Ethical Competitive Strategy

When training sales reps, I emphasize staying “above the fray.”  Besmirching a competitor’s product also sullies your reputation.  It shows a lack of class and a sense of desperation.  Oftentimes it can backfire.

“It is a mistake to believe that you can win hearts and minds by attacking your competitor. When you have no idea how strong the relationship is, you can make a complete fool of yourself, doing more harm than good, and doing nothing to create a real opportunity.

Speaking ill of your competitor is an indication of who you are, not who they are. There are better strategies available to you.”

It is much better to position the value of your offering and focus on areas of differentiation than it is to throw mud.  You should lay landmines for competitors, not besmirch their reputation.

A landmine is simply an emphasis upon those features and benefits where your product or service offering excels.  The goal is to frame the discussion around the dimensions in which your product provides superior value to the end user.  Keep in mind that value is dependent upon the customer in question, so you need to factor in job function, industry, company size, etc.  Also, be careful to select areas in which your firm excels overall, not dimensions in which you are superior to competitor X that is vying for the deal but inferior to competitor Y.  Otherwise, you may later find out you lost the deal to Y.

Likewise, you should expect your competitors to be laying landmines for your sales reps.  They need to understand where these mines are laid and how to diffuse them.

One tool I recommend is the quick parry.  This is a quick response to the question, “how are you better / different than company X?”  A quick parry is only three or four sentences and usually begins by saying something positive about the competitor before transitioning with a BUT or HOWEVER.  The positive item can be a recognition of some dimension in which they are the acknowledged leader or a dimension which is of limited importance to the customer in question.  Thus, if you are selling to an SMB, you might emphasize the breadth of their solution for enterprise customers vs. the ease of use, quick implementation, and pricing models you offer for smaller firms.  Such a tool differentiates your service from the competitor without throwing mud.

Of course, sales reps will only be able to deploy landmines and respond with quick parries if they understand both the value proposition of their offerings, the needs of their clients, and the strengths and weaknesses of their offerings vis-à-vis competitors.  This is where tools and training come into play.

 

RampedUp Sales Intelligence & Win Stories

RampedUp Win Story Questionnaires are customized for each company.
RampedUp Win Story Questionnaires are customized for each company.

Launched in 2015, RampedUp offers a sales intelligence solution for browsers and Salesforce. Company and Lead Prospecting is managed from the browser with the option to send one or multiple records to SFDC. Along with standard firmographic selects, prospecting supports technographics and sales triggers. The database is gathered from Synthio and other vendors and spans 6 million global companies and 180 million contacts.

From within Accounts, Leads, and Opportunities, sales reps have access to the following Battle Card intelligence across five tabs:

  • Company: Contact information, firmographics, social media links, mined business descriptions, and recent news stories
  • Contacts: Title, location, email, and phone. The service also indicates whether the contact has been previously loaded into SFDC.
  • Customers: Similar companies with win stories.
  • Competition: Peers based on firmographics and keywords.
  • Technologies: Products for complementary and competitive targeting

A distinguishing feature of RampedUp is a custom tool for recording and sharing customer wins. Win Stories allow reps to understand how their peers closed deals in similar situations.

Sales Ops or Marketing define the key questions for a Win Story template and sales reps enter their responses. Of course, sales ops or marketing can conduct an interview to gather this information with the custom questionnaire operating as a survey template.

The wins are then published as email announcements and available as mini-case studies for other reps within SFDC. Thus, if prospect X has a competitor that has a win story, the competitor’s win is made available in the RampedUp i-frame. The browser version supports a searchable Win Vault.

Relevant Win Stories are delivered in the Customers tab within SFDC.
Relevant Win Stories are delivered in the Customers tab within SFDC.

RampedUp’s Home Page provides a set of gamification elements including recent case studies and a leader board.

RampedUp front page with win stories and a Leader Board.
RampedUp front page with win stories and a Leader Board.

While the most recent company new stories are displayed within SFDC, users must pop out to the RampedUp browser application to view a deeper set of news or filter by event category and date. Triggers are searchable by company, URL lists, or broadly. Bing-based sales triggers go back several years and are tagged by company and topic.

RampedUp does not yet provide sales trigger alerts, but they are on the company’s roadmap.

RampedUp also provides data enrichment functionality via a Clean Tool. The service charges $1,000 for every 10,000 companies and contacts cleaned during an initial batch cleanse. There is also an on-demand batch Clean process which flags inactive contacts, updates company and contact information, and adds additional contacts. Clean includes a unique contact update feature – not only does it flag departed Contacts, but it indicates where execs moved to as new SFDC Lead records.

RampedUp is priced at $1,000 per month for up to twenty users with unlimited access. Additional users are sold in twenty user bands.

RampedUp has fifty clients and is based in Norcross, Georgia.

2016 North American Market Size

2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing Model (Excel)

The Market Size of North American Sales Intelligence Vendors. Includes vendor product features, market share, and notes. GZ Consulting Copyright 2017.

$750.00

For the past few years, I have been sizing the North American Sales Intelligence Market.  This is the largest of the markets as Europe and AsiaPac are more fragmented (the UK is the only other mature market with Bureau van Dijk, Avention UK, Artesian Solutions, and DueDil offering full solutions).

In 2016, I estimated the market at $770 million with LinkedIn Sales Navigator as the top vendor.  While new firms continue to enter, the top ten firms (now eight following the 2017 acquisitions of Avention and RainKing) earn seven of every eight dollars in the industry.

I am making my market model available for license (See PayPal button at top) as an Excel spreadsheet.  It includes revenue numbers by company along with market share, key features, and notes.

The LinkedIn Market Share Section of the 2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing
The LinkedIn Market Share Section of the 2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing

I have also broken out two sub-categories: Predictive Analytics and Tech Sales Intelligence.  Predictive Analytics vendors continue to scuffle in the marketplace.  Last September, Gartner sized the global market at between $100 and $150 million.  I have gone back and forth on whether to include them in the larger sales intelligence space, but several of the sales intelligence vendors have added light predictive tools (e.g. Avention, DiscoverOrg, RainKing) while the predictive analytics companies have moved to add enrichment and provide more insights to sales reps.  As such, I see the two product categories moving towards each other so chose to include Lattice Engines, Leadspace, and similar firms.

The Tech Sales Intelligence category (e.g. DiscoverOrg, RainKing, Aberdeen, Corporate360) continues to show strong growth and makes up just over 15% of the market.  Both DiscoverOrg and RainKing have posted remarkable growth over the past few years and merged their efforts last month.  Post acquisition, they are the number three vendor in the space and may hit $120 million in 2017 revenue.  The new powerhouse has 4,000 customers and is looking to expand beyond technology sales to become a general purpose sales intelligence solution.

Acquiring RainKing should move DiscoverOrg well past Data.com (Salesforce) which will likely see declining 2017 revenue.  Salesforce has dropped the ball on Data.com.  They overpromised and under-delivered for years, relying on their ability to bundle the offering with other SFDC products.  As of last month, they are no longer able to deliver Dun & Bradstreet content (D&B WorldBase, Hoovers, and First Research) to new customers (legacy customers retain access).  Unless Data.com has a major content partner announcement at Dreamforce, it is likely to see significant revenue declines in 2017 and 2018 as customers switch to D&B Hoovers for Salesforce and other offerings.

Dun & Bradstreet re-established itself as the #2 vendor in the space with the January 2017 acquisition of Avention and the rebranding of Avention OneSource as D&B Hoovers.  Both companies have struggled to grow revenue with Avention growing slowly over the past few years and Hoovers declining.  However, infusing Avention products with Dun & Bradstreet content both reduces the underlying cost structure of Avention offerings and improves the depth and quality of the content.  Furthermore, Dun & Bradstreet has a much larger sales force which previously has lacked a credible global sales intelligence offering.  Hoovers classic generated nearly all of its revenue in the United States.  Over the next two years, expect to see significant revenue shift from Hoovers Classic to D&B Hoovers.

Three-Toed Sloth By Stefan Laube (Tauchgurke) - Public Domain.
Three-Toed Sloth By Stefan Laube (Tauchgurke) – Public Domain.

Finally, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has established itself as the clear number one vendor in market revenue.  The product didn’t exist five years ago and its competitors still tend to dismiss this gorilla in their midst.  How can they be missing the #1 vendor in the space?  Easy — the gorilla is well camouflaged and appears to be more of a three-toed sloth sleeping in the forest canopy.  Sales reps all use the freemium version of LinkedIn so give little thought to delve further when they ask “how are you obtaining your account intelligence today?” and the response is LinkedIn.  Thus, they enter LinkedIn as the competitor into their CRM, not Sales Navigator.  A few months later when they lose the opportunity, the rep then enters “no decision” into the CRM instead of recognizing a competitive loss.  I have been warning vendors in the space for years about this phenomenon, but they have failed to understand the threat of a gorilla that looks like a three-toed sloth.


N.B. Three-toed sloths inhabit Central and South America and gorillas Central Africa.  This is a metaphor.

 

 

 

Artesian CEO on Sales Intelligence and being “Customer Curious”

The Artesian Solution Watchlist tags stories by trigger topics and allows users to filter by both triggers and topic cloud keywords.
The Artesian Solution Watchlist tags stories by trigger topics and allows users to filter by both triggers and topic cloud keywords.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including how they fit into the sales intelligence space and being “customer curious.”  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.

This is the third interview excerpt.  Earlier this week, I posted blogs concerning Artesian’s 2016 US market entry and how artificial intelligence fits in the Artesian roadmap.


Michael: How do you view yourself versus firms in the sales intelligence space?

Andrew: I had a chat with [CEO] Henry [Schuck] from DiscoverOrg just recently. It took us a while to realize that we didn’t really compete with DiscoverOrg. We might compete for share of wallet.  Certainly, some of the words on the website are saying [similar things]. Fundamentally, we’re two different types of organizations.

I think there are companies that make data, curate data, sell access to curated data. I would include in addition to DiscoverOrg, RainKing and InsideView.

I talked to Henry. I said, “Somebody would buy your service because they would want to get the inside track on when the projects are coming up, on particular types of initiatives. Who’s who in the zoo? What’s their phone number and email address?” The stimulus would be, “I’m contacting you to talk to you about this project on which I can help you.” [That’s] The bit where we take over guiding the conversations which follow over the remainder of the sales cycle, we can do that.

We use natural language processing, machine-based learning and AI to take data from people who already aggregate it. Then we take it through our own process because there isn’t anything out there that has anything like the superior capabilities we’ve got around topic classification, tagging, and all the things that go with our value proposition. As I said to Henry, “We’re never really going to compete directly because we’ve got no intention of hiring a bunch of people to build various specific data.”

I think he’s on fire at the moment…In the States, there’s a real shortage of quality contact insight. Where we take over is where DiscoverOrg leaves off. At the point where you’ve identified an opportunity in a customer and then you want to build that relationship and keep that relationship going over time not just maybe sell them one product or service but sell them multiple products or services and keep going back. That’s the area we’re really, really good at.

Michael: Okay. Right, so basically being aware of what’s going on in that organization and maintaining the relationship.

Andrew: Yes. That’s why we look for organizations, customers that we sell to who have a relationship management model at their heart. This “customer curious” concept came from one of our customers, NetApp. The chap that was running Europe came up with the phrase. He drew me this picture and said, “There’s three ways we can differentiate ourselves in the market. We can differentiate ourselves with products,” he said. “And NetApp’s got the same product that three or four other companies have got. We can do it with price, but that’s a race to the bottom or we can do it with service. We want to do it with service, and we want to be the best. The best company in this space. We can have a product that is good or better than anyone else’s, but we’ll differentiate ourselves by being customer curious.”

There’s nothing like getting inspiration for where your headed from a customer.

Michael: This topic is near and dear to Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff: being customer obsessed.

Andrew: Yes. Being customer obsessed is where we try to complement Mark Benioff’s vision.  The Salesforce platform is an excellent system of record, and I think people buy CRM expecting it to help them sell, and it does. It helps them sell by getting more organized and orchestrated with the customer at the center, but it’s not a system of engagement. That’s really where we feel we come in as a complement and supplement to that system of record.


The interview will wrap up on Monday with a discussion of how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users.

Artesian CEO on US Market Entry

Artesian Solutions provides deep trigger functionality combined with word cloud and filtering, helping sales reps hone in on talking points.
Artesian Solutions provides deep trigger functionality combined with word cloud and filtering, helping sales reps hone in on talking points.

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.

D&B Hoovers Enhancements

D&B Prescreen Scores are available in company and contact Build a List.
D&B Prescreen Scores are available in company and contact Build a List.

Dun & Bradstreet continues to quickly enhance the D&B Hoovers service (FKA Avention OneSource) as it integrates the WorldBase and Hoovers files into its newly acquired sales intelligence service.  In June, Dun & Bradstreet added the D&B Prescreen score, Parent and D-U-N-S Number, the Ultimate Parent D-U-N-S Numbers, Franchise Status, Owns/Rents, and eight-digit SICs.  D&B Hoovers also added the Hoover’s editorial profiles of 41,000 global companies.  Finally, Dun & Bradstreet added on demand enrichment of files with up to 10,000 D-U-N-S Numbers.

With the D&B Prescreen Score, users can screen US and Canadian companies for delinquency risk.  Companies are rated on a High / Medium / Low risk score allowing sales and marketing to quickly filter out prospects with a high likelihood of late payment.  According to Director of Product Management Phil McWade, “D&B Prescreen Scores predict the likelihood of a firm paying in a severely delinquent manner (90+ days past terms) over the next 12 months.”

The Prescreen score is available when prospecting for companies and contacts.  Users will find it alongside other Dun & Bradstreet variables including Owns/Rents, Franchise Status, and Minority Ownership flags in the Corporate Overview report.

The Parent and Ultimate Parent D-U-N-S Numbers provide family tree linkage via Dun & Bradstreet’s proprietary company identifiers.  These values are displayed in custom grids, exports, and as data points on the Corporate Overview report.

Eight-digit SICs expand the standard 4-digit SIC to provide 18,000 distinct industries.  The expanded codes are displayed within company profiles, contact records, industry summary reports, custom grids, and prospecting selects.  8-digit SICs provide “the most specific and granular industry classification available in D&B Hoovers,” said McWade.

The Hoovers company profiles provide additional company insights including multi-paragraph business descriptions, company histories, and products and operations.  The additional content is displayed across three new reports.  Roughly three-quarters of the profiles are for American firms with the remainder spanning major multi-nationals.  Both public and private companies are profiled.

The new Products and Operations report is gathered by Dun & Bradstreet's editorial team.  Other new reports include Company Description and Company History.
The new Products and Operations report is gathered by Dun & Bradstreet’s editorial team. Other new reports include Company Description and Company History.

D&B Hoovers now supports file uploads of up to ten thousand D-U-N-S Numbers with immediate enrichment.  D&B Hoover’s allows users to maintain and monitor multiple lists including suppression lists.  D-U-N-S Numbered lists support multiple use cases:

  • Lists can be downloaded to Excel, winnowed, and re-uploaded for ABM targeting.
  • D-U-N-S numbered lists can be cross-referenced with other platforms (e.g. MAP, ERP, CRM)
  • Following a territory split, Sales Operations can provide reps with an updated list of ABM candidates
  • Sales Operations can provide a list of named accounts which are excluded from sales territories.

Dun & Bradstreet continues to add companies and contacts to D&B Hoovers, iSell, and Business Browser.  The company and contact counts are both approaching 100 million.

Last month, Dun & Bradstreet rolled out a set of migration courses and materials to assist with migration from Hoovers Classic.  I previously blogged about D&B Hoover’s enhancements in March when Avention was rebranded D&B Hoovers.

DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB Dataset

"Building a Winning Dataset" from DiscoverOrg Collateral.
“Building a Winning Dataset” from DiscoverOrg Collateral.

Sales and Marketing intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced their latest database earlier today.  The new Startup and SMB dataset covers more than 60,000 small and mid-size businesses and 400,000 executives.  The initial North American coverage profiles companies with between 50 and 1,000 employees.

All of the contacts are editorially verified and will be maintained via the same sixty-day review cycles as their other contacts.  Executives cover “all key departments, including IT, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Finance, HR, and Operations.”

“DiscoverOrg’s data difference is its team of 250+ researchers who constantly augment and verify the data in our platform,” notes Henry Schuck, DiscoverOrg CEO. “Unlike other vendors that provide SMB lists with thousands of irrelevant contacts, companies, and incomplete and duplicate records, the DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB dataset is as rich and accurate as our enterprise data.”

CMO Katie Bullard said that DiscoverOrg has “aggressive plans” to invest in SMB dataset development due to customer benefits.

With more companies, our researchers won’t have to skip over Triggers that they find through their research. We’re able to return a greater number of companies that use a certain technology, and our predictive tools like AccountView and DealPredict have larger reach with more matched accounts.

  • DiscoverOrg CMO Katie Bullard

The initial dataset is limited to North America as that is where they have the greatest current demand, but DiscoverOrg plans to internationalize the Startup and SMB dataset in the future.  While the goal is to cover all firms with at least 50 employees, the initial dataset consists of firms requested by their customers.

The press release noted how difficult it is to find reliable, actionable intelligence for SMB sales teams.  Along with company and executive profiles, the database provides 6,000 “research verified buying triggers” per month.

In smaller businesses without media coverage or press releases, almost none of the buying intent triggers that DiscoverOrg gathers – including planned investments, key projects, personnel moves, and internal spending budgets – is made available to the public. This is where DiscoverOrg’s team of researchers provides a clear advantage: While there are millions of registered companies in the US, the difficulty is identifying and gathering intelligence on the small percentage of these companies who are 1) legitimate entities and 2) have true spend / budget. By continuously verifying contact info, conducting interviews, and engaging in research activities, DiscoverOrg overcomes the shortcomings of web-scraping for hard-to-find data on the SMB space, ensuring the intelligence customers receive is highly relevant and immediately useful.

  • DiscoverOrg Press Release

“Sales and marketing teams that want to reach the SMB market have had a very difficult go of it,” said Nancy Nardin, President of advisory firm Smart Selling Tools. “There’s been a real dearth of verified, accurate data on SMBs, quite simply because it’s harder for data companies to get. DiscoverOrg is solving for this very real pain point by bringing their best-in-class research verification model to the SMB space. You can expect the same high-quality data you get from DiscoverOrg’s broad datasets. ”

Across all databases, DiscoverOrg now covers 1.5 million executives and 90,000 companies.  Customers may purchase access to the full database or various databases by job function, company size, or region.