taps SAVO to juice up team

April 24, 2006

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS, the red-hot San Francisco sales-force automation software provider, is reaching out to an up-and-coming Chicago company for tools to energize its own selling team.

SAVO Group, a Chicago tech and marketing services startup, is expected to announce a deal today with that makes SAVO's Sales Asset Manager application the on-demand sales enablement platform for its internal sales force.

" selected SAVO after a very thorough evaluation of the marketplace," says Brett Queener, SVP for business operations for Queener expects his sales organization to use SAM to proactively identify the best sales materials to leverage in a given selling situation.

"Our sales team will spend less time generating materials, and their effectiveness will improve significantly," Queener adds.

SAVO is the brainchild of co-founders John Aiello, 37, and Drew Larsen, 38, who met as undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Aiello and Larsen founded SAVO in Chicago in 1999 with the aim of using technology to improve sales-force execution through more consistent delivery of the right messages and by making the best-selling materials accessible in real time.

"Our tools let customer-facing professionals quickly access the most current, consistent and customer-relevant selling materials," Aiello says. "Our platform, our messaging and our content development services are making us a leader."

Aiello is mum on whether SAVO is an acquisition target for CEO Marc Benioff. "We truly have never had an exit strategy," Aiello says. "If we continue to do what we're doing, there will be lots of options."

SAVO's client list is a Who's Who of top organizations that sell a far-flung and complex set of products and services. Clients include ADP, Allstate, Amerisource, Axiom, Citicorp Diners Club, FedEx, LaSalle Bank, Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust, SPSS and William Blair.

SAVO raised $10 million last September from Sterling Venture Partners based in Northbrook. SAVO employs 60 based in Chicago.

"SAVO is a tremendous story for Chicago," says David Weinstein, president of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. "They are building a world class company in the white-hot space of sales enablement."

Warrior turns heads

It's spring, and the thoughts of Kellogg MBAs turn to technology and jobs.

The mood was upbeat at last week's 12th annual Kellogg Technology Conference at Northwestern. The student-run event attracted an all-star cast of tech leaders.

Motorola CTO Padmasree Warrior definitely turned heads with her ideas.

"She is an eye-opener at the vanguard of seamless mobility," says second-year MBA student and conference GM Satyajit Mujumdar. Mujumdar was wowed by Warrior's perspective on the future of mobile technology. He's hoping for a position at Motorola, Google or Yahoo.

"I want to see what sorts of innovations eBay brings to the table, and how they're planning to compete," says second-year MBA candidate Mina Arsala. Arsala is a veteran of the tech startup boom aiming for a tech marketing strategy role in Chicago after graduation.

Lax Madapaty anchored the organizing committee. He recruited keynote speakers including Warrior, Adobe COO Shantanu Narayen and eBay North America President Bill Cobb.

How did he line up the all-star cast? "A little bit of luck and a lot of effort," Madapaty says. For post graduation, Madapaty already has landed a product manager role at Microsoft.

War for talent returns

Rich Brennen, global leader of executive search giant Spencer Stuart's CIO practice says, "The war for talent is back."

Brennen told Chicago's top CIOs at the Society for Information at Spiaggia, "The market is really hot right now. There's not been a time like this since 1999 or 2000."

The Chicago-based Brennen has tips for aspiring job seekers: "Anybody who can get themselves into some sort of technically based program -- whether it is IT, engineering or the hard sciences -- the demand is going to be extraordinary."

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.


 ©2006 Marion Consulting Partners