FIVE-MINUTE SALES PITCH

UpShot Stays the Course

The online CRM marketplace is getting crowded. UpShot was one the first vendors to offer a hosted CRM application, but since its founding in 1996, a number of other companies with similar business models have entered the market.

As part of its ongoing Five-Minute Sales Pitch series of interviews, CRM Buyer Magazine caught up with UpShot chairman and founder Keith Raffel to get his take on the direction in which the company is heading (in a word, upstream). He emphasized that UpShot will continue to stay competitive by sticking to what it does best: helping companies facilitate sales.

“Our primary buyer is the sales organization, so we will continue to adapt to the way companies sell,” he told CRM Buyer. At the same time, UpShot is working to deliver new methodologies that put more information in front of executives “so they can see at one glance how the sales organization is doing.”

Blue-Chip Credibility

A third value proposition the vendor brings to market, Raffel continued, is its standing among a certain sect of blue-chip companies.

“If someone has a US$5 million RFP (request for proposal) out there, that is not for us,” he said. “But a company like General Motors Acceptance Corporation — which started out with 100 to 200 seats, then continued to add more on an incremental basis – is very viable for us and has been our sweet spot, customer-wise.

“More and more, we are getting divisions within companies, such as Xerox and American Airlines, and starting to spread within them as well.”

UpShot Heads Upstream

CRM Buyer: Where will UpShot continue to focus its efforts?

Raffel: We will continue to move up-market. We have several high-profile customers today, such as General Motors and Hewlett-Packard, and we will be announcing more and more of them.

CRM Buyer: Given the high-end focus you are taking, who are your primary competitors?

Raffel: The heart of our customer base are companies with 20 to 250 seats, and there we see a lot of Salesforce.com. On the high end, though, Siebel is our main competitor.

Identifying Differentiators

CRM Buyer: I can see the value proposition you offer a price-conscious company against Siebel’s applications, which can be very costly to implement. But how do you differentiate yourself from other online competitors like Salesforce.com?

Raffel: We have concentrated our efforts first and foremost on sales, improving forecasting, and making the sales process or processes more effective and efficient. Thus we have a deeper, richer application.

CRM Buyer: For example?

Raffel: Our forecasting module itself. Also our e-mail integration with Outlook, which is a reflection of the way salespeople really work. Our channel management and workflow engine, which offer triggers and alerts, are other examples.

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