Salesforce's Latest Hones in on Content, Collaboration

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On-demand CRM vendor's Spring '09 release features new capabilities for content packaging and delivery, as well as collaboration between salespeople, the company announced Tuesday.

Salespeople can now go into the content database, select and bundle the desired items, such as a PDF white paper or short film, and publish them to a public Web site. Prospects are sent a link to the site, an approach that can get marketing messages past company firewalls, which may block emails containing big files.

Traffic on the public site is captured by the system, revealing, for example, the number of hits on a given document and how recently it was viewed, according to Al Falcione,'s senior director of product marketing. This enables salespeople to detect which marketing materials were most successful, he said.

The Spring '09 release also adds a feature that allows users to search through slide-deck materials created in and quickly cobble them together into a new presentation.

Meanwhile, a new "Opportunity Genius" feature matches a salesperson's current deals with similar ones previously closed by others, Falcione said. The salesperson can then examine the materials and presentations that were involved in the successful transactions, or contact the co-worker in question and seek out advice, he said.

One analyst said this functionality may not be particularly effective if other elements aren't present within a given organization.

"I think we're still in the early days of salespeople actually leveraging social networking within the context of CRM," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research. "What's the incentive for me as a salesperson to help someone else close a deal?"

Companies need to create enabling forces, such as a fee- or commission-sharing structure, to foster such team-building, Wettemann said. Meanwhile, the content packaging function is a "natural extension" of what was already doing, she said.

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