance of the business,” said CEO Doug Bewsher. “Once you have “Product/Market fit”, the kinds of questions investors ask are whether you are ready to scale; what are the opportunities for further growth; and apart from additional investment can we be an investment partner that can help you address these opportunities?”
Bewsher noted that marketing has been transformed over the past seven years since Leadspace was founded. Firms are switching from tactical demand generation programs to targeted Account Based Marketing (ABM) communications. “No longer is it OK to just send out blanket “nurture” emails to everyone and hope that will generate positive customer engagements. No longer can you rely on a single data source as the basis to know your customer. No longer is it enough for marketers to just think of leads — they need to market to accounts, and teams of people. Neither can marketers afford to ignore intelligence and information from external parties, and simply rely on the limited info they gather internally.”
Not only has the nature of B2B marketing been transformed, but “world class B2B sales and marketing organizations” need to become more like consumer companies with a deep understanding of the account at multiple levels. Echoing Sirius Decisions, Bewsher said that B2B marketers need to “really know your customer at the account, demand unit and individual level, and then target and personalize your messaging to cut through the noise. And think customer-first.”
As an analytics company, Bewsher talks up the value of AI for sales and marketing as it begins to address specific problems and workflows:
AI is everywhere. While there is no doubt that it is going to change every corner of our life, both as private users and business people, I think we will start to move from the promise to the reality in 2018. In business-to-business sales and marketing in 2017, it was enough to say: “We have a ton of great data scientists who are working on new ways to better engage your customers.”
But in 2018 customers will look to see actual results — like the 90 percent increase in email connection rates we have seen from the deployment of AI to recommend the right way to engage a specific user. This will require a maniacal focus on specific use cases from the emerging area of AI.
One area where AI will improve revenue generation effectiveness is in ABM programs which has been limited by the human ability to consume information and the historical lack of data availability. However, “AI is changing all this, with the ability to consume and understand unprecedented amounts of information and turn this into action at scale and in real time. So sales and marketing teams now have the opportunity to drive much more relevant and effective engagement programs for their entire potential target audience.”
According to Leadspace, they are trusted by over 130 B2B brands and seven of the top ten enterprise software companies. Clients include Microsoft, Marketo, Oracle, and RingCentral.
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.