Software compresses sales cycles, thwarts 'maverick selling'

Selectica Guided Selling helps sales teams quote and close deals more quickly, while preventing unsanctioned discounts or product configurations.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Does your company wish it could clone the behavior and decisions of its best salesperson across the company's entire sales team? In some ways, that's the motivation behind a cloud service called Selectica Guided Selling, an application aimed at shortening sales cycles and helping share pricing information.

Selectica Guided Selling actually is the cloud-served edition of an enterprise sales configuration system that has been used by Fortune 500 companies for some time to manage complex sales processes, said Kamal Ahluwalia, chief strategy officer for the software company, based in San Mateo, Calif.

"How do you keep a high level of quality in your sales force? How do you price properly? Invariably, people end up in spreadsheets doing this. We aim to change that," Ahluwalia said.

Selectica Guided Selling works by allowing sales teams and channel partners to see only the pricing configurations and pricing combinations that they are personally allowed to sell, which helps ensure that proposals are prepared properly. (In the case of channel partners, the system accommodates different tiers of channel discounts, depending on a company's policies.) The idea is to help compress sales cycles from a matter of days into a matter of minutes, according to Ahluwalia.

The screen shot below gives you a sense of what it looks like:

The software helps cut back on pricing mistakes that could result in customer service problems down the line. It also helps prevent so-called maverick selling, when someone cuts the price just to close a deal. "Most sales organizations are compensated ont he top line," Ahluwalia said. "This issue is rampant when you sell through channel partners."

Selectica Guided Selling integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) applications and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from the usual suspects, including Oracle and SAP. That is important because it ensures that Selectica is using the latest pricing, product versions, accounts receivable information, customer discounts and inventory status. Selectica Guided Selling also integrates with Salesforce.com.

The application, which is priced on a per-user, per-month basis, is targeted at midsize companies that have $100 million to several billion dollars of annual sales. The entry point for an annual subscription could be around $10,000, although it depends on how many people are using the software.

You can also expect to pay an onboarding fee for hiring consultants to help create your company's sales playbook and process rules for your Selectica implementation. There are approximately two dozen rule patterns that are similar for most companies that are used as a starting point, Ahluwalia said.

The onboarding happens mainly with the business side of your organization, not the IT side, so that sales strategies can be updated as necessary.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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