DataFox Growth and Enhancements

DataFox grew its year-over-year annual recurring revenue by 150% and trebled its presence at Fortune 500 companies.  According to the firm, “Its exceptional growth has sparked a major hiring initiative as well as plans to secure a larger San Francisco headquarters office to accommodate a growing team of engineers and data scientists.”

The DataFox CRM Orchestration service  provides company profiles and insights for two million companies.  The firm collects 100,000 signals each week across seventy signal categories.  DataFox supports both an initial batch enrichment and ongoing data refreshes.

DataFox Signals
DataFox Signals

A unique feature is their coverage of conferences which helps marketing departments identify which conferences to attend and assemble conference based prospecting lists.  The service also captures major lists such as the Inc 5000 and Fast 500 along with niche lists.

“This is an incredible acceleration point. Customers are seeing the immediate benefits of investing in our solutions that automate grunt work and help guide better, faster decision-making,” said DataFox CEO Bastiaan Janmaat. “DataFox has been able to improve the way people approach their jobs in sales, marketing, and other growth functions by helping them find, orchestrate, and leverage CRM data so they can focus on what matters most – building relationships and growing their business.”

Along with Salesforce, DataFox provides integrations with Marketo, Google Chrome, and Slack.

Evolution of Sales Intelligence

Darwin's_finchesThe Sales Intelligence (SI) space has been undergoing some rapid change over the past year.  This evolution in functional scope and content sets has resulted in an expansion in the number of companies I cover as well as the categories (ABSD services, PE/VC funding databases).  There is also a movement of sales intelligence vendors into marketing intelligence as the traditional SIs look for additional revenue opportunities and a broader value proposition.

A year ago, Account Based Marketing (ABM) was discussed mostly by DemandBase, a top of the funnel programmatic marketing vendor, but the predictive analytics vendors and Zoominfo began discussing the methodology.  Thus, a year ago, ABM meant anti-ballistic missile or activity based management to all but the most well-versed marketers.  Now the term is commonly found in corporate blogs and collateral and has spawned ABSD (Account Based Software Development) which follows ABM down to the middle of the funnel in the sales development function.  There are now several ABSD vendors which I have begun to include in my newsletter including SalesLoft and QuotaFactory.  ABSD shifts the sales development focus away from “smile and dial” calling towards targeted messaging into a set of top prospects.  Since the prospecting activities are targeting higher value opportunities, there is a benefit to personalizing calls and emails.  SalesLoft refers to this activity as “sincerity at scale.”

What is even more impressive about SalesLoft and QuotaFactory is that they are both less than two years old and yet they have already grown in commercial stature to the point where they are building out partner ecosystems with traditional SIs and other vendors.  SalesLoft rolled out their Sales Development Cloud at their customer conference last month with nine partners including DiscoverOrg, InsideView, Datanyze, and Owler.  At the same time, QuotaFactory announced partnerships with Bedrock Data, Ambition, HG Data, and InsideView.

A second area of rapid growth is the technology sales intelligence vendors.  DiscoverOrg and RainKing have grown revenue and capabilities, transforming what was historically a sleepy niche into a significant sub-category.  Both vendors have posted high multi-year growth rates, internationalized their datasets, expanded their technology trigger events, and developed CRM and marketing automation connectors.  While they continue to gather rich profiles of IT execs, they are broadening their functional coverage to include non-IT functions that are significantly investing in IT cloud solutions such as marketing and finance.  DiscoverOrg is continuing this functional expansion with product management (the recently released TEDD dataset), HR, and Sales.  Furthermore, their databases, which once focused on the Fortune 1000, now cover nearly 50,000 top global companies and 700,000 executives.  Both firms announced significant funding events in the past six months.

Aberdeen Group, which was spun off of Harte-Hanks last year, has begun to invest in the AccessCI database.  Once the leading source of technology profiles and leads, the AccessCI (aka CiTDB and CITDS) dataset had received little investment from Harte-Hanks over the prior decade.  Under new ownership, the product is once again receiving management attention.

The SIs have also increased their coverage of technographicsAvention acquired SalesQuest two years ago and integrated their Crush profiles into their products while other vendors have licensed vendor/product data from HG Data or mined technographic intelligence.  HG Data has become so adept at collecting vendor/product data that DiscoverOrg and Aberdeen Group have begun licensing content from them.

Several firms that began as fundings databases found that Business Development was a logical extension of their value proposition and have since repositioned themselves as sales intelligence solutions.  Firms such as DataFox and Mattermark are focusing more on sales intelligence functionality while CB Insights has launched a sales intelligence solution (with technographics) while retaining its focus on the PE/VC space.

For the most part, the SIs have avoided the predictive analytics space.  The exceptions are Avention, which supports business signals and ideal profiles, and Radius which morphed  from an SMB SI into a predictive analytics company.  Meanwhile, the predictive analytics companies are beginning to offer a subset of SI features such as net-new leads.

Instead, the SIs have focused more on marketing analytics, data enrichment, and data hygiene which allows them to leverage their databases without investing in data scientists.  Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex last year for its contact database and the Workbench cloud data hygiene platform.  They have also begun to offer Hoover’s concierge services including enrichment, segmentation reporting, and email delivery.  Avention launched its DataVision customer data platform earlier this year while Zoominfo, Data.com, and InsideView have placed equal weight upon marketing services and sales intelligence services.

Social Selling continues to be a core element of positioning for InsideView and LinkedIn Sales NavigatorArtesian Solutions, a UK vendor that is launching a US product later this year, also focuses on social selling.  A significant product gap across the SIs is the lack of social tools built into their offering.  I can understand why SIs have shied away from Who Knows Who tools (the exceptions are InsideView and DueDil), but it is perplexing why most SI vendors have only limited sets of social media links and little social media content displayed in their services.  Only InsideView, Artesian, and Owler have put much emphasis upon social media content.

Europe is also becoming a home of new services.  DueDil has evolved into a UK challenger to Avention and BvD Mint while IKO System and Sparklane (formerly Zebaz) have an established presence in France.

When I started my newsletter four years ago, many of the companies and products either had not been launched or weren’t on my radar.  I mostly focused on Avention, Hoover’s, InsideView, DiscoverOrg, BvD, Sales Genie, Data.com, and RainKing.  While these companies continue to innovate, much of the energy is coming from new entrants.  The rapid growth and diversity of sales intelligence functionality has been exciting to observe.

Credit: Darwin’s Finches are in the public domain.  Charles Darwin, 1845.

Chrome Integration: DataFox

DataFox Chrome IntegrationOver the next few days, I will be covering various Google Chrome integration tools for sales intelligence.  Yesterday, I discussed the Zoominfo extension and today I’m covering DataFox’s implementation.

DataFox just launched a sales intelligence service after previously focusing on the PE/VC space.  Thus, their underlying dataset covers fast growth companies.  The Chrome integration, along with their SFDC implementation, is part of their value proposition.

The DataFox Chrome integration recognizes URLs and provides company profiles to subscribers.  Content includes the DataFox Score, sizing data, URL, year founded, a business description, and ten similar companies.  The tool is specific to company URLs and does not recognize companies in other contexts such as LinkedIn.  If a company is unknown, the app allows the user to quickly request the company be added to the database.

The DataFox score is a composite score which assesses the firm’s financing, human resources, and momentum.  According to DataFox, their score “uses machine learning to quantify hard-to-define traits like financial stability and management quality, and most importantly, how those traits can predict a company’s growth.”

Clicking on the company name takes the user to the DataFox company profile.  From there, the user can send the company information to SFDC.

Similar companies are displayed with a similarity confidence score, logo, and DataFox Score.  Users can click on similar company names to view the similar companies.

Similar companies are identified using a proprietary algorithm which finds peers based upon sector, size, news co-mentions, participation in conferences, and company keywords.  According to DataFox, “out of  the thousands of keywords in our database, any given company will list only about  a dozen. To deal with this, we want to be able to harness a measure of similarity  between keywords. After all, if company A lists ‘cloud storage’ as a keyword, then we should have more confidence they are related to a company listing ‘file sharing’ as a keyword than a company listing ‘mobile payments’ as a keyword.”  Similar companies can be executed against both individual companies and lists.  Thus, a sales rep can take their top client list and clone a set of comparables.

If you would like to know more about the DataFox service, I recently covered their product launch.

DataFox: New Account Based Marketing and Sales Development Service

DataFox Home Page

DataFox, which has focused heavily on providing investors with information about growing technology companies and financings, entered the sales intelligence space with the launch of DataFox for Sales.  The move is reminiscent of CB Insights which launched a sales product last September.  DataFox has been messaging about its sales and marketing use case since July and formally launched the sales service this week along with a Salesforce.com connector.

DataFox claims the following benefits for sales reps:

  •  75% less time to discover a prospect’s needs and draft insightful emails
  • 54% more companies reached with this increased productivity
  • 34% increase in response rates

DataFox CEO Bastiaan Janmaat argues that executives are flooded with cold calls and irrelevant emails.  “This is largely being driven by the universal adoption of marketing automation software and the sharp increase in inside sales reps over the past two years.  It’s just too easy to send cold emails today, and most of them are not personalized. “We are changing the game when it comes to enhancing the sales and buying experience.”

DataFox for Sales’ primary information presentation model is lists.  While companies can be viewed individually, the product focuses on company lists maintained by DataFox, marketing teams or sales reps.

The DataFox platform is, therefore, well positioned for Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Account Based Sales Development.  It has strong list management tools for ABM targeting and sales alerts concerning ABM prospects and accounts.

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The Inc. 5000 curated list filtered for a ten mile radius around Boston.

Lists can be built via traditional prospecting, uploaded as CSV files containing the name and URL, or constructed from one of several lists or tools:

  • Conference Lists: Conference lists are a unique feature of DataFox.  They can be used by sales reps for pre-conference / trade show planning to determine which competitors and partners are sponsoring the show, exhibiting, or presenting.  They are also useful for trade show planners in evaluating potential shows (are our competitors and peers attending?), demand generation managers for assembling account based marketing (ABM) targets, and business development executives for identifying potential partners or licensors.
  • Similar Companies:   Similar companies are identified using a proprietary algorithm which finds peers based upon sector, size, news co-mentions, participation in conferences, and company keywords.  According to DataFox, “Out of  the thousands of keywords in our database, any given company will list only about  a dozen. To deal with this, we want to be able to harness a measure of similarity  between keywords. After all, if company A lists cloud storage” as a keyword, then we should have more confidence they are related to a company listing ‘file sharing’ as a keyword than a company listing ‘mobile payments’ as a keyword.”  Similar companies can be executed against both individual companies and lists.  Thus, a sales rep can take their top client list and clone a set of comparables.
  • Curated Lists: Curated lists include published lists (e.g. Inc. 5000, Deloitte Fast 500), lists built by DataFox analysts, and lists shared by DataFox users.  Because these lists are matched against the DataFox database, they contain additional firmographics and insights which may not be available in the source lists.  Sales and Marketing can use these lists for ABM targeting, identifying growth companies, or extending into new verticals. Users may also share lists publicly or with team members.  Users can even collaborate on a list with team members adding or deleting companies from a list.

Prospecting provides an unconventional but compelling list of variables:

  • Keywords: Keywords are employed in lieu of traditional industry coding.  Keywords are quite granular.  For example, adtech included eight options.  DataFox should look at merging some of these codes.  For example Push Notification, Push Notifications, and Push Notification Services provided different company lists.
  • Location: City, State, Postal Code, Country,Country, and International Region.  While a few pre-canned metro areas are avalailable, MSA, County and Radius Search were not supported.
  • Investor: PE or VC investor
  • Exit Status: Checkboxes for Private, Public, Acquired, Subsidiary, Product, and Closed Down.
  • Headcount: Employee Range
    Finance: Revenue Estimate, Total Funding, Latest Funding Round Amount, Funding Stage, Latest Funding Round Date, Market Cap, P/E Ratio
  • Date Founded: Year Range
  • Scores: DataFox, Growth, Finance, Marketing, HR
  • Marketing: Twitter Followers

Uploaded company lists are automatically matched against their database and enriched.  An Insights feature provides quick list segmentation analysis.  This view includes top keywords, top investors, headcount distribution, funding distribution, and top locations.  Thus, a marketer can quickly upload a list of or trade show booth or webinar attendees to assess the value of the tradeshow or for tweaking the messaging of a webinar.

List layouts are customizable so additional DataFox variables may be added including additional Datafox scores, web traffic time series data, twitter followers, awards, and funding data.  Datafox even allows users to add editable columns (e.g. Notes, Follow up Actions and Dates, and calculated variables).

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Custom List formats may include DataFox variables, team variables, and calculated variables.

Any list may be filtered using DataFox’s standard prospecting variables.  Lists can also be downloaded as CSV files.  Unfortunately, CSV files do not maintain currency formatting and lose leading zeroes in ZIP codes.  This is a common problem for vendors that support CSV but not XLS formatting.

It is this list-centric model that most differentiates DataFox for Sales from the traditional sales intelligence competitors.

When run against curated, user saved, and conference lists, the Insights Report includes Top Keywords, Top Investors, Top Locations (city), Quarter over Quarter Funding (Historical bar graph), Investor co-occurrence, and Top Five Companies (by DataFox score).  There is also a bubble chart called Comparative Trajectory which graphs the DataFox score against the Year Founded with bubbles sized according to the number of employees.

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Comparative Directory Report is based on the Top 50 companies in the Inc. 5000 list.

DataFox does not provide company and executive counts, but they indicated that their company universe exceeds one million firms and that they are adding 500 companies daily.  DataFox mines its data from

  • 10 different funding databases
  • 3,000 conference lists
  • 7,000 blogs
  • 10,000 curated lists such as Deloitte’s Fast 500 and the Inc 5000
  • 40,000 News Sources
  • Job Listings
  • Corporate Websites
  • SEC (EDGAR) Filings
  • Online Profiles (Social Media, Websites, etc.)
  • Social Feeds (Twitter and AngelList)

Company data includes company descriptions, DataFox Score, location, employees, funding history, keywords, social media links (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Angellist), corporate blog link, news, executives, conferences, acquisitions, investments, similar companies, top public lists, and user lists.  Much of this information is not available in traditional sales intelligence tools but is visible via a one page overview.  Additional company views include people, news, and similar companies.

The DataFox Score is a proprietary score which sums four subscores: Financing, HR, Influence, and Growth.  Here is how they describe the scores:

At DataFox, our mission is to provide data-driven business insights to salespeople, marketers, analysts, executives, and investors. One of our proprietary systems is the DataFox scoring system, which uses machine learning to quantify hard-to-define traits like financial stability and management quality, and most importantly, how those traits can predict a company’s growth.

Using the companies in our database, we’ve developed models to provide a leading indicator of success. This predictive method is particularly important when evaluating private companies, where traditional factors like revenue and past performance paint an inaccurate picture of future growth.

To accomplish this, we’ve built a series of algorithms to evaluate companies based on growth, influence, finance, management and overall quality. These scores allow DataFox users to quickly search our company database and identify the best or most suitable companies in any sector, location, or stage. Our scores identify the best companies, just as Google’s PageRank algorithm identifies the best webpages.

It should be noted that while the Datafox scores are valuable for qualification and prospecting, they are not predictive scores.  Information is based upon historical data and not matched against a company’s ideal profile.  Nevertheless, if a firm is targeting fast growth companies, particularly those that are funding candidates, the scores help identify firms on a growth trajectory.

Users may follow a company by clicking a track button and adding the firm to a current or new list.  Users may also store private notes with profiles or share comments with their team.

Unfortunately, the company profile does not include an export feature for sharing with team members or reviewing when offline.

Contacts include title and a LinkedIn search button..  The LinkedIn searching was more effective than most simple name searches as DataFox passes the LinkedIn company number to assist with the search.  Users may also purchase emails and direct dial phones using credits.  No biographic information or executive news is provided.

News is categorized into the following categories:

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DataFox Sales Trigger Descriptions

Although the number of categories is limited, DataFox intends to expand the number and breadth of trigger categories.  Triggers are identified by natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning.  A subset are flagged as key articles and sent to their team of thirty editors for validation and summarization.  Here is an example of the summarized news story (“curated highlight”)  for Artesian Solution’s Series B:

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Sample Curated Highlight for Artesian Solutions concerning their Series B Funding

Triggers and summarized profiles are viewable within the product and as email alerts.  Users can email items to team members (or to clients and prospects) and post them to Twitter.  The fox icon allows reps to share notes about the item to their team.

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Email Alert for Justinmind, Users can Tweet items, forward to customers or peers, or share comments.

Product Marketing Director Arik Pelkey believes their sales triggers are an area of strength due to the quaility of their natural language processing.  “Our supervised algorithms are improving all the time and our unique approach to sales triggers is a big differentiator for us.”

DataFox includes a Salesforce.com connector with I-frame viewing on account and contact pages along with “stare and compare” updates.  Within the I-frame, reps can view the one-pager, people, news, and similar company tabs.  DataFox also offers bulk de-duplication and cleansing of SFDC accounts.

DF7
DataFox Accounts I-Frame provides company overviews, people, news, and similar companies from within SFDC.

If the CRM connector has been deployed, prospecting lists display filterable flags indicating current customers and prospects.  Users may also send individual companies, company lists, and executives to SFDC.  When uploaded, companies are added as accounts and execs as contacts or leads.  There is also a two-click company add from company sites to SFDC.  This feature requires users to install a Google Chrome Add-in.

Overall, the UI is clear and well laid out with fast site response.  Key qualification variables are easy to identify and actions are clearly labeled.  A search box provides type-ahead suggestions for keywords, companies, or lists.  A dynamic left hand icon bar expands when the user mouses over the icons providing easy access to the home page, key features and lists, tutorials, and recently viewed items.  When mousing over a company name, a baseball card profile is displayed.

Because DataFox is coming from the funding world and utilizes a different presentation metaphor, there are some significant differences between DataFox and traditional sales intelligence services:

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Comparison of DataFox against traditional sales intelligence vendors. (c. 2016 GZ Consulting)

DataFox offers fourteen day free trials.  Pricing was not disclosed, but it is seat based and subject to volume discounts.

DataFox has released a very strong 1.0 release.  They provide some compelling features not found in other products which make it a worthy offering for sales teams focused on fast growth companies and marketing teams looking to assemble ABM target lists.  As with all 1.0 products, there are functionality and information gaps.  In the case of DataFox, they lack public company financials, family trees, technology data, and executive screening.

However, with ongoing investment DataFox could become a credible competitor to the incumbent sales intelligence vendors.  In the meantime, companies focused on fast growth companies and ABM sales and marketing should check DataFox out.

Top Image: DataFox Home Page