Gui Costin, Founder, Dakota
If your firm is considering an investment in a database, it’s probably a fair assumption that you want to give your sales team their best shot at success. This means that you’re willing to spend money to give them a list of the accounts and contacts to call on to sell to. It’s a great way to empower your team and drive sales, right?
When it comes down to it, not all databases are created equal. We're not here to tell you that some are better or worse, but we are here to help you determine which is the right one for your specific needs.
Some investment databases are designed with specific asset classes in mind, some are full of hundreds of thousands of accounts and contacts, but are not regularly updated, and some are out of date almost as soon as you subscribe to them.
So, how do you cut through the noise and make sure the database you choose really is giving your sales team the information they need to make calls and set up meetings that matter? It comes down to the quality of the contacts within the database.
At Dakota, we’ve been selling investments to institutional allocators since 2006. We know what it means to grind away at a list of thousands of accounts, looking to find exactly the right person to call. It’s exhausting, but more than that, it’s time-consuming. Salespeople spend far too much time on administrative work when instead they should be setting up meetings and selling.
Recognizing that all investment sales people suffer from the same prospecting and updating pain, we decided to put our money where our mouth is and create a different version of an institutional database we call a “shared CRM”, named Dakota Marketplace. It was designed, built, and is updated by our investment sales team who has raised over $30 billion since 2006. And because Dakota knows those industry pain points so well, we knew exactly the kind of database that would work best for other salespeople in our industry.
With COVID-19 still impacting our ability to meet face-to-face, many firms are repurposing their travel and marketing budgets and focusing instead on sales enablement and ensuring that their salespeople have qualified leads to call on. To help make sure you’re doing just that, we outlined some of the primary players in the investment database space, and how they compare to not only each other, but our own Marketplace. This way, you’re best equipped with the data needed to enable your own sales team.
Finding out the databases available to you is the first step to empowering your sales team, and there are a lot to choose from. Many have been in the industry for a long time, and have become reputable for their ability to provide large quantities of accounts and contacts, while others operate in more niche markets, and are appealing for that reason. Some of the key players include:
This option focuses on two main verticals, which they call professionals/financial advisors and insurance agents. The user is able to search for hundreds of thousands of individuals, groups of people and companies. It is particularly useful for those selling to individual financial advisors as they have a robust amount of FA data. For a salesperson selling investment strategies, Discovery can be helpful in providing a giant list of people and firms to call on. The downside to the breadth of this list is that the salesperson has to work through all of these firms to try and determine which ones allocate to outside managers. Discovery has been in the market since 2002 and has been a go to database for many.
RIA database was created in 2006, and has a similar value proposition to Discovery Data. They offer four subscriptions spanning across RIAs (38,000+ Firms), Registered Reps (500,000+ advisors), Bank/Trust (8,500+ firms) and Family Offices. If you are selling to RIAs or any of the above firms with less of a concern if they allocate to your strategy, this is a comprehensive prospect list for you. Contact data can sometimes be outdated as web scrapers have a difficult time keeping up with industry turnover.
An established database on the alternative side, Preqin is a global database that was created in 2003. Preqin seeks to help alternative investment managers with contact data on institutions primarily. Unlike most databases, Preqin has research analysts around the globe that try to uncover information on allocators and potential searches. Preqin has been looked at as the go to database for alternative managers. The Institutional data tends to be much stronger than at the RIA, Multi-Family Office and Bank Trust data.
A global database that focuses on the institutional sales side (endowments, public pensions, foundations, consultants etc). Firms value MMD because they can sometimes include information about managers that Public Pensions are invested in. Prospects value this insight so that they can better position themselves against those managers. The institutional data, similar to Preqin, is much stronger than the RIA, Multi-Family Office, Bank Trust and National Accounts data. Contact data can tend to be outdated but sales professionals value the ability to see what institutions are invested in.
Delivers searches from public pension funds and returns searches across a variety of asset classes. They have the technology available to scrape data for public pension searches specifically. Many sales professionals will complement Finsearches with another database that helps them with more data in other channels.
Solely focused on single family offices, which is a niche space that a lot of databases do not focus on.
Identifies and tells you about asset classes and more specifically strategies that RIAs and multi-family offices are invested in. Users like this because it lets them know if firms are invested in their competitors so that they can position themselves against them.
To put it simply, all of the options listed above have one thing in common: they’re giving salespeople a database of prospects to call on.
Unfortunately, one of the hardest things to provide as a database is consistently updated and accurate contact information on the people that you actually want to be calling on. This is because web scrapers have a difficult time understanding the makeup of a research team and whether the firm actually allocates to outside managers. This forces the salesperson to not only spend time looking for the right people but also trying to understand whether the firm can even buy their investment strategy.
The value of databases has always been to provide salespeople with the biggest list possible. But then the question is: how do you narrow that list down?
Relying on web scrapers alone will either require salespeople to do a lot of administrative work to cull the list down to feasible prospects, or, it will require an investment in additional software to whittle the list down further.
Finally, the majority of these databases have a similar price point, which can be a deciding factor for many.
Databases operate on a twelve-month subscription plan, and many, including Marketplace, fall cost the same at roughly $11,500 for a yearly subscription. If you’re making an investment of that size, the data should be clean, clear, and allow your sales team to focus on calling on qualified buyers to set-up meetings. However, if you’re investing that much money for a large but randomly updated database, and constantly finding yourself calling on the wrong people, you might just be adding more administrative work for your sales team to deal with later.
The short answer? No.
It’s a different kind of institutional investor database that we call a “shared CRM.” That unequivocally sums up Marketplace, where investment firms of all kinds: long-only equities, private equity and hedge funds all share one qualified, accurate and regularly updated database of institutional investors. It takes all the administrative efforts out of the equation, because we update it for you, every day.
And what's more? It's the same database the sales team at Dakota Investments uses daily.
What’s unique about the Marketplace team is that we raise capital for a living ourselves. We are our own best customer because we use the database every day, and understand the pain points that salespeople experience.
We’re able to use that knowledge to consistently make the product better. This comes across in the simple Marketplace interface, as well as in the quality of the data, where other databases across the board often fall short.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: when it comes to data, it’s a matter of quality rather than quantity. If your sales team has thousands of contacts that they need to sift through, it won’t make their jobs any easier; in fact, it might just make their jobs harder.
By offering them a curated list of contacts that is constantly updated by salespeople just like them, it all but guarantees that they have an audience who wants to hear from them.