For customer relationship management (CRM) software to be effective, salespeople have to use it.
Sounds simple enough. However, when it comes to CRM software there has been “a lack of customer satisfaction,” said Keith Raffel, chairman and founder of Upshot Corp., a Mountain View, Calif.-based ASP that provides Web-native CRM software.
Raffel told ASPnews that today’s announced UpShot Office will help meet the biggest challenge to CRM adoption: “To make sure sales reps will do it.” Raffel says the evidence of CRM’s mixed results is easy to see: “What do have salespeople have on their monitors?”
Raffel said that while many salespeople have access to an online CRM service, most still spend more time in front of Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint. “Sales reps told us that they spend as much time using standard desktop applications for generating proposals, presentations and quotations as they do with any CRM solution.”
To help bring the worlds of desktop applications and CRM together, UpShot Office offers sales reps the capability to link UpShot information about deals and prospects with their desktop applications.
To accomplish its integration goal, UpShot Office encompasses a three-prong strategy:
Offline Express, which has been available since November 2001, was the first step in UpShot Office (“Of course, we didn’t announce it that way at the time,” Raffel said). Salespeople can download information about their sales opportunities into an Excel spreadsheet that has the same look-and-feel as the UpShot online service. Because Office Express “leverages Excel 2000 as the client,” Raffel said, there is no need to download separate client software.
Sales reps can add new deals and accounts, review and edit information about accounts and deals, and update forecasts even when an Internet connection is not available. The changes and additions they have made can be uploaded later to UpShot. Raffel told ASPnews this is not a long process and that 400 records, for example, can be downloaded or uploaded in about 30 seconds.
UpShot Office Connect consists of Visual Studio.NET-based application programming interfaces (APIs) that link the sales information in UpShot with desktop applications, which allows salespeople to accomplish the following tasks:
- Generate proposals, create invoices or write contracts Microsoft Word.
- Generate quotes, calculate sales commissions, up-to-the-minute forecasts or analytical reports Microsoft Excel.
- Develop data-driven presentations for management or proposals for customers Microsoft PowerPoint.
- Plan sales and marketing campaigns Microsoft PowerPoint.
Beyond Microsoft Office software, the APIs will allow integration with third-party applications for accounting, list management, email, proposal systems, pricing and so on.
UpShot Office Productivity Kit includes templates that offer customers ready-made tools such as a proposal generator, quoting tool, instant presentation, dynamic matrix report or mass update tool.
UpShot’s announcement comes as the industry anticipates Microsoft’s entry into the CRM market. While some vendors may be nervous about the software giant’s planned release, through its Great Plains unit (see Will Great Plains Cause Great Pains?), UpShot doesn’t sound worried. “We fit more with the vision for Web services,” Raffel said. And while Microsoft reports that its from-the-ground-up Microsoft .NET implementation will be available late this year or early 2003, Raffel said he expects it to be more like 2004 before Microsoft has a CRM application.
UpShot Office, Raffel told ASPnews, will be available on June 28.
UpShot is listed by ASPnews as a Top 20 Provider.
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