Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg crowed about its 2017 performance with growth in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), customers, staff, and data coverage. The firm, which acquired its top competitor RainKing in August, exceeded $130 million in ARR, above projections at the time of the acquisition. As subscription revenue is recognized over the life of the contract, 2017 revenue was likely between $110 and $120 million. DiscoverOrg, which has long stated that it is profitable and cash flow positive, also exceeded its profitability target for 2017, but did not provide details.
DiscoverOrg employment grew to more than 500 employees in Maryland, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Headcount increased by 50%. The additional staff allowed DiscoverOrg to grow the database and “deliver an unparalleled customer experience” through an expanded customer success team, redesigned customer training and certification programs, and user experience improvements to both platforms.
The customer base grew by more that 25% to greater than 4,000.
“After the acquisition of RainKing in August 2017, we made a commitment to our combined customer base that they would be able to access more high-quality data as we brought the businesses together,” said Henry Schuck, DiscoverOrg CEO. “In the five months since the acquisition, we more than doubled the datasets our customers access. This phenomenal increase means that our customers are more effective at finding, connecting, and selling to their target buyers.”
In 2017, DiscoverOrg launched SMB and HR datasets which provided a “larger addressable target market for DiscoverOrg and a more diversified customer base.” A few weeks ago, DiscoverOrg released its Legal and Compliance dataset.
Following the merger, the firm swiftly combined the RainKing and DiscoverOrg company and contact universes. DiscoverOrg contact coverage expanded 124% while the RainKing universe grew 127%. With respect to global companies, counts increased 82% to 130,000.
In 2018, DiscoverOrg plans to further grow its database and develop ”new tools and applications that make the data even more easily actionable for sales and marketing teams,” said Chief Growth Officer Katie Bullard. “Our roadmap is focused on enabling our customers to build an end-to-end pipeline engine with DiscoverOrg’s data as the foundation.”
While the coverage continues to increase, they have maintained their data research focus. “We repeatedly hear from sales and marketing organizations that the overwhelming abundance of data available today— mostly low-quality and unverified—actually makes it harder for them to do their job effectively,” said Bullard. “We have focused on delivering both the right data and the right tools to make sense of that data in a simple and practical package. The result is that our customers get to market faster, build more pipeline, and close deals more often than their competitors.”
InsideView recently rolled out a beta user interface which follows a mobile first navigation structure and includes a redesigned News Feed view for followed companies. InsideView describes the new UI as “fresh. Modern. And easier to navigate, with more engaging graphics and a common user experience across platforms – within CRM, mobile, and web.”
The color scheme utilizes a monochrome palate with splashes of red, blue and green for accents (e.g. hyperlinks, highlighted tabs, buttons). Unfortunately, much of the text is gray against a white background which may cause readability issues in brightly lit locations.
Navigation is via a left-handed navigation bar. For companies, the primary tabs are Overview, Company Information, People, and Insights. Sub-headings under Company Information are Firmographics, Industry Profile, Financials, Family Tree, and Competitors. Industry Profile has a third level of horizontal tabs, and really should be presented as a top-level navigation item.
A Search bar provides a type-ahead feature to assist with company and contact searching. The type-ahead feature begins as a Recently Viewed list of companies and contacts.
The Insights Tab is an updated version of the InsideView buzz tab. Users can view company news, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook in a single feed. News can be filtered to a subset of their 17 agents and be shared via email, social media, or Yammer. All four sources are keyword searchable. Twitter is fully integrated with a Twitter handle summary along with reply, retweet, and favorite. Facebook supports an integrated stream of posts with commenting support.
One of the nice features that was carried forward from the old Buzz tab is the ability to switch between company posts and posts from others for Twitter and Facebook.
In place of a static Home Page, the user is taken to the News Page which presents the user with news stories for followed companies in a grid pattern. Users may filter the topics by one or multiple Agents (sales triggers) and Watchlists. Individual articles may be shared with social media, email, or Yammer.
The Company view still lacks an export to PDF feature similar to that found in D&B Hoovers and Hoovers classic.
Users will be able to switch between the classic and beta versions through April 27th.
Last week, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan resigned as CEO, board member, and Chairman. In his absence, Thomas Manning has been appointed Chairman and interim CEO. Manning has been a board member since 2013 and Lead Director since 2016. He previously served as the CEO of Cerberus Asia Operations & Advisory Limited, CEO of Capgemini Asia, and CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting Asia. He was also a senior partner with corporate strategy firm Bain & Company where he led the global IT practice in Silicon Valley and Asia.
No reason was given for Carrigan’s departure beyond that it was a mutual decision.
“Over the last four years we have made progress transforming this company. We’ve improved our data and analytics, developed solutions and capabilities to serve new customer use cases, and modernized our products and platforms. The Board is confident in the strategic direction of the Company, and fully believes that this business can deliver sustainable mid-single digit revenue growth and expanding margins. Our number one priority is accelerating value creation for shareholders.”
Dun & Bradstreet Chairman and interim CEO Thomas Manning
However, the company is not growing revenue and profits quickly enough. To address the slow growth, the firm engaged McKinsey & Company two months ago in a strategic and operational review “to help us find ways to speed up the time to realize value,” said Manning. “The first phase of their work validated our strategy and identified barriers to growth and cost opportunities. The next phase of their work will include a full portfolio and business assessment and we are open to considering all options for value creation that may be identified.”
McKinsey validated the basic DaaS strategy around premium company, contact, and risk data. McKinsey’s primary concern was the “breadth of our offerings and distribution channels” which increased the level of operational complexity. The updated strategy will look to “simplify and streamline the business.”
Dun & Bradstreet is also looking to “apply more specialization to our selling activities as we go deeper into the sales and marketing space,” said Manning. “As we expand our sales and marketing value proposition from being primarily a static data supplier to becoming a dynamic player in the digital sales, marketing and advertising space, we are working to make sure that our organization, go-to-market strategy and processes are aligned with that goal.”
The firm hired David Godfrey, who previously ran Global Sales at Gartner, to oversee go-to-market strategy and execution. He will be reporting into Manning.
James Fernandez, new Lead Director of the Board, said, “As Dun & Bradstreet continues its work to drive sustainable growth, the Board believes now is the right time to transition the Company’s leadership. We are pleased to have a leader of Tom’s caliber and experience to step in as interim CEO. The Board will continue to support the Company, and lend our expertise to the organization and Tom during this transition period as we conduct our search for a permanent successor.”
Q4 earnings increased 3%, but only 1% organically, to $527 million. Total revenue hit $1.75 billion in 2017 with 83% in the Americas. The firm maintained expense discipline resulting in a ten-basis point improvement in margins while investing $40 million on initiatives which “transform our technology platforms in order to meet our customers’ modern-day needs,” said CFO Richard Veldran. “Modernizing delivery of our solutions is a critical component of our strategy.”
Data-as-a-service delivery continues to increase. Nearly 30% of Americas revenue came via as-a-service solutions “which makes our data stickier and more useful for our customers and drives higher-value revenue.”
Amongst the 2017 initiatives were upgrades to D&B Credit and new D&B Optimizer solutions for Salesforce and Microsoft.
Deferred revenue was up 3% year over year before M&A activity and currency adjustments. Growth was attributed to D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers Q4, and the D&B Direct API. President and COO Josh Peirez noted that the D&B Credit Suite revenues were no longer declining and that the company is well-positioned in D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers, and D&B Direct.
“We think we’re well-positioned to address the competitive challenges. We’re also pleased that McKinsey has validated that opportunity and that strategy and helping us to make sure that we are packaging and bundling these things properly.”
Dun & Bradstreet President & COO Josh Peirez
Taxes, which were 31.4% in 2017, are expected to drop to the mid-20s due to the US corporate tax reforms. The reforms will also allow the firm to repatriate $265 million to reduce debt levels.
No guidance was provided as the firm is beginning their operational review. Veldran promised more details on the Q1 call.
Dun & Bradstreet raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to $0.5225 per share.
The market reacted very positively to the announcements, driving Dun & Bradstreet’s stock price up nearly 8% after the earnings call.
Sales & Marketing Solutions (S&MS) rose 4% in the Americas to $240.1 million in Q4. Growth was led by Sales Acceleration products which rose 9% to $84.3 million. For the full year, Sales Acceleration grew 10% to $288.4 million in the Americas with the Avention acquisition contributing twelve points of growth. Legacy Hoover’s drove down organic Sales Acceleration revenue with traditional Hoovers revenue declining by mid-single digits.
Revenue for the new D&B Hoovers service (Dun & Bradstreet content delivered through the Avention platform) increased in 2017. However, the decline in revenue from the Data.com partnership will result in a decline in 2018 Sales Acceleration revenue. Data.com generated around $50 million in revenue in 2017 with the firm continuing to sell through August 2017, resulting in a flat year. Veldran projects a $15 million decline in Data.com revenue. Dun & Bradstreet is looking to recapture some of that decline as new D&B Hoovers and D&B Optimizer for Salesforce contracts.
Peirez is quite pleased with the trajectory of the D&B Hoovers business. “We think our products are far better than anything else in market. We continue to see the overwhelming majority of customers that are buying our D&B Hoovers product buying the higher level of the product with the integrations to CRM, so that’s extremely encouraging for us.”
The firm is also moving to migrate its Hoover’s customer base over to D&B Hoovers. In Q4, more than ten percent of the legacy base moved to the new platform as Dun & Bradstreet “started to move very aggressively in getting the customers upgraded,” said Peirez. While the D&B Hoovers Suite grew low-single digits in its first year, Peirez expects growth to accelerate in year two. The company has told users that the legacy platform will be phased out at the end of the year.
Advanced Marketing Solutions grew 2% in Q4 to $155.8 million in the Americas. For the full year, growth was 2% to $383.9 million. While revenue was up mid-single digits in H2, the product line was weighed down by H1 weakness.
Outside the Americas, S&MS grew 17% to $16.9 million in Q4. For the year, S&MS non-Americas revenue rose 18% to $60.4 million. Growth was driven by Sales Acceleration products, including the acquired Avention product line. Sales Acceleration products jumped up 24% to $7.5 million in the quarter and 39% to $27.7 million for the year.
The D&B Hoovers Suite rose 26% to $42.6 million in the Americas in Q4 and 22% to $166.5 million. Outside of the Americas, D&B Hoovers Suite rose from $0.6 million to $5.3 million in Q4 and $3.1 million to $16 million. While the classic Hoover’s product line had little overseas sales, the new D&B Hoovers product line, built on the Avention platform, benefited from a longstanding presence in the UK, Singapore, Australia, and India.
Sales and marketing often forget to focus on the unique value proposition they offer their customers. They focus on product features instead of customer benefits. There is an oft-repeated saying in marketing which captures this logic perfectly:
“People don’t buy quarter inch drills, they buy quarter inch holes.”
The electric drill was first developed by Black and Decker and patented in 1917 as a tool for their own production facility. Interestingly, the firm only recognized the value of the tool for consumers when employees began taking it home. Ironically, the tool often used to discuss the value of thinking broadly about use cases and customer needs was originally designed for a limited purpose, the Black and Decker plant, became an indispensable DIY consumer and industrial product.
A product/technology focus emphasizes the features of the drill and not the benefits of quickly making holes of specific sizes as needed, where needed. Marketers need to translate many product features to a distinct set of customer benefits and roll them into a unique value proposition that differentiates their product in the mind of potential customers.
Understanding the needs of the customers is also important for the product and engineering teams. Otherwise, they will view both the competition and the market too narrowly. If you are selling quarter inch drills, you view your competitors as quarter inch drill manufacturers. If you view your product as on demand tools for boring holes and attaching objects, you recognize a broader set of competitive and complementary products including bores, glues, solder, welding supplies, nails, screws, bolts, etc. You would also recognize that electromechanical torque can be applied to screws, bolts, and nuts, expanding your product line into adjacent markets.
Focusing on product features is also a bad practice for sales reps. As with marketing, emphasizing features prevents them from communicating the unique value proposition of your products and services. If your sales reps are too often complaining about losing on price or the need to constantly discount off list price, then either your prices are too high or your sales reps are engaged in too much feature-speak and failing to communicate customer benefits and value. Of course, these reasons are not mutually exclusive. You could have two root causes to your pricing difficulties – your prices may be too high and your sales reps may be failing to communicate value.
Another problem with focusing on features is it treats your product as little more than a commodity. A differentiated service is less subject to price erosion and heavy discounting. This is one reason I tell my clients in the sales intelligence space not to compete on database size. While there are benefits to larger databases, users aren’t usually purchasing big databases [feature], they are purchasing sales insights [value proposition] that make them more effective at building prospecting lists [benefit 1], qualifying leads [benefit 2], managing accounts [benefit 3], reducing CRM data entry [benefit 4], improving analytics , and selling deeper into organizations [benefit 6]. Thus, it isn’t the size of the company and executive files, but the breadth of data insights that help reps more efficiently and effectively sell.
So as you hold your 2018 sales kickoffs, make sure to communicate your new product’s value proposition to your salesforce. Likewise, evangelize your company’s vision during new hire training, product road mapping sessions, and all hands meetings. In the end, customers are interested in your value and how you benefit them, not RPM or database size.
Technology media company TechTarget announced strong Q4 growth for their Sales Intelligence Priority Engine service. The firm added over 40 new Priority Engine and Deal Data customers in Q4 with revenues more than doubling year-over-year. Priority Engine benefited from the addition of DiscoverOrg technographic and contact intelligence during the quarter. The service combines intent, predictive, and contacts intelligence into a single solution. Intent data is sourced from their 140 B2B media tech web sites containing 550,000 indexed content pages, many of which make the first page of Google technology searches. Each day, the firm has one million buyer interactions tied to its 17 million members which it then tags to 10,000 technology topics. The majority of members have technology titles, but TechTarget also supports five million non-IT members.
Content is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.
TechTarget claims that its hand-indexed, technology-focused editorial content results in a better indication of technology intent than machine-indexed intent files built across a broader set of B2B media sites. Furthermore, because TechTarget has member ids associated with site activity, they know who at each company is researching specific topics, providing surge data tied to specific individuals. Other intent vendors provide anonymous intent.
“Real purchase intent insight is actually made, not scraped from general-purpose websites. It begins with relevant, useful content that provides critical value to professionals as they look to solve business challenges and make buying decisions. By observing and learning from their content consumption patterns as they happen, marketers can market and sellers can sell at the right time with greater relevance. Our ability to deliver real purchase intent starts with our extensive content footprint and the hyper-relevant audiences that we’ve built.”
TechTarget CMO John Steinert
Priority Engine identifies “vendors actively influencing this deal,” core and related topics, and products and vendors. Installed product and vendor data is licensed from HG Data and viewable by category. Users can also search installed technology at an account by product, vendor, and category.
Accounts are ranked on a weekly basis with the service providing “an early radar on who’s buying from your named account lists.” TechTarget provides real-time analysis of the “most active accounts and named prospects conducting purchase research” and ranks those accounts by “likelihood to engage.” Prospects are segmented by geography and hundreds of marketing segments. The solution “creates a world-class ABM solution that combines breadth of reach, purchase power insights, and the ability to pinpoint and influence key prospects in one place.”
By combining DiscoverOrg contacts with member search data, Priority Engine provides “direct access” to the demand units of named active researchers and key influencers. Joint customers will have full access to DiscoverOrg’s editorially verified decision makers alongside TechTarget contacts that are conducting active research. The partnership displays the “Target Buying Team within a single dashboard.” Priority Engine customers that have not licensed DiscoverOrg will be limited to ten names per account.
TechTarget announced a set of enhancements last month which includes weekly contact updates, Marketo integration, regional subscriptions (North America, EMEA, United Kingdom/Ireland, APAC, ASEAN and India), and integration with internal datasets such as sales territories and web site visitors.
“We’ve moved beyond company-level insights; Priority Engine gives you access to ranked accounts AND the actual buyers researching purchases at those accounts,” said TechTarget SVP of Products Andrew Briney. “The unique purchase intent insight available within Priority Engine helps marketers generate demand more efficiently, accelerate ABM effectiveness, and deliver a more substantive contribution to sales.”
Sales Intelligence vendor RelPro added a firmographics layer to its contact intelligence screening. Users can now filter against SIC/NAICS codes, Industry Keywords, Public/Private Status, and Web Ranking. According to CEO Martin Wise, the new feature has been “very well received by clients.”
RelPro continues to build out its Chrome extension for on-demand company and people intelligence based upon the current website. Decision maker intelligence includes emails, direct dials, and corporate phones. Chrome extension features include contact send to CRM, follow, open the full profile within RelPro, and follow for weekly email alerts.
“RelPro’s latest firmographic and workflow enhancements represent another step forward in our mission to help clients grow their business and make the most of their precious time by delivering Integrated Relationship Intelligence to accelerate all stages of the B2B business development process (Marketing, Sales, Account Management and Research). RelPro grew more than 3x last year and we aim to continue the momentum in 2018 with our growing enterprise client base and reputation for being ‘easy to do business with’.”
CEO Martin Wise
Wise noted that 2018 development plans are “on track.” This year, the firm is looking to add company and linkage analytics, corporate family trees, and ABM look-a-likes.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator had another strong year of growth in-line with its historical Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR). Extrapolating from data published prior to its Microsoft acquisition, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has global revenues between $300 and $350 million. This would make LinkedIn the largest vendor of sales intelligence solutions with revenue roughly double that of Dun & Bradstreet (Hoovers, D&B Hoovers, Data.com, D&B360) and triple that of DiscoverOrg.
Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, described the service as “one of the fastest growing SaaS B2B products in history.”
LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out its first quarterly release on February 7th. Quarterly releases help LinkedIn manage its communications and ensure that admins and trainers are prepared for the changes. Enhancements will roll out first to this group before becoming available to general users in subsequent weeks.
“In the early days of Sales Navigator, we chose to act like a startup and launch products as soon as they were ready, without much warning or pre-release training for our customers. We also acted independently, only integrating with a couple of systems, instead of opening up the platform to the dozens of types of sales applications a rep uses throughout their work week. Starting today, we will release Sales Navigator product updates on a quarterly cycle to provide advanced communications and training for administrators and users so they have adequate time to familiarize themselves with new features and take advantage of them properly.”
Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions
The product is maturing as it develops connectors with other services and formalizes its releases and communications. “Sales Navigator is growing up and learning how to play with others,” said Camplejohn.
As part of this development, LinkedIn announced four new members of its Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) partners. SNAP is a broad partner program that spans business intelligence, CRM, eSignature, MAP, Sales Acceleration, and Web Conferencing. A year ago, LinkedIn only supported Salesforce and MS Dynamics.
The new Oracle Sales Cloud integration displays LinkedIn prospect and contact data within the Oracle CRM.
A SugarCRM integration displays a LinkedIn dashboard within Sugar Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts, and Leads.
Implemented partnerships were also announced with Demandbase and InsideSales’ Predictive Playbooks. LinkedIn lists 11 future partners including Tableau, Adobe Sign, BlueJeans, Microsoft BI, Eloqua (Oracle Marketing), and SAP Hybris.