The Talking Type
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"Sales reps hate to type," says Robert Tippetts, founder of Salt Lake City-based Prototyping Management Corporation, "but they love to talk." So his company offers a product that can make their lives easier by allowing them to dictate call reports over the phone. After meetings or presentations, reps can dial an 800 number and rattle off recollections. PMC Selling System records their comments. Typists then transcribe the recording, and a human analyst goes over the transcription to organize and format the unstructured data. The finished report is fed back to the rep and the sales manager, and can also be fed into a CRM or SFA system with action items pulled to the top. This yields better results than simple voice recognition software, claims Tippetts, because results are not hindered by noisy conditions in the field, and reps don't have to go over the call report afterward; PMC does all the editing for them.

PMC says its product is ideally positioned to fix what ails sales force automation. The company claims that CRM and SFA systems are turning sales professionals-whom they call a company's most expensive employees-into data entry clerks. PMC research found that an average rep spends five and a half hours per week, or over 20 hours per month, on the keyboard. PMC Selling System can give a rep back these 20 hours for increased productivity and sales, says Tippetts, whose clients include Hughes, Boeing and American Express.

Tippetts got his start writing proposals destined for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. "We found we could cut 60 percent of the time we spent putting together a proposal by asking team members to dictate their contributions," he says. "They were happy to edit a submission once they got it back, but they had a hard time writing it in the first place."

Although PMC has other clients, sales professionals are a major market. Tippetts, who thinks Siebel Sales, for example, is as opaque as concrete for the average rep, claims mainstream CRM players are interested in his product. "If, using our product, they can get reps to like their systems, it'll open up a whole new market," he says. Several GoldMine resellers are already selling PMC Selling System bundled with GoldMine. The product can synchronize with SalesLogix, ACT!, GoldMine and Siebel CRM systems. Price is $950 per month for five reps and unlimited use.

"One of our customers has five reps who each call in six to eight times a day," says Tippetts. "That company's sales managers are getting data they've never seen before."

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