One of the services I provide to vendors is a weekly newsletter called Market Insights which covers the Sales Intelligence, Data as a Service (DaaS), Data Hygiene, and Predictive Analytics markets. I’ve been writing it since mid-2012 so have built up a significant archive on these topics.
Year one, I had four clients, all located in the United States. Three were in the Sales Intelligence space and one was in Data Hygiene so my focus was on those segments plus DaaS, a key delivery channel. But predictive analytics was beginning to compete with the SI firms so I folded it into my coverage in 2013.
By 2015, Account Based Marketing and Account Based Sales Development were hot topics so they joined my topic list. I was also covering many more sales intelligence companies outside of the United States. On the DaaS side, Marketing Automation Platform and Chrome Connectors have become much more prominent in my coverage.
And interest in my little newsletter has grown to over twenty paid clients including firms in the UK, France, Israel, and India. This list now includes content vendors that market their databases to the sales intelligence, hygiene, and predictive analytics vendors.
What I’m most proud of is that eight of the top nine sales intelligence vendors in North America are now newsletter clients along with three of the top four UK vendors.
Avention was acquired for $150 million net of cash assumed. Avention generated $60 million in 2016 revenue.
“We are excited to combine our world-class company and contact data with Avention’s best-in-class technology that is fully integrated with the leading software platforms utilized by B2B sales professionals and marketers,” said Dun & Bradstreet COO Josh Peirez. “Avention is a natural fit that will allow us to deliver tremendous value to customers, and the synergies we can capture put the value of this deal well above the purchase price of the acquisition.”
Dun & Bradstreet combined with Avention functionality offers the potential for a powerful sales intelligence service with strong marketing capabilities. Both Dun & Bradstreet and Avention have been expanding their marketing capabilities and ABM messaging.
Dun and Bradstreet content assets include
265 million active and inactive global companies
NetProspex executive file with emails and direct dials
Hoover’s editorially-written profiles
First Research industry overviews
Dun & Bradstreet emphasized the following Avention capabilities:
An intuitive, dynamic user interface to deliver intelligence that can be customized to meet each user’s needs.
Powerful alerts, triggers, and profiling capabilities that leverage both structured data (e.g. industry codes, address, and employee information) and unstructured data (e.g. social content, news feeds, and analyst reports).
Simple integration with the mission-critical systems that your teams use every day, including SFDC, Dynamics, Marketo, and Eloqua, as well as homegrown systems used by many companies.
Combined, Hoover’s, NetProspex, Avention, and D&B alliance products generated over $200 million in revenue. The acquisition provides Dun & Bradstreet with a leading sales intelligence platform as well as several legacy products:
Avention OneSource: Sales Intelligence with advanced company research tools and a light predictive analytics capability. Distinguishing features include Conceptual Search, Business Signals, Ideal Profile Scores, Sales Triggers, and Smart Lists. The OneSource platform supports CRM connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle Cloud for Sales as well as marketing automation connectors for Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud).
Avention DataVision: DataVision, launched in 2016, supports data enrichment, segmentation, look-a-like prospecting, and TAM analysis.
iSell: A legacy sales product
Global Business Browser: A legacy company research product
OneSource Open Connector: API
Dun & Bradstreet offers an overlapping set of products that will need to be rationalized following the acquisition. Hoover’s is a direct competitor of OneSource and iSell. While it has a lower price point than these offerings, it has been struggling for several years with declining revenue and limited investment. As such, Hoover’s is unlikely to see significant investment in the near-term as Dun & Bradstreet moves to integrate the D&B WorldBase company and contact file, NetProspex contacts, and First Research industry overviews into Avention. Hoover’s also maintains 42,000 editorially written company profiles which would also add value to the Avention Global Content Live Platform.
NetProspex’ Workbench service offers many features similar to DataVision. Workbench has an advantage in data matching logic and data verification tools (e.g. phone, email, and address verification), but it is likely that the Avention company universe will be quickly D-U-N-S Numbered and that DUNSMatch logic will be incorporated into Avention services. As such, it is unclear whether Workbench or DataVision would be the long-term hygiene front-end for Dun & Bradstreet.
“Dun & Bradstreet is uniquely positioned to serve this growing market with its foundational company and contact data, which will soon be delivered through Avention’s best-in-class software offerings,” stated Dun & Bradstreet in a press release. “The combination provides a tremendous opportunity to evolve Dun & Bradstreet’s Traditional Prospecting offerings into a category that serves critical B2B sales and marketing needs.
“The Sales Acceleration space offers a big opportunity for Dun & Bradstreet. We believe as the global leader in commercial information we are well positioned to take market share and accelerate our growth strategy,” said Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan. “Bolstered by the success of our recent M&A activity, which has exceeded its acquisition economics, we will continue to explore smart, tuck-in acquisitions that, combined with disciplined execution, will help us to further expand our leadership in this category as well as other areas of our business.”
One potential area of conflict may be around Data.com. Dun & Bradstreet provides their WorldBase file to Data.com Prospector and does not offer a D&B360 Salesforce.com connector. However, Avention has a robust AppExchange connector which competes against both Data.com Prospector and Data.com Clean.
One of the most straightforward ways to increase the value-add of a Sales Intelligence Service is to expand the content it delivers to its users. Generally, a vendor can license additional content within the same general category (e.g. more contacts) or expand coverage into new content categories not previously supported by the product. The first approach is usually faster and less expensive as there is limited development involved in adding additional coverage within a currently supported category (assuming the vendor is not hitting up against platform limits), but there are still costs involved with licensing, de-duping, and merging content sets. As such, it is much more common for firms to increase the scope of current data sets than to add entirely new content categories to their services.
So which of the fourteen sales intelligence vendors discussed in my new Sales Intelligence book invested in increasing their depth of coverage? Basically, all of them. Of course, the scope of content investment varied greatly:
Avention roughly doubled their global company, contact, and email coverage. Their product now spans sixty million companies, eighty million contacts, and twenty million emails (US and UK). I previously discussed their AsiaPac expansion, but the coverage expansion was global with most of the new content outside of the US, UK, and Canada where they already had significant depth.
DiscoverOrg also greatly increased its coverage as it grew to 60,000 editorially researched company profiles and one million researched contacts. Over the past twelve months, DiscoverOrg had a 91% increase in company coverage, 134% increase in contact coverage, and a 371% increase in non-IT contact coverage (numbers supplied by DiscoverOrg). The non-IT increase was due to an expansion of their job functions datasets to include Product Management (TEDD), Sales, CxO, and HR. The firm also continued to invest in their marketing dataset. CMO Katie Bullard noted that “the Marketing budget has begun to meet or exceed the IT department budget in many companies and vendors” while “service providers selling into marketing continue to proliferate.”
RainKing continues to build out its company and contact coverage and expects to hit one million executives by the end of 2016. The firm roughly doubled the number of decision makers in its database while extending its international coverage. They also have increased the number of marketing, finance, and HR decision makers.
InsideView’s executive coverage grew to 17 million US contacts and 8 million European contacts. Total global contacts more than doubled to 31 million and global emails grew by 10 million to 17 million.
Bureau van Dijk added RepRisk environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk reports to their service while continuing to build out their company database. At the end of the year, Bureau van Dijk provided close to 210 million active and inactive company profiles
DueDil rolled out enhanced financials for UK and Irish registered companies. Along with performance and growth metrics such as EBITDA and multiple CAGRs (compounded annual growth rates), DueDil is providing historical graphs for key metrics. In total, six new metrics and 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) have been added.
Data.com expanded the Dun & Bradstreet content displayed in a new Prospect Insights view. Extended company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews with call prep questions and industry summaries.
Infofree grew its executive email file to 26 million.
Salesgenie raised its business email count to 58 million US contacts.
Owler’s primary focus in 2016 was to expand their Competitive Graph and gather additional company intelligence. The Competitive Graph improved as the user base has grown and the firm has implemented a set of data cards (simple user queries such as is company X a competitor of company Y) which help refine sizing data, competitors, and a few other firmographic topics. Revenue and employee figures have grown to 2.7 million companies.
Zoominfo expanded its set of company enrichment variables with the addition of 200 new Company Attributes in October 2016.
LinkedIn continues to add two members per second. At the end of the year, they delivered 467 million global profiles across ten million companies.
Dun & Bradstreet grew its WorldBase file of global companies to 265 million active and inactive firms. Over the past few years, they have also focused on improving the depth and accuracy of their international file.
So who did I omit? Technically Artesian Solutions did not make the content list, but that is simply because their new US edition will be discussed in the new product category. Likewise, InsideView’s Tech Profiler Premium is also being discussed as a new product.
Fortune employed DiscoverOrg C-Level executive data to analyze the presence of women in the C-Suite. Of the 9,975 C-level executives evaluated, only 18% were female. At the corporate apex, only 6.9% of the CEOs and 6.7% of Board Chairs were women. That is fewer than one in fourteen execs.
Of the twelve titles assessed, only four have female population rates above twenty five percent:
31.9% Chief Legal Officer
36.4% Chief Compliance Officer
48.0% Chief Marketing Officer
62.2% Chief Human Resources Officer
Even more concerning is that the top two positions leading to the CEO position, COO (7.2%) and CFO (8.8%), remain male bastions.
“The biggest surprise to me was how little gender diversity there still is,” opined DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck. “You might expect less than 50% of C-level executives to be women, but I was surprised at how much less it was.”
I also found it interesting that this research was employed using DiscoverOrg data and not a public company dataset from Reuters, FactSet, S&P, Mergent, etc. Any of these public information vendors could have also provided the data as well, but DiscoverOrg had an advantage in that it researches the full C-suite (and several levels below it) and reverifies data every ninety days. While the other vendors are also likely to have highly accurate data for the C-Suite, they are dependent upon SEC filings to recognize executive changes. Thus, they would be as accurate as DiscoverOrg for CEO, Chairman, COO, CFO, and Chief Legal Officer, but are less likely to be accurate for positions which report into the CEO, CFO , and COO. Here, DiscoverOrg’s curated data collection methods have a data quality advantage.
What would be fascinating is if DiscoverOrg analyzed their data by function, level, and sector across the Fortune 1000. They already have data sets for Finance, Marketing, Product Management (TEDD), and IT with several others ready to launched by the end of the year. Assuming DiscoverOrg can provide historical cuts of their database, the IT function can be evaluated going back a half decade or more with Finance and Marketing for a few years. At a minimum, such an analysis would make for some fascinating blogs, but it could also be an invaluable dataset for academic research.
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.
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.
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.
Brexit happened. Most of us didn’t think it would, but it did. As an outsider, I’m not going to address the foolishness of the vote and the harm it is already doing to British financial and currency markets. That would simply be piling on.
But as an analyst of the sales intelligence space, I can make some observations about how it is likely to impact my industry. The short-term impact will mostly be financial as US firms find that H2 revenue will decline due to the fall in the Pound (and less so the Euro). Sales Intelligence products are priced in Pounds and do not float so the impact will likely be felt by American vendors reporting lower revenue from their European operations. I expect the term “currency headwinds” will again become popular on earnings calls. This situation may be compounded by British firms being more conservative in H2 due to political and economic uncertainty. They may choose to license fewer seats or hold off on licensing a service.
Should the pound remain weak going forward, vendors may raise sterling-denominated prices in 2017; but this decision is somewhat dependent upon the location of staff, denomination of licensing contracts, and degree of Brexit economic contraction. As UK company content is mostly licensed from UK vendors, it is likely to be denominated in Pounds so content licensing expenses are also likely to drop for American vendors. (US companies will often sign licensing deals in pounds as it provides a partial hedge against currency fluctuation).
Britain is the second most important market for sales intelligence services after the United States. While other markets may be growing faster, Britain has long been either the home of sales intelligence products (Bureau van Dijk, DueDil, Artesian Solutions) or the logical second market for American firms. US firms have long enjoyed access to the European market via offices in London and some even configure their products with regional UK and European editions. Britain will remain a critical market for these companies and there is little reason to believe that American firms cannot continue to sell into the EU via these offices.
But a long-term problem may be staffing their British offices with multi-lingual sales, support, marketing, and editorial staff. The status of EU citizens working in Britain is unclear and may not be resolved for two years. A study by Wayra UK found that 34% of British start-up employees are not British citizens with 20.7% of employees carrying EU passports. Whether EU citizens will continue to freely live and work in Britain is an open question subject to negotiation over the next two years.
Wayra UK found that British startups have a built in competitive advantage from this diversity. They found that 79% believe that cultural diversity helped them compete while 75% said it helped them overcome challenges and 72% argued that it assisted with new market entry. However, if EU work visas become an issue, the British will lose this competitive edge. There is also the negative impact of reduced work and study opportunities for British citizens which will erode British understanding of individual country markets. In the context of information services, the cost and difficulty of maintaining a multi-lingual research and support staff in Britain may increase.
“Without access to Europe the pool of applicants shrinks dramatically,” DueDil founder Damian Kimmelman told Forbes. “We are a venture-backed business, and a venture-backed business means we are invested in to create super growth. But you can’t create super growth if it’s so difficult to hire the people that can create that super growth. People in tech are the number one commodity.”
DueDil is in the middle of building out its sales intelligence coverage of Europe so multi-lingual staff is critical. Kimmelman is already looking at expanding operations outside of Britain and will be spending the next few weeks researching options with DueDil executives. “We’re going to be opening up new offices. We have to. We’re scaling far too quickly to jeopardize our ability to scale because we have to hire people in the U.K.”
One area of benefit for UK information services may be around Safe Harbour. The EU is moving towards greater restrictions around personal information and it has always been difficult to gather and market emails. However, the British have been an exception to this rule with vendors including UK business emails in their products. A Brexit suggests that the EU Safe Harbour negotiations may become more difficult as continental sensitivities will no longer be balanced by British openness. The net is emails and executive profiles are likely to remain available in the UK but that complying with EU Safe Harbour restrictions could greatly limit access to executive information and create issues for American multinationals and cloud vendors.
As a shorthand, I’ve color (or should I write colour for the Brits?) coded my analysis to highlight the benefits and drawbacks to Sales Intelligence vendors. The net is rather negative. Unless you are marketing British contact files for email campaigns and teleprospecting, it is unlikely that you would welcome the vote’s outcome. For vendors providing global information services, Brexit provides additional financial and planning challenges in the number two sales intelligence market.