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January 30, 2008

Marc Benioff Speaks...Again

Chris Bucholtz over at InsideCRM recently played 10 questions with Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff. You should check out the Q&A when you get a chance. Benioff is often quoted and is not shy about offering his take on his company and the industry. And truth be told he's absolutely earned the right to talk as much "yang" as he wants. But he usually saves his best barbs for his competitors. Like when Chris asked him about the impending release of Microsoft Live CRM and how it will impact the industry. Benioff said:

"Microsoft will do for SaaS what the Zune has done for MP3 players."

Now, as we used to say back in the day, that's cold, dog. But enough said on that one.

There's some other eye-catchers mixed into the interview but the biggest thing standing out for me was the question Chris asked about how does SFDC still go about serving the SMB community, while swimming upstream going after enterprise deals. Benioff's answer to that was pretty much a boiler plate response about having to stay aligned with customer goals. Nobody can deny the importance of that statement, but when you have customers like Japan Post with 45,000 licenses, and more and more thousand seat deals in the works, which customer goals are you really going to be focused on? The 45,000 seat Ultimate Edition customer or the little guys using Group Edition. And that's not a slap at Group Edition as I think it's a solid product. But SmBs (emphasis on the S on purpose) need more than a product, they need a relationship with vendors. And because I work with "real" small businesses (not the thousand employee definitions of small businesses by some vendors) I have heard more grumblings from small SFDC customers about service not meeting expectations. That's why companies like Microsoft, Intuit and Sage have built strong followings with small businesses, because they've built strong partner channels who work face to face with small business folks. And these local vendors are who small businesses typically turn to when they are in need of help.

It will be interesting to see how connected SFDC will be able (and willing) to be to real small businesses as more and more competition is coming at the low end. Especially since they're going big game hunting, and creating platforms. So check the interview out and don't miss the backhanded slap Benioff gives his old buddy Tom Siebel (just let it go Cuz, let it GO!). And why you're at it check out the article on the 50 Social Sites Every Business Needs a Presence On. That's a great read as well.

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