Bringing Your Partners In On the Deal
Salesforce.com will release its latest business application suite, Partnerforce, Salesforce Partner Edition, on July 12. Partnerforce will leverage the company's revolutionary AppExchange to deliver customers' sales and marketing information to their business partners in an on-demand form. Pricing is set at $1,500 per partner company, per year, requires a base subscription to Salesforce Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition, and includes subscriptions for five partner employees.
The AppExchange platform is behind one of the key features of Partnerforce: high partner adoption. Salesforce hopes that the accessibility of modules through the online development community and easy customizability of Salesforce portals will remove a major barrier to the success of partner programs. "Today, tens of thousands of companies are leveraging the benefits and efficiency of on-demand services," said Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff in a written statement. "Salesforce Partner Edition is the next generation of on-demand service and it is with great enthusiasm that I welcome the partner community to the Business Web."
Other attractions of Partnerforce include reduced channel conflict through deal registration and opportunity management; end-to-end partner life cycle management (spanning recruiting, marketing, selling, and measurement); and a consolidated cross-channel view of direct and indirect channels via dashboards and other analytics tools. "The ability for companies to be able to analyze their sales and marketing pipelines and programs across both direct and indirect channels is a critical component to any successful growth effort," says Tiffani Bova, a research director at Gartner. "An integrated view delivers productivity and increased effectiveness to both sides of the sales model, ultimately driving revenue and profitability for both vendor and partner."
Salesforce.com claims that its Partner Edition is the first integrated on-demand partner relationship management (PRM) and CRM service, but that does not appear to be the case. NetSuite, for example, was touting the PRM functionality of its CRM+ on-demand service as far back as May 2005, and Oracle (by way of Siebel Systems) includes PRM in both its on-premise and on-demand CRM packages. "Most of the enterprise CRM suites have PRM," says Liz Herbert, analyst with Forrester Research. "The consolidated view possible with an integrated suite is going to give you fewer problems and more clarity than if you were using a standalone product."
That said, Herbert believes that Salesforce Partner Edition addresses a definite need in the business community for better partner management. "There still aren't a lot of options for on-demand [PRM]," she says. "The same factors that drove CRM users to consider software as a service will work for PRM. There's a hole in the market for ease of use, and Salesforce addresses it."
Herbert concedes that the first version of Partnerforce is not likely to have every possible function, but says it will allow the company to make inroads to the space. "Salesforce's huge market presence makes it more attractive to customers [that are new to PRM] in ways that best-of-breed vendors like BlueRoads aren't. There's no worry that Salesforce will go away."
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