Anyone who’s ever been in sales and had to cold-call potential clients knows that me using the phrase “potential clients” is an overstatement. Their managers hand them a stack of names and contact information and call these leads, but really they’re leads in the same way that a heavy guy in a red wool suit is Santa Claus. They look real, and salespeople want to believe that they are, but they’re not going to get what they want unless they go get it for themselves. Cold calling is just a waste of time.
This is a similar conclusion to the one arrived at by Ashwin Ramasamy, one of the co-founders of PipeCandy, when he attempted to find customers for his previous startup, ContractIQ, back in 2012. The business was a marketplace of mobile app developers, and so he and his team went after any and all businesses that outsourced their app development. As it turned out, that was a really big bucket and they wasted a lot of time cold-calling all the people who were never going to be interested in the first place—something they might have known if they’d had even the slightest bit of data about these companies going into the call.
If necessity is the mother of invention, frustration has to be its father. Ramasamy needed something to make his outbound marketing efforts more efficient and fruitful, and his frustration pushed him to his next project.
Along with co-founders Murali Vivekanandan and Shrikanth Jagannathan, Ramasamy created PipeCandy, a marketing intelligence platform that helps account execs surface qualified leads before they ever have to pick up a phone. This kind of service is nothing new, but the PipeCandy approach is: they’ve gone ahead and declared e-commerce as its own vertical, so the 5.4+ million companies indexed on their platform are all online retailers.
You might question this idea: how could a seller of skincare products be lumped in with a site selling specialized A/V cables? It only takes a few seconds of critical thought before you realize how much sense this makes. By virtue of them both being e-commerce businesses, they have similar operating needs: servers, rackspace, software, payment processing, web design, and shipping solutions make up a short list of what they have in common. And if you’re a salesperson trying to move any of these, you know it doesn’t really matter what they’re selling. You just need to know how they operate.
PipeCandy offers a way for account executives to get the intelligence they need in order to make informed calls to legitimate prospects with its centerpiece solution, Prospector—though this is not all PipeCandy does. Larger companies running their own in-house data platform can access a custom set of PipeCandy’s data through their Firehose API. And e-commerce business owners will probably get as much use out of the market trend reports available via their Researcher service as their sales reps would.
Each of PipeCandy’s three products are priced separately—there’s really no reason to bundle them, anyway. Prospector and Firehose are essentially an either/or situation, getting you to the same data in different methods. And Researcher’s reports are offered on an a la carte basis, but are also highly customized so you’ll be talking to someone anyway to get what you need.
The pricing of the three products are as follows:
- Free, $0/month — 1 user can perform 100 searches per month, view 10 company profiles per day, and can get email support. Company profiles will only show you some basic information about the company, their categories, and you’ll be able to learn which website tech they use (e-commerce, CMS, etc.)
- Online, $2,500/quarter ($9k/year if paid annually) — 2 users, 1k searches per month, 250 company profiles per day, 10 saved searches, auto-refresh of exported company’s profiles, email support, and access to CRM integrations. Additional sales users can be added at $50 each per month.
- Commerce, $3,750/quarter ($13.5k/year if paid annually) — 3 users, 5k searches per month, 500 profiles per day, unlimited saved searches, auto-refresh, email and phone support, additional sales accounts at $100 each per month. Additional company profile data including: Commerce Model (B2B vs B2C, Physical store presence, shipping policies, order volume) and Payment Model (payment gateways, cards accepted, alternative payment methods)
- Enterprise, starting at $25k per year — 3 users, 10k searches per month, 1k profiles per day, unlimited searches, auto-refresh, priority email and phone support, additional sales accounts at $150 each per month.
Along with any of these plans, there’s a Contact Data add-on: a .CSV file with 500 contact records which you can buy for $250.
- Ecommerce Company Data API, starts at $50k/year — Customize what data you want to get and connect it to your own in-house systems
- Syndicated Reports, $5k each — Total Addressable Market reports
- Custom Research, $20k each — PipeCandy’s data scientists will answer just about any (relevant) question you might have
PipeCandy is purpose-built to get data in front of your face, and toward that end its interface is all business. Log in and you are presented with the search screen, where you can start finding companies that look like the kind of prospects you’d want to approach. You can do a keyword search, which looks through all the text within websites, but this isn’t really necessary except for the most niche of companies. The next option down in your search criteria is “Has Own E-commerce,” which we don’t really understand. Looking at the options we can select for this (Yes or No) doesn’t shine any added light on the situation, and when you look at a company’s profile there’s nothing in there that would even hint that this information is here, whatever that information is.
Fortunately, things get a lot better from here, as there are more than 20 other criteria, each with tons of options, for you to start defining what qualifications you’re looking for. There are obvious filters, like for geography, sales figures, and total website visits—and even with expected things like this PipeCandy’s attention to detail is worth praising. When you search for a company that’s doing between $1m and $5m in sales, for example, you’re getting numbers that are strictly web sales—very helpful when you’re dealing with a company with a strong physical presence.
You can also add a lot of criteria around technology, too. If you’re a sales rep for Mailchimp, you don’t need to waste your time with companies who are already using it; instead, you can set your sights on those who’ve been using Klaviyo, Aweber, and other competitors. This kind of tech search covers just about anything an e-commerce company might use—affiliate networks, ad exchanges, content management systems, you name it.
Then there are the criteria that aren’t so obvious. In the “Merchandise Strategy” section you can specify whether you want to find companies that sell their own products, or those that resellers and/or dropshippers. Do they have a physical presence also? Do they sell to other businesses? Direct to customers? To the government? What’s their business model? Subscriptions? Omnichannel? These are all things you can search by, which means this is all data that PipeCandy has. And that means, even if you’re not searching based on these criteria, it’s intel you can learn about companies you’re prospecting.
There’s also one important thing missing, and it falls in the category of “obvious things that should be here.” We’re talking about contact data. None of this information is very useful if you don’t know who to contact and talk about it with. And it’s downright weird to be able to know what shopping cart platform they use, how they advertise, and how much revenue they pull in, and then when you make a call you say something vague like, “Can I speak with whoever is the decision maker?” Yes, you can purchase the contact information as a separate item, but this feels like selling someone a luxury car and then making them pay extra for the keys.
For any combination of search criteria you put together, you can save the search and go back to it any time. A mouse click on the saved search runs it immediately. And, as PipeCandy is adding new companies to its database every day, you’ll always get the most updated results. Another feature with an eye toward efficiency is the ability to create lists of different companies. It’s not mind-blowing or anything, but it does allow you to segment your prospects in logical ways.
And that’s about all PipeCandy does. Apart from the superior search capabilities and a couple of modest features to organize it all, the only other thing you could ask of the platform is to provide accurate data. While we can’t tell you that’s the case without calling up companies and asking them to verify the data we saw when playing around with PipeCandy, we can let you know that the company’s built quite a good reputation for itself based on the quality of their data. If you look at customer review sites like G2 or Capterra, you’ll see a broad consensus on two things. The first is that their data is both accurate and helpful, and the second is that the PipeCandy team is great to work with. We read several reviews (and watched a video one, as well) where the customer service was praised for how helpful and accommodating they are.
There’s really only one kind of integration that would make sense for PipeCandy, and that’s to have the platform connect to CRM software like Salesforce or Hubspot. And the good news is, they offer those two software integrations (the bad news is those are the only two they integrate with). Still, it’s great to be able to have all this information available to you, and it’s even better to get all that good data into the CRM you use as a reference when you actually make contact with prospects.
Also, while not exactly an integration, it’s worth mentioning their Chrome extension. With the extension, you can get all the data that you’d get while logged into the PipeCandy platform, except you’ll see it when you’re looking at that company’s website also. Again, this is helpful in having a way to reference all this information without having to switch back and forth between windows.
There are, of course, plenty of ways to get some of the information available with PipeCandy. You can see the tech involved for a company by visiting BuiltWith and get company history and financials at Crunchbase—just to name a couple of options. But no option out there gives you the ability to search from zero (meaning you don’t yet know the company you want to investigate), and none gives you the small but important details of their business model and target customers. Most importantly, none seems to understand what the important intel about an eCommerce company would even be.
PipeCandy is able to provide all of this, with the one drawback being you have to pay extra for the contact information. This doesn’t negate the value of the platform so much as it’s a monitor irritant. Even with that, though, PipeCandy is the best in its class for what it does. Their website describes the software as a “wingman” for your account executives, which is a label as accurate as their data.
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