Microsoft has launched a new Dynamics CRM Online promotion designed to poach customers from its biggest rivals in the cloud computing market, just as cloud pioneer Salesforce gets ready to kick off its annual Dreamforce customer event.
Microsoft said on Monday that the Cloud CRM for Less offer is designed to encourage Oracle, Salesforce and SAP customers to switch to Dynamics CRM Online.
The offer, available until March next year, will give $150 in cash per user seat to US and Canadian companies with 50 to 500 employees, if they switch to Dynamics CRM Online from their current software package.
Microsoft began offering CRM Online globally in January this year, priced at $44 per user per month.
The company has adopted increasingly aggressive sales and competition tactics in the cloud market, particularly against Salesforce. Relationships became especially sour in May when Microsoft sued Salesforce over alleged infringement of nine patents relating to online CRM.
Last October, Microsoft launched a multi-million dollar Dynamics CRM Online advertising campaign against Salesforce with the slogan: 'Don't Get Forced. Get What Fits.'
This spurred Salesforce chief executive and chairman Marc Benioff to make an anti-Microsoft speech at the Dreamforce event last December, which included labelling Microsoft as the "evil empire".
Michael Park, Microsoft Business Solutions sales, marketing and operations president, took another swipe at Salesforce in a posted Q&A on Monday, just a day before this year's Dreamforce begins.
"Microsoft is the only vendor that gives customers a choice in how they deploy the software, with a fully functional public, private and hybrid cloud offering," he said.
"Salesforce customers that want private cloud solutions to meet technical, regulatory or business policy requirements are simply out of luck. A successful CRM system is one that is actually used by salespeople."
Rob Helm, managing vice president of research at independent analysis firm Directions on Microsoft, told V3 that the tension between Microsoft and Salesforce goes far deeper than online CRM.
"Salesforce is trying to recruit developers to build on its platform, like a cloud Windows. It's also sneaking into the enterprise collaboration market with Chatter, which is taking on Microsoft's SharePoint. So this battle is not just for CRM, and it's going to be ongoing," he said.
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