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Danger Will Robinson! Beware of TEAM Edition

I wrote yesterday about this same subject so I apologize for dwelling on it, but two things crossed my email inbox that made me feel like I needed to mention it again.

Yesterday I mentioned how small business owners considering Team Edition are being baited, and if "caught" will be forced to switch to Professional Edition because of the crippled aspect of Team Editon. And why that is so bad is that Professional is more than five (5) times as expensive. So it was ironic that I got an email from support today that shows a perfect example of this; let me explain.

I have two Salesforce.com accounts; one I used for selling advertising in a business that is now currently dormant but for which I plan to revive in the future, and another that I opened to do work for one of my clients. The former is a Professional Edition and the latter is a Team Edition.  Since I am no longer working with the client and the contacts are many of the same types I would use for my dormant business, I wanted to export the Team Edition accounts and contacts and then import them into Professional Edition[1]. When I asked about this via support, this is what support told me (note I removed the non-applicable boilerplate info about IdeaExchange):

Dear Mike,

Thank you for contacting Salesforce.com.

Unfortunately, the Data Export option is only available for Enterprise
Edition at no cost and Professional Edition with additional cost. 

This option is not available for Team Edition.

Best regards,
Elvire Pacaud
salesforce.com

So what are my options? Upgrade to a Professional account? That would require a year contract and cost at least $780 (for one user) plus $50 for the export fee, or $135 more than I paid for a full year of Team Edition! The irony is I wanted to transfer it from one Saleforce account to the other, but cannot. Salesforce.com is holding my data hostage, and they will hold yours hostage too!!!

The take away for small business owners considering Team Edition?  DO NOT EVER CONSIDER BECOMING A SALESFORCE CUSTOMER if you can’t afford Professional Edition. Don’t buy Team Edition; go ahead and buy Professional Edition or don’t buy Salesforce.com at all.

What was the second email?  A notification from Typepad that Peter Coffee had replied to my blog post from a day earlier. Here’s what Peter had to say:

Well, I’m glad to know that I’m personally trusted. That’s a good start.

As for Marc, I don’t know of any other current-era CEO who’s gone farther beyond mere Googlish "Don’t be evil" to build a corporate ethic of "Do good."

But ethics and track record aside, from a pure game theory point of view it would be a terrible strategy for salesforce.com to do anything that makes anyone question its desirability as a business partner. The company could only expect to get away with the tactic you envision exactly once — and we’re too young to be looking for a Last Big Score. We’re here to build a platform, and we plan to play a long game.

As I said previously, I have a great deal of respect for Peter. But honestly, I think he is seeing what he wants to see. He said Salesforce.com has a corporate ethic of "Do good"  Explain to me how their strategy with Team Edition trapping customers data with an entry price of 1/5th of their Professional Edition is "doing good?" I can give more examples, and plan to as I have the time to write about each of them fully.

What’s more, it’s not just about the big things Saleforce.com might do, it’s all the little things like this no data export for Team Edition customers. And just like the scorpion to the frog, if Saleforce.com’s  culture is to create lots of little "gotchas" in their own favor, one has to ask "What’s Saleforce.com’s true nature?" and more importantly "Can Salesforce.com be trusted?"

I guess it’s for you to decide.

  1. The client is perfectly okay with this. I was helping him with setting up partnerships for his software, and used the Saleforce.com Team Edition to track it. My usage of the data would be to selling advertising on a website to these same people.

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