Cloud-Based Data Meets Social Networking in Jigsaw


By Tony Kontzer If your company is like most, its sales force depends on a contact database that might as well be a tattered old pocket phone book. According to a survey completed earlier this year by The Sales and Marketing Institute, 70 percent of CRM contact database entries are outdated within a year. During that time, some 65 percent of people have title or job function changes, 43 percent have changed phone numbers, 37 percent have new email addresses, and so on.

Which brings me to my point: If you're a business-to-business company and you haven't heard of Jigsaw, the cloud-based and crowd-sourced sales contact database, it's probably high time you did. The concept behind Jigsaw is essentially this: More is better, particularly if the more means "more accurate" in addition to "more contacts." Boasting a database of 24 million contacts that are shared, updated and validated by a membership base of 1.4 million professionals, Jigsaw offers many times the contacts of competitors like InfoUSA and Hoover's.

In the past, the salespeople who depend on contacts as their lifeline would have scoffed at such an exhaustive database, questioning the quality of the contacts. But with Jigsaw, the contacts are so much more likely to be up-to-date, and they're supplied by folks who know them to be worth contacting. It's no wonder Salesforce.com jumped at the chance to acquire Jigsaw earlier this year. It's such a natural complement to Salesforce's cloud-based CRM service.

But don't take this all from me -- take it from companies that have actually been depending on it. Like computer-maker Lenovo, for instance. During Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco earlier this month, Michael Rogan, Lenovo's business intelligence manager, told a room of IT journalists that the company used to rely on traditional batch-oriented data providers to obtain lead contacts, and that it required a lot of work to validate the data.

Jigsaw, Rogan said, has filled in the gaps, and then some. "We've seen an increase in qualified sales leads, and a decrease in bounce rates on email campaigns," he said. In fact, Rogan is so hyped about Jigsaw that he tries to make sure Lenovo is a good member of the community by educating the company's sales team on the value of contributing to Jigsaw by providing any contact updates it comes across.

John Smits, director of database marketing, market intelligence and segmentation for EMC Corp., said he similarly encourages EMC's sales teams to contribute whatever they can to Jigsaw, which has opened up numerous doors for the company to try and sell its products.

"It's definitely letting us have conversations with people we weren't marketing to before," Smits said.

When you get right down to it, Jigsaw is a pretty impressive demonstration of the value of combining cloud-based data with social networking. By subscribing to it, sales organizations aren't just buying access to a database; they're buying admission to a community of 1.4 million contact police who are constantly sharing valuable information with those who use it. That tattered old pocket phone book sure will look a lot better.


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