Forcing the issue

Salesforce.com CRM continues to attract converts, but has the competition caught up?
Written by Steven Deare, Contributor

Salesforce.com's customer relationship management application continues to attract converts, but has the competition caught up?

The CRM vendor's Australian operation this week talked up the company's latest financial results, which beat Wall Street estimates. Salesforce recorded revenues of US$144 million (AU$182.6 million) for the three months ending January 31 and has 646,000 subscribers globally.

In Sydney, company officials said there are currently 1,000 customers across Australia and New Zealand. It also recently snared its first 1,000 seat customer in the region, which will be revealed soon.

There's no doubt Salesforce is a growing company, the figures are there. However, the company continued to spin the "we're an application service provider, we're the new breed" line as their differentiating factor.

When ZDNet Australia informed Salesforce it wasn't the only vendor offering hosted CRM, the executives responded with the following:

  • PeopleSoft: PeopleSoft owner Oracle offers about eight CRM products. Surely that's confusing?
  • Microsoft: They're yet to offer their hosted CRM product in Australia.
  • NetSuite: Do they have any customers?

Of course these aren't the only vendors in the hosted CRM game. Yet Salesforce continues to portray it's the only one offering hosted CRM.

The assembled media questioned the vendor on the local CRM add-ons offered on its AppExchange platform. AppExchange is a portal that offers Salesforce customers access to hundreds of third-party developer applications, many designed around Salesforce's CRM suite.

When asked how many Australian developers were offering applications via the portal, for example, those specific to local vertical markets, the company couldn't come up with a number. None of the executives present -- Steve Russell, president and CEO of Asia-Pacific and India, Jeremy Cooper, vice president of marketing, Asia-Pacific and Japan, and Andrew Everingham, ANZ marketing director -- had an answer.

The question for CRM buyers these days is not who has the better model. The market has caught up in that respect. It's who has the better product.

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