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Salesforce News & Analysis

Salesforce Targets the HR Space - Again

Timing is everything when plotting a product roll out -- even for a giant like Salesforce.com.

The company has made various attempts to penetrate the human resource market in the past with limited success. Now it is making another pass at this piece of the market with its Salesforce for HR.

"It feels like déjà vu all over again for Salesforce.com and HR," Jeff Kaplan, managing director of Think Strategies, told CMSWire.

This time, though, Kaplan continued, the stars could well be aligned for greater market receptivity.

Should You Open the Twitter DM Door?

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Man, do I hate it when I try to direct-message (DM) someone on Twitter, but can't because that person doesn't follow me.

First of all, who doesn't follow me? And secondly, why are they so privileged to not get my notes?

Alas, there's hope for me. Twitter opened that DM door this week.

Now, you can opt in and allow anyone to send you a DM. No need for them to be your follower to send them a message.

It's kinda like email -- if someone has your address, they can ping you, provided they opt in.

"We’re changing how direct messaging works so that it’s even easier for you to communicate one-to-one or with a chosen group of people, anywhere in the world," Twitter's Nhu Vuong wrote in an April 20 blog post.

I love this as a reporter. (So watch your Twitter inboxes, my trustworthy sources). 

I'm not the only one affected here. Think brands.

Apttus Embraces Its Salesforce Connection #AccelerateQTC

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It's no surprise that Salesforce had a prominent role at the the Apttus Accelerate 2015 conference in San Francisco this week.

In February, the San Francisco-based cloud software company led a $41 million investment round for Apttus, which makes Quote-to-Cash software on the Salesforce1 platform. That followed first-round funding of $37 million in September 2013 that Salesforce also led.

Salesforce CIO Ross Meyercord took the stage Wednesday to talk about speed, innovation and customer engagement. He also explained how Salesforce is leveraging Salesforce1 mobile-ready apps like Apttus.

And yesterday, Meredith Schmidt, senior vice president of Global Revenue Operations at Salesforce, spoke enthusiastically about the Apttus platform during a morning keynote.

Apttus is built on top of the Salesforce platform.

It automates the second half of the sales cycle involving quotes, contracts and collecting the money. That's critical, because automation is the key to optimal customer experience, Schmidt said during her talk on the second day of the three-day conference.

What's more, she said, the platform is helping Salesforce delight its own sales representatives.

'We Rule B2B Marketing Automation, We're Salesforce'

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Salesforce officials are confident about their marketing technology.

"The thing that distinguishes us most is that we're Salesforce," said Adam Blitzer, senior vice president and general manager for Salesforce Pardot.

When you work on the massive CRM platform that is Salesforce, it's OK to be a little confident.

Salesforce integrates its CRM technology with its Pardot marketing automation. It acquired that technology with its $2.5 billion ExactTarget package.

The San Francisco-based provider today released what it calls "the next generation of Sales Cloud B2B marketing automation."

The Intelligent Engagement Studio and Sales Cloud Engage will deliver adaptive lead nurturing, visualized campaign testing and mobile marketing tools, the company boasted.

Can You Engage Customers Earlier in the Sales Cycle?

It's been a few years since Forrester Research came out with the eye-popping statistic that "buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through their purchase journey before they reach out to the vendor."

What's more, for many product categories, "buyers put off talking with salespeople until they are ready for price quotes."

But it wasn't until the last year or so that the customer relationship management (CRM) industry really took note of this trend and started making changes to its product sets and functionality. There were some exceptions, of course – and it's in this group that Demandbase chief product officer Avanish Sahai includes himself and his company.

"The question we are continually asking ourselves is how to raise the marketing funnel, " he tells CMSWire. "How can we better engage with the prospect in that part of the cycle, when buyers are so aggressively seeking out information but bypassing sales."

Marc Benioff Shops Again, Buys Mobile Security Startup

Maybe Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s corporate shoppers were ducking in-and-out of SXSW sessions last month looking for smart acquisitions. If so, then they not only learned How to Rob a Bank, but also spotted a genius buy in Toopher.

Its co-founder and CTO Evan Grim, in his personal LinkedIn profile, describes Toopher as “an invisible, location-based multifactor authentication solution designed around user behavior and powered by your phone's location awareness."

Grim claims by blending strong technology with lean and thoughtful user experience, "Toopher automates the authentication process via your phone, making it 'go invisible' -- not only preventing online fraud and identity theft, but creating a security solution that people actually want to use. No more passwords hacks, no more codes. It's simple, secure, and your phone stays in your pocket.”

Toopher’s hometown newspaper, the Austin American Statesman, confirmed the sale last night. The purchase price, as far as we can tell, hasn’t been revealed.

The company’s name,”Toopher” is a play on the term “two factor.”

3 Tech Giants Lead a Bloated CRM Market, Forrester Claims

The customer relationship management (CRM) market is bloated, Forrester reports — surprising no one. And this big, bulky market is led by three tech giants: Salesforce, SAP CRM and Oracle Siebel, with two more, Microsoft and Pegasystems, snapping at their heels.

The one thing that stands out in Forrester's recently published Wave for CRM Suites for Large Organizations in the first quarter of 2015 is that nothing much is new: we've seen most of these trends in the space before.

Can You Accelerate Sales with a Communications Platform?

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The phrase “sales acceleration” with respect to software should trigger a modicum of healthy skepticism. 

Since the 1980s, software that purported to automate sales processes by attaching fixed procedures to them ended up funneling sales through a narrow tunnel, like turnstiles at an amusement park.

You could control sales by making them regular from month to month, but frankly, that’s not what you really want.

A company called Intelliverse is now in the business of delivering a sales acceleration service, which it began integrating with Microsoft Dynamics CRM in mid-March.

Tech Execs to Indiana: Discrimination is Bad for Business

Credit Marc Benioff for making the first move. As soon as Indiana passed the RFRA (Religious Freedom and Restoration Act), which for all practical purposes, serves as a license to discriminate, particularly against LGBT people, the Salesforce CEO took to Twitter.

Think Digital Marketing Technology: Think ... Microsoft?

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When the topic of conversation turns to digital marketing technology, would you expect Microsoft to come up as a leading vendor?

The latest survey by ChangeWave Research, a service of 451 Research, gives some insight into this, as well as other interesting business software spending tidbits – and some of the data might surprise you.

For starters, 28 percent of the 1,044 software buyers surveyed identified Microsoft as a digital marketing technology vendor they currently use or plan to use in the next six months – a finding unchanged from the previous survey taken last July.

Matt Mullen, senior analyst for social business at 451 Research, told us why.

Cisco to Salesforce: Can You Handle Our New CRM Solution?

In the clearest sign to date about the blurry line between a communications service provider and a customer service software firm, Cisco today announced a sweeping reform of its Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) product.  

The company, better known for its network switches and routers, is repositioning UCCE from a call center management service to a customer relationship management platform. 

Beginning in June, Cisco will offer what it plans to call a Context Service.  It’s a cloud-based platform for enterprises to share sales-related data.

Salesforce Thinks You Can Serve Customers Better with an Apple Watch

On the day Apple tried to persuade its followers to invest in a $10,000 18k Apple Watch, Salesforce turned the conversation back to reality.

The cloud-based customer relationship management provider launched an initiative to reach its customers through their Apple Watches — even the entry level $399 model. Salesforce is capitalizing on a version of its Analytics Cloud service that it claims to have scaled down only in display size.

“Professionals are going to use this in the service of customer engagement,” Adam Seligman, Salesforce’s vice president for developer relations, told CMSWire. “They’re going to use that small screen right on their wrists to get amazing insights about their customers — live analytics against all of their customer information. It’s mind-boggling, right on your wrist."

Heads-Up Salesforce, SugarCRM Just Raised Its Data and Mobile Game

Maybe it’s out of respect for Salesforce’s 16th anniversary that the executives at SugarCRM kept their lips zipped over the weekend. But today they’re talking.

This morning the CRM startup officially announced that it has acquired mobile app maker Stitch.

It's the thinking behind the acquisition, rather than the acquisition itself, that should make Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff think hard.

How Salesforce Builds Its Ecosystem, 1 Company at a Time

John Somorjai was the corporate counsel at Oracle 18 years ago when an opening popped up in the corporate development group. He's never looked back.

Starting as a manager, he found he had a knack for spotting good companies and cutting deals. Within 18 months, he was named the group's senior director.

For the past decade, he's been at Salesforce.com, where he's now executive vice president for corporate development and Salesforce Ventures, the company's investment arm. Salesforce Ventures has invested in more than 100 enterprise cloud companies since its inception in 2009, including Box, DocuSign, Dropbox, Evernote, Gainsight, Apttus, HubSpot and recently, SteelBrick.

"We have a great advantage of being on the corporate side. You really understand the trends of the independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrator (SI) partners who are building an ecosystem," Somorjai told CMSWire yesterday.

We asked him to share some of the strategy about the company's investments and to peek into the future of the marketing technology vendors out there today. 

Docurated Content Cloud Brings Sales, Marketing Together

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The discord between sales and marketing is alive and well, but a new solution is trying to put the two on the same page through relevant content. The right content can be the difference between making or breaking a sale. And while a number of technologies can deliver using manual input, Docurated released a solution this week which it claims can do so automatically.

According to Alex Gorbanksy, CEO of Docurated, Content Cloud sits in Salesforce and uses content input from existing repositories to automatically offer sales people -- even those who are mobile -- the right content to close the best deals.

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