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How to Set-up Your Account Intelligence Layer (with Monish Munshi!)

Hello and welcome to the 5th episode of The Factors Podcast! Join us as we discuss how to go about setting up an account intelligence layer to power your marketing organisation. We cover the importance, tools, signals and everything else you need to know to get started!

January 24, 2022

The importance of Account Intelligence

Account intelligence, especially in the B2B space, is pretty crucial because you’re usually having to go out directly into the market. Accordingly, it’s important to thoroughly understand your total addressable market. Additionally, it’s just as important to understand the characteristics and traits of your existing customers as well. Firmographic attributes are far more valuable, in my opinion, than individual contact attributes for B2B organizations looking to create a viable GTM strategy. 

What specific signals and data should you prioritize at an account level?

When you first start working on defining your organization and GTM strategy, there are three signals you absolutely need to be aware of:

  1. Account Name
  2. Contact information (where and how to reach contacts within target accounts)
  3. Fundamental firmographic attributes  (Company size, Revenue, Industry, Geography)

Once this information has been collected and your company’s GTM strategy begins to mature, there are other, more sophisticated  signals to look for. This includes data on IT budgets, tech-stacks, intent etc.

Even basic account intelligence, like “Account Name”, in the case of multinational enterprises, can be complex and unintuitive. How should one manoeuvre around this issue? 

When you’re a smaller company, you’re unlikely to run into the issue of multiple organizations within the same enterprise account. Accordingly, it's best to keep things simple — one account, one website. When you do eventually become significantly big — with average deal sizes of $1-2 million a year — the concept of account hierarchy management comes into the picture. 

When you do have accounts that operate across multiple locations, there are two frameworks to consider. The first is geography-based. This approach mandates dedicated account managers at local, regional, and national levels. This does become complex. It’s an archaic approach. A more relevant framework would be categorising prospects based on buyer groups. In this case, Linkedin, for example, would be allocated its own budget and strategy. Same with GitHub, Facebook, Slack communities, etc. 

Is it advisable to stick to one data vendor for all your account intelligence? Or should you be buying data from multiple partners and merging it together?

If you’re a pure enterprise company that caters only to other enterprises (ie. firms with 500+ employee headcount), it absolutely makes sense to go with a single vendor. The data is much cleaner, prospects are clearly defined, and data is normalized. 

That being said, If your total addressable market is falling below 500 accounts or $500 million, one data source is unlikely to suffice. Even the best data sources will struggle to meet your requirements. In such cases, you may need a custom data injection model. This essentially means that you have multiple data sources — D&B Lattice for Europe, Zoominfo for North America, LI for Africa, etc. Then, using a CDP/CDI vendor, create a custom data interface. Finally, create a unified B2B identity chart for your entire organizations across all your vendors. 

Are there any specific data vendors to consider?

From an account intelligence standpoint, Linkedin is becoming an increasingly trusted data source. This is especially true for segmentation based on company size. Zoominfo, unsurprisingly, has become a primary source of truth for account data and firmographic traits. 

In Asia-Pacific and the Middle-East, there is no single data source that will suffice. You’re likely to require a union of data vendors. 

Let’s talk about competitive intelligence. There are a few tried and tested sources of competitor data — SDK website data, disclosures in financial documents, case-studies, etc. Are there any other recommended sources? 

One of the biggest, least talked about, sources of competitor intelligence is resumes and CVs. Employees love talking about their projects, accomplishments, technologies — all of which provide invaluable insights into your competitors. Linkedin, of course, is another predictable data source for competitor product updates, growth, etc. 

There are also vendors such as BuiltWith, Wappalyzer, etc that work with multiple sources including Gartner and Forrester that can be great sources of competitor intelligence. 

What about sources for other, less-common signals such as office space expansion, hiring trends, and CXO movements?

Zoominfo offers a feature called “scoops” that provides such company signals. Edge Insights is another company that provides contract information. This provides insights into organizational structure, various stakeholders, important deals, etc. RainKing, now acquired by DiscoverOrg, also provides great qualitative information about competitor product developments, disruptions in technology, and especially, one-on-one prospect data to help improve targeting and personalization. Linkedin has also started building intelligence through functions like Sales Navigator and Linkedin marketing solutions. This is a great way to identify role changes in high level management.