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October 04, 2008

Trading Places: Starring Entellium and Landslide Technologies (Not Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd)

As I sit here on chilling out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in the ATL - watching SEC football and working on my Social CRM whitepaper - I got thrown off track by a tweet from CRM magazine managing editor Josh Weinberger. It pointed to his blog post about serious problems going on with Entellium, an on-demand provider of CRM. In short, ceo and founder Paul Johnston just rolled out along with other key executives. And they just laid off their sales and marketing staff, according to this article in the Seattle Times. Apparently they ran out of money.

What's interesting is that Entellium is (or should i start using "was") well respected in the industry in terms of its products. In fact they were listed among the market leaders in CRM magazine's 2008 Market Awards in the sales force automation category. I was one of the industry watchers giving their take in this area. So I'll just quote myself from the article in terms of what I said about Entellium:

"Entellium is a very innovative company willing to do things differently, being more suitable to smaller sales forces".

CRM guru Denis Pombriant was also quoted in the article, offering up this prophetic statement:

"The impression I get from their marketing is that they are trying to be the low-cost leader in an already low-cost market".

And it does seem that that Entellium, who originally considered Salesforce.com (the winner in the sales force automation category) as their main competition, may have noticed the emergence of the small business segment and tried to focus their sights on that market. But, as Denis noted above, trying to be a leader in a low-cost market means competing against the likes of Zoho - not Salesforce.com. And while Entellium's pricing is favorable when compared to the bigger players in the space, Zoho lets the first three users in a company use their CRM service for free, with the additional users having only to pay $12/user/mo. And there are many other low cost providers out there that make it much more inexpensive to jump into CRM.

What's interesting about this is who CRM mag identified as this year's one to watch in this category - Landslide Technologies. I've had the pleasure of speaking with Landslide ceo Ravi Imam on a few occasions and I've been thoroughly impressed with him and his company's obsession with making the sales rep's life better. Rob Bois, research director for AMR Research, was quoted as saying, "Landslide is targeting one of the biggest problems with sales software - user adoption". I couldn't agree more. And they're doing this with a great mix of web 2.0 functionality alongside good old-fashioned customer service - like the VIP assistant service that allows sales reps to phone in updates that the assistant enters into into the system on their behalf.

So this year Entellium was viewed as a leader and Landslide was "one to watch". It's not a stretch to see a reversal of fortune here. Landslide looks like it will be a serious player in SFA which could potentially take the top spot some day. Entellium, on the other hand, looks like the one to watch.... for all the wrong reasons.

Ok back to football... I mean writing.

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