Sales Navigator Q3 2020: Listening to the Buyer

LinkedIn is rolling out its third-quarter Sales Navigator release.  The enhancements focus on “features that help you put your buyers first through intelligent action, simplified day-to-day activities, and consistent insight into keeping relationships warm.”  The release theme is “listening to the buyer.”

LinkedIn is dipping its toes into intent data with Buyer Interest Alerts that signal when employees or corporate leaders from a saved account have visited the company’s LinkedIn Page or company website.  Buyer Interest Alerts are available in conjunction with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and delivered through the Sales Navigator Enterprise edition.  

Marketers install a snippet of code to their website that drive the notifications.  They can then track conversion rates, retarget visitors, and analyze visitor demographics.  The code also powers Buyer Interest Alerts within Sales Navigator.

“With Buyer Interest Alerts, you have buying intent insights that help you to decide when to engage, allowing you to provide a timelier and more customized buyer experience,” blogged Lindsey Edwards, the Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions.  “As we strengthen our buyer intent models with the rich buyer insight that the LinkedIn network contains, we’ll continue to enhance our Interest Alerts to include more signals that will allow you to target the right buyer at the right time.”

Buyer Interest Alerts are anonymous.  LinkedIn notifies the user if there is a visitor from the company but does not disclose details beyond account name, seniority level (i.e. Leadership or Employee), and geography.  Users can then search for Linkedin Members that match these criteria.  Anonymity ensures GDPR compliance.

While many vendors are now offering visitor intelligence, Sales Navigator is the only service that combines LinkedIn company profile views with visitor intelligence.

Account-Level Buyer Interest is not yet supported but is on the product roadmap.

LinkedIn, which has often suffered from spam alerts that overwhelm users, is employing predictive AI to surface the critical notifications for “building and maintaining the relationship with your buyer.”  Users may filter alerts by Lead, Account, shared activity, and alert type with the “most urgent and timely” alerts displayed at the top of the list.

Sales Navigator is also improving its synchronization with Salesforce and MS Dynamics.  Users can now bring their book of business into Sales Navigator through the automated syncing of Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities.  The syncing improves the delivery of people and company alerts and insights within Navigator.  CRM synchronization is available as a feature of the Team and Enterprise Editions.

To improve relationships, LinkedIn is now reporting on LinkedIn outreach activity across all Sales Navigator editions.  Lead Lists (followed members) now track LinkedIn engagement with additional columns for actions by the Sales Navigator user and subsequent responses:

  • InMail and Messages sent, responses received, and attachments clicked
  • Connection requests sent from Sales Navigator and LinkedIn and accepted requests
  • Smart Links sent and opened

Lead and Account List sizes were increased from 250 to 1,000, expanding the scope of contacts and companies tracked.  Users may also take bulk actions on up to 25 Lead or Account records at a time, making it easier to remove them from lists or move them from one list to another.

Sales Navigator is well-positioned to assist sales reps during the pandemic as its messaging tools are not location or time-specific.  Sales professionals can reach out with InMails and Connection Requests, and prospective buyers can respond asynchronously.  SDRs and AEs don’t need to obtain (or guess at emails) or place direct dials that go unanswered at empty offices.  Furthermore, Smart Links, launched earlier this year, provides a tool for sharing documents and multi-media with view tracking.

“In what continues to be a unique and challenging moment in history, buyers and sellers, alike, are adjusting to a new normal.  Just like you, they’re juggling the pressures of succeeding in their day-jobs, while also managing their personal lives — homeschooling, daycare, elder care, multiple people working from home, and/or reduced income.  The hurdles might look different from buyer to buyer, but one thing is consistent — they need to feel confident that you understand their challenges and goals.  In the end, you aren’t necessarily selling a product or service, you’re selling a trusted relationship, and the person at the center of that relationship is the buyer.”

Lindsey Edwards, Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions

By the end of the year, the Deals functionality will be integrated directly into the Sales Navigator workflow.  This enhancement will improve relationship status and pipeline visibility.

SalesIntel Launches VisitorIntel

B2B DaaS vendor SalesIntel added visitor intelligence (first-party intent data) to its marketing capabilities.  VisitorIntel matches website traffic to companies and enriches the subsequent event records with firmographics, technographics, and contacts.  Visitor intelligence provides an early warning system that a company is being researched before anybody registers for a white paper or requests a callback.

SalesIntel also has a partnership with Bombora for their B2B intent data derived from a co-op of media sites.  Thus, SalesIntel users have access to both first and third-party intent intelligence.  The firm licenses IP and cookie to domain data, but most of the VisitorIntel intellectual property was developed internally.

Marketers insert a few lines of JavaScript into their corporate website to enable VisitorIntel.   SalesIntel then matches visitor activity to company domains and associated account intelligence.  While the visitors are anonymous, sales or marketing can reach out to targeted personas at the company, leveraging SalesIntel’s universe of recently verified contacts with emails, mobile numbers, and direct dials.  If relevant contacts are not available for the account, users may avail themselves of SalesIntel’s Research on Demand service.

Marketers may filter the visitor window (e.g. today, yesterday, this week, this month) to view recent site activity.  Site activity may be downloaded as a CSV or uploaded to Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Outreach, or SalesLoft.  When sent to SalesLoft or Outreach, a cadence / sequence can be initiated.

VisitorIntel should be viewed as a V1 release.  Activity is processed daily, with plans for real-time updates.  Its reporting is also fairly simple.

“It always helps our sales and marketing teams shorten sales cycles when we are able to target companies that have expressed interest in our products and services, and website visits are a terrific indicator of that interest.  If we can find the people who are checking us out on the web, and easily find the other people in that organization who we might want to reach out to, we are ahead of the game.  We believe our clients can similarly benefit, so we conceived and launched VisitorIntel within our SaaS product.”

SalesIntel CEO Manoj Ramnani

VisitorIntel is available as part of SalesIntel’s Pro premium package that also includes data enrichment and Bombora intent.  Pro pricing begins in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

SalesIntel also added keyword searching to its list building.  SalesIntel filtered two million terms down to 70,000 searchable keywords.  Keywords let marketers identify prospects based on ideal buyer persona or targeted messaging.

“Good, clean, and insightful data is the true enabler for sales and marketing teams, and it is core to our mission to provide our clients with as much detail as we can so that they can truly know their target buyer,” said CEO Manoj Ramnani.  “Keywords will greatly benefit our user base by providing that extra level of detail.”

SalesIntel has trebled its customer base over the past year, benefiting from market consolidation and its high-quality data positioning.  Sales slowed during the first two months of the pandemic, but have picked up with a strong pipeline.

SalesIntel continues to build out its database of quarterly re-verified contacts, reaching 6.2 million this month.  They have begun to internationalize this dataset.

HubSpot Sales & Marketing COVID Activity Metrics

HubSpot has measured aggregated sales and marketing platform activity across its 70,000 customers since the pandemic began and benchmarking this activity against the pre-COVID level (January through early March).  Looking back at Q2, CMO Kipp Bodnar noted that “the data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.”

Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer,” commented Bodnar.  “While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.”

Marketing email open rates are up ten to twenty percent above pre-COVID levels, with the last week of June running 18% above the baseline.

Sales teams have been less successful in their outbound communications.  While sales emails have risen 60% since mid-March, “response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.”

Sales email open rates are down 25 to 30%.  “As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes,” warned Bodnar.  “So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.”

“Volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.”

HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar

Website traffic increased during the pandemic as decisionmakers and influencers began working from home.  Global site traffic is up 16% in Q2 vs. Q1 with it peaking at 24% above the benchmark on April 20th.  Software industry site traffic is running at 40% above pre-pandemic levels.

Customer-initiated chat levels have also risen sharply during the pandemic.  Total volume is up 31% over the pre-pandemic baseline, with every measured industry seeing increased volume.  “Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support,” observed Bodnar.

Call prospecting has dropped significantly during the pandemic as it has become more difficult to reach individuals who are now working at home.  Call prospecting fell as much as 27% below baseline the week of April 6th and now is down around 9%.  Before COVID, there was a rough balance between phone and email prospecting, but in Q2, email activity doubled that of phone calls.  “Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates,” argued Bodnar.

Deal Creation has improved in eight of the eleven weeks since April 6th, with deal creation up the past four weeks.  APAC deal creation was down 5% in Q2, North America down 6%, EMEA down 12%, and LATAM down 12%.  Large companies have recovered deal creation activity faster than small firms.  Computer Software deal creation was down 3% in Q2.

Deal Won has improved ten of the last eleven weeks, after dropping to 36% below baseline the week of April 6th.  For the full quarter, deals won were down 11%.  Smaller firms did best at closing deals, with larger firms posting the weakest performance, likely due to large firms selling a greater percentage of high-dollar, strategic deals that would have stalled in their pipeline.  Computer software Q2 was 14% above baseline, but this probably overstates industry performance due to Q1 often being the slowest month of the year and the loss of many “hockey stick” end of quarter deals at the end of Q1 as the pandemic struck.  Some of these likely slipped into Q2.

Bodnar provided three suggestions for Q3: invest in chat, shift from quantity to quality in sales prospecting and communications, and invest in online discoverability.

InfoUSA Results Launched

Infogroup launched InfoUSA Results, an SMB solution for website building.  The package includes a custom website and landing page tied to online campaigns and a dedicated toll-free or local phone number.  InfoUSA Results also supports site analytics, SEO optimization, Google Ads, local listings, and display ad remarketing.  Customers can manage the site once it is built or let InfoUSA manage it.

“We designed InfoUSA Results so businesses can easily reach more customers online. We developed this product with the time-strapped business owner in mind.  Imagine, as a business owner, you have a team working on your behalf, and new customer leads come right to you.  In fact, it can be as simple as InfoUSA Results sending a text to a business owner alerting them that they have a new customer prospect who is interested in doing business with them.  That is pretty slick.”

Mark Cullinane, President of Local Marketing Solutions at Infogroup.

InfoUSA Results designs websites that are mobile-ready and search engine optimized with metadata and structured markup.  They are optimized for fast load times.  Sitemaps are submitted to Google for speedier indexation via the Google Search Console.  InfoUSA also distributes company data to hundreds of online directory listing platforms.

The service includes multi-channel lead tracking for calls, web forms, texts, and emails with analytics delivered via a dashboard.  Voice, SMS text, and email responses are reported and logged.  Calls are displayed on a geo map with length and quality.

Call management features include call recording, call whispering, and voicemail.

InfoUSA did not publish pricing but is offering a 30% discount for the next three months.

InfoUSA Results provides website design, SEO, display ad remarketing, and site analytics.

Demandbase Keynote: Three New Products

At Demandbase’s virtual Keynote on St. Patrick’s Day, Demandbase discussed the evolution of ABM platforms and three new products: Site Analytics, Data Stream, and Self-Service Targeting.

The first product announcement was around Site Analytics and improved web engagement metrics.  The functionality is not a replacement for Google or Adobe Analytics but enables an understanding of account-level interactions across the company website.  It also provides page-level intelligence concerning which pages matter the most, allowing marketers to promote and optimize high performing pages.

Site Analytics also helps uncover new audiences for sales and marketing outreach, such as verticals outside your current ICP.  It can also be used for understanding which accounts are demonstrating interest in a new product launch for SDR outreach, optimizing content based upon key account viewing activity, and monitoring trends to determine campaign performance and the impact of various marketing activities.

Marketers may filter by page, URL keyword, account filters (industry, revenue, and employment), page performance, and audience.  Marketers may also save filters and create new audiences based upon site traffic.

The second launch was Data Stream, which lets analysts push data from Demandbase into BI platforms for expanded account-level reporting.  Data Stream is designed for firms that have already invested in data modeling and reporting and that have a data team or data analyst working with a BI or reporting platform.  Demandbase data includes audience and account intelligence, campaign metrics, site analytics, and intent.

Daily, data is pushed into a data warehouse (e.g. Google Big Query, Amazon Redshift, Azure Synapse Analytics) or Cloud Storage (e.g. Google Cloud, Amazon S3, Azure Blog Storage).  From there, customers can load the data into reporting tools such as Tableau, Domo, or Google Data Studio and combine account-level data with other data sources.  This process provides an account-based lens to digital marketing alongside intent data and other corporate datasets.

Data Stream “helps you form a complete picture across your prospects and customers,” said VP of Marketing Phil Hollrah.  “Being able to deliver this data in an automated fashion with no manual intervention needed is a huge benefit to our customers.  You can set up your reports, you can auto-refresh this data daily, and then those reports are going to be up-to-date with the latest information.

Demandbase Self-Service Targeting Campaign Builder

The third release was Self-Serve Targeting for account-based advertising.  Previously, this was only available as a managed service, but now marketers can set up campaigns and creative, then modify and optimize the campaigns.  Self-Serve Targeting is supported by a five-step wizard that allows marketers to upload and change creative.  Marketers set up campaigns with budget, geolocation, duration, and audience.  And because it is self-serve, marketers can quickly adjust campaign budgets, scheduling, frequency, or creative, allowing them to make real-time changes.

The wizard provides a campaign forecast that estimates the max spend versus projected budget, estimated impressions against qualified accounts, and the likely reach across the targeted accounts.

Self-Serve Targeting supports multiple campaigns for different segments, whether performing 1-to-1 or 1-to-many advertising.

Site Analytics and Data Stream are generally available.  Self-Serve Targeting is available as part of an early adopter program.

Priority Engine Email Alerts

TechTarget, which gathers second-party, opted-in intent data, released IT Deal Alert Priority Engine Email Alerts.  The overly wordy offering helps “enterprise technology sales teams quickly identify and take action on the best opportunities in their territory.”

TechTarget research found that firms that “target active prospects with timely, relevant outreach generate twice as many opportunities.”  Active prospects are more likely to respond to sales rep outreach, accept meetings, attend meetings, and convert to opportunities (see TechTarget graphic on the bottom).

Priority Engine Email Alerts are delivered weekly and customized for each recipient.  Alerts may be set up by sales rep territory or ABM account lists to monitor “relevant buyer activity” at target accounts.  Sales reps can then click on the alerts to view account reports, contacts, and purchase intent insights (e.g. buying stage, competitors under consideration, relevant topics).  

TechTarget offers both first and second-party intent, so reps know about both technology research conducted on TechTarget’s 140 B2B Technology media sites and on their company’s website (first-party intent is supported via a KickFire OEM deal).

As TechTarget Account profiles include detailed intent data, reps are better able to qualify opportunities, tailor their message, and avoid landmines set by potential competitors.  Ideal Customer Profile Accounts are labeled, helping reps prioritize key Accounts.

“Sales reps are busier than ever and can easily miss opportunities, especially if they don’t have the right data in front of them,” said TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney.  “Priority Engine Email Alerts deliver the best opportunities in their territory directly to their inbox with all the intelligence they need to close more deals faster.”

In their investor presentation in November, TechTarget laid out a series of future enhancements including timeline views of territory activity, contact-centered call lists, SFDC single sign-on, opportunity timelines, leveraging data on customer website visitors, and individual-level qualification and ranking.  Several items, including alerts, territories, and Salesforce syncing, have already been released.

TechTarget will also be launching a Priority Engine Express service for SMBs and resellers this quarter.

Zoominfo Workflows

Workflows deliver triggered audiences to CRMs, MAPs, and SEPs.

Zoominfo which launched its combined Zoominfo powered by DiscoverOrg platform in September, 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.”

Workflows identify new and existing prospects based on real-time B2B intelligence.  The prospects are then deployed to automated sales and marketing campaigns.  Audience segmentation can be applied according to intent, event, and news-based triggers including new technology installations, funding rounds, product launches, first- and third-party web activity, spending priorities, and other buying signals with additional company attributes.

One of the triggers is visitor intelligence gathered from their recently launched WebSights service.  “Now, you can engage prospects from organizations researching your site with direct-dial phone numbers and accurate email addresses.  What’s more, you can view your data and segment it according to firmographic filters, for instance, enabling better, more personalized outreach.”

Workflows support a set of sales engagement, CRM, and MAP platforms including Outreach, SalesLoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eloqua, and Marketo.  Sequences can drop audiences into campaigns or kick off sales cadences.  For example, a trigger can be set up for specific events and filtered by firmographics, technographics, biographics, or event-specific parameters such as Funding Amounts.

“Integrations with popular sales and marketing applications give customers the opportunity to marry ongoing custom triggers with essential prospecting information from ZoomInfo and connect with potential buyers in a personalized, more efficient way.”

Zoominfo

“Modern B2B buyers demand a personalized experience,” said Zoominfo CEO Henry Schuck.  “Solely relying on standard and static company criteria to identify key prospects restricts sales and marketing’s ability to meet those expectations, especially when timing is so often the difference between a deal that is won or lost.  ZoomInfo Workflows solves this problem with features that capture dynamic buying behavior across first- and third-party channels, as its collected, along with hundreds of rules to automate as little or as much of the go-to-market motion as they’d like.”

Zoominfo has migrated 1,000 customers to its new platform.

Episerver Acquires Idio

Idio's AI Powered 1:1 Marketing Platform

Web content management vendor Episerver acquired web content personalization and analytics firm Idio.  Episerver will now be able to predict the interests and intent of buyers and deliver “hyper-relevant” content.  The combined company is able to deliver personalized content, product recommendations, product search, triggered emails and messages, and visitor intelligence.  B2B solutions span manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, technology, information services, and financial services.

“At the end of the day, people realize every digital interaction is fueled by a business selling something to them whether the sale is via a shopping cart, a service or a subscription,” said Justin Anovick, chief product officer at Episerver.  “Persuading people to act is not problematic if the business is providing something of value to them but most digital interactions are created for the masses and end up catering to no one.”

“Idio powers 1:1 digital experiences at global scale. This acquisition is the next part of our mission to help our enterprise clients serve their end customers with timely, relevant and cross-channel experiences.  The combined organization, with Episerver’s deep content and commerce expertise and Idio’s predictive and analytical capabilities, make for an exciting future for customer-centric marketers.”

Idio CEO Edward Barrow.  

Idio will continue as a standalone product but will be “merged functionally” with Episerver.

“The combined company, with the financial backing from Insight Partners, intends to aggressively grow our deployment and success teams, as well as a significant acceleration in product innovation to help marketers achieve greater value from customer-centric marketing,” blogged Idio.

No financial terms were disclosed as both companies are private.

Note: Idio slide courtesy of Idio.

Bombora for Growth

Bombora gathers company website intelligence (1st-party intelligence) through its NetFactor Visitortrack service and combines it with 3rd-party intent data from B2B Media Companies.

Bombora announced the availability of a Growth package which provides a “concentrated” set of intent data for SMBs.  Both first and third-party intent data are delivered through CRM, MAP, and CDPs including Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, LiveRamp, Oracle, Lattice Engines, Leadspace, and Everstring.

First-party intent data is derived from a firm’s own website. Bombora quietly acquired NetFactor for visitor intelligence and packages it alongside its third-party intent data from dozens of B2B media websites. Combined, first and third-party intelligence help identify which companies are actively in-market for solutions. Firms can opt to run campaigns which target high-intent companies (e.g. programmatic, email), or deem the leads marketing qualified and pass them to sales.

Growth provides an unlimited feed of high-intent companies spanning up to eighteen topics.  Bombora identifies companies with a surge score of at least 70, which approximately represents the top 6% of companies with interest in a topic.  As multiple topics are being measured, the feed covers approximately the top 25% of companies.  Because Bombora compares surge scores against topical baselines, surge scores are normalized such that companies in industries related to a topic and very large companies do not dominate.  Surge scores are updated weekly and available for 2.8 million company domains across 6,100 B2B topics.

The Growth package also includes dedicated support, visitor intelligence, browser access, and integrations.  Pricing begins at $17,500 plus integration fees.

“What’s happened over the last five or ten years is that the way companies buy products and services has changed pretty significantly” as buyers conduct a significant percentage of their research prior to raising their hand.  “In the past, if you were going into a buying cycle, you’d just engage with the companies that you think you might ultimately work with; and those companies would be part of that process from the beginning.  The promise of intent data is to tap into that part of the process which is no longer visible to a vendor during the prospect’s buying cycle.”

Bombora SVP of Data Sales Mike Burton

“Over the last 12 to 18 months, the market has figured out that this data is really important, in terms of getting into sales cycles and driving pipeline,” continued Burton.

Bombora tracks first and third-party intent to the location level.  Thus, there are no issues with GDPR compliance or the collection of personally identifiable information.

Bombora identifies surging topics by location with topics often acting as proxies for personas.  “If Boeing, in Texas, is in a big research surge on accounting software and budgeting software, there’s a really good chance that’s coming out of a finance department, or a finance persona, rather than H.R. or a sales department,” said Burton.


Bombora has had several recent product and partnership announcements. Part two of this blog covers their new LiveRamp partnership and part three discusses intent-based workflows. They also recently licensed their data to Zylotech, a CDP.

Clearbit X

Clearbit X Audience Builder
Clearbit X Audience Builder

Data vendor Clearbit officially launched Clearbit X, their new marketing and sales “growth engine.”  The new service provides digital marketing and demand generation functionality with first and third-party intent data enrichment.  The Clearbit X platform consolidates data from CRM systems, activity data such as web events, visitor intelligence enriched with IP and domain information, and Clearbit’s third-party business data on companies and employees (e.g., company size, industry, contact information, etc.).

“Never before has a company created a growth suite built from the ground up to be data-first and focused on B2B buyers.  And what’s more, X is the only platform to natively combine both data the customer owns with our popular Clearbit data.  I’m looking forward to a future where marketing data is democratized, data-enabled, and smart.  Clearbit X is a big step towards this future.”

Clearbit CEO Alex MacCaw.

Features include Facebook and Google targeting, Slack and email alerts highlighting active opportunities based on intent, and Clearbit’s visitor intelligence which matches visitor activity to account intelligence via IP addresses.  Visitor intelligence assists with dynamic chat and website personalization.

Clearbit is positioning X as the “center of your data universe.“  According to the firm, “The power supply of any great growth engine is real-time access to what we call your entire dataverse – all your user data, activity data, and enrichment data.  Clearbit X brings all of that together in one place.”

“Being able to layer Clearbit firmographic data onto our existing data in Salesforce is really powerful,” said Yuri Daniels, director of performance marketing at Zenefits.  “X has helped ensure that we are targeting customers in our ideal customer profile as well as being able to exclude people already inside of our funnel to make new leads.  We can target very specific lists on Facebook with much more efficiency and LinkedIn-level specificity.”

Clearbit is focused on onboarding their first twenty-five customers and will release more product details towards the end of the year.