June 19, 2012
Three or years ago I went out on a limb criticizing the new startup of ex Jive CMO Sam Lawrence – Blackbox Republic was a site that was going to reinvent online relationships for “sex positive” individuals. I was dismissive, and took some heat for being so. What I wasn’t dismissing however was the skills of Lawrence – I just thought that particular idea was bogus.
Fast forward a few years and, as I wrote, BBR is dead and buried, however Lawrence is back and launching his new company on stage at LeWeb today. Crushpath is another company that is trying to reinvent the sales process and give salespeople real visibility over their deal – from lead to close. With a $2 million seed round led by Charles River Ventures and including such notables as Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of The Social+Capital Partnership and former VP of Facebook, Marketo Chief Executive Officer Phil Fernandez, former Jive Chief Executive Officer Dave Hersh and Box Chief Executive Officer Aaron Levie, Crushpath is one to look at.
The premise of Crushpath is that traditional CRM, where salespeople have to record deals, introduces a barrier to entry – salespeople simply want to get out there and sell. While traditional CRM is very much pipeline focused, Crushpath sees itself as a customer engagement tool – meeting salespeople’s need to “always be closing”. Crushpath offers a single view into the play-by-play of a deal as it unfolds so salespeople can see and do everything they need to get a deal done. Their promo video gives a clear indication that they have traditional complex and detailed CRM systems in their sights;
The video raises a number of interesting thoughts – integration with social media so Crushpath can also become a sales intelligence platform. Project planning functionality. Tools to give user access to a service portfolio of offerings. So many opportunities to really power the sales process.
Anyway, back to the here and now, so what does it actually look like? Key components of Crushpath include:
- The Crushpath: The core of the application. A single, chronological view of deal activity from lead to close. Crushpath integrates into one system files, email, calendaring, document sharing etc and allows communication and collaboration to occur across all of those artifacts
- Private Customer Sites: Salespeople can create private, personalized sites for prospects and customers
- Just-In-Time Coaching: Crushpath offers suggestions and recommendations for example, automated alerts will let salespeople know when it is time to send a prospect a marketing deck or contract and include a link to the current version of that document
Crushpath therefore is kind of a mashup between an inbox unification service, a lightweight CRM tool and a document collaboration service – in fact it will come as no surprise given Box CEO Aaron Levie’s investment that one of the two initial partnerships to be announced is with Box who power the content collaboration aspects of Crushpath. What is really interesting to me is the inclusion of a client facing site into the mix – while many clients still want to transact is a fax/email paradigm, for more connected clients, enabling a truly collaborative sales process where clients can have visibility on the collaboration around a deal is immensely valuable.
Crushpath is launching as a $29/user/month service – that’s a reasonable amount but for companies that need extended visibility over a sales process (companies with complex sales cycles etc), it’s a small price to pay for a level of engagement that is difficult, if not impossible to achieve with traditional tools.
It’s interesting to see the focus that salesforce has recently given to public facing tools – their site.com offering is essentially a content management system that can be tied into the core salesforce offering – it’s not a great leap to imagine salesforce adding a tool like Crushpath into their own offering to close the loop between client side content and the sales process itself.
I terms of the long term prospects for Crushpath, it’s an interesting tool that could well find a comfortable home with a CRM vendor – I could imagine salesforce acquiring the company, integrating Crushpath tightly into salesforce and using it as it’s primary salesperson tool for customers that have a process-rich sales cycle. At this stage the only analytics Crushpath has is tied to the sales cycle itself – sales process analytics and deal intelligence. I imagine Crushpath tied in with Salesforce and a smattering of Radian6 to really close a number of loops around the sales process.
I was dubious about Sam’s last gig – but this one has some serious legs – I’m going to be interested to see where Crushpath goes.