BtoB

E-learning firm gets CRM education

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CHALLENGE: Like many small but fast-growing b-to-b companies, Boston-based learning software vendor OutStart Inc. realized it was outgrowing its initial customer relationship management software. The company had started out with a simple, Web-based solution—executives declined to name the vendor—but as business grew, the system was no longer fulfilling its requirements.

The company provides e-learning tools to more than 5,000 customers, including 35% of the Fortune 500. Its products range in price from $2,500 to $150,000. As OutStart grew and expanded, it developed increasingly sophisticated marketing and sales processes.

"We have both a field sales organization that sells our larger deals and an inside sales force that sells our low-end to midrange products. We also manage a lot of lead generation for our field sales, and we have a reseller network," said Dan Kossmann, CFO of OutStart. "We may be a young company, but we have a fairly complex sales model. As we started maturing that model with more and more sophisticated rules of engagement and sales processes, we realized our current solution couldn’t deal with it."

SOLUTION: OutStart turned to CRM and sales-force automation vendor SalesNet, which specializes in flexible, Web-based CRM software that can be customized to handle sophisticated sales processes.

"SalesNet models our sales processes and coaches our salespeople through the sales cycle so that they sell more effectively," Kossmann said.

"Innovative companies and thought leaders understand that following a well-thought-out sales process is one of the few ways they can run their business efficiently," said Steve Dahill, SalesNet’s senior VP-worldwide sales. "We offer a very inexpensive, graphical way for companies to tailor our solution to their unique selling methodology."

RESULTS: OutStart has effectively used SalesNet’s solution to manage and grow its sales processes. The software has enabled OutStart to keep better track of deals, especially those that involve multiple parts of the organization.

The SalesNet system lets the company manage both its inside and outside sales processes in a single system, Kossmann said. That helps the company close more deals, and salespeople get their fair share of credit and commissions, he said.

The software also supports OutStart’s sales management process. "We have moved to a fairly rigorous 10-step process, and we wanted to keep track of it, report against, analyze it and manage deals according to where they are in the sales process," Kossmann said. "SalesNet has let us do that. From lead to close, we have a sales prospect valuation tool to keep our sales process running smoothly."

— Richard Karpinski

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