Enterprise Apps

Salesforce.com Broadens Reach to Partner Network

Salesforce.com is venturing into the partner relationship management space with the release of Partnerforce, Salesforce Partner Edition.

PRM, a software category related to CRM, focuses on connecting and maintaining relationships with direct and indirect partners instead of customers.

Processes supported in Partnerforce include the distribution of sales and marketing information across multiple distribution channels, recruiting and retention of partners, sales support, and performance measurement of partners and their customers.

The Salesforce Partner Edition also provides integrated dashboards that can display forecasts and pipeline views throughout the direct and indirect channels.

Whither PRM?

PRM as a software category peaked a few years ago, then quietly declined as most of the major vendors either failed or were acquired by the the few left in operation.

Salesforce.com entered the PRM software category in response to customer demand, Kendall Collins, vice president of marketing, told CRM Buyer.

“Just because the majority of companies in this space have gone away doesn’t mean the business problems have,” he added. “For a lot of companies, the concept of sales extends beyond the four corporate walls.”

The problem for many companies, according to Collins, is that most sales — some 70 percent — are not closed by direct partners, but rather by systems integrators, agents or distributors.

Pain Point

Getting separate but related companies to coordinate their sales, customer support or other such processes can be notoriously difficult, Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.

“The reason why PRM failed is not because it was a poor concept. It was because adoption was so iffy and the systems are very complex,” she explained. The upshot was that companies would buy expensive systems and perhaps get just a handful of partners to regularly use them.

Even if adoption of Partnerforce is low, Kingstone noted, Salesforce.com is still likely to come out ahead, since “for them, it is all about building out its base and increasing revenues.”

Developing Partnerforce was not a great expense; plus, the fact that it is integrated to Salesforce.com’s CRM application is a selling point for the company’s installed base.

Also, users can leverage AppExchange, Collins pointed out, which includes a number of applications oriented to partner relationships, such as market development fund (MDF) management, rebate services, special pricing and targeted communications.

Salesforce Partner Edition is based on Salesforce’s CRM functionality, tailored for partners. In addition to a base subscription of Salesforce Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition, pricing for Salesforce Partner Edition will be US$1,500 per partner, per year, including subscriptions for five partner employees.

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