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Is Benioff Stuck in the ’90s?

The big CRM news of the week was Salesforce.com’s tie-up with Google to embed its CRM application in the search engine provider’s productivity suite. Plenty in the industry were wowed by the development — not all, though.

Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu can be counted among the latter. Zoho is an on-demand provider of many applications, including several productivity tools and a CRM product.

The company released its first enterprise application last week; the major differentiator in that app compared with earlier versions is its role-based security feature, Vembu told CRM Buyer. “We aimed at the SMB user before; now, though, what we are offering is useful for large organizations.”

New Ball Game?

His main beef with the Salesforce.com-Google product, he writes in a blog post,is that the two business modelsdo not fit together.

“Google’s approach is much cheaper while Salesforce.com spends a lot on marketing,” he says.

It’s a textbook definition of “business model bloat,” Vembu argues. “If you are a customer of Salesforce, it makes you feel really happy that the company spends 8x [more] on selling to you as in writing the code, right?”

Vembu, who outlines his own history with Salesforce.com in his blog, goes on to say that CEO Marc Benioff is “still playing a 1990s software game, with expensive software (sorry, software-as-a-service!)and a business model that is sure to make Larry Ellison flinch, which is saying something.”

He backs up his expense claims with a detailed spreadsheet included in the post.

Ron Miller, a contributor to Daniweb.com Tech Treasures,takes note of Vembu’s post, as well as the company’s larger news — its enterprise upgrade.

“The [security] controls appear to be well designed and enable you to control data sharing at a granular level,” he says.

The Salesforce.com cost issue, he continues, “while interesting in a voyeuristic sense, is really about shouting for attention, and Salesforce (to its credit) won’t get dragged into it. But one thing isclear, Zoho at least deserves consideration if you are evaluating Saas CRM products for the enterprise, regardless of how it chooses to tell us about it.”

Dealers Do CRM

By now, there has been a vertical CRM release for just about every industry, so vendors should be interested in DealerDex’s take on CRM. DealerDex is a Web site dedicated to the car dealer industry.

In“How to Get CRM Right the First Time,” Mitch Turck, chief marketing officer, writes: “Let me save you some time right from the start: if you came here looking for an article that discusses specific CRM vendors and provides some insight into who you should go with, my advice is two-fold: a) iMagicLab, and b) who cares.”

The point is that too many dealers view CRM as a way to plug up holes in their businesses, rather than as a way to launch a new strategy, he told CRM Buyer. Vendors, meanwhile, contributed to this short-sighted mindset by positioning their tools as plug-and-play business boosters.

It was “a perfect storm of squandered opportunity, resulting in the half-assed execution of CRMwe typically see today at dealerships,” says Turck.

“Here’s the thing: when you decide that your dealership needs a CRM tool, the very last thing you should do is shop CRM vendors for the best deal or the coolest tool. Deciding to create a CustomerRelationship Management discipline in your store is just that — a discipline, not a solution in a box. You’ve got a long way to go before you’re ready to sit in on a sales pitch from a CRM vendor ifyou want to get this right the first time… and trust me, you do.”

Tips for Pharmas Too

Another blogger, Richard Meyer, takes a look at the pharmaceuticals vertical to see how CRMimplementation can be improved there.

“Marketers will spends lots of time and money on testing and retesting ad messages but when it comes to CRM they often feel that one message fits all segments. As patients become more and more fragmented what is relevant to one segment may not be relevant to another and thus winds up in the trash can unread. No wonder pharma marketers can’t find a CRM program that works they have not been willing to invest the time and money into a working program and then there are the people within the organization who want an ROI and can’t measure brand and company equity by delivering relevant information that people actually want and need.”

CRM Wallpaper

Christian Espinoza, a Microsoft-certified Dynamics consultant with Microsoft gold partner emerging solutions, is providingDynamics CRM wallpapers to readers.

“I figured they’d be very nice and professional to have, especially if you give CRM-related presentationsoff of a projector,” he wrote.

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