Salesforce.com and Intuit tying QuickBooks to CRM

The partnership will result in a combined Salesforce.com-QuickBooks app later this year

Salesforce.com and Intuit will announce Friday that they plan to integrate their respective CRM (customer relationship management) and QuickBooks accounting applications, in an alliance meant to further win the hearts and pocketbooks of the world's millions of small businesses.

Under the partnership, Intuit will resell Salesforce software along with an integration that moves information between the software and QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online, according to a statement. This will be an improvement over the way many small businesses currently do CRM, namely in spreadsheets or on paper, according to a recent Intuit study.

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The integrated application will be sold through Intuit's online App Center and is scheduled for release midyear, with pricing to be announced at that time, according to a statement.

Tools for tying QuickBooks to Salesforce already exist, and a number of other CRM vendors have also built integrations to QuickBooks.

Intuit's partnership with Salesforce, however, underscores the latter vendor's dominance in the CRM world.

Overall, the planned application is "a front and back-office solution that small businesses will find very useful," said analyst Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group. "Putting the two together makes a great deal of sense. Those small companies aren't going to go out of their way to do any integration."

"QuickBooks is used by a lot of people who are one or two-person companies, but those kinds of companies have very little in the way of automation," sticking mostly to tools like Microsoft Excel and email, Pombriant added.

Salesforce.com's capabilities will help those companies improve how they track customers, leads and deals, Pombriant said. "Historically, companies of that size might have basic name, address and contact stuff. What they lack is any kind of reminders to follow up, or track deal stages. It's largely kept in their head."

Both Intuit and Salesforce stand to tap a sizable market. Some 4 million businesses use QuickBooks, while Salesforce reports having more than 92,000 customers. Historically, Salesforce has said its customer base is fairly evenly distributed across small, medium, and large companies, according to Pombriant.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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