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IM and SFA Collide in ASP Offering

By Dan Muse     Feedback

Salesnet, a Web-based ASP that offers salesforce automation software, will announce plans to add instant messaging capabilities to its wireless edition.

How do you get salespeople to use sales force automation (SFA) software? "Make it easier to use the application than to not use it," according to Tim Rochford of Salesnet, a Boston-based SFA ASP, said.

Salesnet sees instant messaging (IM) as a key to achieving that ease of use and Rochford is the developer charged with integrating IM capabilities into the wireless edition of Salesnet's Web-based application.

The company will announce those IM integration plans tomorrow. Steve Dahill, senior vice president at Salesnet, said the new service will integrate IM features from AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo! and will "close a gap in the sales process."

That gap, Dahill said, opens up when salespeople leave the office, are at the airport or have just left a meeting. "People don't use the tools. There's no software or process in place. IM keeps the process going. It's all about using the right technology, the right way."

The concept is that when it's easier to use a mobile device and IM to, for example, enter "Send white paper to Jane Smith" than it is to call or e-mail an assistant to do the same task, salespeople will use SFA. Opening and booting up a notebook computer and launching an application isn't a convenient alternative, Dahill said.

Using IM with Salesnet offer three advantages, according to Rochford. It's fast, it's easy and it's familiar. "The navigation is not too deep. It's easy to perform ad hoc queries and quick get to information."

For example, Salesnet reports, by entering commands that mirror IM shorthand, users can accomplish the following tasks:

  • Access data in real-time
  • Assign a team member to follow-up on a critical next step within the sales process.
  • Add notes to any sales record to maintain data integrity, reduce information gaps and eliminate the need to re-enter data.
  • Immediately follow up after a meeting to provide customers and prospects with the information.

Dahill also said that adding wireless IM integration with Salesnet advances the concept of software as a service. "IM extends promise of the ASP model. Users aren't limited to just browser-based access." In fact, Dahill said, Salesnet Wireless users have three ways to access data — browser, e-mail and IM.

Salesnet's wireless IM version is scheduled for release in the third quarter. Pricing has not be determined.

Salesnet is listed by ASPnews as a Top 20 Service Provider.

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This article was originally published on June 17, 2003
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