Upshot Extends CRM To Embrace Diverse Sales Processes


A new version of Upshot's hosted CRM service claims to embrace diverse sales processes and offer multiple role-based views of data.

Available now, Upshot's MultiProcess Management capability will let companies preserve their investment in existing, and typically ingrained, processes and methodologies, the company said.

"The gist is that different sales people in different organizations behave differently depending on the kinds of account they work with," said Rob Henshaw, president of Success Partners, a Toronto-based CRM integrator. "One consistent tool to provide multiple . ways to look at customer data, will help you help these customers."

Henshaw echoed a common plaint of CRM pioneers: If the end-user tool isn't easy to use, sales reps will simply not use it, and then the value of the system is nil. The biggest challenge is first, figuring out what companies want to do with CRM, and then getting people to use the tool provided, he said.

"MultiProcess management is a less-than-exciting name for something very valuable. It lets us adapt to a company's existing sales process. If you have 23 divisions, some might be using Miller-Heiman [methodology] others have their own. Upshot can support them all," said Keith Raffel, chairman and founder of Upshot, Mountain View, Calif.

The technology parses data so the person in one division doesn't have to see what's going on in the other 22 processes, but the vice president of sales can see an overlay of all activity, Raffel said.

Raffel concedes that CRM companies have taken a PR hit because of well-publicized tales of implementation failures. "The batting average for CRM has not been good. When we go to talk to customers, what they're looking for is information and they know they'll only get it if their sales reps use what they're given and we can help that by taking away extraneous information," he noted.

The new capabilities give VARs tools to service complex accounts, Raffel said. "They can get complex organizations set up more quickly and cost-effectively than before. In the past with Siebel, if the company changed the steps in its sales cycle, you'd have a consultant come in for four months and thousands of dollars," he noted.

Reseller partners get a piece of the initial sale and a recurring revenue stream as long as the customer remains active.

Upshot, founded in 1999 at the height of the dot.com boom is one of the few remaining hosted CRM companies, along with San Francisco-based Salesforce.com. Raffel said he expects Upshot to be profitable this year. Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff has said his company will be profitable this quarter. But other hosted CRM providers have fallen by the wayside. Wheelhouse, a Boston-area CRM player that tried to reconfigure itself as a more traditional software company closed its doors last year. Its assets have now been bought and relaunched as Aptsoft.(See story.)

Aptsoft is showing off its new effort this week at Demo 2003 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Upshot is also at the show to show off its new capabilities.

Upshot standard services is $65 per month per user. The XE version, including this new capability, is $96 per user per month. Resellers get a piece of the initial sale and a continuing slice of the business.