While many CRM vendors have built multifunctional product suites in aneffort to address every customer contact need, others have stayed focused ona single function, hoping to succeed by doing one thing well. Selectica is acase in point.
“I used to hear everything about suite products,” observed Karen E. Smith,research director at the Aberdeen Group. “But more and more companiesare looking for a product that will address a specific point of pain,” shetold CRM Buyer Magazine.
Selectica’s Interactive Selling System is designed to address one of thosepoints of pain: configuring complex products, particularly in amultichannel environment.
Assembling Complex Products
At the heart of the Selectica application lies a configuration engine that allows companies to capture specifications,business rules, and other processes integral to the sale of complex technology.The Selectica software uses this data to configureproducts or systems to meet customer requirements. It then calculates pricing andproduces a quote — all in much less time than it would take to do the job manually.
The company says that customers who formerly spent days producing a quotecan now complete them in minutes, with improved accuracy. That saves moneyand can lead to increased sales, Selectica representatives claim.
Selectica’s customers include manufacturers of computers, networking equipmentand other high-technology gear; telcos; and medical product providers.Selectica also offers a vertical package for the insurance industry.
In Selectica’s target industries, products and pricing can change rapidly. Dr.Sanjay Mittel, president and CEO, told CRM Buyer thatSelectica’s programming-free environment makes it possible for these changesto be modeled quickly by nonprogrammers. “That becomes a hugecost-of-ownership advantage for our customers,” he said.
Selectica also proves real-time connectors to other CRM products, as well asto ERP (enterprise resource planning) and other back office systems, so thatchanges in customer status, inventory levels, and other factors canautomatically be taken into account as a configuration is built.
Beyond Corporate Walls
Because Selectica’s software is Web-based, it can be extended to includemultiple sales channels, including unassisted selling on the Internet,mobile sales forces (via wireless devices or disconnected), partnerchannels, and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) distributors.
“With other vendors, you will end up building multiple solutions, one foreach of the channels,” Mittel said. “With Selectica you build thesolution once and can deploy it across any and all of these channels.”
Aberdeen’s Smith said Selectica’s focus on narrow but deep functionality, aswell as its vertical approach, makes sense in the competitive CRMenvironment.
“For the future,” she said, “they’ll need to stay focused on deepening theirexperience in specific verticals, understanding what those customers want –and address that with new tools and services.”
She added that the company has done a good job of providing return oninvestment, particularly for customers in IT technology applications. “Anarea Selectica needs to focus on, like all suppliers, is to make surethey can deliver results quickly — months, not years,” Smith concluded.
More Than a Function
“The way we look at it, providing support for configuration, pricing andquoting is not just a matter of having a check box in a long list of CRMfunctionality,” Mittel said.
“If you cannot sell your product, you’re out ofbusiness. We help companies sell their products in a timely manner, in acost-effective manner.”