Since its founding in 2002, InQuira has concentrated on delivering business intelligence software to companies, primarily on the customer service side of the equation. Now, the San Bruno, Calif.-based company is using the same approach to tackle inefficiency in sales with the April 27 release of InQuira SalesIntel.
InQuira's calling card has been knowledge management software that integrates with a client's customer relationship management (CRM) system to save time, money, and aggravation. Customers see their support sites streamlined and loaded with metadata to make searching easier. "If you think about call centers, where people are answered in seconds, shaving a few seconds off a support call, when scaled over thousands of workers at 50 calls a day, could add up to millions of dollars," says Sid Suri, InQuira's senior director of product marketing.
"If you go onto Apple's web self-service, it's all InQuira today," Suri says. "So if you say something like ‘How much does an iPad cost,' or ‘why doesn't my iPod sync to my Sony VAIO PC,' the responses that come back and the manner in which they come back is all powered by InQuira."
The new, purpose-built platform, called InQuira Sales Intel, draws on previous InQuira products, but is designed specifically for an untapped knowledge management market. "The big takeaway is that we've spent over a year, probably close to 18 months now on product development on this product," Suri says. "It's a brand new product, in that it leverages a lot of the InQuira platform...but we didn't take our old support product and give it a new skin and make it a sales product."
Sales Intel is designed to increase the diffusion of information, leads, and best practices among salesmen, allowing them to spend more time cultivating contacts and closing deals. "At every step, it's trying to eliminate the ‘What do I do now? How do I do this?' " Suri says. "[It's] essentially trying to take that guesswork and that legwork out of that equation, and make salespeople more productive, rather than just using whatever they find on the intranet."
In Sales Intel, InQuira is offering a tool to level the playing field for salesmen, allowing them to find useful knowledge efficiently from an integrated module on the company's CRM system. "What we're doing on the sales side is what we've been doing on the support side-bridging the gap between where CRM leaves off and what the customer needs. In this case, the customer is sales," Suri says.
The key selling point for InQuira Sales Intel, says Suri, is that it is taking tools that have made customer service representatives' lives easier and using the same techniques to stimulate sales.
"I think it's about time that a knowledge management company realized that knowledge management occurs beyond customer service," says ThinkJar principal Esteban Kolsky. Kolsky sees Sales Intel as a potential extension of InQuira's services to its current customers, offering a flexible and effective sales intelligence program, with the possibility to expand to new clients with future generations of the product.
One key concern for Sales Intel is its flexibility and customizability. InQuira says it can deliver a specific package to any of its customers depending on need, but needs vary not only from company to company, but from salesperson to salesperson. "There's a potential for significant jump in productivity, but each salesperson works in a different manner," Kolsky says. "For some, because of the way they work, this will be a very, very good thing, but for others, it won't change anything."
Nevertheless, Kolsky sees Sales Intel as a winning product. "The thing that sets it apart is the different approach that InQuira's taken," Kolsky says. "They focus on providing knowledge at the right time."
The idea of providing knowledge at the right time is something that's carried over from InQuira's other offerings into Sales Intel. "We've built an application knowing that if the answer is on page 13 of a 20-page PowerPoint, it is of no use to anyone," Suri says.