Quora: How do I obtain the necessary information for a B2B competitive analysis?

I answered the above question on Quora, but I thought it was worth posting the answer on my blog as well.

B2B is a broad category, so I will be providing a high-level process:

  • Start with the open web — the company website, corporate blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
  • Jump to the LinkedIn and Twitter pages of key executives.
  • Continue with third-party review sites such as TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, Glass Door, and Quora. Also compare web (Alexa, SimilarWeb) and social media activity (Owler) of the company vs. its top competitors.
  • If a US public company, obtain their 10-K, 10-Q, Annual Report, Proxy, and 8-Ks. Also, review all material on their investor page and look for Fair Disclosure Earnings Transcripts (Seeking Alpha, NASDAQ), investor presentations, financial models, etc.
  • If a US or global public, analyst reports are often available subject to a one week embargo. Vendors with analyst reports include D&B Hoovers, Factiva, Zacks, FactSet, Capital IQ, and Investext. Reports with fewer than five pages tend to only look at the stock, and provide little in the way of detail. Particularly good are the Initiating Coverage reports as they often entail an overview of the business.
  • If a US or global public, review the synopsis of material events going back over a decade. Significant Developments are available from Reuters, Factiva (Reuters), D&B Hoovers (Reuters), Capital IQ, and FactSet.
  • If a European private, they are likely to have filed financials, directors, and shareholdings with a local registry. You can obtain these through D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk Orbis, or local registries.
  • Major companies are profiled by MarketLine and Global Data. Check to see if they or key competitors are profiled. Industry vendors also profile companies and products within their target segments.  These profiles include SWOTs, company histories, market shares, and overviews of key products and segments.
  • Determine the firm’s list of competitors. If it is a public company they will list this in a proxy. If it is a private company, refer to Hoovers, Global Data, or Marketline.
  • If you are looking for technology employed, refer to Datanyze, HG Data, BuiltWith, DiscoverOrg, or RainKing.
  • Review all news for the company. The open web thins out quickly, so you are best off using an archival service such as Factiva or LexisNexis
  • For Intellectual Property and Legal, use LexisNexis or Westlaw. You can also search the USPTO site for trademarks and patents.
  • Check research from industry vendors. Most focus on only one or a few sectors (e.g. Gartner, Forrester, and IDC for Hardware and Software). A few provide higher level market overviews at the country or global level which include national or regional market shares, forecasts, and mini-profiles of the top 3-4 competitors in the market:
    • MarketLine (country and global)
    • Euromonitor (country or global)
    • BMI (Emerging Markets)
    • Freedonia (US)
    • IBISWorld (US, China, Australia, Global)
  • A few US industries are required to file with state or federal agencies. These include banks (FDIC), insurance (states), and nonprofits (990 forms with the IRS).
  • Larger companies file ERISA forms (5500s) annually with the Department of Labor. This filing covers benefit plans so is useful for direct research on a company and plan advisors. Judy Diamond offers a freemium service (FreeErisa) for ERISA filings.
  • If the firm has PE or VC funding, refer to Crunchbase, DataFox, Mattermark, PrivCo, or other vendors that collect this detail. Crunchbase and Owler provide this information for free.
  • Setup news alerts on the company and competitor you are evaluating. This can be done via Owler, Contify, InsideView, D&B Hoovers, Factiva, and LexisNexis.
  • Obtain a credit report (D&B, Experian, or local credit company if overseas)
  • Research the company family tree and review major subsidiaries and recent acquisitions. Global Family Trees are available from D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk, and InsideView (parents and subs only). Public companies also list their subsidiaries in their 10-K (Note 21).
  • M&A research can be performed with Zephyr (Bureau van Dijk), Mattermark, FactSet, Capital IQ, and other vendors.

This is a quick overview for secondary research.  For primary research, reach out to customers, partners, and former employees.  They can be identified via Case Studies (generally fans so don’t be overly reliant on them), customer references on site, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd.  Former employees can be determined via LinkedIn.  Partners are generally listed on the company website.

One area that is particularly difficult to obtain is pricing data.  Some B2Bs are transparent while others publish virtually no details, particularly if they have complex product lines and pricing.  Don’t be surprised if you find little in this area beyond “Pricing begins in the five digits” for many vendors.  Pricing details may require primary research and this will provide data points, but not full price lists.

If you are performing regular competitive analysis work, consider joining SCIP (Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals).

Feel free to add additional tips in the comments.

 

Avention Rebranded D&B Hoovers

D&B Hoovers LogoDun & Bradstreet has begun the process of monetizing its new Avention acquisition by rebranding it as D&B Hoovers.  The OneSource platform had an identity crisis  — first launched as Avention and then rebranded Avention OneSource.  Bringing the service under the Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers branding umbrella should stabilize the brand as both are better known than Avention and OneSource.  Dun & Bradstreet has been associated with company information and credit research since the 1840s while the Hoovers brand has a thirty-seven year lineage that goes back to reference books.  Hoover’s was an early company research portal via the web and America Online and still offers a freemium site.

That Avention and Dun & Bradstreet could quickly match their large databases and begin the integration of the WorldBase file into the new Hoovers platform does not surprise me.  Both companies have strong data matching capabilities for companies and contacts.  Furthermore, the new Hoovers platform is designed to manage the integration of additional datasets into its global coverage.

Sales Acceleration Positioning

In a press release, Dun & Bradstreet described their new offering as “an innovative new Sales Acceleration solution” which helps “sales and marketing teams shorten sales cycles, increase win rates, and accelerate revenue growth.”  The new offering combines “Dun & Bradstreet’s largest commercial database with best-in-class prospect intelligence and an intuitive user experience” which goes ”beyond traditional prospecting to more quickly and efficiently engage with customers.”

Sales Acceleration vs Traditional Prospecting Chart (Source: Dun & Bradstreet)
Sales Acceleration vs Traditional Prospecting Chart (Source: Dun & Bradstreet)

Since acquiring Avention in early January, Dun & Bradstreet Sales and Marketing Solutions has focused its messaging around Sales Acceleration.  Barry Parr, Lead Analyst at information advisory service Outsell, described Sales Acceleration as follows:

B2B sales and marketing’s job is to turn information into relationships. Sales Acceleration refines information to increase the yield and improve productivity, by making the information more current, connecting it with buying signals, and providing relevant context. This market is evolving quickly from static company and contact data into information enhanced by software and technology.

On his Q4 earnings call last month, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan picked up on the theme of Sales Acceleration which had not been used on the previous earnings call.

“Now, when we talk about sales acceleration, we mean helping companies advance relationships from prospects to paying customers by using data to give them insights into who to talk to, when to talk to them, and what to talk to them about,” said Carrigan in February.  “The market for sales acceleration is substantial. Outsell, the preeminent research firm covering the information industry, pegs the market size at about $10 billion worldwide, and it is fragmented and underserved. Given our data advantage, we are the best positioned to capture market share and grow faster than the overall market. So our aspiration is much bigger than creating a better prospecting tool by rebuilding Hoover’s. We are the market leader in sales acceleration now, and we have all the capabilities to substantially expand that lead.”

D&B Hoover’s Capabilities

Along with rich company profiles, the new Hoovers provides access to more than seventy million global contacts.  The press release highlighted the following key capabilities:

  • Target intelligently: SmartLists® dynamically update sellers on top opportunities, business intelligence and analytics, and enable account scoring; and more than 175 search filters create precise targeting while supporting natural-language and conceptual search.
  • Enhance sales productivity: CRM QuickView provides seamless access to account intelligence; desktop dashboards and automated workflow features include triggers, alerts, Ideal Profiles®, and Conceptual Search®; and mobile-ready features support sales and marketing teams on the go.
  • Enable informed conversations: Business Signals® deliver predictive insights based on the deepest and broadest global data coverage; intelligent data is integrated into strategic technology platforms like CRM and marketing automation systems; and real-time triggers keep sellers posted on key business events.
The D&B Hoovers Company Profile for Xerox
The D&B Hoovers Company Profile for Xerox

Legacy Avention OneSource customers will continue to receive their currently licensed content and feature bundles.  However, they will immediately benefit from the company and contact data quality and coverage improvements.

“Businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to grow by better leveraging today’s enhanced software and technology to more quickly drive pipeline, and garner marketing ROI,” said Dun & Bradstreet CMO Rishi Dave. “D&B Hoovers is the best solution for enabling sales and marketing teams to align around the same connected, dynamic data and analytics to make their efforts more impactful, and help them go to market and close deals at a faster rate.”

Pricing & Packaging

The packaging model appears to be a hybrid of previous Hoovers and Avention packaging.  The service is being split into three product tiers with all having access to the global database:

  • D&B Hoovers offers companies and contacts along with sophisticated prospecting against 175 variables, Conceptual Search, SmartLists, competitors, peers, news, and trigger events.
  • D&B Hoovers – Advantage adds additional features to the base edition by including global family trees, CRM/MAP integrations, SWOT reports, quoted and European private company financials, SEC filings, and administrative dashboards.  The Technology Crush reports (FKA SalesQuest Crush) are available as a premium.
  • D&B Hoovers – Premium adds additional features to Advantage edition including Ideal Profiles and Business Signals.

All users will have access to the full Global Contact Authority file of executive names, titles, and bios.  However, there is a premium “Business Contacts” dataset containing emails and direct dial phones.

Pricing is on a named-user basis dependent upon the purchased edition.  Volume based discounts are provided as the number of seats increase. For example, a mid-sized company with forty sales reps can expect to pay approximately $62 per seat/month to $114 per seat/month depending on the package purchased (and before any annual or multi-year discounts are applied).

Whereas legacy Hoover’s strength was in meeting the sales intelligence and research needs of small and midsized companies, D&B Hoover’s pricing and packaging is intended to support companies of all sizes.  “The flexibility of the new packaging model is designed to support both the growth needs of emerging businesses as well as the requirements desired by enterprise organizations while providing the pricing flexibility to meet their various budgets,” said Director of Product Marketing Sean Crowley.

The new Hoover’s benefits from access to the Dun & Bradstreet datasets, some of which has already been integrated into the new platform.  The WorldBase file provides D-U-N-S Numbers, global company linkages, Tradestyles, and additional firmographics.  The Global Contact Authority provides additional global contacts, emails, and direct dial phones.

With this first release, the new Hoovers platform contains an additional six million marketable company records, expanded global linkage, D-U-N-S Numbering, and Dun & Bradstreet firmographics (e.g. addresses, sizing data, contact information, industry coding, bank names, Tradestyles, and geocoding).

For the first time, D-U-N-S Numbers and D-U-N-S Number company lookups are available to the Avention customer base.  D-U-N-S Numbers are the de facto global numbering system.  They are often required by banks and US government agencies.  Firms also employ D-U-N-S Numbers as part of their master data management strategies.  Having D-U-N-S Numbers tied to the D&B Hoovers service allows developers to build custom calls to the D&B Direct API to obtain non-Hoover’s content such as credit and supplier risk reports.

Other Dun & Bradstreet content such as Hoovers top company profiles, competitors lists, and First Research industry overviews will be available in the future.  The firm is also planning on expanded WorldBase coverage, additional WorldBase fields, and supplementary Dun & Bradstreet business signals.

Although D&B Hoovers is being initially pitched for the US, UK, and Ireland, the service is available globally.  The emphasis on those three markets was simply one of sales enablement.  The UK and Ireland are an important opportunity for Dun & Bradstreet as the legacy Hoovers service had little traction in those markets due to the lack of registered data from Companies House (UK) and Companies Registration Office (UK).  The new D&B Hoovers provides full financials for companies across a dozen European countries including the UK and Ireland (available in Hoover’s Advantage and Premium editions).  The platform also supports company details matched to UK registered data including trading addresses, additional contacts and emails, and corporate phone numbers.

D&B Hoovers is planning a financial add-on service which includes analyst reports (Investext brokerage house reports), the industry research module (MarketLine, Freedonia, RMA), and UK registered company intelligence including Directors and Shareholders reports; Mortgages, Charges, & County Court Judgments; and Companies House Images.

Dun & Bradstreet is offering a thirty-day free trial.

Note: Avention OneSource is one of the products covered in my new book “2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors

Sales Intelligence Vendors Move Upstream

ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.
ZoomInfo Personas provide a multi-dimensional cluster analysis for identifying persona categories and prospecting against them.

Five years ago, Sales Intelligence vendors avoided selling into the marketing  department.  While there were a few enrichment projects for CRMs, these were driven by Sales Ops, not marketing departments.  Furthermore, SalesTech products are sold on a per seat basis for sales reps while marketing revenue is generally volume based (e.g. number of prospecting records sold or records enriched).  This made pricing of services difficult.

But MarTech was receiving heavy investments and several firms shifted their focus from sales to marketing.  Zoominfo began discussing Sales and Marketing Alignment and developed a set of marketing tools.  The firm, which had been struggling to grow revenue for several years, is again on a growth trajectory and made the two most recent Inc. 5000 lists.

InsideView also began developing marketing functionality and now treats the two departments equally.  Most of InsideView’s recent investment has been in building out marketing solutions or expanding their company and contact coverage (which benefits sales and marketing equally).

At the beginning of 2015, Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex for its contact database and Workbench hygiene platform.  The firm also used NetProspex as the basis for their Audience Solutions programmatic marketing service which was launched in 2015.

In 2016, the Sales Intelligence vendors continued to move upstream into marketing intelligence and hygiene.  InsideView continues to enhance its Target, Enrich, and Refresh marketing tools while Avention launched OneSource DataVision for web form enrichment, continuous enrichment, segmentation, look-a-like prospecting, and TAM analysis.  Avention also launched Marketo and Eloqua connectors for their OneSource service.

“OneSource DataVision naturally extends the sales and marketing benefits our customers can gain from OneSource Solutions by being even more targeted with campaigns and programmes – including account-based,” said Avention SVP of Product Lauren Bakewell. “Better qualified leads and more targeted account-based approaches should bring better sales results, which should in turn strengthen sales and marketing alignment; we feel alignment happens best when sales forecasts are being met and exceeded!”

Zoominfo has repositioned itself as a MarTech company with a rebranding of their platform as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform.  While sales reps are still supported, the emphasis is on data enrichment, segmentation analysis, cluster analysis, and look-a-like prospecting against clusters.

DiscoverOrg and RainKing also placed greater emphasis upon marketing and ABM capabilities.  Both services support predictive rankings of accounts and contacts, MAP and CRM enrichment, and new opportunities (Inside Scoops from RainKing and OppAlerts and sales triggers from DiscoverOrg).

In 2017 and 2018, expect the walls between SalesTech and MarTech to crumble.  The opportunity to offer a solution for both departments via a shared reference database will continue to drive strategy at these firms.  As MarTech begins to consolidate, expect M&A activity within the sector and vertically with SalesTech vendors.

Sales Intelligence vendors have key assets that benefit marketing departments including large company and contact datasets for prospecting and enrichment; firmographic data for lead scoring, targeting, segmentation, and routing; and the growing ability to tie leads to accounts in real-time.  They are also well positioned to support ABM functionality with profiling, analytics (segmentation, Total Addressable Market analysis), and look-a-like prospecting.

Of course, MarTech is also beginning to eye SalesTech.  Last spring, Demandbase acquired Spiderbook and leveraged its capabilities to launch their DemandGraph relationship dataset.  The expanded content set employs semantic mining and machine learning to assemble the “entire business network of a company” which helps  “identify which companies and buying committees are in-market for particular solutions.”  The DemandGraph helps users target in-market accounts, identify key buyers, uncover meaningful insights, and deliver personalized content.  While they have not announced specific predictive tools or capabilities, they are hinting at such tools.

Demandbase DemandGraph
Demandbase DemandGraph

Meanwhile, the predictive analytics companies, which originally focused on lead scoring, are now building sales functionality including net-new contacts at accounts, account prioritization, flagging churn candidates,  and providing recommendations for sales reps.

Things are just beginning to get interesting.

2016 in Review: New Sales Intelligence Products

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Artesian opened an office in Boston and launched a US / Canadian edition of their Social Selling service.

Over the past week, I’ve been discussing how the fourteen vendors in my new 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors have improved their products.  I broke this discussion into four categories:

  • Content: What are the inputs to these offerings?
  • Functionality: How are the sales and marketing functions able to leverage the content within these offerings?
  • User Interface: What have the firms done to improve the presentation and workflow of their products?
  • Connectors: Which integrations were updated? Which ones were launched?  These spanned CRMs, MAPs, Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) platforms, APIs, and Google Chrome.

So far, this framework has only looked at existing products and services.  This blog addresses the final question: What new Sales Intelligence products and services were launched in 2016?

Sales Focused Products

Artesian launched the US edition of their sales intelligence offering in 2016.  The firm also opened an office in Boston.

DiscoverOrg launched the TiLT certification program for sales development reps and marketers.  The program is available at no charge to current clients and provides “microburst” learning with videos, curated content, and challenge tasks.

In early 2016 they announced their Technology, Engineering, Development, and Design (TEDD) offering which focuses on product management and engineering.  In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg rolled out datasets for Sales (50,000 new contacts), Fortune 1000 CxOs (30,000 new contacts), and HR (80,000 new contacts) bringing the overall database coverage to one million executives at the end of Q3.

RainKing rolled out a global enterprises dataset with coverage of AsiaPac, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

InsideView launched Tech Profiler in 2016.  This add-on dataset provides technology profiles within InsideView Sales and can be used as a filter when building lists with Target.  The technology information is also available via API and InsideView’s Professional Services.  The API offers two new calls: retrieve technology implemented at a company and retrieve companies that have deployed specific technologies.

The dataset provides information about technologies used by InsideView’s top 525,000 global companies.  It covers more than 2,600 front-end and back-end technologies in more than 100 categories.  InsideView did not disclose whether they collected the technology file themselves or licensed it from another vendor.

Salesgenie Team provides a set of team tools to Salesgenie.  New features include lead assignment rules, add messages to leads, customer cloning, and tracking and reporting tools.  A new My Leads list displays assigned leads while a Sales Pipeline report provides team member analytics.

Infofree introduced a lower priced version of its service called SalesFlower which removes several features including background checks, business credit reports, CustomerCloner, and the CRM101 SFA platform.

Owler introduced an enterprise API service for calling corporate firmographics, competitors, and news.

Marketing Focused Products

Hoover’s added a trio of Concierge Services to its Hoover’s product line which target SMBs with revenue up to $250 million.  Hoover’s is providing three related services:

  • Targeted List Building – Identifies prospects similar to a client’s best customers.
  • Effective Email Marketing – Delivers email services including messaging, design, email coding, blasting, and testing.  Dun & Bradstreet also supports email verification, analytics, and unsubscribe / bounce management.  Landing site hosting is provided via an undisclosed partner.
  • Optimized Customer Data – Supports data cleansing, standardization, and data enrichment for customer company and contact files.

Avention’s OneSource DataVision is a hosted platform which consolidates and cleanses multiple customer data sources, integrating internal and external customer intelligence.  By matching Avention company and contact data against customer and prospect files, Avention improves the accuracy and firmographic fill rates of marketing databases.  The result is a unified view of customer data for accurate customer segmentation and targeting based upon enriched data from Avention’s Global Content Live database.

OneSource DataVision also provides analytics and visualization tools for marketers.  “As a result, you will be able to identify and leverage key customer and prospect segments to make more informed decisions, identify cross-sell opportunities, key industries, verticals and much more,” states Avention.

OneSource DataVision includes a gap analysis tool which assesses the total addressable market in order to identify underserved markets and growth potential.  After enriching and segmenting the data, OneSource DataVision users can prospect for similar companies.

OneSource DataVision, along with the flagship OneSource platform, form the OneSource ABM Solution, also launched in 2016.    This solution ensures sales and marketing teams are aligned around the right accounts to target, then provides the deep insights needed to create account plans, and targeted sales messages and content.

Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness.  The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).  Other tools include a Salesforce.com connector, web form enrichment (FormComplete), and a new Google Chrome Extension called ReachOut which provides quick access to contact information from Zoominfo and LinkedIn contact profiles.

InsideView Refresh was launched as a new product in 2016. Refresh provides automated account cleansing within CRM. It’s currently available for Salesforce CRM.

InsideView also launched an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. It’s a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.

In H2 2016, DiscoverOrg launched an Enhanced ABM Toolkit which builds an ideal customer profile and then identifies similar companies.  Users upload a file of their best customers which is matched against the DiscoverOrg database.  The system then performs firmographic and technographic segmentation analysis and then suggests similar companies.

Net

In 2016, the focus of the established sales intelligence companies was on extending their services into the marketing department and aligning their positioning around Account Based Marketing.  On the sales side, their were fewer new products or major functional enhancements.  Instead, they focused on expanded content and workflow improvements.  This strategy was best exemplified by Avention and InsideView.  Both firms doubled their company and contact universes, improved their user interfaces, and launched additional marketing products and connectors.  However, they added little new functionality to their sales products.

Five years ago, the sales intelligence services were firmly planted in the sales department with some also providing services for analysts.  Now, however, the marketing department is receiving equal or greater capital investment as firms look to support “sales and marketing alignment” with CRM and MAP connectors which leverage a common reference data set.

In 2017 I anticipate additional product announcements with ABM positioning across the revenue lifecycle.  The Sales Intelligence companies realize that if they establish themselves in the marketing department with a broad set of services, then their position within the sales department will be less subject to churn.

2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence Connectors

Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)
Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)

Continuing on my discussion of Sales Intelligence enhancements in 2016, my next area of coverage is connectors which extend functionality into CRMs, MAPs, Google Chrome, etc.

Almost all Sales Intelligence vendors offer Salesforce.com connectivity as a baseline offering.  Some have limited functionality while others provide a fully integrated offering encompassing virtually all of their website features along with update features (e.g. Batch, continuous, “stare and compare”).

The following vendors launched or enhanced their CRM connectors:

  • Zoominfo released a new version of Zoominfo for Salesforce in February 2016. Features include on-demand updating, new contact matching, segmentation analysis, and new targeted contacts. Zoominfo stresses that all enrichment, analysis, and targeting are done via “one easy-to-use interface” without the need to export files to Excel.  Zoominfo for Salesforce also added integrated prospecting. Data may be shared bi-directionally between the services so users can check for duplicates before uploading prospects to SFDC.  Zoominfo also added custom mappings for all fields into its Salesforce connector and improved the company and contact lookup workflows.
  • Avention released OneSource for MS Dynamics and OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connectors which integrate Avention functionality into the Microsoft and Oracle CRMs. Features include I-frame display, “stare and compare” updates, custom variables, prospecting, and the Avention Journal.  Avention also rolled a series of enhancements into its CRM connectors. These include:
    • The automatic population of matched records, bypassing the “stare and compare” step for new accounts
    • Avention Journal filtering
    • Avention Journal list views (the default view is calendared)
    • Modify the Avention Journal viewing period
    • Contact filtering by job function, level, title, keyword, etc.
    • News filtering
    • DataVision tab (if licensed)
    • Salesforce Lightning support providing improved tablet usability and dynamic resizing.
    • Batch duplicate management on bulk uploads (ignore, create, update)
  • Data.com added a Prospect Insights view which can be accessed from Opportunity and Account Detail pages. A “See More Insights” button takes the user to additional business and financial details from Dun & Bradstreet. Company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews including call prep questions and industry summaries.  Data.com also upgraded the Dun & Bradstreet company family view to the Lightning platform.
  • DiscoverOrg released CRM connectors for Talent Rover, Zoho, and Bullhorn. They also enhanced their Salesforce connector.
  • InsideView redesigned its Salesforce.com AppExchange user interface and launched Refresh which provides automated account cleansing within Salesforce.com.
  • RainKing improved Salesforce.com synchronization.
  • To improve the Salesforce experience, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator. Synchronization can be managed at the administrator level. While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator. No LinkedIn member account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records. However, the system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.  For example, sales reps may add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts with this information then synched with Salesforce.
  • Artesian redesigned its Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors.  Among the new features are sales trigger filtering by topic and trigger sharing by email, social media, and Chatter.

One of the major trends in 2016 was the continued expansion of sales intelligence vendors into the marketing department.  Most commonly, this involved Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) connectors with Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud), though some vendors support other MAPs as well.

  • InsideView released an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. The ABM solution is a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
  • RainKing released connectors for Pardot and NetSuite
  • Avention released connectors for Oracle Marketing (Eloqua) and Marketo which support data enrichment, account insights, and predictive analytics. The new MAP connectors support three marketing use cases: web form enrichment, uploaded list matching via the OneSource platform, and prospect list building within OneSource. Lists built and enriched within OneSource are then fed to Eloqua or Marketo.

Several vendors built Chrome connectors in late 2015 or early 2016.  Chrome connectors build additional feature functionality into the Chrome browser, usually centering around the contextual display of company and contact information related to corporate websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Firms with Chrome Connectors include DataFox, MattermarkZoominfo, DiscoverOrg, and HG Data.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail. The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar. If a contact is not in Sales Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox. Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging. TeamLink colleague connections are also displayed.

Finally, several Sales Intelligence vendors began supporting Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors (there are also non-SI vendors participating in ABSD ecosystems providing coaching, transcription, analytics, and other services):

  • DiscoverOrg: SalesLoft, Outreach, Tellwise
  • Owler: Outreach, SalesLoft
  • InsideView: KiteDesk, Quota Factory, SalesLoft
  • Zoominfo: KiteDesk
  • D&B NetProspex: KiteDesk
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.

 

2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence UIs

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InsideView for Sales Company Profile (New UI)

Over the past few days, I’ve been discussing enhancements made to the 14 sales intelligence services covered in my new book, 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence.  On Monday, I discussed content enhancements and on Tuesday I covered functionality.  Wednesday was supposed to be user interfaces, but Dun & Bradstreet dropped a bombshell and acquired Avention, so the UI discussion was bumped a day.

There are two approaches to UI enhancements: Big Bang and Incremental.  With the big bang approach the entire product is refreshed.  Such a project is a major endeavor and often involves a completely new look and feel to the service and upgraded workflows and design elements.  It may also involve new standards such as responsive design in support of mobile devices.

Big Bang

One example of broad product redesigns are the new interfaces found in Bureau van Dijk’s Orbis and Fame products.  These products focus on financial analysis and account research.  New design elements included a navigation bar, a contemporary UI, faster list building, new report types, shared information sets (e.g. reports, lists searches), and new analytical tools.

Unfortunately,Bureau van Dijk has not indicated any plans for addressing the old-fashioned Mint sales intelligence user interface.

Another example of redesign is InsideView which refreshed its user interface for its web browser and CRM connectors.  The browser changes were relatively minor, but the CRM connectors had a broader set of design and workflow upgrades.

DiscoverOrg also redesigned their user interface at the beginning of 2016 (it was in beta in 2015).  In February 2016, DiscoverOrg released a new platform designed with better speed, performance, and scalability. It included a new UI and enhanced features:

  • Streamlined prospecting against 62 variables across five broad categories: companies, employees, technology products, location, and triggers. The new UI immediately presents an updated result list as variables are selected. The same selects are available across three results views: companies, contacts, and triggers.
  • Export of contacts as profiles or as VCF
  • Company and contact notes
  • Suppression of companies or contacts when prospecting (e.g. suppress named accounts from lists for territory reps).
  • Admin user management and usage reporting
  • Ability to toggle between multiple departments on the same page (depending on subscription)
  • Ability to follow a company or contact with update alerting, including if they leave a company and reappear in the database under another profiled company (a unique DiscoverOrg capability)
  • Customizable dashboard based on followed lists
  • Contact profiles include previous job history and education
  • Company profiles include lists of current employees and recently departed staff.

RainKing went through a rebranding exercise which included a refreshed user interface. The platform has faster response times, improved searching, and an expanded technology taxonomy.

Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).

Incremental

The second approach is more incremental.  Instead of changing the overall look and feel of the platform, workflow and layout improvements are made to a set of contained tools.  For example, list building is a contained functional category.  Upgrades to prospecting workflows do not impact the whole product, but are focused in a functional subset, allowing the upgrades to be compartmentalized.

Avention took an incremental approach to workflow with redesigns of their active homepage, build a list, and watchlists. The Build a List user interface was redesigned to improve usability while expanding to 150 selects. Lists may now be exported to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle for Sales, Marketo, and Eloqua.  New list management features include rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.

The Avention active home page is now customizable with users able to drag and drop information tiles.   There is also an improved SmartList tile display and onboarding tiles containing product tips.

Expanded notification functionality allows Avention reps to manage new company and sales trigger alerts from a centralized location. This Watchlist supports filtering by read/unread notices, priority flag, trigger type, and list. A new flag allows users to flag notifications as important.

Likewise, Data.com originally launched the Dun & Bradstreet family trees in the classic UI, but implemented the Lightning UI for family tree viewing.  The family tree information mashes together the Dun & Bradstreet global family tree (e.g. linkages, location type, city, country, revenue, and employees) with Salesforce.com account intelligence including whether the location is already an account and the name of the account owner.  Users may expand or collapse nodes and add an account via clicking on a Plus button.

Owler improved the user interface for their advanced search (Build a List). They also added selects for area code and ZIP/Postal Code.

Net

Unlike content and functional upgrades, one would not want to have annual UI upgrades as they require customers to relearn key elements of the service.  There is value to both stability and change (a fact which is true of both product design and life in general).  If a platform goes too long without a refresh, it becomes stale and fails to leverage new browser and mobile device capabilities.  Furthermore, as new content and features are added to a platform, it can become overly busy and illogical.  Conversely, a platform which changes its design elements and workflow too often will frustrate users.  There are benefits in knowing how to efficiently complete a task or where to find specific information.  Change should never be simply for change sake.

News Alert: Dun & Bradstreet Acquires Avention

DNB acquires Avention.PNG

Dun & Bradstreet ($DNB) announced the acquisition of Avention after the markets closed today.  The acquisition came almost on the two year anniversary of Dun & Bradstreet’s successful acquisition of NetProspex.

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
  • D-U-N-S Numbers
  • Global Linkage
  • 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.