Review: Salesnet

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2003-05-09 Print this article Print

Bucking the trend in the CRM space is Salesnet, a hosted CRM service provider that barely provides any CRM functionality—and is proud of it.

Bucking the trend in the CRM space is Salesnet, a hosted CRM service provider that barely provides any CRM functionality—and is proud of it. Instead, Salesnet focuses on SFA (sales force automation). Although CRM and SFA are inextricably linked, there are differences between the two: SFA is all about getting sales employees running efficiently, and CRM is software that gives the business view into customers actions.

Because customers are typically first "touched" by the sales or marketing staff, CRM solutions include at least some functional SFA tools. Salesnet takes the SFA concept further, allowing sales employees to build processes that force at least minimal business rules to be followed. The result: The sales staff becomes more effective.

eWEEK Labs tests show that the Salesnet application is an almost-perfect minimalist SFA solution. We found it extremely easy to create business processes, which instantly became available to everyone on staff. For example, we created a multistep process in which we tracked a lead, kicked off a conference call, automatically initiated an e-mail message and processed a literature request. If the deal was lost, we could set up Process Builder to initiate a follow-up call later in the year.

In fact, of the products we tested, Salesnet was the only solution that had any significant workflow capabilities at all. The only thing Salesnet is missing is the ability to validate improperly constructed workflows. When we created processes that Salesnet could not finish, for example, it returned with the cryptic message "unfinishable."

Salesnet could use better validation in general. For example, Salesnet does not catch the entering of single-byte years in the date field until the entire page is saved. Other solutions simply validate and convert them into four-digit dates.

The default Salesnet home page is nothing but colorful charts in Flash format (see screen). There are charts for lead source outcome, imminently closing deals and rolling forecasts, among others.

Its unfortunate that Salesnet provides no drill-through capabilities in the charts, although Salesnet provides chart data with mouse-overs. Its also unfortunate that Salesnet works only with Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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