To Become a System of Intelligence, SFDC is Getting Serious about Data.com

Data.com Prospecting Insights Financial Details from Dun & Bradstreet.
Data.com Prospecting Insights Financial Details from Dun & Bradstreet.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Salesforce.com is evolving towards a System of Intelligence.  At her Data.com Keynote at Dreamforce, VP of Product Marketing Michelle Huff noted that CRM has been evolving from a system of record to a system of engagement.  This involves not only reducing data entry, but evolving CRM for mobile, social, and account maintenance.  The next evolutionary step is becoming a system of intelligence which supports account planning, account awareness, and recommendations from within the CRM.

Historically, sales reps have conducted most of their account research outside of the CRM, but Data.com is adding additional Dun & Bradstreet datasets to deliver account intelligence within SFDC.  These information sets move CRM from being a reactive tool for selling to a proactive tool for customer intelligence.  Insights include account targets, task prioritization, and alerts.

At the base of customer intelligence is good data.  If your system of record is out of date or filled with gaps, your insights will be limited or inaccurate.  “intelligence just becomes less intelligent,” said Huff.  “Recommendations will be great, but just not as helpful.”  For example, leads will be passed to the wrong rep if sizing and industry data is missing.

According to Data.com Senior Director of Marketing Beth Fitzpatrick, data quality is the number one reason that CRM implementations fail.  Data.com addresses this problem through both a Clean service for maintaining data quality and Prospector for list building and account planning.  She also noted the value of a high quality referential data source such as the Dun & Bradstreet account file.  “When you leverage the D-U-N-S Numbers as a kind of identifier across your system, it allows you to organize and structure that data…you have that index, kind of keeping things in order.”

Christoph Gerz, Director of Global Sales Operations at Polycom noted that after standardizing on Data.com, 90% of his pipeline is DUNSRight matched from a dollar perspective.  Prior to Data.com, there was no standardization on company names and addresses.  They also lacked firmographic and linkage data.

Jennifer Taylor, SVP of Product Development, began by stating, “we can’t create time for you, but we can create intelligence in our system that will hopefully make you more effective and more productive and enable you to cover more ground in less time.”

According to Data.com, the pillars of improved sales productive come from being able to

  • Discover the Best Opportunities
  • Prioritize Your Prospects
  • Understand Your Customers Better

I would argue that this list of requirements is too narrow and should also include

  • Monitor your Customers and Prospects Better
  • Sell Deeper into the Organization

Data.com has omitted these two as they do not offer significant monitoring, organizational research, or relationship management tools, though this weakness is beginning to change.  The new SalesforceIQ for Sales addresses some of the relationship tools through its who knows who feature and email mining to prevent customer and prospect requests from slipping between the cracks.  The addition of the Dun & Bradstreet family tree to Data.com in Winter 2016 (classic version only) is another step towards addressing these gaps.

Data.com has implemented a series of enhancements over the past year.  Whereas it was a somewhat ignored platform for the prior few years, Salesforce has increased its investment in both content and functionality through an extension of the Dun & Bradstreet partnership:

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“We have to ensure that you have a solid foundation of data, that that foundation of data continues to be enriched and stay clean.  So we’re constantly expanding our data sets, improving our data quality, religiously helping you manage your dupes, providing you scalability so we grow as your business grows and then always making sure that everything we build, of course, is API first so you can integrate it into any workflow or process that you use within your system,” said Taylor.

Prospecting Insights was released this summer and provided broader business details, industry and competitive intelligence, and call prep questions.  The extended company intelligence is from Dun & Bradstreet with the call prep content written by First Research editors and the competitors lists assembled by Hoover’s editors.

“One of the things we talk a lot about at Salesforce is customer love.  The first step to love is knowledge…and Prospecting Insights aims to give you that intelligence.” — Jennifer Taylor, SVP of Product Development

Winter 2016 brings the Dun & Bradstreet family tree, Recommended Accounts (cloning your top customers), Lead Appending which adds firmographics to incoming leads, and Clean Enhancements including perpetual update and geocoding.  All of these items are listed as beta or pilot in Winter 2016 so will hit general availability later in the year.

The Dun & Bradstreet family trees are global in scope and include location, sizing, and ownership type (e.g. Headquarters, Branch, Division).

The Dun & Bradstreet Family Tree (beta) supports one-click addition of new Account records.
The Dun & Bradstreet Family Tree (beta) supports one-click addition of new Account records.

If a location is currently within SFDC, a green flag is displayed along with the account owner’s name.

By scrolling over and clicking on any location, it is immediately added as an account and assigned to the rep.

Trees are collapsible at the node level so users can hide divisions that are of little interest.

They plan on additional features in future releases including white space analysis and performing account and opportunity analysis.

The Recommended Accounts feature is a black box prospecting engine that utilizes customer win / loss information to identify companies similar to the reps’ top customers.  Data.com states that Recommended Accounts is “based on your past successes.  Our algorithm learns from your Salesforce data to find accounts similar to those you have closed.  Accounts are listed in ranked order, those at the top have the greatest possibility of success.”  Reps can then filter the results to further refine the list (e.g. limit recommendations to headquarters) and then select proposed accounts to be added to SFDC with one click.

The description sounds fairly rudimentary as it basically looks at basic firmographic variables to find “good adjacent, highly probable opportunities.”  It should not be confused with predictive analytics features that look at thousands of Business Signals matched against an Ideal Profile.

Lead enrichment provides web form enrichment based on two fields, name and email.  Data.com then appends firmographics and phone information to the record based upon the email domain.

And since firmographics and linkage are derived from Dun & Bradstreet, leads are properly routed to the appropriate rep and the lead is given a quality and priority score.

Only a high level slide was provided on their roadmap, but it included market analysis, customer analysis, news, financials, account prioritization, and significant event alerts.  Several of last year’s announcements went unremarked including the Thomson Reuters partnership and third party services (Data.com Connect and the Data.com Exchange).  The third party services no longer appear to have their own mini-site with Data.com sending customers and prospects to the Data Apps on the AppExchange.

For a long time, Data.com was simply the Dun & Bradstreet WorldBase file sold by SFDC reps.  It was strong on brand but weak on content and functionality.  It now appears that Salesforce is getting serious about Data.com.

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