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Xactly Unleashes Cloud Sales Compensation Tool From Salesforce.com

Express version 1.6 released as a standalone application targeted toward SMBs.

Xactly on Monday released a new version of Express, its cloud-based sales compensation management software for SMBs. Its mission? Get sales teams out of Excel and into the cloud.

Version 1.6 includes Express Estimator, which allows users to predict their compensation based on sales variables, such as product or service mix and length of the deal. It's also now available as a standalone solution; previously, Express was only available to Salesforce.com users. Salesforce.com is both an Xactly customer and one of its strategic investors.

Xactly was founded in 2005, but it's just now getting its sea legs in the hyper-budget-conscious, time-strapped world of small and midsized business (SMBs). During its first four years, the sales performance management software provider found that its typical customer had around 300 salespeople, which translated to 1,000-1,500 total employees -- hardly small companies.

"One of the things we found was precluding us from getting into the SMB market was the implementation," Xactly CEO and president Chris Cabrera said, noting that Xactly's typical per-seat, per-month price point of $30-$40 was rarely a roadblock. Rather, it was the cost and time to go live, usually $10,000 and eight weeks, at bare minimum, that gave SMBs pause.

Express launched in November 2009 and was designed for a client profile of 100 or fewer seats, though there's no actual limit. Setup cost is around $1,500, and the monthly subscription is $30 per user. Time to launch, once a matter of months, is now about one business day. Xactly expects to reach 100 Express customers by the end of the year, with an average of around 15 seats each.

Andy Drogo, Xactly's product manager for Express, said that almost all new customers coming onto the platform were previously using a spreadsheet to manage sales compensation. "99.99% of the time, they're using Excel." Drogo said this opens organizations and salespeople up to costly mistakes as a result of broken formulas, incorrect references to sales, and other errors.

Like chefs who eat their own cooking, Xactly's 20-person sales team uses Express in its day-to-day operations. Cabrera said the company has introduced two changes this year to its own compensation plan as a result. It added an incentive for signing multi-year deals, and employees could monitor their progress within Express.

In 2009, prior to the new bonus component, 49% of deals closed by Xactly's sales force were for longer than 24 months. So far in 2010, 71% of contracts signed are for more than two years. Likewise, the company has seen a double-digit percentage increase in the number of deals that secure cash up front after adding a similar incentive to its compensation plan.

"We are the great poster child for our product," Cabrera said.

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