UpShot Aims High

By Heather Baldwin

There’s a notable change taking place at large companies where client-server CRM systems have ruled the day since the inception of CRM. Suddenly, these companies are taking a hard look at hosted services, such as UpShot, which were designed initially for small- to mid-size businesses but whose feature set and pricing are now becoming attractive to bigger enterprises. “It’s our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity,” says Keith Raffel, UpShot’s founder and chairman. “More and more large companies are interested in what we’re doing. Our challenge is convincing them that the hosted model is the way to go.”

So why now? The business climate has changed, says Raffel. For starters, division heads are wielding more power and making more decisions, including those involving CRM. Most of UpShot’s large customers, which include HP, American Airlines, Xerox and others, are divisions that have taken a look at the client-server technology used elsewhere in the company and determined a hosted solution was a better option. It’s more easily configured, quicker to implement and lower in cost.

At the same time, these divisions are no longer willing to wait months, or longer, to reap a return on investment from their CRM application. “If I think I can improve sales 10% by using a CRM system,” says Raffel, “why would I wait seven months if I could wait only one month?” Raffel recalls a meeting with one large enterprise prospect who asked how fast UpShot could be up and running. When Raffel told her it would take one month, she nodded her approval. Another vendor had told her it would take nine months to get everything in place. The prospect was incredulous. “Nine months would be great for my successor,” she told Raffel, “but it doesn’t help me.”

“It’s simple arithmetic,” Raffel observes. If you can start generating ROI six months faster with a hosted service than with client-server technology and you’re not putting as much money out front. The numbers favor a hosted solution.

Apparently the word is getting out. UpShot already claims five of the top 14 Fortune 500 companies as customers and 70% of its revenue comes from larger companies, a figure that is likely to climb in coming years. It also just rolled out two new features – a dashboard and integration with Lotus Notes – because executives at major corporations have asked for them. Undoubtedly it will be adding more large-scale clients to its customer base in the future. “Larger companies are very appealing to us as customers,” Raffel says. “We’re listening to what they say.”