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NetSuite SFA: All in One, All in the Cloud

By Maria Verlengia
Feb 27, 2011 5:00 AM PT

For companies looking for sales force automation software, NetSuite offers a cloud-based system, NetSuite CRM+, that can be easily integrated with financials and e-commerce. The SFA solution is part of NetSuite's broader product suite.

NetSuite SFA: All in One, All in the Cloud

By allowing sales executives to see the sales pipeline, opportunity-to-cash conversion, commission spent, and upselling performance, NetSUite CRM+ integrates the sales team with the broader business, said Paul Turner, senior director of product marketing at NetSuite.

NetSuite's two big strengths are pure sales force automation and the ability to track from lead to close, he told CRM Buyer.

Netsuite

Streamlines Processes

NetSuite enables customers to cut out manual steps, Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer.

"Companies have one system of record for sales force automation and one system of record for accounting," Wettemann said. However, this is not the case when a company uses NetSuite, because it ties sales and accounting together.

"A sales person can easily see a full financial record," Wettemann explained. "Everyone is looking at the same information."

It makes it easier for sales to understand what is happening with accounting, and flags any issues such as possible billing problems, she pointed out. Accounting can also see all the way across the system.

Project managers can see what resources are needed and can allocate resources more effectively, added Wettemann. When people outside of sales management can track deals, it makes them better able to deliver finished products.

NetSuite customers prefer one single data source because it allows sales, support, billing, accounting, shipping and business intelligence to access the same data, Wettemann said.

When everybody has access, there is greater visibility with fewer manual steps required, she explained. The process becomes faster and more efficient.

"It's all there in one system," Wettemann reiterated.

NetSuite offers the capability to provide sales teams with background information about leads by utilizing features such as an InsideView app that gives people access to social intelligence.

This makes it an interesting alternative to Salesforce.com, Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials, told CRM Buyer.

Social information tied to traditional lead information enables sales people to be more effective when they approach leads, he explained, adding that NetSuite is "probably better known for the back-office integration. They do integrate with companies like InsideView."

Meeting CRM Demands

NetSuite provides customers with the ability to meet the demands of the two biggest trends in customer relationship management, said Turner -- improving sales performance and process integration.

NetSuite serves a broad range of industries such as high-tech, wholesale, and manufacturing, he said.

"I'm sure there are some industries that may be less of a fit," he acknowledged.

Although the company's target customers are mid-sized businesses, it also serves many divisions in larger businesses, with a typical size of 20 to 1,000 employees. Even larger businesses are looking to deploy the cloud in their divisions, Turner pointed out.

"NetSuite's all cloud," noted Wettemann. "There's some support for complexity there."

Research conducted by Nucleus showed that NetSuite helped software companies grow their business, increasing visibility and productivity, while containing IT and administrative costs, Wettemann said.

Some companies that switched to NetSuite had been using applications that could no longer support their needs, while other companies were using multiple on-premises applications, she noted. The latter types of companies wanted an application with lower support costs and better integration ability.

Easy to Use

Ease of use across the business is a key advantage of NetSuite, Turner said.

The company offered an upgrade last year to further improve the product's usability. "Everyone is on the same page in terms of what they are looking at," said Turner. "Everyone is using the same system."

As the business grows and increases in volume, the NetSuite system can automatically detect changes so that no one is dealing with multiple versions of information, he said, adding that NetSuite also offers consistent reporting and customer views.

Contract Renewal and Collaboration

NetSuite offers a way to communicate contract renewals to the sales team, which is important for renewal-focused businesses, Turner pointed out. The system also helps to smooth the transition from sales to invoice to implementation.

Research conducted by Nucleus found that functionality such as support for automated renewals can reduce the amount of time the sales team spends updating spreadsheets and increase the time they spend making sales, Wettemann noted.

There's growing demand for more collaboration in sales force automation, Turner pointed out, with a focus on structuring the whole business to be able to collaborate around the customer. NetSuite responds to this demand by providing deployment across the entire business.

NetSuite offers a wide assortment of dashboards and standard reports to help companies meet their reporting needs, Wettemann said.

Built-in report templates and tools eliminate the need for a programmer to write reports for many things. Eighty-five percent of what people need can be done with standard built-in reports, she estimated.

"It truly is real-time," added Wettemann.

NetSuite currently uses a per-user, per-month subscription-based pricing model. Customers have the choice of using the entire suite or just the CRM+ component.


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