Salesnet Enters the Vertical Market

The vertical effort for CRM gained altitude today as SFA specialist Salesnet announced the availability of its first three industry-specific versions. The new offerings, in the areas of advertising/media sales, commercial lending, and telecommunication services, are among the first releases into the midmarket hosted space of products specifically tailored to the end-user's industry. Joe Outlaw, president and chief analyst at Outlaw Research, says they won't be the last: "The demand for verticals is growing in the small- and midsize-business space." Outlaw says Salesnet is going down the right path. "They haven't just put templates and terminology on top of their application--they found partners in those industries that they could work with." Most important, he says, is that "with their partners they've developed workflows that are common to that industry and built them in....If you don't have that workflow engine built in, you don't have a real vertical solution--and that's where Salesnet has taken the extra step." Salesnet has several other specialized offerings rolling out over the next year, including versions for the insurance, mortgage, and software-sales industries, as well as another module focusing on sales methodology. "There's a correct way to go vertical," says Sheryl Kingstone, the CRM Strategies program manager at The Yankee Group. The critical step in any industry-specific edition, she says, "is not just to template it, but to go deep with vertical solution partners." That's one benefit she cites about Salesnet's Media Ad Sales edition--Salesnet is working closely with Encoda Systems. "It's a trend in the industry to go toward verticalized solutions," says Dan Starr, Salesnet's CMO. These offerings, he says, are more than just relabeled versions of the company's existing product line. "Business partner relationships helped us develop these products," he says, adding that half the company's new business is coming from the partner channel. Starr says he sees verticalization as "an external signal of the level of maturity of the on-demand industry." The company's new telecommunications services version is particularly geared toward firms focused on bundled offerings, and therefore includes database extensions for the market's various product types, among other attributes. The product for advertising sales in media includes the standard broadcast calendar for TV, cable, satellite, and radio, and is configured both to monitor and to report on ad-specific metrics, such as deals won by agency and campaign budget. The commercial lending version offers predefined processes, database extensions, and specialized screen layouts all tailored to regional and national banks that lend to businesses. Salesnet's competition isn't fading anytime soon, but Kingstone says that Salesnet has a window of opportunity: "It may be a little easier for Siebel to bring these [vertical solutions] to market," she says, but "where Salesnet can win out is by empowering the verticalization partners." Related articles: Salesnet Expands its ASP Model and Gets a Cash Infusion Salesnet Turns to the Channel to Capture the Midmarket
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