To Sell Better, Sell Smarter

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Companies that make other companies sell smarter are hot.

Customer relationship management, or CRM, darling's sales jumped nearly 20% year over year. And software arms dealers Microsoft ( MSFT), Google ( GOOG), Oracle ( ORCL) and IBM ( IBM) all push CRM tools. And that ignores the smallish tickers like NetSuite ( N), Epicor Software ( EPIC) and CDC Software ( CDCS) that also angle for the small-business CRM dollar.

The news is, up-and-coming companies are aiming to roil the CRM market even further. One of the most interesting is privately held Providence, R.I.-based BatchBlue. Started in 2006 by two ex- employees, the company is bringing a social Web flair to CRM, with a product called BatchBook. (Plans start at $10 a month.)

And though major CRM players remain immune for now -- BatchBlue has all of eight employees and wouldn't disclose its subscriber figures -- I have been tinkering with the product for the past few months. And I, along with my sales and logistics colleagues Damon and Carter, got a full-on demo of the package.

And we all agreed BatchBook is one heck of an interesting CRM idea.

What you get: BatchBook is the CRM tool for the Web 2.0 world. What founders Pamela O'Hara, Sean Ransom and Michelle Riggen-Ransom have done is create contact management tools based around meta-tags. That's geek-speak for little bits of text that define Web content. For example, this story could be tagged "CRM," or "small business." But tags are tricky. Even simple tags like "pot" or "unit" can mean different things to different folks. So tags often don't organize, they confuse.

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