Pinpoint Success Story
Cloud Experts SkyLite Systems Garner Daily Sales Leads
SkyLite Systems, based in Huntington Beach, California, is focused on developing commercial and custom solutions that leverage Microsoft Office products running on-premises or in the cloud.
Not only does SkyLite Systems use Microsoft Office 365 as a platform for delivering applications, they have also made effective use of the Office 365 Marketplace, powered by Microsoft Pinpoint, to meet new potential customers and drive sales.
“By running SharePoint and Exchange in the cloud, Microsoft has changed the landscape for our business,” says Dave Chennault, President of SkyLite Systems. “Microsoft takes on the hardware burden, guarantees 99.9 percent uptime, and so our solutions run on a stable and reliable platform maintain by experts and paid for by Microsoft.”
“And with the Office 365 Marketplace, we’re getting discovered.”
Office 365 Marketplace Drives Sales Leads
“We get a ton of sales leads from our entry on the Office 365 Marketplace. Several a week from all over the world. Leads have come in from North America, Latin America, Australia, Europe and Asia” says Chennault. “Pinpoint is the bull’s-eye that focuses potential customers on our solution!”
Customers and partners can find applications and services easily on Microsoft Pinpoint and through the product marketplaces like Office 365 Marketplace, where SkyLite Systems’ flagship application—SideKick 365 XRM—is featured on the home page.
“Microsoft understands that applications make the platform. They built a flexible and robust platform, hosted it in the cloud and take care of the infrastructure and maintenance, and allow our applications to leverage that incredible technology to solve our customers’ needs and save them money.”
By making the company’s application and solutions easily discoverable on the Office 365 Marketplace, Microsoft enables businesses and consumers to find SkyLite Systems’ profile, which leads them to visit their website. “We have enough information in our Pinpoint listing to entice a customer to explore our website. There they watch videos of our solutions and discover more details. Over 90% of traffic to our website comes through the Office 365 Marketplace.”
Media Giant Overspending on CRM
One of the businesses to contact SkyLite Systems was a large media company that was looking for an alternative solution to expensive Salesforce.com CRM subscriptions and staffing at a combined cost of nearly $800,000 per year. “They didn’t need most of the features they were paying for,” Chennault says. “Plus, the system required three full-time staff to maintain it and merge all the data from their 20 legacy accounting systems. And even so, they only got data updates once a month.”
The media giant’s core business was in newspapers—an industry with tight margins and dwindling advertiser base. Feeling increasing pressure from aggregators like Google News as well as companies like Craigslist and Monster.com, the media company needed their sales people to double their efforts. To remain competitive, salespeople need a powerful and easy-to-use CRM solution that allows them to track projected bookings with actual billed revenue. CRM is a mission-critical application for this company.
To address this, the media giant had purchased Salesforce.com subscriptions, but that option was costing them $50,000 per month. In addition, they had to keep three full-time staff to maintain it and manually upload and match accounting data. Salesforce.com was also a generic offering with many features they didn’t need.
It was time for a change.
A SharePoint Online Solution
After SkyLite Systems reviewed requirements and the feature set that the customer needed, they proposed a building a custom application on the SharePoint platform and hosted with Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud or run on servers running SharePoint onsite. The media giant decided to move forward and replace Salesforce.com.
The media giant needed a solution that would meet the robust security requirements of an enterprise-class CRM solution to assure salespeople that their data would only be seen by authorized users. The solution also needed to be tightly tied-in to Outlook so that users could save emails into accounts, leads, and opportunities as needed. Plus the ability to integrate calendar functionality was essential, so that the same calendar data could be accessed within the CRM as well as the users’ Outlook clients.
SkyLite Systems customized and deployed their SideKick 365 XRM application and all data was migrated from Salesforce.com to SharePoint Online over a six-week period. “Because the system is built on Office and SharePoint, which everyone already knows, the sales people only needed 30 minutes of training to become familiar and productive with the new system,” says Chennault.
“We also built in nightly data imports so that sales revenues could be viewed in the CRM system on a daily basis instead of monthly as it was before.”
All in the Cloud
SkyLite Systems specializes in applications built to run in Microsoft Office 365. Their solutions compete with such services as Salesforce.com by leveraging the power of SharePoint running in Office 365 or on-premises. SideKick 365 XRM, for example, manages all aspects of the sales process and help salespeople manage their pipeline—all for a fraction of the cost of most other CRM solutions.
“Ours is a revolutionary approach that saves everyone time, money and offers unprecedented capabilities. Office 365 has really changed the game by allowing us to focus on developing great solutions that we know will always be ‘on’ and working in the cloud.”
Leveraging Office 365, SkyLite Systems’ solutions offer unprecedented integration with Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Many salespeople are familiar with Microsoft Office for creating email, spreadsheets, presentations, and proposals. So SkyLite Systems built a solution that integrated with those tools and connected them with an online system run in the cloud by Microsoft.
“We can demo in the morning and have a customer live by the afternoon—all for a fraction of the cost the competition offers,” says Chennault. “And using InfoPath, any of the solutions we offer can be easily customized to work for any vertical business.”
Office 365 Marketplace Opportunities
“The more apps built on the SharePoint Online platform, the greater functionality is available to partners and customers. It’s a dead simple; the marketplace benefits us, partners, customers, and Microsoft,” says Chennault.
Chennault believes that all businesses will be impacted by cloud computing and Office 365, especially government, social networking, and schools. Microsoft’s live@edu brings the feature set of Office 365, including the ease and versatility of SharePoint Online, to students around the world.
“The potential impact of Office 365 can’t be overstated. Great change will be enabled by this toolkit, and we're just starting to discover what those are.”
As such Chennault advises partners to get as much marketplace exposure as possible with an engaging profile including packaged applications and services. He notes that the vast majority of customers visit his company’s website before making contact. “Make sure your website is ready for the traffic and has the additional information and depth to convert those leads into sales.”
“We’re at a turning point; it’s a great time to be in a position to build apps that run in the cloud. Microsoft runs it. Their experts maintain it. We build on it. There’s a green field of opportunity ahead.”