Salesforce.com Readies Campaign App for 2008 Election Cycle

An application currently in beta on Salesforce.com’s AppExchange is designed especially for politicians in campaign mode. To be called (what else?) “CampaignForce.com,” the product will be available in a few weeks, according to Dan Burton, senior vice president of global public policy at Salesforce.com.

“We see that campaigns are realizing what businesses already know — that they have to harness the Web to supercharge their operations,” he told CRM Buyer. 2008, he predicted, “will be the year of Web Dashboard campaigns.”

Focus on Funding

With the release still in beta and subject to change, Burton did not provide much detail about its features.

Built on Salesforce.com’s recently released Spring ’07 application, CampaignForce.com focuses on the fundraising issues peculiar to a cash-hungry political campaign. The CRM tools have been tailored for such activities as fundraising and event management.

The dashboard has metrics that include recent polls, pipelines for fundraising, and drill-down capabilities into specific donors, as well as their backgrounds and relationships with the campaign.

“Just like CRM is supposed to give you a 360-degree view of the customer, CampaignForce.com will give you a 360-degree view of the donor,” Burton said.

Development Origins

The catalyst behind CampaignForce.com was Republican presidential candidate’s Mitt Romney search for a Web-based CRM application to manage its fundraising activities. The campaign contacted Salesforce.com for a sales presentation about six to eight months ago, according to Burton.

“They didn’t want a lot of upfront costs or IT infrastructure requirements,” he said.

Eventually, the campaign opted for Salesforce.com and subsequently heavily customized the application with the assistance of partner companyTheikos.

Rumors have been circulating that one of the reasons the Romney campaign was able to raise so much money was that it had a robust back-end system, Denis Pombriant, principal with Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer. “It makes sense — he has a smaller base and needed to be methodical in order to hit everybody he could.”

The product Salesforce.com will be releasing is nothing like the one that the Romney campaign has tailored, warned Burton. “They view their customizations as their own intellectual property; a competitive advantage.”

New Vertical Strategy

Until recently, CampaignForce.com would have been a departure from Salesforce.com’s usual strategy. For the most part, the company has relied on its partner ecosystem to deliver vertical expertise to its clients.

In February, however, the company unveiled its first industry-specific application — Wealth Management edition — along with the news that it won a 25,000-seat contract with Merrill Lynch.

The release offers the typical features found in most CRM suites tailored specifically to the needs of financial services firms. These include client-profiling tools, workflows that meet regulations in the industry, calendaring and other productivity tools.

The larger point of the release, Pombriant believed, was to show Salesforce.com’s partners the depth and breadth of the platform.

“It was trying to show how powerful the technology can be as a way to inspire the partner base to think more broadly,” he commented.

CampaignForce.com, very broadly speaking, is another example of that trend, Pombriant continued. “It could conceivably fall into the public sector category.”

Targeting Governments

Indeed, Salesforce.com would like to further penetrate the government sector, Burton said, pointing to a few of the company’s marquee wins in the sector to illustrate the application’s flexibility in the space.

New Jersey Transit, for instance, is using Salesforce Service and Support, after customizing it with AppExchange, to track service requests and complaints.

Arlington Economic Development is using AppExchange to build and deploy custom applications and tabs to track more than US$1 bilion dollars of real estate and business development projects.

Then there is the Chicago Housing Authority, which retained Model Metrics, a Salesforce.com implementation partner, to customize applications for its case managers and Chicago public services agencies.

“We would like to replicate the same success we have had in the commercial markets in the government sector,” Burton said.

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