StreetSmarts Taps Sales Knowledge Pool

Last month, the vendor unveiled a new partner program designed to entice solution providers interested in good margins and recurring revenue. That's one approach. But while potential partners might find much to cheer about in Involve's program, they probably won't find it out of the ordinary compared with other well-thought-out efforts. It was, after all, crafted by David Bean, whose 18 years' experience includes building and managing the channel for Best Software's SalesLogix CRM application.

STREETSMARTS TAKES NEW PATH>> StreetSmarts ties into e-mail, salesforce automation applications to ease the sharing of knowledge between salespeople.
>> The tool tracks communication and rewards users for participation

Instead, Involve is hoping that its StreetSmarts product will grab the goodwill of potential partners and customers. That's because StreetSmarts offers true knowledge management capabilities for delivering concrete advice from colleagues and experts on how to close a specific deal. "We track the tribal knowledge or wisdom of the sales team," said Bean, vice president of corporate development at the Phoenix vendor.

Here's how it works: The hosted application ties into users's e-mail systems and sales-force automation (SFA) programs. StreetSmarts notices when a rep using an SFA app moves a prospect's status to the next phase in the sales process. It can then send a congratulatory e-mail to the salesperson that also asks for the most effective techniques for reaching that phase.

What's important is that all information within Street-Smarts come from sales folks' own colleagues. That requires a fairly high level of participation within the sales organization"a culture notorious for its low CRM usage. That's why Involve has created built-in incentive capabilities to reward people for using and contributing to the knowledge pool. Offering advice, rating its usefulness and asking questions all earn points that companies can make use of in their internal awards programs.

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So far, the approach seems to be working"Bean claims 85 percent to 90 percent usage of StreetSmarts.

"As I talk to potential customers, the appealing part is how StreetSmarts can ramp up a new sales rep," said Scott Adams, president of SalesPath, a Kirkland, Wash.-based CRM solution provider that recently joined Involve's partner community. "If you look up the salary of a field rep, and the time it takes to ramp up that person to really get out and sell, you realize StreetSmarts can pay for itself fairly quickly."

Since taking on the product in May, SalesPath has five companies in its pipeline"including one planning a 200-user pilot that will grow to 1,000 users. It also won a deal with business intelligence analytics vendor ProClarity, which bought StreetSmarts for its 500-member channel. Those partners face a daunting challenge: trying to explain a complex product within a rapidly shifting product category.

"It's difficult enough getting that sort of knowledge propagated internally," said Clay Young, senior vice president of strategic marketing at ProClarity, Boise, Idaho. "It's incredibly difficult getting that knowledge out to the channel."

To date, Involve has 15 VARs. Park City Solutions, which provides software and consulting services for the health-care industry, is perhaps the most intriguing. That's because Park City liked StreetSmarts so much it decided to sell it, too. Last month, the Midway, Utah-based company spun off a separate division, called Upstream Access, to provide StreetSmarts to Park City's health-care clients.

Upstream Access can tap into Involve's own Street- Smarts implementation for channel-specific advice and knowledge. It also receives StreetSmarts for its internal use, recurring revenue and on-the-job training.