DiscoverOrg Acquires Zoominfo

DiscoverOrg and Zoominfo Acquisition History
DiscoverOrg and Zoominfo Acquisition History

Industry consolidation continues apace in the sales and marketing intelligence industry.  This afternoon, DiscoverOrg announced the acquisition of Zoominfo, just eighteen months after acquiring RainKing.  Zoominfo acquired technographics vendor Datanyze in September, so DiscoverOrg will be integrating both a contacts vendor and a technographics vendor.

The acquisition moves DiscoverOrg into the number two position in the Sales and Marketing Intelligence space with $230 million in joint revenues.  Only LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a larger market share.

Debtwire leaked the deal on January 25th indicating that “Zebra” was a direct competitor.  According to Debtwire, DiscoverOrg was “pitching its unrated buyout loan package on strong recent growth and a story that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts, said five buysiders familiar with the deal.  Meanwhile, levering up the capital structure draws attention to the borrower’s ability to meet synergy projections – which could crimp its free cash flow, especially amid an ambitious technology integration plan, they said.”

Debtwire indicated that the acquisition was priced at $800 million, a three-fold increase from Great Hill’s summer 2017 acquisition price of $240 million for Zoominfo.  Debtwire also indicated an FY18 management adjusted EBITDA of $62.7 million for DiscoverOrg and $17.7 for Zoominfo.

Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 - 2017) and Debtwire (2018)
Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 – 2017) and Debtwire (2018)

Revenue growth for both companies is strong.  DiscoverOrg has made the Inc. 5000 list for eight straight years and Zoominfo for the past four years.  Debtwire indicated revenue growth figures of 26% and 30% over the past two years for DiscoverOrg with revenue hitting $152 million in 2018.  Zoominfo has grown at an even faster pace over the past two years with growth rates of 63% and 44%.  Thus, Zoominfo revenue grew from $39 million in 2016 to $91 million last year.

Based on the Debtwire revenue numbers for 2018 and historical revenue figures from the Inc. 5000 list, DiscoverOrg had a seven-year CAGR of 61% and Zoominfo of 34%.  Zoominfo’s growth rate is mostly organic while DiscoverOrg’s organic seven-year CAGR, after adjusting for RainKing revenue, is around 53%.

The two firms are strongly complementary.  Zoominfo provides the deepest set of B2B emails and direct dials with content mined from email signature blocks.  DiscoverOrg offers deep technology profiles (technographics and project plans) alongside human verified bios (skills, responsibilities, education, work histories, emails, direct dials, and social links), org charts, and company profiles.  DiscoverOrg’s human verification supports a 95% data quality SLA for its contacts.  Zoominfo’s Datanyze acquisition provides DiscoverOrg with additional NLP tools for determining products and vendors alongside market share analytics tools for marketing and competitive intelligence teams.

“Business data is rapidly changing and your data platforms must be built to adapt,” said Zoominfo CEO Derek Schoettle in September.  “ZoomInfo has the largest, most complete data set of companies and contacts and a goal to enable our customers to automate, process, curate, and present the data on-demand and in real-time. Delivering industry-leading technographics, the Datanyze technology will be a significant addition to help us deliver the right data, at the right time, to the right person.”

“DiscoverOrg’s deep, research-verified, actionable insights coming together with ZoomInfo’s comprehensive coverage of 100M business professionals is an unrivaled combo,” said the firm.  “We each employ different, but highly advanced technologies and tools to gather, cleanse, and maintain at an unparalleled scale.”

“To effectively capitalize on growth opportunities, companies of all sizes need accurate firmographic, technographic, contact, and intent data. Combined, DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo deliver the trifecta: B2B data of the highest quality, quantity, and depth.”


DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

Over the past few years, sales intelligence has moved from a standalone browser research service for sales reps to an integrated workflow solution tied into CRMs, Marketing Automation Platforms, Sales Engagement Platforms, Chrome Browsers, and email.  DiscoverOrg has been at the forefront of these integrations with a broad set of platform connectors.  CEO Henry Schuck emphasized these workflow tools during the announcement.  “High-quality data is the fundamental go-to-market requirement for growth. In the near future, CRM and marketing automation systems will be defined not by their empty-box capabilities – but by the data that is housed inside them.”

While highly complementary, the combined companies remain weak with respect to deep company profiles.  DiscoverOrg recently added family trees, but they are to the subsidiary level, not branches.  They also lack public company financials, US and UK filings, SWOTs, and industry research.

When DiscoverOrg acquired rival RainKing in August 2017, CEO Henry Schuck stated the following goal, “The path to rapid revenue growth is paved with highly accurate, actionable, and predictive sales and marketing data, and the combination of RainKing and DiscoverOrg means that our joint customer base has access to an extraordinary portfolio of data, contextual buying insights, and predictive intelligence.  We are building a company that is to sales and marketing intelligence what Salesforce is to CRM.”

Schuck’s vision was updated today:

“Every sales and marketing team will have a go-to-market operating system that identifies the prospects that should be engaged every day, week, and month based on buying signals and intent data collected in a multitude of different ways. Even better, they have deep insights on the buyers who are making the purchase decisions with accurate contact, org chart, technographic, and firmographic data. It’s all at their fingertips and it’s all served to them dynamically – wherever they are working.”


DiscoverOrg Statement

DiscoverOrg stated that support, service, and sales for all products will continue.  Both platforms will be sold for the next six to twelve months “with highly coordinated sales and marketing efforts to ensure customers realize the most value from the platform(s) that best serve their needs.”  In March, joint customers will have a light integration between the two platforms followed quickly by DiscoverOrg customer access to Zoominfo company and contact data.

“As we combine the best of both platforms over the next year, customers will have the best, bar-none, B2B intelligence platform -the highest quality data with the broadest coverage and deepest actionable insights,” said the firm.

The combined company has 15,000 active customers and 120,000 active users, with the Zoominfo acquisition trebling the customer count.

DiscoverOrg stated that there are no plans to shutter any of Zoominfo’s locations and that hiring will continue for all Zoominfo offices.  Zoominfo has more than doubled its staff over the past year with headcount spread over six locations: Waltham (MA), San Mateo (CA), Grand Rapid (MI), St Petersburg (Russia), Kazan (Russia), and Ra’anana (Israel).  Zoominfo moved into a new headquarters location in Waltham, MA just last month.  The lease provides space for up to 450 employees.  Globally, DiscoverOrg has over 1,000 employees.

DiscoverOrg’s investors include TA Associates, The Carlyle Group, and 22C Capital.

Benioff Dreamforce Keynote

Salesforce CEO Mark BenioffSalesforce CEO Mark Benioff has long taken a stakeholders’ approach to his business, understanding that technology firms can do both good and evil.  Unlike many of the social media companies which are now beginning to understand the dangers of taking a laissez-faire approach to how others use their technology, Benioff has ensured that his enterprise cloud company takes an affirmative action towards social justice, equality, and the ethical application of his firm’s technology.

Eighteen years ago, he started the 1:1:1 campaign (1% of product, time, and resources) to nonprofits and philanthropic purposes.  At Dreamforce and World Tour events, the firm regularly promotes local nonprofits and holds sessions for them.  The firm has also taken stands against discriminatory legislation and adjusted salaries to ensure gender pay equity.  Benioff is calling for “inclusive capitalism” which benefits all members of society and recently created an Office of Ethical and Humane Use of their technology.

Here is what Benioff had to say at this year’s Dreamforce (abridged):

What is really important to us? what is the most important thing what are our values? What are we going to stand for? What do we really want?…

We’re watching…for companies who are not listening to their key stakeholders, not listening to their customers, not listening to their employees, not listening to the kids…Then we watch the executives walk out. The employees walk out.  The customers walk out as a vote of no-confidence against their values and as a community we stand here and we say we are going to commit to a higher level.  We are going to a higher level together to express our values.  We know what the most important thing is to us and in this community and we’ve said it for years and we’ll say it again:  Our culture is built on trust – The fundamental trust that we have with you; the fundamental trust that we have with our key stakeholders, with our customers, with our employees, with our partners.

Our trust is with you and we take that very seriously.  It’s our highest value and we ask every company to ask what is your highest value and in the world when technology is taking us over and in a world where technology through the Fourth Industrial Revolution is grabbing us, realize that we all have a higher responsibility to ask that question especially you see the gambits that are unfolding really before us. Especially as artificial intelligence gets released into the whole world we must ask this question, “What is truly important to us?”…

We realize technology is not good or bad, it’s what you do with it that matters…We’ve restructured our company to have an Office of Ethical and Humane Use of the technology so that as our employees or our customers or our partners say “Are we doing this? Are we aligned with our values? Are we moving forward?”

We can have a structured conversation not just with our own employees myopically but by bringing in the key advisors and supporters and pundits and philosophers and everybody necessary…to ask the question, “Is what we are doing today ethical and humane?” and we’re all gonna have to ask that question in the technology industry and every company and every CEO better be ready to answer to that question through their values.

And we’re putting our values into action because our values create our behaviors…

We believe we have to bring everyone in.  Everyone has to come in to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s inclusive capitalism.  Inclusive capitalism means we’re all going together into the future.  We are leaving no one behind. Nobody will be left.

 

 

Salesforce: Another “Blowout Quarter”

Salesforce Maintained its growth trajectory in Q4 2018 (Source: Saleforce.com).
Salesforce Maintained its growth trajectory in Q4 2018 (Source: Saleforce.com).

Salesforce announced another “beat and raise” quarter last week with strong revenue growth across all of its clouds and regions. Their Q4 earnings hit $2.85 billion, up 24% year-over-year (21% in constant currency).  For the full year, revenues rose 25% (24% in constant currency) to $10.48 billion.  SFDC has a three-year compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 25% with revenue nearly doubling over the period.  Growth has been so rapid that their Q4 2018 revenue was more than their full FY 2014. 

Salesforce  claims it was the fastest enterprise software company to reach $10 billion in revenue and will be the fastest to hit $20 billion.

CEO Marc Benioff attributed ongoing growth to a number of factors including its sales team which drove a “blowout quarter,” lauding the “performance of that organization and their acuity.”  Other factors included a growing set of CEO-level relationships, an “incredible increase in investment activity” fueled by the recent US corporate tax cuts, and digital transformation: 

It doesn’t matter if they’re a consumer product goods company CEO or financial services or retail or any industry or any geography. Every CEO is thinking about their digital transformation. And I think you and I know that every digital transformation begins and ends with the customer. 

This is very powerful. And it’s why we have so much activity in our company. Of course, we’re the number one customer company in the world. No other company in the history of the software industry has been as focused on customer-relationship management, but how companies can have a customer transformation at Salesforce. 

And this, and this alone, focus, has accelerated our growth. You can see that in the numbers. So certainly, how we finished our year in fiscal year 2018 is not where we thought we would start. We raised guidance I think almost in each and every quarter, and yet we still ended up above that. And that’s why we’ve raised again here $150 million. This is the most we’ve ever raised in the history of the company, because we’re just ahead of where we thought we would be

So, we are, obviously $10 billion is now behind us, and $20 billion is ahead of us. And it’s our dream, we’re going to be the fastest to $20 billion. 

But when you have $20 billion already on and off the balance sheet, you know that that is – we’re a huge step on the way there. So that’s what I couldn’t be more excited about the position the company is in, its competitiveness, its ability to perform, the quality of its customer relationships, the quality of the products, the integration of the acquisitions, the culture, Fortune number 1 best place to work. All of these things have come together in just a really beautiful way, and I’m extremely grateful.

Salesforce has several other factors fueling its growth: The annual Dreamforce event drew 170,000 attendees last year, the firm has a clear social mission that resonates well with millennial employees (and now decision makers), and it was an early mover into cloud computing, mobile-first design, IoT, partner ecosystems (AppExchange), and artificial intelligence. 

Finally, being cloud only, the firm does not have to fight a rear-guard action to retain enterprise clients as they migrate to the cloud.  So while SAP and Oracle must fight to retain their customer base as companies make the leap to the cloud, Salesforce is there to poach their new clients.

Sales Navigator Q1: Revenue Growth and Expanded Partner Network

Sales Navigator Employee Insights
Sales Navigator Employee Insights, a new feature added in Q1.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator had another strong year of growth in-line with its historical Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR).  Extrapolating from data published prior to its Microsoft acquisition, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has global revenues between $300 and $350 million.  This would make LinkedIn the largest vendor of sales intelligence solutions with revenue roughly double that of Dun & Bradstreet (Hoovers, D&B Hoovers, Data.com, D&B360) and triple that of DiscoverOrg.

Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, described the service as “one of the fastest growing SaaS B2B products in history.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out its first quarterly release on February 7th.  Quarterly releases help LinkedIn manage its communications and ensure that admins and trainers are prepared for the changes.  Enhancements will roll out first to this group before becoming available to general users in subsequent weeks.

“In the early days of Sales Navigator, we chose to act like a startup and launch products as soon as they were ready, without much warning or pre-release training for our customers. We also acted independently, only integrating with a couple of systems, instead of opening up the platform to the dozens of types of sales applications a rep uses throughout their work week.  Starting today, we will release Sales Navigator product updates on a quarterly cycle to provide advanced communications and training for administrators and users so they have adequate time to familiarize themselves with new features and take advantage of them properly.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, Head of Product at LinkedIn Sales Solutions

The product is maturing as it develops connectors with other services and formalizes its releases and communications. “Sales Navigator is growing up and learning how to play with others,” said Camplejohn.

As part of this development, LinkedIn announced four new members of its Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) partners. SNAP is a broad partner program that spans business intelligence, CRM, eSignature, MAP, Sales Acceleration, and Web Conferencing. A year ago, LinkedIn only supported Salesforce and MS Dynamics.

The new Oracle Sales Cloud integration displays LinkedIn prospect and contact data within the Oracle CRM.

A SugarCRM integration displays a LinkedIn dashboard within Sugar Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts, and Leads.

Implemented partnerships were also announced with Demandbase and InsideSales’ Predictive Playbooks. LinkedIn lists 11 future partners including Tableau, Adobe Sign, BlueJeans, Microsoft BI, Eloqua (Oracle Marketing), and SAP Hybris.

The SNAP announcements were part of the Q1 release which included a redesigned Account page, new alerts, seat transfers to enterprise accounts, and Seniority Level preferences.

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates: Technological Disruption, AI, and Data Insights

Arti responds to

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates recently discussed Artesian Solutions with Sudipto Ghosh as part of the MarTech Interview Series. Artesian was founded to help resolve the disparity between B2B buyer and seller tools. “We saw that businesses had transformed the way they buy, but that sellers had not adapted. This mismatch led us to create a vision of better B2B sales engagement that is customer-centric at its heart, and to develop the world’s most powerful customer intelligence application to support it.”

Yates described technology as “the biggest disruptive force in the world” and his entrepreneurship as “a desire to disrupt the status quo, solve problems, remove complexity and make a difference.” He sees Artesian Solutions as a “disruptive force for good in our sector, providing engagement smarts for companies and markets in the same way that LinkedIn has done for people insights.”

Artesian is incorporating new AI technologies into its platform including the Arti chatbot based upon IBM Watson. As they are doing so, they are repositioning from Social Selling to “A.I.-powered sales intelligence.”

Yates warns that businesses look for CRM platforms to help customer facing departments build customer-centric businesses and a full customer view. Often, though, they become frustrated when CRMs do not provide the desired customer experience and engagement. But CRMs are only as good as the data entered into them and are subject to ongoing data decay. Further compounding this issue is

“the sheer volume of data businesses need to grapple with. Often unstructured, this data is increasingly hard to find, rationalize and interpret. Inaccurate or out-of-date data has several inevitable consequences. Take-up and enthusiasm for CRM input wanes as the volume of data increases, and time spent just keeping up-to-date with existing customer data impacts negatively on time spent researching and acquiring new ones. Opportunities to respond to real-time customer news and market insight are missed, and customers looking for instant action and results are left disappointed. Likewise, deals are lost through mistakes, and errors in messaging and targeting become more frequent. Forecasting accuracy diminishes as emerging trends go unnoticed.”

Yates recommends working with a data partner that provides a full view of customers and contacts, including contextualized customer insight; news, market trends and social media monitoring; real-time intelligence; and single sourced company and contact profiles with “social profiles, opinions, and expectations.”

Full Interview

Dreamforce Keynote: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

One of the key themes of Dreamforce 2017 was the ability of companies to customize the branding and content within Salesforce clouds via "clicks, not code."
One of the key themes of Dreamforce 2017 was the ability of companies to customize the branding and content within Salesforce clouds via “clicks, not code.”

The theme of this year’s Dreamforce was The Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Following after revolutions driven by steam, electricity, and information technology, the fourth industrial revolution blurs the “physical and digital worlds” creating a wave of “innovation in technology” which is transforming the economy, society, and lives while creating new jobs, industries, and opportunities.  This next wave is based upon intelligence.  Elements include IoT, 3D printing, biotech, robotics, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and quantum computing.

“This is what we call the fourth industrial revolution,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. “There’s all these amazing new technologies, things like autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence and nanotechnology and mobile computing and all these things are really hitting at once. And companies are really transforming themselves and bringing all these new technologies in really to connect with their customers in new ways.”

Thus, elevators loaded with sensors now communicate back to the manufacturer and predict failures, calling for service prior to trapping people.  Likewise, with tires, “if the tire blows, nobody knows; but in the future, if the [smart] tire blows, everybody knows.”  So, firms like Kone (elevators) and Michelin (tires) are now B2B2C companies.  In the future, if a tire is about to blow, it will communicate to the autonomous vehicle to pull over.

“Every company is getting closer to their customers.  We’ve been talking about this for years.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, everybody’s becoming a B2B2C company.”

Salesforce and its customers are “delivering personalized one-to-one engagement at scale,” said Stephanie Buscemi, EVP of Product Marketing.  This is done “declaratively, with clicks and not code.”  Through the Salesforce Data Management Platform, ads are customized and delivered cross-device, allowing companies to redisplay ads or present new advertisements to their customers and prospects.

Benioff cited a series of companies providing customer service and support through Salesforce platforms including Louis Vuitton, Marriot, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Adidas, and Ducati Motorcycles.

“Behind all these things…behind everything is a customer.  And that’s what all of us do.  We are working to connect with our customers in an incredible new way.”

Simplified customization, development, and branding were emphasized during the keynote.  A set of customizable products provide a “smarter, more personalized Salesforce”:

  • MyTrailhead service supports custom branding, content, and learning paths that allows firms to onboard and train employees on desktops and phones.  Tools include quizzes, reference links, trails, and badges.  Salesforce Trailhead content is also available.
  • MyEinstein provides an artificial intelligence layer driven declaratively by “clicks, not code” supporting “smarter capabilities including bots.”
  • MyLightning customization provides an app builder with custom pages, a Lightning theming and design system, Lightning Flow, Components, and Bolts which operate automatically on both desktops and phones.  Designers will have access to dynamic components which are conditionally displayed.
  • MySalesforce branded “mobile apps without code” can be uploaded to the Google Play and App Store.
  • MyIoT supports native integration capturing real-time events, business rule automation, and low-code orchestration.

Based upon customer feedback, SFDC has shifted from IoT as a separate platform to an integrated feature of the CRM platform which also operates “declaratively without code.”

Benioff admitted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating concerns and wondered whether it is “uniting us or dividing us.  Are we more connected or somehow less connected?”

He also asked whether there is more or less equality in the World.

“There is this stress being created by this fourth industrial revolution.  Yes, we have this promise of this new connected World.  But what is it doing to us? And what are other actors doing around the World using these technologies?  Are they changing our society?  Are they changing our elections?  What are they doing with this technology?”

Benioff is looking at the Trailblazers attending Dreamforce as the Customer Innovators, Technology Disruptors, and Global Shapers to ensure that the next wave is directed in a positive direction.  “You have all these new tools at your fingertips, these incredible new technologies, but you are doing some amazing things in the World.  You are changing your companies.  You are steering this technology in the right direction.  I’m so confident in who you are.  I’m so confident in what’s in your hearts and where we are all going.”

Benioff noted that most technology is generally neutral in it effect upon society.  It is therefore incumbent upon technologists, developers, and companies to deploy technology in a socially responsible manner which promotes greater equality.  Benioff called for companies to fight for equality through equal pay, investing in schools, and opposing discriminatory laws.  He also noted that it is the poor who are most hurt by environmental degradation and proudly stated, “we are a net zero cloud.”

IDC CRM Market Share (Courtesy: Salesforce 2017)
IDC CRM Market Share (Courtesy: Salesforce 2017)

Benioff was also proud to have founded and led the leading CRM with an 18.1% market share (2016 IDC) nearly double that of Oracle (9.4%).  Salesforce has the top solutions for sales (34.2%), service (33.7%), marketing (9.9%), and Platform-as-a-Service.  Within the marketing cloud, Salesforce claims to offer the leading Data Management Platform and commerce Platform.

What’s more, the firm is on track to be the fastest enterprise software company to hit $12.5 billion in revenue.  They hit $10 billion this year and have FY19 guidance of $12.5 billion in year 20.

One of the issues facing businesses and policymakers is an increasing skills gap.  Benioff proposed MyTrailhead as one of the tools to help address the problem of workers across many industries and skill levels.  MyTrailhead provides a customized, branded training platform.

TechCrunch complained that this year’s Dreamforce lacked drama as it lacked new initiatives such as the social enterprise, artificial intelligence, and IoT.  “They are a company that embraces the cutting edge, but this year lacked that kind of big announcement,” complained enterprise reporter Ron Miller.  To be fair, though, the company has rolled out a series of new platforms, clouds, and acquisitions over the past few years.  A year with few fireworks is not necessarily a year without forward progress for Lightning, Quip, Einstein, Trailhead, and platform customization.

The conference remains a monster with 170,000 registered participants joining in San Francisco and millions of online views.


This was the beginning of my weekly newsletter coverage on Dreamforce.  Please contact me if you’d like a free trial subscription.

Form Follows Function

InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.
InsideView users can quickly target additional executives by function and level.

One of the key aphorisms in architecture is that form follows function.  The quote, attributed to Louis Sullivan, holds that a building’s design should be based upon the underlying purpose of the building, not driven by ornamentation.  Twentieth century design took this maxim to heart with similar thinking spreading through industrial and software design.

In the case of information services, a focus on flashy design or “bells and whistles” can be a distraction if the underlying service fails to meet the basic informational and workflow needs of its users.  One of the great things about Google is that it returns high precision results from a few words entered into a search box.  It was this simplicity that allowed them to grab and hold two-thirds of the search engine market share, leaving Bing and Yahoo! to pick up the scraps.

A well-designed sales intelligence solution supports multiple sales and support workflows.  These users span multiple functions and departments (e.g. sales, sales directors, sales operations, sales support, service departments, business development, and marketing).  Furthermore, there are multiple types of sales reps within larger organizations so your sales intelligence platform needs to be flexible enough to meet differing information requirements and workflows.

Thus, tactical sales reps need to quickly locate contact information and a few prospect qualification variables.  They want to make sure that the contact they are about to call is in their territory and doesn’t work at a subsidiary of a named account.

Conversely, a strategic rep has broad information requirements around companies, company structures, executives, and key events.  Strategic reps are focused on who to call, when to call, and what to say.  Sales triggers are not only a flashing green light that a prospect is more likely to buy, but conversational material for catching the prospect’s attention and signaling that the rep has prepared for the call.  Likewise, SWOT reports, biographies, industry market research reports provide insights into client interests and needs.

Named account reps sell only to a few firms so need a deep understanding of their target accounts.  They need to be apprised of key events at an organization that could positively or negatively impact their pipeline.  Furthermore, named account reps are looking for additional contacts and locations for extending their corporate footprint.   Thus, searching across a company for specific job functions and then reviewing subsidiary profiles and bios is an important task in growing the account.  Named account reps also benefit from PDF exportability so they can review the latest information about their client or prospect while traveling.  These reports can also be shared with other members of the sales and support team.

Territory reps and financial services relationship managers need to be apprised of sales triggers within their territory, quickly research and qualify companies, and dig deeper on larger opportunities.  Furthermore, as they generally sell cross-industry, they  also benefit from industry overviews from vendors such as First Research.  These primers are written in plain English and provide a set of Q&A sections by topic and job function.

First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.
First Research reports, found in Dun & Bradstreet products, provide a series of Q&A topics by C-level functions, opportunities, and challenges.

Most reps work within a CRM, so review the capabilities of sales intelligence CRM connectors.  The tighter the integration the better.  If your CRM is your system of record, you want the sales reps working within the CRM on desktops and mobile devices.  Services that bounce the user between a web browser and the CRM are less effective than those that provide most or all of their content and functionality within Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics, or other CRMs.  Also, look for “stare and compare” updating of records, batch and real-time synchronization of data, custom fields, and duplicate checking.

Many sales intelligence services also support the marketing department.  Standardizing the two functions on a common vendor helps reduce cost and channel conflict.  It also provides a basis for successful ABM programs which cross the two departments.  Several years ago, sales intelligence vendors only offered prospecting to marketing, but now they also support web forms, real-time and batch enrichment of leads, lead-to-account mapping, marketing automation connectors, lead scoring, segmentation analysis, Ideal Customer Profiling, TAM analysis, and net-new leads and contacts.  A few also offer standalone services for the marketing department such as programmatic advertising, visitor id, multi-channel marketing, and SEO.

When evaluating sales intelligence solutions, you should understand the workflows and information requirements of each of your sales groups along with other potential beneficiaries of the service.  Don’t evaluate simply on counts and features, but on the information needs and workflows of your various sales and marketing teams.