Salesforce Strikes Back Against SAP With R/3 Connector

Salesforce.com has released Summer ’06, the quarterly update of its flagship on demand CRM application. Improved lead tracking is one of the enhancements in this version, which happens to be Salesforce.com’s 20th release. Also, new scripting features for sales beef up the application’s sales guidance functionality.

Salesforce.com has also released a connector to SAP R/3. It had previously offered this functionality in earlier versions of its application — indeed stealing away enterprise customers from Siebel and SAP has been Salesforce.com’s forte.

However, now that SAP is offering its own entry-level on demand CRM application, Salesforce.com apparently feels the need to remind SAP customers that Salesforce.com offers viable migration options.

“What it has done with this connector is package up existing functionality and embed it in the application so anyone can use it,” Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.

Staving Off the Competition

Competitive pressures against Salesforce.com are building, although the firm remains the clear leader in the on demand CRM space. “It is way ahead in terms of features and functionality,” Kingstone said. It also has name recognition or comfort factor for companies opting to deploy CRM, she added. “It used to be you couldn’t go wrong if you picked IBM. Now that applies in the CRM space; you can’t go wrong if you pick Salesforce.com.”

Microsoft, though, might change that perception a little when it introduces its CRM Live application — its own multi-tenant, on demand CRM application — in a year from now. Salesforce.com has dismissed the application as late-to-the-market vaporware.

There is this, however: Microsoft brings to the table its own comfort level with buyers, Kingstone said. “In that respect Microsoft will be on an equal footing with Salesforce.com almost right away. Then it will become a question of which company offers the better functionality.”

What to Expect

New features in the Summer ’06 upgrade also include:

  • Full integration with Salesforce Partner Edition, allowing users to track a sales forecast across internal sales groups and external indirect partner sales channels;
  • An AppExchange Mobile update in which customers can add products or access pricing, while mobile, through automated lead assignments. Remote sales customers can receive new leads on their mobile device and/or create new leads and send them to the appropriate person based on predetermined assignment rules;
  • New call scripting guides for sales and service professionals that can be tailored for different customers based on their profile; and
  • New lead history tracking — an important feature for compliance and auditing. Managers are able to track lead status changes from week to week, conduct historical and trend analysis, choose which information on leads needs a detailed audit trail, and ensure legal compliance with an audit history of customer interactions.

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