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Now salespeople no longer need to frantically email their colleagues to identify the person best suited to make a warm introduction.

RelateIQ, a hot startup looking to shake up the customer-relationship management software market with a more data-driven approach, today announced a new feature called Closest Connections, which automates a normally time-consuming — and potentially erroneous — sales process.

“Closest Connections is an example of knowing who knows who and who can give you an introduction, not based on public social network data but based on the real activity that’s happening,” RelateIQ co-founder and chief executive Steve Loughlin said in an interview with VentureBeat. “We feel it’s uniquely innovative.”

Several other startups, like Infer and ToutApp, have been trying to simplify work for salespeople by considering data from other software to speed up the sales process.

(At our DataBeat conference coming up on May 19-20, by the way, we’ll be talking about data technologies that can help businesses rack up more revenues.)

RelateIQ has the distinction of employing DJ Patil, one of the people credited with inventing the term “data scientist” and formerly data scientist in residence at Greylock Partners. So it’s only natural to expect big things with the use of multiple types of data from RelateIQ.

And indeed, RelateIQ looks to people’s calendars, social media accounts, and email inboxes to determine the people who already have the most connections to a specific person or company.

“RelateIQ automatically figures out via the number of emails, meetings, and other signals (like connections on Facebook) how well you know the people in your organization’s address book,” RelateIQ software engineer Gary Lerhaupt wrote in a blog post about Closest Connections. “Sprinkled throughout the site, you’ll find a Closest Connections display (just hover over a name or account and click the ‘Closest Connections’ banner to see it) that tells you where you should start in your mission of reaching out and connecting with the world.”

The Closest Connections tool isn’t static; the system is “recalculating in real-time based on the newest activity,” Loughlin told us. “Relationships can get stronger or they can decay over time.”

RelateIQ has been using Closest Connections internally, and “it’s highly valuable,” Loughlin said.

Today’s post includes some screenshots of RelateIQ’s user interface, which has been a mystery in the past, as well as a video showing Closest Connections in action:

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