Looking to out-Microsoft Microsoft when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) software, Web-based CRM ASP Upshot today announced what it describes as the only hosted CRM service to offer integration with Microsoft Outlook e-mail software.
“Microsoft has been touting the integration of its CRM software with Outlook. UpShot’s Web service not only delivers deep integration with Outlook, it can be quickly deployed at a total cost of ownership that is a fraction of what will be offered by Microsoft,” Keith Raffel, Upshot’s chairman and founder said.
Raffel’s comments refer to Microsoft’s anticipated entry into the CRM market. While not many details are known about Microsoft CRM application, it is expected to target small to mid-size companies.
“Integration with e-mail is the number 1 request from users,” Raffel told ASPnews. The goal of Upshot’s new Outlook features is to both increase CRM adoption rates and increase the amount of sales-critical data available. With what Raffel describes as “one-click integration” salespeople can capture both incoming and outgoing e-mails and add relevant messages and attachments to Upshot.
The new features appear both simple and significant. Raffel said the Outlook XML-based integration doesn’t required the addition of an Exchange server or any other hardware. Users will notice three new buttons on the Outlook e-mail toolbar:
- Add to Upshot, which is designed to allow users to add incoming messages and documents to the CRM application
- Send and Add to Upshot, allows users to add outgoing e-mails to Upshot while sending an e-mail
- Upshot Find, built to let users look up e-mail addresses stored in Upshot’s CRM software
Users can, according to Upshot, opt to automatically associate e-mail events with contacts in the CRM application. Users can also add e-mail contacts to Upshot and edit UpShot accounts, contacts or deals from within Outlook. The company said it ensures end-to-end security through authentication and encrypted XML.
Upshot has been working on the integration features for almost a year. In addition to meeting users’ request, the Outlook integration offers competitive benefits, Raffel told ASPnews. “Salesforce doesn’t have it.”
Tight integration with Microsoft applications has been part of Upshot’s recent strategy. In May, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company announced UpShot Office, a product designed to help salespeople link UpShot information about deals and prospects with desktop applications. It also launched Upshot Express, an offline version of its Web-native service based on Excel 2000. The spreadsheet-based app has the same look and feel as Upshot, but doesn’t require users to download separate client software (see UpShot Mixes CRM With Microsoft Office Apps).
Outlook integration will be available by the end of November.
Upshot is listed by ASPnews as a Top 20 Service Provider.
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