A new cloud-based CRM will offer customized service to small businesses and a simplified method to input data.
As the President and CEO of a small company, Camille Peters feels like her time is stretched pretty thin, and she especially felt like she didn’t have time to endlessly fill out all the data demanded by Salesforce.com.
The Web-based customer relationship management software is designed to save time and be convenient. It can be accessed via mobile devices or a laptop and the data is always in-sync for every member of your team, so no one will be working with old information when they’re pursuing a lead. But Peters was tired of an interface she found busy and distracting, and as a result she wasn’t using the product to run Mobile Computer Corp. (Mobilecom).
“For me to sit down and start plugging things into Salesforce was taking a lot of time,” she says. “Salesforce is focused on more than just sales tracking now. It’s become so big that it makes demands of the user that might not be applicable for everybody.”
So Mobilecom has jumped ship from Salesforce to become an early beta tester of SalesChoice. Also a Web-based CRM tool, its been recently co-founded by Alex Blom and Cindy Gordon. The promise is to integrate into a business’s own workflow processes using an open application programming interface (API) and a customized offering that sees the software designed to a user’s work style.
Gordon, also the founder of Helix Commerce International Inc., is the CEO of SalesChoice. She says the general availability launch of the service will take place in the first quarter of 2013. Currently, a beta test with six clients including Mobilecom.
“We saw a gap in the market in terms of the simplicity of the user interface experience,” she says. “We’ve reduced the key strokes required by 400 to 600 per cent in many areas of the application.”
In Mobilecom’s case, the sales process is a six-step process. After meeting with the SalesChoice team, Peters was able to get the software customized to her work flow. First, Mobilecom develops a list of leads, then it contacts those leads and creates notes on the potential opportunity. The third step is to meet for a demo of the Mobilecom products, which is a mobile workforce software package for enterprises. After that, the budget size is worked out and the final details are worked out before a handshake.
“Because it’s easier for me to put data into it, I’ve actually been using,” Peters says. “I’m very happy to work with a Canadian company. That’s one of my reasons for moving over from Salesforce to SalesChoice.”
Salesforce.com has been growing its presence in the CRM field rapidly. It has been making a series of acquisitions over the last couple of years that included several Canadian firms. It has been ramping up its presence north of the border with those companies, saying they will stay located where they were founded. But the firm may have lost some of its goodwill from Canadians last month when it laid off some staff at New Brunswick-based Radian6.
Salesforce has used its Canadian acquisitions to drive many new products announced at last September’s Dreamforce conference. Toronto-based Rypple will see its human resources cloud suite renamed to Work.com, for example. Vancouver’s Sitemasher saw its content management system rebranded as Site.com under the Salesforce banner.
All that diversification of products could be translating into unwanted confusion for some small business clients, Gordon says.
“They’re going to these sites and there’s so much to choose from,” she says. “I think Salesforce.com has lost their appeal to small and medium businesses out there.”
The SalesChoice mantra is to keep it simple. The user interface is reminiscent of Google’s airy design, Gordon says. The product will also be available as a ready-baked version or a more premium version that is customized to the client’s work flow. That will involve the SalesChoice team meeting with a business and conducting an interview to assess its processes.
Gordon wants to see the firm grow to 100 clients and then raise a round of seed funding next year.
For Peters, she’s just happy to be doing less data entry and more selling. She’s also looking forward to taking advantage of the software’s drag-and-drop report building tool.
“That’s when we’ll start seeing results, when we use reporting pieces from SalesChoice,” she says. “Making sure we’re putting things through at the right time.”
It could also be when she starts seeing more free time.