Developers Offer CRM Wares for Small Businesses

Developers Offer CRM Wares for Small Businesses

Dennis Callaghan

The battle for the small to medium-sized CRM business goes on as developers Pivotal Corp., Salesnet Inc. and SupportWizard Inc. each add new features to their offerings to widen their appeal.

Pivotal is adding a host of new capabilities, including guided selling, in its Pivotal 5 release designed to make the midmarket CRM software more accessible to the higher end of the company’s target market. Meanwhile, hosted CRM service provider Salesnet next week will announce that it is adding an offline client and improved Outlook integration. And SupportWizard on Tuesday unveiled its latest product, Enterprise Wizard, featuring shorter implementation times and a money-back guarantee.

At the end of this month, Pivotal will announce Pivotal 5, which officials at the company in Vancouver, British Columbia, said is Pivotal’s most significant release since its first release.

Chief among the new features of Pivotal 5 is support for assisted selling in Pivotal Sales, built on technology Pivotal acquired when it bought Exactium Inc. more than a year ago. Designed to be used mainly for internal sales configurations, the software makes product recommendations based on customer criteria entered by the user and also handles quoting and discounting.

That criteria can be gathered from the customer by the new Pivotal Marketing campaign management application, software Pivotal acquired when it bought MarketFirst Inc. last year and has integrated with the rest of the suite with this release. So the product can also be used as a stand-alone for mass e-mail marketing campaigns, officials said.

Pivotal has also added a Web self-service module to its Pivotal Service application and a partner portal to Pivotal Partner Management. All applications and modules across the suite now share a uniform look and feel, and the software makes heavy use of Microsoft .Net technologies.

Meanwhile, Salesnet is adding an offline client, based on .Net as well, to its hosted CRM service offering. Though Salesnet is trailing other service providers like Inc. and UpShot Corp., who have already released such technologies, Salesnet officials in Boston said their version offers a better user experience, performance and security.

Lee Boswell, director of sales support at Software AG, in Reston, Va., had some members of her sales force using Salesnet Offline in beta. Boswell said it’s something her sales force had been clamoring for and the company plans to roll it out to up to 150 users.

“Our remote salespeople could work on it whenever they wanted to, without being tied to the system,” she said. “They could do whatever they wanted to do, then sync up when they were back online.”

Boswell said that despite not having offline capabilities, Salesnet was still the best choice for her company since it was more flexible and configurable than other hosted CRM services, enough for the company to move to Salesnet from Siebel Systems Inc.’s software when its sales processes changed.

As previously reported by eWEEK, Salesnet is planning to announce new Outlook integration capabilities around the middle of the quarter so that users can associate e-mail messages in Outlook with sales accounts, contacts and opportunities in Salesnet, similar to technologies recently announced by the other hosted services.

This week, SupportWizard announced its next-generation product, Enterprise Wizard, designed for companies with less than 3,000 employees.

With J2EE-based modules for sales, support and marketing, the Redwood City, Calif., company is guaranteeing that the software can be up and running within two weeks. Pricing is $500 per seat, or $50 per seat per month as a hosted offering.

Salesnet Offline is included within the Salesnet Extended service, which is priced at $99 per user per month. It adds $20 to the price of Salesnet Standard, normally priced at $65 per user per month. Pricing for Pivotal 5 varies based on customer requirements.

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Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Small Business Resource Center.