Salesforce app brings forecasting, analytics to SMBs

Summary:InsightSquared, which just received $8 million in Series B funding, provides small companies with detailed analysis of what sales activities are working — and which aren't.

Many sales managers at big companies have consultants, and analytics tools, at their disposal to help analyze all sorts of performance metrics, from which salespeople are routinely closing the most leads to average deal-size trends to which activities are most likely to close a sale.

InsightSquared CEO Fred Shilmover figures that it's time smaller businesses also have this sort of information available; that it's time to address "diseconomies of scale."

"Our thinking was to harness the thinking of that consultant and put it into a box," he said.

Actually, his startup has skipped the box and gone straight to the cloud. InsightSquared's flagship product of the same name is a sales and marketing analytics application that works on top of the Salesforce.com CRM platform. It uses the data that sales teams are already entering into Salesforce to generate all sorts of reports and dashboards that can help a small company better understand its sales pipeline. 

Those insights include activity by salesperson (or region or team), reports on average team performance, sales trending data, and so on. 

Companies pay for the service based on the number of active Salesforce users they support. It starts at around $100 per month, Shilmover said.

Mobile applications management and development company Apperian is one of the cloud company's early customers — it has been using the service for about six months, said Tyler Stone, director of sales operations.

Aside from giving his team a better sense of historic performance, Stone said Apperian's forecasts have become much more "data-driven and dependable." The technology company has also been able to develop a better understanding of which sales activities are proving most effective, which helps prioritize the team's outreach. It was almost impossible to track the same sort of thing with a spreadsheet, Stone said.

"There has been a demonstrable increase in pipeline and average deal size," he said.

Right now, the analysis provided by InsightSquared is solely focused on a company's own data. But it's easy to see how, over time, the cloud software company might be able to provide aggregated data that helps customers benchmark themselves. Indeed, that's something that Shilmover said is part of the master plan, although he's not offering up any details yet.

InsightSquared, which hails from Cambridge, Mass., just received another $8 million in venture funding to support that vision, led by new investor DFJ and existing backer Atlas Venture. The company rasied $4.5 million in Series A funds from Atlas, Bessemer Venture Partners, Next View and Salesforce.com. (Shilmover is a former Saleforce employee.)

"It's a transformative time for business management," noted Andreas Stavropoulos, managing director of DFJ, in a statement about his fund's investment. "Executives need fast and efficient data interpretation to implement programs that drive the bottom line, yet legacy tools are complex, expensive, and require specialized data scientists to operate. InsightSquared is disrupting the enterprise by simplifying data and making metrics actionable for all small and medium-sized businesses."

Well, at least those using Salesforce.com. (For now.)

Topics: SMBs, Cloud

About

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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