Vertical IQ Launches Mobile App

Vertical IQ Summary (Mobile App)
Vertical IQ Summary (Mobile App)

Industry research firm Vertical IQ launched a mobile app which delivers condensed profiles of 300 industries which can be quickly viewed before meetings or while commuting.  The app is available on iPhone and Android devices at no additional charge for current customers.

“Vertical IQ users are busy professionals, and the reality is that they often don’t have the time to research and read an entire industry-related paper to prepare for a client or prospect meeting,” blogged the firm.  “In order to best help our busy customers, we have to design the most efficient, practical way possible to prepare for meetings—writing and organizing industry-specific information that is digestible, quick, and to-the-point.”

Industries are listed alphabetically and searchable by Vertical IQ industry, NAICS / SIC, and Favorites.  Searching is by keyword, so “Pest” returns Pest Control, Agricultural Chemical Manufacturers, Landscape Services, and Pest Control Services.  The results list may be viewed alphabetically or by sector.  The app has a short “Time to Pie,” a term coined by Intuit which means how quickly do users get to useful information.

Content is broken into eleven chapters which are navigated by a three-bar icon across fromthe chapter title:

  • Summary
  • Big Picture Video –  an industry overview which helps reps “quickly visualize the business, gain insight, and be ready to talk about points of [my client’s] industry.”
  • Fast Facts – Average company size, geographic distribution, top firms, business structure, etc.
  • Call Prep Questions – Capital Financing, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Risks to Watch Out for, Working Capital
  • Working Capital – Sell and Invoice, Collect, Manage Cash, Pay, Report, Cash Management Challenges
  • Trends
  • Risks – Industry Risks, Company Risks
  • Numbers – BizMiner industry ratios
  • News
  • Quarterly Insights
  • Bank Product Usage – Industry adoption of standard bank products from Barlow Research

Vertical IQ was co-founded by Bobby Martin, who also started First Research.  Both services provide an extensive set of industry snapshots for relationship managers looking to quickly learn about key industries.

“Vertical IQ helps you save time, increase the likelihood and effectiveness of pre-call planning, deepen relationships with clients, improve banker confidence during calls, and bridge the gap between a banker’s financial knowledge and business knowledge.”

Vertical IQ

Vertical IQ supports nearly 35,000 bankers, accountants and advisors who serve small to medium-sized businesses and professionals.  Along with subscription services, users may purchase individual reports for $99.

IBISWorld Call Prep Insights for SFDC

IBISWorld Key Facts help sales reps quickly assess industry financial trends and provide a set of C-level talking points.
IBISWorld Key Facts help sales reps quickly assess industry financial trends and provide a set of C-level talking points.

Industry market research firm IBISWorld rolled out its new Call Prep Insights Salesforce connector. The service delivers IBISWorld market research and Q&A content to sales and client relations professionals. IBISWorld insights are displayed on the Account record as Market Intelligence with over 1,300 industries and sub-industries covered. Regional versions are available for the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

“IBISWorld Call Prep Insights facilitates consultative selling by enabling value-added outreach to prospects and clients,” states the firm’s User Guide. “IBISWorld Call Prep Insights delivers data, strategic insights and tactical talking points for hundreds of industries that your front-line staff can use for more engaging conversation.”

Market Intelligence, published at the 5-digit NAICS level, includes

  • Major industry trends
  • Industry structure
  • Conversation starters on industry risks and opportunities
  • Five-years of historical metrics alongside five-year forecasts

Industry and sector metrics include industry revenue and revenue growth, employment growth, average wages, and profit margin. Sparkline graphs provide both historical context to these metrics and industry projections. These details are particularly useful when speaking to C-Level executives as well as finance and operations teams.

Industry structure covers topics such as capital intensity, regulation change, technology change, competition level, market concentration, and major companies with their market share.

The Industry Structure section explains the underlying industry structure for non-experts.
The Industry Structure section explains the underlying industry structure for non-experts.

The Engagement section provides “a short discussion of the key Issue and Threat to the industry. These items are associated with SWOT-type research that shows the macro trends that companies should seek to actively manage in order to exploit opportunities and mitigate risks.”

Call Prep Questions are divided into internal issues and external impacts. They include a short discussion of the issue followed by a set of questions the sales rep can ask to engage the prospect.

Having recently engaged in an industry research project which employed both First Research (a set of industry overviews available within Dun & Bradstreet products) and IBISWorld content, I found IBISWorld to be more technical than First Research which is written in plain English for non-experts. Both services offer Q&A content which provides a set of c-level questions that work as discussion openers. Thus, First Research may be a better fit for territory reps and junior relationship managers while IBISWorld would better fit the informational needs of named account reps, verticalized reps, and experienced relationship managers.

Companies are auto-matched against IBISWorld’s universe of 14,000 companies. Otherwise, users can manually search for industries by keyword or NAICS.

Pricing begins at $55 per user per month. Both Salesforce Classic and Lightning editions are supported.

“The sales environment is not only getting more competitive, it’s getting more intelligent. Salespeople need to go beyond being experts in their products. They need to showcase how they will solve business problems. That’s why we’re launching the IBISWorld Call Prep Insights Salesforce app. Professionals will have an industry cheat sheet of talking points at their fingertips to better engage with their clients on the most important issues impacting their businesses,” says Carmen McKinney, VP of Product Development.

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.

First Research: Plain English Industry Primers

FR

I’ve long respected the First Research industry overviews assembled by Dun & Bradstreet.  While most industry research runs from complex to arcane, First Research reports serve as industry primers providing plain English overviews of an industry.  If you were to read the report for your own industry, you would probably find it useful only for new hire training.

And that is the beauty of the reports.  They are for novices lacking an understanding of an industry which makes them perfect for territory sales reps or relationship managers.  In fact, they were originally designed for relationship managers at banks before First Research realized that sales reps were equally in need of their research.  If your job requires you to interact with individuals across many industries, then First Research may be the perfect resource for “getting up to speed” on an industry.  They can also be valuable for job hunters looking for a basic set of questions to ask about an industry.

Content includes an Industry Overview containing the following sub-sections:

  • Competitive Landscape
  • Products & Operations
  • Technology
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Finance & Working Capital
  • Regulation
  • International Insights
  • Regional Highlights
  • Human Resources

along with these additional sections:

  • News and Social (FirstRain)
  • Quarterly Industry Update
  • Industry Forecast
  • Industry Growth Rating (High, medium or low)
  • Industry Indicators
  • Company Information
  • Critical Issues
  • Business Challenges
  • Business Trends
  • Industry Opportunities
  • Executive Insights and Questions
  • Financial Information
  • Call Prep Questions ƒ Websites & Acronyms

First Research contains several sections of Q&A content including Call Prep Questions and Executive Insights which are questions specific to C-level executives.  Sometimes in life, you need to “fake it until you make it” (i.e. develop expertise) and First Research is designed for this purpose.

Through an OEM deal with FirstRain, high-precision industry news is included in the service along with FirstRain topic tagging and visual tools.  FirstRain content includes Latest News, Top Business Tweets, Management Changes, Event Timeline, Industry Health Indicators, Analyst Commentary, and Recent Transactions.  FirstRain does not archive this content but provides six months of open web news links.

FR News
FirstRain industry news is OEM’d within First Research reports providing six months of news, business tweets, an event timeline, analyst commentary, health indicators, transactions, and management changes.

First Research covers over 500 US and 35 Canadian industries spanning 1,000 NAICS codes.  While the reports are US-centric, they have recently begun adding international sections to the reports.  As a bonus, the product includes regional reports for US states, the District of Colombia, and Canadian provinces.  Country briefs are also available.

Other tools include a set of sales and marketing templates providing examples of how to use First Research content in various scenarios and an industry prospector tool for assisting with market development planning.

First Research reports are available as a standalone offering or integrated into the Hoover’s database, D&B360 CRM connectors, and the D&B Direct API.  A subset of the content is also being delivered via Data.com.  For library patrons, Dun & Bradstreet has partnered with Mergent to deliver the reports as a standalone offering or integrated into some of their products such as Mergent Intellect.

First Research should be viewed as industry insights for non-experts.  You won’t find depth on key trends or issues, but the service is easily accessible and walks the user through industry basics.  You generally don’t find industry news or Q&A sections in other industry services.

If you are looking for more advanced cross-industry research, you can step up to

  • MarketLine (global and regional research)
  • Euromonitor (global and regional research)
  • IBISWorld (US, Australian, Chinese, and global research)
  • Freedonia (US)
  • BMI (emerging markets)
  • EMD (emerging markets).

These services provide more complex reports while retaining readability.  While you won’t find as much handholding (e.g. Q&A sections), you will find broader industry trend and forecast content along with profiles of the top three or four competitors in the market.  As many are globally focused, they may be better sources for international market entry decisions.

You can find a full review of First Research at FreePint (Note: I am a contributor to FreePint, but the review was written by a different author)