Growth Coaching Helps in Launching New Products

Artikkelikuva: Growth Coaching Helps in Launching New Products

Etevä Tietopalveluyhtiö has great expectations for its new Koho software that makes life easier in businesses. Launching the company’s first own software product is boosted by Forum Virium Helsinki’s Growth Coaching.

A good salesperson brings money into the company coffer, but often is working with ancient tools, like Post-it notes and Excel. The problem was familiar also to Development Director Panu Palmu, founder of Etevä Tietopalvelu that sells IT outsourcing.  “Three years ago I got tired of writing our contracts and invoices”, Palmu says. The information was typed in manually from Excel bookkeeping to an economic management system. Some invoices were not sent, due to typos. When a suitable software solution could not be found, Palmu made it himself. Now the invoices are automatically generated based on our contracts, always two weeks before the due date and entered into the outgoing invoices of the economic management system without any manual involvement.
An inquiry in businesses of different sizes showed that Palmu was not alone with his problem. CRM systems are used in contacting potential customers, and IT has made life easier in economic management routines for a good while already. But between these, much happens: offers are written, contracts are signed, sales commissions are calculated – and most of the time manually. “A smart software solution to this has been lacking, excluding the operational management systems used by large companies”, Palmu notes.
The software that was originally created for internal use was productized to be a cloud service to be used with a browser. “When the software worked so well for us, we began to realize that we have something with which to conquer the world”, Palmu says.
The development work resulted in Koho software. It automates the dreary daily routines of a salesperson, writing offers and generating invoices. Saving time is the best sales argument of the software tested by pilot customers. Researchers at Aalto University have calculated that generating one invoice manually costs the company more than 10 euros. The makers of Koho software promise a 90-percent savings in time when invoices are generated automatically based on contracts. Another great advantage is that Koho allows you to monitor the company’s contracts and the efficiency of personal sales in real time.
Improving sales processes
At the end of summer 2013, Koho software is packaged into easy-to-sell products and the sales processes of the new product are perfected. Forum Virium Helsinki helps this work through its Growth Coaching program. The coaching offers innovative companies concrete help in developing their business. 
The first day of growth coaching is over for Palmu and his colleagues. Palmu presents the sales process diagram drafted together with Mercuri International that contributed as a consultant. “It could have taken us all autumn to think about this; led by a consultant that has helped hundreds of businesses this took us four hours.”
It is good to have an external perspective, because Koho software is a leap into the unknown for a company that has handled businesses’ IT outsourcing. Also sales are challenging, because there is no equivalent product in the market.
On the other hand, starting with a clean slate is also an advantage. Most of the customer management and economic management systems available are in Palmu’s words “ninety’s software”, from an era before browsers and cloud services. Their operating interfaces are old and user-friendliness is not thought-out.
Koho’s appearance is polished, and purchasing it will be easy. “We will make two product versions. A version to be tailored for large companies and for the others, an American-style self-service version”, Palmu says.
Toward international markets
Palmu is careful when talking about business goals, but initially the goal is a turnover of several million – just in Finland. Large profits can be found in the international markets, and with highly productized software. known for its CRM software sold as a cloud service is an example of billions in turnover. Koho will be marketed using the same arguments: an easy-to-use self-service version gets you started, the heftier version is easy to purchase with a credit card. Koho will include open programming interfaces so that it is easy to integrate with other software. International business sales targeting large companies starts in 2014.
Serious efforts are made to commercialize Koho software. Three new employees started working in August 2013. One of them is Julia Boström in charge of communications and marketing of the new product. Boström is excited. Businesses have a real need to streamline their sales routines and Koho is an excellent tool for it. “This may be a big thing, and there is no competing product in the market.”
Development Director Panu Palmu and Marketing Coordinator Julia Boström, who recently began her work, present the indicators of the upcoming software version; the indicators reveal the company’s sales situation at one glance.
INFO: Etevä tietopalveluyhtiö
Founded: 2005
Personnel: 11
Product: IT outsourcing services, Koho software that automates the generation of offers and invoices in businesses.
Text and pictures Petja Partanen/Tarinatakomo
Further information on Growth Coaching:
Project Manager Kaisa Sibelius
tel. +358 40 570 1317

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