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Salesnet broadens vertical horizons

Hosted sales force automation provider Salesnet is pushing a new industry-specific strategy and has a first deal under its belt.

As part of its new strategy to deliver CRM to vertical markets, hosted CRM provider Salesnet Inc. announced today an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnership with Encoda Systems Inc., a Denver-based software maker that serves the cable and broadcasting industry.

Under the partnership, Salesnet's sales force automation application will be integrated into Encoda's billing software and offered as a hosted product called Media Exec CRM. Salesnet will do the hosting, and Encoda will market the service to the 137,000 sales professionals in Encoda's customer base.

Salesnet said that a 130-seat contract with Comcast Network Chicago is set to go live within the month. Salesnet hopes to reach 25% of Encoda's customer base in the next two years.

This is the first in a series of deals that Salesnet expects to announce, according to chief marketing officer Dan Starr. All will follow a similar pattern, with the partner basically renting Boston-based Salesnet's hosted software to brand and resell.

The strategy is targeted specifically at markets with existing technology providers that have domain expertise but haven't been deeply penetrated by CRM, according to Starr.

Salesnet's entry into application syndication has significant possibilities but will require some education of potential customers, said Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager with the Yankee Group in Boston. Such agreements allow Salesnet to take advantage of others' domain expertise.

"Where Salesnet and others are going to succeed is with respect to the vertical market," Kingstone said. "It's very hard to be the No. 1 or No. 2 software vendor. Salesnet is going to have a very hard time competing against [] is the leader; they can go horizontal."

Kingstone pointed to financial services, particularly insurance companies with distributed agents, as well as travel, as markets with potential for penetration from a hosted provider.

Salesnet's OEM announcement comes after its launch of a partner reseller program last month.


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