I've had several conversations with InsideView in an effort to understand how its recently released SalesView product fits into the scheme of enterprise applications. Described as leveraging the convergence between social media and enterprise applications, SalesView is designed to provide sales people with fine grained information about prospects. The theory runs that the more information at a salesperson's fingertips, the less likely they are to waste time and the better equipped they are to handle sales prospects.
SalesView provides sales people with details about who they're talking to at the point when that information is needed. This will typically occur in a call center but could easily apply to the lone salesperson. It acheives this by mashing up internal, structured sales information from whichever CRM system it is integrated (Salesforce.com or sugarCRM right now with more to come) with some 20,000 external data sources. These sources include paid subscriptions like D&B and Hoovers along with unstructured sources like publicly accessible blogs and wikis. The software then applies some intelligence to ensure the aggregated data relates precisely to the person concerned.
According to the company, headline customers like Ariba, Cisco and SuccessFactors are enjoying high ROI by:
- Making sales strategy faster and more efficient by standardizing the prospect identification process
- Accelerating lead qualification
- Huge reductions in pre-call research efforts/cold calling. Salespeople connect and engage with the only the most targeted, researched folks. Rearden Commerce’s inside sales reps were able to up their sales call throughput to make more than 60 calls per day.
- Customers are able to build a single dashboard that provides insight into sales performance and other benchmarks from data already stored with sugarCRM or Salesforce.com rather than needing multiple tools and processes
In discussion with the company, I wanted to figure out why a CRM provider would not simply pick them off. Rand Schulman, CMO of InsideView was unequivocal: "CRM providers are not a threat to us. By adding a technology layer that intelligently presents information, we're more like a meta-content provider across the horizontal application. If there is a threat then it's either the search or content people."
In keeping with current trends, there is a free version that provides useful if limited capability. The solution is only useful for US prospects although the company says it plans to move into European markets over time. That will present significant challenges as data sources are more restricted in international markets.
It is early days for content providers moving data into the CRM space. The fact InsideView has found value, added 65 customers in Q4 2007, has 125 customers in total and more than 1,000 seats suggests this nascent market has some distance to travel before it becomes highly visible. In the meantime, the company, which has raised $8.4 million is working towards a B round.