Quora: What features do you look for in lead generation software?

I woke up this morning to the following Quora query in my inbox:

What features do you look for in lead genration software?

so I attacked it immediately…

First off, I would call these companies sales intelligence solutions, not lead generation.  While they are used for lead gen, their primary value is for sales reps in prospecting, lead qualification, account planning, and selling deeper into the organization.

As you provided no details on your organization beyond B2B, I will put aside sales methodologies, sales structures, industry, and whether you are looking to align your sales and marketing departments.  Instead I assembled a checklist of features and coverage questions to ask.

Here are the key features I would consider.  Not all questions may be applicable to your situation.

  1. Content
    1. Is your coverage US, North American, or Global?
    2. Do you cover the smallest companies and branch locations?
    3. Do you offer consumer data (important for sales reps that sell to both B2B and B2C)?
    4. Are you company centric or contact centric in your data collection? Company centric will have better location data and works well for ABM, contact centric works for less strategically oriented firms looking to make many calls)
    5. How do you collect your data (e.g. Direct research, aggregation from other vendors, semantic mining) and how do you ensure the quality of your data)?  Direct research delivers the highest quality but limits coverage to a top companies universe at a higher price point.  Aggregation can deliver a full company universe but has a higher incidence of defunct companies and duplicates.  Semantic mining is the lowest cost way to build a dataset but is weak on data not easily mined (e.g. revenue, industry codes, linkage) and misses smaller companies without a web presence.
    6. How do you validate contacts?  How do you know when somebody has left an organization? How do you validate emails (and how often)?
    7. How many job functions and job levels do you support?
    8. How many sales triggers do you support?
  2. Current Awareness
    1. News alerts for companies
    2. Do you support one-click following of companies?
    3. Sales triggers.  How many triggers do you offer?
    4. Custom triggers
    5. Searchable news archive
    6. Do you include an integrated social media feed?  Can it be filtered and searched? Which social media sites are included?  How about blogs?
    7. Do you filter out duplicate stories and non-business news stories?
  3. Account Planning
    1. Family Trees.  US or global?  Do they include branches or only subsidiaries?  Are they downloadable to assist with analysis?  What details are shown in the trees?
    2. Long Business Descriptions?  How many companies have long business descriptions?  How are these gathered?
    3. SWOT Reports
    4. Biographies
    5. Social Media Links for companies and contacts
    6. Competitors Reports
    7. Industry specific datasets (e.g. technology platform data)
    8. Industry Snapshots (Plain English primers which provide a high-level industry overview for sales reps selling broadly across many industries)
    9. Market Research (Formal reports on an industry including key trends, issues
    10. Can I quickly create a PDF download of company information?  Does it include all of the reports or a subset?  Does it include an option to include recent news stories?
  4. Public Company Account Planning
    1. Full public company financials and ratios.  How many quarters and years?  US or Global?
    2. Are key financials graphed?
    3. Significant Developments (multi-year synopses of key events at the company)
    4. Business & Geographic Segment reports
    5. SEC Filings
    6. Earnings Transcripts
    7. Brokerage House Analyst Reports
    8. Stock Charts
  5. Prospecting
    1. Radius search (e.g. 20 miles from a ZIP code)
    2. Metro Areas and Counties
    3. Industry Codes (at both a sector level and more granular SIC and NAICS level)
    4. Sales Triggers
    5. Industry Specific Variables (e.g. Technology Platform, Bank Affiliations)
    6. High-Level Credit Score (for filtering out low yield prospects unlikely to obtain credit department approval)
    7. Ultimate Parent (for expanding a contract)
    8. Job Function and Job Level
    9. Support for both company and contact prospecting
    10. Can we build Peer Lists (similar companies)?  Can we modify the peer variables?
    11. Neighbor Lists.  Useful for understanding the neighborhood in which the business is located as well as identifying additional companies worthy of a visit if planning on on-site.
    12. Can we build prospecting lists from competitor reports, family trees, or other list sources from within the service?
    13. How many companies or contacts may be downloaded in a list?
    14. Can I create custom report views and download formats?
    15. Are there any contractual limits on the total number of records which can be downloaded by a single person or over the full contract?
    16. Can prospect lists be uploaded to my CRM directly or do you only support CSV downloads?
    17. Can I save search criteria?  Lists?
  6. Collaboration
    1. Can we share news and triggers to email? Social Media? Chatter/Yammer?
    2. Can we create shared Watchlists and company lists?
    3. Is there a Who Knows Who Tool for discovering relationships across the organization?  How are these relationships gathered?  How much control do participants have in maintaining control over their contacts?
  7. CRM Integration (specify your CRM)
    1. Do you support Send to CRM from your browser service?
    2. Do you display integrated I-frames within my CRM?  Which record types?
    3. Do you support “stare and compare” updates for updating CRM records on a just-in-time basis?
    4. Do you provide a warning flag if a record is out of date so the rep knows to run a “stare and compare” update?
    5. Do you offer batch updates to Account records managed by our Sales Ops team?  How about Contacts and Leads?
    6. Is most of your functionality and content available from within the CRM or does the system window out to the browser application?
    7. Does the system check for duplicates before creating a record?
    8. Can I send a list of companies/contacts or am I restricted to a single record at a time?
    9. Do you support Send to CRM with a choice between creating a Lead record or an Account and Contact record?
    10. Do you support Custom variables?  If so, which ones?
    11. Does account record creation maintain family tree linkages?
    12. Do you offer an Opportunity View which rolls up all current and closed opportunities at an account into a single view?
  8. Lead Scoring
    1. Do you offer any lead scoring tools?
    2. Are lead scores based upon predictive models using a broad set of business signals or tied to a few firmographic variables?  How about sales triggers?  Availability of key contacts?
    3. Are lead scores easily visible on company records across all platforms?
    4. Can I view the key variables involved in determining lead scores?
  9. Mobile
    1. Is your browser application tested on mobile devices?  Does it have a responsive design?
    2. Do you offer mobile apps?  If so, which features above are included?  Does it support mobile specific features such as current location for prospecting and mapping, click to connect, etc.?
  10. API
    1. Is an API available?  What protocols does it support?
    2. Which report types does it support?
    3. Can I perform company and contact prospecting via the CRM?
    4. Can I pass company or contact parameters for match and enrich?
  11. Customer Support
    1. What are your hours?
    2. Do you support online chat or a phone helpline?
    3. Do you include training with your service?  Onsite? Custom? Webinars? Recorded?
    4. What SLAs do you provide for customer support? data quality?
  12. Pricing
    1. What do you charge for # seats of your service?
    2. Are there charges for additional company and contact downloads?
    3. Are there charges for additional datasets or features?
    4. Are there charges for downloads beyond a fixed number of records?
    5. Do you include CRM and mobile apps as part of your pricing?
    6. Are there additional charges for batch updating of records in my CRM or Marketing Automation Platform?


Sales Intelligence Vendors Still Don’t Get Social

For some reason, sales intelligence vendors have never properly understood social selling and how to integrate social media into their products.  This has long amazed me.  Instead of building an integrated social media viewing tool with sharing and feedback, they all seem to nibble around the edges. You’ll find social hyperlinks directly from company or contact profiles, but these simply window out to the social media site.  Also fairly common is the inclusion of corporate blogs into their news and sales trigger feeds, but fully integrated social media tools have yet to be offered by vendors.

The closest any of them have come is InsideView which added a Buzz Tab about five years ago to its InsideView for Sales product.  The Buzz Tab provides a consolidated view of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.  However, the social content remains segregated from their other discovery tools and the population of Facebook and Twitter feeds is limited.  Other social tools include a Who Knows Who “Six Degrees” tool and the inclusion of Personal Tweets from business executives in their alerts.

The InsideView buzz tab supports keyword searching and filtering for company blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
The InsideView buzz tab supports keyword searching and filtering for company blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

There are also a set of social selling tools that focus on social media, blogs, and news but which are light on company and contact information.  As these tools improve, one of the sales intelligence vendors is going to make a build vs. buy decision and either OEM the upcoming service or buy a social selling service outright.

What tools such as Artesian Software, Owler, Contify, and Trapit do isn’t revolutionary.  They basically provide a unified view of news and social content.  Users can filter the feeds and interact with the posts.  If a free service such as Owler can build such functionality, why can’t the sales intelligence vendors?  Core functionality could provide the following features:

  1. A deep set of direct links for companies and executives to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, G+, etc.
  2. A unified view of the corporate social media content across Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo, corporate blogs, business blogs, etc.  This view would be easily filterable by source, date, keyword, etc.
  3. Social Media Metrics for a company charted over time.  If the company is also selling into the marketing department, then comparative metrics should be available.
  4. When filtering Twitter, allow the user to see both the Tweets from a company and mentions (these are separate options).
  5. Support basic widgets from the major social media vendors.  These are small applets that display key statistics along with a brief description and logo/headshot.
  6. Allow any news article, sales trigger, or social media post to be shared via social media, enterprise social (e.g. Chatter, Yammer), and email.
  7. Support expanded alerts that include targeted social media alongside sales triggers.  Thus, an alert could consist of the half dozen most important sales trigger topics, Twitter posts from the company, Blog headlines, and YouTube / Vimeo uploads.
  8. Executive alerts based upon social media posts and news mentions.

Who Know Who Six degree tools are also worth considering, but this functionality is so well locked up by LinkedIn that relationship discovery tools have remained a standalone category.  Amongst Sales Intelligence vendors, only InsideView and DueDil Connect have built relationship finder tools in competition with LinkedIn.

To be fair, the sales intelligence vendors all understood early on that they needed to work with LinkedIn.  Most of them adopted the LinkedIn widget or the LinkedIn API to provide relationship and executive intelligence into their service.  But then LinkedIn decided it was going to offer its own sales intelligence service called Sales Navigator and began blocking sales intelligence vendor access to LinkedIn.  Since then, with the exception of InsideView, the sales intelligence firms have done little to integrate social content into their services.  Hopefully, the vendors begin to see this gap in their offerings and begin to address it.

Sales Intelligence Vendors in the Inc. 5000 List

Inc. magazine published the 2016 version of their Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing US private companies over the past three years.  To qualify, firms must have at least $100,000 in revenue in 2012 and $2 million in 2015.  Firms are ranked according to their three-year growth rate.

Once again, Social123 was the fastest growing company amongst the firms covered by my newsletter.  Last year, the firm grew its revenue by $400,000 to $2.8 million.  The firm has a three-year Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 123%.  Social123 provides a database of over 300 million global contacts mined from social media which they deploy for prospecting and data enrichment.

HG Data and CB Insights also posted high growth rates (three year CAGRs of 106% and 97% respectively) that placed them towards the top of the list.  HG Data has had great success licensing their semantically mined set of technology product and vendor data to sales intelligence and predictive analytics companies while CB Insights continues to grow in the PE/VC intelligence space and launched a PE/VC sales intelligence product in 2015.

US private company growth rates based upon current and historical Inc. 5000 lists.
US private company growth rates based upon current and historical Inc. 5000 lists.

DiscoverOrg posted the most impressive numbers as it made the list for the sixth consecutive year with a 48% CAGR.  According to the tech sales intelligence firm, only 320 companies have ever made the list for six consecutive years and DiscoverOrg ranked 12th in growth amongst them.  Furthermore, DiscoverOrg is on pace for $60 million in revenue this year which would easily place them on next year’s list.  Noting that the firm has grown revenue 10X over five years, CMO Katie Bullard described their feat as “a huge testament to our customers’ successes and the value they are realizing every day.”

DiscoverOrg recently accepted equity financing for strategic growth purposes, but much of their growth was self-funded as they carefully built out their database to 60,000 companies and their customer base to 2,000 clients.  The firm has doubled its company coverage over the past year and built its editorial staff out to 150 researchers.  Similarly, they have grown contact coverage by 89% while maintaining a 99% fill rate on emails and 96% on direct dial numbers.

Technology sales intelligence vendor RainKing also demonstrated strong growth with a 31% CAGR to $27 million.  Back in June, RainKing announced plans to add an additional sixty headcount to their sales, research, engineering, and client success departments.  This is the third year in a row that RainKing has made the list.

Intent data firm Madison Logic made the list for the second time with $45.1 million in revenue.  The growth was particularly impressive as Madison Logic spun off its Madison Logic Data division in April 2015 as Bombora.  “Madison Logic’s priority is to provide B2B marketers with the most comprehensive account based marketing solution and deliver real ROI of their efforts,” said Tom O’Regan, Madison Logic’s CEO. “Our growth is a result of all our teams — from engineering to sales — being aligned behind that priority. We could not have done it without our partners and customers who have selected Activate ABM to power their account based marketing programs.”

Zoominfo returned to the list last year after a seven year hiatus.  The firm appears to have found a successful growth strategy.  Over the years, Zoominfo pursued multiple markets including web mined biographies, sales intelligence, and executive recruitment tools only to be big footed by Google and LinkedIn.  A few years ago, Zoominfo began to gain traction in the data hygiene services space.  Over the past year, they launched Chrome and Eloqua connectors and refreshed their Salesforce integration.  They also rebranded and enhanced their sales and marketing platform as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform.  The new service helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.”

“Our mission is to help businesses accelerate their growth by using our data and tools,” said Zoominfo CEO Yonatan Stern.  “We use our own tools and have experienced accelerating growth together with significant profitability over the past five years.

Advertising sales intelligence vendor The List returned to the Inc. 5000 after a five-year hiatus.  The List has long been a respected database covering the national advertising and agency sector.  Late last year, the firm launched a new sales intelligence service for sales professionals who target agencies, media sales, marketing technology firms, and corporate sponsorships.  The Winmo service combines advertiser and agency search, agency relationships, creative portfolios, and sales recommendations along with prospecting, advertising-specific sales triggers from DailyVista, and an SFDC connector.

Pure Incubation made the list for the third year in the row with revenues of $9.5 million.  The Massachusetts firm provides lead generation and database services for the medical (MedData Group) and IT fields (PureB2B).  PureIncubation CEO Melissa Chang attributed the firm’ success to the launch of several PureB2B products including “marketing qualified leads, a unique integrated Account Based Marketing product, and our latest digital strategy  – a GuidesFor site network that utilizes intent data to identify in-market buyers and drive ready-to-purchase buyers to technology companies.”  Chang also noted that “we have made a number of operational enhancements to increase efficiencies, and set the industry standard for quality data delivery.”

Interestingly, not a single predictive analytics company made the list.  Several  firms were pre-revenue in March 2012 so would not have qualified this year.  Other firms may have chosen not to publish their revenue and growth rates.

Artesian Solutions’ Social Selling Enhancements

Artesian Solutions combines company and market (industry) Watchlists with a broad set of social sharing, emailing, and bookmarking tools.
Artesian Solutions combines company and market (industry) Watchlists with a broad set of social sharing (Twitter, LinkedIn, Chatter), emailing, calendaring, and bookmarking tools.

UK Social Selling vendor Artesian Solutions announced a set of enhancements to its social selling platform.  Amongst the improvements are an improved CRM connector, “fully customisable” triggers, market sector alerts, employee display filters, and an update to their Ready mobile app.  They are also in the midst of soft launching a US edition with a comparable set of social selling features.

The enhanced CRM connectors for Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics “drive a more dynamic connection between interaction information, business information and market insight for more intuitive and contextualised sales and marketing.”  Among the features are sales trigger filtering by topic and trigger sharing by email, social media, and Chatter.

A new employees page allows users to filter employees by job function and level and set priorities by executive role and level.  The firm has also expanded the depth of executive content including executive overviews and social media links.

Along with market alerts, Artesian has increased the granularity of its market views.  Market alerts may be filtered by industry and country and are delivered weekly.

Artesian Ready Twitter Feed

Artesian also rolled out version 2.3 of its Ready mobile app which provides company and executive insights synched with the mobile calendar.  The service also supports collaborative note taking and a “360° comprehensive profile of customers and prospects.”

New Ready features include Twitter timelines and Twitter sharing (see image on left), social links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, AngelList, Crunchbase, Klout), job information, and a data quality form for reporting incorrect information.

Rachel Oldroyd, Artesian Product Manager for Mobile commented that Ready “delivers the latest social profile insight straight to users’ fingertips, right up to the very second they go through the meeting room door, for the ultimate in readiness and customer engagement. Its summer launch is very timely, offering a real opportunity to brush off the dust, re-invigorate meetings with new ideas and fresh thinking, and get back into gear ahead of September.”

Ready is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Artesian is priced at $99 per user per month in the US and £89 per user per month in the UK with volume discounting available at higher seat counts.  This pricing is in line with other social selling products such as InsideView and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  Ready and CRM integrations are included as part of the core service offering along with onboarding, training, and social selling scores.  The firm strongly believes that sales training is key to user adoption so does not charge for custom training sessions.

Social Selling Scores are similar to LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index.  These scores introduce a gamification element to the service helping encourage best practices and ongoing use by sales reps.  Artesian bases its scores on targeting, connecting, and sharing.

Artesian Solutions provides a Social Selling Score Dashboard on the home page to encourage broad usage of their service.
Artesian Solutions provides a Social Selling Score Dashboard on the home page to encourage broad usage of their service.

Artesian opened a Boston office at the beginning of this year and recently soft launched their US edition.  The firm has not disclosed their primary US vendor but it is a credible source of company and contact information.  The US version supports 4.2 million companies and 400,000 Canadian firms.  Social Selling functionality is similar to the UK product with the exception of filed data not available in the US (e.g. registered company financials; directors and shareholders; mortgages and charges; and Companies House images).  Key features in both services include social selling alerts and sharing, company prospecting, watchlists, and social selling scores.

Social Selling Benefits

Sales Research company CSO Insights and Seismic, a sales enablement vendor, asked 400 global B2B professionals about the benefits of social selling tools.  These tools include sales enablement, social listening, and social marketing solutions.  A full 38% weren’t sure of the benefits of these tools speaking to a need for vendors to better explain their value and provide user metrics.

The problem of value attribution has long been an issue with sales intelligence services as well, but as sales intelligence has become more tightly tied into the overall sales and marketing process, clear benefits such as reduced time spent keying and maintaining account information and the direct display of account intelligence within CRM I-frames have helped validate sales intelligence tools.

Likewise, B2B professionals found the biggest benefits of social selling tools to be reduced account / contact research time (39%), an increase in the number of leads (33%) and deeper client relationships (31%).  Broader process improvements were noted at lower rates with improved lead conversion (24%), shorter sales cycles (14%), and increased win rates on forecasted deals (13%) rounding out the benefits.

However, when the sub-group of professionals at firms which have aligned their social marketing and selling strategies was assessed, CSO Insights found a sixteen percent improvement in win rates.  Furthermore, the benefits were better understood with 57% enjoying more leads and 56% found deeper client relationships.  Amongst this group, only 18% were unsure about the benefits of social selling tools.  Thus, CSO Insights concluded that the high percentage of B2B professionals doubting the value of social selling tools was due to “a lack of maturity.”

CSO Insights defined social engagement as “equipping salespeople with skills, tools, and content to successfully navigate the change, decision, and value dynamics along the entire customer’s journey by leveraging social media.”  I find this definition a bit limiting operationally for vendors as it focuses exclusively on social media.  Both social selling and sales intelligence vendors have made the mistake of ignoring each other.  There are a few exceptions such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator adding a news feed and InsideView’s integrated social media Buzz tab, but most vendors either focus on profiles and news alerts/triggers or social monitoring and messaging.  The lack of fully integrated social monitoring and messaging tools within sales intelligence platforms remains a missed opportunity to improve sales intelligence products.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers Lead (executive) and company news alongside LinkedIn updates. Sales reps can filter for news or shares.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers Lead (executive) and Company News alongside LinkedIn updates. Sales reps can filter for news or shares.

A 2015 CSO Insights study of sales reps found that 33% felt social selling training was in need of a major redesign and 31% felt the training needs improvement.  CSO Insights warns against reducing social selling training to LinkedIn or Twitter training.  Research Director Tamara Schenk cautions that lessons from CRM training were not transferred to social selling training. “Salespeople are again asked to take tool training when at the same time the tool and the required skills have not yet been integrated into the current sales system, methodologies and processes. The result is the same. The new tool, social selling, is then considered as a time-consuming add-on rather than an effective enabler to create more and better business.”

Schenk noted that social strategy needs to be defined with marketing.  “An organization’s social strategy has to be aligned along the customer’s journey. [Sales] Enablement leaders are in an ideal position to orchestrate this process. After that, social selling skills have to be integrated in the current methodologies, engagement principles, and processes. Only then, not earlier, can social selling training services be designed and provided. And using the technology effectively is just one element. Another key element is the content challenge. Relevant and valuable content to attract prospects has to be made available for salespeople, ideally on the sales enablement platform with no further internal obstacles to access this content.”

The CSO Insights research was conducted in July by Schenk and Strategic Advisor Jim Dickie.  The study was based upon responses from B2B sales managers (61%), sales ops (21%), marketing (8%) and other roles located in North America (59%) and rest of world (41%).

The Universe Has a Sense of Humor

The Inc. 5000 list search for Business Products & Services placed Razor Consulting Solutions next to Occam's Paradigm.
The Inc. 5000 list search for Business Products & Services placed Razor Consulting Solutions next to Occam’s Paradigm.

Since studying French in high school, I’ve always had a sense for the absurdity of life.  How could you not when you are reading Sartre, Camus, and Ionesco (n’est-ce pas)?  Every now and then the universe reminds you of this absurdity when you aren’t expecting it.

While researching the just released 2016 Inc. 5000 list, I sorted the 2016 list by Business Products and Services and Occam’s Paradigm was next to Razor Consulting Services.  Occam’s Paradigm named its company after a philosophical statement made by William of Occam commonly called Occam’s Razor.

Here is an explanation of Occam’s Razor from the Occam’s Paradigm Facebook page:

His widely quoted principle known as Occam’s razor recommends the selection, among competing hypotheses, of the one that makes the fewest assumptions and by extension offers the simplest explanation of the effect. Occam’s razor recommends that one should always opt for an explanation in terms of the fewest possible number of causes, factors, or variables. Occam’s Razor is frequently expressed in the statement, ‘Entia non sunt mul- tiplicanda sine necessitate’ that is ‘Beings are not to be multiplied beyond necessity’. Put simply – ‘Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one’. He used simplicity as a criterion of concept formation and theory construction.

So what is the simplest explanation that one can posit concerning the humorous juxtaposition of these two companies on a list?  Was the universe showing a sense of humor or simply being random?

To get a feel for the likelihood of this event, I went into Avention’s Global Business Browser and found there were 11.3 million US private independent and parent companies (I omitted subs and branches as the Inc. list is based upon overall company performance).  Of these, 688 had the word razor in their name.  Thus, the odds of Occam’s Paradigm being next to a “razor” company is

688 * 2 / 11,300,000 = .012%

or roughly 1 in 8,000.  This is basically the odds of rolling a Yahtzee of all Sixes (five dice) on the first roll (1 / 6^5)

So 1 in 8,000 seems high, but our brains are designed to spot anomalies such as

Occam NEAR Razor

Once you adjust for the fact that I was scanning through multiple filtered lists, I probably scanned thousands of potential pairs for coincidences.  Applying Occam’s Razor, the universe wasn’t winking at me, it was simply exhibiting randomness.


Social123: Contact Enrichment

The Social123 Data Health Analysis Report
The Social123 Data Health Analysis Report

Contacts database Social123 rolled out a set of enhancements to their contact enrichment service including more accurate matching, expanded reporting, saved searches, improved security, and additional enrichment fields.

Match rates were improved due to the normalization of company and contact names on input files.  Name standardization reduces the number of nicknames, typos, and corporate identifiers (e.g. LLC) prior to match processing.  D-U-N-S Number matching is also being offered which allows marketers to upload a list of D-U-N-S numbers and receive a set of targeted contacts at the companies.  (D-U-N-S numbers are a proprietary global company numbering system developed and maintained by Dun & Bradstreet.  They are the closest schema to a de facto global numbering system for companies and corporate linkages).

Social123 automated their Data Health report with data quality metrics, net-new contact counts, and contact analytics.  Amongst the new contact analytics are the top ten titles and the top ten reported skills.

Social123 added twenty-five site location fields including address, phone, SICs, NAICS, revenue, employee count, and geocodes.

To improve security, users are no longer emailed direct file links.  Instead, notification emails direct users to a secure application.

Finally, Social123 now offers a firmographic only append.  Other services include contact prospecting, data cleansing, and email validation

The Social123 contacts dataset now exceeds 300 million detailed global contacts sourced from the open web and social media.

MarketLine Advantage Research Database

MarketLine, formerly known as DataMonitor, is expanding the content and functionality of its MarketLine Advantage research database.  The service is designed for management consultants, investment bankers, trade agencies, lawyers, and academic research.  While its company and industry content has long been licensed by the sales intelligence vendors, the additional datasets found in Advantage provide only limited incremental value to sales teams.

MarketLine is expanding profile coverage of both companies and industries, but not expanding the licensed dataset it makes available to sales intelligence vendors such as Factiva, Bureau van Dijk, LexisNexis, and Avention.  Industry coverage has roughly doubled to 6,000 country/industry pairs.  For company intelligence, they are trebling the number of company profiles to at least 100,000 firms; likewise, the number of company profiles with SWOTs is quadrupling to 12,000.

Company profiles are available in multiple formats and can be selected at the table or chart level.  Thus, users can perform a one-click export of a company or industry table to PowerPoint, Word, PDF or Excel files.  Unfortunately, company and industry news is maintained separately from company and industry profiles; thus, users cannot create a unified report containing editorial research plus news.  This lack of unification adds to the search and export work of researchers.

Marketline is one of the few vendors that provides global and regional industry research across a broad set of industries.  Most vendors focus on a subset of countries (e.g. emerging markets, United States) or industries (e.g. Consumer Products).  MarketLine publishes industry research at the country, regional, and global level allowing users to compare the same industry in different countries or many industries within a country.  This ability to compare across countries and industries – with standard terminology, methodology, industry definition, and economic assumptions – assists with market entry analysis, whether it is researching new sectors or researching new countries.  It also helps sector-focused sales reps adjust their messaging and targeting across markets.  Furthermore, by including Five Forces Analyses and the top company profiles for each country, it is possible to determine whether new companies should be added to your ABM target list as well as assess potential obstacles when entering a new market.

MarketLine Industry Research provides a half dozen Spider Charts (The Five Forces Summary with sub-category detail) along with short explanations of each sub-category.
MarketLine Industry Research provides a half dozen Spider Charts (The Five Forces Summary with sub-category detail) along with short explanations of each sub-category.

Because MarketLine research covers so many regional / industry pairs, the reports should not be considered detailed industry research.  Industry specialists generally write technically oriented reports on specific industry topics.  Instead, the focus is on market size, key segments, current trends, top competitors, and market growth projections.  MarketLine focuses on actionable information that can be understood by industry generalists and researchers operating across many industries.

MarketLine also offers a set of country profiles which assist with market entry decisions and help users develop a basic understanding of local dynamics and risks.  Country profiles utilize a PESTLE framework.

Each of the major profile categories contains a standard Competitive Intelligence / Strategy tool employed by B schools and analysts:

  • SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat analysis looks at a company versus its competitors and the overall market.  Thus, opportunities might include emerging technologies or newly opened markets while threats cover exogenous variables such as government regulation, market substitutes, and competitor actions.
  • Five Forces – This industry tool was developed by Michael Porter and covers Buyer Power, Supplier Power, New Entrants, Threat of Substitutes, and Degree of Rivalry.  Within each of these elements, a set of sub-topics is covered.  The Five Forces analysis is discussed at the sub-section level and displayed as a spider web graph.
  • PESTLE — Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental analyses for 150 countries.

Other MarketLine Advantage datasets include:

  • Deal profiles spanning venture capital, private equity, mergers & acquisitions, partnerships, private placements, and joint ventures.  Deal profiles are generally available within one business day of the transaction announcement.  The deals database is screenable and goes back at least three years.
  • Country and city demographic datasets gathered from governmental resources (e.g. OECD, Eurostat, CDC) covering 750 macroeconomic and demographic variables.  Launched just a few months ago, the cities database covers approximately 2,000 global metropolises and can assist with initial planning intelligence for locating international offices and projecting which regions are poised for rapid growth.  Multiple visual formats are supported including bar, line, and pie charts.  The datasets are exportable at the field and location level, allowing users to build custom datasets.
  • Company News written by MarketLine’s analysts.  MarketLine reports on 11,000 companies with 60,000 articles per annum.  The current archive exceeds 300,000 articles.
  • Market Data Analytics for major consumer product categories including food, drink, and personal care products.
  • Company and investment prospecting.

The Home Page is a bit flat with no dynamic content.  Users are presented a single Google-style search bar along with database browsing options.  This format is in line with a reference service, but the layout indicates a lack of personalization for frequent researchers.  This is a missed opportunity.  Frequent users should be able to track specific companies, industries, and countries with homepage and email alerts.  These alerts could cover both company news and updates to key reports.

The MarketLine Advantage Homepage focuses on quick search but lacks dynamic content.
The MarketLine Advantage Homepage focuses on quick search but lacks dynamic content.

MarketLine Advantage customers benefit from access to MarketLine’s team of 178 researchers that conduct both primary and secondary research.  Users may pose questions to the researchers subject to a 24 hour SLA.  Other benefits of directly licensing the Advantage service is data currency (aggregators generally receive monthly report updates), broader content sets, custom screening tools, and the ability to quickly export report sections in multiple formats.

MarketLine Advantage is sold on a named user basis with annual subscriptions subject to volume pricing.  Users have unlimited access to reports, datasets, and downloading.  Pricing for MarketLine Advantage was not disclosed.  When MarketLine Industry reports are sold on the GlobalData store, they are priced at $350 for single user access to a report, $700 for a site license, and $1,050 for an enterprise license.

Advantage is available via web and mobile browsers but the service lacks CRM connectors and mobile apps.

The Corporate Data Show Podcast

"Effective sales is not just about how many people to contact at the company, but who are the right people and what should I say to them."
The Corporate Data Show Podcast

I was privileged to be recently interviewed by Rick Holmes for the Corporate Data Show podcast.  The two of us discussed the benefits of sales intelligence, how sales intelligence differs from business intelligence, data collection methods, CRM and MAP integrations, ABSD, and sales triggers.

Rick is the CEO of Every Market Media so also very knowledgeable about the content industry.  EMM is a compiler of US and global B2B Emails.

Sales Navigator Gmail & SFDC Connectors

LinkedIn rolled out a trio of enhancements to its Sales Navigator offering to assist with Salesforce synchronization, Gmail integration, and mobile app discovery.

To improve the Salesforce experience, Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator.  While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator.  Unlike sales intelligence services which support bisynchronous data sharing, no LinkedIn account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records.  The system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.

Sales Navigator provides automated SFDC synching and flags which leads are available within SFDC.
Sales Navigator provides automated SFDC synching and flags which leads are available within SFDC.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail.  The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar.  If a contact is not in Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox.  Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging.  TeamLink information is also displayed.

The Gmail Chrome extension provides LinkedIn contact intelligence within the Gmail Inbox. Users can identify icebreakers and TeamLink connections.
The Gmail Chrome extension provides LinkedIn contact intelligence within the Gmail Inbox. Users can identify icebreakers and TeamLink connections.

The final enhancement is to the Sales Navigator Android and iOS apps which will now display up to ten daily account or lead recommendations based upon user preferences.  Recommendations will expire after 24 hours and be replaced with fresh recommendations.

LinkedIn noted that over 25% of Sales Navigator users “solely” use the Navigator app for account intelligence.

“Our goal for Sales Navigator is to be an important part of the daily lives of sales professionals, and we believe these enhancements will get us that much closer,” said Senior Product Manager Tom Lee.  “Ultimately, we want to help sales professionals build deeper relationships by working smarter, not harder, and this reinforces our commitment to make them more efficient and effective every day.