Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lots of Vendors Can Help You Find Leads on the Web

Few people would suggest you learn salesmanship from the play Glengarry Glen Ross,* but its central message rings true: good leads are the lifeblood of a sales organization.** That’s why scanning the Internet to find new  prospects is such an exciting opportunity. At least a dozen firms are now following that path.

These firms scan company Web sites, social media, news sites, directories, and other sources to identify companies, extract attributes like revenue, growth rates, and technologies used, and flag events that might indicate a sales opportunity, such as opening a new office, launching a new product, or hiring new management. Of course, there are plenty of important differences which impact which might make sense for you.  Some of the more important ones include:

• Specific data sources, scanning techniques, and analytical methods. Evaluating these in the abstract is interesting, but what works well for one purpose in one industry might work poorly for something else. So buyers really need to run their own tests to see what works for them.

• Types of predictive models available.  Some vendors only rank leads while others build multiple models for different purposes.

• Use of the client's internal data for model scoring, and whether this extends to sources beyond CRM.

• Whether the vendor sells prospect lists or only enhance names provided by the client.

• Whether the vendor provides lists of individuals as well as companies.  Since Web scanning is usually at the company level, the individual names usually come from other sources.

• Coverage outside the United States

• Information returned beyond names and lead scores, such as recommended treatments and social profiles.

• Whether the company maintains a permanent database on all businesses or only scans when clients request information about specified businesses or segments.  The permanent database costs more to maintain but stores history and trend information that is otherwise unavailable.

Here are brief profiles of the vendors I’ve identified in or near this space. There are probably others.  I’ve grouped them based on how much information I have available.  This correlates to some degree with market presence.

Vendors I’ve Reviewed

Mintigo both returns new prospects and applies scores to prospect lists provided by the client. It is currently stressing uses of predictive modeling beyond traditional lead scoring and making it easier for clients to set up new models on their own. I last reviewed them in June 2013.

Lattice Engines runs different types of models against names provided by the client. It provides recommendations for customer treatments in addition to scores. I wrote about them in April 2013.

Infer runs multiple models against leads provided by the client. It originally returned only lead scores, although they are now adding multiple applications that create different scores for different purposes. I wrote about them in August 2013.

Fliptop returns scores and some summary data on names provided by the client. It stresses quick model building. I reviewed them in June 2014.

LeadSpace scans for data on demand, rather than maintaining its own master database.  It can find new prospects in specified segments and enhance names provided by the client.  It returns individual names as well as companies. I wrote about them in June 2013.

Vendors I’ve Spoken with But Not Reviewed

Growth Intelligence is a relatively recent UK-based startup that provides lists of companies and associated contacts that are likely to become customers.  It draws from Web information, government lists, and similarity to the client’s current customer base.

Kemvi is just emerging from stealth and plans to launch formally late this year or early 2015. It expects to focus on finding trigger events and advising salespeople about the best ways to approach each prospect.

6Sense finds new prospects using behavioral data gathered from a network of "several thousand" Web publishers rather scanning public sources like others in this list. So it doesn’t quite belong here, but it’s interesting nevertheless.

Radius finds small business prospects that resemble current customers and deploys them to, along with key profile information and lead scores.

Vendors I’ve Only Seen on the Web

Avention (formerly OneSource) scans an eclectic collection of data sources to find prospect companies based on attributes and signals. It can rank companies with scoring but the scoring formulas are built manually.

Gagein sends alerts on trigger events in media, social or public Web sites. It can track companies named by the client or build prospects lists for client-specified segments. It’s primarily a sales tool, with other features such as social selling and apparently without any predictive modeling.

RealSociable is another sales-oriented product that tracks social media for trigger events related to target accounts. It appears to let users decide which events are important without using predictive models.  But it seems to have some clever technology to extract the trigger events from unstructured social streams. That (presumed) semantic filtering is the only reason to include it on this list -- otherwise, the limit to social sources and lack of predictive models would rule it out.


*and the one person who admitted to it now makes his living as an arts critic.

** Also, coffee really is for closers.


Alisa Goldschmidt said...

David - thanks for the post and list of companies. I keep hearing about new ones too and this helps to narrow it a bit. Yesterday I had a pitch from Insightpool and was curious if you'd heard of them or if you plan on reviewing their solution?

David Raab said...

Hi Alisa. I'm not familiar with Insightpool. A quick look at their Web site shows they're about driving social media engagement with influencers and other targeted audiences. Good stuff but different from the focus of the vendors on this list.

Alisa Goldschmidt said...

But they also give you contact info many of the names they give you, including their social profile.

David Raab said...

Hmm, I guess my post didn't do a very good job if you don't see the difference. It's one thing to monitor social channels for people who are actively discussing something that suggests they'd be interested in your product. It's quite different to track every company in the world, build a profile of their industry, major corporate events, and technologies, and infer from that when those companies might be interested in your product. Social is the only signal in the first case and one of many signals in the latter. A product like Insightpool is useful for promoting your firm's social presence; any leads for immediate sales opportunities are almost incidental. The products I described in this article are all about finding sales opportunities. Both types of product are useful, but they are clearly different.

Neil Passero said...

David, as always you have your finger on the pulse of the industry. Your research, descriptions and differentiations are very helpful.

freejung said...

David, I think you're exactly right in identifying this emerging market, but it's a bit confusing because the vendors you list are becoming known for "predictive lead scoring" which is similar to what you're talking about, but focused on scoring existing and inbound leads rather than on prospecting for new leads. Mintigo and Leadspace seem to be focused on this in a way Lattice, Infer and Fliptop are not.

The capability you're talking about is different from Predictive Lead Scoring but doesn't seem to have a unique name yet - maybe we could call it "Predictive Prospecting?"

David Raab said...

Hi Freejung,
Most of the vendors are trying to expand their positioning beyond "predictive lead scoring" to "predictive marketing" or something similar. I agree there's a big difference between enhancing the client's existing list and supplying new names. But that's more a business model than a technology issue: anyone who can pull down Web and other public data on names provided by the client can also pull down similar data on new names. There's a perception that providing prospect names is a less valuable business model than providing predictive models, so many vendors have tended to shy away from it.