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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.

9 Responses to “Danger Will Robinson! Beware of TEAM Edition”

  • John Kaja responded:

    I think that Team Edition is great for a pilot for a small company to see if they will use salesforce without too much of a financial commitment, just like you have different price levels for auto’s, houses, and everything else. You sound petty in your squabbling. Professional Edition is still very cheap for a CRM. Have you not seen any value out of the system?

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    John: You sound like you work for a F1000 company that doesn’t have to worry so much about the cost of Professional. Professional edition is NOT inexpensive compared to most other solutions for small business (do I really need to list them?)

    And my point was not whether Professional edition was inexpensive or not, it was the TEAM edition does not have features legitimately needed by small business and, as Professional is MORE THAN FIVE TIMES MORE EXPENSIVE, a small business should not select Team UNLESS they are already willing to pay for Professional.

    I notice you didn’t like a link to a blog or company; you don’t happen to work for Salesforce.com, do you?

  • David Carnes responded:

    It is unfortunate that you asked Support a very specific question and got a very specific answer, regarding data export. Access to the API in EE/UE and PE (for extra $) does give you a useful data tool called the Data Loader, which allows you access to import and export data into/from all objects/tables in SFDC.

    However, you absolutely CAN export data out of both TE and PE systems. Simply create a report for each object’s data you want to export and click the Export Details to Excel button.

    Both TE and PE also give you some basic Import tools as well. (go to Setup/Administration Setup/Data Management). You can import Accounts/Contacts, Leads and Custom objects into TE. PE also allows you to import Solutions. The Excel file you exported from System 1 simply needs to be cleaned up a bit and saved as a .csv file to be imported into System 2.

    Good luck!

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    David: Thanks for your comments.

    You mention what you claim is unfortunate, but actually the really unfortunate thing is that the exact functionality you recommmend, the Data Loader, is ONLY available in Enterprise and Unlimited Editions[1]. The irony is that your comment made my point about TEAM (and even Professional) Edition being a trap better than I could make it.

    Why on earth Salesforce.com thinks the data loader should be exclusive to Enterprise and Unlimited Edition customers is beyond me, unless they have contempt for their TEAM and Professional edition customers as all evidence I can find seems to imply.

    As for the exporting using reports, that’s like pointing out I can walk across the USA if I were to complain about an airline not flying to a destination city of my choice; is it possible but not practical. I needed an export from TE that would allow me to import to PE, but they don’t offer that and using reports is not a valid alternative.

    Of course they allow importing; exporting is the major concern. Hell, they don’t even allow records to be transferred between accounts, and that would have for me sufficed.

    But, I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment; seriously I do! I just have issues with the points you raise. :)

    (P.S. I do need to point out they offered me a “one time” export, which I appreciated, but don’t feel like I should have to beg for it and be at their mercy as to whether or not it is approved.)

    [1] http://blogs.salesforce.com/features/2006/03/appexchange_dat.html

  • Ale responded:

    Well, honestly nothing prevents you from running a report on accounts selecting all the fields and exporting it to excel. The “Edition Feature Comparison Chart” clearly states the “Weekly Data Export” is a EE and UE feature only, as well as Dataloader.

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    Ale: Reports are not an export format suitable for importing as I explained in the comment just prior to yours. And just because the feature comparison chart clearly states it (in mice-type) doesn’t mean it is Salesforce is above critcism for this decision.

  • Chris Kramer responded:

    I think it’s important to note that above all else Benioff is a salesman. He knows the art of up-selling, and that has been disseminated to the entire organization. I’ve personally criticized Salesforce for the lack of API functionality at the Professional Edition level, with my main complaint being that they’re using the API as a way to force people into enterprise edition.

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    Chris: You nit the nail on the head! There is a pure go-for-the-throat sales culture at Salesforce.com w/o any moderation where moderation would be improve their own results. Customers don’t like to be viewed as fresh meat ready for the kill.

    Actually, the fact that Professional and Team don’t have access to the API is *why* I started this blog, though I still haven’t found time to blog about why it’s so stupid for Salesforce.com not to provide the API to all customers.

  • Tyler Bourne responded:

    First I would like to say this is a great idea for feedback on the crm companies. I have had many unpleasant encounters with them and have learned from my mistakes. I have had been with Salesforce for about a year with a decent amount of licenses for my company. Least to say the support was not their, talking to a private consultant was to say the least impossible. The platform was rather amazing however that came with a price both in dollars and in downtime. Downtime means loss in revenue and a unneeded headache. So of course like all of us I started to give up on CRM but kept researching for other alternatives. This led me to Net suite, again over priced and so I moved on. One day I found Salesboom.com, they are a hosted crm company. After a call and a demo of their product I was rather impressed and could not believe they were offering practically the same platform as Salesforce but always less expensive. So here we go I purchased, my consultant a nice Canadian Mike LaRocque assured me he was there threw to the end. Away we go, purchased licenses , got set up, Mike Imported all my data for me, put my logo in the software for a nice personal feel and called me every week! Also they gave me papers and made me sign a 99.8 sla agreement! No more downtime! To say the least Iím extremely happy with my alternative and will give my contact at Salesboom to anyone who needs a reliable hosted crm solution. Mike doesnít sell he solves and that did it for me.

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