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Salesnet Adds Reporting Tools to Online SFA

Salesnet has added new reporting functionality to its online sales force automation (SFA) product, designed to let users more easily identify changes in their sales pipeline and forecasting abilities by comparing snapshots of historical data.

In addition, users of Salesnet Extended have a new option called Dashboard, a customizable tool that displays bar graphs and pie charts of sales and marketing data.

“Report snapshots and comparison allow users to combine two sales or marketing reports into one color-coded comparison report,” CTO Rich Perkett told CRM Buyer Magazine. “This enables easy comparison of sales forecasts, so users can immediately identify changes, additions and deletions; compare the sales activities or pipelines of different sales reps or regions; and track responses to marketing campaigns in real-time.”

End of Manual Reporting?

Salesnet said its new features address an important pain point in many sales pipelines.

Sales managers typically process activity within the sales pipeline manually, the vendor explained. In order to report on trends, changes or deletions in the sales forecast from one month to another, the manager must print out two separate spreadsheets. The subsequent analysis can take days to complete. With the report snapshot and comparison feature, a sales manager “can easily see what has changed and what has remained static,” Perkett said.

Another example is the way the marketing process works. A marketing director normally wants to know how many leads from a direct-mail campaign are penetrating through the sales cycle — a task easily accomplished through any number of SFA applications. However, determining how many leads are dead and how many still need follow-up requires more reports. The dashboard can produce these results in graph form, Perkett said.

ASP, with a Twist

Salesnet is one of a handful of vendors targeting the online CRM space. Other companies include Salesforce.com, UpShot and, lately, NetLedger — although each vendor offers a different twist on the ASP CRM model.

Salesforce.com, for example, has positioned itself as a complete CRM product suite. It recently rolled out a wireless edition and plans to announce shortly an integrated billing application that will include contract-management and order-management features, according to CEO and chairman Marc Benioff.

UpShot, on the other hand, tends to concentrate on its SFA roots. “UpShot’s ability to set triggers, measure lead-effectiveness, integrate with desktop apps and e-mail, integrate with legacy applications and support a company’s sales processes permits us to compete toe-to-toe with any CRM vendor,” Keith Raffel, the company’s chairman and founder, told CRM Buyer.

Online CRM Grows Up

Salesnet’s recent enhancements illustrate that the online services model is attracting growing numbers of fans, despite the knee-jerk propensity of many CIOs to stay with licensed software.

“The big picture is that online services are growing up,” Sheryl Kingstone, customer relationship management strategies program manager at the Yankee Group, told CRM Buyer. Two years ago, for example, everyone said integration and customization would be impossible with an online service, she continued. But Upshot and Salesforce.com have addressed those complaints.

As for Salesnet’s recent additions, “the ability to compare forecasts and identify changes over specific time periods eliminates a longstanding sales visibility problem,” she said. “Many sales managers compare spreadsheets manually to identify changes in the forecast. With the latest release, Salesnet fulfills companies’ unmet needs by providing fully automated visibility into the trends and patterns that create these critical forecasting changes.”

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