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Top Trends from TOPO Summit Sponsors – AI & Data

We surveyed our sponsors for TOPO Summit 2018 and asked them to identify three trends their companies are following in 2018.  Based on those responses, we will be publishing a series of blog posts over the next several weeks, categorizing their thoughts into six themes: AI and Data, Everything Account-Based, Content and Experience, Sales and Marketing Alignment, Marketing and Sales Development Orchestration, and Sales Focused.

Want to hear more from these companies? Be sure to meet with them at TOPO Summit, where these topics, and more, will be covered by our speakers and our sponsors.


SalesLoft  – Data
Data helps businesses move to a more buyer-centric approach in their sales communications. Sales in 2018 will be less about how we sell and more about how people buy. As a result, the best sales organizations will focus on teaching their customers about the buying process– without obvious bias toward their own products.

Node – Big Data
Big data. It’s the “buzzword” everyone knows, but might not always understand its full impact on marketing as we know it. Beyond AI and machine learning technologies, new techniques for aggregating data are enabling more conclusive market testing, acute personalization and so much more. Big data is becoming the backbone of marketing and will continue to define the industry.

LinkedIn – Marketing ROI
The rise of data also makes it tempting for marketers to focus on the lower funnel, where it’s sometimes easier to prove immediate ROI. But marketers should not ignore upper funnel metrics — such as brand and audience — because if your prospects don’t enter the upper funnel, they won’t ever make it to the lower funnel and will never become paying customers.

Terminus – Account Engagement Replaces Lead Metrics
It’s time to stop running your business off form fills and start creating engagement at the accounts most likely to buy your product and become satisfied customers. Just because someone fills out a form does not mean they’re a potential customer, and forms add a lot of friction. There’s a time and a place for people to identify themselves. We want to engage people at our target accounts, but traditional tallying and activating form conversions can be a major distraction.

Account-based marketing means saying goodbye to form fills as a leading metric of marketing success. Instead, marketers are focusing on creating and measuring engagement within the most valuable accounts. And the technology for understanding account-based engagement has improved dramatically in the couple of years.

Instead of creating top-of-funnel offers and gating them behind forms, marketers are working alongside their sales teams to create engagement. For example, this might mean launching targeted ad campaigns that lead to ungated landing pages and reaching out directly with custom content. The key is to engage not just an individual but all the stakeholders in the buying centers you’re targeting.

ProsperWorks – Finally waking up to the cost of dirty data in 2018
Whether its erroneous sales forecasts and poor customer relationship management, or the time lost having to manually check and correct inaccurate system information, the cost of dirty data is not cheap. In 2018, companies will begin focusing on ways to ensure data quality and data standardization across their organizations, realizing that clean data powers everything from fiscal year estimates to the machine-learning algorithms powering enterprise software.

DiscoverOrg – GDPR Compliance
May 25, 2018 is a date on the minds of many sales and marketing professionals: the day the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. Many of our customers are looking for advice on how to prepare, and we propose the first thing they should think through is how to set the foundation for understanding what they have and what they need to do.  We recommend 1) setting up a cross-functional data management team, 2) conducting a thorough evaluation of current data practices, 3) understanding the data protection practices of your existing sales and marketing systems – including the nature of the data collected and stored,  4) identifying additional pieces of data that will need to be stored and tracked on prospecting records for compliance, and 5) implementing an ongoing database health program.

Yesware  – Increased focus on security
In preparation for GDPR and perhaps also due to the number of high profile security breaches in 2017, we are seeing more and smaller customers taking security very seriously. This includes more people asking to review Soc 2 documentation as well as requests to enter into formal data protection agreements. Anyone acting as a data processor and/or handling PII should expect longer and more costly sales cycles in 2018. The upside is firms that have stronger security practices than their competition should be able to use this more aggressively as a competitive differentiator.

Demandbase – So much data, so little time
How can Sales best leverage the insights delivered from your ABM program? A strong, mature ABM program can impact metrics far down the funnel like pipeline, deal velocity, and revenue — but only if Sales is on the same page. As the strategy grows, more companies want to understand the specific strategies that real sales people execute on to best leverage the insights their ABM efforts deliver.

Mintigo – Data & predictive is becoming main stream
As digital connectivity continues to level the playing field, more companies are having the same access to latest technologies, creating both opportunities and challenges for everyone. This year and the next couple of years, predictive capabilities are no longer going to be concentrated in the hands of just big organizations. The democratization of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence, computing power, big data, and low-cost software offerings are enabling all companies, big and small, and even individuals to have access to and leverage predictive tools to their advantage—without the need to spend huge investments for expensive software and data scientists.


Node  – AI and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning are becoming an increasingly integral component of marketing, with the possibility of tapping into the thousands of opportunities and valuable business connections that are currently missed each day. At Node, we’re seeing companies that have integrated our AI platform into their sales & marketing practices already optimizing $4 billion in revenue and generating over $100 million in customer revenue.

AdRoll – Advanced analytics and machine learning fueling improved performance
“Big data” has been a major trend for several year now; it’s what we’re doing with this data that is now undergoing a powerful transformation. We’re leveraging AI-powered decision making to optimize results. We’re harnessing the power of automation — automating everything from customer personalization, to content delivery, to generating reports. And in the process of using advanced analytics, machine learning and automation we’re seeing performance metrics improve vs. manual processes, burdensome tasks go away, and business results accelerate.

LeanData – Conversational AI / lead gen
The future isn’t going to be limited to just traditional forms and fields. LeanData is interested in conversational AI and conversational lead gen, which can have big impact on a somewhat staid B2B environment. This is exemplified by some of the developments Clinc is working on in the financial services sector, and the work Drift is doing to change B2B buying experiences with its conversational chatbots.

ProsperWorks – 2018 AI: over-promising, under-delivering
As interest in AI has grown, so has the interest in its potential to bring sweeping changes to the way we work. However, regardless of DeepMind’s ability to beat the best Go player in the world, to date AI’s impact on the enterprise has been minimal. In 2018 the attention will be on results, not hype. The smartest enterprises will focus on ensuring their machine learning and automation capabilities bring measurable business results, leaving the trendier gimmicks to marketing departments.

DiscoverOrg – AI in Sales and Marketing
While hype about AI continues to grow, it is not time yet for sales and marketing leaders to fully rely on this technology to transform their business functions. Overreliance on technology can inhibit sales effectiveness if reps move too quickly to automation tools and neglect the fundamental skills and art – the human element – of sales. Instead, sales and marketing leaders will look to optimize their existing technology stacks and processes to improve integration, workflow, and ROI, while beginning to test capabilities such as predictive intelligence first and then AI to extract more insights and value from their data.

At the end of the day, AI is ONLY as valuable as the quality of the data that exists in sales and marketing systems, so data management and database health have to be an increasing focus for teams.

Demandbase- Real-life applications of Artificial Intelligence in Account-Based Marketing and Sales Development
Everyone knows about AI, but almost no one can speak with confidence about how the technology really impacts their business. As AI becomes more mainstream, marketers and salespeople alike need to dive into the specifics of how AI can impact and improve your account-based marketing and sales initiatives.

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