Salesforce.com Pro’s & Con’s An Independent Assessment By Chuck Schaeffer
Salesforce.comSalesforce.com is the cloud CRM pioneer. However,with its substantial size, it no longer leads the industryin terms of revenue growth, but in absolute terms ofSaaS CRM revenues, customer acquisitions and usersubscriptions the company is a clear market shareleader. In this Salesforce.com CRM review we examinestrengths and weaknesses of an industry leader.A more detailed Salesforce.com Review Report isavailable at http://www.crmsearch.com.
Salesforce.com Pro’s• The company is a proven innovator. This strength alone separates Salesforce.com from much of its competition and provides software longevity and increased payback for customers.• Salesforce.com promotes a vibrant user community. The company uses its own Ideas solution to solicit community input, actively monitors social channels and provides online communities for customers to make themselves heard. Too often CRM companies dont actually practice the Customer Relationship Management they speak of, however, Salesforce.com walks the walk.• The Salesforce.com user interface maximizes consumer technologies to deliver a simple and rewarding user experience. This has delivered a profound effect in achieving user adoption.• Salesforce.com is championing social CRM and delivering the technology for its customers to achieve social CRM business objectives.• The companys combination of Force.com, PaaS tools and AppExchange lead the SaaS CRM industry in terms of cloud integration, software customization, third party extensibility and ecosystem.
Salesforce.com Con’s• As Salesforce continues its transition from a CRM company to a platform company, several CRM competitors have exceeded Salesforces CRM features, functions and capabilities.• Unlike primary competitors such as Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, SugarCRM and others whom offer both choice in deployment (on-premise, on-demand or a hybrid combination) as well as choice in cloud platform (vendor cloud, private cloud or public cloud), Salesforce.com does not support any public cloud (i.e. Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, etc.) which limits hosting options, prevents portability, threatens IT investment and significantly increases exit costs. For example, Salesforce.com customers who choose to extend their CRM software solution with custom development created with a single vendor tool set (Force.com) and which only operates on one cloud will likely not be able to transfer and protect that investment if they choose to leave Salesforce.com.• Salesforce.com marketing software is competitively weak in the SaaS CRM industry. To achieve lead management or marketing automation capabilities such as digital prospect tracking, lead scoring, progressive profiling, nurture campaigns and rich marketing analytics requires a separate product acquisition. Salesforce has introduced the Marketing Cloud, but its limited to social marketing and satisfies few or none of the previously listed lead management or marketing automation requirements. Many Salesforce.com customers turn to third party marketing automation software products from vendors such as Act-On Software, Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot, which deliver strong solutions but increase costs and multi-vendor management issues.
Salesforce.com Con’s• Salesforce.com is without sophisticated business intelligence (BI). Customers seeking data warehousing, data mining, online analytical processing (OLAP) or predictive analytics will need to procure third party solutions from AppExchange or elsewhere.• Despite an initial thrust and acceptance in the small business market, small business customers repeatedly opine that professional services options are few and costly. For small business customers that require software customization, integration or other professional services, the lack of channel options, combined with the lack of desire for smaller projects by the few partners available, leave this customer segment without many options.• When reviewing features to features its apparent that Salesforce.com is the highest priced product in the SaaS CRM industry.• Salesforce.com becomes less competitive when looking beyond CRM as a point solution. For companies seeking broader business software suites, including back office accounting or ERP systems, the inconsistency and relatively shallow integrations delivered with third party AppExchange vendors do not stand up well to single vendor solutions from competitors such as NetSuite and SAP Business ByDesign.• The company operates fewer international data centers than many of its competitors. This can impact user performance (latency, hops, jitter, etc.) as well as pose regulatory concerns with regard to data privacy and government compliance. This may make Salesforce.com less appealing for customers that get progressively further away from the U.S.
Salesforce.com Con’s• The Salesforce.com customer base is predominantly B2B. The CRM software is not nearly as well oriented to the B2C industry.• Surprisingly, Salesforce.com generally doesnt provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for its cloud service unless the customer requests and negotiates it. Even then, SLAs are inconsistent from customer to customer and fall below uptime guarantees of primary SaaS CRM competitors.
Conclusion• Salesforce is an innovator—and this is a key strength that sets the company apart from much of its competition. They were one of the first business software companies to inject consumer technologies into business applications—and continue to do this faster than most of their peers. They have accelerated the pace of platform as a service (PaaS), mobile CRM, social CRM and more, and show few signs of slowing their creativity and momentum. In fact, the company must continue to out-innovate its competition not just for product superiority or value-add purposes, but to stave off the inevitable downward pricing pressures that are otherwise unavoidable as online CRM software becomes commoditized. The on demand CRM market is now plentiful with credible competitors, so Salesforce.coms innovation is far more about holding off price erosion than technology advancement.• Salesforce.coms core competencies are innovation, evangelism and marketing prowess. A potent combination that can leap frog competitors, create new category leadership and earn significant market share. In many ways, the companys future is less predictable now than when run from the bedrooms of a small San Francisco apartment over a decade ago.