Salesnet Goes Mobile

ASPs have been claiming their Web-based models are the answer to hefty implementations and convoluted upgrades for the past several years. But Salesnet is hoping to win with an offline version of its suite. The company released Salesnet Offline, which allows sales reps to use the complete Salesnet suite when they can't connect to the Web, according to Rich Perkett, CTO and cofounder of Salesnet. "We have been receiving a lot of feedback from our customers saying that they want a robust offline version, [because] they were frustrated with their Net connectivity and want to work offline even while in the office," he says. The offline version works in tandem with the hosted version, and is not intended for use as a stand-alone model, Perkett notes. He says that the offline version will be configured instantly based on a user's online settings. Upgrades will also be seamless, performed as soon as the user logs onto the hosted version. And Perkett says that users need not worry about duplicate information, or having to manually update the online version when changes are made to files in the field. "Everything you change on the field level will be sent back up and updated instantly once you reconnect," he says. Karen Smith, research director at Aberdeen Group, says that this factor is what makes this release so useful. "It is important to have dependable, efficient synchronization that can be done quickly, she says. "Often the process results in a lot of duplicate entries, which can be very annoying, since users have to manually delete the duplicates." Smith adds that many ASPs are offering offline versions that claim seamless synchronization, and that Salesnet is simply adding these features in order to stay competitive. In addition to Salesnet Offline, the company also announced it will offer seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook beginning in May. Perkett explains the reasoning behind the new feature: "Most sales representatives work exclusively in Outlook, and the SFA solution usually doesn't know what is being sent unless the representatives go back into the solution and manually update it for that activity. This gets tedious and most users stop doing it, thus the sales managers lose visibility. We aim to solve that by adding complete integration between Salesnet and Outlook." Perkett says that with the click of a button in Outlook, emails will automatically be associated with the appropriate contact in Salesnet and updated as an activity. And, the original email, including any attachments, is permanently stored in Salesnet, he says. This integration with Outlook, the most widely-used email client, is a critical productivity-boosting feature and salespeople will appreciate the increased usability Salesnet offers as a result, according to Sheryl Kingstone, program manager of CRM strategies at the Yankee Group. According to Perkett, the company has not announced pricing for the Outlook Integration feature. Salesnet Offline will be included at no additional charge for no extra charge for users of the company's Salesnet Standard and Salesnet Extended. But effective May 1, 2003, a $20 per-user-charge will apply for new Salesnet Standard users who want to use Salesnet Offline; Salesnet Extended, however, will continue to include offline functionality at no additional charge.
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