DoubleDutch noticed a problem with CRM systems: salespeople hate updating information in them.
So the San Francisco startup has set out to cure the problem with a new mobile app called Hive, which can be tied back to a company's Salesforce system. The promise is that it will save salespeople time by letting them update records on the fly from their mobile phones. What used to take 10 minutes can now be accomplished in seconds, the company says.
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DoubleDutch CEO Lawrence Coburn explains that Hive started with simplicity. The company allowed itself only 16 weeks to create the product, with a four-week scoping cycle and four weeks of development time. That forced the team to build only the features that salespeople would really need and use, a sharp contrast with the Salesforce mobile app, which Coburn calls "almost unusable" becase of its feature bloat.
Hive tries to figure out what a salesperson is doing at any particular moment, and presents only the most relevant information. For instance, users can auto-fill a new customer's address based on the salesperson's current location, so they don't have to enter it manually.
The app displays customer information differently depending on the stage of a deal -- if a salesperson is making her first call, Hive will show the source of the lead. But if the deal is almost closed, Hive will remind the seller to send out the appropriate paperwork.
That's another thing: reminders. Hive integrates with Google calendar to ping salespeople 10 minutes before a scheduled sales call, and automatically brings up the sales record. After the meeting ends, the app will remind the user to update the sales record.
Hive also has a bunch of social and gamification features that are meant to increase engagement. Salespeople are naturally competitive bunch, so a leaderboard will help them keep track of who's on top. It can also "reward" users for being actively engaged, offering points for making phone calls, following up with emails, and so on.
In other words, Hive believes that by making it easier and more fun to update records, salespeople will do it more often.
But Hive may be missing a deeper reason why CRM systems sit neglected.
A salesperson's value is based partly on personal relationships with customers and prospects. So there's a strong incentive to keep certain customer information private. If the salesperson leaves, she can take all those customers with her. But if that data is readily available to her bosses and her potential replacements, that advantage goes away.
"There's definitely an obfuscation by design thing that’s sometimes going on here," Coburn admits.
"But we do think demographics are changing, overall behavior in general is changing, comfort about sharing things you're doing is changing, driven by a lot of consumer apps. Our gamble is that the salesperson is getting enough value -- they had to do this anyway, it used to take 10 minutes, now we're taking it under 10 seconds. We're betting that will change their behavior a bit."
The company is using a freemium model, making a free version of the service available for 3 users or less. It hopes that the freemium version will "generate real-life demos" for potential enterprise customers, which will help DoubleDutch's small (four-person) sales team sell the product to larger companies.