Salesforce.com Outshines Competitors on Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation

Client interest in solutions for sales force automation (SFA) remains strong, according to this year's Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation. The research firm estimates that, despite a weak sales season, organizations invested close to $4 billion in SFA in 2009.

In the analysis firm's evaluation of the SFA arena, research analyst Rob Desisto notes ongoing trends such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and mobility are still driving a market that revolves around traditional goals. "The focus of SFA deployments continues to be on core functional capabilities for accounts, contacts, opportunities, selling processes, and sales operations," he writes. Still, he adds, integration of social elements is emerging as a necessary SFA capability.

Even as that shift takes place, Desisto insists, the ultimate question that buyers should ask of their SFA providers remains unchanged: "Will this vendor help my sales organization sell more effectively?"

Here's Gartner's breakdown of the market:

LeadersThe usual suspects continue to lead the SFA market, and they continue to help users achieve solid business results in the form of revenue and earnings. According to Gartner's parameters, the vendors in this segment have significant deployments and often have vertical expertise. 

  • Salesforce.com — the report's leader in both completeness of vision and ability to execute, for its continued innovation with Chatter and Force.com. 
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM — said to have some missing pieces in terms of sales effectiveness and performance management — areas the report suggests customers can address via plug-ins from independent software vendors — Microsoft ranks just behind Salesforce.com in terms of execution, but further behind in completeness of vision. Still, Desisto notes, there's a compelling integration with the company's Office and SharePoint products, and Microsoft has moved increasingly toward enterprise deployments.
  • Oracle's Siebel CRM — eclipsing Oracle's other SFA solution, Oracle CRM On Demand, in both ability to execute and completeness of vision. Desisto writes that Siebel CRM has "proven, deep, broad sales functionality" and makes good use of the Oracle software stack. 
  • Oracle CRM On Demand — making its sophomore showing on the Magic Quadrant, the SaaS offering is praised for its lower price point and for its achievements in customer growth. The report calls the software's analytics rich, but warns that real-time data might become a need for the solution in the future.

Challengers: These vendors "demonstrate a higher volume of new business for SFA," according to the report. They may have capabilities to operate overseas, but may not have mastered international strategies. These companies have good vision, but according to Gartner may not have won "the hearts and minds of top sales executives."

  • SAP — beat Sage SalesLogix, the only other Challenger, in both of Gartner's metrics. The report applauds the May 2010 acquisition of mobile player Sybase and praises the integration work with other SAP applications. Gartner also notes, however, that, although SAP is loved by technology departments, the software remains complex for the end user. This may be remedied by a new user interface, but SAP still has a reputation for being costly and complex.
  • Sage SalesLogix — Sage SalesLogix again makes a showing in this quadrant and is again dinged for not having sales configuration, pricing management, incentive compensation or performance management capabilities. Desisto, does however, make note of SalesLogix's new public-cloud version of the solution by way of Amazon.com's Elastic Cloud Compute offering.

Visionaries: No vendors made this sector of the 2010 report -- which means Gartner found no eligible SFA players matching its description: ahead of the curve when it comes to trends, but often limited in the ability to execute and lacking the tried-and-true nature of some of the established vendors.

Niche Players: Gartner believes that SFA vendors in this quadrant may not be as globally proficient or scalable as their leading counterparts, but may have strong vertical components and can appeal to companies with limited budgets. Seven of the nine solutions included in this segment were also deemed Niche Players in the 2009 edition of the report: In alphabetical order, they are Act! By Sage, CDC Software, FrontRange Solutions, Maximizer Software, NetSuite, SageCRM, and SugarCRM.

The full list of Niche Players:

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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