A Sharper Edge for Sales Managers

Sales automation solutions have traditionally been focused on helping the sales rep manage leads and contacts. Meanwhile the sales manager is still thumbing through stacks of reports to make territory management decisions. But now Ockham Technologies has leveraged advances in software analytics to help the sales manager make accurate, strategic and very competitive decisions.

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.

Make It stick
When Ockham President and CEO Jim Triandiflou and his partner Mike Meisenheimer were working for sales management consulting firm The Alexander Group, they say their 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."

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 their year to break down their 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. "It's thought that 80 percent of a company's revenue usually comes from 20 percent of its customers," says Triandiflou. "A common mistake we hope sales managers can avoid with SRDeployment is not assigning enough reps to the most important accounts." 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 on-going sales performance analysis and pipeline monitoring.

Different Tack
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." While analytics are beginning to show up in marketing solutions, Ockham is the only vendor so far to focus on analysis from a sales point of view.

Andaloro thinks the analytical CRM field is still wide open. Big players like Siebel have made some token moves towards 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 who estimates that there are about 8 million sales managers in the U.S. "Before, there was no place for them to go for resources." 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. But Ockham is not alone out there. Communities for sales reps are popping up all over the Net. "Ockham managers have two challenges," says Andaloro. "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."

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