CRM Competitors Invade Salesforce.com Territory

Trying to gain groundNow that the enterprise CRM market has become saturated, CRM solution provider Salesforce.com has set their sights on the small to mid-size market. But they are running into some stiff competition in this sector.

Salesforce.com has done an excellent job at building their brand and creating name recognition.  How have they done this?  With a lot of money and some tricky marketing.  The problem is that they have a cost structure that’s not really designed for small to mid-size enterprises.  Let’s face it, Salesforce.com was designed for enterprise level companies that have unique business requirements – features that people simply had to pay dearly for if they really required them. I am referring to things like multi-language and multi-currency support and the ability to support several thousand users.

But small to mid-size companies often do not require this, and if you compare the features you get in the Group and Professional Editions to competitive CRM products you will discover that Salesforce.com can cost twice as much or more.  You see, when people evaluate Salesforce.com they tend to focus their energy on what they will be getting when they should really be looking at what they are not getting.  Here are just a few examples you will find right on their pricing page.

  • For $25 dollars per user per month I see that I get Dashboards. That’s great, but if I want customizable dashboards, well that’s $65 dollars per user. Tricky marketing I would say. The problem here is that many of Salesforce.com’s competitors offer customizable dashboards as a standard component of their product for a lot less money.
  • What about role permissions or security settings?  That’s also part of the $65 dollar per user per month Professional Edition, but a standard feature in competitive products at half the cost.
  • Want graphical reporting? No problem, $65 dollar per user per month. But once again, half the cost with competitive offerings.

So what am I getting with Salesforce CRM at the Contact Management or Group Edition level?

  • How about limitations with the number of users you can have.  The Contact Management and Group Editions are limited to only 5 users. Add a sixth and you have to upgrade to the next edition and pay much, much more – really?
  • Perhaps it’s world class customer service that’s attracting you.  The website says send an e-mail and you can expect a response within 48 hours. Of course you can also pay if you want to talk with a human being.  So much for customer relationship management!

So what is it about this company that makes people buy?  Is it the badge of honor once bestowed to companies like IBM in the 70’s?  I really don’t know, but it does look as through the path to winning the small to mid-size community may be a bit more difficult for Salesforce.com.  These are savvy businesses that have learned to do a lot with very little, and are more price sensitive than enterprise corporations.  With strong competition coming from companies like Microsoft and Commence CRM at half the cost, the water may get a bit choppier for Salesforce.com in the months ahead.  We will have to wait and see.

Image by Nathan Rupert on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Are You Paying Too Much For SalesForce.com?

US Dollars Money Currency Economy Paper currency paper notes 100 dollars
US Dollars Money Currency Economy Paper currency paper notes 100 dollars

Just over a decade ago Salesforce.com introduced Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), delivered over the Internet as a SaaS CRM service. Being the first to market provided them with the advantage of establishing a high price point for their offering and many companies seemed all too willing to pay for it, until now. What has changed over the past ten years is that there are now dozens of alternatives to Salesforce.com and several high quality trusted companies that offer similar functionality at a significantly lower cost.

Commence Corporation is one of these companies.  Commence has a rich history and has been providing on-premise CRM software to small enterprises and mid-size companies for more than two decades. In fact, Commence was the original developer of IBM Current, a desktop contact manager, and SuperSELL, IBM’s sales force automation offering. As such, Commence is no stranger to the CRM sector.  A few years ago the company expanded its product line by migrating its award winning desktop CRM software to the cloud.  Commence is one of the only companies that offers its customers the “freedom of choice” to deploy the software via the cloud or on premise.

Why Commence Makes Sense

One of the key CRM selection criteria that are driving customers to Commence CRM is that the company does not force you into a “pre-defined” box. Salesforce.com forces customers like you to select a specific product edition that locks you into a set of pre-defined features or limits the number of users you may have based on the price you paid. In fact, Commence does not have any restrictions of any kind.  The product is modular in design which means you can select the functionality you require today and add additional modules or users at any time without incurring a substantial price increase, just because you switched to a different “pre-defined” box or edition, or added additional people.

If you took a survey of companies that have selected CRM software, you will discover that many of them fell into the feature trap, where they ended up paying for more functionality than they end up using. This is because the vendor has forced them into buying a product edition with pre-set functionality as mentioned above.  This just doesn’t make sense.  To make matters worse, the majority of these companies are utilizing functionality that is standard in most quality CRM solutions like Commence, such as account and contact management, activity management, sales management, lead management, and Outlook and email integration.  Add those that also use it for marketing campaigns or mobile access and you have covered the lion share of the market.  Commence offers all of the above along with a help desk or customer support module, a document library, a project management application and integration with accounting systems like QuickBooks.

The point is this:  Trusted CRM providers like Commence have leveled the playing field and can provide similar functionality to products like Salesforce.com at a fraction of the cost.  If you’re an organization that requires a lot of users, the cost savings with Commence can be substantial.  If you are considering a CRM solution, take a few moments to evaluate Commence CRM. To learn more about Commence visit the company’s web site at www.commence.com or ask for a free CRM trial and experience Commence CRM for yourself.