D&B Bolsters Broker, Reseller Bonds to Boost Sales

Though D&B has always relied on brokers and value added resellers as distributors of its data, it began an initiative late last year to give them all the tools they need to sell D&B's DUNSRight business-to-business data more effectively.

The DUNSRight database has information on 95 million businesses globally from hundreds of sources. D&B has 2,000 manual and automated checks for the data including telephone verification.

In the past, D&B had two separate strategies for selling DUNSRight data. Its own sales representatives were fully versed in the database while brokers and VARs largely were left to fend for themselves, according to one D&B executive.

“While D&B did partner with brokers on list sales previously, we held some of the power of DUNSRight back,” said Jerry Reisberg, vice president, industry relations at D&B, Short Hills, NJ. “The historical culture was that some of our premium and unique data was held closely for our very large internal sales force. But D&B reevaluated and decided that it would open up the full spectrum of DUNSRight data to the broker/VAR channel.”

Reisberg is responsible for maintaining and expanding D&B's relationships with the direct marketing community, with special emphasis on BTB brokers and VARs. D&B has about 200 substantive broker/VAR partners nationwide, he said.

“The list broker community, including the VARs, plays an increasingly important role in the distribution and acquisition of BTB data,” he said. “The enthusiastic and credible word of mouth of list brokers reaches many levels of list buyers that are not easily available to us, and it strengthens our market position.”

D&B is looking for double-digit revenue gains this year and organic growth in market share, Reisberg said.

The shift began late last year, though D&B started evaluating the broker/VAR channel about two years ago, said James Pereira-Stubbs, D&B third-party product leader.

“There were certain elements of DUNSRight that we traditionally didn't share with the broker/VAR channel,” Pereira-Stubbs said.

Those elements include the corporate linkage or family tree data and the D-U-N-S Numbers, which are unique identifiers for each company within the database.

The company also introduced four products in June that the brokers/VARs have access to:

· The D&B Executives at Home Address file of 8.5 million executive decision makers at home address.

· The Hoover's Decision Maker records containing data on 400,000 decision makers at the 40,000 companies that D&B subsidiary Hoover's covers.

· 8.6 million new and emerging businesses on the DUNSRight database.

· D-U-N-S Number select and suppress.

Perhaps the biggest change in D&B's approach is a certification program to train some of its broker/VAR partners on DUNSRight data and how to sell it.

“The idea was if we give brokers and VARs the access to all of the data, great, but even better if we actually train them on what the data is, what the messages are and how they can pitch it to their customers so that they sell more,” said Janette Hausler, leader of sales and marketing solutions marketing at D&B.

The certification program consists of five parts. First, participants complete interactive materials online. Then, D&B sends DUNSRight experts to do on-site training on the content of the database and on pitching DUNSRight to customers. The next step is certification, and to be certified participants do an in-person pitch to D&B representatives. Once certified, participants then train their staff, who must pass an online test.

The final step is a collaborative marketing effort between the broker/VAR and D&B. D&B creates a marketing fund that is matched by the broker partner based on a percentage of revenue.

“We work together to co-market the D&B data,” Hausler said. “There are guidelines, and D&B reps work with the brokers to create the marketing messages.”

The first firm to receive DUNSRight certification was AccuData America, one of the largest retailers of D&B data.

“AccuData has been selling D&B data for years now but we completed the DUNSRight certification program in December 2004,” said Sarah Stansberry, director of marketing at AccuData America, Fort Myers, FL, a PRIMIS company. “The training was great, and we have rolled it out to all of our sales executives and trained over 40 people. Moving forward, all AccuData employees will be trained as they go through the ranks.”

AccuData has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in sales of DUNSRight data, she noted, saying that 50 million to 100 million records have been sold since December.

“As a data provider we do pride ourselves on knowing the strengths and weaknesses of all the databases out there,” Stansberry said. “Having a certification program ensures that we know what D&B wants us to know, and that goes really far when you're presenting a product to an end user.”

D&B has certified seven brokerage firms and a total of 84 participants within them since the program's inception in late 2004. Hausler said that D&B is still limiting the program as it is tested so only select brokers are being certified right now.

Though only seven companies are certified, all broker and VAR partners have the full scope of DUNSRight data available to sell.

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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