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Salesforce.com's Enterprise Voyage Continues

By Dan Muse     Feedback

The Web-based CRM service provider hones in on the large-enterprise market with a slew of new sales, marketing and support features.

Salesforce.com continues to hammer away at the enterprise market. Today the San Francisco-based ASP that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) services announced several enhancements aimed at large global businesses — the exact market that traditional CRM vendors such as Siebel and Peoplesoft claim would never use a Web-based product.

Since last February's introduction of its Enterprise and Offline Edition (see Salesforce.com Goes Offline and Big Biz), Salesforce.com reports that its has seen rapid adoption rates at large companies. Cary Fulbright, senior vice president, marketing and products, told ASPnews that Salesforce.com currently has 1,000 Enterprise Edition customers.

Built to meet the needs of those large global customers, Salesforce.com's latest version adds stronger support for mobile, distributed sales organizations as well as enhancements to marketing and customer-service features for enterprise customers.

Kaiser Mulla-Feroze, senior product marketing manager at Salesforce.com, told ASPnews that the upgrade takes into account that large companies are made up of groups with disparate needs. "The main thing is that enterprises have different users in different places."

Salesforce.com's technology model and multi-tenant architecture allows different views into the same data, Mulla-Feroze said. It also allows Salesforce to react rapidly to customer demands. "We upgrade every three or four months, but the upgrades are user transparent."

Because all Salesforce.com CRM solutions are delivered as online utilities, Salesforce.com said, upgrades are immediately available with no corresponding hardware requirements, consulting charges or changes to subscription-based pricing structures.

"Unlike traditional client-server solutions like Siebel, our upgrades do not mean our customers are forced against their will into a complete re-mplementation," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com.

New features include the following:

Sales automation: An improved activity management tool is designed to help managers drive productivity across widely dispersed sales teams, and track activities by region, market or nation. Reporting enhancements include an increase in the number of report filters and increased flexibility in the creation of custom reports, Salesforce.com reports.

Marketing automation: Leads can now be updated in mass and campaigns can be cloned to increase efficiency.

Customer service and support: Enhancements are designed to make the customer self-service portal easier to use and deploy. Portal users can view attachments and hyperlinks, upload attachments to cases and designate "super users" who can access all support cases submitted by their organization.

Support for distributed, mobile sales organizations: The Offline Edition will now be available in all ten languages supported by Salesforce.com. Airforce Wireless Edition (which was announced last November) will be available on more devices, including Palm, iPAQ, BlackBerry, Handspring Treo, and HTML- or WAP-enabled phones, Salesforce.com reports.

The reason for the frequent — and free — updates is simple. "Our success is tied to our customers' success," Fulbright said. "If they aren't successful, they won't stay." So far, the company claims its approach is working. Fulbright told ASPnews that many Global 2000 customers are swapping out client-server software for Salesforce.com and using XML-based APIs to integrate with other software such as financial systems. "We are the only CRM vendor moving in a positive direction."

Salesforce.com is listed by ASPnews as a Top 20 Service Provider.

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This article was originally published on February 10, 2003
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