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FrontRange Sees Big Bucks in Small Business
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While other CRM vendors vie for dominance in the midmarket, FrontRange Solutions has set its sights a little, well, lower.

"We're committed to focusing exclusively on small businesses and the lower midmarket," says Eric Miles, executive vice president, worldwide operations at the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based company. "We're not even planning to go up into the higher midmarket. It just dilutes our focus."

U.S. Census reports indicate 99.6 percent of all companies are categorized as small businesses, while the company's own research shows that less than 5 percent of these businesses have adopted integrated front office solutions. Based on these numbers, Miles doesn't think FrontRange needs to throw its hat into the midmarket ring with other vendors. "They can slug it out," he says. We're just pleased to focus on the other 99.6 percent."

With its 2,000 plus resellers, the company is poised to tackle a market most CRM vendors can't touch. Over the last two years, FrontRange has cobbled together a CRM suite for the small and mid-enterprise market, starting with the merger of GoldMine's SFA product and Bendata's Heat help desk solution. Last summer, the company acquired Maestro to tack on e-business and ASP solutions. A recently announced internal reorganization is designed to bring those teams together by putting key people in charge of pieces of the joint company.

"They've done most of their refurbishing internally, and now they're ready to go out to market," says Christopher Fletcher, vice president and managing director of customer relationship management for the Aberdeen Group, Boston. "They've got a marketing, sales and support suite now, which comes out of the box. They've enhanced the back end and standardized on SQL Server, so they have more extensibility in the product."

According to Miles, its solutions now scale from single user to well over 200 users without any gap in the solution. "If we can bring 80 percent of the functionality of the enterprise solutions at 20 percent of the cost, that's a pretty good formula," says Miles.

Partner Preparation

There's still work to be done, however. Currently only 50 of its partners sell both Heat and GoldMine, while less than a dozen offer the Maestro products. Miles says they're welcome to sell all three provided they have the skill set and capabilities needed. "We think some will specialize around service and support; some may focus on sales and marketing solutions; others will be capable of implementing integrated CRM and e-business solutions."

So far, VARs seem receptive to the changes. "FrontRange is doing what needs to be done," says Tom Crafton, CEO of Thought Velocity, Vancouver, Wash. "Clients like to deal with as few companies as possible. It's difficult making sure everything works together when they're from different companies. If we have one company that's putting several things together, it makes it easier for us."

Crafton has been selling GoldMine for nine years, Heat for two and has met the certification requirements for selling Maestro. "We're having seminars on the Maestro product now to get people in and begin to talk about e-commerce," he says. "They're glad to know someone is there trying to help them understand e-commerce and how it should integrate to contact management."

FrontRange has more than 120,000 GoldMine customers, all of which are good candidates for e-business solutions. They're satisfied customers, too. While maintenance renewal is around 30 percent for the industry, FrontRange's is at 92 percent. An independent survey commissioned by the company revealed 98 percent of its customers would either buy again or refer the solution to a friend.

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