Salesforce, Google Tout Teamwork

A new software combination may be just the beginning.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Demonstrating that you don't need to get hitched to procreate,

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showed off their new product, Group Edition featuring Google AdWords, for the press on Tuesday.

Upon hearing an observation that the announcement seemed like an engagement party for a prospective merger, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said the crowd had instead witnessed "the birth of a killer app."

Maybe the proud parents are still working out a pre-nup.

Benioff said the relationship between Salesforce and Google goes further than this product, noting the companies are focused on integrating their respective application program interfaces into core software on both sides. Salesforce had already integrated Google Docs and Spreadsheets, he added.

By combining the two platforms in Group Edition, "you are solving the biggest problems facing small business today," said Sheryl Sandberg, vice president for Google online sales and operations.

The product, which makes Salesforce a reseller of Google AdWords, is built for small businesses and start-ups, in particular, and is essentially the testing ground for further integrating Google AdWords into its software. "As we see and understand it more, we can expand it into other editions," Benioff said.

After the first month, Group Edition, which replaces Team Edition, will cost businesses $1,200. The company is not contemplating a free software module that could be entirely supported by advertising, Benioff said, but he didn't rule it out. "If it's the right thing for customers, we'll do it."

Benioff began the conference by ticking off a list of synergies the companies share, chiefly that they both operate multi-tenant systems that do not charge licensing fees.

They also share a philanthropic bent going back four years, when Google adopted Salesforce's philanthropic model. Google has surpassed Salesforce's milestones since then, assisting 2,500 nonprofits. Salesforce has made grants to 2,000 nonprofits, according to Sandberg.

Group Edition has two dashboards -- the basic presentation view found in most customer relationship management software for enterprises, but something Team Edition lacked entirely, said Craig Swensrud, Salesforce director of marketing. The Google AdWords dashboard will give start-ups and small businesses the analytical tools that oftentimes they don't know they need to track the performance of their online advertising leads, he added.

The company performance dashboard will give small enterprises a broader view of their internal metrics, tracking revenue and expenses.

With the online advertising dashboard, users see the number of clicks they are getting and whether individual leads are buying their products. Within the Salesforce module, they can view an individual lead's source history and its status, Sandberg said.

Tracking of those leads, or customers, "doesn't happen at Google," she said. It is done, rather, by the advertiser using Group Edition.

"It will fundamentally change how small business takes advantage of the Web," she said.