The fight for CRM customers continues to reach beyond the marketplace and into the courtroom.
Last month, Salesforce.com sued UpShot for damages, claiming that the rival hosted CRM provider violated state and federal law by stating it was "the better online solution."
On Wednesday, UpShot fired back. It countersued, asking a San Francisco district court to prevent Salesforce.com from using misleading information.
"It's unfortunate that this is not playing out in the marketplace," said Rob Reid, UpShot's president and CEO. "That would have been my preference. We just wanted to make sure the whole story was being told."
The Mountain View, Calif., company claims in its countersuit that its San Francisco rival has misled the public in sales literature, press materials, communications to customers, and content on its Web site. According to Reid, Salesforce.com was incorrect in claiming it offered the first hosted sales force automation on the market. UpShot, he said, actually beat Salesforce.com to market with offline capabilities and automatic Outlook integration.
A representative from Salesforce.com was unavailable for comment.
Just how much a difference these claims will make in persuading customers to sign up with a provider remains to be seen.
"I don't think it's going to make that much of a difference [with customers]," said Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager with Boston-based Yankee Group. She compared
Competitors in the hosted online space were eager to chime in, too. Boston-based Salesnet released a statement about the bickering.
"It's tantamount to siblings squabbling over who had a toy first," said Mike Doyle, chairman and CEO of Salesnet. "These lawsuits are ineffective and petty. Ultimately, they cost time, money and resources which should be spent serving customers and evangelizing the value proposition of the online business model."
Reid maintains that UpShot has taken the high road, despite the countersuit, which it launched as a legal strategy. UpShot is not asking for damages.
"The only real alternative [the lawsuit] gave them was to countersue," Kingstone said. "What are they supposed to do, sit back and accept it?"
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