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CRM profile enrichment requires more and effective automation




Profile enrichment is playing a more important role in CRM these days, but not all CRM systems are in a position to be supportive. Frequently, proper delivery of the data needed can only be achieved by closer integration between a CRM player and a specialist.

A profile enrichment application should be capable of analyzing literally billions of pieces of information to connect an individual’s separate online identities and create a rich, accurate lead profile. The more information that can be gleaned on a prospect, the more effectively a company can use that prospect in its sales process. Marketers and sales professionals want the ability to engage leads and spark conversations, ideally using marketing and CRM apps and workflows, but this is not always possible if a CRM application is not properly supported.

FullContact and have recently announced a partnership aimed at giving small and mid-sized businesses the tools to seamlessly integrate profile enrichment with dozens of CRM systems. This removes the perennial question: Will my CRM system support this?

“The partnership helps businesses carry out their marketing and sales operations more effectively,” says Ashok Gudibandia, CEO of Automate IO. “With more information about the prospect, sales teams save time researching prospects to focus on actually selling.”

The kind of integration the partnership is seeking to achieve enriches leads, users and subscribers as they enter CRM and marketing tools. Rather than relying on multiple systems and applications to access relevant information, teams can instantly gain a single identity resolution embedded into existing CRM workflows.

Audience-based triggers and applications can be applied to any lead or opportunity, to support campaigns and channel engagement and ultimately create more personalized experiences.
Such profile enrichment is not nearly as widely available as it could be.

According to FullContact, the new partnership – and others like it – will make this achievable on a much broader variety of marketing- and sales-related cloud applications.

Key Takeaways:

• Automation is going to become critical as companies manage larger volumes of data on each prospect within CRM systems.
• While there is much talk of the advantages of AI, it requires a high level of data volume. In turn, this implies automation and cross-application integration.
• Automate IO helps companies become more productive and agile by automating marketing, sales or any internal processes.
• FullContact creates customer intelligence APIs that help companies to unlock the benefits of understanding customers and prospects from a holistic perspective.

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Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews Stay Tuned for the CRM 4.0 Revolution




Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews Stay Tuned for the CRM 4.0 Revolution

Byron Matthews is the president and CEO of Miller Heiman Group, a global provider of sales methodology and sales technology solutions.

In this exclusive interview, Matthews shares some secrets to enabling sales success.

Miller Heiman CEO
Byron Matthews

CRM Buyer: What is sales enablement, and why is it important?

Byron Matthews: There’s a gap in performance across B2B selling, because buyers are innovating faster than sellers are getting better at selling. Sales enablement’s function is to try to close that gap. It’s not sales operation, like territory plans or comp plans. It’s more strategic, in terms of trying to drive sales performance by getting better content and coaching services for salespeople.

Selling models are changing. It used to be acceptable that you’d show up and ask good questions to get an understanding of a customer’s needs. Then you’d go back and find a solution. Today, that’s not good enough, because buyers are not going to sellers for information. They’re more informed, so the time you spend with a customer cannot be based just on getting an understanding of their needs. You need to provide insight and inspire and educate them. A lot of firms aren’t built that way.

Sales enablement provides content to sellers who have the situational fluency to know what information they need in order to make the conversations they have with buyers more sophisticated.

CRM Buyer: What does it mean to have a holistic approach to developing, managing and sustaining long-term customer relationships?

Matthews: Today it’s not just about initial sales, but a much larger relationship. It’s about the entire buyer journey, from how they connect with you to sales to service. All of those touchpoints need to be connected and coordinated. You need to manage the entire buyer’s journey.

CRM Buyer: What can be done to improve the adoption of CRM by sales reps?

Matthews: CRM has never been designed for the seller. It’s been designed for sales managers and sales operations. Find me a seller that would say, ” I would never have won that deal if it weren’t for my CRM system.” You can’t, because that comment doesn’t exist.

We believe that we’re on a verge of CRM 4.0.There’s a massive explosion of new technology, all trying to solve the what’s-in-it-for-me for the salesperson.

CRM 4.0 will be AI-driven, insight-led, and powered by sales processes and methodology. The way I engage my CRM system will be based on what I need to do, and defined by that methodology. The time of having a generic CRM interface is going to end.

AI-driven and insight-led engagement is what everything will be about. What do I need to do? What meetings do I need to have? You’ll look toward the technology to help you answer those questions.

CRM Buyer: How do you see AI helping salespeople?

Matthews: If I’m chasing a deal, I have to figure out who are all the people who are making decisions, what role they’re in. There’s a whole series of behaviors I need to think about.

A methodology organizes all of that, and the behavior turns into action. It tells you that these are the next three things I need to do: I should meet with this person, get this information, send this email.

Imagine if that was the way that I interfaced with a CRM system. As I have more and more deals, it starts to learn my behaviors. It might learn, for instance, that I don’t get to the person who signs the contract in time. I use the people below them, and I don’t fight hard enough for the meeting with the economic buyer. It shows over time that I’m less successful when I don’t get to the economic buyer.

The system would say something like this: You’re losing 72 percent of the time when you don’t get to the economic buyer, so you need to consider leveraging the person who works for the economic buyer to get a meeting, and here’s the content you should use, because the last two times you did, it was successful. That would drastically increase the likelihood of me using the system.

It’s not about me filling out a form, but it’s a way for me to think, over time, about what I can do differently. That’s how the whole game’s going to get changed.

CRM Buyer: What role does gamification play in sales success, and in encouraging the adoption and use of CRM?

Matthews: We believe that the adoption of CRM will be way past 80 percent as we see more automated insights. After that, you can add in gamification, in the sense that you get badges and points. There are things you get for accuracy of forecast. There’s transparency around results.

But none of that’s going to happen until you turn a CRM system into something that adds value for a salesperson. It has to augment their thinking about what they should be doing in a day, and until that switch happens, you’ll never get above 70 percent adoption.

CRM Buyer: Why is it important to automate mundane selling tasks?

Matthews: There’s not a lot of value in them. Many really good sellers spend way too much time on those tasks, and time with buyers is decreasing. Buyer engagement is lower, because buyers don’t look to sellers for information anymore. If you have less time with buyers, the time you do have with them has to inspire and educate and provide insights. It takes time to do all of that.

If you are stuck in non-selling activity, you are spending less time preparing for those critical moments that matter. The most important thing is to prepare for client interactions. You cannot be stuck in tedious tasks.

CRM Buyer: How is CRM evolving and changing? What’s in the future?

Matthews: I think the whole thing’s going to change. CRM 4.0 is finally going to be about the user experience and about value to the user. It will be AI-driven, insight-led, and powered by methodology. It’s going to be a massive revolution.

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Marketing Partnership to Help Fine-Tune Targeting




Marketing Partnership to Help Fine-Tune Targeting

Sonobi and San Francisco-based LiveRamp, an Axiom company, on Tuesday announced a partnership to help marketers improve targeting of potential customers.

The partnership will let brands and agencies build media packages using the Sonobi JetStream multichannel ad platform and LiveRamp’s identity resolution system.

“Sonobi has a forecasting and planning engine that understands the visitation patterns of an individual user across the open Web,” said Michael Connolly, CEO of the Winter Park, Florida-based company.

“Through our integration with LiveRamp, we can give their clients a complete understanding of how to best find their customers,” he told CRM Buyer.

Users will be able to connect their CRM databases directly with media companies with appropriate inventory, giving LiveRamp’s marketer customers direct control over building Deal IDs, the unique number LiveRamp uses to match buyers and sellers of programmatic media.

“The process of building Deal IDs is time consuming and complex,” Connolly said. “This partnership lets the end user create Deal IDs with one click and [provides] flexibility on how to traffic those deals.”

Direct control over building Deal IDs lets users understand where their customers consume media, connect brand data with appropriate publishers, and create cross-channel and cross-format deals. It also lets them make programmatic media purchases more efficiently.

Publishers will get better feedback on content because of the partnership, noted Ray Wang, fprincipal analyst at Constellation Research. Consumers will get less spam and more targeted and relevant experiences.

Sonobi can reach about 100 million logged-in users across multiple publishers. Its ID product connects marketers with consumers signed in across the top 200 publishers as ranked by ComScore, as well as another 5,000 publications.

While the partnership approach will work, “it gets more complicated as you keep adding additional systems,” Wang told CRM Buyer.

The Partnership’s Impact

“This is a cross-selling opportunity for both LiveRamp and Sonobi,” observed Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

It lets users “streamline the marketing process by linking channels from Sonobi’s marketplace with unique consumer IDs from LiveRamp,” she told CRM Buyer. “Scale and breadth are really important in this space, so this benefits both.”

The partnership “should give marketers an easier way to measure and track the overall impact of their impressions on individual consumers, and streamline the buying and negotiation process from targeting to engagement,” Wettemann noted. It would also reduce the burden of vendor management, as purchasers “can buy the whole plan, from target to impression.”

Consumers will experience fresher, more relevant digital engagement from brands, and more easily can discover offerings they want, Sonobi said.

Teaming up “improves reach for LiveRamp in another system,” remarked Constellation’s Wang. For Sonobi, identity resolution “improves segmentation and targeting, which improves the conversion rate.”

LiveRamp has partnerships with other companies, including Bing for search marketing, and Google’s Customer Match (for which IdentityLink was initially created).

Sonobi, meanwhile, has ambitions to build the third largest addressable digital marketplace.

Leveraging CRM

Currently, programmatic media planning using data from CRM packages has to go through a lengthy route, as programmatic purchasing is likely to be buried in media buying stacks, Sonobi said. That reduces the control CRM teams have over media plans.

Connecting CRM databases directly to media companies with high-quality inventory “takes [users] one step closer to mass personalization at scale,” Wang pointed out.

Traditional CRM vendors have focused more on B2B targeting, Wettemann noted, and “as the lines blur between B2B and B2C, we’re seeing, and expect to see, more similar partnerships — with Oracle Data Cloud and its media partners, for example, and Salesforce and Google.”

B2B customers increasingly have been expecting the same ease of purchase and accessibility to online purchasing as in the B2C field.

One recurring problem with CRM systems, which is common to all databases, is that the entries have to be cleaned and updated regularly. How can companies tackle this issue if their CRM databases are connected directly to media companies?

“There is a need to clean the data,” Wang said, “but identity resolution helps improve data quality.”

Bringing Programmatic Ads In-House

More than 80 percent of digital display ads will be purchased programmatically this year, eMarketer has predicted.

That will add up to US$46 billion dollars’ worth of ads — about $10 billion more than in 2017.

By 2020, that figure will go up to $65 billion, according to eMarketer.

Nearly two-thirds of brands making programmatic ad purchases have moved the function in-house, either fully or partially, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Among the advantages:

  • Improved ad performance and return on investment;
  • Greater cost efficiency and transparency;
  • Better control and management of data and targeting;
  • Enhanced real-time optimization; and
  • Full accountability and focus on brand goals.

The Sonobi-LiveRamp partnership also will help companies that want to bring programmatic advertising in-house.

The technology will be made available to LiveRamp customers only, for a three-month public beta. Agencies will be able to participate after that.

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New AI-Driven Strategy Aims to Heat Up B2B Sales




New AI-Driven Strategy Aims to Heat Up B2B Sales

EverString, a San Mateo, California-based startup that offers artificial intelligence software for business-to-business sales, marketing and operations teams, on Wednesday released FIRE, a four-point strategy to improve sales performance.

The FIRE methodology is designed to unite and simplify the goals of sales and marketing teams.

“FIRE” stands for Fit, Intent, Recency and Engagement:

  • Fit – know which accounts are a good match for your product or service;
  • Intent – see who’s doing heightened research, indicating a motivation to buy;
  • Recency – get insight on how recently an account showed intent or engaged with your brand; and
  • Engagement – understand when and in what way an account has interacted with your brand.

The strategy has been incorporated into EverString’s predictive analytics platform, which uses AI and machine learning, said Matt Amundson, VP of marketing and sales.

“Our framework makes it simple to incorporate these data signals into an existing sales and marketing stack,” he told CRM Buyer.

Customers feed existing engagement data from marketing automation platforms or account-based marketing platforms, such as Terminus or Engage, into the platform.

Companies are not required to purchase EverString’s platform to use the FIRE strategy, but “we make it very simple and include FIRE as a dashboard in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics as a part of our install package,” Amundson said.

EverString is offered as a Software as a Service platform, and “most companies are up and running within a week,” Amundson said.

Pricing, which depends on the size of the purchasing company, begins at US$20,000 a year.

Companies on FIRE

A good fit assessment operates at scale using a data-driven platform that mines a company’s existing data for the characteristics of a winning account. It cascades insights across the business Internet to identify who in the market is a likely match, EverString said.

Intent data reveals which accounts have been doing heightened research on topics related to a company’s offering, indicating motivation to buy. This goes beyond intent analytics, which is based on who visits a company’s website and what they do while there.

Intent data scans the entire business Internet for potential leads, spotting who is researching and engaging with other companies in the same business vertical and therefore might be a potential customer.

Fewer potential customers have been visiting company websites. Instead, they have been conducting research on third-party websites to read reviews, learn about products, and weigh their options without engaging directly with a brand or having to field sales calls and emails.

Good intent data follows prospects along their path, scoring behavior when they do research.

Recency data reveals how recently a prospect has demonstrated intent or engaged with a company. It lets sales teams prioritize target accounts by identifying who has been conducting active research within the company’s category.

Further, it facilitates reaching out to existing customers who might be investigating alternatives, or who have shown interest in a newly launched product.

Recency data creates powerful opportunities for retention, upselling and cross-selling.

Engagement data shows when, and in what way, an account has interacted with a brand. When engagement data is combined with fit, intent and recency data, sales teams have the data needed to drive a powerful account-based marketing strategy, said EverString.

“When CRM came along, we discovered it was actually possible to swamp the sales process with too many mediocre leads,” recalled Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research.

“That was all about quantity,” he told CRM Buyer. “At last, it seems, there’s someone working on lead quality in a way that doesn’t require human touch early in the process. This leads to much greater efficiencies and identification of which deals are truly best to pursue.”

Tapping Into CRM

EverString’s platform puts FIRE to work inside users’ existing point solutions. It analyzes information from their Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM software to build a data-driven profile of the ideal customer. It then uses automated artificial intelligence and machine learning to scan the business Internet and sort and prioritize the best target accounts.

Every marketer, sales development representative, and sales rep across the user organization can access the data directly.

EverString’s platform can be integrated with a client’s CRM software in less than a week, Amundson said, adding that it integrates with all marketing packages.

“EverString offers the only platform incorporating Fit, Intent and Recency data that can be fully operationalized into an existing CRM and marketing automation stack,” he noted. “We offer the only platform that can be deployed within days and requires little to no setup from our customers.”

How Fire Works

Users plug EverString into their CRM and marketing automation systems and use filters such as employee size, industry and technology to create a model of the leads they want.

The platform crawls business websites to index them for demographic and technographic data for indicators of intent and interest.

“We don’t collect people’s data, only data about businesses,” Amundson noted.

The system also uses Bombora data, which monitors intent on B2B publications.

Some vendors, such as InsideView, use analytics to identify prospects either in the news or in a business vertical, while others select targets based on a company’s historic experiences with similar companies, Beagle’s Pombriant noted, “but it takes a long time to train a model, and often a company’s data is incomplete. Being able to reach out to the Internet to fill in the holes makes a lot of sense.”

EverString “offers the most reliable B2B dataset to create confidence around a single source of truth to be utilized across an entire go-to-market team — marketing, sales and sales development,” Amundson maintained.

“Everyone and their dog is talking about sales-marketing alignment,” remarked Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“I’m not sure there’s anything special here about FIRE other than a new acronym,” she told CRM Buyer.

Further, “all their dogs are also talking about data platforms and using AI and big data to attack the marketing/targeting challenge,” she said.

EverString’s differentiator “is combining human intelligence and AI to discover, scrub and operationalize B2B data,” Wettemann said. “For companies that already have technology supporting an ABM strategy in place, EverString should be a useful accelerator.”

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