Sales and Marketing Ops at B2B companies almost always face the same problem: How to uniquely identify an account or a company in their CRM or Marketing Automation solution. Check your databases and you’ll probably find duplicate entries, misspellings, etc. The problem is that there’s no universally accepted, unique ID that can be used to identify any company in the world. That’s why B2B companies historically used one of the following fields:
Company name can be successfully used to identify a company in a lot of cases. However, there are a lot of example when it becomes a big challenge. For example - do you use the type of the company (LLC, Inc, Corp, etc.) in the name? Is Google and Google, Inc the same company? Do you use dots or not (Inc vs Inc.). What about the company is known by another name (“Doing Business As”). For example, Zenefit’s legal name is “YourPeople, Inc.” Who would have thought? It actually happens quite a lot.
Employer Identification Number (EIN) and other country-specific identificators
While it’s unique and can be matched exactly, the problem with EIN is that it only works in the US. Other countries have their own systems and numbers so matching those with accounts or companies in your system will be a nightmare.
D-U-N-S Number is developed and curated by Dun & Bradstreet. It was introduced in 1963 when the Internet did not exist. For that reason alone, it’s clearly outdated by now.
Furthermore, fewer and fewer companies worldwide use D-U-N-S Numbers today. Why? Because it’s a pain to get and there are no real benefits of going through the process. D&B sends you a piece of snail mail one day asking you to physically fill out a form and send it back to them in order to get a D-U-N-S Number. Most of these letters go immediately into the trash.
So what’s the solution? It’s the 21st century, there has to be a better way of doing this, right?
And The Winner Is: Website
Out of all other options, a company’s website is the best way to identify any legitimate company. Let’s look at the benefits:
The match is exact. You don’t need to worry about different spellings, dots and other characters, as opposed to relying just on a company’s name.
It’s international. Any company in any country can have a website, but that domain can’t match any other site.
A person (Lead or Contact) can be tied to the company using its business email address. I can easily tell that firstname.lastname@example.org works at Salesforce.
You can ping a website for signs of life, which can help you deal with dead records in your system.
It’s not proprietary. There’s no company in the world that can control it.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Not every company in the world has a website. It’s a valid point, but do you really want to sell your product or service to a company that doesn’t have a website? In most cases such businesses also don’t have a D-U-N-S Number.
Now what if the company has multiple websites? This can be a challenge. The best way to solve it is to have a Parent-Child relationship when it comes to domains (and I’m not talking about sub-domains). For example, a good system of record will say that Desk.com (child) belongs to Salesforce.com (parent). Once you have the mapping in place (and to be fair, this is a big undertaking), this problem goes away.
Overall, there are a lot of benefits to adopt a company’s website as a unique ID for an organization. Modern B2B organizations will adopt this approach more and more as the business world moves increasingly online. It’s clearly time to agree on the new standard and make the website a company’s unique ID across sales and marketing organizations.
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