Sales Intelligence: US vs. UK

UK private company financials (source: Artesian Solutions)
UK private company financials (source: Artesian Solutions)

The UK is the second largest market for sales intelligence services.  For US firms, the UK is usually either the second or third market (after Canada) which they support.  Thus, the UK market is served by both British (e.g. DueDil, Artesian Solutions, Bureau van Dijk) and American companies (e.g. Avention, Dun & Bradstreet, Factiva).

A key difference between the US and UK markets is the availability of UK private company data.  Approximately three million active UK firms are required to register with Companies House (the major exceptions are small businesses, partnerships, and public sector entities).  Large firms are required to provide full financials while mid-size firms may only be required to file a Balance Sheet or summary financials.  The smallest firms may simply be required to file a basic Annual Return with Director and Shareholder information and abbreviated accounts.

Along with annual financials, the UK filing regime requires statements concerning Directors and Shareholders (DASH); Mortgages, Charges, and County Court Judgments (MCCJ); and Gazette filings concerning receiverships and the winding down of businesses.  The net effect is a richer set of financial figures, superior intelligence concerning corporate families and ownership, a broad list directors, and intelligence concerning cross-company director linkages.

There are some drawbacks to this system.  First, the filings for private companies are not filed until three quarters after the end of the financial year so one is generally looking at data that is three to seven quarters in arrears.  A company’s financial position can shift significantly during this time.  Of course, few companies in the US are required to make any kind of financial filings.

Second, statements may be filed from the offices of corporate secretaries, accountants, or corporate owners.  Thus, the registered address often differs from the actual “trading address”.  When evaluating UK sales intelligence tools, look for vendors that provide both registered and trading addresses.  You should also ask about the population of URLs and phone numbers.

In the UK, sales reps should be calling into the Trading Address (physical) location, not the Registered Address (legal). Make sure your Sales Intelligence service provides both.
In the UK, sales reps should be calling into the Trading Address (physical) location, not the Registered Address (legal). Make sure your Sales Intelligence service provides both.  (Source: Avention)

Third, while there is very good data concerning corporate linkages, including minority shareholdings, the data only goes to the subsidiary level.  But companies may have hundreds of operating locations not listed.  In the US, vendors capture all of these branch locations, but this intelligence is more limited in the UK.

Another problem with this regime is there is little focus on who is managing the organization.  While a few directors are listed, they may not be the people the sales rep will be calling into.  Thus, the sales intelligence vendors have been working to tie in marketing datasets which provide additional color (British translation: colour) including mid-level managers with emails, URLs, and phone numbers.

Finally, one is more likely to have turnover figures (US translation: revenue) in the UK than in the US.  Conversely, US vendors are more likely to have employee figures and modeled revenue figures.  As a result, the employee count is a better sizing metric when prospecting in the US and turnover is the superior prospecting metric in the UK.

I am currently working on the next edition of my Field Guide for Sales Intelligence Vendors.  One of the key additions to this year’s edition is the inclusion of three UK vendors: Artesian Solutions, Bureau van Dijk, and DueDilAvention, which also offers a strong UK product, was previously included.  The new edition will be available before the end of this year.  I am now taking pre-orders for the expanded guide with purchasers receiving the 2015 edition at no charge.

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