ScaleX.AI Social Flows

AI-powered sales engagement service ScaleX.AI announced the availability of SocialFlow, which leverages employee networks for warm introductions at target buyer personas.  According to ScaleX, most firms use only 3% of their employees’ professional networks.  Social Flow unlocks the remaining 97% of connections for generating warm introductions.

“Successful outbound requires a perfect mix of quality and quantity.  With the launch of SocialFlow, we’re further enhancing the quality that our clients have come to expect.  This is truly the first-ever AI for Social Selling engine on the market today!”

ScaleX CEO Chad Burmeister

A virtual BDR automates social outreach in parallel to phone and email.  Once one of these channels makes a connection, the other channels are halted.

Other ScaleX features include

  • Social & Email Automated Cadences
  • Agent-assisted power dialing
  • Social & Email templates with proven conversions
  • Leads from Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, Lead411, and SalesIntel at a monthly rate vs. an annual commitment
  • Digital paid ads optimized for impressions

ScaleX positions itself as an automated BDR at a lower cost than direct sales staff.  The firm describes its ideal customer as “companies who either can’t afford to hire a full-time SDR or BDR (Sales or Business Development Representative) or companies who want to augment their in-house sales team with outsourced Virtual BDRs that are 7-10X more productive.”

The ScaleX Virtual BDR (BDR as a Service) starts at $3,000 per month for data and digital outreach, and $7,000/month for data + digital (email, social, paid-ads) + data.  Monthly outbound communications include around 3,000 emails per month, 3,000 social sales activities, thousands of impressions, and 3,000 dials.

ScaleX cited research by one of their Board members that the SDR function grew 500 percent from 2012 to 2017 and another 80-90 percent in 2017-2019.  Burmeister questions how long SDR employment growth will last before automation improves the efficiency and effectiveness of SDRs, causing the role to plateau, and ultimately decline.

ScaleX was originally called Sales Hack, but they changed their name when Outreach acquired Sales Hacker.

Hippo Video for Outreach

Hippo Video is now offering personalized video to Outreach customers.  The integration helps sales reps include video into their sales process, which in turn increases conversion rates and accelerates the sales cycle.  Sales reps can create, share, and track personalized video content embedded in Outreach sequences, templates, snippets, and one-to-one emails.  Heatmap analytics track user interaction.  Hippo Video also supports a video library.

Videos can be created for each objective across the full sales cycle, allowing sales and marketing to send targeted videos for each stage.  For example, reps can send introductory videos to establish rapport with the prospect and later send a product demo once the prospect has shown interest.

“Videos will go a long way in establishing a personal connection and trust with the recipient as against insipid text-heavy emails,” said Hippo Video CEO Karthi Mariappan.

Hippo Video claims a 300% lift in response rates from embedded videos.  Other firms, such as Vidyard, have found similar lift rates from personalized videos.

Users can also add actionable calls to action (CTAs) within videos, which are then embedded within sequenced emails in Outreach.  CTAs include meeting links, custom polls, annotations, and lead gen forms.  CTAs can be inserted in the middle or at the end of the video.

Integration is described as straightforward:

  1. Sign up for Hippo Video;
  2. Install the Hippo Video Chrome extension;
  3. Turn on Hippo Video in Outreach.  

Reps can then record personalized videos via their webcam and embed them within email templates, snippets, and direct emails.

By seamlessly integrating videos in your sales outreach, your prospects are sure to experience highly personalized, engaging content that will humanize the entire sales process, which would have otherwise been possible only within a face-to-face meeting.

[The] Sales process is spontaneous.  Therefore, integrating sales with video to build a relationship of trust with the prospect should not leave you flustered.  Tracking their interaction [and] qualifying them should be reasonably straightforward as well.

Santhoshi Natarajan, Hippo Video Content Strategist

Prospect behavior is also tracked, allowing reps to prioritize their follow-ups based on views and watch interaction percentage, providing additional intent metrics beyond email open and response rates.

Videos may be analyzed by viewing and drop off points.  “When a prospect drops off the video at a certain point, it’s perhaps time [to] rework your message or focus on a different pain point,” said Natarajan.  “This feature is an added layer on top of your existing metrics and will help you prioritize the prospect who is at the bottom of the sales funnel.”

Hippo Video is a freemium offering.  The free edition provides unlimited hosting but limits bandwidth to 100 GB per month and does not support video emails.  The Pro version ($29 / user / month) provides integrations with Outreach, Gmail, Outlook, and HubSpot.  Other features include professional video editing, custom branding, video cloning, in-video CTAs, contact imports from CRM, and SEO.

Hippo Video allows reps to quickly record a video and send it to prospects via Outreach.

Vidyard Closes $15M Financing Facility

Vidyard Logo

Before Christmas, video platform Vidyard closed on a $15 million financing facility with the BMO Technology & Innovation Banking Group.  Vidyard has raised $75.7 million in debt and equity financing to date (see Crunchbase Pro chart on the bottom) and was recently ranked number 39 on Deloitte’s Canada Fast 50.  

The funds will “help Vidyard remain focused on innovation and product development while financing strategic M&A & Global Expansion activities so that the company can continue growing, scaling, and providing customers with the most robust user experience possible.”

Vidyard has partnered with a wide set of sales engagement platforms, including Outreach, SalesLoft, ConnectLeader, Groove, XANT, and VanillaSoft.  Other partners include Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, Outlook, and MailChimp.  Partners have cited a 2 to 3X improvement in open and click-through rates due to personalized videos embedded in emails.  Reps can quickly record a one-to-one video or embed a marketing video.

“Vidyard continues to make a global impact and is currently serving more than 50 million videos per day.  With the accelerating trend of the world’s most innovative businesses turning to video to power their marketing, sales, and internal communications strategies–tomorrow, that number is on a trajectory to exceed 1 billion,” said CEO Michael Litt.  “We’re excited to be working with BMO’s Technology & Innovation Banking Group to help finance strategies intended to support our journey in becoming the dominant video platform provider that the world’s most successful businesses rely on.”

Vidyard customers include Honeywell, LinkedIn, Citibank, and Sharp. A recent study of 218 B2B sales and marketing professionals found the top five uses of video within an organization are brand awareness (67%), lead generation (63%), customer education (63%), buyer education (58%), and sales enablement (54%).  Website distribution was the most common channel (79%), followed by email (67%), LinkedIn (63%), YouTube (60%), and landing pages (59%).  40% of respondents indicated that sales reps were deploying one-to-one videos.  Heinz Marketing and Vidyard conducted the survey.

Vidyard closed a debt financing round on December 20, 2019 (Source: Crunchbase)

Terminus Acquires Sigstr

Sigstr Location Intelligence analyzes the strength of connections at the metro level.
Sigstr location intelligence analyzes the strength of connections at the metro level.

ABM platform vendor Terminus acquired email analytics vendor Sigstr earlier this week.  The full 60-person Sigstr team will be joining Terminus, including CEO Bryan Wade.  Sigstr has received $11 million in funding across multiple rounds.  Sigstr’s flagship product inserts customized banner advertising in signature blocks.  In 2018, the firm launched Pulse, which tracks relationship strength based upon email opens, response times, messaging velocity, and generated calendar invitations.

“Combining our solution with the Terminus platform activates an untapped channel that changes how businesses engage with target accounts,” wrote Wade.  “We’re long-standing partners from both a technology and go-to-market perspective, making this combination a no-brainer and massive opportunity for our combined customers, and account-centric businesses everywhere looking to sharpen how they engage across the entire customer lifecycle.”

The merged company will be able to “determine their best-fit segments, prioritize accounts, and identify the next-best-action for execution.” Terminus can now align account-based messaging across the full lifecycle, prioritize accounts and assess buying team interactions, and integrate ABM messaging with employee email marketing.

“[Pulse] Relationship data adds a rich 1st-party piece of intelligence to your account-based efforts.  To deliver this information, Sigstr uses its proprietary Relationship Score, which analyzes the email and calendar interactions between employees at your company and those at your customer and prospective customer accounts.  It provides detailed insights into the sentiment and strength of relationships at an account, buying team, and individual level.  Utilizing this data set alongside engagement and intent intelligence already native to the Terminus platform supercharges how your revenue teams prioritize efforts and take action.”

Bryan Brown, Terminus Chief Product Officer

“I couldn’t’ be more excited about bringing two powerhouse teams together to shape the future of B2B marketing,” said High Alpha managing partner Scott Dorsey.  “Category leaders are built around great teams and innovative products.  This team has exactly what it takes.”

Sigstr customers include AT&T, Amazon, and United Way.  Terminus was also a long-time customer.  The firm blogged that the deal was “a reflection of both our confidence in and reliance upon Sigstr as a staple of our marketing strategy.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Earlier this month, Terminus named Tim Kopp their new CEO and Chairman.  Kopp is the former CMO of ExactTarget and is a Partner of Hyde Park Ventures.  Former Terminus CEO Eric Spett continues as a member of the Board.

“Marketing and business are at a crossroads.  We’re shifting to a new frontier of automation that prioritizes more effective account targeting, engagement, and acquisition,” said Kopp.  “The emerging generation of CMOs is transitioning toward hyper-targeted campaigns and intelligent, data-driven digital marketing.  ABM has moved past marketing, and Terminus is the definitive leader powering account-based transformation and helping businesses achieve rapid, long-term growth.”

Quora: What CRMs integrate with LinkedIn messages to help me manage recruiting and sales?

I’m not an expert on the recruitment side, but on the sales side there is an integrated Dynamics / LinkedIn Sales Navigator solution called Relationship Sales. The service displays company and contact intelligence across Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records. Insight features include icebreakers, TeamLink introductions, Lead Recommendations, and LinkedIn intelligence. Daily synchronization ensures that active accounts and contacts are shared between the services and that Sales Navigator activities (e.g. InMails, messages, notes, tags, and call logs) are uploaded to Dynamics 365.

LinkedIn also offers a set of SNAP connectors which provide view only company and contact profiles integrated into CRM, Sales Engagement, and other platforms. Supported CRMs include HubSpot, Inform, Microsoft, Oracle Sales Cloud, Pega, Salesforce, SAP, SugarCRM, and Zoho.

SNAP requires licensing Sales Navigator Team along with the CRM.

SNAP offers a core set of features for CRM:

  • View LinkedIn profiles within Account, Contact, and Lead profiles
LinkedIn Contact Profile within Salesforce.
  • Icebreakers such as Recent Activity and Shared Connections
LinkedIn Recent Activity and Shared Connections within Salesforce
  • TeamLink connections which leverage co-worker LinkedIn networks.
  • InMails (LinkedIn’s email service which hides the email of the recipient).
  • Recommended Leads
  • Syncing of engagement activity (e.g. InMails, Notes, Messages, Phone Calls) between the CRM and LinkedIn.
  • Download Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity intelligence from the CRM to LinkedIn for Account and Lead List Building.
  • A single-pane pipeline view for maintaining Opportunity data and constructing Buyers Circles (Buying Committee members). An intriguing feature which is only available in Dynamics and Salesforce.
LinkedIn Deals View provides a single pane view for editing Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics Opportunities and Buying Circles.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent offering with one major limitation — member data cannot be synced with the CRM. This means that it is view only within SNAP and must be re-keyed. It also means that there is no ongoing enrichment of accounts, contacts, and leads. As such, a B2B hygiene service should also be evaluated (e.g. D&B Optimizer, RingLead, ReachForce, InsideView, DiscoverOrg / Zoominfo).

LinkedIn Adjusts its Feed Algorithm

The LinkedIn feed algorithm has been adjusted to emphasize conversations of interest over viral content.

LinkedIn recently adjusted its feed algorithm to identify more salient topics instead of viral content.  The goal is to encourage conversations and promote niche conversations over broad topics.  The modifications place a higher premium on member interest signals.

“Our mission is to help people be more productive and successful, and it is what drives us daily,” said Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies.  “We strongly believe that people need their professional communities to help them along the way, whether that’s current or former colleagues, peers in the same industry, or those that share similar interests or career ambitions.”

LinkedIn prioritizes posts from connections and follows along with their likes, comments, and posts.  Other factors include group posts, followed hashtags, and events “all with the goal of showing you the content and conversations that you care about.”  Prioritization is given to direct interactions; stated interests and experiences; and “explicit signals” such as with whom you’ve worked.

Davies provided the following tips to encourage conversation:

  • Post things that encourage a response. For example, if you’re posting a link, express an opinion with it.
  • Think about using the best type of post for the topic. Despite the rumors, the algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format. We have video, images, multi-images, text and long-form articles. More are on the way.
  • Use @mentions to pull other people you know into a conversation when you think they’ll have something valuable to add. Be thoughtful: only mention people that you think are likely to respond, max five is a good rule of thumb.
  • Engage in the conversation, respond to commenters and encourage back and forth.

Davies also recommended the use of hashtags, but no more than three.  Hashtags should be specific vs. general (#performancemanagement vs. #management).

Finally, Davies emphasized authenticity.  This is a theme that Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, keeps going back to.

“Authenticity is key: all the tips above work out better when members talk about things they truly care about, in a way that’s natural for them. Genuine conversation around real experiences spark better and deeper conversation. Better conversation, in turn, leads to stronger community and connection,” blogged Davies.

Artesian Solutions Tech Sector Sales

UK social selling vendor Artesian Solutions
recognized significant growth in the technology sector in 2018, with tech sector revenue up 255% in 2018.  Artesian attributed the growth to the “vast return on investment that can be achieved by leveraging millions of data points to create new relationships, establish credibility, address individual pain points and wider market challenges, and create new opportunities.”

The Artesian social selling platform provides users with a rich set of sales triggers combined with company intelligence.

“Technology companies are increasingly investing much of their valuable brain power into crafting long-term, powerful relationships from the start of the customer journey,” said CEO Andrew Yates.  “By harnessing technologies such as Artesian they’re uncovering opportunities to act in more contextually aware, empathetic and personalised ways and in turn are seizing opportunities to differentiate in an entirely different way, rather than focusing on features, benefits and brand reputation alone.”

Yates continued describing Artesian’s value proposition to technology sales reps:

“Harnessing the most valuable company information, market data and customer insights means Artesian’s technology customers can build innovative propositions for their products and services, prioritising ideas based on solving actual business challenges in each customer segment they serve.  The sheer pace of change in the technology sector, including new entrant disruption, means enterprise providers can quickly fall behind if they’re not able establish deep, value-based relationships, especially when they may not be able to react as quickly within product development as their smaller competitors.  Artesian’s growth in the sector highlights a shift in focus towards customer experience and value-based selling.  Our technology customers are great examples of how to stay relevant and grow, even in a challenging political and economic environment.”

Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates

Artesian’s technology customers include Oracle, Amazon Web Services, SAP, BT, Infinity Tracking, and Canon.

Artesian Solutions has also shown strength selling to British banks and insurance companies.  Another 2019 object is the infusion of artificial intelligence into financial services onboarding and compliance tools. The firm has 30,000 users located in the United Kingdom and United States.

Linkedin Sales Navigator List Building, Mobile Lead Profiles, & SNAP Integration (Q3 2018)

Last month Sales Navigator began rolling out its Q3 release.  Amongst the features are a Pipeline Review and Buyers Circle (discussed last Friday), improved Search, and additional SNAP integrations.

Sales Navigator Account and Lead Search have been redesigned for speed and ease. The Account and Lead Search functions and results (see 1 below) are more prominent, offer streamlined search filters (see 2), and deliver simplified save search and alerting processes. Other enhancements include hover cards (see 3) which display company intelligence when mousing over a company name. Hover cards include a Save as Account button.

Improved Searching includes an improved navigation (1), redesigned filters (2), and account hover cards (3).
Improved Searching includes an improved navigation (1), redesigned filters (2), and account hover cards (3).

LinkedIn originally designed their mobile app to complement the desktop service but is working to make mobile a “full-featured Sales Navigator experience.” Last quarter, they focused on Account enhancements and this quarter they brought the mobile Lead experience to parity with the desktop service.

“We will continue to narrow the gap between our mobile and desktop experiences in upcoming releases, and take advantage of the unique characteristics of mobile as well.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

LinkedIn continues to invest in its SNAP partner program. This quarter, Adobe Sign was added as a partner and three partners (Salesforce, MS Dynamics, and SalesLoft) took advantage of their version two capabilities. SFDC and MSD now broadly embed LinkedIn intelligence in Lead, Account, and Opportunity pages. Users may also send InMails from within the CRM.

SalesLoft has built research, connect, InMail, and messaging features within cadences, providing a robust LinkedIn channel alongside phone and email.

The next generation SNAP integrations are modular, providing greater flexibility around where content is displayed. New modular features include InMail support and the handling of Potential Profile Matches.

New SNAP modular elements from within Microsoft Dynamics.
New SNAP modular elements from within Microsoft Dynamics.

LinkedIn has taken a “Switzerland approach” to its partnerships, working with both Microsoft and its competitors.

The firm reiterated its commitment to data security and GDPR compliance. “LinkedIn maintains ISO 27001 & ISO 27018 certifications, as well as a SSAE-18 certification, SOC 2 Type I report,” noted the firm in its briefing to Admins.

Finally, LinkedIn added an Ideas site to its Sales Navigator Community portal where admins can “submit, vote on, comment on and track status of ideas for how to improve Sales Navigator.”

LinkedIn the #2 Social Media Platform across Multiple Metrics

LinkedIn is now the number two social media platform by usage, advertising spend, ROI and analytics tools.  Facebook remains number one.  “While LinkedIn is often considered a hub for job hunters and corporate recruiters, the platform has also shifted to position itself as a marketing engine in recent years,” said Jerry Ascierto, executive editor of The Social Shake-Up Show. “The recent updates to its ad platform and UI seem to be encouraging brands to increase spend. As a result, more companies are experiencing better ROI from this network than others considered more popular and ‘fun,’ such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.”

Source: Social Shake-Up.
Source: Social Shake-Up.

LinkedIn has benefited from a native video feature that was launched last year and was recently extended to company pages.

LinkedIn’s last official member count was 546 million global professional profiles.

Microsoft Chairman John Thompson said that the LinkedIn acquisition has been “wildly successful” and that Microsoft would be “all in” on a similar deal.  Of particular interest are firms that would help connect users to the Microsoft cloud.

Thomson was critical of firms that share or sell user data.  “Many of them make money off ads and they have used that as kind of a leverage point,” Thomson told Bloomberg.  “At Microsoft, we don’t believe in that.”

While Facebook has taken a series of hits on its sharing of member data, LinkedIn has long protected member data (for example, Sales Navigator does not permit the uploading of member information to CRMs but makes it available for display).  What’s more, Microsoft has built GDPR compliance into its product line and set it as a global standard.

LinkedIn celebrated its 15th anniversary last month.  “15 years ago, we launched LinkedIn in Reid Hoffman’s living room with the tagline ‘relationships matter’,”  said VP of Product Strategy Allen Blue.  “I’m proud to say that this mantra still rings true today in both the halls of LinkedIn and on the platform. While the world of work has evolved immensely — be it the tools and products we use, the ways we communicate, and even the jobs themselves — our need to connect with one another to be productive in our careers remains at the core of all we do.”

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.