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Auto-Detecting Sales-Opportunity Contacts With AI

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How would you like to see a plethora of buyers lurking around each opportunity in your sales pipeline? I mean all the buyers, including those that don’t directly engage, but show some level of interest. The ones that don’t expose themselves. Buyers who are included in email threads and meetings, but haven’t been added to the CRM by sales reps. Or what about buyers that are exploring your website and looking at your solution, but aren’t included in sales’ emails or meetings?

Mediafly Completes Acquisition Of iPresent

Mediafly, a sales enablement and content management platform, has acquired UK-based sales enablement platform iPresent. The acquisition aims to provide Mediafly users with a range of offerings — such as workshops and advisory services, ROI and TCO calculators, CRM integration and content and sales readiness tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chorus.ai Launches AI-Based Feature That Highlights Key Sales Moments

Chorus.ai, a conversation intelligence platform for sales teams, has launched a new Recommendations feature designed to use artificial intelligence to pinpoint key moments from sales calls. The solution aims to provide reps deeper insights into sales calls to better educate themselves and uncover signals that could make — or break — a purchase decision.

Selling New Products Is A Matter Of Will Or Skill

Dave EgloffMany chief sales officers (CSOs) struggle to get their sellers to effectively and productively sell new products. It may seem like the problem is caused by sales development issues or a lack of cross-selling opportunities, but those are only symptoms of the problem. Assuming the issue is not the product itself, the problem may be rooted in seller will or skill.

Problems With Seller ‘Will’

A will problem shows in an inability to attract seller attention. CSOs can analyze pipeline and opportunity data to see how dedicated sellers are supporting new product launches. As intended, the sales pipeline is meant to provide transparency into future results. When the new product has a soft pipeline, it is the result of sellers failing to create opportunities … but why?

Many sellers feel that selling the new product is not as much an opportunity, but rather an opportunity cost to selling the legacy products. A remedy for a will problem is compensation.

Research from Gartner’s Sales Practice shows that sales leaders should consider the following factors when examining the opportunity cost conundrum:

  • Rate of Pay — do sellers get the same rate of pay for all products? A premium rate may be needed to attract sellers to the new product — do not be too aggressive. A rate that is too high may put existing product sales at risk.
  • Size of Deal — what is the anticipated deal size for the new product compared to the historical average deal size (across other products)? If sellers typically sell $500,000 deals, a $100,000 new product opportunity may not seem like a good investment of time.
  • Length of Opportunity — this time metric is a proxy for the level of effort. Like the size of the deal, issues arise as new product opportunities compare negatively to the historical averages. People do not want to work harder for the same level of pay.
  • Perceived Success Rate — if sellers don’t see an opportunity, they will focus their energy on where they perceive more success.

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Many of these factors can be best observed as comparative metrics. When the comparison identifies a significant gap — mostly reflected in income potential — compensation can close the gap and attract sellers to the new products.

Problems With Seller ‘Skill’

A skill problem signifies that the sellers are missing something. Skill problems reveal themselves in both a lack of seller attention and an inability to close deals — reflected in metrics like win-rate. Sales enablement is the remedy for skill problems. Gartner research shows that sales leaders faced with seller skill challenges should consider the following:

  • Launch product awareness campaigns to help sellers understand and effectively communicate the value proposition.
  • Audit sales collateral to ensure that your sellers have the proper tools to become “new product savvy.” These tools should help sellers — and their managers — identify the right opportunities and improve execution.
  • Leverage differentiated content to appeal to the various learning styles across sellers in the organization. This approach increases both the consumption and retention of the content.
  • Ensure sales managers are involved. Sales managers can highlight the new product launch in their team meetings and reinforce the launch in their one-on-ones.

If sales metrics fail to provide insights into whether the challenges are “will” versus “skill,” CSOs should work with the front-line sales managers to identify both root causes to each challenge and potential remedies. In some rarer cases, the situation may call for a full examination of sales role clarity and overall coverage. This might be true if:

  • Compensation changes to address problems with sellers’ will cause unnecessary risk to other sales goals; and
  • Competent sellers in each role are overwhelmed with all the skill they need to accumulate to be successful.

Sales role clarity and sales coverage model changes are larger efforts that can be quite disruptive. CSOs are far better off exhausting solutions across will and skill — as these are easier to resolve tactically.

While organizations are excited to launch new products, a slow ramp-up will frustrate and cause friction between go-to-market stakeholders. The most successful organizations highlight the value of the new product to both buyers and sellers. Sellers should see new products to penetrate new markets, challenge market competitors and expand existing customer relationships.


David Egloff is a Senior Director at Gartner, currently advising Chief Sales Officers and Sales Operations leaders on initiatives spanning sales force design and operations. Primary areas of focus include role design, segmentation, sales coverage models, analytics, sales compensation and sales transformation. Additionally, lead research and content agendas across sales strategy and design and sales.

How To Fine-Tune Your Data Strategies With Webinars

The devil’s in the details — or in marketing’s case, the devil’s in the data. Almost every B2B marketer has a data problem, whether it’s getting the right data on target accounts ensuring data is accurate and up to date or aligning sales and marketing around the same data, the list is endless. And thanks to GDPR, the pressure is on to get your data strategies cleaned up and compliant.

  • Published in Blog

Sales Gets Social: The Rising Tide Of Social Engagement Tools

Screen Shot 2019 07 29 at 9.51.33 AMIn the early stages of launching my company Grapevine6, we met with all kinds of businesses to find a fit for our social engagement tool. One of those early conversations summed up the negative perception of social selling. The director of an inside sales team asked, “Why am I paying our reps to spend half their time on LinkedIn when they’re just building their résuméto get another job?”

Management should have known better. Salespeople are driven to generate revenue and don’t spend half their day doing something that doesn’t drive sales. Social isn’t just for wasting time or finding a job. It’s a powerful resource for advancing the buying cycle and is especially effective for considered purchases where trust is key. It’s a Rolodex that’s never out of date, a network you can be in front of 24/7 and a treasure trove of background information on every contact you want to reach.

SAP Adopts Social Selling

It seems obvious now, but it took a few early adopters to prove the business case. Global technology giant SAP jumped in early and had so much success that it scaled up to a global social selling program. Building over 1 billion Euros in pipeline across 15,000 salespeople around the world, SAP proved that social selling was a game changer.

Sales wasn’t alone in using social media. Early on, marketing recognized the stickiness of social, which created a huge opportunity to drive brand awareness and more importantly, build credibility. The Edelman Trust Barometer consistently showed that companies had a trust problem. Consumers trusted their friends, not brands. Social marketing was a way to tap into that social proof.

Content Marketing Jumps In

The technology supporting the first wave of social marketing specifically served brands. Highly complex tools sifted through the firehose of social content to identify brand mentions and orchestrate multi-touch campaigns. While effective, these technologies demanded dedicated expert resources to operate, which restricted access to mid-to-large enterprises. There was a gap in the market to make social and content marketing more accessible to individuals and small businesses.

Employee Advocacy Gains Traction

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As social marketing evolved and matured, brand marketers also saw an opportunity to exploit employee social networks to amplify their messages. Brands were investing heavily in content, and any added impressions helped ROI. A new set of tools emerged in the employee advocacy space that served up marketing content to employees to post in a simple application. Dozens of advocacy apps appeared, but results were hit or miss. Because posting brand content wasn’t authentic and didn’t necessarily deliver any real value for the employee, companies constantly needed to come up with outside incentives to keep employees posting. Giving the same content to every employee caused user adoption to suffer.

The one-size-fits-all approach to content was particularly frustrating for the sales team. Sales was the most interested in engaging customers on social to build relationships with buyers, but posting the same brand content as everyone else was turning customers off. They needed relevant third-party content that was authentic, helpful and could build a personal brand that buyers could connect with and trust. Employee advocacy tools elevated the company brand, but a new wave of tools was needed to that elevate the salesperson’s brand.

Getting Personal With AI

The key to creating an authentic brand on social is personalization, but marketing could never manually curate personalized content for an entire salesforce of thousands. AI changes the game by enabling differentiation at scale. The next wave of social selling tools is here and has content and AI at its core. Tools like Grapevine6 use AI to read through the thousands of articles published yesterday to find the 10 that are most relevant to each salesperson’s brand.

AI also enables scaling regulatory and risk management in social selling. Digital risk tools from Proofpoint, SafeGuard Cyber, ZeroFox and ThetaLake can inspect content, including video and images, for dozens of different types of risk that impact corporate brands. They can also secure social accounts from security risks, like hackers.

As both the market and tools mature, companies that sell on relationships must be actively engaged in social selling. The practice has moved past the early adopter stage and is becoming table stakes for a modern digital salesforce. Today, with the right tools, salespeople in any industry can be empowered to develop an authentic personal voice on social and leverage the full potential of these channels without posing a regulatory or reputational risk to their employers.  


Mike Orr is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Grapevine6, where he is responsible for product delivery. Before joining the Grapevine6 team, Mike spent several years in management consulting, working with some of Canada's marquee brands. He led a skunkworks and project management team at one of Canada's leading digital advertising agencies on projects that won global awards and recognition.

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