PersistIQ Sales Engagement Platform

The PersistIQ Activity Feed provides a real-time stream of prospect actions from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome.
The PersistIQ Activity Feed provides a real-time stream of prospect actions from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome.

Sales engagement service PersistIQ recently partnered with Lead411 to provide integrated contact prospecting. Unlike other sales engagement platforms, prospecting is built directly into PersistIQ. Content includes name, company, title, city/state, address, email, LinkedIn profile, URL, and phone. A maximum daily records feature pulls records into PersistIQ without overloading sales reps with too many prospects.

“Our powerful technology gives sales teams the perfect balance between sales automation and the human touch.  Providing our customers access to high-quality data inside their workflow is a natural next step as we further align tools with strategies that have been winning sales for decades.”

  • Pouyan Salehi, founder of PersistIQ

PersistIQ provides salespeople with communication campaigns that include emails, calls, and tasks (i.e. Cadences or Sequences). PersistIQ also executes a set of safety checks to eliminate mistakes commonly made by salespeople. Soft checks, such as whether a contact is already in another campaign, may be overridden while hard checks block email transmission. Hard checks include do not contact domains, bounced emails, and opted out emails. When sending emails, the system also provides smart variable checks to ensure emails aren’t sent with missing fields (e.g. {{first_name}} ) or misformatted HTML.

PersistIQ supports Gmail, Office 365, and Exchange email accounts. A throttle feature sends emails over a period of time instead of via large batches. Throttling helps maintain their customers’ email sender reputation scores.

Both outgoing and incoming emails are logged. The system also supports out of office management, recipient activity detection (e.g. read, click through, bounce), and time zone detection.

Sales reps can use the built-in dialer or their own phones while recording call notes.

An Activity Feed provides real-time access to prospect actions such as email opens and link clicks. The feed is available from within PersistIQ, Salesforce, Gmail, and Chrome. Activities that happen in quick succession are grouped together. A badge number in the system banner indicates new activity and number of events. Users can click from a feed item directly to the underlying campaign or prospect profile and activity.

PersistIQ provides bi-synchronous connectivity with leads, contacts, accounts, and campaigns. PersistIQ content passed to Salesforce includes emails, call activity with notes, dispositions, and tasks.

Marketers and sales ops can upload Excel or CSV files with up to 2,000 contacts. A copy/paste feature may be used in lieu of file imports. PersistIQ employs fuzzy matching logic to prevent duplicates from being created.

A Chrome connector provide email detection, user notes, add to Salesforce or PersistIQ, and searching across PersistIQ and Salesforce.

The Chrome Connector provides lead intelligence and quick transfer to PersistIQ and SFDC.
The Chrome Connector provides lead intelligence and quick transfer to PersistIQ and SFDC.

Analytics include daily actions, best time to send, response time, team reports, and campaign reports.

Pricing begins at $40 per month for the Lite service (billed annually). Features include multi-touch campaigns with email, phone, and task steps; reply to previous email threads; response detection; call scripts and outlines; master and step email templates; rolling campaigns; the live activity feed; email open alerts; and individual campaign reporting. A Starter Edition is priced at $60 per month (billed annually) and adds sending windows; A/B testing; email CRM logging; prospect activity history; campaign summery reporting; custom fields; shared email templates; and API access.

The Pro edition is priced at $450 per month for five seats. Features include Salesforce synchronization; send emails on behalf of others; VOIP or Bridge sales dialer; team reporting; best time to send analytics; time zone detection; custom statuses and call dispositions; shared campaigns; roles and dispositions; and custom onboarding.

Lead411 contacts are available in four plans ranging between 50 and 80 cents per record:

  • 250 monthly contacts for $200 per month
  • 750 monthly contacts for $500 per month
  • 1,250 monthly contacts for $800 per month
  • 3,000 monthly contacts for $1,500 per month

Annual subscriptions allow users to roll over unused credits.

“Combining prospecting data and sales communication into one system that is easy to use is a big win for sales reps and teams,” said Salehi. This is the first step in what we view as the next evolution in sales technology; where data and workflow become more closely connected.”

InsideView UI Refresh

InsideView recently rolled out a beta user interface which follows a mobile first navigation structure and includes a redesigned News Feed view for followed companies.  InsideView describes the new UI as “fresh. Modern. And easier to navigate, with more engaging graphics and a common user experience across platforms – within CRM, mobile, and web.” 

The color scheme utilizes a monochrome palate with splashes of red, blue and green for accents (e.g. hyperlinks, highlighted tabs, buttons).  Unfortunately, much of the text is gray against a white background which may cause readability issues in brightly lit locations. 

Navigation is via a left-handed navigation bar.  For companies, the primary tabs are Overview, Company Information, People, and Insights.  Sub-headings under Company Information are Firmographics, Industry Profile, Financials, Family Tree, and Competitors.  Industry Profile has a third level of horizontal tabs, and really should be presented as a top-level navigation item. 

A Search bar provides a type-ahead feature to assist with company and contact searching.  The type-ahead feature begins as a Recently Viewed list of companies and contacts. 

The Insights Tab includes social integration, news filtering by agent, and keyword searching.
The Insights Tab includes social integration, news filtering by agent, and keyword searching.

The Insights Tab is an updated version of the InsideView buzz tab.  Users can view company news, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook in a single feed.  News can be filtered to a subset of their 17 agents and be shared via email, social media, or Yammer.  All four sources are keyword searchable.  Twitter is fully integrated with a Twitter handle summary along with reply, retweet, and favorite.  Facebook supports an integrated stream of posts with commenting support. 

One of the nice features that was carried forward from the old Buzz tab is the ability to switch between company posts and posts from others for Twitter and Facebook. 

In place of a static Home Page, the user is taken to the News Page which presents the user with news stories for followed companies in a grid pattern.  Users may filter the topics by one or multiple Agents (sales triggers) and Watchlists.  Individual articles may be shared with social media, email, or Yammer. 

The News view may be filtered by Watchlist and Agent.
The News view may be filtered by Watchlist and Agent.

The Company view still lacks an export to PDF feature similar to that found in D&B Hoovers and Hoovers classic.

Users will be able to switch between the classic and beta versions through April 27th.

Sales Navigator Q1 18: Seat Transfers, Additional Alerts, and Seniority Preferences (Oh My!)

SN Seat Transfers
If your firm has an enterprise Sales Navigator team account, you can migrate your standalone account to the enterprise account and let your employer pay your subscription fees.  Just realize that all of your current data (InMails, Messages, Saved Leads and Accounts, etc.) are being uploaded into the corporate account.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator adopted a new quarterly release system for 2018 and has begun rolling out its Q1 release.  Yesterday, I touched upon their redesigned Account profiles.  Today, I’m delving into other new features that are rolling out to clients over the next few weeks.  These include self-service seat transfers to enterprise accounts, expanded alerting, and a Seniority Level preference.

The new self-service seat transfer feature allows sales reps to import their Sales Navigator information into a corporate account. Thereafter, the corporation pays for the license. Migrated content includes Saved Leads, Saved Accounts, Saved Searches, InMail, Messages, InMail Credits, Notes & Tags, and personal Sales Navigator settings. However, when a rep leaves a firm, there is no way to migrate content back to the individual account (their LinkedIn connections are untouched). While activity that took place after the rep merged their account can reasonably be considered company intellectual property, the shared information contributed by the new rep should be returned to the individual’s private account afterwards.

Alerting for the PointDrive service (an enhanced email which directs users to an HTML page containing attachments and multi-media) has been modified to provide real-time email messages when an individual views PointDrive content. Alerts are suppressed for subsequent views by the same individual. The alert’s viewer data includes name, title, company, email, and location. The feature allows reps to reach out to viewers in a timelier manner (perhaps while still viewing the content). PointDrive also provides activity reports and identifies individuals to whom content has been forwarded.

LinkedIn added a new email alert called “Saved Leads Who Viewed My Profile.” According to LinkedIn, the mobile push notification for this event has the highest click through response rate. Sales reps perceive the trigger “as a potential buying signal and want to know ASAP when this happens.” LinkedIn added the near real-time email feature because not everybody has installed the Sales Navigator mobile app. The alert includes quick account and contact details along with account employment details by function for the past six months (if available). To avoid email SPAM, users are only re-notified of visits after seven days.

LinkedIn inserted a new variable for Seniority Level in its Sales Preferences which are employed for recommendations. Sales Navigator also added the option to quickly toggle preferences on and off during Account and Contact Searches. For example, a Boston-based rep for an enterprise Martech Solution can automatically target New England executives, Director or Higher, working in Marketing, IT, Finance, or Purchasing.

Preferences are set during the Sales Navigator onboarding process.
Preferences are set during the Sales Navigator onboarding process.

Owler Pro Coming Soon

Owler is now promoting its first paid service, Owler Pro, which will be launching in a few months.  Owler Pro is priced at $9.99 / month but will be discounted to $4.99 / month for the first 1,000 users (lifetime guaranteed pricing).  The service is offering the following additional features:

  1. Go straight to article, bypassing the Event Page.
  2. Skip Owler recommended content such as competitors of your followed companies
  3. Follow groups of companies
  4. Customize the displayed instant insights (event triggers)
  5. Ad free

As I haven’t seen advertising on Owler, I’m assuming that the free version will become a sponsored platform.  Most of these features are fairly insignificant, but at $4.99 per month the pricing is reasonable to prevent advertising and avoid the Event Page click-through.

Subscriptions are available from the following landing page.

If you haven’t checked out Owler, the free service provides company profiles, M&A and Funding histories, competitor lists, event alerts, and user-based surveys.

Owler Pro Features

RampedUp Account Scoring

RampedUp Profiles now include account based scores (zero to five stars).
RampedUp Profiles now include account based scores (zero to five stars).

Sales Intelligence vendor RampedUp added account scoring to their platform. Other new features include saved searches for leads and trigger events, lead and trigger event downloading to CSV files, importing corporate URLs into searches, and the auto-population of decision makers and preferred technologies.

The new scoring doesn’t employ predictive analytics, but rates accounts on a zero to five basis, with a star awarded for each of five conditions:

  • One of top 5 industries based on the client roster
  • One of top 5 market segments based on client employee count
  • Installed Technology based on products important to the client’s sales process
  • Contacts present with preferred title based on selected buying committee
  • Recent trigger event article showing activity over the last 90 days

“Two things that have always set RampedUp apart from other sales intelligence platforms have been the tailored nature of the data we provide,” said CEO Scott Miller. “Our customers are exposed to contacts that are unique to their buying committee. We also share look-alike customer data based on a sync that pulls customer data into our platform in near real-time. RampedUp also tracks triggering events and installed technology used by companies to help sellers understand their prospects better. All this information is used to create our unique scoring methodology.”

Your Biggest Competitor is No Decision

Back when I was a product manager, I used to conduct sales training classes.  I often opened up the session by asking the question, “Who is your biggest competitor?”  The reps invariably listed a company or two they had heard over the prior day and a half of training.  Even seasoned reps would answer the question incorrectly.

Unless you are in a duopoly or there is a competitor that controls half the market, your biggest competitor is probably NO DECISION.  Either the purchasing decision is kicked down the road or no funding is found.  It may also be that the opportunity was poorly qualified to begin with.

Sales reps no longer control the conversation due to the informed buyer who leverages the Internet and social media in order to research vendors prior to contacting them.  This is one of the reasons that marketing is looking at digitally influencing anonymous individual on the web via Visitor ID, SEO, SEM, and Programmatic.  Sales reps are also confounded in their sales efforts by a second change in purchasing patterns.  B2B budgetary decision making processes have become more complex.

Budgetary centralization and committee-based buying decisions have increased the number of decision makers in the purchasing process, resulting in a greater likelihood of no decision.  According to a Forrester survey of IT sales reps, 43% of lost deals weren’t to competitors but to a category titled “lost funding or lost to no decision: customer stopped the procurement process.”

Furthermore, the rise of cloud computing has shifted budgetary decision making authority away from the CIO to the heads of various functional departments.  Purchasing decisions are being compared to a broader set of non-related purchases from across the organization.  It is therefore critical that sales reps “understand and navigate complex agreement networks and processes within the buying organization that span different altitudes and functional roles,” blogged Forrester Sales Enablement Analyst Mark Lindwall.  “Because decisions are more cross-functional, every dollar is compared against how it could add value in potentially completely non-related areas of investment.”

Thus, sales reps need better tools for identifying who to engage and when best to engage.  They also need to be better informed about companies, individuals, and the industries into which they sell.  In short, they need to know who to call, when to call, and what to say.  They need to quickly navigate what Forrester calls agreement networks to establish relationships across multiple levels and job functions at the organization.

Fortunately, Sales 2.1 tools provide rich biographies and full family trees for navigating these networks.  Users can target specific job functions and levels across the corporate hierarchy, research the appropriate individuals, and reach out to them via social media, email, or phone.

Newer ABM tools help identify the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), score leads based on the ICP, and call out similar accounts and contacts that are not on the company’s radar.  Thus, it’s not just about selling more intelligently based on insights, but targeting and prioritizing one’s sales efforts more effectively.

Sales triggers assist with identifying executive changes, M&A events, product launches, and other reasons for reaching out to individuals.  Triggers can also indicate an expanding opportunity or that a proposal is potentially at risk due to company or market dynamics.

And yes, sales reps should research both the company and the executive.  They need to understand the key trends in the prospect’s industry, why their last quarter was soft, and what does the executive muse about on social media.  While such facts may not be immediate hooks, they provide context and potential talking points down the road.  It also shows that the rep is willing to invest time in understanding the exec, her company, and the environment in which she is making decisions.

There is an opportunity cost to poor targeting, prioritization, and account planning. It shows up as No Decision in your CRM, slow deal velocity in your pipeline metrics, and disappointing sales growth.

Form Follows Function

InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.
InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.

One of the key aphorisms in architecture is that form follows function.  The quote, attributed to Louis Sullivan, holds that a building’s design should be based upon the underlying purpose of the building, not driven by ornamentation.  Twentieth century design took this maxim to heart with similar thinking spreading through industrial and software design.

In the case of information services, a focus on flashy design or “bells and whistles” can be a distraction if the underlying service fails to meet the basic informational and workflow needs of its users.  One of the great things about Google is that it returns high precision results from a few words entered into a search box.  It was this simplicity that allowed them to grab and hold two-thirds of the search engine market share, leaving Bing and Yahoo! to pick up the scraps.

A well-designed sales intelligence solution supports multiple sales and support workflows.  These users span multiple functions and departments (e.g. sales, sales directors, sales operations, sales support, service departments, business development, and marketing).  Furthermore, there are multiple types of sales reps within larger organizations so your sales intelligence platform needs to be flexible enough to meet differing information requirements and workflows.

Thus, tactical sales reps need to quickly locate contact information and a few prospect qualification variables.  They want to make sure that the contact they are about to call is in their territory and doesn’t work at a subsidiary of a named account.

Conversely, a strategic rep has broad information requirements around companies, company structures, executives, and key events.  Strategic reps are focused on who to call, when to call, and what to say.  Sales triggers are not only a flashing green light that a prospect is more likely to buy, but conversational material for catching the prospect’s attention and signaling that the rep has prepared for the call.  Likewise, SWOT reports, biographies, industry market research reports provide insights into client interests and needs.

Named account reps sell only to a few firms so need a deep understanding of their target accounts.  They need to be apprised of key events at an organization that could positively or negatively impact their pipeline.  Furthermore, named account reps are looking for additional contacts and locations for extending their corporate footprint.   Thus, searching across a company for specific job functions and then reviewing subsidiary profiles and bios is an important task in growing the account.  Named account reps also benefit from PDF exportability so they can review the latest information about their client or prospect while traveling.  These reports can also be shared with other members of the sales and support team.

Territory reps and financial services relationship managers need to be apprised of sales triggers within their territory, quickly research and qualify companies, and dig deeper on larger opportunities.  Furthermore, as they generally sell cross-industry, they  also benefit from industry overviews from vendors such as First Research.  These primers are written in plain English and provide a set of Q&A sections by topic and job function.

First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.
First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.

Most reps work within a CRM, so review the capabilities of sales intelligence CRM connectors.  The tighter the integration the better.  If your CRM is your system of record, you want the sales reps working within the CRM on desktops and mobile devices.  Services that bounce the user between a web browser and the CRM are less effective than those that provide most or all of their content and functionality within, MS Dynamics, or other CRMs.  Also, look for “stare and compare” updating of records, batch and real-time synchronization of data, custom fields, and duplicate checking.

Many sales intelligence services also support the marketing department.  Standardizing the two functions on a common vendor helps reduce cost and channel conflict.  It also provides a basis for successful ABM programs which cross the two departments.  Several years ago, sales intelligence vendors only offered prospecting to marketing, but now they also support web forms, real-time and batch enrichment of leads, lead-to-account mapping, marketing automation connectors, lead scoring, segmentation analysis, Ideal Customer Profiling, TAM analysis, and net-new leads and contacts.  A few also offer standalone services for the marketing department such as programmatic advertising, visitor id, multi-channel marketing, and SEO.

When evaluating sales intelligence solutions, you should understand the workflows and information requirements of each of your sales groups along with other potential beneficiaries of the service.  Don’t evaluate simply on counts and features, but on the information needs and workflows of your various sales and marketing teams.