Microsoft CRM Plans Continue To Unfold

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Microsoft last week disclosed more details of its CRM product plans.

Microsoft CRM, already in one early beta-test phase, is slated to begin a much broader beta next month, company executives said. The product, expected to ship before year-end, will be priced at $395 to $1,295 per named user.

"We're focused on the midmarket [with Microsoft CRM," said David Thacher, general manager for CRM products at Microsoft.

The relatively low licensing fees reflect that focus, he added.

Microsoft consulted with its partners to determine "how to get a product out that was simple and easy for small and midsize businesses to buy and try,and do a flexible implementation," Thacher said.

Plans call for six licenses to be available when Microsoft CRM ships: standard sales, standard service, and standard sales and service at the lower end, plus professional sales, professional service, and professional sales and service for midsize companies.

"If you have 10 sales reps, you can get a CRM system up and running for $5,000," Thacher said.

Terry Petrzelka, CEO of Tectura, a Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider, said 10 percent to 20 percent of his firm's business involves implementing CRM solutions for clients.

Tectura, a $40 million company that targets clients with up to $800 million in annual revenue, has alliances with Siebel Systems, Oblix, Great Plains and Microsoft, Petrzelka said.

Choosing which CRM software package is the best fit for a client must be decided on a case-by-case basis, Petrzelka said, adding that Tectura plans to keep both Siebel and Microsoft products.

Tectura's longtime alliance with ERP software firm Great Plains will be useful as Microsoft works to integrate its CRM capabilities with the technology it acquired when it purchased Great Plains, Petrzelka said.

Industry observers say Microsoft's upcoming CRM product will go head-to-head with Interact Commerce's SalesLogix and FrontRange Solutions' GoldMine sales-force automation packages.

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