Why Reachable is not sending these “need to improve our Privacy and Data Policies” emails?

In the last few weeks, every Social Network, web service, advertiser, marketer and data company has been sending you emails announcing they were “improving” their privacy policy.  Indeed, they do need to improve it because for the last 25 years it seems that every web company was operating on the assumption that “Privacy was dead” (a statement attributed to Mark Zuckerberg in 2010, who since then has added $500B of value to FB…).  In fact, the Silicon Valley Credo was and still remains that PRIVACY SHOULD BE DEAD.

The impetus for this frenzy is the effective date (May 25th) of the stringent European Union regulations privacy (GDPR) that have come back like The Ghost of Past Human Values to remind web companies that people do care about privacy.  GDPR will soon become universally adopted by the web industry not just for European users but for ALL users. All that Reachable can say about that is: it’s about time!

I always thought that privacy was a good thing and it should be protected even if it interfered with user growth and profits.  Privacy is one of these things you don’t value until you lose it or someone else abuses it. Apple calls it a Fundamental Human Right.  I agree.

You might be surprised to hear that Reachable’s privacy policies and data policies have not changed much since we built the service.  It’s the web industry that is finally adopting our core principles. The idea that people should not have to give up their privacy and data to get a good web service was enshrined in our product from inception in 2008.  

On Reachable, you are not the product.

I’d like to remind you of what we do and don’t do with your data when you join:

  1. We ask you to upload your Contacts from as many sources as you want. It’s a one time thing.  We don’t automatically go back behind your back and constantly sync your contacts. You want to sync?  Click a button and do it. Do it 4-5 times a year, it’s enough (really). You don’t have to worry that just because you uploaded contacts that somehow you opened the gates to hell and we can just get in and do whatever we please.
  2. We store the name, title, address, phone number and email address of each of the contacts you upload. We don’t upload any notes or comments you may have on your contacts.  And we don’t read your email, we don’t need to track who you emailed when and what you wrote. Pretty much every web service thinks “let the user open the door to their data and take as much data as we can, we’ll figure out what to do with it later.”  Look, if we ever think of another service to offer you and we need more data, we’ll just ask for it.
  3. We don’t sell your contacts.  (Is that clear enough?)
  4. We don’t share your contacts with other users behind your back to help clean up their bad data.  Pretty much everyone else does that. We don’t do it because we are not in that business. Clients who have spent lots of time and money to clean up their data and upload it to Reachable don’t want their clean data to help others who did not make that investment.
  5. You can delete your contacts and go, anytime. We won’t keep a copy. Period.

So bottom line, you upload contacts, you use our platform to analyze them to see how they can help you connect to others.  The data you give us to analyze for you remains yours and you can take it back anytime. That’s it.

But there is more.  

A couple of years ago, we asked ourselves how do we remain true to these principles and allow people to work in teams and leverage their contacts as a team?  It’s a universal need — who hasn’t sent an email asking “does anyone know someone at XYZ company?” LinkedIn has grown so big and the number of connections people have accepted has increased so much that LinkedIn Connections are have become less and less useful for intros and referrals.  LinkedIn Connections is the new mailing list.

This was the impetus for “Reachable Teams.”  It’s a quick to way to create a private network of people who want to aggregate the power of their connections without giving out their contact data to other members of that network or to their company (as would happen if you upload you contacts to Salesforce.com).

Here’s how we created contact collaboration in Teams without compromising our principles:

  1. When you create or accept an invitation to a private Reachable Team, you can see the name and email address of the other members of the Team and the number of contacts they have in their Reachable contacts file.  But you can’t see their contacts.
  2. When you search Reachable as a member of Team, in addition to analyzing how your personal contacts can connect you to someone, Reachable analyzes the contacts of each of your Team members to find connections.  It shows you which of your Team members can be a helpful connector to someone you need to reach and whether they know your target or know someone who knows the target. Reachable does not give you the details (phone, email, etc) of your Teammates Contacts so you need to ask your Team member for the intro and the contact info.
  3. You can leave a Team anytime and remove your contacts from the private network, all with one click.

That’s it.

Laurent Ohana


The Shrinking Value of LinkedIn (Where are the Buyers?)

Why would one of the most prolific, contact rich people on Reachable ask us to remove more than 8,000 contacts from his Reachable account?

It’s the simple result of LinkedIn-automation, and fully expected and anticipated collapse of LinkedIn’s value as a Referral Engine.

If you are using LinkedIn by the book, then you are using it as a marketing tool, to amplify your or your company’s voice on this extraordinary social network.  Some companies give quotas to their salespeople for how many new connections they need to make on LinkedIn per month (Tens and Hundreds).  There are bots that will click on pages for you so that people who are glued to their “who viewed my profile” page can discover you and reclick on you.

Go through all these motions, and you too will accumulate 8,000 contacts.  

What is the value of these contacts?  If you import their email addresses into Constant Contact and email them something, will they have a high click-through? If you post something on LinkedIn, will you get a lot of these Connections to engage with your post by commenting?  And if you ask anyone for a referral based on a Connection path discovered by LinkedIn, will they do it?

I think the answer to the above is NO.  LinkedIn is not a marketplace for goods and services.  It is a marketplace for talent.  It has been invaded by an army of sellers, people who are hawking something.  But where are the buyers?  Everybody who is posting aggressively on LinkedIn is selling something.  But with no active buyers, sales automation on LinkedIn will piss off the people on the network who might otherwise been occasional buyers.

Enter Reachable.

Our team built a product that is intended to help you leverage the relationships that you got — by forming a private network with people you trust, by aggregating public or commercial data on the Companies and People you are tracking, and showing you the way that through your relationships you can move a sales conversation further — with referrals and insiders’ insights.

Today some of the most sophisticated companies are using Reachable to connect the dots between the people they know, as individuals or as enterprises, and the companies they would like to do business with.

Shouldn’t you be contacting us today to figure out why?

Laurent Ohana


Trust but Verify (Who You Hire)!

“With the advent of LinkedIn and many other smart recruitment tools, finding resumes of candidates is not an issue anymore.”  This was the conclusion that the head of a top Human Capital Management Venture Accelerator shared with me recently.  He is right.
Matching the right candidate to the job and company — that’s the key job right now.  There are lots of filters that can be applied to do proper matching, and machines can be really useful at reading hundreds of resumes, picking up keywords and concepts and narrowing a big list to a handful of candidates.  Of course, good recruiters perform the same function, usually better than machines.
This is where Reachable can help.  The firsts to notice (and tell us) were Talent Acquisition Partners in PE and VC firms.  VCs and PE firms have Talent Acquisition Partners because subpar portfolio talent leads to subpar IRR.  No need to explain to a PE or VC partner what subpar IRR will do to their lifestyle…
At some point in the recruitment workflow, you will receive a list of candidates. You will then need to check references.  It always starts with the 5 references you asked for.  But these volunteered references are always good.
So, you need to come up with your own references.  It’s hard, time consuming and really, really important!
You (if you are the Talent Partner) could post the resumes of all your candidates on a secure web site and ask every single one of your partners, LPs, portfolio CEOs and friends to check them out and give you a “like” or “don’t like” vote.  And if you do that, may be they will respond “hey, do your job and let me do mine, OK?”  You’d be left thinking that leveraging your firm’s network as a selection filter would be really valuable.  Isn’t there a way to use it without looking like you are off-loading work on everyone?
Reachable is being used by Talent Acquisition Partners to do just that.  Reachable will reveal who in your firm and its extended network has a professional connection to the candidates you are vetting.  Reach out to them and reduce the risk of a bad hire and protect your IRR.  Sure, you say, our recruiters will refund their fee or do a new search for no money. Really? Wouldn’t mitigating the risk with Reachable be better than relying on a refund? And look at the math: Cost of Reachable < Lost Carried Interest income for VC / PE (and lost profits, market share, etc for every other company.).  You just can’t afford to make a bad senior hire. Period.

Who Wins? Cold Callers or Social Sellers?


Some sales people believe in cold calling/emailing, supremely confident in their ability to seduce anyone into buying their wares.  Predictive Analytics people tell you to cold call but not just anyone — just the people they tell you that you should call/email.  And the Social Selling experts instead recommend a long, slow process of courting leads by building a reputation on LinkedIn and establishing trust before moving in for the sale.

That’s nice but what works best?  And where does Reachable fit in all of this?

I had a very interesting discussion with the Director of Marketing Analytics for a big company a few months back.  He told me that large companies like his were looking for scalable sales processes because they had big numbers to meet.  It gave me a clue to the answer to the question I just asked…

Cold emailing is scalable.  And predictive analytics works in that context.  Here is the process that proponents of persistent calling/emailing recommend:

Email or call anyone at least 5 times and you will ultimately get through and be able to build a qualified prospects list to sell to.  The problem with sales people in their view is that they don’t call or email enough.  Their view is that you should take a list of 10,000 people, email them 5 times, annoy 9,950 people, in order to end up with 50 very good leads (those who actually need your service but were too lazy or busy to respond the first 4 times you emailed.)  If you get a little smarter on who you email, with the help of predictive analytics, you can reduce the list of 10,000 to 5,000 and still get 50 good prospects but a) you pissed off less people, b) reduced your email campaign costs, and c) 50/5,000 looks better than 50/10,000 so you must be doing something right (and keep buying the analytics!).

This is indeed a scaleable process, and it works within the current model of inside sales teams backed by research and appointment setters.

The Social Selling crowd is focused on a different problem.  They are looking to find leads by having the leads qualify themselves and reach out to the sales team.  This is done by leveraging the sales organization to do marketing, aptly called Social Selling.

Here is what the Social Selling experts recommend: Get on Twitter, follow the people you want to sell to, and when they post something be the first one to jump in and tell them how their post was amazing.  The poster will appreciate your sincere compliment and reply.  Based on that relationship with your new BFF you are assured to be able to sell a lot of widgets to him/her.  You can do the same on LinkedIn by posting comments on people’s posts, comments that they will appreciate, and cause them to connect with you, allowing them to sell to them whatever you have to sell.  You can do even better by turning your LinkedIn page into a billboard for your company’s products, with materials pushed to you in an online locker by your marketing department.

This is why LinkedIn streams are now streams of commercial messages.  But if you post, post, post then when someone does click or respond, you can be sure they are interested in buying something from you.  Or are they trying to sell you something and are trying to build trust…?

I think you may get the feeling that I have doubts that the Social Selling thing will soon replace cold emailing/calling.  If it were then InsideSales.com would not be doing so well.  After all, the Sales Solutions revenues at LinkedIn are still a drop in their revenue bucket.

What about Reachable?  Glad you asked.

See, we are not trying to help you meet new friends.  Reachable is the perfect complement to the cold calling/emailing sales process to make it a lot better.  The marketing analytics folks or the sales managers can overlay Reachable on top of call or target lists that were built outside of Reachable.  Reachable will analyze the lists and warm them up by showing you for each of your prospects someone inside your company, or someone willing to help, that can make an intro or give you the scoop on the target person or accounts.  So, call or email, but not cold thanks to Reachable.

Reachable is going so far as integrating entire prospecting databases (like the people database of Leadership Directories and S&P Capital IQ) so that if you don’t have your list and need to build it yourself, then you can do it within Reachable.

So, going back to my conversation with the Marketing Analytics director, Reachable is the only scalable lead warming solution that we know of that complements existing sales processes.

And that is pretty powerful stuff.

Log in to your Reachable account now, or sign up for a free account now, and close deals faster.  Stop wasting time and energy on blind leads when you can get the inside scoop and know whom to talk to, what to say and when to close your deals.


Laurent Ohana, CEO

Best Sales Team: Lone Wolves or Wolf Pack?

What’s more effective a lone wolf or a wolf pack?

The reaction to my “Everyone is in sales” blog was swift.

Comments included: “Salespeople are competitive with each other and don’t collaborate” and “People in organizations don’t want to help the salespeople because the salespeople get all the credit (and money) and the helpers just get extra work.”

There is a view that better let the salespeople be salespeople — lone wolves.  Give them the latest gadgets to make them better hunters and get out of the way.

Some People’s View of The Ideal Salesperson

(“Mexican Wolf 2 yfb-edit 1” by Clark, Jim (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/)

However, prospects are increasingly well educated about what they are looking for.  Aggressive content marketing by competitors results in prospects having ready access to comparative information about products.  Salespeople don’t have the information advantage, sometimes even about their own products.

To win, salespeople need to be capable of orchestrating the work of an internal team.  Having visibility inside their enterprise to understand who has valuable insights to win a deal is critical.

Enterprises that fail to enable their wolves to work in packs along with everyone else in the company will suffer the fate of another animal, the Dinosaur!

 (photo: Creative Commons)

Reachable started as a solution for lone wolves.  The core Reachable product allows anyone to create an individual account, set up lists of targets, and let Reachable analyze their contacts from LinkedIn, Facebook, Outlook, and Gmail.  It figures out their best connection paths to these targets along with valuable insights about people, companies and their relationships and affiliations.

We too evolved when we realized that the future is in Collective Sales Intelligence, and we added the Team functionality.

Team enables anyone to create a team of people he/she wants to cooperate with and link their Reachable accounts in a way that protects their private data while enabling the discovery of who knows who in the team.

If you are interested in learning about how to create a Team for your company or a group of collaborators, please contact sales@reachable.com and ask.  If you are not presently a Reachable user and want to try it, visit our web site and create your account here (of course, we have a video!)

Laurent Ohana, CEO

Everyone is in Sales, or should be…

Have you ever heard the expression “everyone is in sales”?
I have heard it over and over from CEOs and CROs at clients and prospects.  But more often than not, it was stated as a goal, something they longed for… and knew was beyond their reach.  It was more “if everyone were in Sales, how much more productive and profitable the company would be.”
Surely, they don’t mean that every person in their company should drop what they are doing and start generating leads and calling prospects.  But they are decrying organizational silos that make it too difficult for employees of the same company to support the company’s sales activities in any way they can.  This goes beyond the work done by organizational consultants to reengineer sales organizations.  This is about rethinking how the company operates, how sales intelligence can flow from anywhere in the organization to the sales team to support the sales effort on a continuous basis.
Think about this: everyone in the company has a LinkedIn profile and/or a Facebook page, yet most company employees are strangers to each other and are not networked to each other.  Every employee has several email accounts away from the company with contacts from prior jobs and other personal contacts.  All of that data is in the Cloud.  And then you have the on-premise Outlook and the CRM system.  Where do you think is most of the social capital of the company?  In the Cloud clearly and over time it will only get more and more Cloud-based.
Reachable has a built the tools to empower groups of users from any part of an enterprise to collaborate around the sales process and make “everyone is in sales” a reality.  Our Teams solution allows users to have control over their contact data in the Cloud and to share it with other members of a private network set up by an enterprise.  The network members know what are the sales targets that are being pursued by the enterprise and useful connections in the private network are surfaced to the relevant people on a continuous basis.
If you would like to try Teams for your organization, please contact sales@reachable.com or sign up for an account here today.  It takes 5 minutes to set up a Team account for your company, and you can start a Team with ONE user and then invite others.
Laurent Ohana, CEO

Social Selling is Really Marketing by Salespeople

I was quite shocked recently when one of the leading bloggers/consultants of the Social Selling movement felt the need to write about what Social Selling was not.  Basically, she correctly reminded folks that selling is hard — you need to get off your butt, get away from LinkedIn and Twitter, make some calls, visit clients, attend conferences and get yourself known in the community.  With all the hype about Social Selling it was time for someone from the inside to send the wake up call — and implicitly make the case for Reachable.  As one of our users exclaimed to his colleagues about Reachable on their Chatter: “this is money!”

Then what is Social Selling? It’s really simple.  Social Networks have hundreds of millions of members.  They give you the ability to a) establish a presence and to b) promote your presence by broadcasting messages to the community at large or to segments of the community that you “connected with.”  Social Selling is about learning how to have the “proper presence” — is your picture nicely done, is the name of your company properly spelled, are you describing yourself in a way that would make someone want to connect with you and do business with you?  And it is about how to message other people on the network to let them know you exist — do you send them birthday congratulations, comment on their posts, or just send them an InMail and hope they will think you are worthy and return the email?
In the end, Social Selling is really Social Marketing except that now the Marketing Department wants salespeople to do it too.  But the function of Marketing is to generate leads and the Sales Team is to close the deals.  I don’t believe that these distinctions are sacrosanct and they will eventually fade into a new way of doing things.  But today, Social Selling is asking Sales to do Marketing.
Instead, Sales should be closing sales.  And to close sales, you should use Reachable.  Here’s why: all marketing activities result in A LIST.  Recruiters have researchers to create the candidates’ list, Investment Bankers have analysts to create target lists from CapIQ or others, and so on.  In the end, it’s ON THE LIST OR IT DOES NOT EXIST!
Better than anyone else, Reachable shows you how to leverage ALL your connections and the connections of people who trust you enough to give you a partial view into their contacts (like co-workers, partners, vendors, customers) to easily penetrate the target accounts on YOUR LIST.  That’s not Social Selling or Marketing — it’s hard core sales.  If you are not using your relationships to get every tidbit of information, and every possible angle to get to the decision makers (not those with the titles) then you are at a disadvantage.  And if your organization is not working hard to enable you to leverage the relationships of the organization, then it is putting you at a competitive disadvantage.
Reachable can fix this.  You can sign up today for a free trial and use it now for yourself and/or to evaluate it for your organization.  To quote our favorite user of the day, “this is money.”
Laurent Ohana, CEO

Missing from the Corporate Balance Sheet: the Enterprise Social Capital

Readers of the financial press are surely well versed in the analysis of balance sheets.  However, there is a critical corporate asset that you are not going to find on any balance sheet: the Enterprise Social Capital.  Now, thanks to the partnership between Reachable, Leadership Directories and S&P Capital IQ, the Enterprise Social Capital can be analyzed and systematically managed for the benefit of a business.

What is Enterprise Social Capital and what role does it play in the success of a business?

In order to scale, businesses had to develop task specialization.  The founding team of the business scaled by dividing tasks in increasingly thin slices.  Now the role of recreating the original “can do,” “we are in this together” and “everybody is in sales” attitude that made the business succeed falls on the management team and its culture experts, and modern Social Enterprise tools.

Social Selling tools emerged with the rise of Social Networks, in particular Facebook and LinkedIn.  These tools are based on the premise that everyone is connected on a “social graph.”  Social Selling tools posit that the nature of the social and professional links between people can be analyzed to generate insights about who would buy what from whom, and to trigger purchasing decisions by activating influencers.

There is strong logic behind this approach.  There might come a day when businesses will buy from other businesses without human intervention, perhaps purely based on algorithms.  But until that day arrives, relationships and the trust they carry have a distinct influence on what gets bought, from whom and how quickly.  Relationships do matter.

But businesses are not leveraging relationship as well as they could.

Most Social Selling tools are geared to helping an individual connect to other individuals on a social network — mostly to people that they don’t know.  That only goes so far.  Relationships you make on a social network are superficial — it takes a while to know what to expect, what can be asked and what is proper.  Often, people connect, exchange niceties and that’s that.

Further, corporate marketing departments are increasingly leveraging the personal accounts of employees as a channel.  They want employees to push a corporate message.  This commercialization makes Social Networks less and less the place where people develop genuine, trusting relationships.

Reachable takes a different approach.  We start by analyzing the people you already know.  We create a cloud-based contacts vault where you can store contacts acquired on Social Networks or off-line. Reachable’s algorithms figure out whether these contacts could be connectors to people and companies you are trying to reach.

To perform these complex analytics, Reachable has partnered with Leadership Directories and S&P Capital IQ to access its verified profiles of people and companies — millions of profiles that are developed and maintained with exacting standards.  What these profiles tell us is where people have been and what they did there and for how long.  Using big data analytics, Reachable is then able to create its own graph of professional connections for millions of people.  Reachable can not only recommend connectors to people and companies but also explain why it would make sense to go through these connectors to reach a target.  These “relationship insights” are essential in helping you navigate the opportunities that your connections can deliver.

But Reachable went a step further and tackled the enterprise challenge.  Our “Team” solution enables a group of people to inter-connect their contacts without exposing them.  No one in a “Team” gets to see anyone else’s contacts, nor can the enterprise that created the “Team” for its employees.  This is the first time that you can get a complete view of the Social Capital of an enterprise — all the contacts of the company in a data set that can be analyzed and leveraged.  All that is possible provided that the people who participate continue to own their data and no one can violate the privacy protections that are inherent in the Reachable platform.

The value of this new collective data set is immense.  If you are looking for a connection to a specific person or company, you will be shown which of your teammates can make the connection.  You can measure how well connected is your sales team to the entire list of accounts you expect to generate revenues from this year.  You can hire people who truly have the connections you need to break into new accounts and keep existing customers.  This can be done instantly and at enterprise scale.

This makes the enterprise “Team” a unique and powerful asset for the enterprise.  But it’s an asset that you will not find on the balance sheet of any business.

Laurent Ohana

Don’t Chuck Your Salespeople Just Yet!

In a masterful content marketing play (or ploy), a CEO posted a story on LinkedIn saying he would never hire a salesperson again and would basically do away with his sales team.  This ignited a firestorm in the world of B2B sales with tweets, articles, counter-articles and all the usual hallmarks of a tempest in a teapot.

Let me grossly simplify the argument.  Buyers are now extremely educated with all the reviews, comments, endorsements and brochureware available about every possible product.  This is supposedly reducing the value of salespeople — pushing product just does not work.  You need to let the customer come to you and then delight them in not leaving.  So, instead of salespeople you need customer success staff.

For me the argument for having a B2B sales team to sell a SaaS product was definitely resolved by Mark Cranney’s on the Andreessen Horowitz blog. Your freemium strategy may get in the door at a client but once you landed, you need to expand.  And that can only be done by salespeople who can translate what your product does into an articulation of the value that your product creates for your client.

The argument therefore should not be about whether you need salespeople or not but what type of sales force do you need and what are its objectives.  And that is determined by the nature of the product you are selling and the competitive landscape.  But I am convinced that at some point in the sales funnel, a conversation with a client will be required.  It could be at the beginning of sales process — we are seeing lots of a traction in the model of companies like Insidesales.com which are combining predictive analytics with a methodological pursuit of sales prospects by inside sales teams.  Or it could be later stages where a free product tier has identified motivated users who can be targeted for an up-sale.

At some point, you will need to ask someone for their attention and their trust and to help you navigate a selling process that will involve a decision by committee.  That’s where leveraging relationships will be important and where Reachable will help you reach the people you must get to in order to open the doors to the kingdom.

-Laurent Ohana, CEO