Vertical IQ: Freemium Industry Profiles

The new Vertical IQ freemium service provides the first three chapters of Vertical IQ industry profiles at no charge.
The new Vertical IQ freemium service provides the first three chapters of Vertical IQ industry profiles at no charge.

Vertical IQ launched a freemium market research service that provides “foundational information” for over 280 industries.  Vertical IQ writes plain English industry overviews for bank managers, consultants, and accountants.  However, the research has broad value to other functions such as strategic sales, market planning, and procurement.

Previously, professionally sourced industry research was only accessible by purchasing individual reports or subscription licenses, but the business model is evolving.  To fill a market need, Vertical IQ is now offering much of its valuable industry insights for free.  This innovative approach delivers market research on a freemium, just-in-time basis – a first in the marketplace.

“Vertical IQ Freemium was created to fill the void for an easily-accessible, user-friendly industry research product.  This new free version of our popular research platform puts valuable industry insights at the tips of your fingers in a matter of seconds.”

Vertical IQ co-founder, Bobby Martin

The free content covers the first three sections of the Vertical IQ reports: Overview, Industry Structure & Forecast, and Industry Trends.  Full reports are available on a pay per view basis ($99) or via a subscription ($1,099). The Full report spans an additional nine chapters:

  1. How Firms Operate
  2. Risks to Watch Out for
  3. Quarterly Insights
  4. Working Capital
  5. Call Prep Questions
  6. Financial Statistics
  7. Business Valuation
  8. Web Links
  9. Terms

The Full report is downloadable as a PDF file and includes access to report updates over the next year.

The annual subscription covers 400 industries and 325 local US economies.  Updates and industry news alerts are emailed quarterly.  The subscription service also supports mobile access, a Sales Kit which “Integrates industry insight into your contact strategy by sharing deliverables with business owners,” and an industry ranking tool.

Vertical IQ competes against D&B First Research and IBISWorld.  All three provide plain English market research for financial services firms and sales professionals. Vertical IQ has over 35,000 users.  Research is updated monthly.

The Vertical IQ Industry Forecast and Structure report displays historical and projected growth rates, the characteristics of an average firm within the industry, and industry structure (e.g. concentration, female and minority ownership rates) and the top firms.
The Vertical IQ Industry Forecast and Structure chapter displays historical and projected growth rates, the characteristics of an average firm within the industry, and industry structure (e.g. concentration, female and minority ownership rates) and the top firms.

Dun & Bradstreet Acquires Lattice Engines (Content + CDP)

Lattice Data Cloud

Dun & Bradstreet announced the acquisition of AI-powered Customer Data Platform (CDP) Lattice Engines yesterday.  Acquisition details were not disclosed, but the deal is expected to close within thirty days.

This is the first major deal for Dun & Bradstreet since it was taken private in February. The combined entity brings together world class company datasets (WorldBase, Global Company Authority contacts, credit data, Hoover’s) with the AI-driven Lattice Atlas Customer Data Platform.

According to the Dun & Bradstreet press release, Lattice Engines adds a “best-in-class CDP to the depth and breadth of global commercial data in the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud and growing portfolio of complementary sales and marketing solutions.”  The combined capabilities join Dun & Bradstreet’s data capabilities with Lattice Engines AI and analytics.  The merged platform creates “an invaluable single source of sales and marketing truth” which helps companies “simplify their data, operate more productively and activate audiences through personalized, omnichannel campaigns that drive results.”

Dun & Bradstreet content has been a cornerstone of Lattice Engines for the past several years.  Already having standardized on a core set of data should expedite the acquisition.  When Dun & Bradstreet acquired Avention two years ago, the WorldBase and global contact datasets needed to be swapped into the Avention platform.  This time, a data swap will not be required (though some additional Dun & Bradstreet datasets will be included).

“This acquisition supports the strategy we announced when Dun & Bradstreet became a privately held company – to bring new technologies and innovation to our existing solutions, creating deeper customer value. With our investment in Lattice Engines, we will become a leading provider in the fast-growing B2B marketing analytics space, helping our clients accelerate revenue, grow their businesses and become more competitive.”

Dun & Bradstreet CEO Anthony Jabbour

Future content includes Dun & Bradstreet financial scores, sales trigger insights, and digital data (e.g. Audience Solutions IP and digital device identifiers).  Lattice Engines will also benefit from Dun & Bradstreet’s identity resolution capabilities.  These upgrades “will further enhance Lattice Engines’ best-in-class analytics models, improve personalization, and drive better results for our clients,” said EVP of Sales and Marketing Solutions, Michael Bird.

Gong: Sales Rep Sins

Usually, I hate listicles. They are one of the laziest formats for blogging and feature articles, but Gong.io put the format to good use in a recent LinkedIn post titled “The 7 most horrifying sales call mistakes of 2019.” I would have gone with the “Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Calls,” but that is a minor editorial nit. Unlike most listicles, the post contained seven in-depth discussions of sales errors with supporting data.

And this data both supports the sales efforts of its clients and prospects and demonstrates the value of its Conversation Intelligence platform which assists with new rep onboarding and play recommendations.

Gong provides aggregated sales data to back up its statements.

For years, it has been gospel that sales reps should focus on a product’s unique value proposition and benefits. Features should be discussed when the prospect asks HOW, but should not be the focus of a sales pitch. In one graphic (see above), Gong has backed up this recommendation. What is amazing is how quickly a feature dump can sour a deal.

Feature dumping is to sales what bad breath is to dating. It kills “what could have been.”

Chris Orlob, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Gong.io

Chris Orlob, Senior Product Marketing Director at Gong, argues that “Most salespeople are overtrained on their products and undertrained on sales skills.”

My experience is different. It’s not that sales reps are overtrained on features, but that they aren’t trained in how those features map to benefits and their product’s value proposition. They also lack specifics around use cases and how their product provides value to specific industries. This causes them to take a least common denominator approach and hope a feature resonates. It’s the proverbial spaghetti on the wall. But this strategy leads to feature dumping and relying on your prospect to map features to benefits and benefits to value. Reps need more sales training, but they also need to understand their value proposition in the context of each prospect.

Sales reps that understand the concerns of their prospect by industry, job function, job level, and company size and can map those concerns to buyers across the buying committee don’t engage in feature dumping. They focus on their product value in the context of the customer. Features are discussed when they are must haves (“We are GDPR compliant”), but only in detail when the technical buyer or end user requests such details.

I don’t want to recapitulate what is a very strong post from Orlob. Instead, I recommend that you go see what he has to say about steamrolling objections, grand finale product demos, and four other sales sins.

People.AI Launches The Wire

People.AI announced availability of The Wire, their new artificial intelligence service for sales reps which suggests next best actions. According to the firm, “Like a brilliant personal assistant who’s always on top of his game, The Wire uses AI intelligence to remind you when to follow up on key accounts, suggest next-best-actions, warn you when a rep or account is falling behind, let you know when customer champions switch jobs, and ensure you’re always prepped for every meeting.”

The Wire suggests emerging opportunities, opportunities requiring attention, and champions that have departed to other companies.

The Wire flags opportunities that are in jeopardy of slipping due to inaction.
The Wire flags opportunities that are in jeopardy of slipping due to inaction.

Managers are alerted when sales reps are falling behind targets.  A Rep Ramp Alert “helps you move from data-aware to data-driven, proactively leveraging industry data to guide and coach your teams.”

Ramp Alerts identify reps that are lagging behind best-in-class recent hires and suggest when a one-on-one meeting may be required.
Ramp Alerts identify reps that are lagging behind best-in-class recent hires and suggest when a one-on-one meeting may be required.

The Wire also supports meeting intelligence with meeting prep reminders and post-meeting note capture and CRM sync.


Last Friday, I covered People.AI’s Round C and the company more broadly.

People.ai Round C

San Francisco-based Revenue Intelligence vendor People.ai announced Round C funding of $60 million along with the launch of its new The Wire next-best-action (NBA) service.  The round was led by ICONIQ Capital with participation by Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, GGV Capital, and Y Combinator.  Will Griffith, Partner at ICONIQ Capital, has joined the People.ai Board of Directors.

People.ai has received $97 million in funding to date.  Its valuation was not provided, but TechCrunch placed the valuation at “mid-nine-figures.”

“Today’s announcement of our Series C funding represents a critical milestone in achieving our vision for the Future of Work,” said People.ai CEO Oleg Rogynskyy.  “We’ve already enabled customers to, for the first time, capture all of an organization’s critical business data, such as contacts and customer activity data, and deliver it directly to the CRM.  This has significantly improved sales productivity and CRM data accuracy and liberated the enterprise from time-consuming manual data entry.  Today, we’re taking People.ai to the next level with AI-driven intelligence that provides customer-facing teams with a simple, personalized set of actions based on current, historical and industry data that will help accelerate revenue.  When you use The Wire, you’ll have your most productive day at work, every day.”

People.ai was founded in 2016 and already supports Red Hat, Lyft, Zoom, New Relic, and Splunk.  The firm describes itself as a Revenue Intelligence System:

“People.ai offers the industry’s only Revenue Intelligence System (RIS) that automates the capture of all contact and customer activity data, dynamically updates CRM and provides actionable intelligence across CRM, collaboration, business intelligence, and other management tools for sales, marketing, customer success and services teams – exponentially accelerating growth and delivering actionable insights for strategic business decision making.”

People.ai Website

People.ai fills out buying committees for active opportunities, maps contacts and interactions to accounts and opportunities, and suggests next best actions.  Applying natural language processing and machine learning to buying committee discovery and NBA are the latest advancement in sales and marketing intelligence.

People.ai also supports contact updates derived from email signatures and pulls “critical information” such as product or competitor mentions, sentiment, and buyer intent.

People.ai’s recently launched Campaign360 service supports marketing attribution by tracking opportunities influenced or generated by marketing activities.  Campaign360 is the “industry’s only AI-based solution that equips Marketers with the real-time, full funnel campaign visibility they need at their fingertips,” said the firm.

“We’re thrilled to partner with People.ai as they execute their vision to unleash the potential of AI to drive enterprise revenue,” said Griffith.  “People.ai is well positioned in a highly strategic enterprise market, leveraging automation and AI to fundamentally change the way people work.  People.ai’s product, powered by strong network effects, is delivering insights and productivity at the scale and quality we have not seen previously.  We see an incredible opportunity to accelerate People.ai’s game-changing technology as they redefine the meaning of the Predictive Enterprise.  People.ai is the Future of Work.”

Partners include Salesforce, Slack, Outreach, SalesLoft, Exchange, and G Suite.


On Monday, I will be covering The Wire, People.AI’s new Next Best Action service.

HG for Marketo

HG Insights released its HG for Marketo integration which provides improved targeting, scoring, and messaging within the Marketo marketing automation platform.  The new service helps marketers segment their audience, identify competitive opportunities, and “craft messaging that resonates with the specific pain points and challenges they are facing or determine if a company is using a complementary solution.”

Technographic intelligence can be used for both competitive targeting and building scoring models based upon the existence of competitive or complementary technologies.  New leads are automatically enriched with technographic intelligence, providing insights for lead nurturing and scoring.  Marketo Engage contact records are updated with the latest new technology installation insights, providing ongoing, dynamic intelligence.

“With HG Insights Technographics integrated within Marketo Engage, marketing teams can now understand what [sic] technologies their prospects are using and build nurture campaigns that generate higher response rates,” blogged Marketing Manager David Guerra.  “Marketers can also use HG Insights to identify and score contacts that are using competitive technologies, and quickly send those leads to sales for faster conversion.”

Technographic audience targeting by HG for Marketo
Technographic audience targeting by HG for Marketo

“HG for Marketo is the easiest way to enrich contact records with accurate technology intelligence,” said Kineon Walker, Vice President of Product and Marketing, HG Insights.  “The powerful combination of technographics from HG Insights and Marketo Engage creates more informed communications that help businesses beat their competition and accelerate growth.”

Quora: Once your ideal client profile is established, how do you find the company’s decision maker and how to reach out to that person?

Your ideal customer profile (ICP) defines who are your best customers and prospects. It is defined by firmographics, intent data, technographics, business signals, etc. ICPs are focused on Accounts.

Your question implies that the firm has a single decision maker. But that is generally only the case at small firms. Generally, B2B mid-sized and larger procurement decisions are made by a buying team which can consist of multiple individuals at different levels and functions / departments. For these, you should define a set of personas that cover economic decision makers, users, influencers, reviewers (e.g. technology gatekeepers).

Many of the ICP vendors support contact searching for ABM accounts. Once the ABM list is defined, they allow users to prospect for contacts by persona (job function/level/title) at ABM accounts.

I discussed this process broadly on DealSignal’s blog and on my blog.

Products which support both ICP definition and persona searching against ABM lists include (alphabetical list):

  1. Cognism
  2. D&B Datavision
  3. DealSignal Total Audience Platform
  4. DiscoverOrg AccountView
  5. InsideView Apex
  6. SparkLane Predict (UK and France)
  7. Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform

These vendors include emails and direct dials for contacts along with company profiles, sales triggers, financials, technographics, family trees, filings, etc.

While LinkedIn Sales Navigator does not offer an ICP tool, it includes a Buyer’s Circle which allow sales reps to quickly identify potential contacts at accounts and drag and drop them into their role. They can then review all open opportunities, including buying committees, via a single-pane Deal report which combines LinkedIn intelligence with Salesforce or MS Dynamics.

Sales Navigator Buyer's Circle supports dragging executives to their function within the buying committee.
Sales Navigator Buyer’s Circle supports dragging executives to their function within the buying committee.

Sparklane Predictive Account Scoring

French Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor Sparklane released its Predictive Account Scoring Solution for B2B sales.  Sparklane Predict now supports dynamic account scoring based upon Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP), sales feedback, and CRM win/loss data.  The service is currently available in the UK and France with additional European markets in development.

According to the firm, Predict supports a “human-in-the-loop” lead review process which “feeds lead decisions back into the ICP model, providing additional intelligence towards distinguishing between good and bad prospects.”  Predict also collects CRM intelligence on opportunity outcomes, providing an additional basis for model refinement.  

Predict supports bi-directional syncing with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Marketo, and Eloqua.  Sparklane uploads suggested accounts and leads to CRMs and gathers historical outcomes for ICP modeling and dynamic scoring.

Sales Reps are shown list segmentation while reviewing individual leads.  Along with business descriptions and firmographics, reps see fit and need scores.  When reps flag a lead as interesting or not interesting, the decision is fed back into the ICP model.

Sparklane claims that it shortens sales cycles by 28%, increases contract volume by 25%, and improves the business conversion rate by 70%.

Sparklane Predict leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as machine learning and natural language processing to dramatically improve sales productivity and customer insights.  Sales rep attention is directed towards accounts and leads most likely to close based on both fit (company attributes) and need (sales triggers such as international expansion, employee growth, or product launches).  Furthermore, automated data enrichment ensures that reps are working with accurate, complete, and current data.

Sparklane Press Release

When building Sparklane models, both win and loss scenarios are employed, providing a more robust model than current customer lists. Along with win/loss scenarios, Sparklane supports other binary outcome scenarios:

  • Account Renew vs. Account Drop
  • Account Upgrade vs. Account Downgrade
  • High Margin Profitable Accounts vs. Low Margin Unprofitable Accounts

Sparklane also supports multi-product line upsell and cross-sell models.

“Unfortunately, many of the vendors now marketing ideal customer profile solutions (ICP) are offering little more than basic prospecting or look-a-like lists under the ICP banner,” said Sparklane CEO Frédéric Pichard.  “A true ICP service begins with both positive and negative accounts so the platform can distinguish between accounts that closed and those that failed to close.  A true model also contains feedback loops from sales reps and the CRM.  It is the addition of feedback that refines the model over time, improving the predictive precision of account scores.”

Sparklane supports nearly 250 customers out of offices in Paris, Nantes, and London.  Last year, Sparklane grew its recurring revenue by 60%.

Salesforce Restricts E-commerce Gun Sales

Salesforce updated its acceptable-use policy to ban gun retailers who use Salesforce to market, manage, or fulfill semi-automatic weapons orders. The ban also covers parts like “multi-burst trigger devices” and large magazines.  The policy goes into effect for current customers at renewal.

According to Salesforce, only a small number of current customers are impacted.  The firm declined to name retailers, but Camping World, which spends over $1 million per year on Salesforce technology, is likely to be impacted.  The Washington Post estimated Camping World’s migration costs to be over $2 million.

Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation called the policy “corporate-policy virtue signaling.”

“It is a very chilling effect when a company as large as Salesforce puts out a policy like this,” said Oliva. “A policy like this is not surprising from a company based in that part of the country.”

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called for banning the AR-15 last year following the Parkland shooting and donated $1 million to March for Our Lives.  The firm and Benioff have a history of taking political stands including support for a US GDPR (data privacy), corporate taxes in San Francisco to support the homeless, and LGBTQ rights.

Shopify, which provides e-commerce software to 800,000 sites, implemented a similar anti-automatic weapon sales policy last year.

While many firms operate with a profit maximizing philosophy espoused by economist Milton Friedman, Salesforce is managed with a stakeholder’s philosophy that weighs other stakeholders besides shareholders. These parties include employees, partners, customers, the environment, and society in general. CEO Marc Benioff created the 1-1-1 pledge 18 years ago which donates 1% of corporate technology, people, and resources.

While Oliva derides Salesforce’s new policy as “virtue signaling,” such policies, when transparently stated, may be profit maximizing. A firm that is viewed as ethical and socially progressive may attract more customers, partners, investors, and employees than it repels. Simple profit maximization requires that firms take an amoral stand which can result in scandals or embarrassing business practices which undermine brand value and company credibility.


If you’d like to comment on this blog, I have setup a forum on Quora for discussing Salesforce’s policy.

GDPR First Anniversary (Is Your Data More Secure?)

EU Flag

As GDPR hit its first anniversary on Saturday, Microsoft once again called for a US privacy law which shifts the onus of data privacy from the individual to corporations.  Today, Americans operate in an opt-out regime which requires them to find and manage their privacy settings.

“This places an unreasonable — and unworkable — burden on individuals,” wrote Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel Julie Brill.  “Strong federal privacy should not only empower consumers to control their data, it also should place accountability obligations on the companies that collect and use sensitive personal information.”

Microsoft prefers a single federal standard to piecemeal state-level laws such as California’s CCPA.  Brill said the legislation should be interoperable with the GDPR to help reduce the “cost and complexity of compliance.”  This framework should reflect ”the changing understanding of the right to privacy in the United States and around the world.”  The proposed legislation should “uphold the fundamental right to privacy through rules that give people control over their data and require greater accountability and transparency in how companies use the personal information they collect.”

“For American businesses, interoperability between U.S. law and GDPR will reduce the cost and complexity of compliance by ensuring that companies don’t have to build separate systems to meet differing—and even conflicting requirements—for privacy protection in the countries where they do business,” said Brill.

According to eMarketer analyst Ross Benes, the US ad industry has shifted from a call for self-regulation to supporting national privacy regulations, fearing ”a patchwork of different rules” as “legislation looks increasingly inevitable.”

A TrustArc/Ipsos survey of UK adults (16 – 75) found a 36% improvement in trust concerning personal data since GDPR went into effect.

Source: TrustArc / Ipsos GDPR Survey of 2,230 UK adults (May 2019)

A Snow study found that 39% of global business professionals believe their data is better protected since GDPR passed, with the biggest increase in the APAC region (48%).  40% of Europeans also believed their personally identifiable information is more secure, but only 30% in the US held the same belief.

74% of surveyed professionals believe that the technology industry needs more regulation with 83% of APAC and 72% of US respondents wanting additional tech regulation.

The EU has yet to strictly enforce the law with only one large fine ($56M) versus Google in France. However, Google and the social media and advertising companies are all subject to ongoing suits:

The latest investigation — the first by the Irish watchdog into Google — brings to 19 the number of open cases by the regulator targeting big U.S. tech companies. They include probes into Apple Inc., Twitter Inc., eight probes into Facebook Inc., plus one into Instagram and two into WhatsApp.

Los Angeles Times, “Google could face hefty EU fine over possible privacy violations,” May 22, 2019

“What is important to recognize is that the EU is taking GDPR very seriously, with fines being established for any breach,” said Ben Feldman, SVP of strategy and innovation at NYIAX.  “I would expect that the first six-to-nine months of any new regulation action would be spent working out the kinks and processes of implementation.  It is quite likely that we will see more fines in the coming months.”