NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson (second from right) shared his candid opinion of rival Salesforce during a SuiteWorld Q&A on May 17.
NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson (second from right) shared his candid opinion of rival Salesforce during a SuiteWorld Q&A on May 17.

Published: May 18th, 2016

San Jose, Calif. – Ask NetSuite Inc. CEO Zach Nelson if he plans to integrate his products with Salesforce and you’ll get an earful.

That’s what one member of a Q&A session discovered at SuiteWorld when he asked about that and for more details on NetSuite’s customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.

“First of all, Salesforce can’t generate a bill, so they need to integrate with us,” Nelson said. “There is no invoicing, there is no billing, there is no order management, so Salesforce customers need NetSuite to basically do that. That’s point one.

“Point two is that is our CRM strategy,” he continued. “Our belief is that there is no customer data in Salesforce.com. It’s all prospect data. It’s completely misnamed.”

By definition, Nelson said, a “customer” is a consumer who has placed an order – there is no customer without a transaction, and it is NetSuite, that processes transactions.

“(The transaction) does not exist in Salesforce,” Nelson said. “Their CRM strategy is to suck data out of systems like NetSuite and put it back into Salesforce so that reps can see what the heck is going on.”

NetSuite’s CRM strategy, on the other hand, has always been based on how the company identifies and processes an order, Nelson said.

“Certainly we’ve advanced our CRM strategy a lot over the last few years because… there’s always going to be B2B CRM where drones are typing things into forms about the accounts they’re working on,” he said. “Salesforce does that very well.”

“But the future of CRM is the machine relating with the customer,” he continued. “‘Hey – I want to go change my renewal online.’ You don’t do that in Salesforce. You do that in NetSuite with SuiteCommerce. ‘Hey, I want to go order a product.’ You don’t do that in Salesforce, you go to a website powered by NetSuite. ‘Hey, I want to order in-store. I want to use a point-of-sale system.’ That’s in NetSuite. Salesforce doesn’t do point-of-sale.”

While NetSuite has always been capable of hiring employees who can enter information into forms, Nelson said, the company prefers to invest in CRM automation with commercial points of entry, whether they be phones, websites, or point-of-sale systems – “all the stuff that goes in NetSuite that frankly can’t live in Salesforce,” he said. “They don’t have that capability.”

Salesforce declined to respond to Nelson’s comments when approached by ITBusiness.ca.

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