Oracle targets sales effectiveness with updated app

Oracle Corp. is pushing out a new set of customer relationship management software enhancements that it claims will boost the productivity of salespeople in the field.

The company during the week announced the latest flavor of its sales application, Oracle Sales 11.5.9, which includes a new sales product called Oracle Proposals to automate the process of creating personalized customer proposals.

The software will present sales personnel with a set of predefined templates that can be customized depending on business needs and then reused, said Oracle. These in turn can be faxed, printed or sent over the Web to the prospect, depending on their preference. The tool will track the proposal.

It can be purchased either as a stand-alone application or as a part of the Oracle E-Business Suite, and it will tie into legacy and third-party applications using standard Java hooks, according to John Wookey, vice president for application development at Oracle.

This sort of quoting application is usually offered by vertically oriented sales software companies, meaning Oracle appears to be a bit ahead of rivals such as Siebel Systems Inc. and SAP AG in producing it, said Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. She sees the application as something that can help salespeople do their jobs, rather than just burdening them with an administrative task to provide better visibility into the sales pipeline, she said.

Oracle has also added a new interface to its quoting software to allow sales reps to create and update quote lines in one screen and pare down the information to just what is relevant. Tighter coupling with the Oracle order management application will enable rapid access to outside data -- such as a customer's credit history -- thus boosting actual selling time and productivity, said Wookey.

Oracle Sales 11.5.9 is available now, and pricing starts at roughly US$4,000.

Oracle Proposals will ship in June, with the pricing yet to be announced.

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