In most companies, among the highest-paid employees are sales people. In an economic downturn, a company needs ways to trim the costs of its sales team.

Enter Zuberance, which sells software to companies to help turn customers into a volunteer salesforce. It has just raised $4 million in a first round of financing from Emergence Capital Partners.

Zuberance, based in Palo Alto, Calif., works as follows. Take the example of an unnamed consumer electronics company that recently used Zuberance’s software. The Zuberance software awarded the customers for writing reviews online about the consumer electronics company’s product, by giving those customers “points.” The customers then redeemed those points by getting free products and a donation to Red Cross in their name. In less than a day, the company signed up 2,500 of their customers to write the reviews. Within a week, it had more than 5,000 customers who wrote reviews, according to Zuberance chief executive Rob Fuggetta.

Zuberance helps publish the positive reviews to places like, CNet, TripAdvisor, YouTube and Facebook.

Pricing depends on the amount of usage, but the Zuberance product generally costs between $5,000 and $10,000 a month.

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