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Nutshell Takes a Crack at Mid-Market

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Nov 29, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Nutshell CRM officially launched earlier this month. It is, like many startup CRM applications, focused primarily on the sales piece, although CEO Guy Suter told CRM Buyer that marketing and service will follow shortly.

Nutshell Takes a Crack at Mid-Market

Nutshell is quite different from other CRM startups in one respect: It is focusing on a long-ignored niche -- the mid-sized company.

"There are different considerations for this segment of the market, and I do think it is very underserved," said Suter. "The world has a lot of CRM options for offices with five to ten people and for offices with more than 10,000. But that middle piece -- 100-200 to 5,000 people -- has been very neglected."

A Market Scorned

Mid-market companies see this neglect as they try to make do with features that are either undersized or oversized for their operations. Midmarket companies using small-scaled CRM apps find that they don't have enough emphasis on lead structure or process capabilities and certainly little on automation and reporting, Suter said.

"A sales manager handling multiple teams across multiple accounts is not satisfied with what is basically a glorified contact management," he observed.

On the other hand, the larger-scaled applications -- such as those by Oracle or SAP -- are not easy to use, Suter noted. And they are very expensive.

Focus on Sales

Nutshell is built on HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript and is delivered as Software as a Service, Andrew Fowler, the lead developer, told CRM Buyer. The company also offers the application as an appliance for bigger customers it hopes to target, should they want to bring the app into their own data center.

The features, for the moment, are primarily geared toward maximizing sales.

They also emphasize ease of use, Fowler said. "For example, when a user is creating a new lead or account the system automatically searches to see if that name already exists. It also searches for near possibilities to avoid duplication -- Andy instead of Andrew for example -- by using a special search interface."

The sales processes are very customizable, Suter said. "A sales manager can change the different steps associated with a sales or lead-management process. Each step can have as many or as few steps as the company dictates."

Some steps, for instance, could require a rep to collect more data. Others might just be triggered if a certain action were to occur, such as the customer expressing interest in another product. Only then would a new set of steps go into affect, Suter explained.

The Mobile Piece

Nutshell CRM for the iPhone
Nutshell CRM for the iPhone

Nutshell launched with a native iPhone app that the company developed alongside its Web app.

"We decided to build the API into the app itself, so as we look beyond the iPhone to BlackBerry or the Android, it will be easy to roll out," Suter explained.

The mobile app isn't as robust as the Web app, in order to keep it easy to use in a small form factor.

The mobile version also doesn't offer reporting, but that will come in later releases, Suter said. "You cannot set up customized reports now from the iPhone app, but you can read them."

The company plans to offer mobile-specific features in the coming months, Suter said, based on the device's infrastructure -- features such as GPS tracking, for example.

Nutshell's pricing structure is US$25 per active user monthly. Anyone using Nutshell for fewer than 30 minutes in a month is considered nonactive and not subject to billing.


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