This week, I had the opportunity to speak with the folks from ToutApp, a San Francisco based start-up that has launched a slick and cost effective business email creation and management tool designed specifically for sales teams.
ToutApp founder Tawheed Kader started the company in 2010. Legend has it that after his first choice for a name was taken, he spent the weekend buried in a thesaurus and chose ‘Tout’ for its meaning, ‘to promote or peddle’, a fitting name for an application built with the front line sales professional in mind.
Tawheed is a passionate entrepreneur whose blog is well worth checking out. You can also follow him on Twitter. One of the things that drew my attention to ToutApp within the crowded email management space was its backing from (among others) Esther Dyson who has inspired me as an entrepreneur since I first read Release 2.0 back in 1998.
Merely two years into their journey, ToutApp has several thousand paid subscribers and almost 20,000 trial users.
So Where Does It Fit?
ToutApp has chosen to make a run at the crowded and confusing business emailing management landscape. My take on the categories and players in this space looks like this:
- Core email applications or ‘clients’ (Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
- Stand alone email enhancement tools (ToutApp, YesWare, etc.)
- Email management and automation applications (Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.)
- Powerful Marketing Automation Platforms (Hubspot, Pardot, etc.)
- CRM Providers – often integrated with email (Salesforce.com, etc.)
What Does It Do?
From a feature and functionality standpoint, ToutApp appears to be the Swiss Army Knife of business email tools. Here is what stood out to me:
- Template creation, management, and sharing. Readers of this blog know I am fixated on the need for sales teams to be equipped with templates rather than reinventing the wheel 20 times a day.
- Tracking. Salespeople need visibility into whether or not emails get delivered, opened, and forwarded. In addition, ToutApp provides visibility into links clicked, attachments opened, and even which pages of the attached PDF were viewed.
- Mobile Access. What good would all of these features be if they weren’t accessible from your iPhone or Android smartphone?
- Automation. 20% of the work associated with email is repetitive: Cc your boss, Bcc professional services, etc.
- Scheduling. Personally, I like emails to be delivered late at night or early in the morning but don’t always want to compose them at those times. Similarly, I want my email to show up two days after someone returns from vacation rather than getting stuck in the massive pile that accumulates while they are on the beach in Cancun.
- CRM Integration. The #1 complaint I hear from sales organizations is the poor (or nonexistent) integration between their email (usually Outlook or Gmail) and their CRM (usually Salesforce.com). ToutApp solves that.
- Analytics. Salespeople send a lot of emails but don’t generally know which ones work and which ones don’t. Marketers have powerful tools for assessing email effectiveness but ToutApp is the first tool I have seen that provides these kinds of insights for the sales rep. For now, this effectiveness reporting is only available for the individual sales rep but will extended to include team and organization roll up reporting in the coming months.
- Alert and Notification. Most email applications allow me to see if someone has opened or forwarded my message. I am pretty sure salespeople will be able to take advantage of the fact that ToutApp lets you know through proactive desktop notification.
- Email to Chat. In the next month or so, ToutApp will be rolling out what I consider to be the most useful feature yet. You know how some people use email like chat or text messaging? Personally, it drives me crazy to keep hitting send and receive; I’d rather pick up the phone or jump into a chat window. ToutApp lets the email receiver open a chat window directly from the email you sent them. How cool is that?
Who Is It Right For?
While I am sure organizations of all sizes could benefit from some aspect of ToutApp, it is important for companies to choose their tools carefully. Desired features need to be balanced with adding additional costs and complexity. I run across far too many companies suffering from ‘application overload’.
For my mind, the sweet spot for ToutApp includes:
- Salesforce.com power users looking to move beyond the basic template and tracking features available in Salesforce.com and take advantage of ToutApps effectiveness analytics, as well as create more robust templates that can be tweaked and shared across the team.
- Small businesses dipping their toes in the inbound/content marketing pool. Basically, those looking for 90% of the functionality of an email management system with significantly less cost and complexity.
- The start-up organization running on Excel spreadsheets and Gmail that is looking for a fast, easy, cheap, and powerful ‘force multiplier’ for their sales team.
Ummm…Someone Needs to Check Their Math on the Pricing Sheet
I am always amused by the lengths software companies go to make their pricing unnecessarily confusing and complex. Like most everything these days, ToutApp is priced per user per month, as well as tied to a daily email limit. However, someone decided that each of the volume tiers should cost more per user and more per email. I’m sure this will get fixed and I’ll let Tawheed know he can give me a call if he wants to borrow my calculator. In simple terms, ToutApp will run you about $25 per user per month, which is still inexpensive for the value it delivers. There is also a slightly reduced functionality ‘Lite’ option available for individuals ($15/month) who just want the basics.
ToutApp is cool. If I wasn’t spending way too much money on Hubspot, this would be a perfect sales tool.
ToutApp is a feature rich and cost effective enhancement to the business email client you already use. It’s designed for the sales professional and integrates easily with Salesforce.com. Used properly, it can greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness in an area where everyone (and salespeople in particular) spends much of their day.
If you’d like to check it out, you can click here to sign up for a 14 day trial.
By Townsend Wardlaw