Player Gets Smarter with CRM

A relatively new software and systems provider is stepping out of its
customer relationship management (CRM) shell with the launch of a new
business model.

SmartCompany said it is now combining its sales
automation platform as a hosted service to, as the company puts it,
“bring full-lifecycle customer management to the hosted market.”

Previously competing with a heavy pool of pure-play CRM firms,
SmartCompany will now seek contracts as an alternative to hosted application
providers like Salesforce.com and Siebel .
The company said its hook is that it covers the entire company —
“not just the sales force” — with project management, order tracking,
accounting, product catalogs and extensive reporting and security
capabilities. The company also said that its orders can be tracked through
the entire payment and fulfillment cycle, including tracking progress
payments, gross and net profit on a per-product and per-order basis, change
orders and commissions.

With its products, SmartCompany said customer orders could be
combined into projects to assist in team selling and complex sales involving
multiple products, sales reps, accounts and territories.

CRM addresses all aspects of interaction a company has with its customer,
whether it is sales or service related. In the hosted, or on-demand CRM,
applications are fed to
small- and medium-sized businesses via the Internet as they request them. It
places emphasis on improving total cost of ownership and proper application
integration. CRM has resulted in an explosion in business intelligence software that
provides executives and IT staff a window into their business processes.

“We want to move beyond opportunity management, because that only benefits
the sales force,” said Joe Zuffoletto, SmartCompany CEO. “Our product benefits the entire company,
including accounting, fulfillment and customer service. This is a major
leap forward for small and medium businesses that don’t want multiple
software systems to manage these operations.”

Still SmartCompany has an uphill climb against the likes of rising stars
like Salesforce.com, which has been infused with cash thanks to its recent
IPO. At the end of June, Salesforce.com counted 151,000 subscribers to its
products. In the first two months of the second fiscal quarter alone, the
company notched about 14,000 new paying customers.

But Zuffoletto shows little concern, claiming one feather in his SmartCompany cap. James Roten, CEO of Raven
Communications, converted his company to the SmartCompany CRM application
earlier this year.

SmartCompany is available on a monthly subscription basis, with pricing
based on the number of users and features selected. The company’s baseline
Solo package is free for one person and includes contact management,
online calendar and a to-do list.

The SmartCompany Startup edition includes the Solo features plus
opportunity management for up to five users for $995 per year. Additional
modules, such as project management and order tracking, can be added to a
Startup subscription as needed, the company said.

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