LinkedIn Sales Navigator will now surface more content for sales teams to share

LinkedIn is integrating Elevate, its content-sharing app, into Sales Navigator.

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Among the quarterly product updates released Wednesday in LinkedIn Sales Navigator are more features for discovering and managing leads, a redesigned Help Center and an integration with its content-sharing app Elevate.

Bringing more content into Sales Navigator. LinkedIn first launched Elevate — an app designed to help users curate and share content on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — in 2015. Now, Sales Navigator users who also use the Elevate app will receive alerts on their Sales Navigator homepage when new content is available.

Users will be able to access the content without having to log into Elevate, and then share it on LinkedIn as well as Twitter and Facebook.

“Marketers will still be able to control what content they’d like to see employees post,” writes Doug Camplejohn on LinkedIn’s Sales Blog, “But now Sales Navigator users will have an even easier time boosting their brand and the brand of their company.”

LinkedIn reports salespeople who regularly share content are 45% more likely to surpass their quota.

New ways to manage lead lists. As part of the quarterly update, Sales Navigator will now let users sort Custom Lead Lists by Name Account and Geography, and Custom Account Lists can be sorted by Name and Geography.

Users will also be able to copy a lead list that was shared with them, creating a new list that they can own, and perform a “bulk save” for all leads or accounts from a shared list. There’s also a new feature that lets users remove shared lists from their list hub.

Lead discovery updates. Sales Navigator is increasing the number of results when performing a search for new leads. Previously, it capped the total available search results at 1,000, but is increasing that number to 2,500, giving users a longer list of potential leads.

When a user sends a request to connect on LinkedIn via the Sales Navigator platform, they now will be able to save that potential connection as a lead. Regardless if the person connects, the user will still get alerts on the lead and the account — notifying them of new activity like a promotion or company funding announcement. It is also adding a feature that lets users know when an existing lead is currently on LinkedIn (putting a green status dot by their profile picture).

A redesigned Help Center with new chat function. LinkedIn has redesigned the Sales Navigator Help Center, giving more visibility to shortcuts, recommended topics and the “Contact Us” link. It is also rolling out a “Chat with Us” feature that lets users contact support rep via a chat function in real-time.

Whey we should care. LinkedIn says more than 1.3 million lead and account lists have been created in Sales Navigator. For marketers managing B2B campaigns, this latest update will benefit their content strategy efforts, helping them push more content to their sales team. On the sales side, the update offers more functionality with improved lead discovery and management features.

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NCS launches AI service to optimize for offline incremental sales in CPG digital campaigns

The Sales Lift Metrics service is designed to provide in-flight data on key campaign tactics, such as audience targets, media placements, creative messaging and ad formats.

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CPG-focused ad metrics agency Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) announced on Thursday the launch of Sales Lift Metrics, a new in-flight campaign optimization service.

Driven by AI and machine learning technology, Sales Lift Metrics aims to deliver weekly incremental sales metrics that advertisers can use to inform and enhance campaign outcomes while they’re still active.

For programmatic campaigns, NCS said the service can help buyers optimize ad spend by tapping into real-time incremental sales metrics, allowing advertisers to dial-up or dial-down spend accordingly.  

“CPG advertisers face urgent demands to reduce budget waste and optimize for sales outcomes,” said NCS EVP of strategy, Carl Spaulding. “Until now, their only options to improve results were to make changes post-campaign or rely on in-flight media performance metrics not directly related to offline sales. But with this innovative solution, advertisers can tap into near real-time insights and refine campaigns in-flight to improve outcomes.”

The Sales Lift Metrics service is designed to provide in-flight data on key campaign tactics, such as audience targets, media placements, creative messaging and ad formats.

Earlier this year, Adobe signed on as a pilot partner for Sales Lift Metrics to test its CPG campaign optimization methodology. According to a representative from Adobe, NCS’ in-flight solution has been able to deliver lucrative insights around the campaign tactics that drive incremental sales “on a much shorter latency than with existing industry solutions.” Adobe added, “With this knowledge, our CPG advertisers can make campaign decisions to gain and maximize incremental sales.”

Why we should care

“Near real-time visibility into the effectiveness of campaign tactics that are the primary drivers of incremental sales has long been a desired ideal for advertisers,” says Leslie Wood, chief research officer at NCS.

The ability to interpret real-time metrics on a tactical level means that advertisers can modify campaigns in-flight to produce more efficient and accurate outcomes. This could help cut down on ad spend while also presenting an opportunity to course-correct during the campaign’s lifetime.

For CPG marketers, in particular, understanding the immediate sales lift on a campaign-by-campaign basis can help build a more complete picture of the immediate market and inform future campaign strategies.

More on the news

  • Sales Lift Metrics is part of NCS’ Optimize Solutions Suite, which also includes NCS Purchase Data Metrics – an automated API tool designed for publishers.
  • Earlier this year, NCS announced its adoption of machine learning technology aimed at building audience segments and driving sales lift metrics.
  • Causal sales metrics are available to all NCS clients to allow them to test, learn and optimize campaigns in near real-time.

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IBM’s Watson Marketing spinoff launches with agile strategy

The company will focus on delivering marketing solutions that could compete with larger marketing cloud vendors.

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Back in April, IBM’s Watson Marketing announced plans to spin off to form a standalone marketing company under the new ownership of New York-based private equity firm Centerbridge Partners.

The new company, which is still yet to be named, launched on Monday.  The company aims to deliver marketing automation, marketing analytics and content management solutions. 

In separating from IBM’s larger umbrella, Watson Marketing should be able to focus more keenly on its marketing customers’ needs.

“Marketers and advertisers are burdened with mediocre technology and disappointed that most of the promises MarTech and AdTech companies make aren’t kept,” CEO Marc Simpson wrote in a blog post. “They’re being asked to change the way they work to retro-fit to the tools they use, rather than the other way around. The difficulty of making sense of their data is made even tougher by consumers questioning if it should be available to marketers in the first place. We’ve leaned heavily into technology, but seem to be losing the inherent humanity needed to actually move people.” 

While positioning itself separately from its former parent, the new company also aims to adopt an agile approach to help drive its competition with other marketing cloud vendors – notably Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.

“With over 1,000 people on day one, we’re far from a small company. And yet, we’re also able to be one of the nimblest and most responsive to industry changes of any other marketing cloud,” Simpson added. “We aren’t weighed down by unrelated businesses and large company structures like our competitors, but we have the experience and capabilities to match them and are able to focus 100% on the marketer.” 

Why we should care

In separating from IBM, the new Watson organization is able to move away from some of the antiquated processes of the legacy organizations, allowing it to adopt an agile growth strategy. As Simpson noted, it is not a small company, but launching with an agile-first mindset could play a key role in how the company evolves and maintains its competitive edge against other martech goliaths. 

More on the news

  • The name of the newly-launched entity is slated to be announced later this month.
  • The company plans to “double down” on AI by investing in an experienced team of data scientists
  • IBM marketing and commerce solutions include Campaign Automation, Marketing Assistant, Media Optimizer, Customer Experience Analytics, Content Hub, Real-Time Personalization, Personalized Search, Universal Behavior Exchange, Intelligent Bidder, Price & Promotion Optimization and Payments Gateway.
  • Centerbridge plans to establish a board of directors with deep marketing solution experience.

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How marketers can take the lead with revenue optimization teams

Many marketers are best positioned to drive change, improve alignment and create new opportunities for business results.

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Most marketers are equipped with copious amounts of data that help us understand our customers, create meaningful messaging that resonates with our audience and drives the business outcomes we need to achieve our goals. Marketers also have the ability to translate different trends across customers and prospects such as strong lead generation sources, common themes, objection trends and overall responses to different campaigns. But, many organizations operate in siloes, making it difficult to share these data points with the necessary people.

A solution? Establish a revenue optimization team to bring together the key internal players in your organization to improve alignment and ultimately, drive more revenue. 

Marketers and sales need to track the same goals

Thanks to the amount of valuable information accessible through our martech stacks, marketers can — and should — play a critical role in establishing a customer-centric revenue optimization team.

“Revenue optimization starts with the idea of putting the customer in the center of every interaction an enabling everyone to align around the customer to generate value in every interaction,” said Patrick Morrissey, chief marketing officer of customer revenue optimization platform, Altify. And according to Morrissey, marketers should play a critical role as part of the revenue team, and are best positioned to lead the charge. For many marketers, this requires a shift in thinking about our revenue contributions.

“From a marketing perspective, thinking about the fundamental outcomes, marketers have to start thinking of themselves as part of the revenue team,” said Morrissey. “This intersection presents an opportunity for marketers who are generally better communicators to become the translation mechanism for an entire team. Instead of tracking pipeline, marketers need to track revenue in closed/won business along with the sales team.”

The shift in mindset expands past the marketing team, however. According to Jenn DiMaria, senior manager of client services at marketing automation solution provider Digital Pi, the shift in mindset needs to be organizational. “Marketing is often viewed as a cost center, but in reality, other teams are lusting after the tools and data we have access to,” said DiMaria. “Aligning a revenue team creates opportunities for marketers to improve accessibility  to the data and help bridge gaps with other parts of the organization.” 

Marketers, get closer to the customer

Marketers tend to be far removed from any interactions with customers, but it is extremely valuable to engage face-to-face with customers. After all, marketers understand that relationship-building is key to retaining customers.  According to Morrissey, marketers need to put themselves in the shoes of the customer in order to understand their challenges.

“Marketers should focus on how we can get out of our own way and put ourselves in the shoes of the customers,” said Morrissey. “Going on the road to meet with salespeople and sit with customers will help marketers better understand the market, the broader changes in technology and fundamentally how to help customers succeed, personally and professionally.”

“Marketers need to have some real-world customer experience, explained Mary Ngai, founder of Connector42 and head of analytics and technology at RI. “Even if marketers are listening on sales calls, it can be incredibly insightful in grasping a better understanding of their needs.” Ngai also recommends that marketers attend customer site visits during ongoing projects or sales deals to increase visibility into accounts.

In addition to more face time with customers, Morrissey recommends that marketers lead internal account reviews and deal reviews with the sales and customer success teams. Regularly reviewing the accounts with members of different parts of the organization will expose different issues and areas that can be addressed by the necessary members of the revenue optimization team. Working with customer success can also bring to light what some of the daily challenges and successes the customer experiences — valuable insight for marketers as they developing retention campaigns to drive renewals. 

Leading the path to revenue optimization

Revenue optimization teams present an opportunity for marketers to leverage their communication, analytical and creative skills to improve holistic marketing efforts in coordination with other internal departments. 

“Marketers have proven that we can lead revenue optimization teams as we typically bear the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to acquiring new leads and we have to track our efforts,” said DiMaria. “Also, tools that have entered the market in the past ten years have made this possible.”

The concept of implementing a fundamental shift in thinking may seem overwhelming, but the long-term benefit is streamlined efforts across your organization and consistent communication around prospect and customer activities.

“If you think about the customer journey, we’re all trying to get a numeric view of the customer — BDRs are measured by the total number of call they make and are concerned with propensity-to-buy data,” said Morrissey. “Marketers are providing that data, creating segments and determining what funnel to put a prospect in. Then we talk about deal size or ACV, then finally we’re just an NPS score. Marketers are the ones who can best translate this into plain English, for everyone to understand.”

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Are revenue optimization teams the answer to alignment issues between sales and marketing?

It is more critical than ever that sales and marketing collaborate in the full sales process.

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Challenges between sales and marketing, stemming from broader organizational issues, are not uncommon. From miscommunication to mismatched data, there are plenty of frustrating problems that hinder alignment across siloed teams. A recent report (registration required) from Aragon Research found that customer revenue optimization helps organizations increase sales volume, improve win rates and deal sizes while delivering increased customer value. The research also showed that marketers tend to grade their relationship with sales higher than their counterparts on the sales team — indicative of just how disconnected these teams can be.

Co-founder and executive vice president of enterprise software firm Altify, Áine Denn, recognized these challenges when she co-founded the firm in 2005. “Sales and marketing aren’t speaking the same language,” said Denn. “Buyers have elevated expectations, but many brands’ sales and marketing teams are disconnected.”

Revenue optimization teams can reframe conversations

As businesses increasingly shift toward subscription-based models, brands apply an account-based marketing strategy to support the sales process. According to Altify’s chief marketing officer Patrick Morrisey, it’s time for a fundamental shift in our sales and marketing efforts, and even our larger organizational structures. “We need to shift the conversation from ‘what are we trying to sell’ to ‘what problems are we trying to solve?'”, said Morrisey. “That’s where the revenue optimization team comes in.”  He also noted that by creating a revenue optimization team, brands can increase transparency into sales campaigns and provide better insights into their digital marketing efforts.

“As marketers, our roles are changing as the buying cycle continues to shift,” said Allie Hughes, founder of Hughes & Co., a digital marketing agency with a strategic focus on profitability and revenue generation. “We need a better picture of the sales process to get better at what we do.”

One step towards solving the challenges of accessibility, insights and transparency across teams is to establish deal review meetings with the internal stakeholders involved in an account’s sales process. “It’s not the ‘old-world’, tech-driven center of excellence,” says Morrisey. “It’s establishing cross-functional resources grounded in account plans and driven by processes and metrics bringing internal stakeholders to the table.”

Cross-functional teams can lead to more effective campaigns

By establishing a cross-functional revenue optimization team and involving stakeholders from across sales and marketing in the process from beginning to end, digital marketers can set the tone for the entire sales process. Building rapport with your counterparts in sales — from business development to customer success managers — will provide valuable insights your team can act on to drive conversions. Partnering with the product marketing team and involving them in the process is also critical for ensuring that sales is well-equipped to manage customers’ expectations and solve challenges.

“Buyers can be extremely well-informed. Sales need to be equipped with accurate information from business development, product marketing team to deliver the right message — and solutions — to the customer during the sales process,” said Morrisey. “The tangible value that marketers are delivering to customers is actually equipping the sales team to understand the customer and products that will best solve the customer’s problems.”

Alignment can lead to competitive advantage

The view into accounts that marketing receives from sales generally doesn’t extend much further than the information put in the organizations’ CRM. This makes it challenging for marketers to understand the customer’s expectations and needs. “Sales very inadequately supports marketing with the information and insights that they need to understand how to shift marketing campaigns,” said Denn.

“Marketing is a sales-enabling activity, with more access to information about the entire sales process our efforts are more informed, our data-based decision making has a stronger foundation and ultimately our marketing efforts and products will scale up in quality as these teams are implemented in companies,” said Hughes. “We see clients shifting in this direction and our capacity to help generate strong ROI is improving.”

The importance of alignment cannot be understated; our sales and marketing teams should be as well-informed as the customers we are trying to reach.

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