Owler is now promoting its first paid service, Owler Pro, which will be launching in a few months. Owler Pro is priced at $9.99 / month but will be discounted to $4.99 / month for the first 1,000 users (lifetime guaranteed pricing). The service is offering the following additional features:
Go straight to article, bypassing the Event Page.
Skip Owler recommended content such as competitors of your followed companies
Follow groups of companies
Customize the displayed instant insights (event triggers)
As I haven’t seen advertising on Owler, I’m assuming that the free version will become a sponsored platform. Most of these features are fairly insignificant, but at $4.99 per month the pricing is reasonable to prevent advertising and avoid the Event Page click-through.
Subscriptions are available from the following landing page.
If you haven’t checked out Owler, the free service provides company profiles, M&A and Funding histories, competitor lists, event alerts, and user-based surveys.
The best way to keep data clean is to use a globally known, unique identifier, or a “data backbone.” My company prefers to use URLs as identifiers. They’re free, globally recognizable, high-quality data points that enable you to efficiently gather information on a business’s industry, online activities, and functionality. For example, Cisco is a company that also goes by Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Precision Tools. If sales containers required users to type in one unique URL, http://www.cisco.com/ for all those different branches, it’d be much more difficult to create duplicate accounts, which helps keep data clean. Perhaps more important, URLs facilitate communication between people, systems, and even departments. Whether it’s the customer relationship management platforms used by sales teams, enterprise resource planning software used by purchasing teams, or the account-based marketing technology employed by marketing teams, the business intelligence platform can recognize a unique URL and attach it to clean, usable data. Unique identifiers let you know you’re pulling from the sources and contacts you’ve intended to track.
I agree with 90% of what Fowler states, but disagree with his recommendation that URLs are the best unique identifier for his “data backbone”. There are a number of reasons that URLs fall short:
URLs are not persistent. If a company is acquired or renames itself, the old identifier (URL) is not retained. This creates a potential disconnect between the old and new name.
URLs have a many-to-one mapping which treats most subsidiary and branch locations the same as the headquarters. For some companies, mashing together all locations into a single record may be sufficient, but it is a highly flawed approach as it loses much of the nuance concerning companies that operate across multiple sectors and countries (e.g. General Electric). It also makes it very difficult for sales reps to sell deeper into an organization which lacks linkage data.
Conversely, companies with multiple URLs are not tied together. This could happen due to differing country identifiers (e.g. .UK, .FR), division names, brand names, and subsidiaries. Each of these scenarios treats companies as a separate business. Amazon has many distinct businesses including Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com), Zappos (www.zappos.com), Alexa Internet (www.alexa.com) Audible (www.audible.com), Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and soon Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com). URLs do not provide a consistent data backbone when subsidiaries, acquisitions, and branches have different domains.
When a division or facility is divested, there is no way to determine which locations have been spun off.
Franchises are treated as part of the parent company when they are separate legal entities.
Not all companies have websites.
URLs can be sold. They can also be reused if a company goes out of business or abandons a URL.
Finally, business decisions related to logistics, credit, supplier risk, and financing need to understand the underlying structure of companies. It is not just marketing and sales that are impacted by standardizing on a non-persistent, quasi-unique identifier.
I would therefore recommend looking at credit data companies as a better source of unique identifiers. Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, and Infogroup all offer location level detail and linkage associated with unique identifiers that have been developed over multiple decades. They offer sophisticated entity matching and enrichment tools such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Optimizer service. Furthermore, these firms support multiple functions across the organization helping assist with cross-platform entity linking and on-demand decisioning.
Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendor Outreach, rolled out its latest capability, Sales Intelligence Tiles, which displays account intelligence from Owler, Twitter, and MapBox alongside account information from Salesforce and Outreach.
Three tile formats are supported
Engagement insights: a combination of insightful information including company news, local time and historical interactions with prospect/account to ensure the communication is effective
Prospect overview: everything from historical Outreach & Salesforce activity to custom fields
Account overview: displays account firmographics and prospect information
Users can customize the layouts to better meet their informational needs. Tiles may be moved and resized. Additional enhancements will roll out in the next few months including “partner integrations, new tiles, design updates, and new suggested layouts.” Layouts may be shared with co-workers. Other partners include DiscoverOrg, Datanyze, DocSend, and Sendgrid.
Outreach’s internal research found that reps saved five hours a week by leveraging tile insights.
Outreach recently began a beta program for their Chrome Extension which they call Window Mode. “This new experience is unlike any other chrome extension,” said Product Marketing Manager Rachel Siegel. “It removes the extension from on top of your window and creates a separate window that snaps perfectly to the side of your browser. The experience is lightning fast and immediately responsive to what you’re doing in the moment. Many of you likely switch through a number of different browser tabs as your job. Window Mode keeps up with your pace. You’ll find that it’s faster and immediately responsive to what you’re doing in the moment.”
Selling is hard – we know it’s more difficult than ever to connect with prospects and keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle. Sales technology has failed to deliver for reps, largely because it focuses on logging data and reporting on pipeline rather than helping reps to execute more of the right selling activities. Ultimately sales reps spend hours laboring on menial tasks. This has to stop. We’re on a mission to empower sales teams to more efficiently and effectively engage with prospects so they can predictability achieve revenue goals.
Outreach CEO Manny Medina
Outreach received a $30 million Round C a few weeks ago and continues to invest in tools for sales reps that assist them across the customer lifecycle. This vision goes beyond outbound communication unification and includes sales intelligence, recommendations, and workflow simplification.
“Outreach continues to tirelessly deliver the capabilities that solve business challenges,” blogged Siegel yesterday. “No longer are we solely investing in making SDRs and hunters efficient, we’re turning our eyes deeper into the customer lifecycle. At Outreach we see a future where every sales organization has a platform that helps their reps build a pipeline and closes that pipeline faster and more efficiently than ever before. The future is a platform that acts like a sales assistant, suggesting meeting times, entering data, creating action items, suggesting which personas to engage at what points in the deal cycle, and more.”
Outreach is unveiling its roadmap at their Unleash conference in Sonoma, CA this week.
Owler rolled out a new Insights feature which highlights data changes such as significant increases in press coverage, blogging volume, and CEO approval. CEO approval ratings are based upon community feedback. Additional insights are in development.
ABSD vendor Owler officially announced their SalesLoft connector which feeds Owler News and Alerts into the SalesLoft Sales Engagement platform. Owler is one of several content partners that participate in SalesLoft’s partner ecosystem. Owler intelligence is delivered via a combination of mined content (news, blogs, press releases), editorial work (funding and M&A announcements), and crowdsourced intelligence concerning competitors, company size, CEO approval, and future expectations.
SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter posed the problem of engaging prospects as one of quickly understanding them.
How do you portray that feeling? How do you portray that understanding that you know what they’re up to? That you know who they are? That you think you can help and you’ve got hypotheses about their needs? And I think the answer to that is sales intelligence and so for the last few year of my career I’ve been looking for amazing products that help our customers learn more about the prospects they are reaching out to whether it’s the account or whether it’s the individual themselves.
Owler provides integrated news, press releases, funding histories, videos (YouTube and Vimeo), and corporate blogs from within SalesLoft company and contact records. The partnerships allows sales reps to plan their account messaging without toggling to another platform. Users can even filter headlines by content type and copy links directly into emails.
SalesLoft noted a “dramatic increase” in reply rates and meaningful conversations due to Owler insights. The integration has helped “increase the level and efficiency of personalization that the modern sales rep can add when they’re communicating with their buyers,” said SalesLoft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester. “So they can better connect, quality, and convert their target accounts into customer accounts.”
SalesLoft trains SDRs on a 10-80-10 strategy for creating “sincerity at scale.” SalesLoft suggests that the first ten percent of the email should have a custom hook from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Owler. The goal is to “find something relevant and connect with them on that level,” said SalesLoft SDR Brad Ansley. The 80% message core should focus on how your product relates to their pains. It should not be a feature dump, but must “give them a reason to respond.” The final ten percent is a “PS line” to connect on a more personal level (e.g. Congrats on the Pats).
Other SalesLoft content partners include InsideView, Datanyze, HG Data, DiscoverOrg, RingLead, and Prospectify. SalesLoft also provides messaging assistance and coaching tools such as Crystal prospect personality analysis, Sigstr email signature management, Chili Piper calendaring, and call transcription and analytics from TalkIQ, ExecVision, and Gong.io.
Functionality: How are the sales and marketing functions able to leverage the content within these offerings?
User Interface: What have the firms done to improve the presentation and workflow of their products?
Connectors: Which integrations were updated? Which ones were launched? These spanned CRMs, MAPs, Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) platforms, APIs, and Google Chrome.
So far, this framework has only looked at existing products and services. This blog addresses the final question: What new Sales Intelligence products and services were launched in 2016?
Sales Focused Products
Artesian launched the US edition of their sales intelligence offering in 2016. The firm also opened an office in Boston.
DiscoverOrg launched the TiLT certification program for sales development reps and marketers. The program is available at no charge to current clients and provides “microburst” learning with videos, curated content, and challenge tasks.
In early 2016 they announced their Technology, Engineering, Development, and Design (TEDD) offering which focuses on product management and engineering. In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg rolled out datasets for Sales (50,000 new contacts), Fortune 1000 CxOs (30,000 new contacts), and HR (80,000 new contacts) bringing the overall database coverage to one million executives at the end of Q3.
InsideView launched Tech Profiler in 2016. This add-on dataset provides technology profiles within InsideView Sales and can be used as a filter when building lists with Target. The technology information is also available via API and InsideView’s Professional Services. The API offers two new calls: retrieve technology implemented at a company and retrieve companies that have deployed specific technologies.
The dataset provides information about technologies used by InsideView’s top 525,000 global companies. It covers more than 2,600 front-end and back-end technologies in more than 100 categories. InsideView did not disclose whether they collected the technology file themselves or licensed it from another vendor.
Salesgenie Team provides a set of team tools to Salesgenie. New features include lead assignment rules, add messages to leads, customer cloning, and tracking and reporting tools. A new My Leads list displays assigned leads while a Sales Pipeline report provides team member analytics.
Infofree introduced a lower priced version of its service called SalesFlower which removes several features including background checks, business credit reports, CustomerCloner, and the CRM101 SFA platform.
Owler introduced an enterprise API service for calling corporate firmographics, competitors, and news.
Marketing Focused Products
Hoover’s added a trio of Concierge Services to its Hoover’s product line which target SMBs with revenue up to $250 million. Hoover’s is providing three related services:
Targeted List Building – Identifies prospects similar to a client’s best customers.
Effective Email Marketing – Delivers email services including messaging, design, email coding, blasting, and testing. Dun & Bradstreet also supports email verification, analytics, and unsubscribe / bounce management. Landing site hosting is provided via an undisclosed partner.
Optimized Customer Data – Supports data cleansing, standardization, and data enrichment for customer company and contact files.
Avention’sOneSource DataVision is a hosted platform which consolidates and cleanses multiple customer data sources, integrating internal and external customer intelligence. By matching Avention company and contact data against customer and prospect files, Avention improves the accuracy and firmographic fill rates of marketing databases. The result is a unified view of customer data for accurate customer segmentation and targeting based upon enriched data from Avention’s Global Content Live database.
OneSource DataVision also provides analytics and visualization tools for marketers. “As a result, you will be able to identify and leverage key customer and prospect segments to make more informed decisions, identify cross-sell opportunities, key industries, verticals and much more,” states Avention.
OneSource DataVision includes a gap analysis tool which assesses the total addressable market in order to identify underserved markets and growth potential. After enriching and segmenting the data, OneSource DataVision users can prospect for similar companies.
OneSource DataVision, along with the flagship OneSource platform, form the OneSource ABM Solution, also launched in 2016. This solution ensures sales and marketing teams are aligned around the right accounts to target, then provides the deep insights needed to create account plans, and targeted sales messages and content.
Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification). Other tools include a Salesforce.com connector, web form enrichment (FormComplete), and a new Google Chrome Extension called ReachOut which provides quick access to contact information from Zoominfo and LinkedIn contact profiles.
InsideView Refresh was launched as a new product in 2016. Refresh provides automated account cleansing within CRM. It’s currently available for Salesforce CRM.
InsideView also launched an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. It’s a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg launched an Enhanced ABM Toolkit which builds an ideal customer profile and then identifies similar companies. Users upload a file of their best customers which is matched against the DiscoverOrg database. The system then performs firmographic and technographic segmentation analysis and then suggests similar companies.
In 2016, the focus of the established sales intelligence companies was on extending their services into the marketing department and aligning their positioning around Account Based Marketing. On the sales side, their were fewer new products or major functional enhancements. Instead, they focused on expanded content and workflow improvements. This strategy was best exemplified by Avention and InsideView. Both firms doubled their company and contact universes, improved their user interfaces, and launched additional marketing products and connectors. However, they added little new functionality to their sales products.
Five years ago, the sales intelligence services were firmly planted in the sales department with some also providing services for analysts. Now, however, the marketing department is receiving equal or greater capital investment as firms look to support “sales and marketing alignment” with CRM and MAP connectors which leverage a common reference data set.
In 2017 I anticipate additional product announcements with ABM positioning across the revenue lifecycle. The Sales Intelligence companies realize that if they establish themselves in the marketing department with a broad set of services, then their position within the sales department will be less subject to churn.
There are two approaches to UI enhancements: Big Bang and Incremental. With the big bang approach the entire product is refreshed. Such a project is a major endeavor and often involves a completely new look and feel to the service and upgraded workflows and design elements. It may also involve new standards such as responsive design in support of mobile devices.
One example of broad product redesigns are the new interfaces found in Bureau van Dijk’sOrbis and Fame products. These products focus on financial analysis and account research. New design elements included a navigation bar, a contemporary UI, faster list building, new report types, shared information sets (e.g. reports, lists searches), and new analytical tools.
Unfortunately,Bureau van Dijk has not indicated any plans for addressing the old-fashioned Mint sales intelligence user interface.
Another example of redesign is InsideView which refreshed its user interface for its web browser and CRM connectors. The browser changes were relatively minor, but the CRM connectors had a broader set of design and workflow upgrades.
DiscoverOrg also redesigned their user interface at the beginning of 2016 (it was in beta in 2015). In February 2016, DiscoverOrg released a new platform designed with better speed, performance, and scalability. It included a new UI and enhanced features:
Streamlined prospecting against 62 variables across five broad categories: companies, employees, technology products, location, and triggers. The new UI immediately presents an updated result list as variables are selected. The same selects are available across three results views: companies, contacts, and triggers.
Export of contacts as profiles or as VCF
Company and contact notes
Suppression of companies or contacts when prospecting (e.g. suppress named accounts from lists for territory reps).
Admin user management and usage reporting
Ability to toggle between multiple departments on the same page (depending on subscription)
Ability to follow a company or contact with update alerting, including if they leave a company and reappear in the database under another profiled company (a unique DiscoverOrg capability)
Customizable dashboard based on followed lists
Contact profiles include previous job history and education
Company profiles include lists of current employees and recently departed staff.
RainKing went through a rebranding exercise which included a refreshed user interface. The platform has faster response times, improved searching, and an expanded technology taxonomy.
Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).
The second approach is more incremental. Instead of changing the overall look and feel of the platform, workflow and layout improvements are made to a set of contained tools. For example, list building is a contained functional category. Upgrades to prospecting workflows do not impact the whole product, but are focused in a functional subset, allowing the upgrades to be compartmentalized.
Avention took an incremental approach to workflow with redesigns of their active homepage, build a list, and watchlists. The Build a List user interface was redesigned to improve usability while expanding to 150 selects. Lists may now be exported to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle for Sales, Marketo, and Eloqua. New list management features include rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.
The Avention active home page is now customizable with users able to drag and drop information tiles. There is also an improved SmartList tile display and onboarding tiles containing product tips.
Expanded notification functionality allows Avention reps to manage new company and sales trigger alerts from a centralized location. This Watchlist supports filtering by read/unread notices, priority flag, trigger type, and list. A new flag allows users to flag notifications as important.
Likewise, Data.com originally launched the Dun & Bradstreet family trees in the classic UI, but implemented the Lightning UI for family tree viewing. The family tree information mashes together the Dun & Bradstreet global family tree (e.g. linkages, location type, city, country, revenue, and employees) with Salesforce.com account intelligence including whether the location is already an account and the name of the account owner. Users may expand or collapse nodes and add an account via clicking on a Plus button.
Owler improved the user interface for their advanced search (Build a List). They also added selects for area code and ZIP/Postal Code.
Unlike content and functional upgrades, one would not want to have annual UI upgrades as they require customers to relearn key elements of the service. There is value to both stability and change (a fact which is true of both product design and life in general). If a platform goes too long without a refresh, it becomes stale and fails to leverage new browser and mobile device capabilities. Furthermore, as new content and features are added to a platform, it can become overly busy and illogical. Conversely, a platform which changes its design elements and workflow too often will frustrate users. There are benefits in knowing how to efficiently complete a task or where to find specific information. Change should never be simply for change sake.