Salesforce.com, Cisco Target SMBs With New CTI Adapter

Salesforce.com continues to carve its user base — and prospective user base — into finer and finer niches, which it then targets with new products. The rollout of the Cisco Unified CallConnector for Salesforce.com exemplifies that strategy.

Salesforce.com introduced a contact center application with the rollout of its Winter 07 release, made available in January. It allows for simple integration with telephony infrastructure. There are also some 59 CTI (computer telephony integration) adapters available on AppExchange as well.

The Cisco Unified CallConnector is unique, however, in that it can integrate not only with a contact center product or application but also with the Cisco CallManager, according to Woodson Martin, vice president of application product lines for Salesforce.com.

“That means that anyone with a Cisco IP (Internet protocol) phone system can receive its benefits,” he told CRM Buyer. “It is not just for contact center use.”

SMBs and Knowledge Workers

“It is a great tool to reach a broader telephony-oriented audience than what Salesforce.com can reach right now,” Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.

What Salesforce.com andCisco are trying to deliver, she explained, is access to companies that are too small for an extensive telephony or contact center investment — but still want to be able to integrate higher-end VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) functions into their sales operations.

“It also makes sense for Cisco, because they are not necessarily focused on the contact center but rather the knowledge worker with their applications,” she added.

One use case might involve a salesperson following a lead, Salesforce.com’s Martin said. With Cisco Unified CallConnector, it would still be possible to leverage a CRM (customer relationship management) system’s functionality, even if there weren’t an intervening contact center application to manage the calls.

How It Works

The user in this scenario receives much of the same information that a contact center rep does from a desktop application. For inbound calls to Cisco Unified IP Phones, screen-pops within the Salesforce application provide recent customer activity, for instance, or outstanding follow-up tasks, sales opportunities or service-level agreements — in fact, says the company, almost any activity that a company would like to track.

Outbound callers searching for a contact can click on a phone number in the application and initiate the call.

One early adopter is Zions Bank Correspondent Banking Group, which bundled the Cisco Unified CallConnector into its sales management system.

“Because bankers must spend their day multitasking, any product that eliminates the time to retrieve files or phone numbers and makes recording data easier and with more precision is highly valued,” explained Randy Cameron, senior vice president at the group. “The Cisco Unified CallConnector for Salesforce.com has improved the productivity within our business. … Our professionals can now use the click-to-call feature to dial a customer’s contact number with a single click of the mouse, take call notes and create follow-up tasks — all from the same customer files and records.”

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