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D&B turns to Web

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D&B Corp. is dramatically changing the way it dispenses business information to marketers.

Through its Waltham, Mass.-based iMarket Inc. unit, D&B is going to market with a service that allows companies to buy business information and distribute it through Web pages to salespeople on a piecemeal basis and in real time. D&B historically has sold sales lead information through lists delivered via print, fax or CD-ROM.

Called Private Data Portal, the new service costs about $75,000 to $125,000 to set up and host in the first year, with annual information licenses typically running about 20% of the initial set-up costs. The service was announced in late October.

Companies that select Private Data Portal first work with D&B to define sales territories by standard industry code, geography, preferred accounts or a variety of other factors, said Tom Gaither, VP-customer marketing at iMarket. Once set up, the service queries D&B’s database of 62 million business records to provide marketers and sales executives with the freshest information, he said.

Sales representatives get a simple user interface with contact information and notes from sales managers or marketing support. Individualized data are provided in the user interface each time the salesperson logs on to custom Web pages. IMarket also provides analysis of how prospecting is going, so companies can adjust campaigns to yield steadily better results, Gaither said.

Sales effectiveness

Bryan Archambault, director-business development at database management and marketing agency Datacore Inc., said his company is already using the system to increase sales effectiveness for an undisclosed client.

Bill Doak, director-marketing for DHL Worldwide Express Inc., San Francisco, said he has made extensive use of Web-based D&B information. Though the company has not yet set up Private Data Portal, it is considering the move, he said.

Internet-based information is helping transform DHL from a sales-driven company to one that’s more focused on customer acquisition, Doak said. "We’re looking at their Internet tools closely, and this may be something we roll out next year,’’ he said.

Not too complicated

Guy Creese, research director at Aberdeen Group Inc., Boston, said Private Data Portals’ interface avoids the mistake of being too complicated in dispensing information. "The sales force demands simplicity,’’ he said.

Chris Lucas, VP-sales and marketing solutions for D&B North America, said Internet initiatives such as Private Data Portal are key to the company’s future, as marketers have scaled back their purchases of names for print catalog distribution—long a major revenue source for D&B.

"Marketing effectiveness is very strong right now,’’ Lucas said. "Companies are seeking to improve ROI [return on investment]. We’re giving more power to develop those leads salespeople have the best chance of closing and a way to get that information into the hands of sales to act upon.’’

George Reilly, research director at Gartner Inc., praised D&B’s latest evolutionary move. "The mechanisms D&B had in place to deliver data were not effective and efficient,’’ he said. "In recent years, they have improved their delivery more and more. This is another critical step in that process.’’

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