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Salesforce, Google Team For Small Business

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Salesforce.com today confirmed one of the worst kept secrets in Silicon Valley. At a media event here, Salesforce announced it's extending its partnership with Google to provide tighter integration between Salesforce CRM applications and Google's advertising and tracking resources.

Early speculation thought the deal was going to be aimed at the enterprise. However, the announcement here today is aimed squarely at the small and medium-sized business (SMB)  markets.

Under the deal, Salesforce  will replace Salesforce Team Edition with Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google Adwords. Google's Adwords technology will come with Salesforce Group Edition and allow for integration of Adwords into the application, as well as let Salesforce customers get sponsored placement within Google.

This will allow all 32,000 of Salesforce's customers to distribute their online ads through Google . In turn they will have Google Analytics to look at what keywords are working best at bringing in customers and they will be able to refine their placements.

Saleforce.com's service will in turn feature tracking of customer referrals generated by Google's ads, so Salesforce.com customers will know what brought a potential customer to them. This, the company argues, means much more qualified connections between buyer and seller.

"We want every Salesforce user to be an Adwords advertiser," Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's founder and CEO said on stage during the event here. "We want to make millions of Adwords customers."

That, cautioned Andrew Boyd, senior vice president and research director for the Aberdeen Group, could lead to anarchy. "It makes a nice tagline, but I could see marketing departments getting apoplectic here," he told internetnews.com.

"This idea that it's just going to be a free-for-all across the organization and every Salesforce.com user will have those capabilities, as a manager, I'd want to put some controls on that," he said.

That's not a problem, Benioff said. "The power of Salesforce is you have accountability, so you know what's working and what's not. If a company wants to set it up that way they can do it [i.e. with limits]," he said.

Sheryl Sandberg, vice president of Google's online sales and operations, said one-third of all small businesses fail within their first two years due to being unable to get customers or expensive barriers to entry, something this deal solves. "Salesforce and Google are the best answer for both of those problems," she said

Boyd said the ability to develop specific apps based on analytics could be "very interesting. Is putting the marketing department together with the CRM system bad? No, not at all," he said.

During a Q&A session after the announcement, Benioff was asked about enterprise support. The Salesforce CEO Benioff said the company was open to it, but for now, the effort was aimed squarely at SMB.