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Case
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Reference no. E249
Subject category: Entrepreneurship
Authors: Andrew Rachleff
Published by: Stanford Business School
Originally published in: 2007
Version: 10 May 2007

Abstract

In early 2001, following a lackluster consumer service launch, Tellme Networks made the decision to bet its future on a customer support operator elimination application aimed at enterprise companies. Unfortunately, sales associated with the new strategy were not ramping. Tellme Board Advisor Bill Campbell, Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer of Intuit, grew frustrated with the small amount of information on which strategic decisions were being made and challenged David Weiden, Vice President Marketing, to develop a plan that could help determine the problem with the new strategy. Weiden embarked on developing a model, Project Rifle, to answer these questions. Rifle was a methodology to choose markets and customers most likely to buy the Tellme''s services in large quantities. Rifle seemed to reveal prospects that were far different from the management team''s intuition. If Tellme implemented Rifle, the sales team would not have much of a say with regard to potential customers to target. In other words, sales people would be chosen for their sales ability rather than their relationships or contacts. Sales people who did not buy into the process would likely leave.

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Abstract

In early 2001, following a lackluster consumer service launch, Tellme Networks made the decision to bet its future on a customer support operator elimination application aimed at enterprise companies. Unfortunately, sales associated with the new strategy were not ramping. Tellme Board Advisor Bill Campbell, Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer of Intuit, grew frustrated with the small amount of information on which strategic decisions were being made and challenged David Weiden, Vice President Marketing, to develop a plan that could help determine the problem with the new strategy. Weiden embarked on developing a model, Project Rifle, to answer these questions. Rifle was a methodology to choose markets and customers most likely to buy the Tellme''s services in large quantities. Rifle seemed to reveal prospects that were far different from the management team''s intuition. If Tellme implemented Rifle, the sales team would not have much of a say with regard to potential customers to target. In other words, sales people would be chosen for their sales ability rather than their relationships or contacts. Sales people who did not buy into the process would likely leave.

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