Google and Salesforce.com: The Word
Speculative chatter surrounding Google and Salesforce.com crystallized today with the companies' announcement of a major partnership. They have teamed up to form a strategic global alliance resulting in a new product available now--Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords--aimed at helping SMBs attract and retain customers. The release will replace Salesforce's Team Edition product, an offering catering to smaller shops.
As part of the pairing, Salesforce will become the first on-demand company to resell the Google AdWords platform, the companies said. There are five key synergies that form the foundation of the partnership, according to Bruce Francis, Salesforce.com's vice president of corporate strategy: technology, marketing, distribution, partnership, and philanthropy--the companies will make their joint product available for free to their more than 2,500 nonprofit grantees, according to the companies.
Google AdWords allows companies to get additional online exposure and potentially gain new customers. With the new product, companies can advertise online by connecting to Google AdWords and creating an ad displayed with the relevant search results on Google or across the Google AdSense content network of partner Web sites. Users that click on the ad are redirected to the company's Web site. Once there the company can try to persuade users to complete a name-capture form, according to Salesforce; that information is then flowed into Salesforce as a new lead and distributed to the sales team. Opportunities can be tracked throughout the sales cycle.
"We think this will be a great solution for small businesses solving their chief problems," Francis says, "and that is 'how do I get new customers?' A lot of them are risk averse about advertising because they don't have a way to easily launch those campaigns and track the efficiency of them. So we're allowing the small businesses to find new customers, run more efficiently, and thrive."
Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords is also equipped with dashboards providing companies with insight into lead generation, sales metrics, and company growth. Salesforce.com adds that by leveraging AppExchange customers can mash up business apps available on the directory including technologies for mapping and productivity.
The product is available in a five-user edition for a 30-day promotional price of $600 per year including a $50 AdWords credit available to new AdWord advertisers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, according to Salesforce.com. However, the list price is $1,200 per year.
One of the things that the partnership and product helps small businesses do is get on an equal footing with larger companies in sales and marketing, according to Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research. "Protection is very, very important," he says. "If you look like a big company you inspire more confidence in people you're selling to and lends greater credence to what you're selling. This [partnership] gives small companies the same kind of tools that larger companies have. It closes a gap."
"Some may see [the announcement] as an anti-climax, but clearly this is just a first step and there will be further steps, said David Bradshaw, principal analyst at Ovum, a telecom and software consultancy, in a written statement. "Google and Salesforce aren't saying what's next on their roadmap, though with a six-month development cycle, there clearly must be more coming. Instead, Salesforce is asking its customers to tell it what they would like to see via its Ideas Exchange. Meanwhile, for those who are keen to get on with developing their own stuff, Salesforce has given access to the Google AdWords APIs via its Apex programming environment." As a first step in a long program, he adds, the product "makes perfect sense."
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