Salesforce.com Taps German Market

As it maps an international drive, Saleforce.com, the online CRM services firm, today launched a push into the German market- -an important move for the company, because it is a very large business region in which multinational firms are located.

The company's entry into this market will make available German-language versions of Salesforce.com's Professional Edition and its recently launched Enterprise Edition aimed at larger companies. Salesforce.com already has more than 300 customers in Europe and 200 in Japan.

"We have gotten a fantastic reception from European customers, having already launched in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia, and our Japanese customers are equally enthusiastic," says John Appleby, senior vice president and managing director of EMEA of Salesforce.com. The company plans to release versions of its services in Swedish and Spanish during the next six months.

The company says it is headed in the right direction, citing a report by the Aberdeen Group that forecast the CRM market to reach $27.76 billion in sales and services.

The adoption of its recently released Enterprise Edition in the German market, in which larger companies that have traditionally bought software, may be willing to test drive this online model. "The German market will be a big one for us. We are targeting users who are melting down with Siebel and who want to unplug from it," says Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com.

Two factors that may make German businesses quicker to adopt a utility model like Salesforce.com's, is their technical readiness and that the European market is starting to feel the economic recession that the U.S. market has felt, Benioff says. "They are ready for this. They can't afford the failure rates [of software-based CRM systems]," he says.

He says that, so far, the company has hired three German sales reps for its German region, and has not yet decided on which country it will seek as a base when it launches its Spanish version.

Salesforce.com's Enterprise Edition tackles some of the limitations of hosted CRM solutions which include off-line access, integration with other e-business systems, and the ability for more administration and customization, says Kelly Spang, an analyst with Current Analysis, a market research firm.

In addition, on the heels of last month's general launch of the Enterprise Edition, Salesforce.com also announced integration partnerships with Informatica and TIBCO Software that helped solidify its credibility regarding an integration approach, Spang says.

In the area of enterprise offerings among competitors offering online CRM services, Salesforce.com is not alone. For instance, UpShot Corp., last month released UpShot XE (eXtended Edition), an enterprise offering that extends the functionality of UpShot Sales, and it also released UpShot Marketing.

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