D&B Hoovers, a global sales intelligence solution that has long been English-only, began a multi-phase process towards becoming a truly global, multi-lingual solution. Most sales intelligence vendors support only a single language, but European vendors Vainu and Echobot support multiple languages for their regional coverage. Last year, when Dun & Bradstreet bought Bisnode, a firm that serves Central Europe and the Nordics, it declared that it would be sunsetting Bisnode solutions. Internationalizing D&B Hoover’s then became a priority.
The D&B Hoovers’ UX already supports 17 languages:
- European: Croatian, Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish
- Asian: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Japanese
Adding international languages transforms D&B Hoovers from an Anglo-centric solution for multinationals and companies based in Anglophone countries to a localized version.
“In terms of personalization, we’re trying to switch this from being a US product that is sold globally to a fully local version of a global product,” explained International Product Development & Strategy VP Adam Leslie to GZ Consulting. D&B Hoovers needs to be a “local product” that supports sales reps selling to local customers, regardless of language. “Historically, it’s been a US product sold in the local market only where the local market user sells to the US and internationally. If the local market user only sells domestically, they haven’t bought Hoovers.”
D&B Hoovers greatly expanded its industry code standards, allowing users to filter companies by global taxonomies (e.g., ISIC), regional (e.g., NAICS, NACE 2.0, ANZ SIC), or national standards:
D&B Hoover’s also supports two proprietary taxonomies: Hoover’s industry codes and eight-digit SICs.
Country-specific industry code descriptions will be displayed in either English or the local language.
Along with expanded taxonomies, D&B Hoovers recently added website searching to identify companies based on their self-descriptions across one hundred languages. Website search has gathered 247 million rows of structured data across 30 million websites and 300 million web pages.
This feature helps identify companies with emerging technologies or positioning (i.e., the evolving three-letter acronyms that firms use for classifying themselves). The feature echoes its Conceptual Search, but instead of identifying companies based on topical references in news articles, it searches global corporate websites.
D&B Hoovers and its predecessor service, OneSource Global Business Browser (GBB), have supported English-speaking multinational teams for two decades. Their content and functionality have always been the deepest for the US, UK, and Canada. Yet, they also provided a robust set of international content:
- Global Public (Quoted) Company Financials, Segment Reports, Executive Bios, and Long Business Descriptions.
- Financial statements for 15 European countries and global publics. The reports may be viewed in USD, EUR, GBP, and the As Reported currency, with currency conversion rates based upon the period or statement date. Thus, revenue from a 2020 income statement (a flow statement) would be based upon the average conversion rate for the year, while assets from the balance sheet would be based upon the applicable rate for the statement date.
- Global family trees
- Industry Codes, including US SIC, NAICS, EU NACE, UK SIC, ANZ SIC, and UN ISIC.
- Regional screening, including city, postal code, and sub-regions (e.g., state, province, county)
- Regional customization for distances (KM vs. miles) and numeric formats
D&B Hoovers expanded its company coverage to 180 million active firms and 216 million active contacts as part of its internationalization. Most of the new firms have between one and five employees. It also increased the number of countries with sub-divisional regions (e.g., counties, provinces), having recently added sub-divisional filtering for the Nordic countries, Denmark, Hungary, etc. Additional countries are planned.
Several enhancements came from local customer research. In many European countries, departmental emails are employed in sales and marketing outreach. These emails lack any personally identifiable information, so they are GDPR compliant. Dun & Bradstreet is adding over seven million “entity-level emails” for European countries, including over three million entity-level emails for the D-A-CH region, 1½ million for the Nordics, and 2½ million for Eastern Europe.
Text searching was enhanced to recognize accents and diacritical marks (e.g., when performing location searches). Leslie called synonymous search with or without special characters a “major ticket to the game.” While it “sounds like a simple fix,” it was “extremely complex.”
As Dun & Bradstreet began its localization research, it realized the importance of small companies and informational depth in the context of national sales vs. international sales.
“We speak to local markets and say, ‘Well, what is it that will help you sell your products and use our products?’” explained Leslie. Dun & Bradstreet’s research found that many customers and prospects sell locally to organizations with five or fewer employees. “That becomes really important now that you can reach them.”
Leslie listed other findings and subsequent upgrades: “We capped the number of contacts at eleven. That’s been changed. We were missing the middle name. That has been changed.”
When I was a product marketing manager at OneSource (2001 – 2010), I explained that we delivered the top N companies in each European country because “you aren’t selling to Polish abattoirs.” That logic made sense when selling to multinationals and exporters based in English-speaking countries. After all, they weren’t selling to Polish slaughterhouses. But this approach fails to meet the needs of sales reps based in Poland, EU industrial manufacturers, or logistics companies.
Localization requires local language support, content depth, national standards support (e.g., industry codes, geographic districts, GDPR), in-language news and triggers (coming in phase II), market knowledge, and in-market sales and support. Dun & Bradstreet also simplified the UI and improved its dynamic display for various screen sizes and devices. The new UI was implemented in September, and 96% of browser users and 98% of CRM users have switched to the updated format.
In-product tutorials also enhance the user experience. For example, if a user utilizes a feature inefficiently or has not used core functionality, the tutorial will provide on-demand coaching. This feedback is also provided to account representatives to provide guidance. The in-product tutorials were launched last summer, and Dun & Bradstreet continues to collect data for honing its training recommendations.
There is also a new onboarding virtual assistant for providing on-demand training. Tutorial translations should be available to users in Q2. Expanded in-product training and virtual onboarding are consistent with the emerging Work from Anywhere expectation of business professionals.
Dun & Bradstreet provided its internationalization roadmap through the end of the year. The firm intends to extend local content, expand time-dependent sales triggers, and support multi-lingual news. New content includes more digitally sourced data, detailed financials, and country-specific datasets such as country export data for Chinese companies, product codes, and expanded tech data for India.
Ostensibly, Phase I, which completed at the end of March, serves as a minimal viable product for localized products (or what Leslie called a “ticket to the game”), and Phase II continues internationalizing the content and expanding localized content.
“We are working with each local market to collect these [data requirements], source the data, transfer to D&B, and load into the product,” said Leslie. Finally, D&B Hoovers will continue to expand its email and direct dial coverage.