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.

Market Insights Newsletter Splits in Half

This was one of the two weeks a year that I take off from writing my Market Insights Newsletter, but I wanted to let you know that I’m splitting the newsletter into two newsletters.  When I started writing the Market Insights Newsletter back in 2012, it focused on Sales Intelligence, Social Selling, and B2B DaaS.  Since then, B2B DaaS has increased greatly in importance, and I’ve added adjacent topics including Sales Engagement Platforms, data privacy / compliance, ABM, and Customer Data Platforms.  The result was a doubling in the length of the newsletter and an increase in the frequency that articles were bumped.  Some features are often bumped for a month or longer due to length.

In August, I took my summer vacation, but there was no August news break.  It took me a few months to catch up on announcements from that week.  This led me to the realization that I needed to split my newsletter in half to improve both topical focus and story currency.  The split will also allow me to profile more startups.

Most of my readers will continue to receive a Sales Intelligence (SI) newsletter which covers

  • Sales Intelligence
  • B2B DaaS
  • Data Hygiene
  • ABM
  • B2B Data (Companies, Contacts, Intent, Technographics, and Triggers)
  • Customer Data Platforms
  • Compliance (GDPR, CCPD, KYC, AML, PEP)

The SI edition of Market Insights will continue to publish on Sundays.

The new Sales Engagement (SE) newsletter covers

  • Sales Engagement Platforms
  • Hybrid Engagement Platforms (Sales Intelligence + ICP / TAM + Sales Engagement)
  • Sales Engagement Platform Ecosystem (e.g. Chat, Video, Attribution, Meeting Management, Analytics)
  • Sales Enablement

The SE edition will publish on Mondays.

Contact me if you’d like to be set up with a trial edition of either newsletter. I offer SMB pricing for startups, so don’t assume that I am unaffordable like other analyst services.

Zoominfo Files for IPO

Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 - 2017) and Debtwire (2018)
Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 – 2017) and Debtwire (2018).

The day before Thanksgiving, Zoominfo began the process of filing an IPO in accordance with Rule 135 of the Securities Act.  According to the firm, “The initial public offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”

Zoominfo is profitable and has a valuation in excess of $1 billion.  The number of shares and offering price have yet to be determined. 2019 revenue is estimated to be around $350 million up approximately $100 million thisyear.

“The paperwork is a draft registration for a common stock offering.  The confidential draft filing is a mechanism built into the 2012 Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, or JOBS, Act, and was designed to make the IPO process for companies with less than $1 billion in revenue easier.  Companies must file information publicly 15 days prior to starting an investor roadshow or the effective date of the registration.”

Malia Spencer, Portland Business Journal

Zoominfo, formerly named DiscoverOrg, has a long history of organic and inorganic growth.  It is now the number two sales intelligence service, behind only LinkedIn Sales Navigator, with around a 25% market share.  Acquisitions include Zoominfo, RainKing, NeverBounce, Komiko, and iProfile.

Zoominfo released the Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg platform in September. The new platform combines the DiscoverOrg technographics, Inside Scoops (sales triggers), editorially verified bios, and top global company profiles with the Zoominfo deep contact data with emails and direct dials. New features include WebSights visitor intelligence and FormComplete web forms.

Last week, Zoominfo released Workflows, their “first data automation tool that streamlines sales and marketing activity and effectiveness by enabling customers to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.” I will be covering Workflows tomorrow.

Zoominfo offers pricing and packaging similar to its legacy offerings, helping ensure a smooth transition to their new platform.

Hybrid Engagement Platforms

Cognism Intelligence within Salesforce. Hybrid Engagement Platforms Continuously update CRMs and MAPs.

The market is beginning to evolve a set of hybrid engagement vendors that deliver a broad set of sales and marketing services.  The boundary between sales and marketing is quickly crumbling.  Hybrid engagement services manage both data and workflows.  Features include

Future functionality will include Next Best Actions, Embedded 1:1 Video, SNAP (Sales Navigator) Integrations, and Programmatic Advertising.

No vendor provides all of these services and some provide them as separate offerings, but firms such as Dun & Bradstreet, Zoominfo, Infogroup (Salesgenie), Lead411, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Cognism have all taken steps over the past two years to meet the emerging requirements of the CRO.

For the moment, I’m calling these emerging offerings Hybrid Engage Platforms, but that is a placeholder name as the market evolves.

Vainu Rebrands

Finnish sales intelligence vendor Vainu rebranded earlier this week. The goal was to provide a unified view of the company.  Vainu is focused on company intelligence but includes registered contact/director details and mined data. The firm also offers CRM and MAP data enrichment and hygiene services.

Unlike most sales intelligence databases, Vainu is available in English, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Danish and French.  Country datasets include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and The Netherlands with detailed financial data available for Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  Beta datasets are available for France, the UK, and the US with additional countries being developed.

Core UK data is gathered from Companies House.  US data is aggregated from state filings.

I’ve been planning on covering Vainu for the past six months but was waiting for an event.  Rebranding is as good a reason any.

Vainu was launched in 2014 and crowdsourced its initial dog nose logo (Vainu is a Finnish word for the scent picked up by an animal).  The website design and other branding aspects were inconsistent.

“Everything else was pretty much put together ad hoc after that: color schemes and supporting visuals for our first website layout, stock photos for our first slide decks, different messages to cater to the situations at hand.  The end result has been just as fragmented or ad hoc as our strategy: we’ve looked and felt different and sounded different in any situation.”

Mikko Luhtava, Vainu Head of Communications

Now that the firm has 2,000 customers and 180 employees, they felt it was time to formalize their brand with a new logo, tagline, and website with real images and black, white, and yellow text.

Vainu argues that B2B Sales is still stuck in the era of spam emails and cold calling lists.  “While buyers are looking for a real conversation, one where they’re engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity targets and sales quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” blogged Luhtava.

Thus, the firm offers “real-time B2B sales.”  It is akin to SalesLoft’s call for authenticity in sales.  “While buyers are looking for a real conversation, one where they’re engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity targets and sales quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” stated Luhtava.  “At Vainu, we believe there’s a right way of doing B2B sales—a way that is personalized, a way that uses data, a way that focuses on the buyer.  And we’ve made it our mission to make salespeople better at their jobs, by bringing real-time company data to every customer interaction.  We call this real-time sales.

Vainu supports company list building.  Selects include firmographics, technographics, buying signals (sales triggers), and account intelligence from the company’s CRM.  Trigger alerts cover company announcements, personnel changes, technology updates, and new additions to a prospect list.

The Vainu database covers nearly 60 million active companies and includes company profiles, technology stacks, corporate financials, and recent company news.

CRM admins can setup data syncing and enrichment with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Upsales, and SuperOffice.  Zapier is available for other platforms.  The firm also supports an API.

Vainu enriches leads before they are loaded into MAPs assisting with lead scoring and routing.

Vainu also offers bulk data for data modeling including business registry data, website information, and open and web-crawled intelligence.  Applications include churn prediction, account scoring, and financial services risk calculations.

Pricing begins at €6,600 (£6,000 or $7,250) per year for five reps plus a one-time onboarding fee of €600 for a single country database.  Each additional country dataset is priced at €3,000.  At 25 seats, the service is priced at €30,600 (£28,000 or $33,650) with a one-time onboarding fee of €2,100.  Each additional country dataset is priced at €3,000.  Nordic financial data adds €2,400.

Flash: DiscoverOrg Rebrands as Zoominfo

Zoominfo Executive Details include Employment by Job Function
Zoominfo executive details include employment by job function

After DiscoverOrg acquired Zoominfo in February, the firm maintained both brands and announced that a new platform which supported both services would be available this summer.  At the time, the assumption was that the Zoominfo brand would be retired and the firm would move forward as DiscoverOrg.  After all, DiscoverOrg was the larger of the two firms and the brand was highly associated with data quality, technographics, and rich executive profiles while Zoominfo was known for having the largest set of B2B emails and direct dials spanning companies of all sizes and positions.

DiscoverOrg commissioned research into both brands and found that Zoominfo had broader brand awareness.  The research also indicated that it would be less expensive to increase brand equity than brand awareness.  Both brands had their strengths, but, according to Chief Growth Officer Katie Bullard, it was easier to buy brand perception than brand awareness.  Furthermore, research indicated that the Zoominfo brand perception had improved since acquisition.

“There was significantly more — three times — the market awareness around the ZoomInfo brand than the DiscoverOrg brand,” said CEO Henry Schuck.  “I’ve tried to pride myself on making the decision that is right for the business and not necessarily easy for me or convenient for me.  This was obvious.  This was the right decision for the business, and I wasn’t going to let the nostalgia for the DiscoverOrg brand overshadow that.”

Based on this research, the firm decided to retain the Zoominfo brand and deploy the DiscoverOrg brand as a “powered by” brand booster.  Thus, the new platform will be labeled Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg for the next year or two.

“The new platform will be known as ZoomInfo powered by DiscoverOrg and combines the strengths and benefits of the DiscoverOrg platform with those of the ZoomInfo platform, which it acquired in February 2019.  Designed to be the single source of B2B data truth for sales and marketing professionals, the new platform offers a suite of software tools coupled with unrivaled data coverage, accuracy and depth.  As a result, customers gain a highly actionable 360-degree view of contacts, companies, and opportunities to target and convert.  Deeply integrated into both workflows and technology stacks, ZoomInfo powered by DiscoverOrg works seamlessly with all the leading sales, marketing and CRM platforms…”

With this launch, ZoomInfo Powered by DiscoverOrg features an unparalleled combination of proprietary AI and machine learning tools, a vast contributory network, deep two-way business application integrations, and human verification from over 300 researchers.  The result is the most unique [sic] and effective SaaS platform designed to empower companies to deliver more predictable and sustainable growth.”

Zoominfo Press Release (September 10, 2019)

The firm’s mission is “To create a world where every company has a clear view of their ideal customers and how to connect with them.”

The new Zoominfo logo is black with a standalone Z and a rising arrow.  

The site is simplified from DiscoverOrg’s last design with white, gray, lavender, and black as the primary background colors.  Red and lavender are employed for buttons and hyperlinks.  Most text is black with white employed for text in buttons and black backgrounds.  The site is much less frenetic than the last DiscoverOrg design.  A splash of lavender and light use of pastels, which are not often used in B2B websites, provide a calming effect.

The new website tagline is “Your business deserves more.”  The firm continues, “ZoomInfo gives you more.  We combine the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.”

Zoominfo employs four methods for acquiring company and contact intelligence: signature block mining; automated online crawling and machine learning; in-house editorial teams: and third-party data licensing.

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) reached $350 million across 13,500 customers.  ARR has grown significantly since the Zoominfo acquisition.  According to Inc., combined 2018 revenue was $222 million.  As ARR is higher than revenue when a subscription service is growing, the likely 2019 revenue is around $300 million+.

Zoominfo also has to reposition its data acquisition model.  DiscoverOrg began employing web data acquisition tools last year, so that methodology was already understood by their clients.  The firm also has licensed data sets in the past, however sparingly.  The new website discusses four methods for data gathering: signature block mining; automated online crawling and machine learning; in-house editorial teams: and third-party data licensing.

Signature block intelligence comes from Zoominfo’s community members that permit access to signature blocks in exchange for Zoominfo access.  It is the most controversial of their methods as data is being harvested on third-parties without their consent.  While both companies are GDPR compliant, Zoominfo’s approach was simply to add an EU contact filter.  This is an area that they will likely need to address further, particularly as US states adopt GDPR-like regulations and Zoominfo expands its “personal contact details.”

Machine learning gathers technographic and firmographic intelligence from job boards, web sites, news, and SEC filings.  It is a standard data gathering method and broadly employed across the industry.

“We use cutting edge AI/ML technologies to help GTM [go-to-market] teams stay laser-focused on the right markets and best opportunities to hit their number.”

Zoominfo website

Human research for gathering and verifying company and contact data has long been at the core of DiscoverOrg’s brand and value proposition.  Zoominfo continues to maintain the DiscoverOrg editorial team of over 300 researchers.  The editorial process is the basis of their high data quality and rich biographic and technographic intelligence.  As such, it is the justification for their premium pricing.  Hopefully, the firm doesn’t make the mistake that D&B did after acquiring Hoovers and allowing its editorial capabilities to atrophy when a high-quality dataset (Hoover’s editorial coverage of 42,000 companies) was mixed with a much larger universe of companies and contacts (D&B WorldBase).  Given DiscoverOrg’s long-term focus on data quality and editorial research, it is unlikely that they would make this mistake.  Conversations I’ve had with Schuck and Bullard over the years support this thesis.

Zoominfo coverage counts as of September 10, 2019.

Finally, third-party datasets are licensed.  Content includes public company data (long a gap of both services), M&A details (added last year), government data sources, and social media feeds.

The database has grown to 20 million company profiles with 5 million C-level contacts, 16 million decision maker direct dials, and 20 million decision maker emails.  Globally, Zoominfo provides 66 million emails and 42 million direct dials.  They also maintain departed contact details to assist with data hygiene.

According to the Portland Business Journal, private equity firms TA Associates, The Carlyle Group and 22C Capital have invested at least $790 million in Zoominfo.  The PBJ also noted that Zoominfo is profitable.


Tomorrow, I will provide additional details around Zoominfo’s product packaging.

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.

TechTarget Priority Engine Express

TechTarget Confirmed Projects

TechTarget is taking a soft launch approach to their new Priority Engine Express service for small software vendors and VARs with an early 2020 launch date.  CEO Michael Cotoia said the firm is building a platform which is “simple, streamlined, and scalable.”  Cotoia noted how smaller firms differ in sales and marketing requirements and capabilities from TechTarget’s enterprise clients:

Our smaller customers lack a lot of resources.  They don’t have a marketing automation [platform] many times.  They don’t have an integrated nurture campaign.  They need to understand and have a very friendly user interface, and they’re also very focused on identifying and using this solution as a sales use case with their inside sales reps and even their outside sales reps.  So what we’re really focused on is doing a very simple user interface, focus very much on a sales use case, and understand that we can help them build different types of lists and customized lists; for example, an ideal customer profile list, which is really going to focus on exactly their sweet spot so we can get them the right updates at the right time. They don’t have the resources; they don’t have the complexity.  If they need it simple, they want it towards sales use cases, and we’re learning a lot from that.

TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia

Cotoia said that TechTarget is taking a market feedback approach to Express development.  As they engage with small customers, they are pausing during the sale to gather feedback to better understand what smaller firms are looking to do.  As they bring on early Express users, they are “tweaking, modifying, adjusting and getting ready to go into 2020.”  Cotoia called the initial feedback in this new market “very positive.”

TechTarget began building an SDR team two years ago to provide a team of appointment setters for their outside sales reps.  “We built that with a vision that we’re going to be looking at additional products that we are going to roll out,” said Cotoia.  “We want to make sure we have the resources on the bench” who are trained in the TechTarget methodology and ready to support new opportunities such as Express “so they are ready to make and take action when we see fit.”

TechTarget has raised the price for Priority Engine since it was launched a few years ago.  “We believe we have pricing power,” said Cotoia.  “We’ve had a couple of pricing increases year-over-year, and we believe we are in the best position to deliver real and observed purchase intent, make it very clear who’s in-market, by which technology segment, by which region and help our customers rank, prioritize and mobilize their sales and marketing efforts again, and we hope that creates some pricing leverage.”


Yesterday, I discussed TechTarget’s strong Q2. The above discussion was held in their Q2 2019 earnings announcement.

TechTarget Posts Strong Q2

Priority Engine provides rich company data including intent data (buying stage, competitors under evaluation, top trends), contacts, social links, and firmographics.

TechTarget posted a strong second quarter with revenues up 9% to $34.3 million.  Growth was led by their Priority Engine technology sales intelligence service which added 38 new customers in Q2 and grew revenue by 44%.  

Long-term contracts now comprise 33% of revenue.

TechTarget expanded its Total Addressable Market (TAM) from 1,500 Enterprise IT vendors to an additional 5,000 IT vendors consisting of small software companies and regional VARs.  The firm has been executing a soft rollout of Priority Engine Express to this expanded universe.

“We are still in the learning stage but the early feedback is that this customer segment is embracing the value proposition,” the firm told shareholders.  “We are increasing the number of salespeople dedicated to this product in the near-term and remain on track for the full product roll-out in 2020.”

“We added several enhancements to Priority Engine in May including Personalized Account Rankings that reflect organic research with TechTarget and direct engagement with the customer to improve marketing and sales effectiveness. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) creation and filtering directly within Priority Engine to efficiently find, track and convert identified best-fit customers. Enhanced Qualification Intelligence showcases the key attributes that make accounts high priority targets, including buying stage, ICP match and if there is a confirmed project. Improved Engagement Signals show you precisely when accounts visit your website, click on your banners and/or download your content. Indicators of New and Recent Activities give sales users new reasons to call and help them engage the buying team with highly tailored outreach.”

TechTarget Q2 2019 Shareholder Letter

TechTarget provided Q3 revenue guidance between $33 and $34 million and annual guidance of $133 and $134 million.

The firm is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and used the opportunity to credit its employees.  “We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated team of employees who are smart, innovative, motivated, passionate and hard-working. This team makes us look good and creates a win-win scenario for customers, investors, partners and the communities where we operate. We are especially proud of the transition that the Company has been able to make over the past 5 years from an online media company delivering quarterly marketing campaigns to a purchase intent data company selling annual subscriptions. We think most people would agree that is not an easy transition to make. We are very confident that our best days are ahead of us as we are now a leader in the fast growing data intelligence market.”

TechTarget added Christina Van Houten to its Board.  She currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Mimecast Limited, a public email management company, where she is responsible for driving corporate development, product management, and market strategy.  She previously held senior positions at Infor, IBM Netezza, and Oracle.  Van Houten has “more than two decades of extensive, focused experience in marketing strategy with some of the world’s largest firms as well as significant corporate and business experience.”  She has an MBA from the Booth School (University of Chicago) and a BA from Georgetown.


Continue to Part II on Priority Engine Express and the expansion of their target market to include small software vendors and value-added resellers.

People.AI Launches The Wire

People.AI announced availability of The Wire, their new artificial intelligence service for sales reps which suggests next best actions. According to the firm, “Like a brilliant personal assistant who’s always on top of his game, The Wire uses AI intelligence to remind you when to follow up on key accounts, suggest next-best-actions, warn you when a rep or account is falling behind, let you know when customer champions switch jobs, and ensure you’re always prepped for every meeting.”

The Wire suggests emerging opportunities, opportunities requiring attention, and champions that have departed to other companies.

The Wire flags opportunities that are in jeopardy of slipping due to inaction.
The Wire flags opportunities that are in jeopardy of slipping due to inaction.

Managers are alerted when sales reps are falling behind targets.  A Rep Ramp Alert “helps you move from data-aware to data-driven, proactively leveraging industry data to guide and coach your teams.”

Ramp Alerts identify reps that are lagging behind best-in-class recent hires and suggest when a one-on-one meeting may be required.
Ramp Alerts identify reps that are lagging behind best-in-class recent hires and suggest when a one-on-one meeting may be required.

The Wire also supports meeting intelligence with meeting prep reminders and post-meeting note capture and CRM sync.


Last Friday, I covered People.AI’s Round C and the company more broadly.