What’s unique as a fingerprint and as revealing as a poker “tell”? A company’s B2B technology stack - defined as the combination of hardware, software, and web-based technologies a company uses - is a trove of valuable information for revenue-generating teams working at tech and saas companies … if you know how to use it!
Whether you’re selling a product or service, doing competitive research, or trying to engage someone at the company for other reasons, understanding a company’s tech stack is a major advantage.
To take it one step further, mature tech sellers use a more robust version of the tech stack, called technographics, which incorporates more information about buyer intent, in order to narrow down a target list of sales prospects.
Intrigued? Read on for 5 great ways to incorporate this type of intelligence into your sales, marketing, and product initiatives and get answers to the following questions:
- How can I use the tech stack to help position my product as a complimentary technology?
- What can I do if my target buyer is using a competitor’s technology?
- How can I use the tech stack or technographics to engage prospective buyers?
- Where can I find a company’s tech stack?
A Deeper Look at the Basics of Tech Stacks and Technographics
A company’s tech stack includes all of its installed technologies, from the operating system, to the scripting language used by the development team, to marketing and sales automation tools, to email server - everything. Even the system used to track time and attendance of employees is part of a company’s tech stack.
Examples of B2B Tech-Stack Data
The B2B tech stack includes hardware, software, and cloud-based tools. Examples include:
- Email programs, like G-Suite or Outlook
- Web servers, such as Apache or LiteSpeed
- Databases, such as AWS or SQL Server
- Content creation and management, such as WordPress or Adobe CreativeSuite
- eCommerce and inventory platforms, like Shopify or Magento
- Employee collaboration tools, like Slack or Jira
- Sales software, like ZoomInfo or Salesforce CRM
- Marketing tools, like SurveyMonkey or Marketo
- Machine learning and AI tools, like MATLab or Amazon Machine Learning
Have you heard of terms like martech, fintech, legal tech, or the sales tech stack? The technologies used by a company are often grouped by department.
For example, the HR tech stack includes tools related to duties performed by the human resources department, such as Kronos (applicant tracking software) or ADP (payroll and attendance software). As you develop a strategy for engaging a company about their tech stack, remember that specific departments may be responsible for buying their own technology - or those purchase decisions may be made by a dedicated procurement role.
At this point, you might be thinking that the size of a company’s tech stack can be very big. Well, you’re right. The average marketing department alone uses 17 different technologies. With new technologies being developed all the time, the average business tech stack is only getting larger and more complex.
How Do Software Vendors Use Technographics?
Technographics take the next stack to the next level. Technographics are defined as “insights on a company’s current technology choices combined with buying signals that indicate future technology needs."
Sales and marketing teams use tech-stack data, combined with other information that might indicate buyer intent - such as online search behavior, RFPs, personnel moves, or mergers and acquisitions - to provide insights in the form of technographics.
Revenue-generating teams use technographic information to create:
- Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Go beyond basic demographics to include technologies and behaviour that correlate with likelihood to purchase
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Technographics can help marketers prioritize a list of best-fit accounts for their solutions.
- Targeted Marketing Campaigns: Use technographics and online search behaviour to serve up targeted ads and increase conversion
- Total Addressable Marketing and Sales Territory Planning: Technographics can be used to identify new potential markets
Now that you’ve got the basics down for tech stack and technographics, check out five smart ways to use them to grow your business!
#1: Discover Complementary Technologies
Almost all software vendors can benefit from this first tactic (although not many do): You want more business, so use the tech stack to find companies that are most likely to purchase your product.
Compatibility with existing tech is a major factor when making a technology purchase.
For example, say that you're looking at Company X’s tech stack data and see that they are using Cisco Meraki for endpoint security. If your product is compatible with Cisco’s, you’ve uncovered a compelling way to engage Company X and introduce your product! It’s relevant, attention-grabbing, and a great way to start any outreach or conversation.
The opposite is even more true: “any mismatch [in compatibility] will likely doom the investment, critically endanger business processes, and destroy business relationships. In light of the above, we may state that technology plays a stellar role in B2B decisions,” according to cloud platform seller Yonyx.
#2: Displace Competing Technologies
While mismatched compatibility may spell death to software sellers, the presence of a competitor’s technology is a great sign.
Look for companies that already use technologies similar to yours. You know they already can use a solution like yours - they already are.
Suppose your company offers supply chain management software. You notice that a prospective company is already using your competitor - Oracle Supply Chain Management, for example - for supply chain management. Great! Put this company at the top of your list to reach out.
While it might seem counterintuitive, and maybe even a little intimidating, to target and displace competitors, it’s very effective:
- The buyer needs a product like yours, and they know it, because they already bought it.
- They already have the budget for it.
- The decision-maker is already on board.
Think of it this way: Most of the hard work of selling your product is already done!
#3: Use the Technology Stack to Engage Buyers
It’s notoriously difficult for vendors to make a meaningful connection with prospective buyers. Whether via the phone, email, social media, or direct mail, technology buyers are pros at avoiding anything that sounds like a sales pitch. So any way to make a connection helps in this effort.
PRO TIP: As a tech vendor, when you reach out to a potential buyer, mention a high-profile technology they use that’s compatible with yours (or a programming language, especially if you’re talking to people in the IT department). It’s a great way to get a foot in the door, and it might sound something like this:
“Hi, Rachel, I notice you’re using Retail Pro Prism for your POS system. If you’re trying to boost customer loyalty, [my solution] integrates with Retail Pro so you can connect with your customers personally, based on their purchase…”
In addition to offering relevant information right off the bat, this approach also inspires trust with prospective buyers because it’s clear you’ve done your research. Insights from the tech stack are a great shortcut to strong engagement.
#4: See How Many Companies Have Your (and Your Competitors’) Software Installed
Technology vendors also like to use tech stack data to understand their competitive landscape at a glance.
For example, Datanyze uses a variety of methods to identify each company’s installed technologies and then estimates how many companies are using each technology. The number of installations of each tech tool determines its unit market share.
Since the term market share is usually associated with revenue numbers, it can be surprising to see which technologies are really the industry leaders in terms of their actual use.
Savvy tech vendors use the tech stack to find opportunities of compatibility, to displace competitors with similar features, and to see how they compare to their industry peers.
#5: Learn What the Presence (or Absence) of Technology Means
Let’s face it: Some companies are more sophisticated than others. A well-established enterprise may have a long, glorious history of early tech adoption. A hot new startup may need cutting-edge tech for its own product. A mid-market company may have growing pains and struggle to upgrade its tech. A company belonging to a more antiquated industry, such as legal, may still be using paper (gasp) in the early stages of technology adoption.
That’s OK - there’s room for everyone on the bumpy road of technology adoption. What’s important, as a vendor, is that you’re at the same level of advancement as your future customers.
Where does your company land, in terms of sophistication of technology? Wherever you are in the market, your best customers are probably there, too.
How do you know how technologically advanced a company is? The tech stack answers this question as well.
The tech stack of a company reveal its level of sophistication. It’s like seeing behind the curtain and getting a glimpse into whether or not they might be a great (or not-so great) prospect for a similarly sophisticated piece of software or saas tool.
Say, for example, regional grocery store A uses an Excel-based system for inventory management, which isn't cloud-based and unable to track real-time inventory. A supply-chain vendor with a complex offering, touting integrations with RedPrarie and other inventory management systems, would be wasting its time reaching out to the regional grocer.
That vendor would fit right in.
Where Can You Find a Company’s Tech Ttack?
Companies don’t publish lists of the technologies in their tech stack. So, where can you find this information?
- Look at the HTML code of the company’s website. Some technologies, even hardware, leave a “signature” in the code of the company’s website. To look for technology signatures, view the source code on a company's website and look for cookies and other script signals.
- ZoomInfo, the parent company of Datanyze, includes technographic information on over 30,000 technologies for every company in the database
- Look closely! Sometimes technology signatures are contained within business communication. A chatbot, for example, might indicate that it’s “Chat by ZenDesk,” or the fine print on an email may reveal that it's “Powered by Sigstr.”
A lot of valuable information can be found and inferred based on the technologies a company uses to add to its technology stack. As a tech vendor, you can use tech stack data to understand which companies are a great fit for your product, find competitors to target, determine how you and your competitors compare, and find compatible levels of sophistication.
Whatever you’re doing currently to identify companies to reach out and engage with - add this layer of insight, and see how many more favorable responses you get!
Learn more about how to leverage the tech stack and incorporate technographics for your go-to-market teams.