Microsoft, Oracle and SugarCRM go after SalesForce.com Users with PR Stunts and Deep Discounts at Dreamforce Event Including the Aggressive “Cloud CRM for Less” Offer

I attend technology conferences every year, but none of them have had the kind of competative fire that seems to have marked the annual SalesForce.com user event in San Francisco this week. Microsoft, Oracle and SugarCRM all launched campaigns to convert Salesforce.com customers  - and launched them right outside the Dreamforce doors. PR Tactics like billboards, Segways, discounts and even faux carolers were entertaining – but the real news is the aggressive discounts offered to SalesForce.com customers who switch to a competing product, especially for Microsoft CRM Online.

Klint Finley, an attendee of Dreamforce, posted an article, How 3 Salesforce.com Competitors Are Trying to Poach Customers at Dreamforce, that really made me feel like I was right there watching the fun. (Admit it, watching intelligent marketing people find creative ways to “duke it out” is fun).

Sugar CRM:

PR Tactic: SugarCRM has people on the street outside the convention center giving away a faux-Christmas carol book and singing carols like "On the first day of Dreamforce, Marc Benioff gave to me: An overpriced subscription fee."

Discount Tactic: SugarCRM is offering free migration to anyone switching to from Salesforce.com to SugarCRM and is also guaranteeing converts 50% in savings over what they're spending at Salesforce.com.

Oracle:

PR Tactic: Oracle put up a large billboard right across from the convention center for all attendees to see. (Apparently Salesforce.com used to do this at Oracle events so I am surprised they did not think of something new).

Discount Tactic: None that I have heard of! (Seems like they may have missed the boat on that one).

To be honest, I have never heard anyone talk about an Oracle CRM product…that says something right there….but the Microsoft offer below is targeted at Oracle CRM users too.

Microsoft:

PR Tactic: Microsoft had people on Segways emblazoned with the “Don’t Get Forced” graphics riding around outside the convention center spreading the news about the new Cloud CRM for Less Offer. I am told that Microsoft also had decorated taxi cabs and a rotunda at the airport but those didn’t get as much press as the segways. (In retaliation I hear that SalesForce.com brought the actor/model that is pictured in the Microsoft ads on stage during the Day 2 keynote session and successfully convinced him to come back to Salesforce.com. But audience reports say that this stunt was “lame” and not a hit with the audience.)

Discount Tactic:  Microsoft introduced a hefty “switcher offer” on the eve of Dreamforce called: Cloud CRM for Less.  Microsoft is offering a $200 per user cash incentive to switch from Salesforce.com or Oracle to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Check out all the details on the Cloud CRM for Less offer.

In his post, Microsoft Goes After Salesforce.com Customers with Great Offer!, Andy Leapaldt commented: “The meat of the message is this, if you are currently on a competitive solution and make the 'switch' to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Microsoft will pay your company $200/seat in cash on top of a monthly rate of only $34 per user per month.  $34 per user per month is already a savings of up to 72%.  That is a considerable savings and one that could add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more for some companies.” 

In his article “Microsoft Goes After Salesforce.com with a very aggressive offer” Jason Carter from PartnerCompete comments, “Yesterday we posted a story about Sage offering 60% off of SalesLogix to customers migrating from a competitive product. Please. You call that an offer? How about this...no discount on an already low user price, but you get paid $200 for every Dynamics CRM user you add. You can spend the money on whatever you want, integration, training, other software or services, a giant bet on the Minnesota Vikings making the playoffs, whatever. In terms of smart investments, one of those things is not like the others, but hey, it's your money”

The official Cloud CRM for Less website uses this reasoning, “Despite the great costs savings, it’s not always easy to switch from one CRM system to another. That’s why Microsoft is offering qualified organizations $200 per seat that they license. Think about it: switch 30 seats, get a check for $6,000. Switch 100 seats, get $20,000.  This money could be used to migrate critical business information and processes from one system to another. It could also be used to pay down any cancellation fees that might be incurred with another vendor. Whatever the case, Microsoft will send you cash to help manage the expense of switching – and start the process of saving money.”

But what about all the SalesForce.com users who were not at the Dreamforce event?  Did they miss the fun?

Hopefully they read the Wall Street Journal because Microsoft executive Michael Park wrote an "open letter" to Salesforce.com customers that was published on December 6th. It highlights the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and encourages Salesforce.com customers, and any prospect evaluating Salesforce.com, to ask 5 specific questions to compare Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to SalesForce.com Read the full text of Michaels Park’s open letter to SalesForce.com users published in the Wall Street Journal.  On Michael Park’s blog site he wrote, “Our goal is to ensure customers are well-versed on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and have all the facts to make an informed decision as they select their solution.”

Andy Leapaldt  also reports that this message has garnered a response via Twitter from SalesForce.com CEO Marc Benioff where he attempts to misinform people that Microsoft is betting against the cloud.  Which could not be further from the truth. (Does anyway else have the phrase “We’re All In” ringing in their ears?) This CRM Cloud for Less offer is proof that Microsoft is going full steam ahead. The fact that it is getting so much media attention is another proof that the threat to SalesFOrce.com is real. (Personally, I have not much attention given to the offer to Oracle customers, which shows me that is not a main player in this game). Jason Carter sums it up nicely, “the key here, contrary to Benioff's spin, is that this is Dynamics CRM in the cloud. This is leveraging Microsoft's deep pockets to make an offer a Saas vendor operating on tight margins just can't match.”

Next year when I attend the Convergence 2011 Event for Microsoft Dynamics users I wonder if I can expect the same kind of show? Perhaps the SalesForce.com PR is even now browsing the Internet for fun “heckling” costumes.  Watch for my posts from Atlanta!

What do you think about the PR and Discount Tactics used by SalesForce.com competitors?  What should they do next year to top this show? Leave your comments.

By Anya Ciecierski, CAL Business Solutions, Connecticut Microsoft Dynamics Partner

5 thoughts on “Microsoft, Oracle and SugarCRM go after SalesForce.com Users with PR Stunts and Deep Discounts at Dreamforce Event Including the Aggressive “Cloud CRM for Less” Offer”

  1. I was in the audience and I was shocked to see the actor walking out on the stage. How did they do it?? It was not lame at all. It was amazing.
    It is the perfect example of fun and business coexisting; plus some marketing lessons from Salesforce.com.

  2. The audience clapped and whistled right when Bernard stepped out. AND if you watch the video again, you would find customers smiling and clapping when Bernard appeared. AND if you dislike the idea, you wouldn’t stand for it no matter what anybody tells you – that’s how I would’a done it!

    Hell yeah, you’re ‘stuck’ with your original statement, but there’s an obvious bias there. So, I don’t even need to suggest that you get an independent view.

  3. Well, I would say that based on the amount of prompting the audience needed to actually stand up and clap, that they were not very inspired. And Marc seemed to focus more on the fun party “Bernard” the customer was missing at Dreamforce than anything else. So I am sticking with my original statement.

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