ABM and High Growth Companies

Account Based Strategy Adoption Rates (DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools)
Account Based Strategy Adoption Rates (DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools)

A joint study by DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools of 200 sales and marketing organizations found that high growth companies with at least 40% growth over the past three years are 2.5 times more likely to have adopted an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy.  Furthermore high growth companies are twice as likely to have successful cold calling programs and are more likely to have a dedicated outbound prospecting team.  High growth firms are also more likely to hire sales reps based upon their “tech-savvy” than experience and have adopted twice as many sales technologies than their slower growth brethren.  With respect to MarTech, high-growth companies have adopted 24% more marketing solutions.

The study also found that fast growth companies provide at least three hours of coaching or training per week to their sales teams.  At slower growth companies, training appeared to have less of an effect.  According to the report, “While an increase in training hours correlated with a rise in growth rates for the high growth group, it did not with low growth companies. This suggests that training may not in of itself cause growth, but it is critical in sustaining it. Fast growing organizations need to train constantly to maintain momentum and enable teams to perform at a high level. Companies that err on the side of less training and coaching do not appear to set their teams up for the same level of success.”

“The findings clearly demonstrate that achieving fast growth is not as simple as having a great product and hiring experienced sales reps.  Sales and marketing teams that are true revenue-generating engines take risks and do the hard things – like cold calling, focusing on data quality, and heavily aligning sales and marketing teams across account-based strategies.”

– DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

“Technology proliferation in the sales and marketing industry is both a challenge and an opportunity,” added  Nancy Nardin, CEO of Smart Selling Tools. “The fastest growing companies are investing in technologies that make their sales and marketing teams more productive and more insightful, while recognizing it is equally as important to have highly trained team members who know how to leverage that technology to its fullest power.”

The primary inhibitor of even faster growth at high growth companies was data quality issues concerning accounts and contacts.

The top technology available to sales reps were CRM (52%) and LinkedIn (free LinkedIn was deployed at 45% , premium LinkedIn at 33%, and Sales Navigator at 27% of sales teams).  Pipeline and Opportunity Management software was third at 42%.  Rounding out the top five were compensation/commission software and sales intelligence, both with a 38% deployment rate.  Surprisingly, 37% of sales teams still employ account and contact data providers / list providers.  As sales intelligence vendors support list building along with sales intelligence (and some also data hygiene), there are likely ongoing opportunities to move sales teams up the value chain from list purchases.

Predictive analytics / predictive intelligence placed 36th out of 37 technologies with only a 5% deployment rate.  As Gartner estimated the total global market for predictive analytics technology to be between $100 and $150 million, this low penetration rate should not be overly surprising.

The study, conducted in November, used 40% growth between 2013 and 2016 (estimated) as the high growth cutoff as it is represents the recent growth floor for Inc. 5000 membership.  Of the 200 firms studied, 17% fell into the high-growth category, 69% fell into the low-growth category (1-39%), 13% had flat revenue, and 1% had declining revenues.  The survey was over weighted to technology companies with software, IT Services and Telco as the top three industries surveyed.  82% of the firms were B2B and 85% were headquartered in the US.

2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence Connectors

Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)
Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)

Continuing on my discussion of Sales Intelligence enhancements in 2016, my next area of coverage is connectors which extend functionality into CRMs, MAPs, Google Chrome, etc.

Almost all Sales Intelligence vendors offer Salesforce.com connectivity as a baseline offering.  Some have limited functionality while others provide a fully integrated offering encompassing virtually all of their website features along with update features (e.g. Batch, continuous, “stare and compare”).

The following vendors launched or enhanced their CRM connectors:

  • Zoominfo released a new version of Zoominfo for Salesforce in February 2016. Features include on-demand updating, new contact matching, segmentation analysis, and new targeted contacts. Zoominfo stresses that all enrichment, analysis, and targeting are done via “one easy-to-use interface” without the need to export files to Excel.  Zoominfo for Salesforce also added integrated prospecting. Data may be shared bi-directionally between the services so users can check for duplicates before uploading prospects to SFDC.  Zoominfo also added custom mappings for all fields into its Salesforce connector and improved the company and contact lookup workflows.
  • Avention released OneSource for MS Dynamics and OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connectors which integrate Avention functionality into the Microsoft and Oracle CRMs. Features include I-frame display, “stare and compare” updates, custom variables, prospecting, and the Avention Journal.  Avention also rolled a series of enhancements into its CRM connectors. These include:
    • The automatic population of matched records, bypassing the “stare and compare” step for new accounts
    • Avention Journal filtering
    • Avention Journal list views (the default view is calendared)
    • Modify the Avention Journal viewing period
    • Contact filtering by job function, level, title, keyword, etc.
    • News filtering
    • DataVision tab (if licensed)
    • Salesforce Lightning support providing improved tablet usability and dynamic resizing.
    • Batch duplicate management on bulk uploads (ignore, create, update)
  • Data.com added a Prospect Insights view which can be accessed from Opportunity and Account Detail pages. A “See More Insights” button takes the user to additional business and financial details from Dun & Bradstreet. Company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews including call prep questions and industry summaries.  Data.com also upgraded the Dun & Bradstreet company family view to the Lightning platform.
  • DiscoverOrg released CRM connectors for Talent Rover, Zoho, and Bullhorn. They also enhanced their Salesforce connector.
  • InsideView redesigned its Salesforce.com AppExchange user interface and launched Refresh which provides automated account cleansing within Salesforce.com.
  • RainKing improved Salesforce.com synchronization.
  • To improve the Salesforce experience, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator. Synchronization can be managed at the administrator level. While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator. No LinkedIn member account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records. However, the system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.  For example, sales reps may add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts with this information then synched with Salesforce.
  • Artesian redesigned its Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors.  Among the new features are sales trigger filtering by topic and trigger sharing by email, social media, and Chatter.

One of the major trends in 2016 was the continued expansion of sales intelligence vendors into the marketing department.  Most commonly, this involved Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) connectors with Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud), though some vendors support other MAPs as well.

  • InsideView released an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. The ABM solution is a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
  • RainKing released connectors for Pardot and NetSuite
  • Avention released connectors for Oracle Marketing (Eloqua) and Marketo which support data enrichment, account insights, and predictive analytics. The new MAP connectors support three marketing use cases: web form enrichment, uploaded list matching via the OneSource platform, and prospect list building within OneSource. Lists built and enriched within OneSource are then fed to Eloqua or Marketo.

Several vendors built Chrome connectors in late 2015 or early 2016.  Chrome connectors build additional feature functionality into the Chrome browser, usually centering around the contextual display of company and contact information related to corporate websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Firms with Chrome Connectors include DataFox, MattermarkZoominfo, DiscoverOrg, and HG Data.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail. The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar. If a contact is not in Sales Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox. Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging. TeamLink colleague connections are also displayed.

Finally, several Sales Intelligence vendors began supporting Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors (there are also non-SI vendors participating in ABSD ecosystems providing coaching, transcription, analytics, and other services):

  • DiscoverOrg: SalesLoft, Outreach, Tellwise
  • Owler: Outreach, SalesLoft
  • InsideView: KiteDesk, Quota Factory, SalesLoft
  • Zoominfo: KiteDesk
  • D&B NetProspex: KiteDesk
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.

 

LinkedIn: PointDrive-Sales Navigator Integration

LinkedIn is planning to integrate the recently acquired PointDrive sales engagement solution into Sales Navigator in Q1 2017.  PointDrive, which was acquired in July, helps sales reps package, share, and track sales presentations which are distributed via the PointDrive web app or an email link.  The platform then gathers viewing analytics.  Content includes images, video, embedded maps, and documents which are mobile optimized for presentation.

Bill Burnett, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions, said that PointDrive is designed to solve two email problems:  attachment laden emails lack “control over narrative” as emails provide little flow, story, and “experience for the buyer.”  Also, they provide no visibility into who is viewing the email.  Thus, post-demo messaging is haphazard as emails don’t communicate a story very well.

PointDrive Embedded Contact Profile
PointDrive Embedded Contact Profile

According to LinkedIn, there are 5.4 decision makers involved in the buying decision which means that there is a high probability that sales emails with rich media attachments are being forwarded to others.

Burnett stated that the goal of PointDrive is to “turn this [email] exchange into a truly more engaging experience” which provides real-time sales signals about what content decision makers are viewing.  Instead of sending long emails, buyers are directed to a PointDrive landing page which allows the sales rep to control brand, content, and commentary.  PointDrive was designed as a “mobile first” interface with landing pages supporting both traditional and mobile browsers.

Brand and product information are “now presented in a way that truly differentiates and engages the buyer” through personalization and organization.  PointDrive also provides easy access to sales rep bios and contact information (see image on left).  Each attachment is displayed in a framed box with sales rep narratives and document descriptions alongside the marketing piece.  PointDrive supports embedded collateral, pricing sheets, presentation decks, multimedia, and images which are all displayed within the PointDrive landing page.  Users do not need to download content or window out to other documents.

PointDrive is customized to the seller allowing firms to convey their brand identity.  Burnett claims that creating a PointDrive is “as simple as creating an email.”  Users upload content and grab links, videos, and Google Maps.  “We’ll lay your brand and identity on top of it for you so that when you are ready to share with your leads [and] share with your connections,” said Burnett.

Sales reps have control over actions taken on PointDrive embedded content.  They can block downloads, password protect the element, set expiration dates, and track forwards.

An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page.  Commentary is provided by sales reps.
An embedded User Guide is displayed within a PointDrive page.  Commentary is provided by sales reps.

Real-time alerting metrics are provided for each document view.  Thus, PDF analytics indicate who viewed the document, when viewed, how much total time buyers or influencers spent viewing the document, total pages viewed, and how much time was spent on each page.  It even captures the viewing browser and location of the viewer.  This intelligence is available for both the original recipients and any forwarded viewers.

Burnett calls this a “new way for sellers within Sales Navigator to engage with customers and prospects much deeper into the sales funnel.”  The service also provides “tremendous value for account managers or anybody inside of your organization that’s communicating on a regular basis” with customers and prospects.

The firm plans on rolling PointDrive into core Sales Navigator Team functionality at no additional cost.  LinkedIn sales reps are already using PointDrive with their customers and prospects.

“The new Sales Navigator features are to enhance the overall customer experience of Sales Navigator, and to integrate it into daily workflows to get people the information they need as easily as possible,” said LinkedIn Senior Marketing Manager Derek Pando.

LinkedIn’s System of Engagement ties together email, CRM, and LinkedIn workflows. (Source: LinkedIn Sales Connect 2016)
LinkedIn’s System of Engagement ties together email, CRM, and LinkedIn workflows. (Source: LinkedIn Sales Connect 2016)

LinkedIn Head of Products Doug Camplejohn noted that sales reps live in three applications: their email, CRM, and LinkedIn.  LinkedIn’s objective is to become the “System of Engagement” that manages the workflow of sales reps.  Expanded functionality such as PointDrive, connectors, and InMail 2.0 (see below) will sit between the system of communication (email) and the system of record (CRM).  Thus, InMail, PointDrive, CRM uploads (InMail, Notes, Tags), email and Chrome integrations, and the CRM partnerships should be viewed as part of LinkedIn’s broader workflow strategy.

Sales messaging and analytics tools are becoming much more prevalent in sales intelligence, sales acceleration, and ABSD platforms.  That will be discussed tomorrow.

Sales Navigator Gmail & SFDC Connectors

LinkedIn rolled out a trio of enhancements to its Sales Navigator offering to assist with Salesforce synchronization, Gmail integration, and mobile app discovery.

To improve the Salesforce experience, Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator.  While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator.  Unlike sales intelligence services which support bisynchronous data sharing, no LinkedIn account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records.  The system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.

Sales Navigator provides automated SFDC synching and flags which leads are available within SFDC.
Sales Navigator provides automated SFDC synching and flags which leads are available within SFDC.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail.  The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar.  If a contact is not in Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox.  Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging.  TeamLink information is also displayed.

The Gmail Chrome extension provides LinkedIn contact intelligence within the Gmail Inbox. Users can identify icebreakers and TeamLink connections.
The Gmail Chrome extension provides LinkedIn contact intelligence within the Gmail Inbox. Users can identify icebreakers and TeamLink connections.

The final enhancement is to the Sales Navigator Android and iOS apps which will now display up to ten daily account or lead recommendations based upon user preferences.  Recommendations will expire after 24 hours and be replaced with fresh recommendations.

LinkedIn noted that over 25% of Sales Navigator users “solely” use the Navigator app for account intelligence.

“Our goal for Sales Navigator is to be an important part of the daily lives of sales professionals, and we believe these enhancements will get us that much closer,” said Senior Product Manager Tom Lee.  “Ultimately, we want to help sales professionals build deeper relationships by working smarter, not harder, and this reinforces our commitment to make them more efficient and effective every day.

LinkedIn Premium Insights: Hiring & Employment Analytics

LinkedIn announced immediate availability of a set of company insight analytics to its premium products including Sales Navigator, Business Plus, and Talent Solutions.  The new reports provide company employment intelligence from the LinkedIn database which competing sales intelligence vendors would be hard pressed to replicate.

Product leader and strategist Megan Kamil blogged, “The use cases for these insights are limitless. From the market research associate gathering relevant information on key market and competitive landscapes to the investment professional trying to uncover the next ‘hot’ company, this information will be valuable to any business professional.”

The new Total Employee count provides a two-year graph of LinkedIn employment trends.  The trend data can be quite useful for evaluating a company’s recent trajectory.  LinkedIn also provides the average tenure.  Low tenure needs to be interpreted carefully as it could be a sign of either rapid growth or an unhappy workforce.  Had they also included an employee churn rate this issue would be clarified.

LinkedIn Total Employee Count provides two years of data, growth rate, and average tenure.
LinkedIn Total Employee Count provides two years of data, growth rate, and average tenure.

While employee counts are available in other services, the LinkedIn data is likely to be more accurate for companies with a high percentage of professionals.  Firms with a high percentage of blue collar, seasonal, or part-time workers are more likely to be undercounted.  Be aware, though, that larger companies often appear as multiple companies (e.g. overseas subs, major divisions, or acquired companies) in LinkedIn, so they could also be subject to an undercount.

Also quite useful is employment by job function as it allows sales reps and analysts to evaluate where the bulk of employment is within an organization and how it is shifting.  This information is particularly valuable at startups as it provides an indicator of product maturity.  For example, a firm that is engineering focused with few sales and marketing positions may be pre-revenue.

LinkedIn Employee Distribution by Function provides insights into the relative size of departments over two years.
LinkedIn Employee Distribution by Function provides insights into the relative size of departments over two years.

However, if sales and marketing functions spiked last quarter, the firm may be readying a product launch.  Such a shift can be detected in the New Hires report.

 

New Hires shows overall hiring trends with a focus on senior management.
New Hires shows overall hiring trends with a focus on senior management.

The other two new reports are Notable Alumni and Total Job Openings.  Alumni may be useful for tracking former execs at a long-standing client to their new place of employment.  Such tracking may find new startups not on a sales reps’ radar along with potential connections or talking points.

Total Job openings are displayed by month and broken out by function and seniority.

Total Job Openings details monthly open positions for two years and current openings by function and level.
Total Job Openings details monthly open positions for two years and current openings by function and level.

LinkedIn is beginning to leverage its 433 million profiles to provide unique insights for its premium services.  A logical next step for them to take would be predictive modeling based upon their executive data.  For example, an analysis of the hiring ramp at retail and logistics companies in November provides insights into how optimistic the industry is about the upcoming holiday season.  Similarly, unannounced layoffs at companies just before the quarter ends might be picked up well before public companies announce their earnings.  As LinkedIn also has a large dataset of hiring data, the firm could also begin providing insights on the open positions at companies.  Unfortunately, the Job Openings report does not link to position details or allow for prior period analysis.

“This is just the beginning of the deeper, more advanced company insights we aim to deliver as part of our Premium experience on LinkedIn,” said Kamil.

If Microsoft is to obtain a strong ROI on its pending LinkedIn acquisition, it needs LinkedIn to more broadly develop analytics and tools which leverage the unique LinkedIn crowdsourced dataset.  Imagine the value to sales and risk departments (e.g. credit, purchasing) of providing hiring trends over time and by position within Microsoft Dynamics.

One firm that is already providing hiring data analytics in their sales service is CB Insights for Sales which uses the Indeed hiring database for its reports.  Users see a report similar to the LinkedIn Total Job Openings report, can view the open positions by function and level for current and prior periods, and drill down to both open and closed positions.  Thus, a sales rep could view the required skillset for the new VP of Product or CMO to better understand her mandate.

LinkedIn: Biased Research Doesn’t Help You Sell

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
  – Mark Twain (and others)

Sometimes you see a statistic reported by a firm and you just want to scream BS. When I read LinkedIn’s claims about revenue and pipeline lift, I did just that (OK, I didn’t scream it, but I muttered it under my breath).

Here is the claim published in their Sales Solutions Blog back in April, “While social selling by itself is positively associated with sales performance (both pipeline size and revenue growth), the study found that Sales Navigator users achieve 7x more pipeline growth and 11x more revenue growth than if they used LinkedIn.com only.”

LI SN PipeLine and Revenue Growth
LinkedIn claims a huge lift from Sales Navigator, but it is based upon an implied pipeline lift of only 1% from their freemium offering.

Unpacking the numbers, LinkedIn usage provides only a 0.99% pipeline growth but Sales Navigator provides a 6.8% growth rate. Respective revenue growth numbers are 1.7% vs. 20.4%.

I see two problems with these numbers. First, the LinkedIn standalone service provides more lift than indicated in the study. Why would sales reps be spending so many hours using the service if it provided so little benefit? Certainly other products would increase their productivity by more than one or two percent. If so, reps would be investing time using those tools for research, not LinkedIn.

Second, there is likely to be a significant selection bias. Companies that have had success with solution selling processes around LinkedIn are more likely to adopt Sales Navigator. These firms were likely to license Sales Navigator and their sales reps were more likely to incorporate Sales Navigator into their Solution Selling processes. Furthermore, rapidly growing companies are more likely to invest in new processes and techniques than older, slower growing firms.

So if you are going to blog on a study, particularly one you commissioned, make sure it has face validity.

By the way, Mark Twain did not originate the “lies, damn lies, and statistics” phrase (nor did he claim to), but it perfectly encapsulated this research.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Social Selling Index and Improved Filters

Sales Navigator Home Page
Sales Navigator Home Page

Several weeks ago, LinkedIn began promoting upgrades to the home page of its Sales Navigator service.  The new features finally hit my user id today.  Enhancements include expanded insights and update filtering, the Social Selling Index, and a recent activity section.

Expanded Insights

Expanded insights help users “get the intelligence you need to engage with your prospects at the right time, including new insights on who to reach out to – and how.”  This is a welcome addition which partially helps address their discoverability problem concerning older posts.  Sales Navigator now displays two member posts along with the ability to scroll through older posts.  However, this broader discoverability is not yet available throughout the product.

Expanded Insights displays the two most recent posts associated with a profile and provides a scroll arrow for additional posts.
Expanded Insights displays the two most recent posts associated with a profile and provides a scroll arrow for additional posts.

Update Filtering

Updated Filtering allows users to “filter your updates by type or by the top accounts you’ve been prospecting recently.” While most of these filters already existed, the quick filtering by top accounts is a welcome enhancement.  Unfortunately, it does not provide a quick means to drill down to your other accounts.  For those, you would need to go to the account profile directly.

Social Selling Index

The Social Selling Index (SSI) helps you “see how your score is trending, and how you rank against your peers in Social Selling.”  The SSI provides a gamification element to Navigator which encourages greater social selling through the service.

Sales Navigator Social Selling Index Score
Sales Navigator Social Selling Index Score

Members are rated by their ability to

  • Establish a Professional Brand
  • Find the Right People
  • Engage with Insights
  • Build Relationships

The SSI section also allows users to share updates, but not long-form posts.  For those, users must toggle over to the standard LinkedIn platform.

Users can drill down to their SSI statistics which provides a six week history of the SSI along with comparison scores vs. your team, industry, and network.

The SSI also includes a pre-canned boast link to promote the SSI to your LinkedIn network.  I also discussed the SSI last week.

Recent Activity

This section consists of Recently Viewed Executives, Keywords, and Companies.  Saved Searches are also displayed.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the eleven vendors I profiled in my just published 2015 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors.  In the coming weeks, I will provide mini-profiles of each of these vendors in my blog.  I have already published a few:

LinkedIn: Social Selling Index Hones Social Selling Skills

SSILinkedIn officially released its Social Selling Index (SSI) a few weeks ago.  The metric provides a four part dashboard score within Sales Navigator which indicates how well sales reps are using LinkedIn for social selling.  The SSI, like other LinkedIn usage promotion tools, employs gamification techniques to promote increased usage of the service.  There is even a boast link for sharing your SSI.

Members are rated by their ability to

  • Establish a Professional Brand
  • Find the Right People
  • Engage with Insights
  • Build Relationships

They are also told how their SSI ranks versus their industry and versus their network.

Each of the sub-topics is scored on a 0 to 25 score so the full SSI value is 0 to 100.  LinkedIn also offers an SSI graph so you can see how your SSI has changed over the past six weeks.

LinkedIn conducted a study with C9 which analyzed two years of sales data across 9,000 sales professionals.  According to the study, social selling “is positively associated with sales performance” and “Sales Navigator users achieve 7x more pipeline growth and 11x more revenue growth than if they used LinkedIn.com only.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the eleven vendors I profiled in my just published 2015 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors.  In the coming weeks, I will provide mini-profiles of each of these vendors in my blog.  I have already published a few: