Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including their 2016 entry into the US market. Artesian provides a social selling solution for the UK, US, and Canada. Their sales intelligence is delivered via a web browser, Salesforce.com, and their Ready mobile app.
Michael: You launched in the US exactly a year ago, officially. How’s your product buildup going?
Andrew: It’s going pretty well. I have to say, most of the progress has been in the last three to six months, because it took us a couple of releases to really get the US edition right. We learned quickly that there were some nuances in terms of the way sales teams work together in the US. The US sales focus is a very contact-centric mechanism. We realized pretty quickly because contact data is so sparse and difficult to get a hold of. We doubled down on our efforts to implement. We’ve got three contact data intelligence aggregation partnerships. We got those into the product pretty quickly which dramatically enhanced not only access to the contact intelligence but also the social profiling capabilities.
Then in the third release, we were able to start to bring in some refinements. In the States, news gets syndicated a lot more than it does in the UK, in Europe. The same story you can get syndicated and copied many, many times. We were getting an unacceptable level of duplication, and, even if the stories were similar, we hadn’t trained the algorithm to discard similar stories. Only stories that were the same.
We rewrote the algorithm and we created the ability to group stories which are similar together. What we do now is we publish one and then underneath it there’s a little icon that says similar stories. Again, these are things you don’t learn until you deploy the software for real [in the US], and customers start beating it up and giving you their feedback.
Michael: Can you provide any growth stats for the US?
Andrew: We’re not publishing the numbers at that kind of level, but in percentage terms it’s huge because we started from virtually nothing. It’s growing steadily. The majority of the growth is still coming in the UK. I don’t think we’re backward in coming forward in terms of explaining that we’re a UK-centric organization with relationships in the US and capabilities in the US. In the last eight weeks. we’ve had a number of pretty decent large corporate opportunities land and I don’t know if that’s as a consequence of one of our competitors unraveling.
Michael: How else do the US and UK markets differ?
Andrew: A big learning for us was how much customers didn’t want to meet face-to-face. We weren’t ready for that. We need to go visit these customers, and we would be flying all over the place. I think it was four months in and somebody sat me down and said, “You know you’ve got to stop this flying around stuff.” Nobody expects that. People just expect to do things on the phone. From a kind of scaling standpoint, we’re doing a bit of scaling locally, but we’re also doing a bit of scaling remotely because to the customer, as long as the time zones are aligned, it doesn’t matter where you are.
The kind of sales pursuits we’re getting more involved in are the ones that are better suited to our sweet spot. We’ll walk away from opportunities that we think are better suited to others. We might even recommend others.
The interview will be continuing over the next few days with discussions of artificial intelligence, what it means to be a “customer curious” business, and how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users.
Dun & 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.”
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.
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.
Relationship Science (RelSci) rolled out a freemium offering for their social networking service this week. A free edition provides ten profile views while the Professional edition is priced at $49.99 per month and supports contact synching, relationship finding, news alerts, power searching, and a mobile app. The full feature set is shown on their pricing page.
While the professional edition does not yet support networking, the feature is in development for single users.
RelSci is designed for investors (e.g. PE, VC, Wealth Managers), fund raisers, and business development professionals. It works best at companies where relationships are highly prized for reaching top executives, directors, and donors. The firm marries your contact network with a database of 5 million “movers and shakers” across 1 1/2 million organizations. The enterprise edition allows users to leverage the relationships across their firm, providing a powerful research and networking tool.
Along with standard company and executive profiles, you will find nonprofit board and association memberships, nonprofit and political donations, investments, and news alerts. What you won’t find is emails and direct dial phone numbers. The system is designed for introductions, not cold calling.
The product offers an elegant user interface combined with powerful prospecting tools. Along with standard prospecting, there are screens which assist with trip planning, donor searching, and identifying potential investors.
However, Sales Navigator offers InMail with recommended names to drop while RelSci forces users to request introductions through their network. This could be a potential bottleneck at firms where the strongest networks go through top level execs and the firms’ rainmakers.
Also, if your focus is more directors and managers, you many not find sufficient depth within RelSci. An ABM strategy could stall out due to lack of executive depth in RelSci. For those companies, I’d recommend a full sales intelligence offering (e.g. Avention, Hoover’s, DiscoverOrg, RainKing) in conjunction with free LinkedIn.
RelSci offers powerful screening and visualization tools tied to an elegant user interface. For professional networkers aiming at the upper echelons of companies and boards, RelSci is a superior option to LinkedIn.
I posted a blog yesterday on the Sparklane website discussing sales triggers as a tool for identifying new opportunities. Triggers provide a mechanism for warming up cold calls with of-the-moment talking points. Current triggers signal to prospects that you have conducted some research on the company and aren’t calling blindly into the firm. They also help account reps stay abreast of what is happening at their key customers and prospects. Sales Triggers are a key component of social selling and Account Based Marketing strategies.
Sparklane is a French Sales Intelligence solution which provides elements of predictive lead scoring around target companies. They are readying to enter the UK market with an English language service in the coming weeks. Their goal is to revisit the Battle of Hastings (1066) and “conquer the UK” (OK, I’m overstating their marketing claim, but there is nothing wrong with bold objectives).
Sparklane has had significant success in the French market with fifty percent annual growth since launching seven years ago. Last year they posted five million euros in revenue with a goal of eight million euros this year ($9 million). Clients include Samsung, Oracle, Jaguar, Capgemini, and SAS.
We have entered into a new era. The era of smart data. Basic data has less and less value. Sparklane is the first player on this market to propose a true predictive lead scoring solution. Sparklane’s main benefit is to improve quickly the sales performance of its clients.
Sparklane CEO Frédéric PICHARD
Just last week, I blogged about Contify, an Indian social selling vendor, which is focusing on news + social awareness. I have also recently written about Artesian Solutions which opened a Boston office and is rolling out a North American social selling offering. Their Artesian Ready app is the most advanced sales intelligence mobile offering I’ve seen on the market.
It is wonderful to see the market continue to heat up with new competitors and approaches. Competition catalyzes product development and helps goose innovation. It focuses the mind of competitors and helps keep complacency at bay. I look forward to seeing what ideas the French have around social selling when they launch their UK service in a few weeks.