• August 27, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Demandbase Helps Harvest Leads, One by One

Demandbase, a San Francisco-based provider of lead quality and demand generation technology, on Monday released Demandbase Central, an integration and technology platform. The company describes the software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform [PDF download] as a search and scoring engine for leads, collecting and categorizing data from numerous B2B sources. These sources include:

Demandbase claims that 98 percent of U.S. businesses with annual revenue greater than $5 million are already included in the platform’s database, ready to be farmed.

Accompanying Demandbase Central is Demandbase Direct, an application that leverages the platform to provide highly targeted, tactical leads on a pay-per-lead basis. The pay-as-you-go transaction engine in Central works with Direct to feed clean leads directly to a user’s email, desktop, or CRM system, one at a time or in large volumes. “Direct is like the iTunes interface for sales leads,” says Laura Ramos, a vice president with Forrester Research, referring to Apple's iTunes multimedia service.

Since good things come in threes, Demandbase -- a two-year-old company that happened to announce an $8 million round of venture-capital funding this week -- also released Demandbase Stream, a desktop widget -- available for free -- that monitors Web traffic to discover qualified prospects, view their interests, and immediately act upon those opportunities. This browserless Web application “opens an entirely new channel for B2B marketers, enabling companies to convert the 98 percent of unmonetized Web traffic already paid for with online investments in Web sites, search, and email marketing,” according to the company [PDF download].

Ramos had previously written on her blog that “the idea of an iTunes-like interface -- and pay-as-you-go pricing structure -- for viewing, sorting, and selecting B2B contacts is intriguing.” She also suggested that the technology in Demandbase's new Direct and Stream applications may only be adopted by salespeople for tactical purposes, not by marketers who can strategize. “I worry that this tool only ends up helping [the] sales [department] pick out cold calls to make, and is not used by marketers enough to segment, collect, and improve their prospecting databases. The technology appears useful at both ends of this spectrum.”

The question remains whether Demandbase Central will serve as an engine for lead management applications or will blossom into a true platform. “Demandbase has a number of sources it’s drawing from to create and populate its database, but I’m looking for partners,” Ramos says. “Companies that create applications that integrate closely with Central, or that leverage Demandbase for their own products, like with [Salesforce.com’s] AppExchange, are what will really qualify this as a platform.”

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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