Case study: Sana Security needed a better way to keep on top of its revenue forecasting and goals. BlueRoads offered a much better solution than spreadsheets.
John Zicker may be chairman and CEO of a software company, but the way that quarterly revenue projections used to be done at his four-year-old company was decidedly low-tech.
"We had spreadsheets in-house, and people would be calling up and asking our resellers, What opportunities are you working on?" said Zicker, who heads Sana Security Inc., in San Mateo, Calif. "Wed get to the end of a quarter and look at our quarterly growth and look at what we forecast.
"Although it turned out that we had hit our quarterly revenue goals, half of our deals were not closed, and wed say to ourselves, Well, we dodged the bullet again, but we cant do that forever."
Zickers problem was more than just a technological challenge that Sanas IT department had to tackle. Zickers inability to more accurately forecast revenues, identify and support strong sales leads in the field, and best allocate precious marketing resources represents the strategic challenges that nearly every executive must confront.
Zicker realized the old way of channel tracking wasnt good enough. After an initial attempt to improve the process in-house failed, he decided to look outside the company for help.
Axel Schultze, founder, president and CEO of BlueRoads Corp., also in San Mateo, whose BlueRoads 5 software allows companies to market and sell more effectively through indirect channels, isnt surprised that Sana first tried an in-house channel management solution.
"People try to build something because theres nothing else out there," said Schultze, although he said he considers Click Commerce Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc. to be competitors of BlueRoads.
Lead management, deal registration and renewal management products do exist, but Schultze said they arent very successful in channel management.
"They dont help the collaboration, just the vendor," Schultze said.
Before choosing BlueRoads, Zicker also looked at ChannelWave. But he said the task force inside his organization—Sanas inside sales executive, IT manager and head of marketing—was swayed toward BlueRoads, in part because many of Sanas resellers raved about the company.
"These were people we knew, not just references from BlueRoads," said Zicker. "That was a really big selling point."
Because many Sana resellers were familiar with BlueRoads, Zicker didnt have to allocate as many resources to train them. "Having BlueRoads host the application was very convenient," said Zicker.
The BlueRoads solution allows companies such as Sana and its indirect partners to network so they can work simultaneously. "Without new technology, the Internet and software, this was technically not possible before," said Schultze.
Zicker is reluctant to provide many sales figures from his privately held company. However, he does allow that since Sana started using BlueRoads 13 months ago, half of Sanas revenues now come from leads generated by resellers.
"When we started, that number was 10 percent," said Zicker. "Weve seen a nice increase in visibility." And while improved visibility is good news to any CEO dependent on channel management, increasing sales is obviously better news.
Founded in October 2000, Sana Security offers intrusion prevention software that protects server-based applications and client laptops and desktops from spyware, adware and viruses. Sana sells indirectly throughout North America and Europe. Indirect channels include resellers, VARs, consultants, MSSPs (managed security service providers) and more.
"With a highly fragmented market, the end users of our product tend to buy indirectly from resellers who help them figure whats the best solution" for their security problem, said Zicker.
Things started well for Sana after it released its first product more than two years ago. "Some of our competitors were acquired, and it caused a rankle in the indirect channels, so we actually had resellers come to us," said Zicker.
Along with indirect sales came problems that are all too familiar for companies that depend on channel management. For example, some complex security solutions for end users demanded the expertise of Sana executives, but resellers either didnt realize this or were unable to track down a Sana technician in time to close the deal.
"We had systems in place from a CRM perspective, but there was a big gap, from a marketing perspective and lead-generation perspective, to having contacts and visibility with resellers—even individual channel partners down to a single sales rep," said Zicker. "And you need individual champions inside the resellers before they commit fully to you."