Say you're working in sales at a large company and you need to reach out to another business – but you don't have a contact there, and neither do your immediate colleagues. Surely someone, somewhere in your organization must know somebody there. If you could find that person and arrange an introduction, you'd be spared from having to make a cold call.
"It's everyone's least favourite part of the job. Everyone dreads picking up the phone and getting hung up on," says Jody Glidden, CEO of IntroHive, a Fredericton, NB-based company that says it has a better way.
IntroHive uses a "big data" approach to find connections companies never knew they had. It mines information from e-mail servers, web services and smartphones – be it messages, appointments, or SalesForce data – to create a database of who in a company has contacts at other organizations. Then all that data gets filtered to determine which connections are passing, and which ones are up-close and personal.
"Not all introductions are created equal," Mr. Glidden says. "If I introduce you to an acquaintance, that's one thing. If I introduce you to someone I know personally, then there's a much higher win percentage," which is his term for a successful interaction, such as a sale or an achieved goal.
IntroHive users enter a search term into the system – a company name or even a category of target individuals they'd like to be introduced to (say vice-presidents at mid-sized companies in Southern Ontario). IntroHive then returns a list of results, ranked by "relationship score," or the quality of the contact. The software considers factors such as frequency of contact, how recent the contact was, what type of communication, whether there were face-to-face meetings, and the length of those meetings.
The actual names that searches turn up stay hidden: Users must first request introductions, and only when people agree to them is their identity revealed. (Mr. Glidden says no client correspondence ends up on IntroHive's servers, and that customers control how much or how little data is factored into the relationship analysis.)
Founded at the end of 2011, IntroHive closed its first paid deals at the end of the summer. Mr. Glidden's not naming clients yet, but he says the firm counts "one of the world's biggest carriers," as well as global publishing companies. In the meantime, the company just received $1.7 million in series-A funding.
Such interest might not be surprising, given the company promises access to that most valuable of sales tools: Relationships.
"The bigger the titles they're going after, the more we can help them," Mr. Glidden says. "It's very difficult to reach CEOs, vice-presidents, people in the C-suite. Our software can really knock down those barriers."