posted 1 Nov 1999 in Volume 3 Issue 3Knowledge Management Product Review: cotoco K-FRAME
Eyretel Ltd. have been using the Cotoco K-Frame product for ten months, and it has already proved its worth. The sales-force can now access information they need from the knowledge framework software, and it has shown itself to be an indispensible sales tool. Nathan George of Eyretel Ltd. explains the benefits.
My company, Eyretel Ltd, is one of Britain’s fastest growing private companies, with offices in 10 countries and a turnover in 1997-98 of £21 ($33) million. Established in 1991, we supply digital voice recording technology to the call centre, financial trading and emergency service markets. Our products are sold into 80 countries around the world.
This growth, while obviously desirable, has also presented us with some major business challenges. In late 1998, our rapidly-growing salesforce, combined with our sophisticated product line, meant the task of selling solutions was becoming ever more complex. We initially addressed this issue by sending pre-sales engineers on customer calls with sales people, however this was strictly a short-term solution as the cost – in both man hours and money – was prohibitive. We needed to address these issues, and quickly.
I asked three companies to advise on a solution before choosing cotoco ltd, of Fareham, Hampshire. I chose cotoco primarily based on my knowledge of the success of one of their previous products, the INDeX Encyclopaedia, originally created as a training tool for SDX Systems (now part of Lucent Technologies), and very highly regarded in the telecommunications industry.
Capturing and spreading best practice
In our case, cotoco proposed using their proprietary knowledge framework software, K-FRAME, to provide a solution to our sales, marketing and training needs. Basically, K-FRAME organises all the knowledge needed by our salesforce to do their job, and integrates the tools needed to apply this knowledge. It also integrates a wide variety of customisable source materials – including video, audio, multimedia, word, presentation and spreadsheet applications.
The final product, a CD we call the Companion, was produced in just 6 weeks, and has since gone on to achieve some quite incredible results. Below is an outline of some of the CD’s features:
An animated opening sequence: Brief, but a great attention-getter.
A main tool bar from which you access drop down menus: Quick access to large amounts of in-depth and highly technical information. Incredibly easy to use.
Animated explanations and multimedia ‘tours’ of the benefits and features of Eyretel’s digital recording solutions: Allows even inexperienced salespeople to feel confident in customer-facing situations. Great for customers, too, who can see exactly how our technology works, and what it can do for them.
Video: In this case from a breakfast television interview that described Eyretel as ‘possibly the next Intel or Microsoft’. Great PR that we wanted potential clients to see
‘On tap’ sales presentations: ‘Best practice’ PowerPoint presentations are built in. We now know our message to customers is consistent and professional
Proposal templates and a media library: Allows our salesforce to put together presentations to new customers or prospects in a matter of minutes. The media library contains illustrations of our products that can be easily dragged and dropped into new documents
Cost justification calculators and a product configuration matrix: An Excel spreadsheet is integrated into the CD and allows customers to see at a glance exactly what a solution will save them, and to experiment with ‘what if’ scenarios. There is also a built-in matrix to help configure products to specific customer requirements
In-depth training material: Training material on all Eyretel’s products and services. This material already existed in our organisation, but is now available in one central, easily-accessed location.
The results – in just three months
The success of this tool in its first 4 months of use has been impressive. Eyretel recently won two contracts – one in Hong Kong and one in Germany – in which the CD played a vital role. That’s an astonishing feat, considering the orders were both worth in excess of £250,000.
The Companion CD has also enabled us to continue to expand our salesforce at a rapid pace without compromising the quality of customer-facing presentations, or spending thousands of pounds to gather and train our salesforce. That’s a huge advantage for any company competing in a fast-changing global market. We have been able to significantly reduce the support our salesforce need from pre-sales engineers.
Off-the-shelf v customised
K-FRAME is not a ‘boxed’ solution, although the underlying technology lends itself quite easily to adaptation for almost any business need. There is no requirement for after-sales support, although there is obviously a need to keep the information on the CD updated. Cotoco are now working on a method of updating information via our website that should allow the tool to remain productive for many years to come. They have also recently developed an electronic price book for us that is already having a significant and positive impact on our business.
Return on Investment
From a financial point of view, I’m delighted to say that the Companion has paid for itself in less than 6 months. Although not inexpensive, the cost works out to just a few hundred pounds per salesperson, which I believe represents incredible value for money, particularly when you take into account the alternative costs of travel and training.
The Companion CD has been an unqualified success for Eyretel. Significantly, it was described by our CEO as a ‘world class’ sales and marketing tool and is now a finalist in the prestigious BT eBusiness Innovation Awards 1999
For more information on K-FRAME, call cotoco on 01489 577222, or visit their website at http://www.cotoco.com