Microsoft Targets Salesforce Users With Financial Incentives

Microsoft is hoping the "Cloud CRM for Less" offer will entice businesses and organizations that use CRM applications from Oracle, SAP and -- especially -- Salesforce.

While Dynamics CRM Online has been available in the U.S. and a few other markets for several years, Microsoft just began offering the on-demand application globally in January. The service is a key element of Microsoft's cloud computing efforts.

Since then Microsoft has aggressively marketed Dynamics CRM Online against and competing CRM products. In June Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, called Salesforce's applications "expensive" and said Salesforce fears Microsoft's marketplace gains.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff rarely hesitates to poke fun of Microsoft, as he did in his Dreamforce keynote speech last year. Attendees at this week's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco would be surprised if Benioff failed to engage in a little competitive trash talking in his keynote speech Wednesday.

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Microsoft is offering the $150-per-seat rebate to customers in the U.S. and Canada who subscribe to Dynamics CRM Online for a minimum of 50 seats, up to a maximum of 500 seats. Customers can use the money to help transition from competing CRM software to Microsoft's on-demand CRM apps, said Michael Park, corporate vice president, Microsoft business solutions sales, marketing and operations, in a posted Q&A.

Customers have to commit to a two-year licensing subscription at $44 per user, per month, to be eligible for the rebate offer that will be good until March 31, 2012.

"We feel that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online delivers the best CRM service in the market – and at an extremely compelling price point," said Brad Wilson, general manager of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product management group, in a statement.

Microsoft said the Cloud CRM for Less initiative would help boost business for its Dynamics CRM Online partners. Hitachi Consulting, which works with the on-demand application, has seen triple-digit growth in its CRM Online business, Microsoft said.