Sales force automation systems purport to improve sales organizations in two ways: by increasing sales reps' efficiency and by giving sales managers the information they need to make decisions. But, some analysts claim, SFA systems are better at delivering on the first promise than on the second. Most systems offer only limited functionality for sales managers.
New software by Ockham Technologies aims to fill these needs. The company, founded by two ex-consultants in the sales management field, is named after William of Ockham, a 14th century mathematician who coined "Ockham's Razor," a rule preferring the simplest of competing theories to the more complex.
Ockham Technologies introduced the first of five modules in its SalesRazor series in November 1999 and plans to deploy the entire suite by the middle of this year. Each SalesRazor application is available either as an enterprise license or hosted application. Enterprise licenses for a 750-person sales force are available for $95,000 to $125,000 per application. Additional 250-person blocks can be purchased for $20,000 to $25,000. Monthly hosting costs are $5,000 to $7,500 per application for a 750-person sales force, with additional 250-person blocks at $1,000 to $1,500.
Make It stick
When Ockham President and CEO Jim Triandiflou was working for sales management consulting firm The Alexander Group, he says his clients often asked for sales management tools. "They were implementing CRM solutions, and they were still looking for tools to make it stick," says Triandiflou. "They wanted more than just a bound report."
So Triandiflou did some calculations on the "typical" Fortune 1000 company and determined that there was a need for software to help sales managers. He estimates that the typical Fortune 1000 company is spending $300 to $600 million on sales. "When I asked what tools companies were using to decide how to spend that money, all they were using were Excel spreadsheets," says Triandiflou. "I calculated that if I could help clients get a 10 percent increase in sales productivity, I could help them almost double their bottom line."
The SalesRazor suite, developed with input from IBM, will ultimately have five modules: SRPlanning, SRDeployment, SRQuotas, SRHiring and SRMetrix. Managers will use SRPlanning at the beginning of the year to break down revenue goals by channel, segment and product, and then decide how to spend their budgets to attain their goals. SRDeployment will be used to decide how many reps to put on each product or in each territory. SRQuotas helps managers set fair quotas. SRHiring manages the hiring process, keeping track of what skills and people are needed. And SRMetrix, the first to be launched, is a dashboard interface that pulls data from SFA, ERP and legacy systems for sales performance analysis and pipeline monitoring.
Ockham is definitely taking a different tack from mainstream SFA players, says Judy Andaloro of AMR Research. "Sales force automation vendors have not been strong on analytics," she says. "Ockham's value is in being able to pull information from disparate sources such as ERP and CRM systems and use it to drive analytics."
Although Ockham is the only vendor to focus on analysis from a sales point of view, other companies are bringing out analytical tools to be used from a marketing angle. "There is definitely a trend towards bringing out products that emphasize analysis," says Andaloro, who thinks Ockham's value proposition is quite high. "These tools will be really hot this year."
According to Andaloro, companies have lots of information from past installations of ERP and CRM systems. Now they want to use it for strategic purposes. "Companies don't want to just automate business processes anymore," she says. "They want to do things they haven't done before, like decide who to target and who their best leads are. It would be great if companies could use the information they have in their databases. Analysis tools like those offered by Ockham will drive revenue much more than just putting a laptop in a sales rep's hands."
Andaloro thinks the analytical CRM field is still wide open. Big players like Siebel have made some token moves toward offering analytical tools, but will have to make more of an effort now that companies like E.piphany and Broadbase are cutting in on their territory. "It's becoming more necessary for CRM vendors to have analytics," she says.
The Year of the Community
In April, Ockham is also launching a Web site for sales managers called salesmanagement.com. "The portal will have everything near and dear to a sales manager's heart," says Triandiflou. The site will have information on best practices, benchmarking, training and recruiting. Through partnerships with other sites like Amazon.com, it will also offer merchandise like reward and recognition items and books on sales management techniques. It will be a place where sales managers can network, offering "Webinars" and "Ask the Expert" sessions. And, of course, the SalesRazor series will be accessible through the site. "The information and community activities are free," says Triandiflou, "but we will charge for the applications."
On average there are five sales reps to each sales manager. Ockham figures that means there are about eight million sales managers in the U.S. alone. "Before, there was no place for them to go to find information," says Triandiflou. "Now they can come to our site."
"The year 2000 will be known as the 'Year of the Community,'" jokes Andaloro. Aprimo has launched an online marketing site. Others offer sites for the service community. Communities for sales reps are also popping up all over the Net.
But, warns Andaloro, for a Web site to succeed, the content has to be good. "Ockham managers have two challenges," she says. "They need to differentiate the company from the average SFA and CRM vendors, and they have to provide good content. It's clear they have a lot of work to do."