New innovators: SalesOptimize

Smart search engine helps businesses optimise sales potential

SalesOptimize is a new business-to-business lead-generation and marketing search engine designed to save companies hours of trawling through websites to find retail contacts.

Set up by PayPal's former European head of telesales, Liz Fulham, and ecommerce and online payments industry veteran Colm Ahern, the partners began developing their product in 2013 and soft-launched it in February of this year.

“We use deep web analytics to scan the internet at high speed, and with one simple search businesses get a fully scored and enriched list of online shops, along with detailed information about each site, such as contact details of key executives, how much revenue is generated by that site and the payment platform and shipping service used,” says Fulham. “This information can then be exported to their CRM system in seconds.”

The SalesOptimize engine is aimed at companies of all sizes that want to sell products or services on the websites of global ecommerce vendors. According to Fulham, the technology innovation in this area to date has focused primarily on the CRM aspect rather than on automated lead generation. But “by filling the top of the sales funnel with high-quality sales leads directly from the internet, as opposed to manual entry or uploading, we are leading the next big wave in sales technology”, she says.

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Fulham and Ahern met at CoderDojo, a volunteer-led global movement of free computer-programming clubs for young people.

“My three children were members and Colm was their teacher, and I observed his brilliant mind at work,” Fulham says.  “Over a coffee, I explained the problems faced by businesses trying to access the global ecommerce market. From experience, I knew that sales people, used to looking companies up in the Golden Pages, struggled with the internet because it was basically unmapped. I asked Colm would it be possible to scan the internet to find all the online retailers that could be converted into potential sales leads. To my surprise, he said ‘yes’, and the idea for the company was born.”

Rapidly growing market

“Ecommerce is a rapidly growing market and its estimated worth in 2015 was around €1.5 trillion, but only 1 per cent of all active websites are online shops. We remove all the other ‘noise’ and find them.

"We have the most comprehensive coverage of online retailers and can tell which websites are leading the way and what services they use. This helps companies to know if a website is a good sales prospect or a waste of time. Our other uinque selling point is a really simple-to-use search tool, and the technology can also help manufacturers connect with potential distributors and marketing companies to improve a retailer's Google ranking."

SalesOptimize will sell its service for a monthly fee of €175 for 150 sales leads. This works out at €1.15 a lead and buys access to 1.7 million online shops in more than 20 countries. The service is aimed at anyone selling online, but big users are likely to be payment processors, shipping, marketing and ICT companies.

SalesOptimize is based at the National College of Ireland's Business and Research Centre and employs nine people. The cost of developing its technology has been about €350,000; the funding has come from private investors, from the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund and from Wayra, Telefónica's start-up accelerator. The company is in the process of closing a new funding round.

“We are currently testing the product and incorporating customer feedback prior to our formal launch in a few months’ time,” Fulham says. “Although we have just begun rolling out our digital marketing campaign we have already had five requests from prospective buyers for exclusivity. We think that gives an indication of how potentially powerful this technology is.”