"The Internet has completely changed the landscape for small and medium businesses and the alliance between Google and Salesforce.com enables companies of all sizes to acquire new customers and streamline their business to experience unfettered success," Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement.
Group Edition, which will replace Salesforce Team Edition as the entry-level Salesforce CRM product for small businesses, includes several points of integration, the first being a login screen that looks like a combination of Google's search bar and Salesforce's login screen. The idea of the product is that a small business will advertise on Google and when people click the ad, it will lead to a form that says something like "contact us for more information." That will in turn capture new sales leads for Salesforce, where the contact information will automatically show up when entered.
In Group Edition, users can see what lead prospects were searching on before they clicked an ad, can automatically plot their contacts on Google Maps, send them a Gmail, or do things like send a copy of a lease or contract over to a customer via Google Docs, all in one click. Google has recently shown a push into business apps, and this is nothing if not further evidence of that push. Group Edition users will also have a new dashboard to see how effectively their online ad campaigns are helping them grow business, including graphical displays to see what sites leads are coming from and what AdWords are most effective.
Google and Salesforce have already seen their paths cross. There's been a Google Maps-Salesforce mashup since 2005 to allow salespeople to plot their contacts. Last year, Salesforce released a plug-in that allowed customers to create and manage Google ads and announced that customers of Google's enterprise search appliance could search for account, contact, or leads within Salesforce.
Though the entry-level edition of Salesforce is the first to have integrated Google capabilities, the partnership aims to eventually make them available in all its products, said Bruce Francis, Salesforce's VP of corporate strategy. Additional product releases may also be on the way, he hints. "If you look at the trajectory, there are lots of different forces propelling us in that direction.
As for Google-ad-supported Salesforce, Salesforce execs aren't going there quite yet. "If people ask for an ad-supported model, then that's something we'd love to talk to Google about moving in that direction," Francis said.