Siebel and Salesforce

ZDNet contrasts the strategies of the two companies in the CRM market:

Siebel and have two different approaches to the same problem. Siebel is focused on delivering prepackaged applications targeting different industry verticals. “We’re committed to delivering companies at least 80 percent of the functionality customers need, and then provide them with the ability to configure those applications to make up the last 20 percent,” said Bruce Cleveland, who worked with [Marc] Benioff and many other software-as-a-service pioneers at Oracle and is Siebel’s senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB business.

“We have a difference of opinion on who should pay for [customization]. We do 80 percent for industry-specific editions. Salesforce has a toolkit and lets customers customize on their own. We reach the same endpoint,” Cleveland told me. “Marc’s [Benioff] approach might work for smaller companies or accounts with fewer requirements, but we didn’t create 22 vertical editions for altruistic reasons. We got our teeth kicked in walking into enterprises that wanted 80 percent [solutions] and not having to pay us to do the work to sell into their industry. When you walk into an Ingersoll-Rand, they want you to have figured out the [industry specific] customization and do it for them. They want to tweak and change things, but not wholesale reengineering. Marc will find this out when he is selling upstream.”

Phill Robinson, senior vice president of global marketing at, counters: “We have a very different strategy than Siebel. We give customers the ability to use Customforce to make our product unique to the way their businesses work. Customforce takes hours, not days and months or years [to implement]. Siebel has cookie cutter vertical editions that won’t be specific enough to meet customer needs. They are stuck with the old client-server way of customization, which is expensive and difficult.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.