The Power Of NACE Codes And Why Should Your Sales Team Care?

Updated on November 16, 2021

Everyone is not your customer. It is important to know your target market and to properly segment your sales outreach efforts to ensure that your value proposition reaches a person that can actually see the value part of it. When you are focusing your sales efforts on European companies in a specific industry, one of the best ways to do it effectively is by including NACE codes in your search filtering.


What are NACE codes?

NACE Codes are a part of a framework, forming the European industry standard classification system, designed for classifying businesses, business activities and products. They are similar in function to the SIC Standard Industry Classification and NAICS North American Industry Classification System


The implementation of the NACE Codes framework is based on the United Nations’ ISIC classification system and is derived from ISIC International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, it is however more detailed than ISIC. While both classification systems have exactly the same items at the highest levels, NACE has a more detailed lower level classification system.


NACE (Nomenclature des Activités Économiques dans la Communauté Européenne) stands for the European Classification of Economic Activities. The system was first introduced in 1970 for designating various statistical classifications of economic activities in the European Union. The NACE framework provides a reliable data structure for collecting and presenting a large range of economic statistical data.


Classification Rev2

An important update to the NACE system was introduced in 2002, expanding upon the existing framework that was finalised in 2006. This was done to modernise the system and its relevance in the world economy by improving the compatibility with other national and international classification systems. While at the same time maintain continuity with older iterations.


List of NACE Codes

Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community Rev. 2


  1. A Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  2. B Mining and Quarrying
  3. C Manufacturing
  4. D Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply
  5. E Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities
  6. F Construction
  7. G Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles
  8. H Transportation and Storage
  9. I Accommodation and Food Service Activities
  10. J Information and Communication
  11. K Financial and Insurance Activities
  12. L Real Estate Activities
  13. M Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities
  14. N Administrative and Support Service Activities
  15. O Public Administration and Defence; Compulsory Social Security
  16. P Education
  17. Q Human Health and Social Work Activities
  18. R Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
  19. S Other Service Activities
  20. T Activities of Households as Employers; Undifferentiated Goods and Services; Producing Activities of Households for Own Us
  21. U Activities of Extraterritorial Organisations and Bodies


Here is a complete list of NACE Codes that you can use.


How are NACE Codes assigned?

A NACE code is divided into a hierarchical structure consisting of 4 levels. The highest level category consists of sections. The first two numbers indicate the division, while the following three numbers indicate the group and the last four numbers indicate the class.


  • Level 1: 21 sections identified by alphabetical letters A to U;
  • Level 2: 88 divisions identified by two-digit numerical codes (01 to 99);
  • Level 3: 272 groups identified by three-digit numerical codes (01.1 to 99.0);
  • Level 4: 629 classes identified by four-digit numerical codes (01.11 to 99.00).


It is important to note that the first four numbers corresponding to the first four levels of a NACE code are the same in all European countries. Additional levels may be present on a national level. Also the fifth number can vary between countries and database suppliers can add more numbers to the NACE code.


To give you an example of how the NACE system works here is a simple breakdown. Let’s say you are looking for advertising companies in Amsterdam, the Netherlands:


  • Division (73)  Advertising and market research
  • Group   (731)  Advertising
  • Class    (7311) Advertising agencies


What are NACE codes used for?

In an ideal world, the marketing department provides sales reps with thousands of “sales-ready” leads so they can immediately start the outreach. Well, it rarely works out this way. So, what should you consider doing to make the sales prospecting process more productive for your team?


Target your outreach on prospects who are more likely to have an interest in your solution by capturing their interest. But knowing how you should do it and how to find a potential business fit is key. Precise targeting is crucial for better prospecting. Break down your sales strategy and develop it around specific and highly-targeted industries.


The first and most obvious advantage of using NACE codes is that they allow you to target your sales efforts to specific industries, sub-industries, industry branches, thay you might not be familiar with yet. So far, you may have an idea of who your ideal customer is, but breaking down your products to the specific industries can determine which of those industries best represents your ideal customers.


Industry targeting with NACE codes

It is always crucial to properly segment your sales outreach efforts. You should ensure that you are putting your products or services in front of a relevant audience that will be able to see the value in what you have to offer. This is where NACE codes can be a valuable tool. As they make it easier to accurately identify which companies that are a part of a specific segment in your target industry you want to focus on. 


Implement NACE Codes in your B2B sales processes

Filtering your target audience using NACE codes is an effective way of identifying your target market across industries, company sizes, and geographical areas. Start by collecting detailed profile data. Let’s say you have a newly launched product. Once you know who your buyer persona is, NACE Codes will help you to decide which industries will correspond to your ideal customers.


How to use the NACE Code filter

The team behind Sales.Rocks developed a B2B platform around an elaborate filtering system and added plenty of ways for the users to filter their audience based on individual pieces of data in order to identify the perfect segment(s) for their inbound or outbound efforts. This includes being able to search by specific Local Registry Number and of course using a NACE code filter.


Let’s say, you’re launching a new SaaS product on the Dutch market for managing client campaigns and you need to find local advertising agencies to pitch your product to. In this case, select the Industry then the NACE code filter and choose M – Professional, scientific and technical activities and then select 73 – Advertising and market research.


nace codes filter


If you want to further narrow your search you can select the sub-filter 731 – Advertising and choose between 7311 – Advertising agencies and 7312 – Media representation sub-industries. You can narrow your search even further for more accurate targeting, like adding the Company HQ and City location filter to your search parameters.


nace codes search results


Upon identifying the agencies that look like a nice fit for your potential customers, utilize your initial research to complete their profile data. These insights will lend you a hand into building a list of targeted companies that may be in need of your offer. But, you can’t rely only on industry codes as a common denominator. You also need a complete company profile.


Our solution continuously evolves into an increasingly powerful sales enablement tool built on top of our offering of accurate B2B data. It’s a platform where you can use your own input to find companies that fit your segmentation criteria (no matter which market you operate in). Additionally, it allows you to identify ways to reach this segment of companies, whether by email, company email address or phone.


In a nutshell, any user of the Sales.Rocks platform can choose a set of search criteria available in the Company Search Module. In a matter of minutes, you can reach a segment of companies along with the contact details that will perfectly fit your criteria and export these to your CRM system or as a CSV file and you are well prepared to start selling to this group of companies.


Final Words

Knowing your ideal clients and which industries you can work within, are key to prospecting high-quality leads and not wasting time and money with the irrelevant ones. NACE Codes provide the simplest and most effective means for identifying lines of business.


Relying on unstructured sources of manually collected and incomplete data is a risk for companies that take their data seriously. When doing business, you simply can’t afford to rely on bad data. In the digital world, you are only as good as your data.

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