Anyone in sales will tell you the prospects are out there, but successfully converting them to customers isn't just a question of making a great sales pitch— it's also about identifying the right person to sell to.
That's the basic premise of DemandBase, a B2B leader in the emerging field of account-based marketing. "We help companies identify and attract customers and create and convert against accounts that will make the biggest impact on your business," Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at DemandBase, told eWEEK. "Traditional demand generation is about getting a big funnel of prospects; account-based marketing is focused on finding just the accounts that are going to have the biggest impact on your business."
On Oct. 3 the company announced DemandGraph, an artificial intelligence-driven business graph that captures and monitors business behavior and relationships to deliver the "right" customers and prospects. DemandGraph isn't a product, per se; rather, it powers a suite of products that make up the DemandBase marketing platform that includes advertising, marketing, sales and analytics solutions.
According to DemandBase, DemandGraph can read and "understand" billions of web pages on the internet through machine learning and AI. That data includes unstructured business knowledge such as SEC filings and annual reports, corporate hierarchies including subsidiaries and remote offices, and extends further to include vendor, customer and partner relationships. Essentially, DemandGraph tracks the "digital footprint" of web activity by businesses, including ad impressions and web traffic from more than 3 billion B2B interactions every month.
Anything that can help sales and marketing better identify and monitor leads in the B2B space has the potential to have a big impact. Forrester Research estimates B2B generates more than a trillion dollars annually in digital commerce—about double the size of business-to-consumer (B2C).
"We've been banging the account-based marketing drum for a long time, helping to create the category. Now it's become very active and a hot topic in B2B marketing," said Isaacson.
DemandBase is more complementary than a replacement to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, he added. If anything, it replaces what often is a manual process by junior associates and others cold-calling and researching company websites to try to track down appropriate leads. "Your CRM system is typically limited to about 200,000 contacts most companies have—perhaps as many as a million if you're a large company. DemandBase applies AI to the entire internet. What Salesforce does is cool, but it's limited. We are literally 10,000 times bigger in terms of our reach across the internet," said Isaacson.
One way consumer marketers have tried to leverage social media is to get influencers—people with a big following—to endorse or recommend their products. On a smaller scale, someone might see a movie because a friend on Facebook gave it a rave review. But these kind of relationships and recommendations are much stronger in the business world, according to DemandBase.
Aman Naimat, senior vice president of technology at DemandBase, said DemandGraph has the unique ability to systematically study how business behaves.
"We're capturing a large portion of the trillion dollars that changes hands every year and study large portions of the B2B world that just wasn't possible before,” he said.
A "signal" such as a recommendation in the business world is 20 times more predictive than similar data on Facebook between two friends. Granted, it takes much longer to establish a business relationship, months or perhaps even years. "But when you do something, it's very meaningful," Naimat said. For example, if you have a common business relationship with a company you want to sell to or a common customer, that signal is 20 times more powerful than having a friend in common on Facebook.
DemandGraph is an outgrowth of DemandBase's acquisition of Spiderbook in June of this year. Spiderbook automates the identification of companies that are likely to buy, including those that are already a customer of a company's products and services. It uncovers buyer-specific insights to recommend personalized messages for sales teams to use.