Another day of Salesforce News, Strategic Alliance with Intuit

A couple of days ago the pundits were closely following the news that salesforce.com had acquired social media monitoring company Radian6. Today it’s a story that is less likely to be covered, but one that is close to my heart, relating as it does to SMBs. This morning Intuit and Salesforce are announcing a strategic alliance that will offer CRM to all of QuickBooks 4 million customers, the SMB population that are not at all well served by the traditional CRM players.

Apparently the alliance will see salesforce create a custom CRM offering that will be sold through intuit’s app store and will natively integrate fully with QuickBooks and offer up both CRM and financial data side by side. Being on the Intuit platform, customers will pay one bill, directly to Intuit.

It’s a really interesting announcement, salesforce has always been far too expensive for businesses on the “S” end of the SMB continuum – I’ve long said that they need to find ways to review pricing to make their product accessible to smaller operations. The risk of that has always been in creating a discontinuity in terms of messaging with their enterprise product. By pursuing a strategy that seems them sell to this new market on someone else’s platform, salesforce remove much of this potential confusion. Salesforce’s EVP Platform George Hu spoke to this point saying;

By working with Intuit, we are bringing the… [a] customer relationship management solution to QuickBooks customers, this alliance will  accelerate the adoption of social, mobile and open cloud CRM solutions by small businesses

While it all sounds good in theory, I’m cautious about releases like this that suggest some future product offering. Intuit is indicating the application will be available by the summer – that’s almost long enough to be considered vaporware…