Dun & Bradstreet Files for IPO (Part IV)

The is the fourth, and final, blog on Dun & Bradstreet’s upcoming IPO. Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE Ticker: DNB) will be offering 65.75 million shares at an IPO price between $19 and $21.  The offering would raise just over $1.3 billion and value the firm at $8 billion. [Top of Coverage]

North American revenue increased by $12.1 million or 4% (both after and before the effect of foreign exchange) in Q1 2020 vs. Q1 2019.  North American Finance and Risk rose $10.7 million (6%) year-over-year.  Finance Solutions were up $13 roughly million, while Compliance fell approximately $2 million.

North American Sales & Marketing grew revenue by $1.4 million (up 1%) in Q1.  However, $4.9 million of S&MS revenue was attributed to Lattice, which was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet in July 2019.  North American Advanced Marketing Solutions revenue rose $4 million due to increased demand, but D&B Hoovers and the Data.com legacy partnership with Salesforce posted declining revenue.  The Data.com service is being phased out, so the $4 million in quarterly revenue drop was anticipated.  However, the drop of $3 million in quarterly revenue at D&B Hoovers, attributed to lower sales, was surprising.

International revenue fell by $0.2 million in Q1.  International Finance & Risk revenue increased $2.3 million, or 4% (both after and before the effect of foreign exchange) for the three months ended March 31, 2020.  International Sales & Marketing revenue declined $2.3 million, primarily driven by lower product royalties from their WWN alliance.

Annual revenue dropped $139.8 million (8%), but the drop was due to purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustments (9%) due to the take-private transaction and Lattice acquisition.  There also was a one month lag in international revenue reporting due to the take-private transaction resulting in an additional 1.5% drop in revenue.

2019 North American revenue rose by $44.1 million (3%) with increases in both product lines.  The Finance & Risk division increased revenue by $16 million, or 2%.  The Risk & Compliance products grew revenue by $11 million, and the D&B Credibility products contributed an additional $4 million.

2019 North American Sales & Marketing revenue grew $28.1 million (4%), with $17 million in increased revenue from Master Data solutions and $12 million from Lattice, which was acquired at the beginning of Q3.

2019 International revenue fell $3.1 million after the impact of foreign currency but was up 2% before foreign currency impacts of $9.5 million.  “Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, growth of $6.4 million was primarily due to increased revenue in our U.K. market driven by higher demand and usage related to our Finance & Risk solutions, including Risk & Compliance products.”

2019 International revenue was negatively impacted by $1.8 million, mostly in the UK, “as a result of transferring legacy Avention contracts to our WWN alliances pursuant to preexisting agreements governing partner exclusivity in certain territories.”

The filing also provided some color into their 2018 performance vs. 2017 as a private company:

“The increase in Sales & Marketing Solutions reflects increased revenue from new business in our Master Data offerings of approximately $7 million as well as our Audience Solutions products (Visitor Intelligence and Programmatic) of approximately $5 million and Analytics products of approximately $5 million.  The aforementioned increases were partially offset by lower royalty revenue from our Data.com legacy partnership of approximately $7 million and decreased revenue in D&B Hoovers of approximately $5 million.”

Dun & Bradstreet S-1 Filing

Dun & Bradstreet Files for IPO (Part II)

Yesterday, I began my coverage of Dun & Bradstreet’s IPO filing. Today, I am discussing the restructuring section of their S-1. Dun & Bradstreet was taken private 18 months ago by a group of PE firms that quickly moved to reduce costs and replace management.

The S-1 laid out how the firm has been restructured over the past eighteen months:

“- We immediately reorganized our management and operating infrastructure into vertically aligned business units to increase focus and accountability.

– As a result of this realignment, 18 of the 19 executives, or 95%, and 30 of the 46, or 65%, members of the broader leadership team are new or in a new role, with nearly half of all employees reporting to a new leader.

– Our total employee turnover was approximately 1,500 and our leadership was able to identify and eliminate ineffective headcount resulting in a net employee reduction of approximately 850, or 17% of total employees.

– We will continue to optimize our organizational structure and make targeted hires to build out our team at all levels.”

Dun & Bradstreet S-1

Other changes include

  • Incentivizing long-term contracts in commission plans
  • A focus on tracking and monitoring service metrics
  • “Modernizing our infrastructure and optimizing our architecture to increase control, create efficiencies, and greatly enhance the ability of our platforms to scale,”
  • Expanding their ability to “seamlessly add and integrate new data sets and analytical capabilities into our simplified and scaled technology infrastructure.”
  • Increasing their coverage of SMBs and “incorporating new, alternative data sets to expand the breadth of companies covered and depth of information we are able to provide clients.”
  • Implemented a Data Watch Program which proactively monitors and repairs issues
  • Improved AI capabilities across a broader set of content

According to the S-1, “Enhanced analytics enable us to provide easy to implement end-to-end solutions; by creating configurable, rather than customizable, analytics solutions, we believe that we can increase the adoption of solutions by our clients and expand the size of our client base.”

The reorganization and other changes have resulted in a $206 million annualized run rate savings as of March 31, 2020.

“DNB has been reconstituted into presumably more efficient and responsible operating units,” stated Donovan Jones of IPO Edge.  “The problems with the IPO are that it is too early to tell if the reorganization is delivering better results than the previous structure and the firm is heavier with debt.”


Part III of my coverage publishes on Monday with a discussion of their restructuring.

Rhetorik NetFinder+

Rhetorik launched NetFinder+, its expanded, multi-national platform for technology sales and marketing intelligence.  The new portal provides company, contact, and technographic details for 18 EMEA countries spanning Benelux, Nordics, Iberia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Poland, and Switzerland.  The U.K. and Ireland were already supported, with Greece in development.

CEO Meredith Amdur emphasized the value of having a local, specialist vendor that understands the nuances of European regulations and markets.  “One of the challenges for these vendors is that the country called ‘Europe’ doesn’t exist.  They need a partner like Rhetorik that understands the complexities of Europe, market by market, and language by language, to help them navigate and exploit a region with enormous growth potential.  And they need a service like NetFinder+ that provides current, accurate, and compliant data related to individual IT buyers and influencers across the region to target better prospects, expand into new markets, fill the marketing funnel, and capture the attention of their next best customers.”

In short, said Amdur, Rhetorik offers “accuracy, completeness, and compliance across Europe.”

NetFinder+ sports a new taxonomy with a five-fold expansion in the number of technology categories spanning cloud, enterprise and vertical industry applications, system software, and middleware applications.  The new Rhetorik Technology Classification (RTC) system “refreshes and structures the categorization of business technology assets, services, and products.”

Rhetorik captures up to 164 data fields per site spanning contacts, firmographics, and technographics.  Contact data, which is “compliant with all relevant data privacy and security regulations,” includes name, title, email, and phone number.  When screening, titles are mapped to a broad set of functions and sub-functions, allowing for prospecting by keyword, business role, or technology role.

Coverage spans 277,000 contacts, 275,000 emails, 98,000 sites, and 77,000 companies.  Technographic data covers nearly 2.3 million installations.

Rhetorik emphasizes that contact data is collected subject to the location-level data privacy rules of each jurisdiction and subject to the “Robinson lists” of various jurisdictions (e.g. The CTPS phone opt-out list in the U.K., DNC in Ireland).

“As the total addressable market gets bigger – as illustrated spectacularly by Zoominfo’s IPO declarations – we’re seeing a growing demand for specialized solutions that the biggest U.S.-based players can’t distract themselves to address.  A typical pain point for our customers is they need a multi-territory solution that isn’t easily addressed by “one-size-fits-all” products.  A customer might want a parallel opt-in and opt-out campaign in Europe, plus data discovery in South America, plus cleansing and enriching for an outdated house list encrusted with proprietary taxonomy, and a single point of contact for all of it.”

Rhetorik CEO Meredith Amdur

The service includes a Compliance Centre that contains details on GDPR compliance processes supported by Rhetorik along with customer compliance process recommendations.

Technographic coverage details installed IT assets such as telecoms equipment, networking devices, and server and desktop hardware; software products from traditional enterprise applications; operating systems; cloud platforms; vertical industry applications; services; and consumables suppliers.

Firmographic data is licensed from Dun & Bradstreet and local registries.

As a V1 service, there are a few limitations.  The service is English only and does not yet support any CRMs or MAPs.  Enterprise software connectors are in the works.

The layout follows a traditional sales intelligence user experience; however, the service is mobile adaptive.

NetFinder+ includes a market analytics module that helps product management and competitive intelligence groups evaluate their market position by category and country.  It can also be used to assess complementary partner market share (by installation).

As Rhetorik has historically served the marketing department, the price is determined primarily by the volume of licensed data with “a modest increase” based upon the number of seats.  Firms may license the full Rhetorik+ database or a subset segmented by technology, country, industry, etc.  Full database access begins at £80,000 and includes five seats.  There are no downloading limits.  

Clearbit for Clari

B2B Marketing Data vendor Clearbit partnered with Revenue Operations Platform Clari to deliver enriched contacts into CRMs.  Clari identifies external contacts from emails and meeting activity, helping fill out the buying committee.  According to Clari, only 30% of sales-engaged contacts are entered into the CRM.  By automating the contact identification process, sales reps have a clearer view of the full demand unit, allowing them to target messaging by function and recognize potential gaps in their knowledge of the buying committee.

By expanding knowledge of the demand unit, Clari can identify the broader set of decision-makers and reduce deal risk through multi-threaded relationship building.  Relying on one or two contacts has multiple risks:

  • The sales rep may not be messaging to the full demand unit
  • Their point of contact may be sidelined or leave the firm
  • Multiple points of contact may be set up dealing with different vendors, each providing a siloed perspective on the deal.
  • Post-sale, if users and administrators weren’t involved in the decision, adoption rates might be low, leading to higher churn rates.
  • The project champion may depart before renewal, forcing the rep to scramble to re-establish relationships at renewal time.

The expanded knowledge also helps marketing teams identify the key personas involved in deals and customize content and messaging.

“Now all the contacts that showed up for a sales meeting, even the ones that were added to the invite by the prospect, are automatically associated with the opportunity without your rep needing to lift a finger.”

Clari Marketing Programs Manager Maggie Kullman

Clearbit enriches the contacts with title, job function, and level. Firmographic and technographic details are also appended.

“As budgets get tighter and operating plans are reworked, having your prospects’ finance team involved early on is critical to accelerating the deal toward close,” wrote Clari Marketing Programs Manager Maggie Kullman.  “With the combination of Clari, Clearbit, and a little bit of automation, you can trigger an update to an opportunity field any time a CFO gets added to a meeting with the sales rep.  Now you can easily track which of your deals are missing a critical decision-maker and take actions to drive that relationship.”

Demand Units are a term coined by SiriusDecisions a few years ago when they updated their Demand Waterfall model for B2B sales and marketing. Each opportunity is associated with a set of decision-makers (e.g. technical, financial, functional directors) and influencers (e.g. users, admins). Demand Unit discovery is still in the early stages of development, but looking at email headers, out of office messages, and meeting attendees is a promising approach for organically identifying buying committee members.

Zoominfo IPO

Zoominfo had a successful IPO on Thursday after raising its initial price from $16 – $18 to $21.  Shares opened at $40 and closed the day at $34, an increase of 62% over the IPO price.  Friday, goosed by the market rise following positive unemployment figures, Zoominfo rose to $38.89.  

Zoominfo raised nearly $935 million on the IPO and has a market capitalization of $14.8 billion.  It is trading on the NASDAQ under ticker ZI.

Zoominfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) has been a rocket ship, growing revenue both organically and inorganically.  DiscoverOrg made the Inc 5000 list for the past nine years (and would easily qualify for the 2020 list), and Zoominfo was on the list for seven years before being acquired by DiscoverOrg.

The firm began as a hand-crafted profiler of top companies.  When I first met CEO Henry Schuck over a dozen years ago, DiscoverOrg covered 1,300 companies and 20,000 contacts.  While the coverage was limited, the profiles contained rich information for named account reps, including emails, direct-dial phones, org charts, technographics, and biographies.  All of this intelligence was hand-researched and reverified every 90 days.  Users could download the profiles as PDFs and build exportable prospecting lists.  Over the next few years, they grew the data set, added Inside Scoops, and a wide set of enterprise software connectors.

DiscoverOrg grew organically until three years ago when it began acquiring competitors.  The first acquisition was iProfile, a firm where Schuck worked in college, followed by RainKing a year later.  The iProfile deal was small, but RainKing was their top competitor in the technology sales intelligence space.  The RainKing and iProfile datasets were quickly reverified by the editorial team and merged into the DiscoverOrg database.  RainKing provided DiscoverOrg with additional sales reps, around $35 million in additional revenue, and an expanded editorial team.

In February 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired Zoominfo, a contact-centric vendor with a deep set of emails and direct-dial phones.  The acquisition greatly increased DiscoverOrg’s coverage of companies and contacts and provided additional data collection tools (signature-block mining, NLP data gathering, and Datanyze technographics) to supplement the editorial team.

DiscoverOrg quickly moved to merge the two companies and launched a new platform only seven months later.  Not only did it support much of the key content and functionality of the legacy platforms, but it also served as the basis of new capabilities such as Workflows (trigger-based campaign deployment) and WebSights (visitor intelligence).  

Bringing that much functionality to the market on a new platform in under a year was quite impressive.  Based upon new product launches and re-platforming at competitors, I would have anticipated over a year for just the initial consolidated platform launch and another year of “fit-and-finish” work where missing features are supported but few new capabilities are addressed.  The firm even completed two tuck-ins in 2019 (NeverBounce email verification and Komiko Inbox AI).

Zoominfo now covers 14 million global businesses and 120 million business professionals.  “We’ve built a robust engine of millions of unique sources that come into a machine learning and artificial intelligence engine that’s making decisions every day about what to publish or not publish in our platform,” Schuck explained to Jim Cramer before the market opening.  The data is “constantly changing” as companies grow and shrink, hire new employees, upgrade their technology, open new locations, and launch new products.  

“That machine learning engine that we’ve built, that artificial intelligence, is keeping track of all of those changes across billions of data points in real-time and at scale.  And that is how we’re able to bring those insights to our 15,000 customers.”

CEO Henry Schuck on CNBC

When the new platform was rolled out in September, DiscoverOrg chose to rebrand as Zoominfo after the firm determined that it was easier to build brand perception than brand presence.

“I feel really good about the IPO,” said co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck.  “I feel even better about the company we built.  If we can continue on the foundation we’ve built, we can be a successful foundation stock for our shareholders.”

Due to the pandemic, the traditional stock market bell-ringing event was not held.  Instead, a virtual livestream bell ringing was displayed in Times Square.

“You expect to be in New York City at the Nasdaq building with the 60 people who helped you build the company,” said Schuck.  “We took an event that 60 people would be part of and made it an event that all 1,300 employees could be a part of.”

The Times Square screen also displayed, “Together, We Stand.  Divided, We Fall.  Stop the Hate.  Zoominfo.”

NASDAQ Building on June 4, 2020 marking the Zoominfo IPO.

The successful IPO “gives our company a bigger brand name and voice,” said Schuck.

According to the Oregonian, Zoominfo is now the second-highest valued firm in the Portland, Oregon area, trailing only Nike.

Manoj Ramnani, CEO of competitor SalesIntel, called the successful IPO both a market and product validation, noting that Zoominfo owns only 2% of its $24 billion TAM.  It also demonstrates the power of persistence.

“ZoomInfo has been in the market for a while.  They have gone through numerous acquisitions and have painstakingly scaled their business.  I know firsthand what it takes to build and scale a B2B data company, kudos to them.  The point is, success doesn’t come overnight. They have worked hard, and it has paid off,” complimented Ramnani.

Zoominfo Reaffirms IPO Plans

I have put together a detailed analysis of Zoominfo as it prepares for its IPO. The analysis is based upon twenty years of experience in the Sales & Marketing Intelligence Space, the past eight as an independent analyst.

Topics include an Overview, COVID Impact, Risks, Market Overview, Key Industry Trends, Content & Functionality, Growth Strategy Analysis, SWOT Analysis, and Key Events. The 100+ slide presentation is bundled with a phone consult. If you are interested in licensing the analysis, please contact me.

I also publish a weekly subscription newsletter which covers Sales & Marketing, B2B DaaS, and B2B Data. Here is my article on the planned IPO:


Zoominfo reaffirmed its plans to IPO, possibly launching a virtual roadshow next month.  In Q1 2020, revenue nearly doubled to $102 million year-over-year.  The firm also significantly reduced its losses to $5.9 million in Q1 compared to $40.2 million in Q1 2019.  

Losses were driven by debt, much of it associated with the Zoom Information acquisition in February 2019.  EBITDA rose 55%, year-over-year, to $51 million in Q1.  At the end of Q1, long-term debt stood at $1,238.8 million.

Zoominfo included Annualized Contract Value (ACV) data in its amended prospectus.  They likely wanted to emphasize that they are doing well during the recession, and revenue figures, which are a trailing indicator of sales success at subscription services, were not going to make that case as strongly as the ACV data.

ACV grew 87% year-over-year in April, with the customer base now above 15,000.  As revenue is recognized over the life of a subscription contract, ACV increases precede revenue growth.  Prepaid subscription revenue is displayed as a Balance Sheet liability that is reversed over the lifetime of each deal.  

Paid users rose to 202,000.

Net ACV growth remains strong, with ACV increasing $9.9 million in March and $10.4 million in April.  The April growth was their best first month of any quarter, surpassing October 2019 by ten percent.

The number of customers with ACV greater than or equal to $100,000 grew from 580 on December 31, 2019, to 630 on March 31, 2020.  Over 25% of ACV is tied to multi-year contracts.

The size and date of the IPO were not disclosed.  In February, a placeholder value of $500 million was provided.  The Zoominfo NASDAQ ticker will be ZI.

“Because of our largely subscription-based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations and overall financial condition until future periods, if at all.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

As the original S-1 was released before COVID-19 hit the US, this week’s amended prospectus contained the first mention of COVID as a business risk.  The pandemic has disrupted global business and could negatively impact Zoominfo’s stock price.  Zoominfo listed retail, restaurants, hospitality, airlines, oil, and gas as affected industries.  While none of these segments are part of their ICP (except for possibly their NeverBounce email verification subsidiary), they will be negatively impacted in recruitment (roughly ten percent of revenue) and event management.  Zoominfo lists recruitment as a targeted job function for ongoing development.

Furthermore, Zoominfo’s strategy is to expand beyond its moat of technology firms into broader sales intelligence and marketing services.  The recession reduces the number of favorable segments for executing this expansion strategy.

Zoominfo lists its Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $24 billion with a 2% penetration rate.

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect we will experience slowed growth or decline in new customer demand for our platform and lower demand from our existing customers for upgrades within our platform, as well as existing and potential customers reducing or delaying purchasing decisions.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

A secondary impact of the pandemic and subsequent recession is increased buyer negotiating power.  Customers are expecting more significant discounts and more favorable contract terms.  They are also asking for early contract terminations and waivers of payment obligations.

However, Zoominfo’s core business is reasonably well protected from the recession.  In 2019, 39% of their ACV was generated in the software industry and 29% in business services.  These segments are less exposed than retail, travel, hospitality, and energy.  Software has heavily shifted to subscription models over the past few years, making revenue less volatile.  While their core industries are subject to layoffs in revenue operations, Zoominfo offers multiple features that make sales and marketing more efficient and effective in reaching WFH buying committee members.  Features and content sets that support WFH outreach include direct-dial and mobile numbers, org charts, deep contacts across the organization, data as a service for enriching and updating enterprise software platforms, the ReachOut Chrome plug-in, ICP/TAM tools, technographics, Scoops (sales triggers), Bombora intent data, and executive change alerts.  

New services such as Form Complete (web forms), WebSights (visitor intelligence), Komiko InboxAI (email insights), and Workflows (triggered sequences) help with collecting and enriching activity data.

Zoominfo, which has significant operations in Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Israel, has fully transitioned to remote employment.  They have also implemented travel restrictions and shifted to virtual event marketing.


Continue on to a post-IPO follow-up article.

D&B Hoovers Gooses Its Content for Current Users

Spend Capacity is one of three new risk metrics available through D&B Hoovers.

D&B Hoover’s customers are enjoying additional risk scores and industry content through the end of May.  This benefit is perfect timing for adding value to their offering on a short-term basis as it allows customers to test out additional content and functionality for two months at no charge. Sales reps are under great pressure to build and maintain their pipeline through improved targeting and messaging.

Likewise, Relationship Managers at banks are under immense pressure to process CARES PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) across a broad set of pandemic-impacted industries.

Supplementary material includes

  • First Research industry overviews
  • DecisionHQ flags (does the location have purchasing authority?)
  • Spend Capacity (A spend ranking score versus other companies)
  • Growth Trajectory (Will the company grow, shrink, or remain stable over the next 12 to 18 months?)

In Family Trees, a star icon flags locations with purchasing authority.  All three predictive scores are available as search filters in Build a List.

First Research reports [sample] are a set of plain-English industry overviews which help sales reps, Customer Success Managers, and relationship managers who sell and service across a broad set of industries quickly understand industry basics and trends. Core content includes

  • Industry Description: Competitive Landscape; Products, Operations, & Technology; Sales & Marketing; Finance & Regulation; Regional & International Issues; and Human Resources.
  • Top Companies
  • Financials: Industry statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US International Trade Commission. Also includes valuation multiples.
  • Industry Forecast: Inforum Forecast
  • Industry Growth Rating
  • Trends & Opportunities
  • Executive Insight: Key Topics by C-level job Function
  • Business Challenges
  • Call Prep Questions: Conversation Starters; Operations, Products, & Facilities; Customers, Marketing, Pricing, & Competition; Regulations, R&D, Imports, & Exports; Organization & Management; Financial Analysis; and Business & Technology Strategies.
  • Industry Indicators
  • Industry Websites
  • Fast Facts

The Call Prep Questions and Executive Insights offer great value to non-experts. If you are a relationship manager or territory rep, you are likely speaking to individuals across many industries on a daily basis. It would be impossible to develop true expertise in all of those industries. These sections help professionals ask intelligent questions and tailor their conversations at the account and persona level.

First Research reports are available as an integrated service in D&B Hoovers, via the D&B Direct API, as a standalone service, and as individual reports.

First Research reports are written at the eight-digit Dun & Bradstreet SIC-code level and associated with company profiles by these codes. They are also available through the Research and Reports module.


Dun & Bradstreet is also offering risk solutions for business and government during the Covid pandemic:

Dun & Bradstreet Pipeline Risk Analysis

Dun & Bradstreet is offering a free Pipeline Risk Analysis to help firms better understand which opportunities are at risk due to the pandemic.  The analysis may also be used for supply chain or portfolio analysis.  The Health Scan takes a corporate family tree approach to opportunity analysis that leverages Dun & Bradstreet’s global corporate linkages.  Thus, it flags accounts where greater than 20% of their locations are in geographies with commerce and population movement restrictions.  

The analysis also identifies accounts located in geographies with restrictions, accounts in industries directly impacted by government restrictions, and firms deemed at risk according to Dun & Bradstreet’s predictive metrics (Delinquency Score, Failure Score, or Viability Rating).

“Our predictive models indicate that companies operating with limited margin are likely to face hardships when their normal operating environment is disrupted significantly,” stated the firm.  “Our predictive scores show these populations of companies are more likely to struggle to balance all financial obligations, especially if direct sales are compromised through a change in customer behavior.”

As Dun & Bradstreet delivers both risk (credit, supplier) services and sales and marketing solutions, they are better positioned to offer a hybrid solution that evaluates accounts based upon a series of risk factors.

“By adding ‘risk’ as an additional dimension for account selection in addition to fit and intent, organizations can identify accounts that have the highest likelihood of facing financial strain and potentially going out of business. This helps sales teams prioritize their time and helps marketing teams allocate their limited resources more wisely.”

Dun & Bradstreet VP of Product Marketing Deniz Olcay

Olcay also noted that there is an information asymmetry that benefits purchasers.  Buyers have a much better understanding of their cash position and risk profile than sellers, resulting in “adverse selection,” to the benefit of buyers.

When modeling for Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), collections risk is usually not a significant factor in the calculation; however, during a recession, collection costs and delays need to be factored into the CAC calculation.  Firms become much more guarded with their cash during recessions, extending payment periods to maintain liquidity.

“Marketers and sellers may not be measured on being able to collect payments, but it has a significant impact on the performance of the business,” said Olcay.

Dun & Bradstreet notes that the pandemic demonstrated how interconnected the global economy has become with problems in one region cascading into others.  As always, firms should be selecting target accounts based on fit, intent, and risk.  While diversifying your portfolio makes sense as a long-term strategy for hedging risk, it is a poor strategy when near-term risk information is ignored.

“As it relates to go-to-market planning, diversifying your target accounts to reduce risk can hardly be sound advice.  But, knowing the risk profile for your ‘basket of accounts’ may protect your organization from missing revenue targets.  Now more than ever, teams must keep their emotions in check and make sound targeting decisions based on risk.”

Dun & Bradstreet VP of Product Marketing Deniz Olcay

Dun & Bradstreet provided a set of recommendations for “protecting your go-to-market engine.”  These include maintaining a centralized repository of customer and prospect intelligence that is continuously updated, reassessing the Ideal Customer Profile in light of new risk factors, and reallocating marketing spend to focus on lower-risk opportunities.  Dun & Bradstreet also recommends identifying net-new accounts based on pipeline risk and concentrating on upsell and cross-sell opportunities at stable accounts.


Dun & Bradstreet is also offering Business Insights for Business & Government in the Age of COVID-19. I covered this service last week.

InsideView: Enhanced Corporate Family Tree Display

InsideView enhanced its corporate family tree UX.  Along with an improved display, users may search and filter the tree, allowing them to home in on key subsidiaries for sales targeting.  

Search and filtering help reps identify best prospect locations for establishing a beachhead, expand to similar locations, extend into new markets, or leverage an MSA to identify locations within a sales territory.

The tree is now keyword searchable and filterable by location, size (both employees and revenue), industry, site status (e.g. operating, inactive/closed), and site type (e.g. Retail, Manufacturing, Distribution Center, etc.).  Filtering allows reps to focus on locations in their territory or locations in targeted verticals.  If a parent node is de-selected by a filter, but a subsidiary is selected, the parent location is grayed out but still displayed, providing operational context to the sales rep.

Users may also expand or collapse tree nodes and individually select locations of interest.  Branch locations may be added to the tree via a “site locations data available” slider.

The number of locations is displayed in the company overview.

Sales and marketing professionals can also download the tree for campaigns and analysis.  Filtered trees may be downloaded in Excel or CSV formats.  A map feature displays location density for the United States by state, for Canada by province, or globally by country.

The new family tree view is available in both the CRM and web views.  1.2 million locations are flagged as subsidiaries or acquired firms.

InsideView also recently released a set of small enhancements to InsideView Sales.  Admins can now sync a broader set of Account, Contact, and Lead fields with Salesforce.  New Account fields include Twitter handle, Facebook page, and blog page.  New Contact and Lead fields include city, state, country, job level, and job function.

Other Upgrades

InsideView released a number of additional enhancements to its product lines.  

InsideView for Sales users can unlink and rematch improperly linked Account and Contact records.

InsideView Refresh for Salesforce now offers real-time email verification for unmatched records.  Admins can also manage Salesforce contacts, enrich fields, and flag duplicates.

New InsideView Data Integrity dashboards display how many Account, Contact, or Lead records are updated over time.  The dashboards indicate the number of records processed, new records processed, duplicate records, match data, field fill rates, and segments.

InsideView Target added a filter for contacts with direct dial phones.

InsideView also added cross-product navigation.

The InsideView universe has grown to 15 million companies and 44 million contacts.

No Tradeshows, No Site Visits — Ideas to Maintain & Grow Pipeline

I had four tradeshows canceled this month and next. They were opportunities for me to meet with customers and prospects (and conduct research for my industry newsletters). At this point, I’m assuming that at least two more will fall by the wayside in H1. I’m sure many of you are in a similar boat. Your marketing calendar is in a shambles, your field and inside sales reps are cloistered at home, and you are uncertain about how to manage remote workers.

Here are some ideas about how to retain momentum and deploy technology to mitigate pipeline and operational risks:

Video Meetings

If you haven’t deployed video widely across your workforce, due so ASAP. Vendors such as Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Join.Me, and GoToMeeting provide reliable video conferencing solutions for multi-party meetings, demos, and document sharing. Video Meetings are a do not pass Go, do not collect $200 requirement. Every customer-facing, development, management, and planning employee should be able to join meetings from home or the office.

Setup scheduled video meetings for the next three months so they are blocked out on team calendars. This could be a 15-minute corporate call every few weeks, weekly team calls, and one-on-ones. Standing meetings should all be web-based. Office-based employees are going to feel disconnected socially, so build in some social fun at the team level (e.g. recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries, celebrating wins and releases, etc.)

I would also build training time into video meetings. It shouldn’t be all top-down. Give your staff the opportunity to cross-train peers. A sales rep could discuss her latest victory with lessons learned or provide insights into a target vertical. Marketing can review the latest product positioning and new collateral. Product Management can train on new products, review the product roadmap, and discuss the competitive landscape. The goal is to provide training, communications, coordination, and social interaction.

Record meetings and make them available to those who miss meetings with Slack or Team links. Expect that meetings will be missed due to illness, parenting requirements, and meeting conflicts.

Marketing Work-Arounds

As event marketing is off the table, marketers will need to be flexible in how they deploy their budgets. For those that planned on hosting events, they should at least proceed with their Keynote as a webinar. For H2, a roadshow in September or October can be planned, but mitigate risk in your contracting and through joint shows (shared cost and risk).

Marketers will need to deploy or expand their use of other channels including webinars, press releases, analyst outreach, blogging, social, and video. Direct mail is problematic as prospects are likely to be working from home, but e-gifting is a viable option. Look at e-gifting vendors that are supported by your Sales Engagement platform (e.g. Sendoso, PFL, Alyce)

Here is an opportunity to test additional channels and provide your event marketing team with some cross-channel development.

Canceled shows are also a reason for re-engagement campaigns. You can restart the marketing nurture process with a message around “not being able to talk to you this season.” Keep the message short and serious. You don’t know if your prospect is worried about his or her job, family members, or personal health. Also, don’t appear to be taking advantage of the situation. Be empathetic, not opportunistic.

Also, make sure to reschedule meetings from those cancelled conferences. These are likely to be phone or video calls, but reps and executives should reconfirm calls now.

Conversation Intelligence

Once you have standardized meetings, make sure they are recorded and transcribed. This is particularly true for sales meetings. Conversation Intelligence vendors such as Gong, ExecVision, and Chorus record calls, transcribe them, and perform NLP/AI processing on the conversations. Conversation Intelligence allows sales reps to be more present during calls as they no longer need to focus on note-taking.

Transcriptions and analytics have multiple benefits:

  • Sales Reps can quickly review calls and return to key topics and issues (e.g. pricing, next steps).
  • Sales Managers can review calls related to accounts and opportunities at risk to provide coaching tips to reps.
  • Analytics identify both the strengths and weaknesses of reps versus their peers. They also flag missed actions (e.g. discussing next steps), customer concerns, and competitors. To assist with training and opportunity scoring, Conversation Intelligence vendors identify filler word frequency, monologue length, and conversational engagement.
  • Reps can forward snippets to peers for questions and help. If there is a question about a bug or support issue, the snippet can be forwarded to support personnel for an update. If a sales rep feels that they handled a question or issue poorly, a snippet can be forwarded to sales management or training for advice on how to better handle the issue next time. Snippets allow peers to hear the voice of the customer.
  • Snippets can be stored in a library for training purposes. These would include exemplars for objection handling, competitor parrying, value discussions, etc.
  • Product Managers can perform bulk analysis of sales calls to identify requested features, competitor discussions, and product issues. Vendors allow for keyword customization and analytics.

Sales Engagement Platforms

Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) have come a long way over the past five years. Originally, they focused on the SDR role, but now include tools for all sales roles. Vendors include SalesLoft, Outreach, Xant (FKA InsideSales), VanillaSoft, ConnectLeader, SFDC High Velocity Sales, Groove, and Yesware.

Sales Cadences, also called sequences, are at the core of Sales Engagement. Cadences set up a structured set of multi-channel outbound communications supported by email templates, dialers, social, and SMS text. Cadences improve sales efficiency by eliminating follow up tasks, recording activities to CRMs, and deploying A/B tested content (emails, attachments, cadences, call scripts). While most commonly used for SDR outreach, cadences can also be used for meeting reminders, setting up quarterly account reviews, and training follow up.

SEP vendors understand that authenticity is the key to sales success. Simply blasting mindless emails at prospects is futile. Cadences can be customized by target role, industry, company size, technographics, and stage in the buyer journey. Furthermore, reps are expected to personalize emails before sending them out (SalesLoft says 20% is the optimal level). Most of the vendors now support 1-1 embedded videos from Vidyard, Hippo Video, or Videolicious.

SEP Vendors also provide a deep set of analytics. Initially, these focused on communication efficacy (e.g. open and click-through rates, best time of day to call), but now analytics assess conversations, call out deal risks, prioritize accounts, and suggest next best actions.

SEPs are now commonly deployed amongst SDRs and Inside Sales, but may still be foreign to field sales reps; however, field sales reps will be operating more like inside sales reps for the next quarter, so deploying SEPs to field sales makes sense.

Beyond outbound communications, SEP vendors are beginning to support meeting management (setting up calls), conversational intelligence, and opportunity management. SalesLoft and Outreach are the farthest along in supporting these emerging feature sets. SalesLoft acquired and integrated NoteNinja (meeting management) and Costello (opportunity management) into its platform.

SEP Vendors have taken two approaches to partnering. SalesLoft, Outreach, and Xant have partner App Directories while the other vendors integrate key vendors (e.g. Vidyard, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zoominfo) into their offerings without a formal partner ecosystem directory.

LinkedIn

For B2B sales, there is no social platform more trusted than LinkedIn. Sales reps can leverage their networks by sharing marketing content (they should include some comments of their own) as well as writing their own content.

LinkedIn also offers an excellent Sales Intelligence product called Sales Navigator. It is available as both a desktop and mobile solution and provides additional communications channels:

  • InMail: An outbound email alternative, InMail allows you to message prospects for whom you lack emails and direct dial numbers.
  • Chat: A quick short-message way to keep in contact with members of the buying committee. It is also useful for quick reach out after establishing a LinkedIn connection with a prospect or to send a quick, congratulatory note. Chat messages are retained archivally, providing a conversational log. I have had success providing my Calendly link with initial chats, providing a mechanism for new connections to easily schedule a call (my Calendly includes my video meeting details so there is little friction).
  • Smart Links: Forward one or multiple attachments to a prospect via social, InMail, or email. Viewing and forwarding are tracked by LinkedIn, helping reps know which content was viewed and when. Forward tracking helps expand their understanding of the buying committee. Smart Links maintain corporate branding.

Sales Navigator provides several other high-value features:

  • SNAP connectors display LinkedIn content and Navigator functionality (e.g. icebreakers, mini-profiles, InMail) within Sales Engagement Platforms, CRMs, and other enterprise software.
  • TeamLinks allow you to leverage co-worker relationships for reaching out to prospects.
  • Build a List lets reps assemble Lead (contact) and Account lists within Sales Navigator. Lead and Account lists may also be synced from the CRM, allowing reps to track news and updates about key companies and contacts. While LinkedIn does not permit upload of account and contact data, they make exceptions for notes, tags, and messages entered by the rep in Sales Navigator. They also just added a thin record upload of contacts to CRM and the ability to flag execs that have left a company.
  • List Sharing — After building a list, users may share them with co-workers who have Sales Navigator licenses.

Sales Navigator can be a bit pricey, so running a test amongst your inside sales and field sales reps makes sense, particularly if you are concerned about H1 pipeline delays. Given the difficulty of reaching anybody by phone (made worse by prospects working at home) or email, adding additional sales communications channels is well worth testing out.

There are other LinkedIn services worth investigating or trialing. LinkedIn Marketing supports highly targeted B2B campaigns. Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn can target by company, job function, level, industry, geography, and education. LinkedIn provides campaign metrics and allows marketers to set daily budgets. Both CPM and CPC pricing are available. Pricing is based upon second-best auctions (you pay 1 cent above the second best bid price).

For larger companies, LinkedIn Elevate should also be considered, particularly with remote workers. Elevate provides a curated feed of content to company employees for social media distribution (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). Elevate amplifies corporate messaging and reduces the level of effort for sales reps and other employees to share content through social networks.

LinkedIn Learning is offering sixteen courses at no charge covering topics related to working from home, remote management, tools, and mindset.

“In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco Webex and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.”

Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn SVP of Product

Sales Intelligence

Sales Intelligence services help sales reps build prospecting lists, quality leads, refine account messaging, expand into new departments and locations, track accounts, and target additional buying committee members.

Many sales intelligence services also offer B2B DaaS services for updating CRMs and MAPs. Salesforce data hygiene is maintained through Lightning Data connectors, a sub-category on the AppExchange. Because data is synced with CRMs and MAPs, it is continuously updated, ensuring that firmographic data is accurate and that departed contacts are removed from sales and marketing activity (BTW — contacts decay at 30% per annum, so maintaining your enterprise software contact data is a valuable investment)

Sales Intelligence vendors also provide full workflow integrations into CRMs which allow reps to build lists; view and update accounts, contacts, and leads; and perform account qualification and account planning within CRM I-frames.

Sales Intelligence vendors include

  • Zoominfo: Deep contacts, emails, org charts, and technographic content. They are the leader in technology sales intelligence and recently added visitor intelligence, trigger-based workflows, and webforms. Zoominfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) also supports Ideal Customer Profiling (ICP), email verification, and B2B DaaS.
  • D&B Hoovers: The deepest set of global company intelligence for strategic sales reps. Includes full family trees, public company financials and filings, analyst reports, industry market research, SWOTs, European private company financials, and sales triggers. Dun & Bradstreet also supports ICP, B2B DaaS, Visitor Intelligence, Programmatic Marketing, and Customer Data Platforms.
  • InsideView: A global database with greater depth in North America and Europe, InsideView offers strong sales triggers and integrated social media viewing. InsideView also supports B2B DaaS and ICP.
  • Sales Genie: The best solution for reps that sell to both companies and individuals (e.g. insurance agencies, mobile, office supplies, landscaping). Features include light sales force automation for firms that have yet to implement a CRM, new businesses, new homeowners, email templates, integrated dialer, and marketing services (SEO, site design, direct mail).
  • RelPro: A specialist vendor targeting financial services companies.
  • Artesian Solutions: A UK-based social selling vendor with deep sales triggers and mobile-based meeting prep. They also offer a US solution.
  • Cognism: A UK-based sales intelligence vendor with sales engagement functionality, B2B DaaS services, and ICP tools.
  • Vainu: A Nordic-based sales intelligence vendor that also covers the Netherlands (France, US, and the UK are in beta). They also support B2B DaaS and trigger-based workflows.

Ongoing Investment

Research has shown that firms that continue to invest during recessions come out of the downturns much better prepared to grow market share and revenue than those that stop investing. Marketing is an investment in your pipeline and brand. B2B Data-as-a-Service is an investment in your data quality and ability to target prospects effectively. It also reduces sales and marketing waste in efforts directed at weak prospects and departed contacts. SalesTech and MarTech purchases are investments in your revenue generation capabilities.

This is also an opportunity for your sales and marketing teams to cross-train, develop new skills, and test out new tools and processes.

When we come out of the backside of what, hopefully, is a short-term recession, you want to be better prepared to meet latent demand for your products and services. While cutting back on investment and cash burn may be necessary for survival at some companies, don’t cut back on your ability to serve the market in 2021 unless you have to do so. Let others sacrifice the future of their revenue generation operations out of short-term concerns. Bank your savings in travel expenses and event marketing, but don’t cut back in other areas unless necessary.

Terra Incognita

We are entering a terra incognita for the next three to six months, so steady, empathetic leadership should be your objective. On 9/11, our CEO pulled us into the room and talked to us. I don’t remember his words, but I remember that he was calm and understood that we were all upset and anxious. Business was the least of his concerns that day. He wanted to show a steady hand at the tiller and sent us home to be with family.

Our raison d’être is not to work, and sometimes we are jolted back into that reality. Family, friends, and health are a higher priority. COVID 19 is not the new normal, but simply a bad storm that will pass.