When QlikTech CEO Mans Hultman recently retired he was asked how QlikTech maintained its 80% year-on-year revenue growth while competing with giants such as Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion. "The secret is our mission statement—simplifying analysis for everyone. In other words we keep the product simple and by doing so deployment is both easy and fast".
This ‘secret sauce’ resonates for sales intelligence solutions SaaS vendor sales-i also. Salespeople (not normally the most tech-literate folk) can work the system within minutes. No training required. sales-i sells via tele-sales and WebEx demos. Their catch phrase is "see it (the product) – get (understand) it" (NB QlikTech's is "seeing is believing").
sales-i is a sales analysis and reporting application, hosted by telecoms giant NTT. sales-i monitors customer behaviours and purchasing patterns in real time providing email and text message alerts to highlight sales opportunities. Salespeople drill down into customer sales records to determine buying trends and, most importantly, "drift"—when customers stop buying and a competitive threat is potentially lurking. The Snapshot window tells the salesperson the "leakage"—which products have not been purchased, and their potential value.
sales-i uses seamless mashups and is interoperable with other vendor applications. For example, users toggle between sales-i, Google Live Maps and SalesForce.com. sales-i can be easily mixed with best-of-breed applications. sales-i is directly accessible from Outlook and web browsers and via mobile phones, PDAs / BlackBerrys, and portable PCs. Salespeople receive sales-i ‘action required’ alerts on the road. They can also do account reviews at customer premises, using the "customer mode" button to mask cost and profit figures from the customer.
sales-i is ideal for small and mid-size companies with many products and customers. Office equipment companies are a classic example. Office equipment companies need to sell paper with envelopes, copiers and toner refills etc—cross-selling, up-selling, and switch-selling is the way to maximise share of customer wallet. sales-i helps sales reps to be aware of such sales opportunities.
Research shows that an average salesperson costs companies £250 per day to employ. For £251 (as sales-i costs c. £1 per user per day) sales-i provides a profitable focus for sales activities so that sales time is not wasted.
CRM and sales contact management software is a crowded market space with established big brand names such as SalesForce.com, Sage, Microsoft, NetSuite, and FrontRange (Goldmine) playing. sales-i does not seek to compete with these vendors. Instead it serves to add value through its simple-to-use sales intelligence functionality.
The product certainly looks good. With plans to launch in the US shortly and an OEM agreement with BT in the offing, there is no shortage of ambition. With the SaaS market still growing at an exponential rate, there is plenty room left in the market for innovative products like sales-i. Whether it can emulate the model for success in the SaaS market, SalesForce.com, has yet to be seen. However sales-i is walking and talking and is developing well—so far so good.