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NetLedger Stays on CRM Track

As Web-native customer relationship management ASPs battle for market share and the industry awaits Microsoft's MS CRM (see Microsoft CRM Release Hits Speed Bump), NetLedger will announce on Tuesday that it has added what it describes as "advanced CRM features and enhancements" across its product line, which consists of the Oracle Small Business Suite, NetCRM and NetSuite.

"We've been focusing on accounting for years. Now we are turning all our guns on CRM," Zach Nelson, president of NetLedger, told ASPnews. "Last year was our best year ever. Now it's back on the treadmill."

One thing that sets NetLedger apart from other Web-based applications is its turnkey approach. NetLedger's application suite lets users create and manage an e-commerce site, manage the financials and inventory, and track and manage sales.

"Our CRM features match and surpass those available from other vendors, at a much lower price," Nelson said. "Our integration of CRM with back-office accounting, inventory and shipping functions define NetLedger's products as the next-generation of Web services."

According to NetLedger, the key new CRM features include the following:

Flexible Opportunity Management
Designed to help organize key information about deals as they flow through the sales pipeline in NetCRM and NetSuite (not available in the Oracle Small Business Suite), NetLedger says, the opportunity feature lets sales teams track when they expect deals to close, who the key decision maker is and what competitors are involved.

Competitor Tracking
Organizations can track the competitors they typically see during the sales process along with their strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies on how to win the deal while competing with them for the same customer, according to NetLedger. Companies can associate these competitor profiles with each opportunity along with who ultimately wins the customer and why the deal was lost or won.

Quota Management
The quota management feature is designed to allow sales managers to set goals for sales reps so they know what numbers they need to hit. The feature, NetLedger reports, let organization match the application to its own rules. For example, rules may call for quota assignment based on the products and services offered, multiple sales channels such as internal versus resellers or the type of sale (such as new customers versus up-sell). Graphs and reports let users compare forecast against quota, quota against actual sales and forecast against actual sales.

Forecast Master
The Forecast Master tool is designed to allow sales reps and managers to view forecasts for the month, quarter or year in a single view whether they are using Oracle Small Business Suite, NetCRM or NetLedger. Once sales reps have made adjustments to the opportunities, quotes and sales orders included in their forecast and count towards their quota, managers can review the numbers and make changes before accepting the final forecast, according the NetLedger.

Template Driven E-mail
From within a customer record, users can create and send e-mail messages using a template with a standard message. They can then personalize it with data about the customer such as their name, address or previous products purchased using special tags. A copy of the message is saved including any replies.

The new features are available immediately for no addition fee for current subscribers, according to NetLedger. For new subscribers, fees start at $50 per user, per month.

While many Web-based CRM vendors jockey for position (see Welcome to the CRM Jungle), NetLedger also has its sights set on Redmond. Nelson describes the competitive issues as "a changing landscape." Nelson said that while Salesforce.com and Upshot are intent one luring customers away from enterprise software companies such as Siebel, "our biggest competitor is Microsoft." Integration between the awaited MS CRM and Microsoft Great Plains applications will create a front-office-to-back-office solution similar to the approach NetLedger takes.

"Microsoft's solution won't be nearly as functional [as ours]," Nelson said. "They are version 1.0 and we're version 8.5."

NetLedger and Microsoft are included on the ASPnews Top 50 list.


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