Dreamforce 09: SugarCRM Parodies Benioff, Tries to Poach Clients from Salesforce.com
Dreamforce was getting an impressive amount of attention even before the announcement of Salesforce Chatter, and a couple software companies launched campaigns to steal some of this interest. Microsoft set up a “truth squad,” for the San Francisco event, and SugarCRM took it a step further, distributing 1,000 pamphlets titled “Behind the Smoke Screen” at the Moscone Center.
The “book” is a sort of parody of Marc Benioff’s memoir, Behind the Cloud, published earlier this year, and accuses Salesforce.com of selling the same technology for the past decade. It even includes some (fake) blurbs from the likes of Kim John Il and PT Barnum. The pamphlet itself is very short and can be seen here, but in a guest entry on the destinationCRM blog, Denis Pombriant shared with readers an email he received from a Sugar PR rep regarding “Behind the Smoke Screen.” The email included excerpts from Benioff’s book that SugarCRM felt were “zingers” made at their expense, in which Benioff calls Sugar’s mock protest at Dreamforce 2006 poorly executed, and Sugar’s attempt to get PR from Salesforce.
The person sending the email makes a swipe at Benioff, calling him “the industry’s most down-to-earth CEO,” and says that to celebrate the release of their “book,” SugarCRM is offering free data migration for Salesforce.com users through the end of the year. In addition, registrants will be entered to win a Moto Droid. By the time Mr. Pombriant made his blog post, he said a PR rep of Sugar’s had confirmed that a Salesforce CRM customer had made the switch.
In Mr. Pombriant’s comments on the email, he says that if companies want to stop Salesforce they need to make better products, and also states that perhaps it’s his “New England roots showing,” but he doesn’t think this sort of email helps Sugar rise above Salesforce. I can say as someone not from New England that it isn’t Mr. Pombriant’s roots giving him that feeling—this is a petty jab at Salesforce, and these kinds of cheap tactics suggest desperation more than anything else, and give credence to Benioff’s suggestion that Sugar seeks PR opportunities from Salesforce. Most companies are guilty of these guerilla campaigns, but in the end, you have to remember that the product is what’s most important.
Update: a lot of people are considering this campaign a success, and there are copies of the pamphlet being auctioned on Ebay.