Salesforce launches simplified software aimed at small businesses

By Salvador Rodriguez
The Salesforce logo is pictured on a building in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lily Jamali

By Salvador Rodriguez

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inc on Tuesday launched new sales and customer service software tailored specifically for small businesses, a market the company has struggled to address.

Called 'Essentials', the apps are simplified versions of Salesforce's Sales and Service Cloud products, Salesforce Executive Vice President Mike Rosenbaum told Reuters.

"We want to make sure we have a product that works for every segment of the market," Rosenbaum said on Monday.

In the past, small businesses have struggled to use Salesforce's products, complaining that the software was too complex and too expensive.

Door, a Dallas-based real estate brokerage marketplace, tried using Salesforce software but found it difficult to configure, said Door Director of Product Chris Keegan, adding that employees reverted to using spreadsheets to log customer data. In 2016, the company replaced Salesforce with ProsperWorks, which caters to small and mid-sized businesses.

"One of the issues we were having is that no one on our team was using Salesforce to its full capabilities," Keegan told Reuters.

With Essentials, Salesforce will offer products that are ready to use "out of the box," Rosenbaum said. Essentials is priced at $25 per user per month for teams of up to 10 people, which is $50 less per user than the professional versions of Salesforce products.

"As Salesforce has continued to add features to their products they've become more complex and also more expensive," said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research. "This is a way to make those core features much more accessible to small and mid-size businesses."

Essentials, however, lacks marketing features and is still more expensive than other customer relationship software aimed at small businesses, said Kate Leggett, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"Not all the small businesses will consider Salesforce because there are cheaper options out there," said Leggett, pointing to ProsperWorks, Zoho, Freshworks and Infusionsoft.

Salesforce also said it will retire SalesforceIQ and, two products that cater to small businesses, from March 2020.

(Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)