While the change is pro-privacy and consistent with GDPR, TechCrunch took a negative view of the new setting.
A win for privacy on LinkedIn could be a big loss for businesses, recruiters and anyone else expecting to be able to export the email addresses of their connections.…[The new option] could prevent some spam, and protect users who didn’t realize anyone who they’re connected to could download their email address into a giant spreadsheet. But the launch of this new setting without warning or even a formal announcement could piss off users who’d invested tons of time into the professional networking site in hopes of contacting their connections outside of it…
On a social network like Facebook, barring email exports makes more sense. But on LinkedIn’s professional network, where people are purposefully connecting with those they don’t know, and where exporting has always been allowed, making the change silently seems surreptitious. Perhaps LinkedIn didn’t want to bring attention to the fact it was allowing your email address to be slurped up by anyone you’re connected with, given the current media climate of intense scrutiny regarding privacy in social tech. But trying to hide a change that’s massively impactful to businesses that rely on LinkedIn could erode the trust of its core users.
TechCrunch overstates the loss. Member control their data, not LinkedIn or LinkedIn connections. Second, there are multiple ways to reach users from within LinkedIn including InMail, messaging, and PointDrive. Unless the email is blocked on the profile, connections still have access to emails from within LinkedIn. Finally, most emails in LinkedIn are personal emails, not business emails (an issue they should address by allowing both and setting privacy and messaging rules around multiple emails), so reaching out to individuals on their emails only makes sense for friends, family, and recruiters on LinkedIn, not businesspeople networking with colleagues and clients.
While LinkedIn wasn’t transparent about the privacy change, it enhanced the privacy of its members. As such, looking for nefarious reasons for the enhancement is a reach.
Sigstr recently announced the launch of its new relationship marketing platform and Sigstr Pulse application. The new cloud offering analyzes email and calendar patterns to determine the strength of relationships between employees and prospects. Instead of determining engagement as clickthroughs and web visits, Sigstr Pulse determines relationship strength based upon employee interactions with prospects. Data is collected passively with sales reps not required to take any action.
According to Sigstr, “Revenue lags relationships. When you understand the quality of relationships, marketers can provide better air coverage and sales can forecast better.”
Sigstr calls out relationships between employees, accounts, contacts, and location; scores the strength of those relationships; assesses relationship strength over time; and helps identify warm introductions. As a relationship marketing platform, Sigstr visualizes the relationships with key accounts and determines “which contacts you know best and which you need to know better.”
Sigstr argues that corporate inboxes and calendars are the best source for measuring relationships. Relationships “live and grow in the inbox,” said Sigstr CEO Bryan Wade.
“Relationships are the lifeblood of every business, and no other system tracks who has relationships with whom better than a corporate email system. Sigstr Pulse allows marketers to effortlessly solve a problem everyone knows they have, making it easy to understand your organization’s complex web of relationships and take action on them. One practical example is in event marketing, as brands can send invitations to potential attendees based on the hierarchy of relationships within an organization,” said Wade. “Our platform is already in the email flow of hundreds of thousands of employees at some of the world’s largest brands, which means they can flip a switch to turn on relationship marketing via Sigstr Pulse. As we’re marketing in the era of GDPR, tapping into coworkers’ existing business relationships means less cold calling and more productive marketing.”
Sigstr provides location-based intelligence to help identify where contacts are located. This intelligence assists with on-site meeting planning, territory assignment, and assessing relationship strength at the location level. Location-based intelligence can also be employed for event planning and marketing.
Sigstr evaluates relationship strength based upon the frequency, recency, and directionality of communications along with the acceptance of calendar invites. Users are able to build targeted lists, identify strong relationships with the company for referrals, and evaluate how relationships are strengthening or atrophying at ABM accounts.
“Sigstr has expanded the opportunity for marketing and sales teams by allowing them to make the person-to-person connections they need through existing relationships within the organization. Email is at the center of nearly every professional’s daily workflow, and now they can use those interactions to build their business beyond just the conversations they’re having.”
Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Sigstr does not yet have the functionality to exclude specific individuals or departments from your relationship data, but there are controls that manage which inboxes are integrated with Sigstr Pulse. Users cannot yet block access to relationships for teams involved in confidential communications such as litigation, M&A, and partnerships. Likewise, individuals cannot opt out if they wish to retain control over their relationships. As this is a V1 release, it is likely that their customers will demand such controls to be added.
Sigstr does have GDPR controls in place to modify or delete specific users, if users wish to remove their personal information.
Sigstr Pulse supports a Chrome Connector which provides on demand company and contact relationship insights while browsing the web.
Sigstr Pulse pricing is based on number of users (logging into the application and downloading the Chrome extension) and email volume.
Sigstr also offers an email signature marketing application which provides custom messaging and banners within employee email signature blocks.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator formally announced their Q1 release last week. The new functionality, which is rolling out to admins and trainers first, will be unveiled to sales reps over the next few weeks. The release focuses on a redesigned Account page, but also includes self-service seat transfers, new sales email alerts, seniority preferences, and additional SNAP partners.
LinkedIn describes the refreshed Account page as “the most efficient way to get the information you need about your accounts.”
The new company profile page is laid out in a series of sections:
Company Summary – a company overview with employee count, industry, revenue, short description, URL, location, and contact information. The section also supports Add Tags, Add Notes, and Save Account functionality.
People Tab – three categories of people intelligence: saved leads, recommended leads, and connections into the account. The saved leads section is displayed in a list format with headshot, title, connections, geography, and recent activity. Recommended leads may be filtered by spotlights such as job changes, mentioned in the news, recent LinkedIn posts, shared experiences, and company followers. Recommended leads highlights job changes, news mentions, recent LinkedIn posts, shared experiences, and company followers. Connections are broken into three strata: first degree connections, TeamLink (co-workers) connections, and alumni connections based on the user’s college or university.
News & Insights Tab – company insights related to news mentions, LinkedIn posts, and executive hires. The section also includes recent headcount growth by department.
Head Count Growth – the headcount growth data has been available to premium users in core LinkedIn for over a year, but finally made it into Sales Navigator (see image on right). Employee estimates found in sales intelligence vendors are often difficult to obtain or out of date. LinkedIn has access to probably the most reliable employee analytics on the market. Not only can they provide current headcount data, but they also include this data by eight job functions (Art & Design, Business Development, Engineering, HR, IT, Operations, Program & Project Management, an Sales) and the change at the departmental and corporate level over the past six months, year, and two years. This data is invaluable to sales reps as they can determine the mix of employees by function at the firm, whether hiring has accelerated or decelerated over the past few months, and even which departments are hiring. Not only does this data provide talking points, but an acceleration or deceleration in hiring is a valuable signal in assessing whether a pipeline deal is likely to move forward or stall.Sales reps should be careful about taking LinkedIn employee counts as gospel. While the data is more accurate than other sources, it is likely to lag M&A activity and layoffs as members update their profiles. Thus, hiring (except for embargoed executive changes awaiting press release) will be more quickly reflected than layoffs. Employees of acquired firms may be slow to update their profiles, particularly if their subsidiary retains its brand. As such, the trend data is probably more important than the displayed employee count.For private investors and competitive intelligence professionals, the head count data can be invaluable for comparing peers and evaluating growth and hiring patterns across a segment.
Unfortunately, Sales Navigator does not yet display all of the employment analytics found in the LinkedIn service so sales reps may still wish to toggle between the core LinkedIn service and Sales Navigator to review New Hires data, Notable Company Alumni, and the Total Job Openings analysis.
Recent Senior Management Hires – The Recent Hires section lists Directors and higher that recently joined the firm. Both current and previous roles are displayed along with tenure in the current position. New hires may be saved as Leads without leaving the page.
People Also Viewed – This section lists similar companies which were viewed after the current account. While the firms may be in the same industry, this section could include partners, companies from which the firm has hired key execs, vendors, etc. Each company includes a logo, employee range, industry, and location. The companies may be saved as Accounts without leaving the page.
New content includes an expanded set of revenue estimates, headcount growth data, the Saved Leads module, Spotlights and Insights in the Recommended Leads module, alumni in the Connections module, and recent senior management hires. Previously, only public companies had revenue data, but LinkedIn is beginning to build out revenue estimates for private companies with at least $1 billion in revenue. LinkedIn plans on building down these estimates to smaller companies.
“Our redesigned account page experience streamlines the process of landing new accounts or building relationships within existing accounts, by giving you the information you need, when you need it. Now you can better understand whether the account is a good match, who you should be targeting, and how you can get a warm introduction.”
Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions
This is the first in a series of blogs discussing the Q1 2018 Sales Navigator release. Part two discusses additional enhancements.
LinkedIn hit the half billion member mark, continuing its pace of adding 50 million members every nine months. LinkedIn also supports ten million job listings and over nine million company profiles. Members continue to post 100,000 articles per week. However, the active monthly user rate remains around 25%.
In comparison, Facebook has 1.8 billion members and Twitter has 328 million. The top five countries are the United States (138 million), India (42 million), China (31 million), Brazil (29 million), and United Kingdom (23 million).
LinkedIn published connection data by country and region for the first time with the top five most connected countries (i.e. average member connections) listed as the UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, UK, and Denmark. UAE profiles average 211 connections. By metro area, London leads in average connections with 307 per member followed by Amsterdam, San Francisco, Jakarta, and Milan. Staffing and recruiting is LinkedIn’s most connected industry (unsurprisingly as the firm’s largest revenue source is their Talent Solutions products), and human relations its most connected job function.
LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.
The top five industries are all highly networked occupations including staffing and recruiting, VC/PE, human resources, management consulting, and online media. With respect to job functions, product management was the number two most connected occupation after human resources. It was surprising to see that sales reps did not even make the top five (outside of Business Development which is a senior level mix of partnership, licensing, and relationship management), but product managers had very high connectivity. Of course, the sales function would span both junior and senior sales reps along with business and consumer sales, while product management consists of more mid and upper-level management.
“The impact of half a billion professionals connecting and communicating is very real, and very accessible to anyone who wants to take part today,” said Aatif Awan, LinkedIn’s VP of growth and international products. “We’re excited to think about the potential of what a highly connected global community of professionals can do, and the value that is created for every member of the global workforce.”
LinkedIn, which is operated as an autonomous division within Microsoft, has over 10,000 employees.
At Dreamforce, Michelle Huff, VP of Product Marketing at SFDC, noted the historical evolution of CRM from a system of record to a system of engagement. This shift reduced data entry and supported mobile, social, and account maintenance. SFDC is now evolving into a system of intelligence which enables account planning, account awareness, and recommendations from within the Sales Cloud. This evolution can be seen in enhancements to Data.com (my next post) and the newly launched SalesforceIQ for Small Business and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud services
The goal of SalesforceIQ is to shift CRM from relationship management to relationship intelligence while automating key activities and proactively suggesting tasks and making recommendations. Thus, if a prospect states in an email, “can we connect to discuss a contract?” SalesforceIQ flags the request and schedules it as a high priority task
The service is built on the 2014 acquisition of RelateIQ and mines emails, calendars, marketing apps, and other data sources to gather customer data. The service offers “smarter selling” through lead prioritization and relationship capital management (RCM) recommendations concerning contact introductions. The RCM feature is integrated into inboxes, mobile (Android, iOS), and Chrome apps.
Other mobile features include an integrated inbox with the CRM, email shortcuts to quickly enter common phrases, cloud storage integration, and a notifications feed. For users in Gmail on Chrome, a plug in ties Gmail back to SalesforceIQ and supports its tools from within the Chrome browser.
The new service “seeks out the patterns needed to provide insights into future outcomes and proactively recommends actions to build stronger relationships with customers and accelerate sales,” said Salesforce. “SalesforceIQ for Small Business manages deals, accelerates pipelines and proactively guides SMBs through every step of the sales process, allowing them to focus on closing deals and building 1:1 relationships with their customers.”
The Small Business service is generally available in the US, Canada, and Australia and is priced as low as $25 per user per month for up to five users. For $65 per user per month, the system provides potential introductions, CRM data in your Inbox, Sales and Activity reports, and direct integrations. SalesforceIQ is offering 14 day free trials. Pricing is based on annual contracts.
The Sales Cloud edition is currently free in beta with general availability in early 2016. Sales Cloud pricing will be announced at general availability. The beta version is English only with additional languages planned. The Sales Cloud version includes a new email app where “Salesforce is your Inbox” connected to the Sales Cloud. The system automatically associates emails with contacts. Users can create opportunities from the app, respond back to the prospect with macro-based comments, and schedule a meeting using the scheduling assistant.
“Today’s massive influx in communication data creates powerful signals about the health and potential of business relationships. It also creates a lot of noise,” said Steve Loughlin, CEO of SalesforceIQ, Salesforce. “With SalesforceIQ, companies can now make sense of this data and pull out insights to drive their businesses forward with intelligence.”
The service promises standard sales intelligence benefits including reduced time gathering data, smarter selling, and immediate benefits with no setup costs and easy onboarding. Along with RCM and opportunity prioritization, the service provides read receipts, suggested tasks, dynamic scheduling to improve calendaring, and shortcuts which “allow customers to quickly insert commonly used phrases to reduce time spent composing emails.”
It should be noted that SalesforceIQ is not prioritizing leads, but providing a set of recommended actions based upon the semantic mining of emails. Thus, the system evaluates whether a customer has asked a question or has been untouched for a while. Through machine learning, the system tailors recommendations based upon each reps’ style.
An Opportunities Intelligence report provides “instant visibility” into account status by providing metrics such as days in current status, inactive days, last communication date, and next follow up due date. A stream view provides “a centralized view of all communications between your team and the customer.” Users can leave comments in the stream and @reference coworkers for a quick response or follow up.
Calendaring is improved by a Chrome extension app that inserts free times into messages, manages the auto invite process with the customer or prospect, and creates the meeting in the user’s calendar.
Integration partners include MailChimp, Hubspot, and Pardot.
Beta customers include ClassPass and News Corp.
Jamie Grenney, VP of Marketing at predictive marketer Infer, commended Salesforce for implementing basic predictive tools into its product line noting that “these improvements will help Salesforce with product adoption for a large swath of its customers.” Grenney continued that the SalesforceIQ offering “only scratches the surface of what predictive can do” as it is limited to internal email and calendar data and lacks external data. “There are many other data sources that can provide important clues. These signals that go into a model are different from one company to the next. Without a solid understanding of a company’s process, their data, and what outcome they’re trying to predict, it is difficult or even dangerous to build custom-fit models. You run the risk of setting bad targets, overfitting models, and ultimately making the wrong recommendations.”
“SalesforceIQ is designed to capture inferential data from emails, meetings, and logged calls and then present intelligent suggestions and timely reminders for things like new meeting appointments and follow-up actions,” said Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools. “I love the concept of using inferential data to eliminate time spent on searching for past activity for the purpose of formulating action plans and next steps. However, the solution has a long way to go before it can be wholly relied on.”
In short, SalesforceIQ sounds like a sales rep toolkit which offers small ways to improve rep efficiency and task awareness. It is not so much focused on surfacing new insights but in reducing task work, leveraging colleague relationships, and ensuring prospects do not fall between the cracks. As such, Salesforce is a baby step in the “System of Intelligence” evolution.