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Data Talks Episode 17: Sales and Employee Segmentation

Dun & Bradstreet Models Simplify Revenue and Employee Counts

Host: George L'Heureux, Principal Consultant, Data Strategy
Guest: Jason Simmons, Data Strategy Consultant

Sales figures and employee counts are two of the most frequently-used attributes that marketers rely on for B2B campaigns. But outside of publicly-traded companies that information is often difficult if not impossible to capture – not to mention that it gets even more challenging to try and allocate where those revenue dollars or employees belong inside a large enterprise.

Jason Simmons, a Dun & Bradstreet Data Strategy Consultant, explains how an industry-leading analytic model allows Dun & Bradstreet to offer this information for companies large and small, around the globe, with high levels of confidence.

 

 

Read full transcript

George L'Heureux:
Hello everyone. This is Data Talks, presented by Dun & Bradstreet. I'm your host, George L'Heureux. Today's guest is Jason Simmons, a Data Strategy Consultant at Dun & Bradstreet. Jason, we wanted to talk a bit today about employee counts and revenue figures and how Dun & Bradstreet helps our customers with that. First off though, why are employee counts and revenue figures typically so important to clients?

Jason Simmons:
Well, the big thing is that many of our clients want to effectively “t-shirt size” their customers or their prospects. They want to t-shirt size their marketplace, so that they have a general sense of how big their clients are, or the entities that they're trying to sell to, or do business with, in some way, shape, form, or fashion.

George L'Heureux:
So, I think I got it. Why is knowing that general sizing so important?

Jason Simmons:
It's really about aligning the appropriate sort of treatment and operations to those different sized businesses. Some clients, large or small, require certain treatment strategy. And it's also... where do you want to spend your limited resources? No one has unlimited amounts of employees. Certainly no one has unlimited amount of budget to spend on marketing. So, it's like trying to figure out where you can get the best bang for your buck. And the first thing is knowing, who are your big fish, your medium size, your small and so on and so forth. So, you can align your function and your processes against those.

George L'Heureux:
So like you said, we're basically talking here about a method of prioritizing, segmenting, right?

Jason Simmons:
Yes. We see that time and time again. I think the biggest use case that we see for that is sales planning cases. So, few people are working with an unlimited amount of sales resources. And so, figuring out where your big opportunities, who are your big customers or big prospects, and then aligning your sales makers against that, is a pretty typical use case that we see.

George L'Heureux:
And to do that, employee counts and revenue size. Those are two of the primary metrics that our clients are using to try and create those t-shirt sizes to do that alignment, right? They're not the only ones, but they're kind of the biggest ones.

Jason Simmons:
They are the biggest ones. I mean, everyone imagines that every entity out there, has those two measures inherently. And that they correlate to the size of operation that you're dealing with. There are other measures and some of our more complicated customers, or more mature customers on this journey use other factors like, the amount of square footage that's leased. For example, for warehousing, if they focus on products that would lend themselves to wanting to understand the size of a warehouse or size of square footage rented, then they might use those other sort of extraneous values. But for the most part, I think pretty commonly we see revenue and employees being leveraged.

George L'Heureux:
And while those are probably figures that are relatively easy to come by, when you're talking about publicly traded companies, companies that really have to do a lot of reporting and get those numbers out there, in order to get government funding and things like that. When you start talking about smaller companies, companies outside of the United States, they become a lot harder to come by. What's Dun & Bradstreet doing to help customers get an idea of employee counts and revenue sizing for those types of entities?

Jason Simmons:
Well, D&B does our absolute best at acquiring as much publicly and even privately available information that's out there. We're trying to put as much of a detailed profile around every business that we possibly can in the world. And in our data cloud, we have roughly 450 million businesses that we uniquely identify with our D‑U‑N‑S number. And we try to put as many accurate profile around each of those businesses we possibly can, including revenue and employees. But it's not an easy task. On the publicly available information, like companies that are traded publicly, they regularly advertise that information. You can go get it in annual reports, you see it on websites, those sorts of things. But in privately owned businesses that information's not as easy to come by. Some companies do advertise that regularly on their webpage or in financial documents that we can get a hold of.

Jason Simmons:
But in many cases, this is not available. And in some cases, businesses don't want that information be available in their setting, in their country or what have you. They may not want that information to be known, how much money they're making, how many employees work for them. So, we end up with data that... In some respects, in some parts of our database, we have very reliable and accurate information. In other places we have... we're missing values. We're not able to collect that information. And that can be very difficult then to try and do t-shirt sizing off of a value that's effectively not there.

George L'Heureux:
Well, that's where modeling comes in. Right? And, and we've got a model, the Global Sales Employee Model that helps to fill some of those gaps. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Jason Simmons:
Absolutely. So, I've been at D&B now, almost going on 10 years here, and prior to coming to D&B and being a customer of D&B. There's been a couple of iterations of an answer to this from D&B, the latest of which is called the Global Sales Employee Model. And so, to overcome these gaps, statistics is typically what folks use, and we've hired some really smart data scientists to take and ingest the information that we know is good, that comes from publicly available sources. And we've verified that information. And we use that to model accurately for the cases where we don't have that information. And then we're actually able to test, what does the model say? It would come up with from a value perspective for the cases where we actually have an actual value, and we're able to measure essentially accuracy against that. And they've refined this over a number of years. And effectively, now we're able to put an employee and a revenue value consistently across all 450 million records in our database.

George L'Heureux:
So Jason, as we wrap up, having talked about GSEM and sort of the importance of employee counts and revenue numbers, what's the one thing that you want people to walk away with as they listen to this conversation?

Jason Simmons:
I think the big thing is just understanding the reality around global customer data is that, no one's going to have actual values on every business in the world. And there's a lot of suppliers that provide data like D&B. You can spend a ton of time trying to chase down actual values to base your segmentation processes off, of your t-shirt sizing processes off of, or you can just let us do the hard work and just use the data that we've got. Use our model, definitely encourage clients to try it out... proof of concept and let the data speak for itself. I've seen it used time and time again and clients to be very successful with it. So that's, that'd be my encouragement to clients.

George L'Heureux:
Thanks, Jason. I really appreciate you sitting down and talking a little bit about sales, and employee figures and how clients can make use of them.

Jason Simmons:
Awesome. Thank you.

George L'Heureux:
Our guest expert today has been Jason Simmons, a Data Strategy Consultant here at Dun & Bradstreet. This has been Data Talks. If you've enjoyed today's discussion, please let a friend or a colleague know about it. And for more information on Dun & Bradstreet, or about today's discussion visit www.dnb.com or talk to your company's Dun & Bradstreet specialist today. I'm George L'Heureux. Thanks for joining us. Until next time.