REVIEWER: John Dixon, president of ThoughtLava.

BACKGROUND: ThoughtLava is a 15-person strategic Internet marketing services and a professional Web site design company that caters to companies with $10 to 100 million in revenue and less than 300 employees. Our core team has worked together for the last six years and leverages 30+ combined years of Web experience with companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 100. Our team has held management and executive marketing, e-commerce and IT positions at Sprint, General Electric, Bandag and Insight.

PLATFORMS: SalesGenius is software as a service (SaaS). What we liked about it was the ability to use it cross-platform. Sometimes we work on Mac and sometimes on PCs.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In our second year of business, we began expanding beyond our personal networks. That meant we started cold calling to bring in additional business. Our approach is to apply our minds before making contact. That means risk as we have put an hour or so into a well-reasoned email. Obviously, it is critical to know whether the prospect has received our communication. Beyond that, knowing that they have opened our emails and when is a wonderful piece of intelligence.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: When we craft an email to a new prospect, we borrow from a template - improving the elements of the template as we progress. SalesGenius helps us keep a record of our approaches so that we can determine which approach is working the best. Once an email has been sent to the target prospect, the Genius Tracker monitoring system alerts us as soon as we have activity. Then, we monitor our prospect's behavior, looking for an opportunity to make a second, more relevant contact. For example, if someone opens an email communication from us and follows a link to our site, SalesGenius shows us what pages they visited. If we don't receive an inquiry from them within a day, we send a second email tailored to the content they perused and invite them to have a conversation.

STRENGTHS: The major strength of the product is intelligence. Without intelligence, we will waste our time sending and wondering. With SalesGenius, we are in control. We know when our email fails due to a bad email address. We know when a prospect opens our email. We instantly know if and when they visit our Web site. We know what pages they visited and for how long. We know stuff that can make a reasonably intelligent person an excellent salesperson.

WEAKNESSES: It would be great if the product had prebuilt templates. It is harder than you think to write a good email, so having prepackaged examples would be a big help.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Until SalesGenius, we couldn't find a service that could do what they can do - we found them as part of a routine search to find new products/services that can be used by Internet-based companies who are trying to use Web technology to work better and smarter.

DELIVERABLES: SalesGenius shows by campaign all of the targets that have been emailed and how many failed, as well as how many opens, how many clicked on links to the Web site and the frequency of those events of those emails that reached the target. It also lets me drill down on individual recipients to see how many times they have opened my email, on what dates and times, if they have visited my Web site, what pages were visited and in what order and duration.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We were an early adopter, so we were providing SalesGenius with ideas for improvement early on. To date, most if not all of our suggestions have been addressed, making the product near perfect for our application.

DOCUMENTATION: The service has satisfactory documentation, but it is simple enough that one doesn't really need to use it for most operations. It has a modern simplicity.

SalesGenius Incorporated
1 Waters Park Drive
Suite 250
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 212-2050

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