Sales-i. SaaS

Subject: Software as a Service
Industry Sector: Software vendor - Sales Acceleration Software
Country: UK
Organisation: Sales-i

Software vendor adopts 30 new customers a month with Software as a Service

Business Needs

Black and McGirl spotted a market niche for Solihull-based sales-i to provide an innovative sales acceleration software service. Its aim is to help frontline sales professionals monitor customer behaviour and purchasing patterns in real time, providing e-mail and text message alerts to highlight sales opportunities. Black says: “One click automatically takes the sales executive to an easy-to-use dashboard providing all of the information they require about product mix, range gaps, and cross selling opportunities.”

But despite the innovative concept, a conventional sales model charging companies for licences to use sales-i software carried too many risks for a start up. Black says: “As a new business, we also needed to provide a strong service level agreement to users—a critical component of online service-based delivery. To be a true SaaS solution, the customer must also be able to cancel the contract. Otherwise it’s just software on demand.”

sales-i decided to work with Microsoft and aimed to bring its application to market as SaaS, having taken into account research by analysts Gartner Group, which has commented favourably on the advantages of SaaS in reducing risk and ensuring rapid adoption of applications. “SaaS seemed perfect business model for us,” says Black. “We wanted to distribute our product around the world and train customers more easily. We hoped to register how they were using the software and what they weren’t exploiting fully.”


NTT Europe, sales-i's hosting partner, was one of the first companies to join the Microsoft® SaaS Incubation Center programme—a global initiative that gives ISVs business and technical guidance, consulting services, and access to an established hosting channel. In 2006, Microsoft and NTT Europe set up a SaaS incubation laboratory in the United Kingdom.  

sales-i undertook a two-day business development session, delivered by NTT Europe, dealing with the business and financial aspects of selling a SaaS product. “Our session was different from many organisations because we were creating a SaaS company from scratch, not transferring from previous software applications,” says Black. “As a result, we confirmed a lot of our thinking, but also changed some of our views as well as our broader sales and marketing plan.”

Key features of the NTT-hosted SaaS solution for sales-i include:

  • Reliable and secure managed hosting infrastructure.
  • Multi-layered architecture with several new tools for technicians.
  • Daily updates instead of the traditional approach where a user has to go to a Website and download an update.
  • Software glitches are fixed on the spot.

Robert Steggles, Marketing Director, NTT Europe, says: “The Microsoft Service Provider Licence Agreement helps ISVs to manage a subscription service on a monthly basis for users, and NTT has matched this with pay-as-you-go licences.”


sales-i is adopting 30 new customers a month. The company owes its rapid success to the role played by the Microsoft SaaS Incubation Centre and its hosting partner NTT Europe. Black says: “With a scalable hosted SaaS solution, sales-i can deliver the service of a low-cost subscription-based commercial model, making it accessible to even the smallest manufacturing or distribution business.”

  • sales-i can develop a new feature in days rather than months, and test, distribute, and get feedback on it faster.
  • Microsoft continually invests in the technical resources needed for SaaS to succeed.
  • sales-i enjoys a pricing model for its business that avoids the need to raise capital for equipment or staff.
  • NTT Europe deals with the back-office tasks while sales-i concentrates on developing its SaaS application.
  • NTT Europe provides security that gives confidence to prospective customers interested in working with sales-i.