RightNow Tweaks Salesnet Integration Plans

By Barbara Darrow  |  Print this article Print


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RightNow was ribbed for communications lapses, including two executive departures never announced to partners.

Sixteen months after RightNow Technologies bought Salesnet, the latters partners are still sorting out the ramifications of that deal on their businesses.

The May 2006 purchase united two SaaS companies with complementary talents—RightNow, of Bozeman, Mont., with support and service modules for large companies, and Boston-based Salesnet with its CRM and workflow capabilities for SMBs.

At a macro level, RightNow will support Salesnet CRM indefinitely and will integrate Salesnet's workflow and other features into RightNow modules in quarterly updates beginning February 2008, said David Vap, vice president of products. The incremental releases, like those of Salesforce.com, are a change in strategy. Previously, RightNow had said Salesnet perks would go into the next major release of RightNow, code-named Emerald, due next year.

Salesnet partners are satisfied with the road map for melding technologies but still want to see what RightNow will do on pricing and packaging to make its flagship modules more SMB-friendly, said Lisa Glinche, CEO of Sales Prodigy, Castle Rock , Colo., a SMB CRM specialist.

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"The channel is quite new to them and they're coming along," Glinche said. "Obviously for us it's a lot slower than we would like, but when you go from selling RightNow technologies to companies with over $1 billion in revenue and then buy Salesnet to bring breadth and depth to the sales module, some adjustments are needed,"

"We're confident that [RightNow will] have a product in addition to Salesnet—it really comes down to price," she said. "If they price it right, have good functionality and it's not too complex, that's good."

Ian Hendry, co-founder of Entelegen, Windsor, U.K., likewise wants to hear migration—and channel—plans. "To be fair, RightNow sales is not far off from Salesnet in terms of functionality. All it lacks is the process element so you can map distinct sales processes into the app. A lot of the stuff is the same so migrating to RightNow wouldn't upset me."

Others Salesnet partners complain of more flagrant communication lapses including several who were never told Jonathan Tang, the founder and former president of Salesnet, left soon after the acquisition. Still others were uninformed of the recent departure of Richard Perkett, the former Salesnet CTO tapped to head integration of the two product lines. "It would have been nice for someone at the company to mention that," said one.

The specter of channel conflict also looms unresolved for both parties.

RightNow segments customers in terms of call center size, those with 250 sales or service agents or more are dubbed "enterprises" and remain the concentration of the RightNow direct sales force, but Hendry said he remains concerned.

"RightNow has an office five miles from here with 100 people," Hendry said. "Their sales reps will have the same product we have. We don't want to have to compete with them. We like to have options."

RightNow itself is unclear about the role of partners in the shift to software as a service, Vap concedes.

"In early pitches, we sold against integrators. 'You don't need Accenture, EDS, they'll waste your money.' Now our pitches are selling with integrators," he said.


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