Deepfake Sales Videos: The Worst Idea I’ve Seen in a Long Time

Katie Martell, a marketing thought leader and former CMO, reported that she was pitched a deepfake video service that clones faces and voices so that sales reps can “create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one.”  Of course, the whole idea of these being personalized is ridiculous.  Here is how they describe themselves (I have chosen not to publicize the vendor’s name):

“So basically it creates a clone of your face and voice (also known as a deepfake). Allowing you to create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one. Which is amazing to see how far technology has come.

The idea is that video is the by far the most personal way of communicating digitally. Putting a face to the 100s of faceless emails we receive each day can be really powerful for improving engagement. As you can imagine this is huge for sales and marketing teams (and newsletters 😄).”

Deepfakes discussed on NOVA (April 2, 2019)

I don’t normally editorialize in my newsletter, but this is a terrible idea.  For B2B companies and sales reps, authenticity and honesty are necessary for long-term success.  We already know that sales engagement works best when there is a level of personalization matched with authenticity.  Spamming the market with fake videos will quickly undermine your credibility.  Reps have had success posting short videos with whiteboards that say “hello, <insert first name here>.” They are intended to have low production values but indicate that the rep has invested some time into a quick, personalized message.  The point is that they are authentic.  SalesLoft data has shown that emails with short videos receive significantly higher clickthrough rates.

One of the variables that investors look at is LTV/CAC.  Deception will quickly reduce a firm’s Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), but once it is discovered, their Lifetime Value (LTV) will plummet, and their CAC will explode.  It is the sales engagement equivalent of junk food. It will give your company a short-burst of energy but destroy your brand health.

The asynchronous video companies (e.g., Vidyard, Hippo Video, Videolicious) have had great success supporting sales.  Their business models would be put at risk by such technology.  Instead of videos being a harbinger of authenticity and indicators that the rep has invested time creating a short video, they would become emblems of deception.  Likewise, Sales Engagement, MAP, and ABM Platform vendors should refuse to partner with any firms employing deepfakes as they have the potential to undermine ABM communications.

In the end, deepfake marketing will be recognized as SPAM and result in a rapidly dropping email deliverability score.  It would be a pyrrhic victory.

Trust is critical for sales reps.  Reps that deploy trickery will undermine their ability to sell long-term.  They should avoid such deceptions like the plague.  None of the deepfake vendor’s customers agreed to be named, an early indicator that trialers of deepfake technology are concerned about brand damage.

And more broadly, we are already having trouble agreeing on objective truth as social media provide custom feeds and recommendations that conform to our existing biases.  There have always been problems with how photos and videos were cut or manipulated (e.g., slowing down the video to give a drunken appearance, darkening images of black public figures).  Still, deepfakes create false narratives backed by realistic-looking videos that put words in people’s mouths.  It is a new form of slander and factual distortion that will continue to undermine trust in the media, government, and social institutions.

DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB Dataset

"Building a Winning Dataset" from DiscoverOrg Collateral.
“Building a Winning Dataset” from DiscoverOrg Collateral.

Sales and Marketing intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced their latest database earlier today.  The new Startup and SMB dataset covers more than 60,000 small and mid-size businesses and 400,000 executives.  The initial North American coverage profiles companies with between 50 and 1,000 employees.

All of the contacts are editorially verified and will be maintained via the same sixty-day review cycles as their other contacts.  Executives cover “all key departments, including IT, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Finance, HR, and Operations.”

“DiscoverOrg’s data difference is its team of 250+ researchers who constantly augment and verify the data in our platform,” notes Henry Schuck, DiscoverOrg CEO. “Unlike other vendors that provide SMB lists with thousands of irrelevant contacts, companies, and incomplete and duplicate records, the DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB dataset is as rich and accurate as our enterprise data.”

CMO Katie Bullard said that DiscoverOrg has “aggressive plans” to invest in SMB dataset development due to customer benefits.

With more companies, our researchers won’t have to skip over Triggers that they find through their research. We’re able to return a greater number of companies that use a certain technology, and our predictive tools like AccountView and DealPredict have larger reach with more matched accounts.

  • DiscoverOrg CMO Katie Bullard

The initial dataset is limited to North America as that is where they have the greatest current demand, but DiscoverOrg plans to internationalize the Startup and SMB dataset in the future.  While the goal is to cover all firms with at least 50 employees, the initial dataset consists of firms requested by their customers.

The press release noted how difficult it is to find reliable, actionable intelligence for SMB sales teams.  Along with company and executive profiles, the database provides 6,000 “research verified buying triggers” per month.

In smaller businesses without media coverage or press releases, almost none of the buying intent triggers that DiscoverOrg gathers – including planned investments, key projects, personnel moves, and internal spending budgets – is made available to the public. This is where DiscoverOrg’s team of researchers provides a clear advantage: While there are millions of registered companies in the US, the difficulty is identifying and gathering intelligence on the small percentage of these companies who are 1) legitimate entities and 2) have true spend / budget. By continuously verifying contact info, conducting interviews, and engaging in research activities, DiscoverOrg overcomes the shortcomings of web-scraping for hard-to-find data on the SMB space, ensuring the intelligence customers receive is highly relevant and immediately useful.

  • DiscoverOrg Press Release

“Sales and marketing teams that want to reach the SMB market have had a very difficult go of it,” said Nancy Nardin, President of advisory firm Smart Selling Tools. “There’s been a real dearth of verified, accurate data on SMBs, quite simply because it’s harder for data companies to get. DiscoverOrg is solving for this very real pain point by bringing their best-in-class research verification model to the SMB space. You can expect the same high-quality data you get from DiscoverOrg’s broad datasets. ”

Across all databases, DiscoverOrg now covers 1.5 million executives and 90,000 companies.  Customers may purchase access to the full database or various databases by job function, company size, or region.

 

SalesTech Landscape

Snippet of SalesTech Super Graphic developed by Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools.
Snippet of SalesTech graphic developed by Nancy Nardin (Smart Selling Tools).

Yesterday, I wrote about the recently released MarTech Landscape.  While SalesTech isn’t as large, it is also receiving significant funding.  Nancy Nardin, of Smart Selling Tools, published her SalesTech Landscape spanning more than 400 firms.  As it is a first generation edition, there are a number of errors and omissions.  The most glaring gap I spotted was the Installed Tech Stack category which was missing  RainKing, Datanyze, Aberdeen, D&B Hoovers, and Corporate360, but I’m sure she will receive plenty of feedback to fill gaps.

In fact, she is maintaining the graphic and is already up to 1.2a.

If you want more details on the companies in these sections:

  • Database Cleanse & Append
  • Lead/Lists Building
  • Outreach Email Workflow
  • Installed Tech Stack
  • Sales Personalization/Trigger Events/Social Selling

Feel free to reach out to me for my Market Insights Newsletter and market research.  If you are looking for quick profiles of companies, check out CabinetM which focuses on Martech but also covers a fair number of SalesTech firms.

CabinetM helps modern marketing teams build, manage and optimize their marketing technology suite in a rapidly transforming digital marketing environment. The platform enables full lifecycle support around digital tool discovery, qualification, implementation and management by individual marketers, teams, and throughout enterprise organizations.

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