I posted recently about the visit I’d made to Xactly in San Jose. As well as spending time talking about the back office processes they’d used to enable them to grow by triple digits for several years running, I spoke with CEO Chris Cabrera about the challenges that his company has faced in marketing it’s product.

Xactly works in an interesting space – they power Sales Performance Management, basically they power the systems that automate the administering, tracking, reporting and analyzing of sales performance. In other words they give functionality and visibility to the compensation of sales staff – think CRM, but for the post-sale, rather than pre-sale part of the cycle. It’s a pretty fresh space and Xactly has no real competitors.

While this is a great position to be in, being the only kid on the block tend to raise a significant number of challenges. With no incumbents Xactly has had to educate the market place on the utility of the space firstly, and then secondly to sell their own product.

They’ve done this through efficient means – Xactly spent $1.5 million on marketing last year – including a significant presence at salesforce’s DreamForce conference, they do no traditional advertising but heavily leverage Google Ad words to feed their sales funnel.

It was interesting talking to Cabrera and getting his thoughts specifically on the issues they face selling a new solution via a new delivery channel – realistically they, and other similar SaaS vendors have had to leverage heavily the incredibly valuable work that salesforce.com has done in getting the concept of on-demand software visible in the general marketplace – in Xactly’s case this means that, at least to a certain extent, they can worry less about justifying on-demand software, and more on defining their particular market space.

Another example of how small companies, more often than not stand on the shoulders of giants – and even more so a huge nod in the direction of Marc Benioff for the amazing work he, and salesforce generally, have done to normalize the concept of SaaS.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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