Since the “web 2.0″, “cloud-computing” startup movement started blowing up I haven’t seen sales automation as hot as it is today. Which I am completely ecstatic about! Startups like Yesware, RelateIQ, Datanyze, MixRank, InsightSquared, Salesloft, NimbleCRM, and so many more have been driving innovation today!
I first met the Dashtab team through Co-founder Matt Hubert about 2 years year or so, after hiring them as consultants on a startup software development project through their consulting arm Bitmatica. I was immediately impressed at their ability to delivery high-quality software, on-time. After that project, the team and I agreed to that I would become an advisor, as they were hungry to solve issues within the sales productivity space.
I had spent years personally trying to fix the way that inside sales reps, often referred to as sales development reps or lead gen reps, qualify and convert sales leads.
The Bitmatica team had encountered similar epiphanies while working on consulting projects involving Salesforce.com. One thing that we both agreed on was how much the Salesforce.com UI/UX sucked and how there had to be a way to fix it, without having to build an entirely new CRM. After all, Salesforce.com is the global leader and does so many things right.
After nearly a year of researching the CRM space, interviewing countless VPs of sales, sales development and inside sales leaders, the Bitmatica team decided to launch Dashtab.
The vision behind the product is to create a completely redesigned leads tab located within your Salesforce.com dashboard, which is optimized for lead qualification workflows.
I was recently catching up with Dashtab’s Head of UX/UI and Co-founder Shane Brown about his vision behind the design. He mentioned how crappy enterprise design typically is and how much more productive sales people would be with beautiful UI/UX.
Jorge: Have you always been a designer and when did you get started on web and mobile apps?
Shane: I started young with the dream of building an action sports based apparel company. I learned Adobe Illustrator when I was 15 so I could design vector artwork and separate colors for screen printing.
I landed my first job as a graphic designer right out of high school and continued to work there through college while evolving my skill set and completing more complex projects.
Jorge: From a designer’s perspective why do you believe that the Salesforce.com interface design is disliked?
Shane: Salesforce.com is a software company. They solve problems by giving companies more software and features, which most users actually dislike because they’re very difficult to use. It’s a powerful tool created by engineers to have a robust feature set and support all use cases and endless customization.
People in business have been taught that engineering is the way to produce better products, so they aim to make products that are technically superior. The reality is customers aren’t always interested in how technically advanced your product is.
People want products they can love, that make them smile every time they use them because they keep their goals in mind, anticipate what they want and work beautifully every time.
The problem is, Salesforce is a platform, not a CRM. It feels to me, the non-salesperson, like a database with an interface of sales-specific jargon and poorly organized content layered on top.
Dashtab will be different. We are creating a user experience that is focused on the lead qualification workflow. It will have some customization, but not enough to allow users to unintentionally overcomplicate things, which often leads to the abandonment of the system and dirty data.
Jorge: What compelled you to want to launch a sales oriented product?
Shane: I’ve actually been around sales professionals most of my life. My father was the VP of Sales for several global banks, so I definitely understand the need for a powerful and efficient sales team. I’ve actually known about the issues with the Salesforce.com UI/UX from coworkers, friends, and former colleagues. I was just never tasked with the challenge of fixing it until now.
My team and I at Bitmatica are now rolling out a set of products, starting with Dashtab as our flagship offering. We love the way that Pivotal Labs rolled out Tracker and 37 Signals have a suite of amazing products like Basecamp, Highrise, etc.
We will never feature bloat or play the game of the feature checklist. Dashtab is being built to be a UI/UX masterpiece, not your ordinary enterprise SaaS software. Just because you have “features listed” doesn’t mean they are used, well executed, or even liked by end-users.
If Dashtab is just another “me too” offering we have lost. Dashtab has to have the best user experience possible and focus on users’ goals; not those of vendor and procurement departments. I want users to really enjoy using this product.
Jorge: How will Dashtab’s UI/UX help sales development reps/lead qualifiers be more efficient?
Shane: We want to focus on our users’ goals, optimize the lead qualification workflow, and prevent featuritis. (Featuritis is a tendency to constantly add features which inevitably leads to complex products that are confusing and hard to use.) We’re starting with a brand new drag-and-drop interface that limits clicks by organizing data more effectively.
The user should focus on contacting and qualifying leads, not digging through the Salesforce interface for event logging and manual data entry, and our upcoming Gmail integration allows us to log emails and advance leads through the pipeline automatically. Dashtab’s goal is to consolidate your Salesforce leads into a simple, clean, usable interface.
Shane: We’re currently in beta stage and gathering user feedback. For more information and to sign up for the beta, please visit http://www.dashtab.co/