Microsoft is once again using special promotions to put the heat on rivals in the market for online customer relationship management (CRM) software by offering to pay Oracle and Salesforce.com users to switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Under the offer announced Monday, Microsoft will rebate up to $200 per seat licensed from Salesforce.com's professional, enterprise or ultimate editions, or from Oracle's Siebel CRM or CRM On Demand systems. The offer runs through June 30, 2011.
The latest deal is not the first time Microsoft has dangled an incentive for rivals' customers to make the difficult switch from one CRM system to another. Last month, Microsoft announced that it would give six months of free service to companies that jump ship from Oracle or Salesforce.com.
Such moves are often costly, so Microsoft says it will apply the rebate in the latest offer to help pay for the services needed to make the switch. Those could include migrating data or customizing the Microsoft system to fit a company's business operations.
Microsoft introduced the offer less than 24 hours before Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is scheduled to give the opening keynote in the company's annual Dreamforce user conference in San Francisco. Guest speakers in the show that runs through Dec. 9 include former President Bill Clinton.
Microsoft is looking to get attention on the eve of Dreamforce to help boost its standing in the CRM market. At the end of last year, Microsoft, the fastest growing major CRM vendor, was fourth with a 6.4% share, while third-place Salesforce.com had 10.6%, according to Gartner. SAP and Oracle were the market leaders.
SAP, Oracle and Microsoft offer both on-premises and cloud-based CRM. Salesforce.com offers CRM only as an online service. Microsoft pushes as an advantage the tight integration it can provide between its CRM software and the rest of its office productivity software. The company tried to boost customer loyalty last month by including free mobile access as part of an update to Dynamics CRM Online.
CRM is not the only online market Microsoft is moving aggressively in. On Nov. 1, the company lowered by a third the subscription prices of Business Productivity Online Suite, which includes online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications and Office Live meeting.