Sales acceleration technology makes headway, Dun & Bradstreet aims high

Sales acceleration may become a technology market you need to know. Dun & Bradstreet's purchase of Avention highlights the possibilities. D&B CEO Bob Carrigan explains.

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The combination of data, integration with platforms and applications is yielding what could be a new space in technology dubbed sales acceleration. Will the category stick? Dun & Bradstreet sure hopes so.

Earlier this month, Dun & Bradstreet acquired a company called Avention for $150 million. Avention, which had about $60 million in 2016 revenue, has an intuitive platform that will make it easier for Dun & Bradstreet to deliver its data products--Hoovers, D&B, NetProspex and Avention's OneSource--in multiple locations.

According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, the combination of data and software will transform the traditional prospecting market to one called sales acceleration.

"We've (Dun & Bradstreet) spent a good bit of time integrating with CRM and other technology solutions. But Avention gets us more integrated," explained Carrigan. "In the real world, customers don't like boundaries. They want data more connected. Avention is integrated with marketing technologies like Marketo and CRM."

The plan for D&B is to position the company as a source to leverage customer data beyond its core B2B market. Avention can bring D&B's database to life in more markets. Outsell, a research firm, said the sales acceleration market connects signals, context, contact data and technology systems. The linchpin for the market is analytics.

Here's how Outsell stacks up the market:

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What will be worth watching is what the big technology players do to own databases. For instance, Carrigan noted that Salesforce is a key storefront for D&B via Data.com. Oracle is also a key channel. These sales alliances allow D&B to "serve a superset of customers on different platforms," said Carrigan.

Indeed, it wouldn't be surprising to me if a large technology player--Oracle or Salesforce or Microsoft--decided to buy a data company like D&B. IBM's purchase of The Weather Co. was about owning the data.

For now, D&B is pleased to have grown its addressable market a good bit. Carrigan plans to play in the digital transformation market, programmatic advertising and other areas the thrive on data. It's not a stretch to see D&B even become a big data standard of sorts via its DUNS number, a unique nine digit identification number for each physical location of your business. DUNS is similar to a Social Security number for businesses.

"One of the challenges for big data is looking for ways to organize it. The Duns number is used increasingly by customers to organize data and manage data," said Carrigan.