As I am putting the final edits on my 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors (publishing on January 17th), I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on which vendors added value to their service over the past year. Some of this reflection was spurred by breaking out the recent changes for each vendor (products, enhancements, pricing) in my profiles, but some of it is simply the traditional reflection that occurs with milestones (e.g. New Years, updated editions).
Some vendors made significant investments in their products in 2016 with new content, capabilities, and connectors while others made few enhancements. Some of this disparity is inevitable due to capital investment cycles, the limitations of older platforms, or simply entering a “fit and finish” phase after a major product launch. Nevertheless, some vendors delivered broad enhancements across many dimensions while others could only boast of a few minor tweaks.
In the Sales Intelligence game, there are many ways that you can add value to your products, but they break down across five broad categories:
- Content: Content value add may be due to the addition of new content sets or via the extraction of insights from content already being delivered to users. Thus, users receive greater value through the addition of new content categories, the expansion of current content (e.g. doubling of coverage for a region), or the internal processing they perform on their content (e.g. sales triggers, business signals, predictive scores)
- Functionality: Vendors are always looking for new capabilities they can add to their products. In some cases these capabilities may require new content. In others, they are finding new ways to add value to current content through mining, filtering, tagging, mashing up, linking, charting, graphing, etc.
- User Experience: The UI and overall customer experience can also be enhanced. UI improvements may be simple (reducing a few keystrokes on a common task) or involve a complete redesign of the user experience. UI design enhancements also include support for mobile devices in both form factor (e.g. responsive design) and functionality (e.g. click to call, map support).
- Connectors: Vendors work with partner platforms to deliver new use cases and workflows. While most vendors support SFDC via the AppExchange, there are many other platforms that present value add opportunities. Ten years ago, the primary connectors were APIs (general purpose tools for developers to create custom solutions) and CRMs. Five years ago, vendors began looking at marketing automation platforms and mobile apps. In the past year, vendors have begun working with Chrome connectors and Sales Acceleration (ABSD) vendors. Either new workflows were created for current users or new tools were being created to support underserved (e.g. field reps, SDRs) or new (e.g. marketing) users.
- Products: Of course, launching a new product is also an option. New products may serve new geographies, functions (e.g. marketing, compliance), or verticals (e.g. industries, SMBs). They may be repackaging of current capabilities, extensions into new markets, or new products tied to new platforms and capabilities.
Beginning on Monday, I’ll be walking through each of these categories and noting which vendors added value to their offerings in which ways. A few vendors focused on one or two dimensions while others hit all of these categories.
To bound this exercise, I will limit the discussion to the fourteen vendors discussed in my book:
- Artesian Solutions
- Bureau van Dijk
- Dun & Bradstreet / Hoovers
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Sales Genie
Happy New Year