When Demandbase began its demonstration, they made a rather strong statement, “not a sale happens today in B2B that doesn’t touch your website.” “Hmmm, are you sure about that?” was our response to that one. While, we don’t think that they are absolutely right, more like “many sales that happen today in B2B touch your website, but some don’t” what they showed us was powerful and really didn’t need that statement to prove it.
Interestingly, they didn’t give us much information about the company (except a bit at the end), but kind of just jumped into the offering they had. While their enthusiasm is laudable, one of the tenets of briefing an analyst/influencer who isn’t familiar with the company, about the company. That would be helpful to understand, and certainly place their comments made later in context. We’re just sayin’.
What we can tell you based on their website is that they have an experienced management team, significant group of venture partners and a top flight advisory group and over 150 customers (which they told us toward the end.)
Aside from that initial glitch, they couldn’t have been any clearer about their target market, their philosophy and vision and their description of the product. They are focused exclusively on those engaged in the B2B world. Their idea is that while we live in a new world in which the B2B sales cycle is shorter and thus the pressure upped on the sales person, the buyer’s cycle remains as long as ever, which those of you in the B2B sales world, knows can be a long time. While it might not take the touching of a website during a buyer’s cycle, the reality is that the more insight into the buyer you have, the better chance you have at shortening that buyer’s cycle and closing the deal successfully.
Consequently, all their messaging is built around solving the pain of the B2B sales and marketing person. This can range from trying to market to the wrong person to the highly generic and thus not so useful, quality of the data attained. So even though sales cycle time is shorter, the buying cycle has actually extended (See Figure 1) due to the multiple bottlenecks that the massive amount of poorly analyzed data on the web creates.
Figure 1: Demandbase view of the buying cycle
What they aim to provide is the information needed to shorten the buyers cycle on the one hand by providing insights into the buyer that can then be used (on the other hand) by the seller to give the buyer what they need when it comes to content that makes sense to them.
They know that what they are able to provide is a super powered algorithm that takes advantage of data out there that is often piped through other marketing or business intelligence systems. Thus their partnership with Adobe (also an investor) for their SiteCatalyst, Insight, CQ5, Omniture, and Test and Target products; Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, Infusionsoft, salesforce.com, LivePerson, Interwoven and Sharepoint. They also integrate with Google Analytics. Plus use Drupal as their content management system. They have a rich set of technology integration partners and a strong sense of how to create an ecosystem, that only bodes well for their future.
They have an unusual pricing model, premised on licensing their API keys. The range is from $2500 to around $5000 per API key. Because they have so many integrations (over 40), this can work for them. For us, the jury remains out, though primarily because we've never seen a model like this.
They understand the value of insight from large data. What they are able to do is to capture large amounts of data and effectively get it piped through some of the existing analytics platforms and systems of records by creating customized layers on top of it to make sense of the data for the B2B marketer and sales person. This has a bit of brilliance to it because it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but instead make the wheel fit the vehicle considerably better than it was fitting when it came from the factory.
To understand it, its good to see it. Here is a screen (Figure 2) of what they do to Google analytics data.
Figure 2: Demandbase uses custom variables to create useful data
They use custom variables to increase the power of existing analytics engines and other systems (e.g. Eloqua) to provide the marketer/salesperson with data they can actually use – in the case you see here, the revenue size of the companies that are visiting a particular website. Very valuable data indeed, though just a tiny, tiny sliver of what this product can do.
But it doesn’t stop with that either. It can help you figure out how a company got to the site, (campaign); what they did while they were there (actions on the site); and what do you know about them (did they come to the web more because they were about to do a sales call with them). In other words, provide an insight by taking what their custom data provides and applying it to what you know already.
The other side of their product is the personalization that is provided by the insights.
What they are able to do with the insights is to provide dynamic personalization of an existing website that can literally recognize and name the potential buyer coming to the website (via an IP address) and with marketer selected attributes, provide information to that identified buyer/prospect/visitor that is specific to them. Perhaps their industry, perhaps their revenue size, there are a staggering number of of attribute choices (see Figure 3) that Demandbase provides to do just that personalization. It is a very impressive engine.
Figure 3: Demandbase representative attribute sampling
The outcomes are the ability to personalize interactions and target laser-like ads.
One thing. This is not a product for the faint of heart. While not the level of difficulty of a SAS or Business Objects, it isn’t for a beginner or a novice of any kind. This needs someone experienced with systems to be able to get the power that it provides from it. It ain’t easy.
This is a company that has something going for it. An experienced management team, funding, a powerful product that fills a significant need in the market, a great integration strategy and a clear idea of what markets they aim at and a vision that is also equally clear.
They are at a pretty advanced stage at this point. We have a couple of things that we think they need to consider to really explode on the scene.
- They are far enough along to start investing serious time and money into their market position and, unlike too many other companies in this competition, into thought leadership. They have a powerful message that is, for the most part, borne out by the market itself. But what Demandbase hasn’t done is capture any mindshare or even begin to show their faces in the industry. Now that they are part of CRM Idol, which is a start, there is no stopping. They need a game plan to be in front of analysts on a regular basis, show up at events, start writing to the ideas that they present so well, and all in all look to capture mindshare as well as market share.
- They need to develop a set of valuable use cases that magnify the outcomes that their powerful product can help produce. It would be a great benefit to focus their thinking about the product to outcomes rather than data results.
We truly liked Demandbase and think they have either an excellent future or an explosive one depending on how they act. We hope for the latter.
Reviewed by CRM Idol 2012 Primary Judges